7 Freelancing Tips You Need To Read Before You Give Notice

Arianna Orland’s innate curiosity has gotten her far in her career. Never satisfied with the status quo, she continually uses both inquiry and hustle to propel herself to grow and acquire the necessary skills to be successful. She refers to this process as “reinvention.”

Arianna has worked for several companies as a designer in many different capacities over in the past 15+ years—either as a full-time employee or consultant, and what she learned in the process is that she likes the independence and freedom associated with working for herself, because it keeps her perspective sharp and allows her to create across the breadth of her expertise. All of this freedom is not without its challenges. Arianna acknowledges “As a freelancer, you’re your only advocate. You have to understand what your time is worth and how to negotiate the best fees to maintain your business, no one else will do this for you but you.”

After leaving her last full-time job a year ago as Senior Director Creative of Global Brand at Zynga, she now runs her own consulting business, working with startups and Fortune 500 companies on creative direction, brand strategy, and user experience. Of course, never satisfied with just doing one thing, she also is the founder and proprietress behind Paper Jam Press, a letterpress poster and apparel business she founded in 2009.

“You know that expression if you really love something, it doesn’t feel like work? Paper Jam Press never feels like work to me. It feels like a source of inspiration, teaches me things all the time, and consistently reminds me why making things with our hands for other people to enjoy is the most magical thing we as designers can do.” she says.

Reinvention isn’t easy, especially when it comes to freelancing. Here, Arianna shares some advice for those adventurous souls looking to make the move from full-time employment to being self-employed.

  1. Make sure you’re financially prepared to do it. I don’t think flipping a switch is the right way to go about it. Have three months worth of salary in the bank and be prepared for feast and famine. Freelancing can be a financial hardship if you’re looking at your business in a short term way. You have to have the stomach for it and understand it’s a long-term play, but it’s a wonderful way to reinvent yourself and find the kind of projects that you want and stretch your skills and abilities.
  2. You have to tell people that you’re doing it. Tell everyone you know—family, friends, all your old co-workers. You’ve made wonderful relationships with these people and hopefully these people will think of you when they need your services. You never know where work will come from. LinkedIn is a good place to state what your intentions are. If you’re seeking new opportunities, it’s great to state that there.
  3. I love making coffee dates with former colleagues and hearing what’s going on with them personally and at their jobs. Oftentimes it can lead to an opportunity. Being an extrovert and being social is a big part of staying top of mind for potential collaborators.
  4. If you’re passionate about something or want to break into a new market, just do it. We get so hung up on our billable time that it prevents us from doing different things. For instance, I started Paper Jam Press as a way to take a break from client work. I wanted a project where I could be in total control of the creative output and where I could make a tangible object. It started as a way to nurture my creativity and from there it became a business. “
  5. Take a class. Personal and professional growth are important to stay fresh and motivated.
  6. You have to have a diverse skill set and sometimes be a marketer and sometimes do things that aren’t necessarily your expertise. You have to be able to write a proposal, even if you don’t think of yourself as a good writer. Consult with other freelancers about their rates and clients. People are willing to share this information if you ask.
  7. You really have to tolerate ambiguity. I’ve had two week projects turn into six month projects, and I’ve had moments where I’ve gotten really comfortable with what I thought was a long-term consulting gig, only to have it disappear. You have to be able to deal with the ups and downs.

This article was originally published on Creative Live in January 2015, but the information is as relevant as ever!

LogoLounge Trends

I co-authored/edited this piece with Bill Gardner for LogoLounge.com, and it was picked up by Fast Company! It’s written in first-person, by Bill.

Each year, I write a report on logo trends, and I always look to the past before looking ahead. You can’t tell where something is going if you don’t know where it has been. There’s always a reason something goes viral or takes off—something set it in motion, good or bad. So let’s start by addressing the white elephant on the planet: COVID-19.

Crises often accelerate trends in society and design. It’s very reactive and rushed; if there were a 10-step program that we typically follow to get from point A to point B, we skipped steps six through nine to get there during a crisis. Next year, we’re probably going to see a lot of logos that emerged as a result—some will be brilliant, many more probably won’t be. No matter what, I believe the design industry is going to come out of this better than we were. Some firms will not recover. It’s going to be survival of the fittest. Having said that, we’ll see an emergence of little startups and uncover some talent we’ve never seen before. People will regroup, find their niche, and come out of this with a new resilience. This is a shared generational experience that we’ll never forget and hopefully we’ll all learn from. Next year’s batch of logos will surely reflect this.

Read the rest of the article here.

Harvesting Hemp: From Seed to Sale

As more companies enter the crowded cannabis market, a local business seeks to differentiate itself.

CBD products have flooded the marketplace lately as consumers seek natural alternatives to pharmaceuticals to help them cope with anxiety, depression, chronic pain and other maladies. But in this rapidly growing and unregulated industry, misinformation abounds. It’s a “buyer beware” marketplace, and there are no guarantees the product you’re buying will actually provide the benefits it promises, while the origin of its contents is often unknown. 

A new business in Banner, Illinois, hopes to not only capitalize on the market’s potential, but educate people to lessen the confusion. “The consumer needs to understand how to use CBD and how it works in the body,” explains Paul ImOberstag, president of Banner Harvest. “We are a family-owned business that makes all of our products in-house from raw ingredients, and we process and package everything right here in Banner. We’re delivering a farm-to-table experience.”

A Trusted Source
Banner Harvest operates on the property of ImOberstag’s uncle, former Peoria mayor and businessman Bud Grieves. He and his wife Alice live on the 400 acres they purchased in Banner in 1998. “I wanted to convert the property into a conservation showpiece… to demonstrate sustainability and unique water management capabilities,” Grieves explains. “It’s roughly equal acres of native hardwood trees, prairie grasses and restored wetlands.”

While he initially had no plans to farm the property, Grieves recognized an untapped opportunity with this new venture. “I had 10 acres of virgin ground that had no chemicals applied for over 20 years, and I had the machinery and barns to plant, harvest and store product,” he explains. With the addition of his nephew and other family members, he had the combined skillset needed to make it happen. Read the rest of the article here.

Savor the Untamed Flavor

Untamed Chef is a restaurant/take-and-bake/interactive cooking experience rolled up in one

Rebecca Hearn with customers in the kitchen at Untamed Chef

Preparing meals for family and friends has always provided comfort and joy to Rebecca Hearn. As a child, she and her aunt would spend entire days planning and prepping family feasts. “This is where my passion for cooking began,” she explains. She attended culinary arts school in the early 2000s, and later pursued a business degree and went to work at Caterpillar, where she stayed for 14 years. 

But Hearn always dreamed of owning a restaurant, and in February 2018, she and her husband Bryce opened Untamed Chef—a restaurant/take-and-bake/interactive cooking experience rolled up in one. Her travels to Asia and the Middle East inspired many of her dishes, which she passes on to customers along with her motto: “Savor the untamed flavor.” 

As head chef, Hearn helps her customers explore cooking techniques in a fun, participatory atmosphere, while challenging them to step out of their comfort zones. “I enjoy giving them the stepping stones to go beyond where they might have expected their culinary skills to take them,” she explains. “Our customers have repeatedly told us how at home and comfortable they feel creating meals with us.”

But you don’t have to cook when you visit—many people simply relax while Hearn prepares their meal, while others choose from an array of take-and-bake options. “These are becoming very popular for busy families that need a little help creating healthy and flavorful meals,” she adds. Untamed Chef also offers private classes and events, catering, delivery and more. Located at 7338 N. University Street in Peoria, it is open seven days a week. untamedchefcooking.com

This article originally appeared in Peoria Magazine.

A Life-Altering Transformation

A series of body contouring surgeries enabled a local woman to look and feel healthier—and regain her self-confidence. 

Two and a half years ago, Jessica King weighed more than 300 pounds and desperately wanted to lose weight. Like many people, she “yo-yo dieted”—losing 30 or 40 pounds, only to gain it back—which took a psychological and physical toll. The final straw for King came after an embarrassing incident at Six Flags. She and her children stood in line for nearly two hours to go on the Batman ride, only to be turned away when the safety belt wouldn’t fit around her waist. “At that point I knew my weight was not only affecting me, but my kids,” she recalls. “And that was unacceptable to me.” 

King had been researching weight-loss surgeries for years—even qualifying for the procedure twice, only to back out. After the Six Flags incident and with much deliberation, King consulted with Dr. J. Stephen Marshall of Peoria Surgical Group about weight-loss surgeries. He recommended she go with a gastric bypass, which reduces the size of the stomach and redirects food from the small intestine to absorb fewer calories. Dr. Marshall performed her surgery on December 6, 2017. 

In the following months, King changed her eating habits, switching to a Keto diet, and started exercising at three months post-op. “The misconception with weight loss surgery is that it’s a magic cure, when in reality it’s a tool that helps you learn how to eat correctly for the rest of your life,” she explains. In 15 months, she dropped 190 pounds, but her makeover journey was far from over. The massive weight loss came with another set of problems—excess, sagging skin.  Read the rest of the article here.

 

Making a Better Earth

There is ample evidence that humans are overrunning the planet’s resources and causing ecological destruction to our natural environment. The good news is, we can slow this process considerably by simply reconsidering the way we consume and dispose of food. Convincing people to change their habits is an uphill battle, say Luke and Yvonne Rosenbohm, but it’s one they’ve taken on to ensure a more sustainable future for the next generation. “We want to fix this problem for our kids,” Yvonne says, “before the government mandates it.” As our landfills begin to run out of space, that is a very real possibility. 

About 20 percent of what goes into landfills is food waste, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—and composting is one of the best ways to reduce this waste. Enter Better Earth Logistics, which provides a conduit to local businesses and residents by collecting and hauling their food waste to be composted. 

The business was born in 2015 to provide an extra service for Luke’s parents’ company, Better Earth Compost. “My dad was getting a lot of calls from people wanting their food waste picked up, and he didn’t have that service,” Luke explains. So he and Yvonne purchased a truck, and soon he was making pickups at local businesses, while she handled marketing and built their web presence. It’s proven to be a winning combination—for the Rosenbohms, for local businesses and for the planet.

A Mission Beyond Transport 
In early 2018, Better Earth Logistics got a boost from the Tazewell County Green Initiatives program and Peoria County Sustainability team, who wanted to help them expand their services to more people. The primary obstacle was the cost of containers, so both counties purchased roughly 100 containers for use by local businesses. And as Better Earth’s business has picked up, it’s clear the company is much more than a transport service. Read the rest of the article here.

Built for Music Lovers

Established as a neighborhood bar and restaurant on Farmington Road six years ago, Kenny’s Westside Pub has always hosted live music. But after relocating to downtown Peoria in 2016, a noticeable shift occurred. “We became a live music venue—not just a bar that has live music,” says owner Sean Kenny. “We’re hosting ticketed events with national acts, so people are traveling from the entire Midwest to see shows here.”

And Kenny has Jason Miles, his good friend and director of entertainment, to thank for this. Miles has been promoting music for 20 years—working with Jay Goldberg Events & Entertainment for the past five, and booking talent for some of the area’s biggest music festivals, including Summer Camp and the Peoria Blues & Heritage Music Festival. “Kenny’s was built for music lovers and that’s the clientele we want to cater to,” Miles affirms. 

Bringing Music To the Masses
In the early 2000s, the two worked together at Eamon Patrick’s Public House—which happened to be located where Kenny’s Westside is now. “I was a bartender and it was the best job I ever had,” Kenny recalls. “I loved the music and the whole vibe, and Jason was a young independent promoter… well, younger,” he smiles with a wink and a nod to Miles, who’s sitting beside him. The experience helped inspire the opening of his own establishment on Farmington Road, which they used to call a “mini-Eamon Patrick’s.” 

“Jason and I have the same brain when it comes to music,” he continues. “When you come to Kenny’s, you’re going to see a lot of bluegrass, funk, jazz, Americana—all original music. You’ll never see a cover band here.” Having staked out their niche, they generally steer away from popular genres like classic rock, country and EDM. “That stuff isn’t in our wheelhouse, and it’s not what our customers expect.” Read the rest of the article here.

The Sweet (& Tangy) Taste of Success

For as long as she can remember, Brenda Lovingood has been making barbecue sauce for family and friends, slathering it on chicken wings, pork and meatballs. She had toyed with the idea of selling her homemade sauce for more than a decade, but life always got in the way. Both she and her husband Tony had full-time jobs and were busy raising their 11 children, while running a catering business on the side. “It always got put on the backburner,” Brenda recalls, “until one day I just decided I was going to do it.” 

That day finally arrived in 2016 after she attended the Women in Business Success Conference organized by Doris Symonds, who had been encouraging her to bottle her sauce for years. “It was like a one-stop shop,” Brenda says of the conference, where she gathered information about marketing and finances. “It was also the kick I needed to get going.” In addition, she and Tony met with Kevin Evans, director of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Bradley University, who helped them strategize their objectives and establish the business. 

Converting the Masses
Lovingood Foods was formed in July of 2016, and within two years, the couple was selling cases of their barbecue sauce to local and regional stores including Hy-Vee, Alwan & Sons Meat Company, Save-A-Lot, and Haddad’s. “We literally walked into stores with a sample tray so they could taste the product,” Brenda says, and their hands-on tactic worked. They now drive to King’s Food Products in Belleville, Illinois—where the sauce is produced in large quantities—every three weeks to pick up cases for delivery. Read the rest of the article here.

Building a Headband Brand

A local maker finds success online and at pop-up shops throughout central Illinois.

As with many good things, Hello Headband started on a whim. Founder Megan Ray has always been a “maker,” teaching herself to sew at age nine, experimenting with fabrics and color, and keeping a close eye on fashion trends. On a lark in 2011, when she was 21 and still living in her parents’ home, she made a headband, put it on, and walked downstairs to show her mom and younger sister, Erin. 

“I thought it was kind of funny—at the time headbands weren’t super-popular,” Megan recalls. “I asked what they thought… and to my surprise my sister said, ‘That’s actually really cute. I would wear that.’” When she did, her friends loved it and asked where they could get one. Soon Megan was making headbands for friends and family; eventually, she was making so many they encouraged her to open an Etsy shop, which she did under the name Raydiant Apparel

Sales took off and before she knew it, she was buying loads of fabric and spending all her free time making headbands. But free time was something Megan was running low on, given her full-time job while also attending nursing school. By 2013 she couldn’t sustain it all, so she quit her job and left school. “I thought if I’m going to pursue this, now is the time to do it. If it fails, I can always go back to school,” she explains. Turns out it was the best decision she ever made. Read the rest of the article here.

Igniting the Senses

Ignite Peoria, an initiative of ArtsPartners of Central Illinois, has become a fixture of Peoria’s arts community over the last six years. Home of the Midwest Makerfest, Ignite is a creative extravaganza of art, music, science and robotics, featuring exhibit booths, live performances and hands-on workshops. The excitement is palpable at every turn, but with so much to see and do, the many activities have the potential to overwhelm individuals with sensory sensitivities. Enter Sensory Ignite, headed up by local musician Brandon Mooberry, which will run in conjunction with the main event—but in a separate area for those with sensitivities to loud noises, bright lights and big crowds. Read the rest here.