Time Travels Towards…

…what? I have no idea. I wanted to use alliteration and that’s what came to mind.  I haven’t written much in the past two weeks for two reasons. For one, my job makes me stressed out enough that I have not been able to put the work in for freelancing. For two, my time has been sucked away by looking for an apartment and moving. My official move-in date is August 25th. It’s not likely anything is going to change until then. 

It feels horrible. I’ve been trying to submit proposals on Upwork and do at least one contest entry per week to keep up my practice. I haven’t landed any other freelance jobs and I know that’s because I barely put in 5 hours per week. I haven’t advertised on social media either. 

So that changes today. I must, at least, attempt 1 social media posting per week with a link to my Upwork profile. Posts from me will always be scheduled to drop at 6am to maximize the possibility that people will see it by chance. Here’s to hope for the future. 

Take it easy and remember to smile. 

Gallery

Indescribable Inertia

I grew up in a house. My parents owned houses my entire life. When I turned 30 I was finally able to move out with my then-boyfriend to a very nice 1-bedroom in Wheaton, IL. It was a lucky find and I love it here. I don’t want to move away from Wheaton. But there’s nothing we can afford but studio apartments, which would be a huge step down in room for us. 

It should be air in the wind compared to the journey I’m on trying to work full time and make time to freelance. It’s stressful with so much up in the air in the next 3 weeks. I’m doing my best, but I’m floundering a little right now. I’m being pulled in different directions and the net force feels like zero, but I know I’ll still keep moving one way or another. 

I managed to send out a proposal for a job on Upwork.com tonight. That felt nice. I’m also trying to make a t-shirt design for my husband. On top of that, my husband won some plane tickets at work. While that’s nice that we have a flight to use sometime between now and next February, it’s really hard to even think about that. It’s the final straw on the camel’s back. I want to focus on work, our lives, and my own happiness. Trip planning will have to wait until September. 

Take it easy and remember to smile. 

Short and Long

First the short story: the apartment my husband and I are currently renting is going to be renovated and the new price is more than we can afford to pay every month. We love the apartment building we live in, but money is money. We have to be out by August 31. 

Now for the long bit.

As anyone who is reading this blog knows I started a new job a week and a half ago. Most apartments want 2 pay stubs to prove how much you make. Well there’s a caveat. I’m self-employed. That means my pay stubs and taxes aren’t straight forward like the W2 checks you get through a corporation. I have to take out 20.25% on my own for state and Federal taxes. It’s a lot less than typical taxes, but it’s also not paid to the government until next April (tax time). So how do I prove that I have a full time job that pays enough to prove that my husband and I together make 2x’s the rent? 

Here’s my plan

Im going to draw up an excel sheet showing my voided check and the amount set aside for taxes. I’m lucky since I have been paying taxes for at least 10 years now so I don’t have to worry about estimated payments. I just use the current Self-employment rates and pay when I file my taxes. I’m hoping that will be enough to prove that I started part time and have moved to full time. Also I’m going to tell them to call my boss because she can confirm that I’m full time at $10/hr. I will have a second heck next Friday. Maybe we can put down a security deposit to hold any apartment while I get paid and can send them my second check. I’d hate to miss a good apartment because I happen to be new at my job. This can’t be a strange circumstance on the whole. I have enough for a security deposit but my husband and I will have to share the first month’s rent for that to work out in the timing. I hope the security deposit will hold the apartment until At least mid-August when I’ll finally have the money for the first month’s rent and then have the same deal I had before. Where the second month is going to be like 10-15 days before the third-twelfth months go back to die on the first.

Man! This stuff is confusing!!!

Take it easy and remember to smile. 

Work Work Play

My first complete week of work is almost over. It’s only 30hrs this week, but I feel good about being full-time starting Monday, July 24, 2017. I’ve made mistakes but learned from them. I want to do more but I’m limited by how the shop is set up with three people working and only one computer with access to the printer.

My coworker used that computer to set up files for printing all day. I’m not sure what took so long for two files. I want to think she knows better than I do, but nothing I’ve learned so far would take that long. Unless my coworker seriously undertrained me, it shouldn’t take more than an hour to send one file to print. Of course, that’s a distinct possibility. I don’t claim to be all-knowing by any stretch. In fact, I often think I’m the biggest idiot ever when it comes to learning new things. It bothers me that from what I’ve seen and been told, there’s nothing here that’s totally new to me. There are quirks that I need to learn, but my perception is telling me there are things I haven’t been told, and probably not by malice. Youth is a tough thing when it comes to hiring workers. I think I wasn’t told things because my two co-workers, younger than I, intuit things because they are still young and in school or fresh out of college in the last two years. I’ve been in the workforce for a decade, but I seem to have picked up skills and an understanding of Illustrator these two don’t have. I don’t know why that should be since college is the best place to learn Adobe Creative Cloud programs given students’ discounts. 

I guess I’ll have to wait and see what happens. Stick to my guns and try to be understanding. I’m the newcomer, but I’m also an independent contractor and I’m not an idiot. I can learn new things and I intend to do it! I’m glad I can subscribe to the Adobe Creative Cloud thanks to this job. I need this job to keep moving towards freelancing. It will be hard to do both. It’s already hard. Maybe when I feel less in the dark I won’t be as drained from energy at the end of the day. I would have done some projects yesterday, but my computer was downloading and installing all of the Adobe programs. So it will be much better after today! 

Take it easy and remember to smile. 

Design and Other Conundrenigmas

I want to be good at design. But am I good at design? It’s an odd question. Design has no right or wrong. A designer follows the whims of the client even when they want something ugly. We designers solve visual problems, but we generally don’t decide what gets the stamp of approval in the eye of a client. A better question: do I provide work that clients want.

I’ve pleased a few clients and I’m eager to please more. Sometimes I doubt that I can, but I’m not giving up! Have a degree! Despite recent history I have a good work ethic!

I interviewed for a job on July 11, 2017. I was nervous because I have to take the job if they want me. I have to try. It would mean less time for freelancing too. But if I turn them down I lose my unemployment benefits. That’s my biggest worry. That I’m too short or not strong enough for the job but I have to do it anyway. I’m afraid of what having a full time job will mean for me. I have to to try. I have to repeat that to myself.

So what to do? I’d love to learn more about how a print-shop makes car decals and logo products. This job would teach me a lot about how files are formatted and sent to the printer. In turn, that would give me a perspective on doing graphic design work and what’s going on in the world of large-scale work. I have to try.

Take it easy and remember to smile!

Stylized, feminine SD with Silivren Designs underneath

Freelancing and Learning

I’ve been at this freelance thing for a month. I won a logo design contest on Freelancer.com and earned a legit job on Upwork.com. Winning the Upwork.com job taught me something valuable: giving a sketch during a proposal to a prospective client helps boost the likelihood that they will seriously consider me as the freelancer for the work. Maybe it’s stupid in the long run and I’ll stop doing it later on. Right now I can’t afford to buy in to the the fancy accounts on these sites so giving a little helps.

One  frustration with Freelancer.com is that I’m American, the website is Australian, and most of the freelancers on the site are in southern Europe and Aisa – what we Americans would call the Middle East. Why is that such a big deal? Someone from Pakistan or India – to name the two I see most often – can afford to charge half or less than what I do to earn a decent payoff. I don’t begrudge those designers their work at all. On the contrary, I hope they are having more success than I am! However, the truth of the matter is that I can’t compete with such low rates. Freelancers who are willing to work for $3-$5USD/hr are always going to win out for entry level work compared to the $15USD/hr I charge. Competition is tighter than ever in the world of art! I usually stick to contests on that website since there’s no accounting for wage in a contest.

An interesting site I like to work on, but haven’t managed to win anything on, is 99designs.com. I have the impression from hearing about it over the years that this is a great place to start as a designer. It’s entirely contest based, although the site does allow clients to hire you for 1-on-1 projects whether or not you’ve won anything. I like how it’s set up and how responsive clients are using the rating system and rejecting or declining designs that simply aren’t in the right style. I’ve come close a couple of times to winning. In one contest I made it to the semi-finals before being eliminated – the contest was for an apple brand logo. They ended up going with a design that was more anthropomorphic than realistic the way mine was. Another contest I entered I was told by the contest holder that they would have picked my design, but they thought it might look too similar to a competitor’s brand in their country. Sadly, they didn’t give me any direction to change my design so I wasn’t able to enter a winning design and was eliminated after the qualifying round. I’ll keep trying since I have had some interest even though I haven’t won yet!

Upwork.com sits somewhere in the middle of the interest scale in my mind. I didn’t originally plan to use it heavily, but when I discovered that you could restrict your job search to ones available to U.S. freelancers only, I became more hooked. Americans will understand the $15/hr fee a lot better than someone from elsewhere in the world who is used to dealing with people who charge much less for the same work. I landed my first professional contract there, after all. I’m hoping it wasn’t a fluke!

I have some profiles on other freelance sites too, but I’m not as diligent with them. I created profiles there to boost my exposure. You never know where the clients are most comfortable. I don’t expect work to come my way from sites I only visit every so often. They are there if someone wants them, that’s all.

That’s everything for now. Expect future posts to be shorter. 😉

Take it easy and remember to smile!