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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. 

Clients are like Onions

Clients come to you and say “I need some shirts made.” You tell them how everything is priced and what the limits are. Then you realize this isn’t just someone who wants to make one or items, but they are planning an entire future starting here. If at first a client is demanding maybe we as designers need to ask them about their lives and motivations. 

Today, I was at my job all alone. I didn’t know that would be the case until today. It was on the calendar but I clearly didn’t read the times well enough. Not only was everything just fine, it was also eye-opening. A customer came in to approve some details on his order. I walked him through what I needed to know, told him what I knew he needed to be told, and thought that would be that. 

It turned out he was an aspiring clothing designer. By clothing designer I don’t mean someone with a degree in fashion, but someone who wanted to make an entire line of graphic tees and products. So I asked him more about what he needed and wanted since he seemed to be willing to learn to do the work for himself and save some money. He was making these designs, or having someone else make them, for a line of clothing inspired by and dedicated to a family member that was important to him. 

I never would have known this information if I hadn’t asked the question “what is it you want to do?”  Does that make me a Chatty Cathy? Is that inappropriate for a “clerk” at a small shop? I think I helped out a customer. Hopefully, that will help bring him back to our services in the future. Maybe he will tell his friends about the shop. 

I’d love to say where I work because the publicity would surely help business. I haven’t because I have published some personal thoughts about coworkers and my employer. To be sure, there are ways of finding this information anyway for someone dedicated to finding it. I also want to protect our customers and have avoided naming names as much as possible. I want this blog to be about my thoughts and lessons in my journey of freelancing and self-employment. How to talk to others is so critical! It’s been a tough 32 years of life being socially inept. I’m ready for more, anyway. 

Take it easy and remember to smile. 

Holding Two Jobs

Anyone who has had to work two jobs knows it’s unpleasant unless it’s 2 strictly part time jobs. I, of course, don’t fall into that category. I don’t even get paid time off since I’m an independent contractor and self-employed. There’s a real freedom to that. 

There’s also the problem that I don’t make nearly as much as I used to in a corporate job. I’m not complaining here. It is what it is. Having to be full time is a time-sink that doesn’t, yet, pay enough for the long run. I think that will get better soon. I also think I need to stop crashing at the end of the day and do design work! I feel awful about it. No more! Starting next week I take it seriously. I start treating my own freelancing as a second job that needs part-time dedication, at least 10 hours per week. 

This is it! Do or die! There is no try, only do! Where’s that from? Anyway, I’m still determined to get myself established in the freelancing world. I’ve been submitting proposals, at least one every couple of days. I can show that I’m actively trying. What I need to do is still look up a contest or two in the meantime to work on. That gets me practice even if I never win. 

Red. Yellow. Green. GO!

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. 

Looking Forward

As of this post, I’ve been working for 3 days, one of them completely in my own. It was really nice! So far, there’s nothing I’m totally in the dark about. I’ve worked with printers and an iron before. I’ve done iron-on transfers on a small scale. The one at the store is a giant 18 inch press instead of a small apparel iron like most people have at home. It’s actually easier to use since it’s hotter and does all the pressing for me! The embroidery machine is not very complicated since I’ve used a sewing machine once or twice, but I’ve yet to have a job to do on it to test myself. 

I learned the store does not do its own embroidery design. When they receive an embroidery purchase, they send out custom designs to be converted into an embroidery file. I may look into learning that to add to the store repertoire. I imagine I could do it for a lot cheaper. It may not be a long-term goal for the store, but it can’t hurt. Besides, it will add to my skills as a designer so I can make better decisions about how my designs work in various mediums. I can now ask clients questions such as “do you intend to use the design as embroidery?” It’s one of those skills I would t think I’d ever need to learn, but having it is a huge plus. If I do leave at the end of a year, I could always offer for the store’s owner to have me on file for their embroidery needs. 

I wonder if that’s something I want to do long term anyway. I have much interest in crafting and needlearts. I used to do cross stitch and hand embroidery as a kid, I still do crochet, and I recently taught myself to knit. Who knows. Maybe I will find out I didn’t know what I wanted to do all along. I have wanted to be a crafter for years. But it doesn’t pay to make hats all day. Embroidery files and making iron-on patches would be a big seller. Making something on a machine is always better than by hand in terms of making a business profitable. I’ve often thought about purchasing a knitting machine to sell knit clothing, but that’s a discussing for another post. 

Take it easy and remember to smile.