I ended my 2014 End of the Year Review with plans on making 2015 the year of refocusing. And that’s exactly what I did.
2015 was the year of personal growth for me. Financially there wasn’t too much growth, but I made some major changes in my freelance business which I feel are going to make 2016 huge.
This review is primarily for my own benefit – as something to reflect back on. However, I hope you can pick from it, find inspiration, and enjoy what I have to share.
Major Pivotal Moments
Let me walk you through some of my biggest moments of 2015. Some have gained me a lot of great experience and some have changed my freelance graphic design business for the better.
New Focus, New Outlook
I began 2015 with a split focus. I was managing too many side projects, and it's ultimately why my freelance business plateaued. Not to mention the amount of stress and burn out I was experiencing more often than I'd like.
In order to battle this, I had to pick one thing to focus on – one thing to go all in and make awesome – and that's my freelance business. This meant letting go of my other endeavors and side projects, which was not easy. My other blog, Your Freelance Career, being the hardest.
I've learned firsthand you must find what you love to do. Something you could see yourself doing every day. Then give it your all in order to really take it to the next level.
I'm a designer first, I got into this for the love of art and design. Being a teacher and sharing what I know must become a byproduct of my design work.
Much like being on an airplane; under emergency situations before you assist others, you must first put your own oxygen mask on. Sounds selfish, but it's almost impossible to help others if you yourself are going through turbulence in your own life and/or career.
I'm just now reaching for my oxygen mask. I need to work on developing myself as a designer, getting healthy, organized, financially stable, and more confident.
I've already been taking the first steps to help myself:I redesigned my website, hyper focused on one thing I loved to do most (t-shirt design), and already I'm seeing major growth in myself and my freelance business.
Paying the bills without client work
With more time to create and a new focus on t-shirt design, I made a serious investment in new equipment so I could produce my own t-shirt mockups.
These mockups not only help me tremendously in my own work, but I also sell them on my Creative Market shop.
I was hoping to eventually get my initial investment back from the product sales, but I was surprised to have made that back plus more since their release! I make a little extra each month from these products which help cover minor bills.
This has proven to be something I need to put more time into, and you can certainly expect that I'll be releasing more of my custom made design assets in 2016.
With 15 videos, almost 90,000 views, and now over 1,000 subscribers just in this past year, I'm going into the new year with many plans for new video content.
Visual content connects with so many people, and even though it's a lot of work to make, it's totally worth it once you hit that upload button.
Here are a few of my favorite videos that I made over the year:
- How I Became a Freelance Graphic Designer
- How To Use Displacement Maps to Mockup Your T-Shirt Designs
- The Fight To Stay Excited (My sincerest video to date.)
There's plenty more on the way, so subscribe to my YouTube channel if you don't want to miss out!
I worked with some awesome clients over the year. Many start-ups in need of a logo, apparel brands just getting off the ground, and a handful of merch for touring bands.
Here are a few of my favorite projects from this past year:
2015 Freelance Finances
This year was slightly better than before financially (a whole $200 more!) However, the really exciting part is how much I improved my percentage in revenue streams.
Quick note: these numbers represented are gross revenue, meaning before fees, taxes, or expenses.
2015 Monthly Gross Revenue
2015 Revenue Streams
Compared to 2014, I earned about 10% more from digital product sales. That’s pretty huge! The slow transition to making money without having to fully rely on client work is very important, and can make those slow months a bit easier. Most of the digital product revenue came from my shop on Creative Market, followed up by my guide, Start Your Freelance Career.
The sales from my physical products like my Stay True t-shirt are still stagnate, but I have plans for this part of my freelance business.
Also, what happened in October?! Well, it was certainly a slow month for client work. However, I spent that slow time redesigning my entire website, which was the first step to taking my freelance business to the next level!
Plans for 2016
This will be the year of creating for me.
With my new focus on t-shirt design, I want to grind out more work than ever before, so when 2017 comes around, I feel more polished and confident in myself as a designer.
I want to continue to create both digital and physical products! I'm not going to rush into producing more physical products without having the necessary funds for it, but that's not going to stop me from researching and preparing behind the scenes.
I want writing and making videos to be fun again. Producing content and sharing what I know is very important to me, so this year, I don't want to burden myself with writing blog posts for the sake of writing. Rather, I want it to be a byproduct of my design work. I don't want to only share my successes, but also my processes and struggles. I'll be pushing to do more videos more often. If I have something to share, chances are it's going to be in the form of a video and blog posts combo.
Finally, I want to be around people that are doing amazing things. I've started to realize I'm a bit disconnected from the people I should be connecting with. Making a sustainable living with my design work is my primary goal right now, so connecting with likeminded people will be very important and help push me to better myself.
In summary, here are my priorities going into 2016:
- Become a well-oiled machine: stay focused, stay excited, be disciplined.
- Create new digital and physical products.
- Stay true to who I am and what I want to say through new videos.
- Connect with the people that are inline with where I want to be some day.
If you've read this far, I hope you feel a bit more inspired. But more important than that, thank you. Thank you for taking the time to read along and follow me in my journey freelancing. 2016 is going to be huge, I just know it! :)
Have questions, thoughts, or suggestions for new content? Leave them in the comments below!