We often interview veteran freelancers who have the wisdom that comes with experience. But there’s a different perspective to be had from rookie freelancers—they’re still learning, but they’ve got that hungry spirit. There’s a fire and energy that can be inspiring for even the most jaded veteran.
Today we talk with Stacey Bartron. She’s a web and graphic designer living in Fargo, N.D. Her design career started at age 16 with Xanga layouts. After completing school and stint at an agency (and falling in love with WordPress), she struck out on her own as a freelancer just last year in 2016. You can follow Stacey on Twitter and learn more about her experience getting started on HeroPress.
“Freelancing isn’t easy or stable, so I feel like you really have to enjoy what you do every day.” -Stacey Bartron
We talked about appreciating the opportunity to freelance, building confidence and being flexible.
How did you get started in freelancing?
I’ve only been freelancing full time for a little over a year. I got started freelancing after realizing I wanted to do more with WordPress than my current position at the time allowed me to do. I tried to apply for some remote jobs and nothing panned out. Eventually a couple opportunities fell in my lap and I decided to take the dive into freelancing. Freelancing full time wasn’t something I had ever seriously considered before that point, and it was never a goal of mine—so I think I shocked myself mostly when I made the decision.
What’s been the most important contributor to your early success?
I haven’t been in the market as a freelancer long enough for me to be considered a success story, which honestly is OK at this point because I’ve always thought success that comes quick can be gone in the blink of an eye if you’re not careful.
I think my love for my job is probably the biggest contributor to me sticking with it. I have realized that freelancing isn’t easy or stable, so I feel like you really have to enjoy what you do every day. I hope my love for my profession will show through to my clients. Word of mouth and referrals are what have landed me all of my clients so far, so that’s a good feeling.
What do you love about freelancing?
This is probably really cheesy but what I love most is the feeling of accomplishment that comes along with the job. When I get a new referral, when I solve a problem for a client, or when the client is just really happy with the end product, it’s the best feeling.
I have to hold myself accountable for my work, which is something I really didn’t have a problem with before, but now it’s at a new level. I do work some long nights and some weekends but for now, it’s all worth it. The ‘pinch me’ moments, much like this interview, are worth the stress and the doubt that comes along with freelancing.
Also, I love the freedom. I get to work when I want at home in my office, listening to music at whatever volume I feel, with my dog by my side. Who wouldn’t love that?
Where do you think you need to improve as a new freelancer?
I think the biggest area I need to improve upon is having confidence in my abilities. I feel that being a female in this industry, some people seem to doubt my skills and knowledge. It can be easy to forget that I am good at what I do, I love what I do, and I am competent.
What advice do you have for veteran freelancers? What are veterans overlooking or missing that you notice as a relative newcomer?
I am still figuring everything out for myself so my advice really isn’t anything solid. I feel like a big benefit with being a freelancer is that I have the ability to be flexible and that’s something clients seem to appreciate. Not every client is the same and majority of them have different needs to be met. Being able to adjust my process based on the client helps them feel more comfortable and allows me to constantly expand my skills and keeps me on my toes.