modus operandi

I won’t mince words; one of the glorious benefits of being a freelancer is that I get to choose how I want to work, and who I want to work with. Client relationships are very important to me—as important as the work. To help you figure out if this is a good match, here’s a little bit of information on how I like to work.

Communication

Emails > Phone calls > In person

I’m a real fan of email, mostly because it gives me a written record of tasks, edits, thoughts and ideas. Phone calls and in person meetings don’t do that—unless my notes are perfect—and it’s really difficult to take great notes while engaging in a conversation. I’m also a one-woman show, so I don’t have someone answering my phone for me. Every time the phone rings it interrupts whatever I’m doing and destroys my workflow. I rarely answer a cold call, because I'm usually in the middle of something and don't like being blind-sided. Rest assured that if you email me and it's urgent, you'll get a quick reply.

Phone calls and meetings certainly have their place. Phone calls are great for bouncing ideas back and forth, and engaging in conversations that can be too complicated for email. Meeting in person is great for finding out about compatibility and personality (though I find that can usually be done over the phone too). I rarely meet in person with my clients past that initial meeting (and to be honest I have many clients I’ve never met in person, some I’ve never even spoken to on the phone). We live in an age where there is very little need to meet in person, and to be completely honest I find most meetings to be a waste of time—mine and yours. Between travel time, the usual small talk and then a very short actual work conversation, we’ve turned a short phone call or a two paragraph email into a two hour excursion. I’ve worked in agencies burdened by constant meetings and it feels great to finally be free of that world.

A place for everything

And everything in its place

I’m a very organized person. I’m at my best when I’m working with another organized person. Design is about solving problems, and the less organized the ideas and content that I receive, the more problems I have to solve (and let’s be honest—I bill hourly, so the more this costs you). You’ll get the best out of me if the only problems I have to solve are design problems—spending time sorting through convoluted instructions or incomplete/confusing content shifts my focus away from what it is you’ve hired me to do for you.

A proven process

Balancing admin time with design time

I’m a one-woman-show, so I try to keep admin time to a minimum. My contract is written in simple, easy-to-understand language because like me, most of my clients are small businesses and don’t have a legal team to review. For new clients I always require a contract and a 50% deposit (based on an estimate) to start on a project.

My castle

I wear pajamas while I work

I design from my home office in Hamilton, Ontario. I have my own server, a gigantic screen, and a motorized standing desk. I listen to music as loud as I like. I have cats for coworkers. I work out on my lunch break. What I’m saying is I have a pretty sweet setup here, and this is where I do my work. If you’re looking for a designer to work in-house on a contract basis, that designer isn’t me.

9 to 5

Not just a movie starring Dolly Parton

Did you know that the 8 hour work day was originally intended to be a maximum, and not a minimum (as it seems to have become)? While it’s true that I enjoy what I do, it's still a job, and I certainly don’t want to spend all of my waking time doing it. Now that I’m a freelancer I am directly accountable for my own work-life balance. Having hobbies and spending time with the people I care about is incredibly important to me, and it’s what re-energizes me every day to do what I do. Downtime is also crucial to creativity and critical thinking. A burnt out mind is a limited mind.

That said, there are always going to be projects that require a few extra hours during the week to meet deadlines (and they are almost always offset by some leaner weeks). I do ask that you respect the fact that even though I’m a contractor, I’m also a human being and the hours outside of a normal work day (generally 9–5:30 for me) belong to me, unless it’s already been established that I’ll be working extended hours. Since we live in the digital age where we’re accessible 24 hours a day, it doesn’t hurt to set some boundaries regarding availability.

letting go

Let's practice our trust falls

This relationship requires trust on both sides. I have to trust that you'll pay me for the work I do for you, and you have to trust that my consultation is rooted in a wealth of education and experience. Just as you're an expert in your field, I'm an expert in mine. If you can't trust that's the case, then our relationship will be doomed from the outset.

Justafrog is the home of Leigh Peterson, a freelance graphic designer in Hamilton, Ontario.