Editor’s note: We’re checking in with Lily Liseno of Lily Liseno Designs to talk about her exciting accomplishments. If you want to learn more about her business, read the original post and follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter.
1. What business milestones have you achieved since we last spoke?
I changed my branding and services to include web design, branding and web design/branding packages. That’s a pretty big milestone for me because I had a hard time finding a focus and nailing down what I really wanted to offer. For now, I feel that I actually have it figured out!
Another huge milestone, I’ve had several paying clients so far! Mainly for smaller jobs, but looking back, I can definitely see progress in the clients and type of work I am getting. My branding is focused on empathy, intuitiveness, compassion, creative living and modern design — and I can see that reflected in the types of clients I’m getting. The projects are getting bigger and more exciting, and I’m working with people who have been an absolute dream.
My biggest challenge has been — and still is — valuing myself and my work. It’s a struggle for me to not do things for free, throw in a few extra revision rounds, or discount my services, especially for friends and people I know. I struggle to value my work for what it is out of fear of being rejected, but I can see that I am improving in that area looking back.
Taking online classes and practicing design has helped me, too. These practices give me more experience, which in turn gives me confidence. Spending a day creating contracts for my work has helped as well, because it gives both clients and myself boundaries to work within.
3. Any hints, tips or tricks you’ve discovered that boosted an aspect of your business (i.e., sales, engagement, social media, etc.)?
Word of mouth is by far the No. 1 way I’ve been getting clients. I just keep practicing and show up every day. That’s literally all I do. I put myself out there, practice, post on social media, and things come up. I get clients in unexpected ways, so I learned to not stress about posting on social media EVERY DAY and commenting on EVERY post in my web designers group.
I mention that I’m a web/graphic designer in my online profiles everywhere.
Usually, my Facebook friends are the ones that notice my work and want me to do something for them or know someone who needs something done. While I don’t recommend offering free or discounted rates for friends all the time, their word of mouth has certainly helped my portfolio. It also builds confidence through practice. That being said, I’ve also learned to not be afraid to charge friends full price!
4. What new technology or business practices are you looking to learn? What skills do you want to further develop?
I’m always looking to further develop my WordPress and coding skills. Sometimes it gets overwhelming, so I’m looking for great WordPress developer classes. I’m actually trying to save up for one right now on skillcrush.com. I’ve also gotten into Squarespace design, which I absolutely love and am learning more about.
Although I enjoy both the design and the more technical development side of my work, I have always loved design more. WordPress and coding comes as more of a challenge for me, so anything that will help me further my skills and knowledge in those areas is always helpful.
5. What are your upcoming plans for 2017?
I want to focus on gaining a steady income and working with clients I love. I mapped out a whole client calendar with imaginary clients and a client schedule, which will help me feel more stable, happy, and excited about work, as well as allow me to have a steadier income. I refined and wrote out who my ideal client is so I can focus my branding and energy completely on them. I will continue this coming year to learn, grow and value myself every day.
Many people and sources have told me to give myself five years to find my groove in my business, so that’s my plan. Doing this will help me not feel overwhelmed about not earning enough, not having enough clients, etc.
I’ve also learned that taking long breaks from work helps to not get burned out, so I’m looking to implement that as well. I had a weird hiccup in my life this past year, worked way too hard during an already stressful time, and burned myself out to the point that I didn’t do any work for three months. Taking breaks is necessary for me now.
Best of luck to you in 2017. Thanks again for catching up with us, Lily!
Also published on Medium.