The idea of being your own boss is a pretty attractive one, but what does it take to turn your hobby into a career? One-woman-show Whitney Anderson has not only mastered graphic design, she’s built a success from her passion.
Whitney has wanted to dedicate her life to art since she was a child. After working full-time for a stationery shop and jewelry company, she took the plunge into freelancing.
Like many solopreneurs, Whitney doesn’t just do one thing. While her main career is designing, she also runs a paper goods and small wearables business. Yet she doesn’t do this work from an office or coworking space–– she does it from home.
We sat down with Whitney to find out how she finds clients, juggles projects, and nails running her business.
It’s a crazy life! I love what I do and wouldn’t change it for the world. Since I quit my day job in January, I have one less thing to balance – but that also means I’m taking on more side projects! I’m also making sure that I make more time with my family and friends. That part of my life was a little bit neglected when I was trying to juggle so many things.
I feel very fortunate that our home has a dedicated extra room that I can use for my office. I’ve tried to make the space as enjoyable and inspiring as possible. I decorate with pieces of artwork that inspire me, and make sure that I have a decluttered space. Of course, I also crank my music.
My biggest piece of advice is to fill your creative space with things that inspire you!
It depends on the piece! Sometimes I have a great idea for a phrase, so I’ll sketch it out a few times and work the illustration into the composition afterwards. Sometimes the illustration is the important part, and I’ll format the hand lettered text to fit around the illustration.
I really love Canela right now. It has beautiful subtle serifs but looks modern and fresh. And it comes in a wide range of weights, so it’s very versatile.
I find new things that inspire me daily. I’ve always been very aware of my surroundings, so I use things that I see to fuel my creativity. It could be as simple as the color palette of a stranger’s outfit, or some graffiti that I see on a passing train. I never know when inspiration may strike.
I also pull a lot of inspiration from vintage advertising and packaging that I find in antique stores. I love the beautiful type pairings and attention to detail that you can find on something that was created decades ago.
I really don’t do any self promotion. Crazily enough, most of the clients I’ve done freelance work with have found me through Instagram! I started posting my work on there several years ago, and it was slow at first. Yet over the years it’s grown to where I get several inquiries per week. I never would have expected Instagram to play such a huge part in my freelance career.
I created some custom lettering for a local coffee shop a while back, and they silk screened it onto some glasses and mugs. It’s really fun to see those in use every time I visit.
Height variance and visual interest are key to me. I love looking for new ways to merchandize my booth to make it visually appealing. One of my favorite ways to do that is by having my products standing upright wherever possible. It draws people’s attention more than items lying flat on a table. I also try keep my displays simple.
I think the biggest thing is that it isn’t all glamorous. There’s a lot of work behind the scenes: doing admin, sending quotes, drafting up project proposals, etc. A good portion of my week isn’t spent designing. Of course, that just comes with the territory. I’m learning to enjoy it and figure out a system to be more efficient with my time. I’ve also learned to say no to projects that aren’t right for me.
Keep creating! Even if you aren’t getting the clients that you want at this point, keep working on personal projects and putting that work out there. And the opposite is true, too – if you’re working on things that you don’t want to do more of, don’t post it on your portfolio.