Freelancing Females: Ashlee Binderim
Age: 22 Location: Flagstaff, AZ
Anything you would like to share about yourself?
As a graphic design graduate, my goal of opening my own graphic design studio has always been a dream of mine. Over the years, I have slowly geared my career path towards this goal, taking in every bit of business and design experience I could along the way. Working in the design world, I had the invaluable opportunity to develop my design, project management, business acumen and client communication experience. I have been longing for a place to call my “design home” to showcase the work of all these creative ventures as well as take on clients independently and build my own business as I have for so many others.
Tell us a bit about your business:
In August 2016, I decided to open up Ashlee Binderim Digital Design Co. to help me and my hubby achieve our dreams of helping people and traveling. After launching with my fingers crossed and high hopes, I've been able to surpass my wildest dreams. I now help people on a daily basis by using my skill set and branding their business. I spend my days designing, learning, and growing. This journey has been humbling and uplifting all at the same time. I'm humbled by the challenges and uplifted by the successes – being my own boss is the most challenging job that I've had yet.
How did you decide to start freelancing?
After a lot of thought, I knew that my 9 to 5 job wasn't taping into my creative bone enough. So, I decided to open up an Etsy shop (which is still open) to create works of art and really play around with design and finding my particular style. After a couple of months of that, I knew that I wanted to take it a step further and get a bit more serious with this. That's where the idea for Ashlee Binderim Digital Design Co. all started!
Do you freelance full time or is at side gig?
I wish I could freelance full time. But, for right now it's a side gig. I hope to eventually take it full time and buy a tiny home with my hubby and two fur babies and travel across the country. We have big hopes and dreams!
What are some struggles you face being a freelancer? What has been your greatest struggle?
There are so many struggles. So many more that I thought I would have. Some of the bigger struggles that I've faced in my business is narrowing down my grand ideas. I'm a BIG dreamer people. I lovingly call myself a chronic dreamer, because that part of me never stops. So, with that comes a lot of let down when things don't turn out the way that I expected. So, I would say my greatest struggle is listing to that part of me and then allowing reality to take hold for a bit and bring me back down to earth (my husband is good at that too!).
What is your favorite thing about freelancing? Whats your most memorable accomplishment?
My absolute favorite thing about freelancing is passing off my designs and brands to my clients and having them over the moon happy with what I created. Those moments remind me that I'm good at what I do and it validates all the hard work that I continuously put into design. One of my most memorable accomplishments with this side gig is paying off my student loans through it. My 9 to 5 job pays my bills, but my side hustle helps me pay off my debt sooner than I could ever imagine. I have about 6 months left of paying on my loans and then I'm debt free!
When talking to other freelancers they find setting their prices very challenging, how did you determine your prices?
I never really had a struggle with this. I know how much I am worth because of how much I paid for my degree. I know that my prices are a little steep for some clients, but I offer payment plans to help with that. But, I undervalued my work for so long that I started to get burnt out and just plain old tired. I started this side gig to help me tap into my creative bone again and it started to feel like another job. That's when I knew it was time to increase my prices. I did dissuade a lot of my clients, but I knew I just had to shift my focus and my target audience. So far, it's been slower than normal. But, I know that it'll pick back up because my prices are fair for my skill level.
Do you work from home? Do you like it or do you find yourself getting easily distracted? What are some tips you have about working from home?
I do work from home, and it does get a little distracting. But I don't let all the little things get in my way. I find that I need creative and mental breaks more than I do in my 9 to 5 job. So, I give myself about 20 minutes of straight work time and then I'll take a few minutes off to do dishes, start a load of laundry, play with my fur babies, or do another chore around the house. This way I'm getting things done at home (so my house doesn't look like a disaster – because that's more distracting to me than anything else) and I get to do what I love most – design!
What does a typical workday look like for you?
A typical workday looks somewhat like this:
I wake up around 6am and get ready to go to work and I'll get to my 9 to 5 job around 7:15 every morning. I'll do work for my "9 to 5" until lunch, when lunch rolls around I usually have a few errands I need to do for my business. Once lunch is over, I get back to work. After I get off work, I'll usually hang out with some friends or go straight home. I'll hang out with my pups for a bit and then I jump into my fun "work" (my design business) and do that until the hubby comes home, which is usually around 7. I'll make us dinner and then if he has homework, I'll hop back on the computer and finish up what I was doing earlier that day.
Work Life Balance… Does this exist and what are your thoughts and tips?
It's hard working a "9 to 5" job and then giving the rest of your time to your side gig. Relationships tend to take a back burner. That was definitely something that happened with the first few months of starting my business. But, I realized that family is so much more important that struggling to make pennies. So, I automated most of my business and engaged with people and answered emails as soon as I could get to them. But, my hubs and I decided that we need to carve out dinner time and maybe a movie after we're both done with what we needed to be done for the day. If it didn't need to be done, it could wait till tomorrow.
What are your favorite Freelancing resources?? (Programs, Apps, book recommendations, etc...)
I have a couple favorite freelancing resources!
iCloud - I would recommend this to anyone. No matter where you are or what computer you're on, you can access your home computer, desktop, and all those files. It's so handy!
Grum - I use Grum to post to Instagram with the first comment of all my hash tags. It's seriously the best app that I've found so far to post. It also tracks how many likes and comments that you've gotten on your posts and when you posted it so you know when it's the best time to post.
FB Scheduler – again, super handy tool to use. Plus, it's free! Hard to beat that!
Dropbox - this is a great resource when it comes to sharing content with my clients. I absolutely love how convenient it is to share all of the massive files that I make and give my clients a link that's good for many months.
Adobe Suite – I purchase the whole Adobe suite because I hope to use and understand all of the programs (plus it's cheaper to purchase the whole suite rather than the 3 programs I use the most). I highly recommend it!
I have learned from experience that setting boundaries is essential when running your own business. You need to set boundaries with yourself regarding work hours and leisure time, but you also need to set boundaries with your friends and families requesting your services. How have you dealt with setting boundaries?
Like I mentioned earlier, my hubs and I have created a rough schedule that seems to work for now. But, that might change in the future when he's out of college. So, also being open and flexible is also important to understand your partner and their needs. But when it comes to friends and family requesting my services – I do set some pretty firm boundaries with those. I don't give my services away for free because I spent a fortune on my education and a degree. The way I see it, my clients are helping me pay off that cost of my education. So, that applies to my family as well.
Do you freelance on your own? Do you find it hard sometimes or lonely? How do you combat feeling discouraged?
I am a solopreneur. It's just me, myself, and I. But, hopefully not for long! Once business starts to pick up more and more and I can no longer handle social media and a few other medial tasks I would love to take on a VA to do that for me! When it comes to feeling alone, I just reach out in Facebook communities and chat with a few entrepreneur friends that I've made along the way. I do the same when I feel discouraged (which happens a lot). I just reach out and ask for advice and a cheerleader in that moment. We all feel like that at one point or another.
What would be your advice to collaborate with other creatives?
Do it! It's so much fun reaching out to fellow creative entrepreneurs who understand you and your struggles, heartbreaks, and successes. This is how you build friendships that last for the rest of your life. My only warning: Make sure that you absolutely know and trust the person you want to collaborate. Create a contract – even if you're BFF's. It's just good practice to cover your own butt and your collaborators butt too!
How do you handle burnout? How do you creatively recharge?
I usually take a small vacation from my business. I noticed when I'm not creating and crafting just for myself, that I get burnt out quicker. So, I'll take days where I don't look at my computer and I just paint all day or I'll watch a movie. This is your business after all. Your CEO. So, take an early lunch without guilt. Take the rest of the day off if it's not going according to plan. Reschedule that meeting if you just are over today. It's ok! Take time for yourself because coming back from a burnout is much harder than treating yourself every now and then.
Any other advice you would have for someone looking to start freelancing?
Learn, research, and learn some more! There are so many great resources out there for people starting their freelance business. Take advantage of those. Don't be afraid to set aside some money to invest in yourself and your business. It'll be worth it in the end.
Where can we find you?
Learn more about the Freelancing Female Series.
Have questions for Ashlee? Leave them in the comments below!