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A conversation about freelancing with Orlando artist @rebeccacarmen

  • February 26, 2017
  • dcambaxp
  • Branding, Marketing, Web Design

This assignment was an adventure. It took me outside of my comfort zone and learned a thing or two in the process. I reached out everywhere I could to find a new contact willing and able to interview for 30 minutes. I couldn’t have found a better local freelancer and artist than Rebecca Carmen @rebeccacarmen. I found her on Instagram and sent her a direct message (modern-day cold calling) requesting an interview. She accepted to meet Saturday afternoon at her favorite coffee shop, Foxtail in Winter Park.
After a 52-hour work week, I rushed out of my office to make it on time. And there she was, sitting on a table for two with her green MacBook and an empty coffee cup a few minutes after 4pm.
I found a website with 80 questions for an informational interview and was prepared for my conversation. She was very open to share insights on what she does.
Rebecca markets herself using her first and middle name. She works full time for Disney but spends 35+ hours a week doing freelancing work for companies in Florida and Georgia. She’s been doing freelancing jobs for more than three years; “I started in high-school, and that is what brought me to what I do right now. I went to the Savanah College of Art and Design and we were also required to take business classes because you have to manage your own business. Most of what I do is self-taught, and I love what I do. That’s why I manage to work for Disney in their ‘store merchandising’ department and work full time for my clients as well.”
She creates content for their websites and designs products for those companies. One product in particular is a colored MacBook cover (that explained her cool green laptop) which she designed for them. Right now she’s designing book covers for a writer. Rebecca forte is product design, branding services and digital photography, which is 30% of what she does using an iPhone and a Fuji Film camera.
She gets clients by online referrals, especially Instagram and LinkedIn. Her brother is also a freelancer based in Prague who is a great source for mentoring and freelancing advice. Competition for what she does can be tough; she experiences down times and busy times but can’t pinpoint out the reasons for the market mood swings for her freelancing work. Winter or summer, demand for her services can seldom occur.
She prices her work depending on the job at hand. Sometimes she bills hourly and sometimes she bills by the skills she needs to use for the task. Rebecca confessed that sometimes you can budget for X amount of hours but you end up using more time than what you originally thought. She says that one big mistake, especially at the beginning of your freelancing career, is to under price yourself. She was guilty of it and she regrets it.
Freelancing has a lot of challenges in her view. From creating your own contracts, cold calling clients, and learning to manage the mood of customers, she says that freelancing “is not a glamorous as you think it is.” “Never second guess yourself during projects; you can end up very frustrated.”
Still freelancing can be very rewarding. “It’s a good validation for your own skills; you always learn new things.”
At the end of the conversation, she showed me the drawing pad she attaches to her laptop to draw, design and color dresses and products for Disney.
Cool toys can make your job easier.
After my interview I concluded that freelancing takes a lot of guts. You must be brave to go out there, knock on doors, and be good at it. It’s a leap of faith on your own skills and you must have the personally for it. In my case, to say it in the best eloquent way possible, I need to grow a pair to be a freelancer. A successful one, that is.