Freelance Graphic Designer & Photographer
Occupation: Freelance Graphic Designer & Photographer - Angela Elliott Design & Photography
Most Recommended App: Dropbox
Last Thing You Read: Present over Perfect - can’t recommend enough!!!!
Twitter | Instagram handle: AngieRoxyE
Tell us about your journey? My background is in graphic design and branding. Photography just started out on the side in college (taking pictures of my dog!) and now my business is truly 50/50 split between design/web work and photography. Two years ago I started a retainer program for my long standing clients and that took off as well and evolved into doing content creation, newsletters, and social media management. It was a funny evolution…basically I designed everything for these platforms anyway and since people are usually busy actually running their business, it turned into “can you just send it out for me” and grew from there. I’m a one woman shop that wears many hats! I initially started out freelancing in college and came across a gig with a new startup. Fast forward 3 months later, they hired me as their Creative Director. I stayed with that startup for 7 years and through 2 acquisitions. I learned a ton…a lot of client interactions, sales, what to do….what NOT to do to run a successful company and team. After the last acquisition was announced, I decided to not go with the next company as I had gotten so far from where my passion is (I was a Client Services Director, not even doing creative work anymore) and decided to go back to working for myself. Throughout all that time at my corporate company, I was side-hustling on nights and weekends and whenever I could. So, I was lucky to have a business pretty much already running on rails when I “quit,” I had systems in place, I had clients and a pipeline, I just now had the time and freedom to focus on it and evolve it. So as of June 2017, I am officially my own boss again and I don’t regret that decision one second. The financial aspect is hard to adjust sometimes, but the freedom and flexibility to work on what I want to work on, to write, and most importantly, to spend time as I see fit with my baby girl makes it all worth it.
What what's your favorite part of your day? Waking up and not having to jump on some awful conference call haha. I’m still not used to that. But definitely mornings. I get to make my mornings at my pace. I wake up, have my coffee and breakfast, answer a few emails and enjoy the silence. Then my baby girl Reagan wakes up. I give her a bottle and then we take the dog for a walk. Then I get to go to the gym…in the middle of the morning…which I love. I put her down for a nap around 10 and then I get to crank out some work! I’m always so refreshed at that point to begin working. And while its a little later than most people might start their work day, its my business and my choice to how I structure my day and I just LOVE IT!
When do you feel most successful? When I get a rave review or email from a client who loves their work. It never gets old. And in photography, I’m more of a photojournalist type of style. I like moments over poses. So when I’m editing and I come across that one special moment that happened that the couple or family didn’t even realize and you can feel that emotion…thats the special sauce. I know when I send it to them, they’re going to love it.
What do you do to recharge when you’re feeling drained? I take a nap haha. Or I get outside and go for a little walk with my dog. Fresh air works wonders but honestly so does sleep! I went for so long not letting my body rest. I was working a full time job. I was freelancing on the side. I was super into Crossfit and working out 6 days a week. I went out all the time living it up because #YOLO. Then I got pregnant and my body just slammed on the brakes. Pregnancy makes you super tired anyways, but its like everything caught up with me all at once and I was just so physically, emotionally, and mentally drained. This was also the time the 2nd acquisition of the company I worked for was announced, so that certainly didn’t help the mental exhaustion! And being a parent...it makes you appreciate sleep! So if I’m getting cranky, I listen to my body and I take a nap (sleep when the baby sleeps is the most real advice I can give to any future parent).
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur? I wish I would have had more faith in myself and my abilities. But confidence I think just comes with experience. But the whole “work for exposure’ bit….while I do think people often need to pay their dues when they’re first starting out, there’s a line to it. I did loads of free design and photo work in the beginning….that were for non-profits or businesses I really believed in their mission and wanted to support and I’d do it again if I had to do it all over. I created relationships with clients that I have to this day. I supported things I believed in that were making a difference. And it gave me the warm and fuzzies. But doing work for exposure or press, that doesn’t translate to a monetary amount. Don’t fall for it. If thats your main motivator to doing the project, just walk away.
How do you optimize your day? I have to make a list when I’m done working each day for the next day, prioritized on what I need to get done first. That list is a combination of work and personal things. Because there’s only one of me and I only have so much time in a day, everything that needs to be done, is on the same list. There’s not a work list and a personal list. Because the personal stuff NEVER got done. But having that list to look at when I have my coffee each morning, so I’m not scrambling trying to remember what I have left to do on what project, who I need to get back to, etc….it just makes things a bit calmer each day.
Who is the person/people who allowed you to imagine more? My husband, Thomas. He’s my biggest cheerleader. He’s always supported since day one of what I wanted to do. He knew how much I wanted to go off on my own again and did everything he could to help me get ready for that. He always sees a bigger picture of what my business could be and drives me to get there.
What does imagining more mean to you and your story? I think as entrepreneurs we often get stuck in the day to day, worried about the sales pipeline, and money going in and out each month. But we all have these little ideas in our head of how to make our business (or a new business) bigger, better, and more efficient. Me personally, I have a whole notebook filled with them. But its taking the time to actually do them. To actually implement them. To put the pieces together so its not something you say you wish you did, but something you’re doing. All too often, I’ve met business owners who see someone else in their field doing something and think that they could never do it, even if they want to. There’s the comparison trap and that nasty voice we can all get inside our heads telling us “we can’t.” Imagining more to me is silencing that voice. #boybye
My journey to imagining more is broken up into steps.
Step 1 was getting systems in place to make my business run better, for both me and my clients. Check.
Step 2 was quitting my job so I could really focus on this business of mine and take it to the next level. Check.
Step 3 - start scratching off things off in my notebook of ideas. Maybe they’ll tank. Maybe they’ll do great. But at least I’ll know the answer.
I’m at a point in my life and career where the fear of regret is far greater than my fear of failure.
If you could do more of one thing every day what would it be? Workout - which is my therapy. And Writing - I love sharing my knowledge and being transparent of what it takes to be a business owner, a designer, an artist, and a mom. Its not always glamorous and its so easy to compare to the highlight reel of social media of what the “it” girls are doing, but I’ve found that sharing my struggles, my concerns, my fears with my followers has created such great connections and relationships. I’m hoping to expound on that more in the coming months since I now have the time to write more.
Favorite social media platform? Instagram for my business. Snapchat for my personal life :)