â€œI wish I could work at home in my pajamas.â€
â€œIt must be nice to be able to make your own schedule and take off whenever you want.â€
â€œYou must love that you donâ€™t have to get up early.â€
These are just some of the things that people say when I tell them I own a graphic design company and work out of my home office.Â Of course the answers are as follows: yup, I do most my work in my PJ’s; I can definitely go grocery shopping in the middle of the day and theoretically take a day off if I want to; and no, I certainly don’t HAVE to get up early. But as with every job, things aren’t always what they seem so I thought it might be fun to write down what a typical day is like at Breakaway Graphics.
7:00 a.m. I wake up and immediately start thinking of which projects I need to get done today. As I pour myself a cup of coffee, I am making a mental checklist (ok, sometimes I do this out loud but my cat doesnâ€™t seem to mind) then I head straight into my office where I start up my Mac and sign onto my email. What?! 29 new messages? But I didnâ€™t sign off until 9pm last night. Well, okay, I better get my game face on.
8:00 a.m. Iâ€™ve managed to filter through last nightâ€™s messages, responded to the ones that needed questions answered, composed printing quotes for a few and sent out two logo questionnaires (complete with instructions and an explanation on why this part of the process is so important). Now time to draft some proposals
8:55 a.m. I got two comprehensive proposals finished and emailed to the prospective clients. In five minutes my office hours will officially begin and the phone will start ringing. I guess itâ€™s a good thing Iâ€™ve gotten so much done already this morning.
9:22 a.m. I just got off the phone with a client and have a detailed list of instructions on the revisions Iâ€™m to get done today for that 32-page brochure but first, back to those emails. Several of them were responses to some proofs I sent out yesterday. I have to get to those before I get side-tracked. Oh, crap I forgot to eat breakfastâ€¦.guess youâ€™ll have to wait until lunch, tummy.
9:24 a.m. Phone rings. I answer it. Spend 40 minutes chatting with a possible new client, telling her how I started my company, my philosophy on design and what to expect through the process of creating a brand. Really nice gal, this could be a really fun project. Send out another logo questionnaire.
10:02 a.m. Ok, now Iâ€™m really going to get those revisions done.
10:04 a.m. Email One. Add the TM symbol to every instance the clientâ€™s name is mentioned in their layout. Try to fit twice as much copy in the layout without making the page look too jumbled. Bold and italicize several words throughout the spread. Send proof.
10:17 a.m. Email Two. Swap out the main photo in an advertisement after I have cut out the background and cloned a sheep (joking). Change the background color. Reformat copy due to the layout changing unintentionally by swapping out picture. Send proof.
10:56 a.m. Email Three. Conceptualize and design a new advertisement campaign that can be used in multiple formats and outlets. Send proofs. Stop to answer a few quick emails that have come through and politely tell a solicitor that my number is on the do not call list.
12:54 p.m. How did I miss lunch? I suppose an apple while I try to stay on top of work will have to suffice.
12:55 p.m. With apple in hand, I attempt to type one handed while revising copy. I chat with my Florida publisher via speaker-phone.
12:59 p.m. Apple devoured.
1:00 p.m. Emails Four through Sixteen. Type set and place 12 full-page advertorials, complete with 400 words, photos and logos. Oops, some of the logos and photos were supplied in the wrong format/size/resolution. I switch to PhotoshopÂ®, reformat, resize, resample, resave the files, switch back to InDesignÂ® and continue production. Send all 12 proofs to 12 separate clients.
2:28 p.m. Email Seventeen. Perform several revisions to a logo design, which as it turns out, forces me to essentially start from scratch. Those of you who are familiar with IllustratorÂ® know what I mean. Send proof.
3:23 p.m. A few more emails have accumulated in my mailbox. Design four advertisements for four different clients of one of my magazines. Match proofs to the correct email addresses, draft emails, hit sendâ€¦.four times.
4:45 p.m. Tummy, you are going to have to stop growlingâ€¦.donâ€™t you know Iâ€™m trying to work? I canâ€™t hear my own thoughts over all that noise youâ€™re making.
4:45 p.m. Get started on the revisions for that 32-page brochure. I would tell you all the details of the edits but this blogâ€™s not big enough.
6:25 p.m. Yes! I got all the revisions made on the multi-page and the new proof sent to the client. Seven of the 12 advertorial clients have since responded. Two are approved as is, the other five have revisionsâ€¦better get back to work, but first I HAVE to get some food.
6:40 p.m. Iâ€™m back at my desk with my burger in a bag, salivating at the prospect of eating itâ€¦hmmmm, you donâ€™t know how long Iâ€™ve waited for your greasy yumminess, burger. Prepare to be defeated.
7:00 p.m. Have to make those changes to those five advertorials. Since my office hours technically ended 2 hours ago, I should be able to get this knocked out by 8:00.
8:03 p.m. Sweet! I got done on time. Time to make my backups for the day.
8:14 p.m. Iâ€™m pretty sure Iâ€™ve got the power to knock out the requests that came in while I was eating and completing the revisions. One of the magazine advertisers got back to me: I add the email address, facebook address and icon, 800 number and a third picture. Reformat text to accommodate the additions and send proof. One of my prospective clients emailed back his logo questionnaire. Time to go over it but the proposal will have to wait until tomorrow, I think.
9:20 p.m. Now itâ€™s time to shut down for the night, take a shower (if I have the energy), take the dog for a walk and hit the sack.
10:17 p.m. Good night world.
Well, thatâ€™s about it and I will do it all over again starting early tomorrow morning. I absolutely love what I do (I mean who would work these sorts of hours if they didnâ€™t have a passion for what theyâ€™ve chosen as a career) and I wouldnâ€™t trade my workday for any other. Graphic design takes a lot of hard work, self-discipline, great time-management, and personal sacrifice …along with talent and experience, of course. Everyday is different from the last so Iâ€™m never bored and yes, I do get to work in my P.J.â€™s. For me, long days, few vacations and total accountability are a small price to pay for truly loving and enjoying everyday at work. Plus thereâ€™s nothing more rewarding than seeing your hard work come to fruition when the printed piece is completed!
Thanks for a informative and interesting article about freelance graphic designer. I enjoyed it very much, keep it up.