be free, lance / defining your strengths

One thing that I love about being my own boss is that I have the power to carve out my own path. There is no “standard” when it comes to the modern world of entrepreneurship these days, which is a big reason why so many people are starting their own business — and THAT is something I am so proud to be a part of. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking as of late regarding my past, present, and future. Not only in reference to my business, but my personal life as well. You see, I’m one of those people who walks the line of living seamlessly ( or crazily ) between those two things. Life intertwines with business. And work effects life. While difficult at times, I’ve come to accept that they will always have some kind of tie to one another — so why not make the best of it??

Now, I don’t mean for this post to come across as negative. What I’m truly trying to discuss is the strengths that we as creative individuals have. For awhile, I was paralyzed by my life/work balance. I have always loved my job, but wondered how I would keep up for twenty years, let alone more. I guess you could say I was nervous about the future. But one day, I started asking myself why I wasn’t making things easier for myself … which was one of those lightbulb moments.

I took out my notebook, wrote down what I felt were my true strengths, and thought a whole lot about what those things meant. I quickly realized that if I could tailor my business to solely utilize those things, I could keep the whole happy life/work balance thing in check. Feeling content within my business = more time to enjoy and appreciate this little thing called life, as it should be. With that said, I thought I would share with you all my three defined strengths in hopes that you, too, will take some time to really think about yours.

DESIGNER This one may seem fairly obvious, since I consider myself a designer by trade. I’ve always loved type, color, and believe that I truly am in the right “field.” But in order for this to continue as a strength, I’ve realized that I actually need to design less. The reason for this is to help maintain passion. I’ve already been taking on less work + becoming more picky about what I do take on, which has already been a huge help.

HELPER Throughout the last few years, I’ve loved writing + talking about freelancing. I understand how hard / scary it can be to start your own business, so I’ve really enjoyed sharing my own experiences and knowledge. I don’t see the point in keeping everything a secret — so I want to help — honestly and truthfully. It wasn’t until recently that I recognized how much a part of me this really is. I hope to introduce more of this within my business in the future through consultations, e-books, and more.

DIRECTOR As a freelancer, I was instantly thrown into a world of building my own business from the ground up. Although I’m constantly improving my process and daily techniques, I pride myself for consistent organization and always having a firm grip on what’s next. Because of this, I was able to bring a new designer, Maddy, on board and hope to continue expanding my business beyond just myself.

So there you have it, the strengths I’ve chosen to run with. Just by writing these three simple things down, I’ve felt a lot more relaxed and more excited about what the future holds. I’m a planner at heart and thrive on defining my own path. I know some people are more adventurous and able to go with the flow, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider your strengths. Give it a try and see what happens!

  1. Hanna says:

    Thank you for this post and this whole column actually. You are right, you should definitely incorporate being a helper more into your business. I am not a freelancer (yet) but reading blogs like yours always inspires me to work even harder to make this dream maybe come true one day.

    • breanna says:

      Thanks for the sweet words, Hanna! I, too, love reading blogs for inspiration on the daily. :)

  2. Shayla says:

    Another great post!
    I shared this series with my readers on my blog last Friday by the way. :)

    Unlike a lot of designers these days I spent years working for someone in the corporate world of marketing and advertising before going out on my own which I think is part of the reason why it took me a really long time to figure out how to do things my way and play to my strengths. For the first few years I just did what I did for a big company only this time I was doing it for myself, I never stopped to ask myself if it was what I really wanted to do now that I had a choice.

    But over the past 2 years I have been defining and redefining that, reinventing myself in a way I guess. Marrying my husband last year really pushed me even further to do that because like you my work and personal life are deeply intertwined and he was like “Hey, I don’t like seeing you so unhappy; why don’t you just do what you really want and forget the rest.” and I was like “DUH!” which is why I’m now focusing on illustration and my stationery company.

    On another note, I’m glad to hear that you’re going to bring your “Helper” side more into your work, I think this will be better and easier on you in terms of longevity and frankly I think you have a lot of great insights and knowledge to share. Without sounding like I’m telling you what to do I think you should consider speaking at conferences and offering workshops, you’d be really great at that and I think you’d fill them up quickly. Anyway that’s just my humble opinion. :)

    • breanna says:

      Shayla! You’re so sweet. :) I loved the “do what you really want and forget the rest” sentiment. That’s exactly what I was told last night as I was thinking out loud. I think it’s easy to get stuck in routine and forget that we as entrepreneurs have the freedom to actually REALLY do what we want and make it happen.

      I’m so so excited to bring my “helper” side more on board. It’s the one thing that I’ve never lost passion about, so I’d like to get to a point where I’m designing/directing half of the time and helping the rest, in whatever form possible. I spoke about freelancing once and loved it, so we’ll see what shape this side of me takes. I’m just brainstorming for the most part right now. :)


  3. Rebecca says:

    I love how helpful you are with things. It’s always appreciative and helpful and in the end just so interesting to read! Thanks Breanna :)

  4. Bethany says:

    Thank you so much for this! Although I’m just starting to pick up speed, I’m really worried that I’m going to get burnt out by all the things that I don’t REALLY love about my work and start hating design. I will definitely be considering the things I truly enjoy doing and making sure I focus on that.
    And I totally feel you about the life/work balance. It’s hard to tell the difference when my business makes up so much of my life and since I work from home, they always blend! Totally need to take control of that before it gets out of hand. Thanks for yet another awesome post!

  5. What a perfect mid-week inspiration. I definitely agree that being a creative, it’s sometimes difficult to find the balance. I appreciate your suggestions :)

  6. Noor says:

    I truly think that you will never have any problems in life doing anything that you want and choose. Your really great at what you do and you are a nice person that is a great combination. Also you’re young and you think about the big picture than most people at your age. I wish I had a head on my shoulders like you do at that age and I would be a lot happier I am sure :)

  7. Vanessa says:

    Love this, you’ve been such a great help to me even with my freelancing and I can’t explain how much I look up to you as a friend, designer and mentor. Just thought you should know, love you!!!

    • breanna says:

      V — thank you so much! I’m so happy that we’ve met and become good friends. I feel like it was meant to be and I CAN’T WAIT to see you again soon soon. ;)

  8. Mel says:

    This is one of my favourite posts of yours!

    I’d recently suffered a burn out so I feel like I’m starting from square one and find that reading your posts on your freelancing career has definitely helped me sort myself out :)

    • breanna says:

      Wow, thank you!! That means a lot. I’m glad some of what I have to say can help organize your thoughts. Wishing you ALL the best. :)

  9. Leah says:

    I love this post! It’s been a year since I went freelance and I’m still figuring stuff out, although I’m starting to see the areas where I’d like to be. I know I’ll get it eventually. :)

    By the way, LOVE your blog design. I’ve a thing for minimalist design and I tweak my blog all the time to get that clean, simple, yet unique look. I’m still at it, but your blog is a new inspiration! Following you now. :)

  10. […] a small business owner, focusing on your strengths can help you find balance and […]

  11. oh my goodness. If you started doing consultations, I would purchase one in a second. Literally. A second :)

    • breanna says:

      YOU are so SWEET, thank you. :) Would love to work with you in the future, and I promise I’m developing my consultation services as we speak. Hopefully during this summer I’ll have something in the works. xx.

  12. raspberry says:

    do you think that it’s important to have a degree in design for a designer?

  13. Latrina says:

    The “Be free, Lance” is probably my favorite blog column… ever. I can not tell you how many times I have read and re-read these blog entries. I always leave your blog feeling very refreshed… energized and a whole lot more motivated. You always manage to lift my spirits all while teaching me something new.

    I am currently reading the latest edition of “What color is your parachute?” — and THIS fits along quite well with the chapter I am on now… discovering your strengths + learning how to use them to best fit your dream job. So, reading your entry today only made me more excited. I have literally pages + pages of notes on myself… my strengths, passions, etc. I am slowly discovering more about me — not only as an artist but as a person, too.

    I’m glad to know that I’m the only one who writes things like that done too. It’s good! I’m like you — I hope everyone else will do the same. There’s soo many benefits from doing so. I love your 3 strengths, by the way. Don’t you just feel so… both excited and relieved to have discovered them? Or maybe not any discover… but acknowledge them? :)

    • breanna says:

      Thank you so so much! I’m glad you have pages and pages of your own notes going. I can totally relate! So glad Be Free, Lance can be of some help for you and your career path. :) Hope to see you around again! xx.

  14. Erica says:

    I love these posts. This series started at just the right time. I started my first ‘real’ job as a designer for an organization but know that i want to be my own boss someday. I just have to work on figuring out what my strengths are so I can have a clear goal of focus. Being an entrepreneur is scary and every little nugget of wisdom helps. As well as knowing that the ups and downs happen for all.

    Thank you!

  15. I’ve just discovered your blog / designs Breanna and I am completely hooked!

    I find I need these ‘big picture’ reminders as I tend to get caught up quite easily in details – scheduling tweets, writing blog posts, tidying up the website – and forget to check in with myself. I’m going to spend some time this weekend thinking about my strengths, which I think will help ‘recalibrate’ this focus and think bigger (and more in tune with myself)!

    Thanks for the wonderful post x

  16. M says:

    you’re my inspiration breanna! maybe you should share with us how to start being a freelancer without no connections at all. i dislike doing stuff that’s over-commercialized and would really like to be an independent artist myself but my portfolio isn’t strong enough, in fact i don’t have much. during daytimes i’m occupied with works by night i’m tired from the day and needed a rest. how i wish i can have more time to create things for my portfolio, and again i didn’t know where to start.

  17. […] some of you may know, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. The kind that digs into the deepest parts of your mind + heart. I’ve been absorbing […]

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