A strong network of industry partners can be a powerful thing.
(These are other designers, writers, programmers, etc.)
When I say partner, I don’t necessarily mean having an official ‘business partner’. More of a trusted group of like-minded people in the industry.
The goal is to build a network where others can refer work to you (and vice versa). Share knowledge. And, build lasting friendships.
Take on the jobs you like, refer (or sub-contract) the rest.
One of the things that burns out most freelancers/designerpreneurs, is taking on too much.
Many design projects force you to take on tasks that won’t be your key strength (or things you like to do in general). These are the tasks you should be referring, or sub-contracting to your network.
Forget the small picture - think BIG.
When I was first starting out I took on everything.
I was a designer. A writer. A photographer. An IT technician... plus a bunch of other things I can’t think of right now.
Of all these things - I was really only good at a couple of them.
My inexperience told me I should say yes to everything. I needed/wanted the income and it seemed like this was a good way to secure the job, and make some money.
This was small picture thinking.
Hindsight is 20/20...
I’ve learned that I should still say yes to everything... but sub-contract the tasks that I'm not good at / won't be a good investment of my time.
- You have more time to focus on your strengths (and tasks make you the most money)
- You have more time to work on business building and sales
- You'll help out an industry friend and start building a referral relationship with them
- You will deliver a better end product
The key is having the mindset that there is plenty of work to go around (because there is). Don’t think like a ‘starving’ designer.
Building your network
If you don’t have a diverse network of industry partners yet, that’s ok. It’s actually really easy to find people in your field.
Look in your community for industry-related meetups/networking events.
Where I live (in Niagara, Ontario) there are several events each month. Startup Drinks, Software Niagara, and a co-working group.
Tip: If you can’t find any in your area, perhaps think about starting your own. Chances are there are other people looking for the exact same thing.
If you live in a small town, the other alternative is to join online communities. You can find these through Facebook, Linkedin, and web forums.
The goal is to make money and do the work you love.
Follow this advice and I promise you’ll get on the path to achieving your goals.