My Road to $10,000 a Month (Day 0)

Hi, I’m John. If you haven’t read my foreword, I’m a self-taught freelance graphic designer who began my freelancing career 5 years ago. Since then, business had grown steadily, and I have had the pleasure of working with hundreds of clients on many interesting projects.

However, as we are all aware, the current situation has affected freelancers in many ways, mostly negative. Until recently I can say that I have been doing quite well as a freelance graphic designer. However, the coronavirus pandemic meant that many businesses have had to cut costs or close down altogether. And with more urgent priorities such as rental fees and employee salaries, businesses and brands are less likely to invest in design services. I’m certainly feeling the pinch; my earnings in April are less than half of what I earned in March.

Luckily, I followed my own advice in When to Start Freelancing and saved up enough to tide me through a couple of years. I have also build a solid client base that sends me projects and referrals from time to time.

Obviously I’m a bit bummed out since this year was on track to be the best one yet for my freelancing career. But instead of blaming the current situation, I see it as an opportunity to work on my own projects and focus on marketing strategies to fuel my business growth. As such, while others anticipate their earnings to go down during these uncertain times, my goal is $10,000 a month within 365 days (or a year). It’s a lofty goal for sure, but as the saying goes, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you will land among the stars.”

Starting this month I will be recording the steps I’m taking to achieve that goal, so be sure to check back here regularly and follow me on this road to $10,000 a month.


MY MOTIVATIONS

So what’s driving me forward? Well, I’m always up for a challenge. And what better challenge than to defy the odds of a global pandemic and achieve success.

Living with one’s parents is the norm where I’m from since rents are ridiculously high. However, due to personal reasons I’m actually planning to move out of my parents’ place within the next two months. Based on my research, a small studio apartment costs around $1,800(!) a month. As such, if I don’t start repurposing my design business I will be in the red sooner than later.


WHAT I HAVE DONE SO FAR

UPGRADED MY PORTFOLIO SITE

Like I emphasized in Getting Started with Your Portfolio, the portfolio is the single most important thing for a graphic designer. Last month, I took the time to completely overhaul my portfolio. My focus was to appeal to more clients through case studies on how I worked with past clients to improve their branding and sales potential.

Redesigned my portfolio site to better attract clients
redesigned my portfolio site to better attract clients

I also discovered a major issue where visitors were unable to access my portfolio due to an expired SSL certificate. If you have a portfolio site, ensure that its SSL certificate is valid; otherwise, most browsers will display a warning message deterring any user from entering your website.

Until last month, I have been using Gmail for my email messages. However, someone pointed out that it would be more professional to have a custom business email address, which I agree. Since my web hosting package includes hosted email, I created a business email address and redirected it to Gmail. I also added a Messenger chat icon so there is another call-to-action for potential clients to reach me.

Have you heard of DAISO? It is one of the most popular 100-yen shop brands in Japan, with products that are great value for money. Inspired by their business model, I created a value dollar store on my website selling my unused logo assets from $20 to $40. Currently, around a hundred are on sale, and I will add more depending on the response.

Started offering affordable premade logos on my website
started offering affordable premade logos on my website
STARTED MY WEBCOMIC SERIES

I have always wanted to create my own webcomic series, and finally realized my dream last month. Catnips is now available on WEBTOON, featuring a slightly socially awkward and adorably silly cat as he tries to navigate all the ups and downs of daily life. The reception so far has been pretty good, which is motivating me to create more episodes.

Started Catnips, my webcomic series on WEBTOON
started Catnips, my webcomic series on WEBTOON
EXPANDED ON MY PASSIVE INCOME

Having passive income has helped to significantly boost my income as a freelancer. I have been adding designs periodically on print on demand sites such as Redbubble and Teepublic, but last month I went hard and added close to 30 new designs. Consequently, more sales are coming in, so it’s a manner of scaling up.


MY PLAN OF ACTION

I plan on aggressively promoting my services on various social media such as Instagram and Reddit. So far I haven’t given serious consideration to freelance sites, but it’s probably time to brush up my freelancer profile and apply to some of the projects there. I will also be reaching out to past clients in hopes of acquiring new projects and referrals.

As for passive income, I will continue to add more designs and try out new print on demand sites. Similarly, a sale last month on LogoGround has motivated me to upload more of my unused logo assets on ready-made logos for sale marketplaces.

I will continue adding new episodes of Catnips to WEBTOON on a regular basis.


I hope that the constant updates will not only keep me accountable, but also inspire you to take positive actions to improve your income potential as a graphic designer in this period of uncertainty.

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