You can definitely call Carolina a digital nomad. She loves freelancing, her job as a graphic designer and traveling the world. Currently she is living and working in Vietnam. Exploring different places and working from abroad gives her inspiration every day. According to Carolina the biggest challenge of freelancing is handling different functions at the same time. You don’t only have to be good at design, but also at sales, negotiation, closing deals, networking, maintaining business relations etc. Read more about our freelancer of the week in the full interview!1) Hello Carolina, thanks for the opportunity for an interview. Firstly, can you tell us and our users a bit about yourself?
I’m a 28 year old graphic designer from Belgium – well half-Belgian, half-Portuguese 🙂 I create brands and experiences for companies & early-stage startups. I’m a startup enthusiast (as you might have guessed), a fan of all things that have to do with science & tech and I love to travel.
2) If you would search for your profile on Google, which are the three keywords you would type in the search bar?
Logo-lover, scifi fan, serious chocolate-eater.
3) What was your inspiration and when did you actually decide to become a freelancer?
I started freelancing as a graphic designer as soon as I had the skills to do so. My goal was to achieve a location independent lifestyle, and not many Europeans companies (let alone Belgian ones!) enable ‘workfromhome’ or remote work. I felt like freelancing was the only way to go.
4) What was the occasion to start freelancing? What were you doing before you started to freelance?
I was working on a startup and like most prefunded projects, you don’t have much money to spend on outsourcing. Among many other things I was doing, I learned how to use photoshop and illustrator so I could design some of the things we needed myself. When I decided to leave the project, I had become quite good and passionate about it.
5) In your opinion, which are the main benefits of working as a freelancer?
I really love being my own boss, I love that I don’t have to ‘follow orders’. I started out in a 95 job and I hated every second of it, I didn’t believe in the company I was working for and I didn’t believe in their vision. I think that when you’re working for yourself, the underlying motivation to wake up and get s*** done is different to the one you have when you work for someone else
6) Your Twitter told us you are traveling around Asia right now, that’s probably a dream for many freelancers! How did everything start? How is it to be a digital nomad?
I’ve been officially location-independent for over a year now. I say officially because traveling has always been part of my life. Now all of my belongings fit in a suitcase. Vietnam is my 5th country and I have been to Hungary, Croatia, Thailand and Malaysia before. You can call me a “slow-traveler” which means that I prefer to settle down for a few months in each location. It gives me time to set up my routines, meet and network, work and be productive and do the normal touristy stuff.
7) You focus your career on Logo design. How and why did you decide that you wanted to specialize on logos? What are, in your opinion, the key features for a great company logo?
I love the creative process behind it from the client brief to research, conceptualization and most of all presenting the final product to the client. I love the power that a good logo has. Good logos can convey emotions and more than that, they can convey values. A great logo for me is simple but memorable. I especially love logos with hidden meanings. They need to be unique and of course adapted to your client’s needs and aspirations. All of this is easier said than done of course!
8) You studied Business Administration and you say on your website it helps you to better understand what the client wants. Could you provide some tips for those freelancers without that experience? How do you communicate with your client to design exactly what he had in mind?
My business background allows me to communicate better with my clients. I like to say that I can talk ‘business’ with them. It’s easy for me to understand what they are trying to achieve, grasp both the short and long term strategy and where my design fits in. I can also explain to them the power behind effective design and how that factors into what they want to achieve. This is something that you don’t learn in business school, but which I came to understand later on! My advice for other freelancers on would be to understand the basics behind a company’s competitive landscape and positioning. No need to get lost in the theory, just make sure you know things like niche markets and so on.
9) What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting a freelance career? And what does it takes to be successful as a freelancer?
DON’T DO IT! No I’m joking ;) But I do think freelancing isn’t for everyone and it’s hard work. It’s not just being good at design, it’s being good at sales, negotiation, closing deals, networking, maintaining business relations, marketing (…). I think most people have an ideal of what freelancing looks like, but I know that I work harder and make more hours than any of my full time employed designer friends. I’ve had to acquire skills that I never knew were important before like how to write a killer proposal, how to negotiate a deal and so on. Design is only a little part of my daily routine.
10) What do you think are the main reasons why freelancers fail or prefer to go back
into full time employment?
I think most freelancers get stressed out about the insecurity of not having the stability that full time employment offers. I know I still struggle with that. I think they fail because it’s hard to grasp the extend of what a successful freelancing career means. When you’re a digital artist and amazing at what you do, it’s not obvious to know that you need sales, marketing, negotiation (…) skills.
11) What are your future plans with regard to your career?
I’m going focus on being damn good at what I do ;) But my more long term plans are to open a branding agency, I’ll make that happen within a year and am looking for collaborators if you know any!
12) Tips and tricks from a freelancer to freelancers?
Well if there is anything I can do to help out a fellow freelancer, reach out! I’m always available for a chat, especially if I can pull someone to the dark side. And talking about dark side, if you think you’d enjoy a Star Wars themed vector pack check my website, there is one up there for free!
13) Last but not least, what are in your opinion the top three books, blogs or magazines every graphic/visual designer should read to stay up to date?
There are 2 blogs I follow that focus on building a business: Millo.co (for creatives) and Beingboss.club. Their online communities have been extremely helpful and the content is high quality. For more design-related stuff especially freelancing I like Howdesign.com.
14) Freestyle! Is there anything you would like to tell our readers?
Hmmmm good question! Well, I would like to point out that freelancing is hard and traveling while freelancing is even harder – especially for those who don’t have stable client work. But if it is something you’re interested in, do it! It’s totally worth it! I’ve found a never-ending source of inspiration, I’ve met some of the most incredible people whilst traveling, and it has done wonders for my professional and personal growth.
Pic: © Carolina Correa
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