Within the ”Freelance Tips With…” series I introduce freelancers from all over the world who share insights from their life and work routine.
Today you’ll meet Christine Lieu, the expert behind CL Designs. She’s a graphic designer who has traded climbing the corporate ladder for climbing mountains around the world. Saying “No!” to dull and clunky visuals and “Yes!” to consistency, creativity and efficiency
Here’s what Christine shared regarding taking the leap towards freelancing and making the best out of it…
What’s your freelancing niche?
I help lifestyle businesses realize their vision and connect with the people most important to them. Whether you’re looking to launch a new website or create a rebrand and you’re ready to level up, let’s get started.
Why did you decide to become a freelancer?
I want to spend quality time with the people I care about most and do what I enjoy.
I want to work when I’m most efficient instead of being told when I can take a vacation, or when I’m allowed to go see the doctor or see my family while working 8+ hours a day on something I don’t truly believe in.
What was your job before that?
I was a digital associate producer for CBC Music. Sounds like a dream job, right? Sure was. I got to live sketch for the Polaris Music Prize Gala, do social media coverage for The JUNO Awards in Vancouver and got to interview numerous artists that I admire.
It took a lot of courage to understand when it was ready to take a leap into the next chapter in order to grow personally.
What does mountain climbing give you? How do you combine it with your freelancing tasks?
It’s always been about levelling up and reaching that next peak but learning to take those moments to appreciate the view along the way. That activity and just being outdoors inspires me to see the world with a different perspective and to get clear on the intentions of what I’m creating.
What’s the biggest challenge you face as a freelancer?
There is no rule book for this journey. Everyone has a different path and a different mentality of how they want to approach freelancing or entrepreneurship.
Being able to time manage working on your business versus in it can be a challenge. With our never-ending to-do lists, it can feel like it’s not enough, but we are.
We all have the same 24 hours in a day, it’s just a matter of how you utilize that time. Your time is valuable. What we accomplish each day is more than enough.
What’s the best advice you can give to the people who’re making their first freelancing steps?
Just start! Eat the frog. Do the hard thing first and everything else will seem easy.
I promised myself that I would continue learning and taking risks beyond fear and doubt and it hasn’t lead me astray yet. That goal that you continuously keep dreaming of is just a step outside of your comfort zone. Take that step forward!
Believe whole-heartedly in what and why you do what you do. Not everyone will agree with you but get yourself a good, core support system. It will help keep you grounded as you grow.
What would you say to the people who hate being trapped in their office from 9 to 5 but don’t see another option to make a living?
You always have a choice. I’m not here to sugar coat it that it will be easy but I comfort you that it’s worth it. It may not happen overnight but I assure you that you will learn a lot about yourself and what you’re capable of.
I’m not afraid of failure, I’m afraid of succeeding in the things that don’t matter. I rather not live in what if’s and know that I truly tried to make something work instead of not trying at all.
What’s the best part of being a freelancer according to you?
When I officially took the leap from corporate to my business back in October 2018, I’ve since lived and worked in 6 countries (11 cities) within the last 6 months alone.
This was a dream I’ve always wanted to work towards and to know that my hard work and dedication has paid off to make this a reality is indescribable.
Getting the opportunity to meet so many incredible individuals along the way has been so much fun. I truly get to design the life I want.
What advice would you give to the freelancers who’re struggling to find clients? What’s your secret to finding clients?
There is no secret that building good relationships take time. That’s true with clients as well. You need to show up and show that you genuinely care.
I’m no longer looking to focus on one-off projects and really value getting to know businesses and their owners that are looking for something long term to grow with one another. When you get clear on who your ideal client is, that also opens up clarity for those people to find you.
Should freelancers be active on social media? If yes, what’s the best and most effective way to do this?
Yes, definitely! For me, I believe in community and collaboration over competition. Being able to genuinely connect with others fosters a great sense of fulfilment. It also allows you to serve your community and potential clients through your valuable content.
Follow Christine on…
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made as a freelancer?
Not fully asking for or understanding my worth. Do not underestimate yourself and what you have to offer.
There’s a great quote that explains, “If I do a job in 30 minutes it’s because I spent 10 years learning how to do that in 30 minutes. You owe me for the years, not the minutes.” A solid contract and required deposit are also essential to get on the same page from the get-go!
When are you the most productive: when working from home, from a coworking space or from a cafe? How do you stay focused?
It really changes every day but I do find a lot of comfort and ease in working from a bed! It sounds counterintuitive but I feel at ease in order to create and let the ideas flow. It’s where I feel most focused.
However, I do love a co-working space to socialize and build that community when it can become easy to hermit myself from the rest of the world. Cafés are also my favourite to change up the environment and get some great eats to fuel the brain.
What are your best time management practices?
My Google calendar is my holy grail! I also love Calendly to be efficient with your time and for others. You can learn about how to get rid of an inefficient Google calendar once and for all at christineldesigns.com
How do you boost your productivity? And creativity?
Allow yourself to take breaks. We are not productive for 8 hours straight. If you look around, most people are on Facebook or Instagram when they should be working.
Give yourself some grace and schedule in that time for a proper indulgent lunch or a leisurely walk. Be intentional with your time, even if that means scheduling in lunch breaks. Your brain and creativity will thank you!
How does one of your best days look like?
Slow mornings are essential to put my best foot forward. It allows me time to take care of myself before I can take care of the many other people relying on me, like my clients. I need time to move around in the morning, whether that’s a walk outside or a quick, intense workout.
Taking the time to indulge in my meals is my absolute favourite. As I’m most productive in the late morning/early afternoons, you could say that I’m motivated by lunch!
Once mid-afternoon comes around, I enjoy taking a wander around the city and taking the evening off to just enjoy and explore. The beauty of working and travelling was that I never wanted my work to cloud the vision of where I presently am. I want to immerse and experience the beauty that’s right in front of me.
How do you stay zen?
Understanding my non-negotiables each day and week has helped to establish boundaries that I respect for myself and with my clients. Also, being able to start my day with a morning workout really helps set me up for what I need to accomplish afterwards. It clears my head and allows me time to reset.
Get useful tips on becoming a zen freelancer and living the life you would really like to live. Click here to join the community!