Guest: Daniel Sweeney, Totalbrand. 1

Posted by in guest blogs, professional practice

It’s more than a decade since a young designer/photographer/web savant got in touch with me out of the blue wanting to talk business. I quite often get approaches like this but it was obvious that, even at his young age, Daniel was in a different league in terms of drive. He did some work on my website at the time and I later recommended him to Wild Wonders of Europe in which he got involved too. Daniel is at the sharp end of “living the dream” and has hawked his services in many parts of the world now as he combines a love of travel with the need to earn a living. Over the next four weeks, he’ll be sharing his experience of living as a freelance creative. His business: totalbrand. Over to you, Danny.

The Balancing Act

It can be a tough old world living life as the self employed. Whether you’re a plumber, designer, travel writer or jet-setting wildlife photographer, the trials of earning ‘non-standard’ income while pursuing your goals are much the same.

I’ve always tried to dream BIG with anything I’ve done. It’s a good strategy, as, by the time life’s realities whittle away at your aspirations, you’re usually left with something much more mundane and somewhat more achievable.

Part of life’s dream for me is being able to do what I love (being creative), getting paid to do so AND explore different corners of the world at the same time. As with many of the self employed it’s all about the ‘work / life balance’.

I’m currently setting up shop in my third country in as many years, which has been a struggle at times, but a great learning process to boot. ‘Starting over’ several times has taught me what makes the difference between bare bones survival and being truly successful. Where I currently sit on that scale is another matter, of course!

Chasing your dreams is a fine line to tread in any profession, so hopefully one or more of the points below can help you to achieve yours. These tips can be applied to new starts and long established businesses alike to freshen up your approach.

The Offer

Before picking up the phone, sending that email or running out the door to the next business meeting – pause for a moment. Put yourself in your ‘potential client’s’ shoes and take a good look at what is being offered. Rushing into things isn’t going to get you anywhere and can often have negative results, so taking the time to self analyze your business proposition can save you a lot of heartache.

Your proposition may be as simple as inviting an editor to chat through your portfolio over coffee. Sounds simple enough; but editors, as with anyone in business, are busy people with a discerning eye. Within seconds they’ll have scrutinised your branding, presentation, tone of voice and can whip up your portfolio, social media profile and business connections. Two slurps from a mug of tea later and your proposition will either be in the trash or whizzing it’s way back to you to confirm your meeting.

It may seem harsh, but the time and money you’ve put in building to this moment could all be in vain if everything isn’t tip-top, so one last look over things is well worth your while.

Next week, Danny describes what happens once you get the commission you’ve been after…