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I'm the creative and founder behind K Made Design Co., and I’m here to help you transform your brand and website into your greatest assets, that build your reputation for you and a community of hyper-loyal brand advocates!
Hi, I'm Karlie!
Over the last couple of years, there’s been tons of individuals who have taken the plunge into starting their own online business. Whether that’s as a photographer, designer, or online shop, it all takes at least a little bit of guts.
For those of you out there who are unsure, and maybe afraid of the unknowns of starting a business, I’m here to offer at least a little knowledge of what I’ve learned so far. But first, a little bit of background covering why I waited so long to start my freelance design business in the first place.
If I’m being honest, I was just too plain young when I first started thinking about freelancing. When I first fell in love with graphic design, I was still just in high school! While I was still finding opportunities to freelance here and there (shoutout to Mrs. Stubblefield), mostly for free or for McDonald’s gift cards, I was nowhere near ready to start running an entire freelance business.
I still had tons to learn – not just about the business portion, but also about developing my own style and skills. But if we’re being honest, designers are never quite done working on their style and skills. So while this was a justified reason for a time, this excuse ended up snowballing into years of unnecessary procrastination.
While it was true for a time that I was in need of more experience, I allowed this mindset to keep me from pursuing freelance for years. The ironic part? I would have gained knowledge and experience if I had just started freelancing. Instead, I used various excuses to cover up the fact that I was just plain procrastinating on starting.
First, I told myself that I’d start slow and begin setting up my business during my senior year of college. But once my senior year came around, I then told myself that I should finish up my classes and then use that knowledge to start. Then, after graduating, I looked back and felt like I still didn’t have enough experience because I hadn’t done enough freelancing during college!
Sure, I had done some projects here and there, but it was far from running a full-fledged business. So what happened at the end of it all? I ended up being a full year out of college, working my corporate job, with no plans of freelancing in sight.
So what did it all boil down to? Just plain fear. I kept thinking to myself: “What if I fail?” “What will people think?” “What if I can’t book clients?” And my personal favorite: “What if I ruin my life?”
Dramatic, I know, but growing up as a classic over-thinker, it’s no surprise that my mind gravitated towards the worst-case scenario. But after months of working through my own dramatic thoughts, and a few desperate prayers, the opportunity to start my freelance business pretty much came up and slapped me in the face.
I’ll save the details for another blog post, but in short: a few conversations were had, a couple potential projects were brought to me, and some changes at my 9-5 made it clear that now was the time. So, after a minor freak-out session, I made the plunge. And I learned some pretty valuable lessons.
The first thing that I was surprised by when I started announcing the start of my business was the immediate flood of support. I quickly realized that, more often than not, the people that love you are ready to support you. Just about everyone I talked to thought it was a great idea, contrary to my initial fears.
Once, when I was confiding my fears about starting my blog to my sister, she said to me: “Those who matter will support you.” So guess what? Those who won’t support you don’t matter.
I learned quickly that it’s best to go after the dreams that you have, and the people who are important will support you along the way. And if they don’t? Well, this isn’t about them.
It all didn’t quite feel real until I announced to my boss that I was stepping away from my full-time position. Then the panic set in.
During one particular dramatic meltdown, my husband looked at me and said, “What actually is the worst-case scenario?” To which I quickly replied, “I FAIL!” His response? “So what?” Cue the jaw drop. His point was simple: So what if I fail? If it doesn’t work out, it’s not the end of the world. I would simply pick myself back up and start looking for another corporate job.
And you know what? He’s right. We spend so much time obsessing over the scenarios in which things don’t work out, and that causes us to never even try. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather see where this can go than to look back, years later, and be full of regret.
One of the biggest worries I had about starting to freelance was the most common fear every designer has: what if I can’t book any clients? I spent about two full weeks diving into every online resource imaginable – blog posts, YouTube videos, podcasts, you name it. And at the end of it all, I became even more overwhelmed and discouraged than I was when I started.
While some of that information was extremely valuable, my best advice (so far) is to just talk. Tell everyone you know about what you’re doing – family members, friends, past coworkers, old professors, everyone. It was by simply making word-of-mouth connections that I was able to fill up my client schedule for the first three months of my business.
But my point is this: all the information out there online can make starting a business seem really daunting, and maybe next to impossible. I’m here to tell you that it isn’t. While I am still starting out and definitely don’t know everything, my advice is to not let comparison keep you thinking that something isn’t doable.
All in all, my biggest takeaway from my experience so far is this: don’t let fear keep you from growing. Honestly, this applies to more than just starting a business. Any goal you have in life shouldn’t be held back just because you don’t know how it’s going to end up like. The point is to grow.
Do I have everything all figured out? Absolutely not! But I’m experimenting, learning new things, and making new mistakes. And if I end up going back to a 9-5 at the end of it all? That’s fine, too. At least I tried my hand at it.
It’s just life, after all.
If you’ve already taken the plunge into starting your business and are in need of some exciting new branding or website designs, click below to take that first step!
Feeling overwhelmed, conflicted, or intimidated by the thought of branding? You're in the perfect place. I’m Karlie, and as the creative behind K Made Design Co., I breathe life into brands for visionary entrepreneurs like you every day. My role is to spotlight what makes you distinct and then propel you to stand out in your industry.
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K Made Design Co. is a design studio developing iconic brands and websites by creating one-of-a-kind identities that spark bubbling conversations, create lasting impressions, and empower business owners to step into the role of visionary so they can lead, expand, and define the future of their companies.
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