As a kid, I was taught that you go to school, enroll at a university, and then work at a nice job until retirement. I was under the impression that if I did all of those things, life would be pretty straightforward and successful. An important part of growing up is learning that you’re incredibly wrong. Sitting in my college’s lecture hall four years ago, I had my heart set on being a publicist for A-list musicians and opening my own PR firm. Little did I know that a graphic design elective would completely reshape my life’s journey.
During my junior year, I took a design elective because I needed an easy filler class. I ended up really enjoying it, and started to work on more than just my assignments. I learned the basics of the Adobe Creative Suite and knew there was so much more to learn. At this time, I began to manage a musician and I figured I could make his album covers instead of paying someone else. Months went by, and my name traveled around campus as I began to make covers for local musicians. The first time I was actually paid for my work, something clicked in my mind and I knew I wanted to make a living doing graphic design, alongside music management.
Since my life’s goals were starting to change, so did my desire for wanting to have a stable 9–5 office job. I knew that was the safe option, but deep down I was sure that life wasn’t for me. Especially because of COVID, I had grown fond of working from home and making my own schedule. Now that the country is beginning to open up again, employers are starting to see how much work can be accomplished at home and through video calls. There’s simply no reason to waste time commuting every single day just to do work we could do at home. Granted, a few days out of the week at an office would be beneficial, but flexible work makes employees happier, and more motivated.
Several months into my independent career as a designer, I came across a TikTok talking about a website called Contra and how they’re changing the future of freelancing. I went to their page to see all the great remote work opportunities and decided to follow. Shortly after, I decided to create an account and join their Slack community. I immediately felt connected to the group because everyone had the same goals and ambitions. I had no idea how many people were able to make a living doing freelance work from their homes, and I knew I needed to learn more. Being involved with Contra has taught me so many important tips on how to be a successful independent, and I would not be in the same position without them.
Since this year, I’ve now grown my portfolio to include clients such as Kali Uchis, Abstract, Hayden Stanford, and more. Just as I found Contra through social media, I’ve also found my clients that way. Having a professional website is great, but you will connect with more people by being consistently active on your social media. My biggest tip for expanding your business is to develop genuine relationships with people in your field and learn from those who have more experience. “Your network is your net worth” has never been a truer statement, and your network is what will land you job opportunities. I’m incredibly excited to see what the future holds for independents, and I’m confident that Contra will be playing a big part in it.