Connecting Things: Freelance Panel

Connecting Things held their first event of the year, sponsored by Design, Inc., holding a panel to discuss freelancing from three different industry perspectives. Born from the idea that makers need a place where they can share, learn, and start collaborations that can feed their skills and passions, Connecting Things is a monthly event series in Orange County, CA and Brooklyn, NY with a goal that attendees leave with a new perspective or meet new people. Design Inc. is a platform where creative freelancers can find quality work. From quoting to invoicing, to collecting a check, Design Inc. helps streamline the process so freelancers can focus on the creative aspect of their work. Panelists included freelance drummer Valerie Franco, freelance designer Greg Christian, and freelance photographer Patrick Yandoc. Braedon Flynn, co-founder of Connecting Things and professional photographer, served as the MC for the evening. 

The event began with each panelist sharing how they got started in their respective industries. Franco came to a realization after studying journalism in college that music was her path. Sharing that she drove for Uber to supplement the time between her music bookings, Franco encouraged attendees to embrace this sentiment to foster a sense of camaraderie and openness. Christian developed his skills after finishing school through creative agency work and now further refines it through his work with Acorns, a mobile-first investment platform, where he serves as a product designer. Yandoc shared that he has taken on a variety of photography jobs to develop his portfolio, some of which didn't fit what he expected to do. Flynn added that taking on paid projects that may not be exciting to do also allows for the flexibility of taking on other projects you love and still have stability.

On the topic of prioritizing what projects to take on and managing time, Flynn commented, "I go by the three P's to assess what to accept: price, people, and project. If it is at least two out of the three are good, then I take the job. Any less than 2, I move on." Christian stated that if the volume of work becomes overwhelming, take a step back and price your time to make it worthwhile. Also, reassess after completing the current queue of work and determine what makes sense to take on moving forward. Flynn shared that a productivity journal that tracks daily goals and accomplishments, completing the outlined tasks before anything else, has made a difference in his productivity. 

The panel concluded with a Q&A from the audience, with many questions centered on how to price freelance services. "Don't doubt yourself. It is ok to charge more, shoot for the stars; there's always a chance someone will meet you at the price you set," shared Yandoc. Christian shared that conversations on pricing should be last once you have explained to the potential client of the process and work entailed to give them context for the costs involved. Flynn cautioned attendees to be intentional about pricing, as setting prices too low, early in your career, can affect the entire industry. "Too many people start to freelance before they should. They should be working long enough to build a skill where they are good at what they do. Pricing is only part of the story in the value of what you bring to the table," said Flynn.

Hai contributes to the Cove as a content writer for both the Currents newsletter and blog. As an alumnus of UCI with a degree in English and a co-founder of a local creative agency, Hai's focus is centered on spotlighting events, stories, and startups within the Orange County community. He is passionate about entrepreneurship and has participated in fast-pitch competitions through the UCI Antrepreneur Center and has co-organized local business and startup groups such as 1 Million Cups and Orange County Young Entrepreneurs.