Strategic-Led Design for fearless female entrepreneurs

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How I turned my graphic design side hustle into a six-figure business

We all have to start somewhere when it comes to business. My first step in the graphic design industry was becoming a student at the Multimedia Arts De La Salle Lipa. I was fully enjoying my education, and soon after graduation, I landed my first corporate job as a graphic designer and virtual assistant. 

It was a baby step, and I started earning $2 per hour. So that’s approximately $200 a month – not even close to what I make today. I couldn’t afford anything because of this monthly salary, but I was making ends meet nonetheless. I had the drive to become as independent as possible, so I didn’t choose to depend on my parents for support. 

I wondered how I would manage to live in an apartment all by myself with a low income. Not just that, but I acted out of impulse too. For example, I remember buying an expensive dinner for myself because I couldn’t resist. But soon after, I decided to eat just the gal and save the rest for lunch the day after. Even if it did taste terrible, I had to eat it because… Oh well, I just didn’t have enough money to feed myself for days to come! Don’t worry, I swear nothing happened to me because of the *almost* rotten food. 😅

But the leftover food made me wake up. And then it struck me – filling in the income gap by looking up part-time jobs online. Luckily for me, I ended up getting hired as a graphic designer at a tech company, and it got an extra $100 per month coming in for me. Suddenly, I felt so happy and rich because it bumped my total income to $300 a month!

Aha! I thought to myself. Why not keep applying for more part-time jobs? So I did exactly that, and the result was working with 6 multiple clients at a time. Not to forget, I managed all that while going to a 9 to 5 job in the morning – oh boy, I barely slept. 🤯 Oh, I forgot to mention, I have other side-line jobs besides freelancing I even started a clothing shop and an e-commerce store. What is rest?!

Anyway, fast forward, and I began to take major steps. Although I was earning more, I wasn’t satisfied because of the little flexibility and commitment to the same old routine. So I filed my resignation and focused on the freelance world instead.  I was able to earn even more while expanding my client base. 

And then, out of the blue, the pandemic happened. But little did I know that it would happen in my favor. This was the time when I created my Instagram account to showcase my design work. Nothing serious but just for fun and to connect with other creatives – and lo and behold! The magic started!

I had no idea that I would be getting clients through social media. Some people approached me to design a logo for them. I hesitated a bit at first because logo design wasn’t my area of expertise back then. 

But then I told myself – hey, there is always room to explore and learn. And so, I began watching videos and taking courses to take up logo design projects. When I felt like I was ready, I finally launched my website and started marketing myself as a brand designer. 

Bottomline – I am booking $10,000 per project as of today. 

1. Start with freelancing platforms

There are many different freelancing platforms available for graphic designers. Fiverr, Upwork, and 99designs are all great options. However, before you can start bidding on projects, you need to create a strong profile.

Follow these tips to create a strong profile that stands out:

1. Use a professional photo as your profile picture. 

2. Choose a catchy username that accurately reflects your brand.

3. Write a compelling bio highlighting your Graphic Design experience and skill set.

4. Create a portfolio that showcases your best work – with images and links to websites.

2. Build a community to get customers

Social proof is important. That means you need to create a community out of your work. Use hashtags that are relevant just for your brand or the work you do for your clients.

3. Start small and adjust your price as you grow

Don’t overprice yourself in the beginning. If you are starting, you will probably need to charge less than someone who has been designing for years. You can start charging more as you gain experience and build up your portfolio.

Wrap-up: Be patient – great businesses take time!

Great things take time. Start small and then work your way up by taking baby steps. There is no shortcut to success, you should expect to work really hard and try to learn from others as much as possible. Grab the very first opportunity you see and get yourself out there as much as possible! And the most important thing is to start today and don’t stop creating! 💖

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Hello, I'm Mae

I'm wildy passionate about helping fearless female entrepreneurs give a newfound sense of confidence to build a brand that helps them reach their wildest dreams

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