The final interview in this three-part, “Turning Passion into Purpose” series is a fellow web designer and developer who is making some seriously amazing things happen for herself and thousands of other freelancers and entrepreneurs.
Leah Kalamakis and I met (virtually) while taking an online web design course a couple years ago, and I must admit that I’ve had a bit of an “entrepreneurial crush” on her ever since. Talk about some mega drive, ambition, innovation, and all-out-awesomeness!
Leah created an incredible community of freelancers and entrepreneurs that is so active and inspiring that you just can’t resist popping into the Facebook group daily to ask or answer questions, get support from others in your industry or just other freelancers and entrepreneurs in general, and connect with people you can partner with and/or hire. It’s truly an amazing group of people! I could go on and on about why this woman is so inspiring, but I’ll leave it to the interview below to paint that picture for you. I’m so excited to share her story with you and, of course, showcase her business, freelancing community and two online courses. Read on to see why…
Yes, I like to stay busy! I’m a designer and developer for online entrepreneurs. At the moment I focus primarily on web design but also take on other design projects like ebooks, social media and PDFs.
Of course, I really believe professional design and development can help you grow your business online faster. Your website is your online home, your business card. How professional it looks and how easy it is to navigate can (and will!) make the difference between a client hiring you or clicking away to someone else.
That said, I do often recommend clients DIY their site if they are brand spankin’ new to business. The reason: we change a lot in the first year of business. Who we are, who our ideal clients are, the message/image we want to portray…it takes some time to grow into that.
As much as you may think you know exactly what your business is about, it’s not until you’ve been doing it for a little bit (with actual clients under your belt) that you’ll get crystal clear on your brand and needs.
So if you feel like you may not be crystal clear on your business and ideal clients, then DIY with a simple theme to start growing your audience and getting your first clients, then upgrade to a professional design as soon as you feel more clear.
The Freelance To Freedom Project is a blog and resource to help people find freedom through entrepreneurship. I created it after I was able to quit my corporate job and start freelancing full-time with a skill I had taught myself only months prior.
I was so amazed at how easy it was to learn a new skill (and leverage the ones I already had), start a business and quit my 9-5, that I felt a strong need to share that with others.
In the beginning I imagined FTF to be mainly to help people do what I did. Over time, as I’ve evolved, my community has evolved along with me. So now I cover a lot of topics that go beyond just the “starting” phase of business: scaling, creating passive income, hiring team members, etc.
Most importantly: it’s possible. It’s hard to believe it’s actually possible no matter how many stories of people like me you hear about. You likely worry about making ends meet, where you will actually find clients and what would happen if one month you don’t have clients. You may have a good, steady salary right now and you can’t imagine actually being able to have that same salary as a freelancer, let alone more.
You can. You will. As long as you have a true drive and inner hustle, it will happen.
Once you have that itch, you’ve got to act on it. Otherwise you’ll just waste more years dreaming about it happening.
I run an online course called The Leap Guide, to help people prepare their business to go full-time. The #1 thing that stops people from getting to the leap is fear. So you just have to ignore that and take action. Easier said than done I know, but it’s important.
Yes! It’s called Stress Less & Impress. I never thought I’d be a “systems” chick, but it turns out I am 🙂 I struggled with so many aspects of my business (client management, inbox craziness, boundaries, etc.), and one day I put together a process that ended up being the key to solving most of my business problems.
I noticed a lot of my community struggled with the same things. So I created a course that walks you through my process step-by-step. From the first client inquiry on your website all the way to how to wrap up a project. It’s called Stress Less & Impress because a streamlined process will make your life easier, and your clients’ as well (which turns them into happy, impressed clients that will refer you to others so you can stop hustling so hard with marketing!).
It took me so long to get all the moving pieces in my business streamlined, and so I wanted to save others the time and trouble they would go through otherwise to figure it out on their own.
Put something in place that’s repeatable. Write down each aspect of working with your clients. How they contact you, what happens next, how they pay you, how you communicate during the project, etc. Then put together repeatable things (like a welcome package, contract, emails scripts) so that you aren’t constantly starting from scratch.
I’ve always been a big traveler and have lived far from home (Seattle) since I was 19. The biggest thing that always held me back, whether I was in NYC, Italy or most recently, France, was a job. I hated that it was so hard for me to visit my family back home, let alone pick up and move somewhere else whenever I wanted.
So although I was drawn to entrepreneurship for soooo many reasons, the freedom to live, travel and work from anywhere was the biggest push for me to make the leap.
Freedom! More specifically, freedom of time and location. I’m a night owl, so I love being able to sleep in and choose my own hours. I like to be able to go grocery shopping when the store is empty, and take a three-day weekend or work through it if I’m in the zone. As I mentioned before, I like to move around, so being able to work from my bed, a coffee shop, Seattle or France is priceless. And I have to add as it’s huge: choosing my own income. I decide how much I want to make and there is no limit. Working for someone else just doesn’t allow that, no matter how good you are at what you do.
I don’t have one! And that’s something that I LOVE about running my business. Sometimes, I think I’d be more productive and reach my goals faster if I stuck to a schedule, but for the time being I’m enjoying planning my days one day at a time. I recently made a big move back from France to NYC (with a long stop in Seattle along the way), so the stress and never-ending to-do list that comes from moving means a regular schedule just isn’t possible.
That said – here is an average day when I am in a groove:
9-11am: slow wake up including coffee, checking emails, poppin’ in my Facebook group, setting my to-do list for the day. (Sometimes I feel bad I’m not an early riser, but I figure when the time comes to have kids, I’ll be glad I took advantage of sleepy mornings)
12-2pm: client calls, responding to emails, checking in on clients and starting design work.
2-3pm: Lunch if I remember 🙂
3-6pm: Client work, checking in and responding to questions in my course groups, writing blog posts.
6-10pm: Same as above if I’m in a groove, otherwise out to dinner and drinks or cooking with my Frenchy.
10pm-2am: Hangin’ out in Facebook groups, reading a book on my ipad or watching a show on my laptop in bed with a glass of wine.
Staying productive through the ups and downs. Working for yourself isn’t always easy. I’m constantly in an up and down wave of loving the hustle or feeling too overwhelmed.
I set big goals for myself and sometimes put too much pressure on myself to reach them faster and faster. The problem with that is that when you hit the wall, you hit it hard, and it’s tough to get out.
This year I’ve put a big effort into keeping things more balanced. Understanding that I can set smaller goals and get just as much satisfaction out of reaching them. If I’m doing things I don’t enjoy, I am much better now at cutting them out instead of trying to do it all. But it’s work to keep that balance, and I think that’s a part of the entrepreneurial life that I can get better at, but may never perfect… and I have to be okay with that 🙂
Oh man, so many I couldn’t even start a list! The best part, most of the people that have made the biggest difference I haven’t even met in person. Of course, I’d love to be able to see their face in real life, but the fact that it’s possible to “meet” and be inspired by people from all over the world is just incredible.
I will give a big shout out to my accountability partner, Farideh Ceaser. She’s my rock when it comes to business and life. We started in a mastermind together, then started chatting once a week just the two of us, now we run almost every business decision we make by each other (and we’ve never even met in person…yet!)
I highly recommend having a mastermind and/or accountability partner as a solopreneur. It’s so much more fun to not have to do everything alone. I wrote a post on why I think it’s so great and how to find one here if you’re interested.
If you’re just getting started in working for yourself, surround yourself with people doing the same (Facebook groups are a great place to start!). It not only helps give you motivation to see what’s possible, but it makes the harder parts more manageable and the big wins more fun to celebrate!
Be sure to click on the links below to learn more about Leah’s incredible freelancing community and her two online courses. The Stress Less & Impress links mentioned in this post are my affiliate links. I personally went through the course and absolutely loved it! If you have your own business and struggle with systems, this is the course for you!
Happy entrepreneurial leaping!