A guest post by Susie Mann

I have been a freelancer for nearly all of my life. I first began my career as an actress, and that evolved into a graphic design career. The process of beginning a career as a freelance designer can be quite overwhelming. We might sit down and write out a vision statement of where we would like our business or career to be in 3 to 5 years. Sometimes this is a big, over-arching goal that seems impossible, but we abandon doubt and start taking baby steps towards that goal.

We work. We pound the pavement. We seek to make contacts. We email our contacts.

We work. We call our contacts. We constantly ask our friends and family for new contacts.

We work. We do free work for “exposure” and “experience.”


I think in the midst of all that “work,” we forget our values – “our values? I just want to work! I do need to make a living!”

Yes, you do.

We all have core values, thought, that make our break our happiness towards enjoying any success.

Aligning work with your core values


As designers, we create because we love to create. We all fell in love with design in some art form or another. We are artists at heart. We are motivated by the creation process. Money is usually not a motivating factor for artists, but we often find ourselves doing free work and becoming frustrated. Why?


I think that as designers, we tend to create from our hearts, not so much from our minds. But we need to use our minds to acknowledge what our hearts or our core values are saying.

So before you say “yes” to that next job, stop and try to complete this sentence:

“I will feel good about taking this job as long as…”

Just to give you few examples, I will share mine with you.

I will feel good about taking this job as long as…

— I am creatively aligned with this company.

— I feel my skills are being of service to this company, allowing them to increase revenue, ramp up, or get a business started.

— I am making things for people I love and for people I want to meet!

— I am valued and being paid fairly.

— My work is inspiring others.

These are my core values. As new work comes along, I use this list to verify if I should say “yes.” I need a job to meet at least 4 out of  5 of my core values in order for me to enjoy it.

When starting out as a freelancer, you may feel like you want to say YES to everything…but should you?

Your work is your work, and your happiness depends on it.

Do you really want to produce work and make contacts with companies or people that are not aligned with your core values? Are you willing to use this company as a reference and being associated with them and their values?

WAYCV-3This is true in all areas of your life, not just work. I think as artists, our passions take over. We just seek to create, but we need to stop, think, and create with purpose. This conviction has been life changing for me. It simplified my client list, my focus as a designer, and clarified my artist’s statement.


What are your core values? Are you creating your work with that purpose?

Author Bio:

2534249.53b98c91abf88Susie is a graphic designer by trade. When she is not in front of her computer designing, she is hanging out with her husband, John, and her two dogs, Lego and Charlie. She loves musical theater, gardening, cooking, running, dance, movies, and yoga. She loves to travel all over the world and New York City is always at the top of her list. See more at her website www.susiemcreative.com!