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How This Designer Went from Freelance to Full-Time

How This Designer Went from Freelance to Full-Time

Coffee & Smiles

The dream for many aspiring entrepreneurs and creatives is to earn a living doing what you love. It can be terrifying trying to go it alone and build a business from scratch, but for designer and photographer Rosemary March, giving up simply wasn’t an option.

In addition to being a designer & photographer, she’s also a podcaster and the founder of Rosemary March Creative, a digital creative studio that offers content creation, graphic design, branding & photography services. Their mission? To help creative entrepreneurs expand their businesses with a comprehensive brand strategy, innovative marketing solutions and quality social media content!

In this interview, Rosemary shares how she went from side-hustling her freelance business to becoming a full-time entrepreneur and starting her own creative studio. If you’re someone who dreams of making a living doing creative work, this post is definitely for you!

Photo by Miranda Anderson

Tell us about your business and how it got started!

Rosemary March Creative Studio started off as a freelance graphic design studio but has now expanded to a full-service creative studio offering a wide range of services. In the beginning, it was just me. Three years later, it has since grown to a team of creative professionals that assist me on client projects in a variety of ways!

Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been creative and interested in artistic pursuits. It wasn’t so much that I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, although I did always have side businesses as a child, it was more that I wanted to live a creative life.

My business is more than graphic design or photography, it’s essentially an offering of my creativity and experience. This includes helping clients through coaching, business advice, personal branding, art direction and more.

To answer plainly, I always knew that I want to be professionally creative. To work for someone else always seemed stifling and limiting and entrepreneurship seemed like the obvious alternative.

What were you doing before starting your business?

Before I started the studio full-time, I was the in-house graphic designer for a natural foods grocery chain, working on a variety of projects including flyers for over 170,000 homes, in-store signage, marketing materials, hoarding graphics, packaging and more. I absolutely loved this position and the experience my time there provided me with.

Was there any point before you went full time that you were side-hustling your business? If so, how did you balance a full time job or full time school with your then-side hustle?

While I was working full-time, I only had a handful of freelance clients. However, I knew that it was the direction that I wanted to go. I believe that if you work hard and continually show up, you will always be busy. I personally didn’t have too much fear of failure because I knew that if I bet on myself, it would pay off!

One of the hardest parts of starting a business is figuring out where to begin. Some of us create business plans while others prefer to just wing it! What was your process like? 

I wouldn’t say that I winged it, but I definitely had a different approach. When I went freelance full-time, I set myself up with a workspace, created a quality personal brand and built a great website. Once I had everything organized, I set out to get clients.

Once of the most successful ways that I made connections in the industry was through meaningful creative collaborations. I would work with local businesses on styled shoots intended to promote everyone’s products and services.

I would then use these shoots to connect with business owners, grow my social media and highlight my content photography and styling services!

Photo by Rosemary March

What were some of the challenges you faced in the first few months of starting the business?

I personally struggled to build routines and set boundaries for myself. I have always found it challenging to not work 24/7 while working from home. This is why I find it extremely valuable to work alongside other creative entrepreneurs and grow a community of business friends you can lean on. I was lucky to build some very meaningful friendships early on. This helped me grow my business in ways I would have never imagined.

My advice to anyone who is feeling stressed and alone, force yourself to go out to networking events and grow your network. It is likely that you will connect with someone on a deeper level and you can bounce ideas of each other, talk through problems and support each other during challenging times in business (you will have them, believe me). 

At what point did you realize Rosemary March Creative was doing well enough to support you full time?

I started freelancing full-time with some savings put aside and luckily started generating income right away. I would say last year I really started to turn a profit that felt reflective of my quality of work.

You must understand that you won’t make as much in the beginning as you are still learning how to operate a business yourself. I am forever grateful for the clients that took a chance on my business three years ago. Many of those clients are still with me today. It is inspiring to see our businesses grow together.

In terms of timeline, how long was that after your initial idea?

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It was in year two that I really started to see a comfortable income roll in. I am extremely thankful that we continue to grow each year and are now looking at ways to expand the business further.

Photo by Rosemary March

Looking back, has there been anything that has surprised you about running a business?

You’ll spend most of your day emailing and talking on the phone. I always expected that as a graphic designer, most of my day would be spent creating. I couldn’t be more incorrect about this. Much of my day is spent doing customer service, taking meetings and networking with potential clients. The actual time spent designing or doing photography is more limited then I initially anticipated.

I absolutely love to talk to business owners and network so for me this isn’t a negative. However, it has forced me to assume more of an art director role and have assistant designers help with some of the actual design work behind the scenes.

Having the opportunity to hire other designers has been amazing for my business as it has allowed our projects to have a new and unique approached to design. When we work collaboratively, that is when we produce the best quality work.

Photo by Miranda Anderson

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs who are dealing with frustration in the early stages of their businesses?

Outline the pain points in your business and instead of complaining about them, write out actionable solutions that you can implement. At the end of the day, entrepreneurship is supposed to be a positive experience!

There is always ups and downs in business, but if you are seeing repeat patterns of issues that are making you unsatisfied with your career, it is time to make changes. I personally offer coaching services and I would say it is very beneficial to hire a business coach.

Even if it is only for a couple sessions, speaking to someone outside of your business can bring clarity to your brand development.

What’s next for Rosemary March Creative? Do you have any exciting projects coming up that would like to share?

At this stage, we are actively working to grow our team and expand our services and offerings. We will be rolling out more digital resources and re-launching our blog that will be jam packed with free resources and helpful articles.

If you are interested in podcasts, we also consistently release new episodes of the Wine + Design Podcast where we chat with creative entrepreneurs over a glass of vino!

Connect With Rosemary:
Website: www.rosemarymarch.com
Instagram: @rosemarymarchcreative
Podcast: Wine + Design

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