Now, this week, I did something different. Let me start by a question. Would you like to know what it is to be a freelancer? In this weeks collaboration with Gawoon Chung, you will find out exactly that. She talks about her ideas, her inspiration and what it is to be a solopreneur.
She is honestly one of the most organised and punctual people I have had the privilege of collaborating. Let’s get to know her a little:
Gawoon’s story has truly inspired me to take that direction and maybe in the future that is what I will head off to do. Her exciting adventure as a freelance web designer is well divided into 11 questions in the article where she shares her journey and inspires others to continue down the same path. Do take a look at her blog www.gawoonchung.com
1. How did your journey begin? (Can you talk about how you got into blogging?)
My earliest memory of blogging was in 2nd or 3rd grade when I had a blog on Xanga.com. I remember being fascinated by the idea of publishing something instantly and sharing it with other people online. Looking back, that fascination has stuck with me ever since. In 2016, I decided to revisit my pastime, as I felt creatively stifled at my 9-5 job. Eventually, I went self-hosted with my blog and began monetizing it about a year later. Around the same time, I launched my online business at gawoonchung.com and ended up focusing on that more than my personal blog. At the moment, my business is my top priority, even though I try to make time for my passion projects as well. I definitely want to show my personal blog some TLC and post new content on there soon.
2. What does it mean to be a solopreneur?
“Solopreneur” has become a colloquialism for someone who bootstraps their business and does so without a team. To me, being a solopreneur represents someone who is willing to put in the time and effort to build a business wholeheartedly—whether or not she or he is making a full-time income. Because I only started my business a year ago, I have found the solopreneur journey to be challenging to say the least. But for all the ups and downs, I have learned so much about online business and am slowly but surely becoming more confident in my skills.
3. How did you start with a podcast?
In the summer of 2017, I joined a mastermind-type program for women who wanted to launch their own businesses. My coaches suggested that I start a podcast to build an audience and generate interest in my work. I gave podcasting a try for a few months but ended up shifting back to blogging. Even though I’ve hit pause on the podcast indefinitely, I don’t regret doing it at all, as it forced me to step out of my comfort zone and try a completely different medium. Not only did I get to interview creatives that I respect and admire, but I also got to make new connections in the process.
To sum up what I’ve learned from this particular experience, I’d say this: don’t be afraid to experiment and figure out what medium(s) work best for you. Also, as uncomfortable as it sounds, reach out to other people in your field. You’d be surprised how willing most people are to collaborate on projects or to just have a virtual coffee date with you. Being a solopreneur doesn’t mean you have to do everything alone!
4. How long have you been coding for? What advice do you have for students who want to pursue web design?
I’ll start by saying that I am a completely self-taught digital designer. I have no formal education in web design at all, and what I know is what I’ve learned from trial and error, as well as numerous tutorials online. I’ve learned basic coding skills (specifically in CSS and HTML) over the past year or so and I would say it definitely helps to have some knowledge of coding under your belt. That said, I would tell students who aren’t perhaps majoring in computer science (or a related field) that you don’t have to know how to code to become a freelance web designer (although, it can only help). I majored in economics in college, so yeah, I am living proof!
One thing you can do if you decide to become a web designer is to partner up with a web developer on client projects. That way, you can just focus on doing the design part. Or, if you’re like me, you can take online courses, practice on your own, and design websites on platforms like Squarespace, Showit, Shopify, or WordPress (using Divi). You’d be surprised how many people are willing to pay good money for someone to design their professional websites. And again, there are so many amazing resources online that it’s completely possible to become a designer without necessarily knowing how to code. Check out Udemy, Aquent, Codecademy, Skillshare, Treehouse, CreativeLive, Brit+Co and Lynda. Many of these course platforms offer free classes and/or trials, and I’ve learned so much from them without paying much, if at all.
Lastly, if you’re willing to invest in your education beyond subscription-based learning platforms, consider enrolling in a boot camp program such as CareerFoundry or Fullstack Academy after graduating from college. I’m currently enrolled in the User Interface Design program at CareerFoundry. But again, I began freelancing months before I even knew what UI/UX design was about. Interested in learning about how I started freelancing with zero experience? Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter at gawoonchung.com. I’ll be writing a blog post on this soon!
5. You work on quite a lot of projects, how do you manage them?
When it comes to managing projects, I feel like my mantra is “prioritize and simplify.” In other words, know what is most important to you and eliminate the rest. I also use a lot of apps and tools, but I’d say my go-to’s are Trello, Asana, Dubsado, and Google Drive/Calendar. Along with that, my analog planner, is one thing that I absolutely cannot live without as I write everything I need to do in my planner (look up “Ink + Volt”!). Having an organized client process is crucial to my workflow and I manage most of my communication and deliverables via a PM tool like Asana or a CRM like Dubsado.
I try not to take on more than one client project at a time. In fact, I usually work in blocks – setting aside 2 weeks for each new client design project. Then I’ll move onto the next one and the next. Same goes for my personal projects. I like working on a few projects at a time, as I get easily overwhelmed if my attention is scattered across multiple projects. I find it very challenging to make time for my personal projects, though. which is why I try to schedule and automate as much work as I can. Batching tasks helps a lot and using tools like IFTTT and Planoly has also been very helpful.
6. What is your biggest organisation tip?
Apps and tools are wonderful, but they can only help to the extent that you know your priorities. You have to constantly ask yourself—and perhaps write down —”what are my long-term goals?” (It helps to know your ‘why.’) What are your short-term goals? Do the items on your to-do list actually help move the needle in your business, schoolwork, extracurriculars, etc.?
Personally, I like to plan ahead and define my biggest goals. I usually start with a brain dump of all my goals at the beginning of the year. Then, I evaluate the list and decide which goals take priority. Afterwards, I plan in quarters, focusing only on the first three months ahead. I use my Ink + Volt planner to record my monthly and weekly goals. Day to day, I try to focus on a maximum of three to four primary tasks. This allows me to keep things simple and feel less overwhelmed by my to-do list.
That said, I understand that not everyone operates the same way I do. What works for me might not work for you, and organization is not a one-size-fits-all solution. (Click here if you’d like to read my blog post on productivity.) If you have trouble staying organized, remember these two keywords: PRIORITY + SIMPLICITY. That’s it.
7. What would you have done if not for web design? (I would love to know more about your other passions)
To be honest, web design is not actually my first passion. I enjoy web design without a doubt, but there are definitely a lot of other things that I am passionate about and hope to explore further in the near future. I love digital content creation, music (karaoke runs in my veins), self-help content, comedy, and I’ve always had a huge interest in the entertainment industry. One of my future goals is to write and direct a short film, and I’ve got lots of ideas and first drafts on my computer. I also love travelling and am planning where I should visit for my next trip. Barcelona? Reykjavik? The list goes on…
8. Many who want to pursue web design and being a blogger, what advice would you give them? (it’ll be great if you could include the services you provide using your website?)
Aside from the tips I shared in #5, I would say, start now. If you have any interest in blogging or perhaps starting a side hustle, look into it now! What have you got to lose? Even if you’re not ready to invest in website hosting or blog coaching, you can always start thinking about your niche, as well as what topics you want to write about or what products/services you want to offer. Once you have all your ideas down, create a game plan. Think big; start small. After all, blogging or starting an online business is a long game.
It takes time to get the ball the rolling, and that is precisely why you want to start as early on as possible. You’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish just by doing one small task that’s related to your blogging or business venture per day. If you’re interested in seeing how I’ve structured my content or services, head over to my website. And if you’d like to collaborate on something or ask me questions, I’d be more than happy to chat. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me on Instagram @gawoonchung.
9. Which platform would you recommend to an upcoming blogger?
There’s always that age-old debate about whether to go with WordPress or Squarespace (or perhaps Showit these days). I don’t think you can go wrong with either, but if you’re starting off with a small budget—and you’re a student (in which case I’m assuming you’re not willing to invest too much just yet)—I’d probably buy the most affordable hosting plan available and register your WordPress blog with the hosting service you chose (I’m currently on the lowest tier of Siteground’s hosting and have no issues). If, however, you’re thinking about using your website as a simple portfolio or for professional purposes, I’d go with Squarespace. ( gawoonchung.com/blog/create-
10. What do you do in your free time?
I love love love singing and sometimes record covers in my spare time. If you’re interested at all, you can listen to some of my covers on soundcloud.com/g_chung. (There are only about three songs on there though, FYI!) I also have a passion for travelling and am hoping to do more of it in the coming year. The last place I visited was Honolulu, Hawaii. We get a lot of snow where I’m from, so I definitely prefer warmer destinations!
11. Where would you like to go from here?
I’ve been working on a digital product over the past few months, so I’ll be launching that, fingers crossed, by the end of this year. (Follow me on Instagram for updates!) Other than that, I’d like to continue designing websites, working as a part-time digital designer for Above Below Studio, and connecting with more creatives and online entrepreneurs.
I’ve also thought about creating an online course (in 2019) for anyone hoping to become a freelance designer (even with zero experience). If that sounds like something you’d be interested in and you don’t mind receiving monthly inspo from yours truly, head on over to gawoonchung.com to subscribe to my newsletter! As a bonus, you’ll receive a special freebie called The Solopreneur Basics Toolkit. Hope to see you there! 🙂
So there you go! I hope her journey has left you inspired and with a zeal of accomplishing more. It definitely has for me. The work that she is doing is amazing and will definitely be worth your while so be sure to check it out!
Head on to her blog amillionmusings.com if you want to read my interview on her website 🙂
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Some of my favourite posts in the creative me section are:
How to make a DIY Tassel
10 DIY Bookmark Ideas in Under 10 Minutes
5 Types of Trees to Draw Step by Step
How to Set Up Your Monthly Planner with Free Printables
Some of my favourite posts in the technical me section are:
How to Write Undergraduate CV for Internships
A Simple Guide to Understanding LaTeX for All
5 Steps towards a Research Internship for Students with No Experience
5 Greatest Research Tools Every Graduate Student Needs