All across New Brunswick, people are using their skills sets to make a living – while at the same time being their own boss.
According to the 2016 census, 8.5 per cent of the provincial workforce (31,785 people) reported that they were primarily self-employed. Whether you call them “freelancers,” “consultants” or simply “self-employed,” there’s no doubt they play a significant and growing role in the province’s economy.
In this new series, Freestyle, we take a look at who they are and what they do.
Last time, we touched based Saint John-based writer, editor and founder of Pigeon Creative, Kate Wallace. This week we chat with Fredericton’s Chris Tompkins of Chris Tompkins Design.
How did you get started?
I had been working as an in-house designer and decided it was time to make a change. Since there weren’t many options for places to go work that didn’t result in relocating, I decided to roll the dice and start my own design business.
What made you want to go freelance?
The independence and freedom to work when, and how I want with clients of my choosing has been the biggest decision in my going freelance.
What’s your skill-set focus?
Print design with a focus on logo design/branding, book design, poster design, and illustration.
Who is your client base?
My clients are mostly musicians, craft breweries, book publishers, and government agencies. I do a large amount of logo design also for a variety of clients.
How do you go about finding work/clients?
Most of my work comes from referrals and word of mouth right now, although I am slowly starting to see an increase in business from Instagram and google searches.
Do you have to combat loneliness?
I don’t find this to be a personal issue for me. My days are typically too busy to notice that I am alone and I always have music or a podcast on in the background to fill the silence.
What’s your favorite tool/app/website you use for work?
For design work it’s a toss-up between Adobe InDesign and Adobe Illustrator; for business it’s Freshbooks, that site is a life saver.
When do you start your day and when do you end it?
Typically, I start around 6 a.m., take a few hours off in the afternoon, and then work a few hours in the evening to make up for my afternoon break.
What’s your favorite thing about working for yourself?
The freedom to shape my day so that I am working when I feel most productive.
What’s the biggest challenge as working as a freelancer?
The work/life balance. Sometimes it’s way too easy to shut everything else out and only focus on the ever-growing list of tasks to complete. It’s important to meet your objectives but it’s also important to make time for life as well.
When do you take vacation?
I am still pretty early in my freelance career so there hasn’t been much time or money for any kind of real vacation. I do take the occasional day off here and there if there is something that I want to do though.
One piece of advice for someone looking to break into the freelance economy?
Don’t give up. Freelance life is hard. There are going to be a lot of days that are overwhelming and you will want to give up but don’t. Keep going, work hard, learn from your mistakes, and research people in your field who are doing the kind of work that you are interested in; these are your mentors, let them help you.