Name: Christina Chern
Profession/Industry: Creative Director, Branding and Advertising
I run a one-person creative studio for businesses of all shapes and sizes. My clients are typically large, tech-forward companies like Airbnb and Figma, but I’ve also worked with small, independent clients, like a record label and a cancer nonprofit. Prior to starting my own business, I cut my teeth in advertising, spending time at a few different agencies and working across a diverse array of projects, from print to TV to web. My agency experience was so valuable because I gained an amazingly talented network of friends and colleagues. I also learned I could do almost anything an agency could do, but much more nimbly, which is why I decided to take the leap into the freelance world.
My first big client was Airbnb with a team I’d been embedded in for almost three years at that point. We had been working on a massive project for the entirety of that time, and when they could no longer retain the agency I was at, they asked me to come on as a contractor. I was truly so lucky to have my first gig with a team I already loved on a project I felt passionately about.
Finances and administrative work, hands down. I was prepared for the uncertainty of bringing in a steady stream of work; you can never predict where or when your next job will come from, but I had had fair warning about that before I started. What I didn’t realize was how much goes into properly forming your business, the nuances of filing taxes as a freelancer, and how to maintain your books month to month, especially when you’re juggling multiple projects. As a creative, it’s definitely not where my talents lie, but it’s a necessary part of the job to run your business successfully.
Complete control over the direction of your career. When you’re self-employed, you set your own schedule, and you decide which projects to take on and when. It can be scary to hustle for work constantly and to advocate for yourself when you’re negotiating jobs, but there’s something very empowering about holding your own fate in your hands. And if you don’t like how business is going, there’s only one person to answer to — yourself.
Do some soul-searching before you start and understand what unique blend of talents and strengths you bring to the table. You’re no longer a cog in a machine — you’re a company, and you have to know how to position your services to potential clients. Just like any good business, strong positioning is the key to standing out.
Email me at hello at christinachern.co, or connect with me on LinkedIn!
As I mentioned above, finances are the bane of my existence. I was looking for a solution that made categorizing my income and expenses easy, and it was especially important that it had a robust mobile experience, since I’m constantly on my phone doing work on the go. Also, as a designer, I put a lot of weight into how things look and function, so I was very selective about what tools I used. I was recommended Lunafi by a fellow freelancer, and I’ve never looked back.
If you’ve been thinking seriously about starting your own business, take the plunge and give it a try! Life is too short to be scared of chasing your dreams. But do some research on how to file your taxes first :)
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