Why did you choose to freelance? How did you get started?

I was fired from most of the jobs I had from age 16 to 22.

Eight years of struggle trying to work for “the man” has a way of leaving you bitter about the world of work. I enjoyed my jobs, to be sure, but they always left me wanting something more for myself.

Sixteen and baggin’ groceries for customers (in this case, my mom)😋

By the time I’d finally learned to maintain good working relationships, I’d already earned a few bucks making logos and flyers for friends’ bands or one-off projects. These all happened to find me, through a family referral or lucky interaction, and I was pretty clueless about getting more.

promotional poster design for shaikh sammad brown electric church buds glass joint roosevelt row downtown phoenix
You can be good at graphic design and be clueless about getting clients.

When my friend Dom Taguinod, whom I met during our internships at Moses, Inc., mentioned he was looking to get into freelance digital marketing, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to form some kind of referral group/team/company. What did I know about all that stuff?

I spearheaded the creation of the Conscious Creative brand, and recruited my good friend Jake Toepel (as our web designer) and then-girlfriend Elizabeth Nelson (as our photographer & video editor). We were gonna be rich and successful agency owners! I never considered the fact that they all worked full-time, and I was trying to full-time freelance. In my youthful innocence, it never occurred to me that we might be swimming in water we didn’t even know existed.

conscious creative banner design for promising causes and passionate people

Dom brought us our first client, and it was an easy close. We delivered, we fucked up, we had the best intentions, and we made mistakes as people do. Our first foray landed on its back with a flop, and as Conscious continued to stagnate I found myself looking for a paycheck. Again, I had no awareness that I could find my own clients with just curiosity, hustle, and Google-fu as ingredients. I never even considered if it was possible for me to learn how.

Finally, as summer was winding down and my job at the Boys & Girls Club in Mesa had brought me unexpected life satisfaction, my life coincided with an experienced entrepreneur looking for his next thing—Kyle Thomas wanted to build an agency that could power the services for his much grander ideas.

I didn’t really take the “leap” into freelance until I realized that having Kyle would allow me to go full-time, since he could bring in clients. Thanks to this chance encounter and our shared goals, I felt confident in resigning from Boys & Girls Club (although it was the hardest professional decision I’d ever had to make). Kyle had potential clients burning holes in their pockets, and he wanted to close them.

And that, he did.

He worked his network and sold local entrepreneurs on contracts for us to capture product photography, design websites, shoot promotional videos, and market a range of physical and digital products before I even knew anything about the mechanics of marketing.

I was a talented creative, to be sure, but I was flying by the seat of my pants! As they say, I “built the plane on the way down.” I transitioned fully into self-employment with Conscious Creative, and convinced Elizabeth to quit her hated job and join us instead.

That brand and time period, those invaluable lessons learned, will forever be engrained in my memory.

kyle thomas and our crew at the yesphx summer social in 2017

Who is your entrepreneurial inspiration? How did you find out about them?

One day while Mat & I were living in San Francisco, I watched Seth Godin’s TED talk on the tribes we lead. That day, I gained a new appreciation for the man. I’d known him by name for a while, but never really took the time to learn what he was about. Thanks to the circumstances, that talk resonated with me more deeply than almost anything I’d ever heard.

Soon thereafter, Mat handed me This is Marketing. You can scroll down to “What are you currently reading?” section to learn about the book.

Then I started listening to his Akimbo podcast, and became fully sold on Seth’s ideas, which have been far ahead of their time and will continue to set the stage for a better way of doing business in the 21st century. His wisdom and thought leadership is a heavy influence on my life, and on the GigLoft curriculum.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

I’m an avid technologist, and an idealist with high expectations. My biggest pet peeve is when software or hardware unexpectedly does something that causes me to lose time or unsaved work—especially when it’s at a particularly stressful moment. In fact, years ago I made an emoticon for this exact phenomenon:

:ARRRGH: by =dbestarchitect on deviantART

One example happened recently: Trying to post a GIF to Facebook along with a typed message, and afterwards getting an error that the video was outside the appropriate dimensions. Rather than returning to the post editor, I had simply lost everything I’d typed without any hint of how to get it back.

Another example: Scrolling wayyyy up through my iMessages trying to look up Elizabeth’s flight number as I head to the airport, then being thwarted when the flight info widget crashes the app and having to start all over.

Last one: Online forms that ask for a website, but aren’t “smart” enough to recognize one without the protocol (http://), or to add it automatically. Instead, these forms consider an input such as “gigloft.com” to be an invalid URL, and many people don’t even understand how to move forward with this error. I do, and it pains me more to know that there are people who struggle beyond my simple irritation.

What are you currently reading?

I’m a fast reader, but I don’t blaze through books. I prefer to have several open at a time, alternate between each, and let their lessons sink in over time. Here’s my current arsenal of wise words.

seth godin this is marketing photo by lisa larter

This is Marketing

Another mic-drop from Seth Godin, This is Marketing holds that you can’t be seen until you learn to see. The overarching message is to forget marketing as you know it, and to simply care about humans, solve problems, and focus on creating value and building long-term relationships with the right people. It’s a beacon of truth in a sea of regurgitated sayings, and it will go down in history along with the rest of Seth.

the richest man in babylon wealth building book by george s clason

The Richest Man in Babylon

George S. Clason’s timeless lessons still ring true after all these decades, and I pick this gold nugget up anytime I feel like I need curse for a lean purse or when I want a refresher on the five laws of gold. The fact that it’s a collection of stories makes it much more interesting and digestible than typical wealth books; the fact that it’s written in a sometimes hard-to-follow older English makes it a challenge. Big thanks to my buddy Clint for passing this one along. Let me know if you ever want it back. 😉

terry goodkind wizards first rule cover art

Confessor

This fiction fantasy novel is #11/17 in the Sword of Truth series, which is essentially my equivalent of binge-watching Netflix. People have their opinions on Terry Goodkind but I’ve found his writing and storytelling to be excellent 95% of the time. The image above is from the first book in the series, Wizard’s First Rule.

Tons of content about startups, business, and freelance!

Since we’re building up the GigLoft curriculum every single day, a big portion of my job involves reading, watching, and listening to all the content I can get my hands on. TED Talks are a huge one here, and yes they could as reading because I’m constantly digging through transcripts to find what I need. 😋

What’s your favorite holiday?

Elizabeth’s favorite holiday is Christmas—she turns into a little girl—which makes it my favorite holiday, too. We’ll combine it with New Year’s Eve since they’re so close together, and since we spend it together as a big family practically every year.😊

Elizabeth’s twin Margaret and her husband Joel!

What’s your top advice for freelancing/self-employment?

Find the others. Find people like you who can complement your skillsets, prove to be trustworthy, and share your goals. Lean on each other. Don’t do it alone.

Neither Mat nor I could get our businesses off the ground properly on our own. It took the right partnership—each other—to be able to get PubLoft to $25,000 in monthly recurring revenue. His sales and business skills needed my operational skills. My English/writing proficiency needed his team building and leadership.

Apart, we kept hitting ceilings, kept getting stuck as we tried to grow our businesses. Only together have we been able to achieve far more than just double our inputs!

Remember: 1 + 1 > 2


Find Jérémy across the web by visiting jeremy.chevallier.net!