An active member of Leapers, Maria Joy shares a little more about her work.
I work on brand strategy, visual identity and communication strategy, and I can also help with communication designs for marketing and other outreach programs and designing and maintaining websites and running social media. I started off as graphic designer in 2005; sometime between 2012-2014 I started to work with different brands including some really well-known ones like Unilever. And I totally loved it. In 2014, I decided to be a freelancer focusing exclusively on brand strategy and visual identity.
Even though I make use of the flexible work hours that comes with freelancing, I like to stick to Monday to Friday 9-5 schedule. It helps me be balanced and set boundary between personal time and work. I generally hold one or two retainerships, giving me steady income. That way I have one less thing to worry about. I also keep enough room for single projects, that gives opportunities to break free from monotonous work and create something new, work with people from different backgrounds. It is also a good learning opportunity. I like working with a sense of purpose. Because of that, I prefer working with any organisations that promote mental health awareness, disability inclusion, environment, education and arts.
I miss working with a creative team. I always loved having a critic with a similar profile as mine. Your clients can’t do that for you. They often tell you want they want, not how to improve your work. I am very bad at marketing. Most of my clients reached out to me because someone I’ve worked with in the past recommended. It is a good thing really and flattering, but I think every freelancer needs some basic marketing skill, specially if you are trying to reach new demographics.
Time. I have spent much time volunteering and travelling in the past seven years. And I believe those experiences has helped me to grow exponentially as an individual. I wouldn’t have had that chance if I was fulltime employed.
Like I said before, I have set clear boundaries and expectations with my clients from the start. Unless it is critical, I don’t work during my off hours and weekends. I prepare a task list for the weekly and each day. Whenever possible, I prepare my daily task list the day before, that way I can get straight to it the next day. And I use the pareto principle to check how much I’ve accomplished each day. I don’t shoot for ticking off every item on the list, even though I’d agree I’m usually over the moon on the days I actually cross off all. I have been trying to incorporate a little bit of workout every day. And this isn’t directly related to work but I turn off my WIFI and most my devices at least an hour before bed to have no notification that would keep me glued to the screen.
It may seem like a one man’s job, but you definitely need a communities, networks and supporters, like Leapers, to make it work.
I can’t ride a bicycle (How can anyone keep the foot fixed on a moving pedal!?!?) or say the word “statistics”, I usually go for “data” at client meetings. Lol.
What I love the most about this work is the story behind the brand name and it’s potential to change people’s life. It is a computer application for visually impaired to gain digital literacy. Previously the product has earned recognition from Zero Project under the name EYE Tool. This was a rebranding.
I have been very fortunate to have friends and family (even one or two clients) with whom I can openly talk about my mental health. They have normalised my struggles with anxiety and depression. But I know that’s not how it is for many people. So if there is a community that encourages talking about mental health without a judgement, I would definitely want to be part of that.
Also, remember I said I miss having a team? Leapers offset that deficit in many ways. I like how I can wave hello to someone in the morning and have a chat during my coffee break, just like back in my office days. Even when I don’t answer the weekly question for reflection, it often makes me stop and think about it.
And on days I am struggling to pull it all together just by myself, Leapers is a good reminder there are many, many many more like me out there 😊
"On days where I am struggling to pull it all together just by myself, Leapers is a good reminder there are many, many many more like me out there"
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