Conor O'Neill Freelancing Interview

I interview Conor O'Neill about how he started freelancing and what he loves about it

I’ve known Conor for many years now and worked with him on several projects for some pretty impressive clients.

It was a nice surprise to see that Conor has taken the plunge into freelancing. I was happy when he agreed to lend his opinions to my freelancer interviews series.

You can see his work and find out more over at Us and Them.

How long have you been freelancing for?

5 months

What services do you offer?

I focus on brand, but that means getting all communication for my clients working consistently across all mediums. I use my knowledge to get the best business results for my clients through form and function.

What did you do before freelancing?

You know I was in Shawshank working with a constantly changing team, producing design for both print and web.

[Toby’s note: I laughed out loud at Shawshank]

Why did you decide to take the plunge?

I always wanted to be my on boss, and my work/life balance was not improving.

I set up a few clients that needed repeat business before leaving my 9-5.

How would you describe your first three months as a freelancer?

The first 3 months everything was great, plenty of work for the clients I had set up to work for. This last while I have been less busy but have had more free time to spend with the family. This is a bonus as I’m still better off financially but I still want to build a business.

I’m having to learn new skills in meeting clients and finding new leads but it’s great when even one lead pays off.

If there was one bit of advice you could tell your pre-freelancer self, what would it be.

Be prepared for being super busy for one week then nothing to do the next. Find a way to stay motivated quick because sometimes it’s difficult when you don’t see when you next job is coming from. But in saying that, I wish I had taken the jump earlier because I only have to answer to myself and keep clients happy, which is easy if you work by the motto of “always answer your clients briefs and add in something unexpected”.

I like your motto! What mistakes do you see fellow freelancers making?

  • Offering their knowledge and time too cheaply is the biggest mistake you can make.
  • Not having a contract in place for each job.
  • Not getting an up front fee before beginning.

These are the main ones, everything else you can learn the hard way without hurting yourself too bad.

About getting contracts sorted up front, is this something you write yourself or have you had help in sorting?

I have used an informal approach to my contracts, usually sending an email to confirm that they are happy for me to proceed with the work and I put in what I will deliver for the cost. I say the work will start on the agreed date when the deposit is paid.

I plan to get something more robust soon as I get a testing client.

To stop scope creep you would need to predetermine a lot more than what I do.

May the day you have a testing client never come! What one thing have you been doing way more of than you anticipated?

Banking, it’s was difficult to get the account I wanted without paying to much. Still haven’t got this right.

Have you had to do much marketing to attract new business?

I haven’t done much, but I’m starting this month. I have survived on word of mouth and some networking. I feel if you can network well you will be fine.

Can you see yourself working for a company again in the future?

At the minute no, but if the right offer was there I would have a serious think.

Is there anything else you would like to say on the topic?

Take the plunge, get a good team of collaborators that you trust, that are also working for themselves to help when needed (9-5 people promise to meet your deadlines but could let you down as their job is their priority), you can share skill sets but I would say pay each other instead… Keeps things fair.

Thanks Conor!

Thanks so much to Conor for taking the time to answer my questions. Be sure to check out his website.

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