One of the luxuries of business today is being able to forge a less traditional career path and build a business by freelancing, which is exactly how Breanna Rose of Rowan Made established her successful online business.
We had the opportunity to interview Breanna to learn more about her, Rowan Made, and also to elicit advice from her to other women in business.
Breanna says that she started her career by freelancing as soon as she got out of design school, simply because becoming her own boss was always something she wanted to do. “It wasn’t easy, and that first year was all about getting clients and learning how to wear a bunch of different hats. Because although my degree was in graphic design, I was suddenly doing much more than that. I was running a full-on business, where the phrase ‘fake it til you make it’ was 100% my motto.”
Luckily, she had made several connections with other graphic designers at this point, and many of them passed along referral clients when their own schedules got too busy. She ended up saying yes to almost everything and allowed herself to figure things out the old fashioned way: through trial and error. She then went from undercharging my services and worrying where my next client would come from to significantly solidifying her process and counting on a steady stream of inquiries in one year flat, most of which was a result of putting myself out there and doing the work.
After the first year or two, things started to settle down and she began to establish a groove, she says. Breanna no longer felt like the new kid on the block, completely overwhelmed with what she was doing. Instead, she was working with great clients and really enjoying the freedom of working for myself. About three years into freelancing, her workload started picking up more and more, so she decided to position herself for growth instead of hitting her ceiling. “This is when I took my first huge professional step and established Rowan Made, my current design studio. And although I’m still the only person working under Rowan Made, I now feel confident that if and when I’d like to expand, I can. Plus, it’s always felt a bit more ‘official’ rather than just working under my own name. And, I think others see that as well!
When asking Breanna about the website and web hosting services she uses, she proudly touted Bluehost has the service she has used for the past 5 years. “One of the main draws [for Bluehost], originally, was the affordable pricing. But beyond that, it’s proven to be most helpful in hosting several sites for my various endeavors.”Breanna likes that she can host some of her side projects, test client sites, and more, all under one account. She also says she appreciates the quick and kind customer service experiences she has had in the past with live chat.
Delving a bit deeper, Breanna Rose offers some insight into how she leverages the power of her business. “Having an active and beautiful online web presence is one of the best tools you can have on your belt as a business owner. Often times, this is the first ‘interaction’ I have with my audience or potential clients, so I’ve made sure that what I do is extremely clear from the get-go.” She says that this strategy comes into play in a few ways. First, she utilizes refined typography and strong photography as a visual focal point, enticing users to click around. Then, she likes to sprinkle in a call to actions throughout her site so that visitors are carefully moving around and seeing what needs to be seen. For example, after her mission statement (which is located towards the top of her website for strategic reasoning), she has a bright “learn more” button that takes visitors right down to the about section.
After visitors have read about her process as a designer, there’s a large “rewind & check out my work” button that takes visitors right back to see all of her work. Ultimately, this is a very simple yet interactive way to get people around the website seamlessly and to show off her design skills. When looking at Breanna’s website, it’s clear she has truly leveraged the power of the web for success. She encourages others to do the same, even if they are just starting out small. “If you are creating a website yourself and can’t afford to hire a designer, then consider looking into website templates so that you’re still putting something out there that’s beautifully done. WordPress is a content management system that has a large following, so that’s generally where I suggest starting. Station Seven has some great themes, but you can dig around and find some robust ones via Theme Forest as well.”
She says if you are hiring a designer or designing a website yourself, then her biggest tip is to consider the flow of your site (e.g. how people are going to navigate around) as well as photography. She mentions there are endless ways to design a site, but no matter what, it should always be easy to use, from start to finish, and visually capture the attention of your audience. As a powerful woman in the workforce, Breanna finally offers some advice to other women looking to grow an online business. “One of the biggest pieces of advice I have for women in business is to always follow your gut and do your own thing. Because at the end of the day, there is only one you. And if you lean into who you are and what you do best, really amazing things will happen.”
If you are interested in taking your small business idea online like Breanna, Bluehost would be happy to help. Give us a call at +1 888 401-4678 to speak with a website specialist for a free consultation.
Breanna’s design blog can be found at http://rowanmade.com/