Workhoppers got a chance to sit down with Karina Perez-Tristan, a freelance web designer and artist based in Montreal. Karina’s main freelance work involves creating websites for artists’ portfolios and art galleries. We wanted to learn about how is life as a freelancer in Montreal and her web design inspiration-what made her become the web designer she is today .
When did you start freelancing and why?
I officially started this past August… because I needed to pay rent! I knew a bunch of artist friends who needed websites; I knew how to do that, so I did it! And I always wonder how would my life be as a freelancer.
I always figured I was going to freelance at some point. As an artistic person, I know that a lot of the time you have to create jobs for yourself in order to get out there.
How did you learn your skill?
Two years ago, I worked at my parents’ travel agency, where I created online itineraries and websites, and so that’s when I really got started with web design. It probably took me full year to learn how to create websites. I also have an extensive art background; I studied art and design at George Brown College in Toronto where I took classes that I still apply in my work today.
What is the best part of freelancing?
Time is definitely the best part of being a freelancer. I decide how much time I devote to web designing; this allows me to put my other passions as a priority. As a painter and an illustrator I need to be constantly practicing and growing my skills. Freelancing allows me the time and freedom to do that. If I’m suddenly inspired while working I can just go into the next room and paint. If I worked a normal full-time job I wouldn’t be able to do that. It’s hard to be able to pursue art if you’re tied up in a strict schedule. Also, networking as a freelancer is pretty amazing because it gets me in contact with other creators and I get to learn a lot and am exposed to different types of mediums.
What is your schedule like in a given week?
I generally work Monday to Friday 9- 4 or 5PM and I mostly take weekends off. But if I’m not feeling it on a given day, I’ll take a random day off and work on the weekend instead. What’s great is that it is completely flexible: as long as I meet the deadlines determined by me and my clients it really doesn’t matter when I do it, as long as it’s done. I just like to keep a structured schedule so I don’t fall behind.
How do you make sure you get paid?
In order for them to access the website when its finished, they have to pay me first via e-transfer. The nice thing about freelancing is I can change my practices and policies whenever I want. For example, I know a lot of freelancers charge half up-front and then charge the remainder once the website is finished. This is a structure I’m considering implementing soon. I haven’t had an issue with it yet, but it’s definitely something I want to try with future clients. Freelancing is a lot of figuring out what the most efficient way to go about things. There is no real template on how to freelance or the right way to freelance—its mostly a preference thing.
How do you find your clients?
Friends of friends, a lot of people know people. Thankfully being part of a large art community and a large city its not very hard to find someone that needs a website. However, it can be hard to find the right client. There are a lot of people that will try to swindle you for lower prices (I’ve had people ask me to create them a site for free). Like any job there needs to be respect from both parties and if someone isn’t willing to act professionally or is being unrealistic you might need to move on to another client.
What would you recommend to new freelancers?
Understand everything is a process. It can be hard at the beginning because everything is new and you’re on your own. With all the freedom of freelancing comes responsibility. You’re responsible for every aspect of the project and you have to make sure you’re on top of your game. You also have to be strict with yourself because at the end of the day if the product isn’t done or isn’t up to the standards of the client, that is on you and no one else. It’s definitely not for everyone but once you work out the kinks and get a system going, it can be really rewarding.
Would you consider signing up for a service like Workhoppers, where you can connect with local employers?
Absolutely. It’s important to have an accessible community to find work and to connect with one another. A platform like Workhoppers could be great for any freelancer. Making life as a freelancer a real success and not just a dream.
If you are a freelancer like Karina, or if her story inspired you to get started in the freelance business of your dreams, join Workhoppers.com to find great clients looking for top-notch talent.