How I started writing


how i started writing, blogging and getting commissionsjo gifford

I am always fascinated to read and learn about people’s careers.

I, by trade, am a graphic designer, although I now term myself a portfolio career person. I am a designer, writer, blogger and, on occasion, lecturer. I trained as a designer and the front end of my career was as a designer but I have never been happy staying put in that box. I evolved from designer to dual roles as Senior Designer/Business Development Manager and began to reach out tentatively to include writing PR pieces for the agency I worked for under that role as my MA in Design Management renewed my passion for getting words down.

I reached a crunch point in my career when I had a turning point just before I hit 30. I had a nervous breakdown, something I talk openly about here on the blog as it served as a pivotal moment in my life in so many ways. Whilst I had the great job, the great flat, the boyfriend and the money in London, I had begun dreaming of a way to work on my own, to be my own boss and I didn’t know how to make that leap. Well, sometimes the universe does it for you. When you are left with nothing after leaving said job, boyfriend, flat, and life in London, you can pretty much do anything you wish.

I don’t for one moment assume that anyone’s career should take as drastic a turn as mine, it just so happened to be that way. I will do other posts on how I developed other aspects  of my career, but I am often asked how the heck a graphic designer starts getting writing commissions. Well, it went like this. Read more

Why self employment makes you and breaks you


Self employed

I had a conversation with a dear friend this morning, who is going through a patch I know so well with self-employment.

Going solo is liberating, the best thing I have ever done. But, it is the hardest, most soul destroying journey at times too. I went self employed back in January 2006 after this happened. I now have my own company, I write for various on and offline publications and I have had stints of part time teaching too which I loved. But there have been so many dark times along the way, and I think it’s sometimes healthy to share.

Here are my top reasons why self employment breaks you, and the redeeming reasons why it makes you. Read more

The secrets of a creative, fulfilling career in RGB

As a creative being, I have the honour to to enjoy financial gain for my creative abilities.

Over my 12 year portfolio career as designer, business development manager, writer, blogger and lecturer I have been self employed for half of it. Whether employed by others or myself, I have always marvelled at being able to go to work, think creatively, and be paid for my time to do this.

It still seems amazing to me.

My posts on creative business balance and working in your flow gained a wide readership recently, and obviously struck a chord out there in cyberspace. In this fast paced social media age the way we tap into that creative flow changes, and it also becomes easier to ignore the need to develop creatively when constantly ‘plugged in”. I adore blogging, which is one of my favourite ever creative pursuits, yet giving myself permission to do creative work away from the omnipresent screen can be very difficult. Read more

A designer workflow for loving life and working less

Dex Diva soho

image credit: Miles O'Carroll/Papa Diva

One of my heroes of the seminal business workflow books is Tim Ferris, author of the infamous Four Hour working week.

When I first read his book 3 years ago the world was not as social media saturated as it is now – no Google+, Twitter was a mere babe in arms, and the blogosphere was a teenager as opposed to fully blown mid-life crisis material.

I loved the ‘design your life and outsource it’ concept on which Ferris has based his business model. Although the extent of the myriad outsourcing methods and the labyrinthine maze of methods are too far-fetched for my particular wants and needs, there is some food for thought there. I am similarly inspired by REWORK, the book by the guys behind 37 Signals, whose insights to running a global company with remote workers in the über connected age are just a pleasure to read, absorb and ignite a creative personal reaction. Read more

Freelancing: social media outrage and tips for non-payment


A very good friend of mine, an eminent writer and fabulous blogger is in a quandary right now.

A “publication” (and I use the term loosely as it sounds far too professional), has engaged her services and is avoiding very overdue payment. Not only this, but their Twitter timeline is full of banter with other writers engaging their services, boasts of extravagant nights out, and how a new app is being developed for their “magazine”.

Read more

Guess who: Freelancers guide to the best and worst clients

So. You are a freelancer, or working for your own small company. 
My posts recently on working in the creative industries and keeping a creative workflow have been really popular, so I thought why not introduce you to some clients you are bound to meet in your self-employed life? Here's who they are, how to spot them, what they do, and how to deal with them.

*disclaimer – none of the mentioned below are my current, valued, and precious clients with whom I have a longstanding and respected relationship. The characters are real, but the names have been changed to protect the irrititating. Read more

Jo Gifford

My work is about helping people work in smarter, creative ways + getting their message out to the world via killer content—blogs, copy, images + social. I am a designer, writer, blogger, mentor, author, creativity addict + prolific geek. You could call it a portfolio career of multi-potential multi-passions. I call it being me.
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