Dogs of Lance: Interview with Boxer Lola DONE

Welcome to the first Dogs of Lance series where we sit down with our favorite canine freelancer friends to hear what they have to say about running their business.

What does your typical workday look like?

I am running a few hustles in parallel but my main gig is being a human walker. I have to take my human, Gilad, on at least 3 walks a day. I also chew a lot. I take my chewing very seriously and I usually chew on shoes, plastic irrigation pipes, soccer balls and anything I can sink my teeth into (yes, I’m still a puppy). My 2 biggest hobbies are chasing cats and playing in the children’s playground.

Which of your human’s habits can’t you stand?

OMG, my human disappears on me for entire days sometimes. It’s not that bad ‘cause he also has little human kids who love playing with me when they get home from school, but I still miss him.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

I want to be able to open the big box with the food in it.

How do you unwind after a long day of hustling?

The thing I cherish the most is my human family. I love it when we are all together just relaxing in our backyard, and if someone pets me and I pretend to be good I’ll also get a snack.

On a scale of 1-10, how good are you at saving?

I am the best. Every time my human gives me a bone I dig a HUGE hole in the garden and put the bone in it, saving it for a rainy day!

What advice would you give other freelancing pets?

Stay hungry, Stay foolish!

Making Art That Sells with Freelance Illustrator & Product Design Extraordinaire Michael Zindell DONE

Lance Interview with Freelance Illustrator & Product Designer Michael Zindell

Michael Zindell Freelance Illustrator

Recently, Michael Zindell’s vibrant and versatile artwork caught our eye. A “design ninja” with over 17 years of experience, Michael is a freelance illustrator and product designer whose talent and entrepreneurial spirit have landed him projects with the top players in the home decor, houseware, and giftware industries. We love how attuned his creativity is to market trends, so we wanted to learn more about what’s helped his business thrive over the years. Michael is a bonafide hustler who embodies the inspiring freelancer of today – juggling and wearing many hats while driven by ambition and skill. Here he shares his tips on succeeding as a freelancer.

Let’s make sure you pat your own back… What’s your biggest strength as a solopreneur, Michael?

I’ve worked in product design for housewares and décor for a long time, so I REALLY know my industry well. Not just in terms of trends and themes, but also sell-ability, item creation, manufacturing, and perceived value and cost.

If you have a project in that arena, I can knock it out of the park. By knowing all the guidelines, I can both work within them to achieve industry standards or also buck the system to deliver something entirely fresh.

What’s the best business or money advice you ever got as a freelance illustrator and designer?

Growing up, my father had instilled some good lessons early on, and they have just become part of my general outlook. It’s basically a function of growing up in a household that used an allowance system. If I did my chores, I could be paid, and the chores all had a different cost. So I could choose to do harder jobs for higher pay, or easier jobs for less. At the end of the week, I would get my payout and it was up to me to either put it in a jar or spend it. We were also taught about saving up for larger purchases (like a bike) vs. immediate satisfaction (like candy). P.s. – In the mid 80’s that was about 5 dollars a week.

Later I was taught to never carry pointless debt, and only buy things that were within your means. So I’ve never carried any balance on a credit card or had debts I could not pay. I’ve only had my student loans (which were paid off first and foremost) and my mortgage. When working both full time and side hustling, all that side hustle money went directly to investments or long terms savings. My inner motto tends to be “if you can live without it, then live without it”. So I don’t get a new phone every release or upgrade my computers on a whim, I live a modest life with things I know I truly earned.  

Now for a moment of realness, what are you struggling with right now in your business?

Finding clients and getting a response. No matter how connected we all are, it’s easier than ever to just ignore someone. Point in case, I had a former colleague give me a reference to someone “definitely looking for a freelance product designer”, and to date, I have emailed this person 6 times. Not one single response.

Also, unlike graphic work (which can be biz cards, fliers, websites, passion projects) product design work is generally bound to larger industry, manufacturing, and retailers. It’s mostly working with in-house teams for creation and spec’ing of ideas for mass production. So those are not easy to just stumble on. It takes a lot of personal time to see any ROI (if at all).

As a freelance artist and illustrator in Salem, what challenges and advantages do you think are unique to your city?

Well, Boston and north of Boston are not hubs for what I do. On the plus side, Salem is a particularly artsy and creative town. As for supporting yourself on your design skills? I’m just not sure the $$$ is here. Most design businesses up here are small startups that are very insular (which also means lower rates and salaries). Salem is also a bit of a “small town” and people are not transparent about what  $$$ they are making. What we do have is a vibrant creative culture. Lots of small businesses, pop-ups, craft shows, entrepreneurs, public art, and general creative zaniness.

We know the freelancer life is all about the hustle toward incredible goals, where do you see yourself in 5 years? Financially, personally, and with your businesses?

I never intended to be a freelancer. And I’m still not sure I am a successful one. My goal was to enjoy the merits of a 9-5 when I could and to build a side hustle. I’d really like to build a client base that allowed the freedom to break from needing a safety net. In 5 years I hope to be able to slow down a little which will also help. By working my tail off since my 20’s I’m hoping to have built a strong foundation to allow a little more freedom to do the things I want. Currently, I am working on surface patterns and illustrations for licensing. It’s a slow burn with a lot of hurdles, but I would love to have my own product line out on shelves. If that doesn’t happen, I’d be happy creating designs for others too, because I am really good at it. 😊

Follow Michael’s colorfully vibrant work on Instagram!

Read more inspiring freelancing stories on our Lance Magazine.

Detox to Grow Your Businesses & Creativity with Wellness Blogger Lina Lopez DONE

Lance Interview with Freelance Content Creator & Wellness Blogger Lina Lopez
Lance profile interview with Lina Lopez the Wellness Blogger
Lina M Lopez Wellness Blogger

Creating great content is critical to succeeding in any business today. When Lina Lopez’s recent posts caught our eye (not to mention our appetite), we reached out to get some first-handed insight on what helps her thrive. As a content creator, photographer, and wellness blogger based in NYC, Lina is all about working the balance between work, life, self-care, and growing toward her healthiest self! In addition to Lina’s great tips for you as an individual, she also shares what keeps her clients happy, ensures she’s learning more, and ultimately how she runs her business like a pro!

Hope you enjoy learning more about what it’s like to be an ace blogger and content creator! If you’re stuck in a social media vortex btw, we really recommend her blog post about taking some time to unplug.

Let’s make sure you pat your own back… What’s your biggest strength as a solopreneur, Lina?

The ability to create solutions for any problem that may arise. That is a skill I had to learn in order to survive in this industry. I feel like I have been able to figure things out on my own. Sometimes it can be frustrating, but oh so rewarding when you create solutions for your own challenges.

What’s the best business or money advice you ever got as a freelancer/side hustler?

Please know when to ask for help. As a freelancer, I thought I could do everything myself and I ended up spending a lot of time and energy doing something I could easily delegate to someone else. Don’t be scared to invest in your business and in yourself. Hire people to help you when needed, buy a course to learn or better your skills.

My other advice is to please know your numbers. This is something I had no clue about for a long time. I estimated how much I was making per month. I didn’t have a clear understanding of how much money I was making or how much money I was investing back into my business – and how much of it was going out. Once I started treating my business as a business – and not as a hobby – my business grew 10 times more.

Now for a moment of realness, what are you struggling with right now in your business?

I am struggling to maintain a unique voice. We are so overstimulated and influenced by social media. Staying true to myself can be challenging sometimes. When I feel I am losing myself in the crowd, I do a social media detox. Taking a break from social media helps me to start creating without the influence of other people. I recently took almost two months off and it was incredible. I was able to come up with different ideas and also to create a new business venture which I am so passionate about.

As a wellness blogger and content creator based in NJ and NYC, what challenges and advantages do you think are unique to each city?

NYC is advanced in terms of healthy food stops and wellness centers. NJ is a little bit slower in that sense. I am so lucky I live close to the city so I can take advantage of all its opportunities. New Jersey is slowly getting better at offering more healthy alternatives. I take it as an opportunity for growth and I am not shy about offering my food photography services to any new healthy restaurant in my area.

We know the freelancer life is all about the hustle toward incredible goals, where do you see yourself in 5 years? Financially, personally, and with your businesses?

I want to keep growing my content creation/blogging business because it is a great creative outlet. I love photography and helping brands share their message. I am being pulled towards sharing a different message (not only healthy eating). I’d like to maybe do some life coaching for women like me who feel lost and have no idea what they want to do as a career. Financially, I’d like to keep sharing my skills with people and make a good living doing what I love.  I believe once you follow your heart, the money will follow. I have so many personal goals but I don’t have any expectations. I just got engaged and am currently planning a wedding for next year. Hopefully, babies in the next 5 years – who knows?!

Freelancer Blogger - Lina Lopez
Lina Lopez creative blogger
Lina Lopez, Wellness Blogger and Content Creator
Lina Lopez Lance Interview

Inspired and want to learn more? Follow Lina on Instagram and her website.  Thanks again for your time and sharing more about your freelancing, Lina!