Journal Making Modest

[MI: Update 9] Third Year, Still Here…

Last September marked the start of my third business year. This is a big deal for me. Firstly, around a third of businesses fail during the first two years, apparently. Secondly, banks see more financial stability when it comes to borrowing money, eg. for a personal mortgage (which has been a blessing), and finally, it validates Modest as a business to my clients and me.

I’ve looked at each business year as an opportunity to experiment with my business model which helps me decide in which direction  to grow. It helps me answer questions like what’s best for revenue, what’s best for lifestyle, and what keeps me feeling the most fulfilled.

Year One:

Modest Industries was set up for the sole purpose of containing all of my on-site freelance business. Not long after incorporating I went travelling for 6 months (still taking on some remote day-rate work though), so the experiment was actually more like half-a-year. When I came back my work was almost exclusively on-site with clients.

Year Two:

Upon reflection, I realised the downfalls of freelancing – namely if I’m not working, I’m not earning. I adopted another approach by seeking and accepting only project-based work. Aside from some client meetings, all I had was the brief, and a deadline for the deliverables, able to get the work done by any means I saw fit, whether that was hiring other people to do it, doing it myself on my own time (i.e.. not on-site 9-5), or a combination of both.

Year Three:

Both ways of working have their merits and drawbacks, and after throwing myself into both I came out with a better idea of how Year Three should be shaped.

Freelancing on-site for a day-rate is nice because you can turn up, get the work done, leave for the day and not have to think about anything until you’re next there, but if you’re not there, you’re not earning.

Project work is also good, you get to do the work on your own time, though it’ll always be at the back of your mind. You get the freedom to structure your day – spend it all day enjoying the sun, then hitting up the cinema before plugging in at night to get some work done, if that’s what you want. It also allows you to take on more clients simultaneously.

On one project another developer and I rented an AirBnB for four nights. We locked ourselves away with some food and a coffee maker, getting done the equivalent of ~2 weeks worth of work .

With all of that in mind, this year has been a steady mix of both project-based and on-site freelancing.

It was actually a bumpy start trying to take both on together.

I agreed to give four days on-site to one client with one day being devoted to my other clients. Initially it was okay, but when other clients needed attention, only having a single day started to turn my life into a juggling act.

Little did I know that it was going to get worse before it got better.

Another client needed urgent help on-site, so I did some reshuffling and ended up dropping from four to three days a week with one client, and giving two days to the other – leaving me with nothing. I couldn’t attend client meetings, it made it hard to maintain existing relationships, my new business proposals were shambles, and doing anything for Modest was completely out of the question.

April was intense. Commuting and working on-site during the day, catching up on other work in the evenings, and even having to work both bank holidays to keep everything balanced.

It’s a valuable learning experience, and being busy with work is never a bad thing – but burning out is. After my April responsibilities were complete I took a step back, agreeing to less and getting my workflow back to a good state. May was mostly managing that transition, and now it’s June everything is ticking along at a good pace. I can focus on everything that needs my attention, as well as jumping back onto building another Modest Product (which I’ll talk about at some point).

September will mark the end of my third business year, and until then I’m going to continue as I have this year. Year Four will be more innovative with the introduction of another (hopeful) revenue stream in the form of a new product/service or two.

Journal Makings

Team Business Cards

Team business cards have arrived. Imagine the weight of dark matter, mixed with a small rectangle. That’s what these bad boys are like; 600gsm, matt laminated. They are ridiculous.

Click the image to see how the endurance test went.



Creature London

You better watch out, you better not cry, better not pout, I’m telling you why… there’s a massive creature that has just set up it’s nest down Curtain Road. Luckily, it’s not the dangerous type that’ll rip off your head and take a dump down your throat… it’s an advertising agency.

It’s the offspring of Creature Seattle located in London, but way cooler. My creative partner and I have had the pleasure of working here the past two weeks on placement.

It’s been a great experience, everyone is cool and we’ve mainly been juicing our brains generating ideas for pitch work to win some new clients.

The agency only set up shop here a few weeks ago which was nice for us because we got to see a new agency coming together and nice for them because they’re a blank canvas for whatever awesomeness they want to paint on it.

Creature London is definitely going to be a contender in the industry. It’s one of those rare places where good ideas come first, not all of that corporate bollocks that goes on in huge factory type agencies. It’s a smaller agency with big ideas and the combined experience to execute them well.

Also, their website looks dope.

Creature London

And they feed us pizza and beer during late night mock-up sessions.

…and because we’re grateful for them taking us under their horribly disfigured creature like appendage which we’ll call a wing for the purpose of this blog post, we bought them Krispy Kremes.

Now we’ll wait for the laxatives to take effect.


The secret to creativity.


Standing Out – Be Creative

This is the key phrase for the advertising youth of today.

As an ever growing and highly competitive industry you really do have to do something different to get noticed.

But how far can one actually go before it’s considered distasteful, vulgar or God forbid, get black listed from the industry in an attempt to stand out?

The majority of attainable clients for the new blood, (I’m talking about low budget businesses that are close minded to the proverbial “less is more” that just want you to put as much information as they possibly can onto a tiny bit of paper) have no creative flair, which consistently makes it increasingly hard for us newbies to “Be Different”. Maybe more so to Graphic Designers.

I’m not being ignorant to the fact that yes, we can set our own briefs and come up with some kick-ass ideas.

Sure, it’ll go into our portfolio, we can send it around hundreds of different agencies, hopefully they’ll get your ideas and we’ll get an opportunity.


It’s not like the kind of publicity that you get with a live client. A true problem to be solved using your ideas, which are being mailed direct to homes and being posted up around the town for everyone to see. Maybe it’s just the ego boost from it all that makes it seem so much better.

Or maybe it’s the fact that one person can see that idea, like it and tell another person, maybe they’ll tell someone else who knows someone in the industry and boom, there is another opportunity.

Does this mean to say that it would be a good idea to run your own personal campaigns?

For newbies that want to make it into industry, it may not be a bad idea, why not? Be creative. Hold an event, attempt a viral or use guerrilla tactics.

Get your work seen

Get your work out there any way you can.

It’s one thing being different, but if no ones going to see it. Should you really be trying to get into this game?