Road to freedom
Hi <3 Maia here.
This is a piece of an article written for my newsletter, Blank Page Drip. If you resonate with this content and want to get down-to-earth, relatable productivity bites on your inbox, subscribe to the drip.
My main idea for this journal is to take my readers with me on the freelancing and online business journey. I’ve been freelancing as a graphic designer for the past 6 years, and Blank Page Lab is the chapter where I launch, scale and establish a creative Studio. What a trip.
I want this journal to be relatable. There’s so much bullshit on the internet and most of us are not gonna wake up at 6 am and have cold showers and play binaural beats every day. This is not an aspirational blog. This is my real experience:I will be sharing my raw and uncut take. Fuckups, wins. Youtube midnight scroll holes, healthier earlier scroll holes. Actual productive practices, not so productive ones.
I will be sharing what worked and what didn’t work, resources I find useful for building a business and staying productive, hand in hand with practices to remain calm and collected while building your online business.
Scaling is unknown waters for me.
I'm at a point where I feel like I'm back to square one, where I was when I was 20 and had no idea how to establish myself as a freelance designer. It's a beautiful, sometimes scary, refreshing as fuck moment. And definitely filled with possibility. Blank page.
So many things have changed since then, but the biggest shift has been my values.
When you're starting your career as a freelancer, sometimes you get so deep in this uncertainty state of mind where you have no idea if you're gonna pay your next rent, find any gigs that month, etc. It's exhausting. Uncertainty is.
Is so easy to burn out under that mindset; crossing your own boundaries and working for people and projects you're not aligned with. That was my case when I was 20. Living in NYC and facing so much competition, working 3 jobs and having no business structure or goals. My only goal was to pay my expensive ass Brookyln rent and maybe have some money left to party.
Now that I feel established as a freelancer, there's nothing that matters more to me than my wellbeing and freedom. Mindful productivity. This is the center of my work, if I'm feeling like shit, my work will look like shit. And you don't want your designs to look like shit. Your clients also don't love that idea.
Big mindset shift: my definition of success: back then, I thought I would be successful when I had a portfolio full of amazing work, when my work would be featured in AIGA, It's Nice That or Pangram. I thought success meant recognition. But I also think in general lines this is what we think success is when we're 20 and we haven't experienced adult world.
I still don't know what my definition of success looks like to the hundred percent, but I'm sure it has nothing to do with recognition. Success to me sounds like working 100% of my time in what I love, and doing it efficiently so I can spend more time offline. Passive income of course being a big part of the dream. Build once sell twice type shit. For me, success equals freedom.
Another big difference is that I knew nothing about how important productivity systems are. Or systems in general. Now I cannot function without the system that I've been developing for the past year and a half. Is still a work in progress but I love experimenting and learning about it. Before I was "goal-less", or had very abstract goals i.e: be successful. (?) (lol). Now I'm extremely granular with my goal-setting practices and this has allowed me to organize my tasks, get to my milestones, and check off goals with clarity, calm and determination.
Back then I thought "being busy" was indicative of being good at what I was doing. I wanted to produce as much as I could, earn as much as I could, not let any business opportunity slip. I now have so much respect for my time. Fuck "being busy". Our culture has toxically taught us that busy means productive. This is something I've completely eliminated from my system.
Instead of just working to work, my head is set on building digital products, building a community, learning how to be a good leader and art director - and learning how to do it gracefully by thinking on the personal growth of my team members - and lastly, I'm looking at the possibility of working less, and earning more.
I don't know what success means for me yet, but I am building that definition little by little by experimenting, failing, learning, and trusting that as long as I know my what, the how will get to me.
My first goal this year is learning how to build digital products. From prototype to launch. Building as little as possible, as scalable as possible. This might look like a template, a course, an e-book. I have no idea. All I know is that I'm taking steps towards passive income so I can spend time off-grid and traveling.
The second goal would be to build a community of enthusiastic, curious humans interested in building their own definition of freedom. Because that's what this space is about, building it so you can go after it and live it.
I see myself in 5 years traveling more and working less. The goal is not to stop working because I really love what I do, the goal is falling in love with it so deeply that it gives me the income and time to travel. A mindful approach to business, from the place of my desires for freedom.
Thank you for reading me, I find it incredible that someone is out there reading these thoughts and resonating with them <3