Today’s student success spotlight is with Ciprian Gavriliu. It’s our hope that we’re able to share a different story each week of how a past student has been able to significantly grow their freelance business by applying the concepts they learned from Double Your Freelancing (check out last week’s with Drew Ulmer). If you feel your story would be a good fit, share why!
Ciprian Gavriliu is the man behind Triple Magic, a design consultancy focused on products and startups. His passion (and obsession) is to tackle every project from three angles: Business, User Experience and User Interface Design.
Ciprian has completed both DYFR and DYFC (when it was The Blueprint) and as a result has seen over a 250% growth in his rates – not too shabby!
What got you into freelancing? And was it what you expected?
I first got into freelancing in 2005. I was expecting the coolest experience on earth – to do what I love and get paid for it. But with time, I experienced a lot of problems – like clients who didn’t have a design sense and weren’t paying attention to my suggestions, poor implementation, small rates, as well as a short list of successful projects.
Also with time, I learned that a lot of those pitfalls could be avoided. I just wished someone told me how then, instead of spending my time and money to learn what works the hard way.
A freelancer has to wear a lot of different hats. From the salesman, account manager, project manager, accountant, marketer – the list goes on. And the truth is, is that most people who get into freelancing only know how to do one thing – they aren’t great at doing it all. They’re excellent at one thing, like development, design, writing, SEO, etc.
Learning those additional skills in an easy and fast way is what can make the difference between a successful and fulfilled freelancer versus a depressed and unsuccessful one.
Another really important thing with freelancing is developing a strong discipline. It’s just something that needs to be accomplished if you want to have a work/life balance and long-term, happy clients. I later started a couple more businesses, so I needed to learn a lot more skills.
“Freelancing isn’t so hard after all, if you’re smart about it.”
Did you ever want to quit or give up? If so, tell us why.
A lot of times. I spent my 20’s in the business world and at some point I realized I was chasing the wrong goals. They were the kind of goals that looked great for others, but deep down I knew I was lying to myself and they weren’t right for me.
So I needed to find a new way to design and do business – a more personal and fulfilling way. Business and freelancing can be tough. But the most important thing to understand is that you’re competing only with yourself (really!).
“I believe most humans have an amazing amount of potential related to what they’re actually doing day-to-day.”
When you begin to understand this you, you’ll gain power and confidence.
What’s been the most challenging thus far?
Keeping the life/work balance, while growing and managing bigger projects. I had to learn a lot in a short period of time and also overcome a lot of my inner obstacles/insecurities to make sure I stay on track.
One thing that made a huge difference was having a personal coach. I recommend this to everyone – if you can find someone who’s really good and has a proven track record.
What were you struggling the most with when you ran into Brennan’s course(s)?
I was charging too little and working on a couple of projects I didn’t liked that much. There was this constant feeling that I could do more, contribute more, work with better entrepreneurs, raise the bar and rediscover my passion and excitement.
When I discovered DYFR I was astonished, because it was exactly what I was looking for and it had answers to all my questions. There was this guy Brennan, who was telling me that I’m right and what I want is possible in short period of time. And he was right!
What are some big successes you’ve had recently? Did you do anything differently?
I landed some long-term, big projects with interesting companies and successful entrepreneurs, like Neil Patel (KissMetrics, Crazzy Egg). My business and I jumped to another league.
The thing that helped me the most to get there was changing my focus towards solving the client’s end goal, instead of just focusing on skills and technologies. This continues to have a huge impact on how I tailor my services, what advice I give and what additional services I’ve added to my portfolio.
More important, the clients now perceive the added value they get and they treat me as a partner, not just another service provider. Because I really am a partner. And this is something very rare to find (although a lot of people are claiming it).
Has your income changed as a result of any of Brennan’s content? If so, how much?
I’ve experienced a growth of 250% in my hourly rates. The impact has been huge and I can see it in a lot of different areas of my both business and my personal life.
I can invest a lot in education to offer better services and also afford to plan some dream vacations. 🙂
What are some specific tactics or strategies that have really helped you grow?
Here’s my top 5 list:
1. Focus on what matters for customers.
2. Help them to reach the goal behind the goal (e.g. not just designing a product, but building a successful business).
3. Services are just tools to reach a business goal.
4. Being a consultant for the client through the whole process makes a HUGE difference.
5. When you finish something, take 20-50% in extra time to get it to the wow level. So few people actually do this and yet the outcome for the customers and for you is amazing.
What are you most excited about for your business in 2015?
That I get to travel a lot abroad, meet a lot of amazing people/entrepreneurs and we will release a couple of amazing products. That I will get the chance to give back to younger designers and business owners.
“That I will draw more and I’ll fight less.”
I’ll also get to focus more on what I really love and delegate the other activities to other people who are better at them than I. Lastly, (most importantly?) I will have my month of working from some exotic and deserted beach.
Ciprian Gavriliu is a business focused Product Designer and UX consultant. His design consultancy, Triple Magic works with startups and companies who want to build successful products.
You can connect with him on Twitter, Dribbble, or read his blog on product design.