Hello from The Valley ☀️
Updated: Jul 14, 2021
Well, hey there! Or, howdy now, I suppose...
Justin, Rocky and I are officially living la vida loca here in Phoenix, Arizona. The question from anyone we've talked to before (and even after) is "why the change?" To put it simply – it was just time for a change.
For those who don't know, I met Justin during my college intern days at a Columbus-based motion & live action studio while he was an editor there. We've dated since, I graduated college, lived in 2 Columbus apartments, rescued Rocky, officially went freelance... and that was the nail in the coffin.
What's left to do here? We've made amazing friends, won some local design awards over the years, been to almost every restaurant and bar we've cared to go to, stayed inside for a year, and truly established ourselves in our careers. We've always loved what the Wild West had to offer in terms of our favorite industries, lifestyle, hiking, traveling... it was just time.
So, after a long couple of conversations, many a night researching, getting quotes for moving, actually packing up our shit, driving across the country, etc. We're here. The "next chapter" page has been flipped, and already getting the momentum back up.
I will say, the transition as a freelancer was not as seamless as I thought it was going to be.
And, I don't know if it's because of my personality or whatever, but man – I'm always itching to be moving forward and having my creative momentum going. And when things (even out of my control) put that on hold for more than a week or so, I get very cranky. Haha.
For those creatives moving somewhere – whether it's down the street, a different state, or different country, here's some things. Take'm or leave'm:
1. Be mentally prepared to not really do much work in the first couple of weeks.
- There's a lot of shit going on. Moving furniture, trying to find that ONE important cord that you carelessly threw some box now you can't turn the TV on (yes that was us,) thinking of ideas to pretty up your new places (which ultimately costs money,) among trying to get your working space back to where you can faithfully get things done.
- I probably camped out at a coffee shop down the street for the majority of our beginning weeks here because it felt the most productive, stable place that didn't have a ton of distractions. I also like avoiding the messes that comes with moving :,)
- The cost of moving can be a hefty one. When freelancing not even a year in, it can feel like a financial blow, no matter how much you tried to prepare for it. Sometimes that first month (like mine) just calls for being heads down, getting the work done and invoices out, just to ease that weight on your shoulders to make up for it. Things will be okay. :)
2. TIME ZONES! What a concept.
- All of my clients up to this point have been Eastern Time... I didn't realize some of the confusion that came with doing that quick math in your head every time a client wanted to schedule a meeting. Be sure to change your Google Calendar settings and update your new time zone so it'll automatically show you what time those meetings are for you.
- The biggest downside I've come across with the timezone change so far – there have definitely been some 13-hour work days. Which, that's kind of part of the deal when being your own boss; hours are flexible, but clients need what they need.
- Luckily though, since a lot of my clients are EST or CST, my day gets to end a little early (2pm-3pm) sometimes if I'm lucky. If it ends early, that means a little happy hour pool time or some personal work time, which we all love.
3. This Too Shall Pass.
- I'm still getting used to this transition after a month and a half, but can already feel it's a lot smoother than before. It will be quicker or longer for some of you freelancing/creative transplants, but know that the sucky hours are just to get the job done, and you can re-evaluate what your working times are – and tell that to your clients!
- The move will be done at some point. It's easier when you have a partner or friend with you to share the work, but it will become a home and not a messy shell of one at some point. Just chip away at it. Invest more time in your working/office space and your space to relax. You need both of them equally ;)
Vandyl – What's going on?
Despite the chaos that occurred to get here, plus the mental kick-in-the-ass it took to get that momentum back going... we've done some awesome shit. Shit that really is just us moving forward, as well as some designs for things I've been working on, cooking up new ideas, talking to more and more people in the gaming and esports scene... and getting a ton more eyes, ears, and talk on our brand and mission.
There's nothing more exciting as a creator and a small (but mighty) team of 3 to see a project that you've worked on for over a YEAR get recognition for the things we always wanted to be noticed, praise, questions, engagement... all the things a brand wants to see.
What's even better, and what makes our hearts flutter, is to know that all of the praise, accolades, mentions, name drops, forwards, etc. have been completely organic and 100% because of actions we took on our own free time and effort. No paid ads, no sponsors, just the three of us.
I could nerd out about the awesome analytics we've been getting lately (from Twitter, our most active platform) – but essentially, in the last two weeks:
3,000% up in mentions
371K Tweet Impressions
Over 12K profile visits
And over 100 new followers (now at 448 followers)
To big orgs, that's probably child's play, who knows. But to us – only being a living, breathing organization for 4 months, we're ecstatic. And we're only planning for bigger things to keep that going. We have nothing but great appreciation and love for those who've followed along with what we're doing, even if they have no idea what the hell is going on. Trust me, I know it can be confusing. Justin has this great analogy he uses with Tiger Woods and Nike as an example... but that's for a later post I think. "What is a Gaming Organization?" maybe.
Here's some stuff we've done for Vandyl since the move:
Recorded two podcast episodes (check out Spotify and YouTube!)
Designed a super rad illustration for a limited-edition T-Shirt and poster that nods to our launch video, the first piece of content we ever made
Started a re-brand of our first Halo streamer, Trunks
Started talking to potential partners, as well as potential support candidates for our internal team
Started crafting the bones of an official pitch deck for whatever people we need to show it to
Other secret things ;)
Needless to say we're getting some shit done. But there's always more to be done. Just excited for what we do next.
Check out our Twitter @Vandyl and website (vandylgaming.com) to be in the loop and hang with us!
"That's great, Audrey! But Audrey, what has your freelance business accomplished since the move?"
Thanks for asking! Let me tell ya:
Gained at least 4-5 new clients
About to have my most profitable month for June-July
Got back on social media! And getting better at Twitter 😂
Finishing up my 36 Days of Type National Park illustration series
Crafting more project pages for my portfolio
Learning more motion graphic tricks, including incorporating 3D design/animation
Reaching out to new client leads out in the West Coast/Southwest
Officially (and hopefully) getting my PC machine back on its feet... (it's been doing this thing since I've had it where it will just randomly overheat and shut off in the middle of a Valorant game or doing something simple in Cinema4D. Super frustrating. So hopefully that's figured out soon :)
Ideating for my own Twitch stream graphics and setup... 👀
Our dog Rocky is still the worst assistant and just sleeps under my desk. Still not understanding how to put meetings on my calendar...
So anyways. This is a long trip around the hot-af desert sun to say that I'm back, and ready to kick some ass.
Your friendly neighborhood designer, Audball ☀️