Attracting and retaining top talent is really (really) hard

I’ve spent my entire professional career in startups. Be it starting my own, working at others, or advising dozens more.

And one of the things that have always been clear (regardless of company size) is that attracting and retaining good people is really (really) hard. It’s especially hard for small companies that can’t compete in the Salary Wars that larger companies can only afford to play.

But there’s hope.

The Survey That Changed Everything

Earlier this year I acquired 10k emails of employees working at companies all across the country (mostly in tech). I bought a new domain just in case the domain would get…


I’ve worked on/launched/designed over a hundred websites in my lifetime (many through Bolder By Design).

Some were for new ideas/companies, others for established brands looking for a change, but many of them were actually a mask for one thing — procrastination.

The definition of procrastination is the action of delaying or postponing something.

In my experience, a website is often the delaying or postponing of whatever it is the website is actually created for.

Delaying you from actually writing your blog posts.

Delaying the work of actually running a business.

And my personal favorite: Delaying the world from seeing it.


Ready for takeoff.

Momentum is a fickle thing. When you have it, hard things feel easy. When you don’t have it, easy things can feel hard…

Sam Altman has an excellent paragraph re startup momentum:

“Momentum is everything in a startup. If you have momentum, you can survive most other problems. If you do not have momentum, nothing except getting momentum will solve your problems. Founders internalize this during YC; many seem to forget in the few years after YC. Burnout seems to almost always affect founders whose startups are not doing well, and then becomes a downward spiral. …


Photo props to Jeff Sheldon (https://unsplash.com/collections/188734/bizfreelance?photo=9dI3g8owHiI)

From time management to billing to collaboration, these are the tools you need to succeed as a freelancer designer.

The freelancer’s life comes with more ups and downs than your average roller coaster. These tools will help you manage it all — with a modicum of screaming.

Best time-management tools

As a freelancer, time’s your most valuable asset. So a toolset that makes managing and tracking your time easy is crucial.


If you’ve ever done freelance design work, you know that the majority of the work seems to come after the project is complete.

Yup. After. And all too often, that post-launch work gets done … for free.

Why? I think it’s a mix of things, but it’s mostly due to the fact that freelancers don’t create a contract that defines how to handle additional post-launch work.

This is one of the reasons we stress the value of a rock-solid design contract. …


For the 3rd installment in our 4-part freelancer’s guide, we’re going to focus on the design process. Specifically, how to manage the design process with your client — without going crazy.

The first two articles covered how to get new freelance design clients, and what to do before you kick off a new design project. So it’s time to get to the good stuff.

Now that you’re neck-deep in a project, you’ve probably realized it isn’t all roses. Problems arise and things rarely go as planned. But there are ways to prepare for these hiccups.


Starting a new freelance project is exciting! But tread lightly.

Since we’ve already covered the art of finding new freelance clients, this article walks through the process of starting a new project from scratch, covering both what you need to know, and what you should prepare for.

This process will be broken up into 3 sections:

  1. Accepting the client
  2. Finalizing the contract
  3. Starting the project

Accepting the client

Guess what? You and only you can choose to accept the client’s work.


Taking the leap into freelancing proves incredibly rewarding for most. But its strongest draw — the freedom that comes from being your own boss — can also be its greatest challenge. After all, when you’re going it alone, you’re striking out without a guide.

We’re here to provide the missing freelancer’s guide.

In this guide, we’ll cover four key phases of the freelance designer’s workflow:

  1. Finding new freelance clients
  2. Kicking off a new project
  3. The design/build phase
  4. Ongoing support and billing

By the end of the series, you’ll know what a typical freelance project is like, plus pick up a…


Find out how to put a price tag on your work — and why you’re probably selling yourself short.

Pricing your design work right is one of the hardest things a freelancer has to do.

I really struggled with this early in my freelance career, and I still find myself wondering what a fair price is for new projects.

But over the years, I’ve gotten much better at pricing, and charging rates that feel comfortable to me and my clients. Here’s how.

You charge too little

And I can say that without a doubt in my mind.

Which is (sorta) funny, because we freelancers hear the opposite (“You’re too expensive!”) all the time.

But this is all the more reason to stand your…


(Or something like that)

It’s hard to fully understand what doing freelance is like until you go out and start working with (or for) clients. And just like most things in life, you find that there are ups and downs. But what I always encourage new designers to do is find that balance of knowing when to be creative, and when to be controlled.

The idea of freelance means you’ve been hired by someone else to design something, that in most cases, is important to them. They have a goal, a vision, a dream…But don’t quite know how to execute it. That’s where you…

Mat Vogels

Founder (Zestful), freelancer, side-hustle addict and lover of movies/TV.

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