Originally from Philomont, VA, a small town about an hour northwest of Washington D.C., Danielle Goodman, owner and founder of DGoodman Studios, moved to Orlando in 1997 to study Digital Media and Design at Full Sail University. After graduating with her Associate Degree, Goodman got a job working as a Graphic Designer, then was promoted to Creative Services Lead. In 2005, she was hired as a Senior Designer for a publishing firm. This is also around the time when Goodman started doing freelance graphic design on the side.
Goodman went back to school in 2009 and completed her Bachelors Degree in Digital Art and Design. For the next six years and ten months, she worked as the Senior Multimedia Graphic Designer for Hard Knocks. She also continued to build out her side business doing more and more freelance graphic design. By December of 2017, she officially took the plunge.
"I quit my part-time job to focus on my business," she said. "At that point, I had enough business to where I felt comfortable stepping out on my own. I also wanted to explore new opportunities. That's hard to do when you're working for someone else. Even though I'd been doing freelance work on the side for a while, my official launch was January of 2018."
According to Goodman, her first year as a full-time small business owner was a pretty rough transition. Nevertheless, she was determined to make it work and got the word out through several channels, including social media, internet ads, networking and mailers. She made connections with referral sources, such as developers, and more business started coming in through word of mouth. Goodman shared some of the ways she sets herself apart from the competition and what she enjoys most about her line of work.
"I try to market myself to small and medium sized businesses," she said. "I'm a more affordable design service option for them. They can't afford to pay someone $100/hour for an advertisement. I also stand out with my experience. My background is way more diverse than most graphic designers. When it comes to my actual work, especially branding, I thoroughly research the company, their demographics, their background, target markets and then I sketch and do mood boards before moving on to developing the brand. This process helps to get my creativity flowing."
"In terms of what I love most, it's definitely the diversity of the clients I get to work with. I really enjoy learning about their businesses and figuring out what I can do to help them grow."
Looking ahead, Goodman is very bullish on the growth of her business. She's focused on going after steadier clients that require more than just a brochure once every six months. She'd also like to grow the business to the point where she can hire additional designers.
Goodman offers some great advice, not only for aspiring graphic designers, but also for anyone looking to start their own business. "First of all, if you want to start a business, you definitely need the head-space for it," she said. "Nothing about it is regular, but working for yourself is way more rewarding. In regards to specific advice for those wanting to pursue a business as a freelance graphic designer, I would say to make sure you have a good client list to pull from before you decide to leave your day job and go full-time on your business. Also, it's important to know that it will be feast or famine. You'll have super busy times and then lulls. Budgeting your money, especially during the lulls, is a key factor when it comes to making it as a freelancer."