3 Questions with a Tech Lady: Dani Beecham, freelance UX design

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Hi Dani! You’re a freelance UX designer, what do you love most about UX + design?

When I found UX Design, it was kind of by accident. I was managing program communications for a non-profit and I was trying to find resources for web design best practices. When I realized there was an entire field dedicated to solving problems and making experiences accessible and meaningful, I felt like I had found my calling. I’m a communicator and I’ve always been the person on the team asking questions and trying to make things better. Every day as a UX Designer challenges me to be creative, analytical and empathetic but every day feels like just being myself.

Another thing I love is how multi-faceted the field of design is. I’ll always be passionate about mission-based work so I’m very excited about the notion of service design and expanding design thinking beyond digital to solve problems in the physical world. I think design has a huge roll to play in social impact. It’s just a matter of bridging the gap between designers and social services.

Can you tell us about some projects you’ve worked on that you love?

One of my recent client was a very badass speaker, author, MC & comedian. She had done so many cool things and had this amazing outgoing personality but her personal site wasn’t capturing that. I really enjoyed getting her involved in the redesign process and opening the conversation up to content strategy. I really had the chance to help her develop and define her unique brand and give her a site that she could use as a tool to build her career in a new direction.

I’m also in talks with a client that’s an early stage solar startup. Their platform is built around the idea of community solar. Instead of doing an expensive solar panel install, their customers can tap into existing solar farms in their community and see the savings prorated to their utility bill. It’s really exciting to me for two reasons: I’m a Bay Area hippie so doing my part to save the environment is a pre-req and the community solar model makes solar power more accessible for people in underserved communities. It has a huge benefit for low-income households where a significant amount of income goes towards just keeping the lights on. It’s really cool to be plugged in at such an early phase and have the potential to make that big of a difference in others’ lives.

What tips would you give to people who are looking to transition to freelance?

I have 4 key pieces advice:

  1. Do your research. Take a hard look at your spending habits and crunch your numbers to figure out what your minimum monthly income will need to be and set your rates accordingly.
  2. Sign-up with Freelancer’s Union and check out services like Bonsai. Pitching a client can be a quick process. Both Freelancer’s Union and Bonsai have contract templates and other resources to help you close the loop with your client quickly. Bonsai also allows you to invoice directly through their service which is helpful at tax time.
  3. Put yourself out there! This is key. Let everyone know what you do and what you’re trying to do. Seriously, do this with everyone you meet. You never know how your next lead will come to you. One of my first leads was through a post in a Facebook group. I was in-between clients and conducting some independent research for an article that I wanted to publish. I mentioned that I was a UX Designer and 10 minutes later I had a message in my inbox from a start-up founder in need of some design help.
  4. Be confident in your skills and remember that everyone is learning. This is especially important if you’re new to the field like myself. Get over imposter syndrome and give yourself permission to learn and feel confident about it.