The Freelance Fix Part 2: Designer Details - Special Guest Author Renee Tucci

by Details Flowers ● 21 September ● Tips & Tricks, Just For Fun

Part one of our Freelancer Fix two-part series was recently posted here, and it offered sourcing solutions, rate reviews, booking guidelines, and more. 

Here, in Part 2, you’ll find details to help guide the Freelance Designer. We’ll aim to answer questions like, how do I find work as a freelancer? How much should I be paid? What do I need to be prepared to do as a freelancer? What are some best practices to ensure success for myself and for the shops and studios that hire me? 


Let’s dive in, shall we?


How do I find work as a freelancer?

You’ll only need to get over this tiny hurdle in the very beginning of your freelance journey. Once you have made a few contacts and have proven yourself to be a reliable and competent team member, you will have no problem booking up your calendar. Social media and job listing boards are the best places to start your search to find long-term or temporary work. Search for local industry groups on Facebook, and look for listings at local wholesalers. Create a posting on your social media accounts that shows an example of your work and lets folks know that you’re available for hire. That doesn’t mean that you need to accept any job that gets offered to you, but at least you’ve put it out that you’re available to join the teams of studios that need your help. 

If short-term help is more your aim, answering ads for long-term positions and letting them know what you’re offering could very well equal a steady gig, on a more “as needed” basis. 


What should my hourly rate be?

The going rate for a freelancer, based on their market, industry experience, and reputation, ranges from $25-$50/hour. With just a few years of experience under your belt, and in a more rural market, you will find yourself at the lower end of that pay rate. If you’ve been working in the event world for years (decades?!), you’ll be able to confidently ask for more. Have a state or national accreditation to your name? Make sure to take that into account too. Regardless of what you ask for, be ready to come in with your experience in the back of your mind to pull from, but a blank slate at the front of your mind to build on. You’ll want to be open and receptive to how the studio operates, and what works for them. Be generous with your knowledge when troubleshooting starts, but bear in mind that many shops are comfortable with how they operate (i.e. change is hard!), and following their protocols will make for a smoother experience during a high-pressure time. 


What do I need to be prepared to do as a freelancer?

The short answer: EVERYTHING! 

You should expect to be sweeping floors, schlepping buckets, taking out the trash, reverse engineering recipes from bulk orders that are cross-referenced with client contracts, sweating through your shorts, and freezing through your favorite knit cap. You should be able to draw on your experience to carry the carefully crafted aesthetic of your weekly employer in the bouquets, centerpieces, and chandeliers that you make. You should be as comfortable making the groom's boutonniere as you are covering the ceremony chuppa with the hydrangea. 

If you are not comfortable with the full range of possibilities that a studio may ask of you, spend a few more years in a traditional retail floral setting, or take some classes so that you become indispensable! 

What are some best practices to ensure success for myself, and for the shops and studios that hire me? 

There are a few key things you can do to make sure that you’ll be in high demand by everyone that you work with:

    • Show up! And show up on time!! Don’t book yourself for a date and then back out with little or no notice. No one wins in this situation. Of course, life happens, and situations arise, if you need to back out of a commitment, do what you can to fill your spot with another freelancer in the area. Or perhaps, you can still help, but on a more off-beat schedule. Don’t be afraid to propose what you can do to the studio owner, while you’re telling them what you can’t do. 
    • Check your ego at the door! When you’re hired to freelance, you are not creating designs that you like, or, for yourself. You’re creating for the shop that has been hired, and you need to design to their standards. Sometimes it takes a try or two to get something right. Always ask for approval on a new design, and if changes are needed, don’t take offense. Simply learn from them and keep the directives in your mental bank so that next time, you’ll get it right the first time around. 
    • Be a Positive Polly! Coming into a studio during an event week is tough. These are usually high-pressure situations with a lot on the line. Do your best to remain upbeat and supportive. This can go a long way in helping the in-house staff know that you’re a solid team member, even if only temporarily.
    • Be prepared to put in the hours! This may mean starting early, or, helping with a breakdown. No one likes this part of the job, but it is necessary, and many hands make light work. 
    • Set your boundaries! Do you need to leave at a certain time, on a certain day, for family commitments? Do you need a quiet space for an uninterrupted lunch break? Do you have an extra fee built into your pay rate if you’re asked to help with a breakdown? Your needs are important and, communicating them early in the booking process will assure that they are addressed and that you’ll be at peak performance when it’s “go” time. 
    • Come prepared! Bring your own set of standard floristry tools. Bring snacks, lunch, and beverages. Bring a change of sneakers and layers of clothes. Many of these things may be offered to you by the studio, but in case that they are not, be prepared so that you can keep the daily flow….flowing! 
    • Keep on growing! There is no end to the innovations and trends that are hitting the market, they are ever-evolving. Keep yourself in the know with continuing education during your downtime. 

Don’t forget to consider real deal-grown-up stuff like insurance, taxes, and mileage when you’re setting yourself up for success. These matters are important and, having them worked out will save you many headaches through your freelance journey. 

Freelance shop-hopping can be fun, especially when you find a few flower families that you enjoy working with. But, it is serious work and these teams are counting on you, so pack you’re A-Game, your tools, and your smile!


About Guest Writer, Renee Tucci


"Flower nerd...yup, that's me!"

Renee Tucci hails from the suburbs of Philadelphia and loves all things flowers, especially learning about them and spreading her flower know-how. A few decades in retail has fostered a fierce customer service background. Ten years of management has shown her what it means to be a true leader and how to utilize the strengths of those around her. A dozen years of immersing herself in network circles that include designers at the top echelon of their craft has lead her to strive toward that too....something she will always be reaching for as there is never an end to learning.

Now an international educator, a presenter, a traveler, a bud to all flower friends that she meets, a freelancer, and a connector...this industry is truly her life!

Oh yeah....and Renee is a proud member of the American Institute of Floral Designers and the Professional Floral Communicators International!

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