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Advice for Early-Career Data Visualization Freelancers: Ann’s Interview with Jane Zhang

Mar 24th, 2020 / Data Visualization / , , , ,
Ann K. Emery shares advice for early-career dataviz freelancers.

When Jane Zhang wanted to interview me for her article for the Data Visualization Society, I agreed!

We decided to record our conversation so that even more people could benefit from learning about the business behind my business.

This conversation might be especially helpful for early-career data visualization freelancers—or those contemplating the switch from a salaried job into a freelancing job. If that’s you, welcome to the dataviz community! And enjoy this video interview.

What’s Inside

  • How I got started six years ago
  • Whether I’d planned to work for myself from the beginning
  • The critical turning points in my decision-making process
  • What type of advice I received from mentors early on
  • How the work I’ve done has shifted over the past six years
  • All of the correct ways to make a living with data visualization
  • How my previous workplaces were so supportive of data visualization
  • Whether I think anyone can teach
  • What High Schooler Ann thought she’d be when she grew up—and how my career path isn’t that different from what I originally planned
  • How I found my earliest clients
  • How blogging for several years before going solo unintentionally became a solid portfolio
  • How professional volunteering on boards built my network and helped/helps me find projects that are a good fit for me
  • Why I always recommend that early-career dataviz enthusiasts start blogging
  • Where my income comes from (the percentage from in-person training, online training, consulting, keynotes, and other sources)
  • Why I’m trying to do even more online training
  • How I manage traveling in the U.S. and internationally with my family
  • How I’ve moved mountains for the right work-life balance
  • Why you need to niche-down for your own sanity
  • How you actually decide what to specialize in
  • What my staffing structure has looked like in the past, and what it looks like now
  • Why I’ll never, ever hire full-time employees
  • How I learned how to run a business
  • Why so many people hesitate to run their own business
  • How little I understand about my own visibility and presence
  • What I’m really aiming for during my training—which is often much different than the workshop objectives written out on paper
  • Why it’s critical to give yourself a Dabbling Year(s) when you’re first starting out
  • What Jane’s currently working on

Listen to Our Convo

Resources Mentioned

Jane’s article on quitting her salaried job to pursue freelancing.

This book about running a lean, minimalist business.

This book about setting your rates as an independent consultant.

This scheduling tool that keeps me sane.

This Data Vizard t-shirt.

Connect with Jane Zhang

Connect with Jane:

Your Turn

Did anything surprise you about our conversation?

What additional questions do you have for me?

What additional tips do you have for early-career dataviz freelancers?

Comment and let us know!

Bonus: Read the Full Article

Jane’s full article just got published! Read about her interviews with RJ Andrews, Alli Torban, Matt Baker and I: https://medium.com/nightingale/how-self-employed-data-visualization-designers-make-a-living-23dc00ea5264

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