Sara Perry is a board game designer (Gift of Tulips), she’s part of Space Lion Games, and she works freelance in the board game industry for several companies, including Jellybean Games and Pandasaurus Games.
Watch the live chat below:
Sara has worked on a variety of projects:
Currently she’s working for Jellybean Games as a Logistics Coordinator. She handles everything from the time that a game gets sent to the printer until it goes to the customer.
She’s also working at Pandasaurus Games doing customer support and also helping out with Kickstarter comments, as they have Kickstarters.
In the past, she’s also done KS support with managing KS updates and comments, worked with social media, and organized playtesting groups and feedback.
She got started in freelancing by doing a lot of unpaid work, just to get her name out there! She did things like helping out at booths during conventions and did a lot of playtesting whenever she could. At the conventions, she found that most people would definitely like to get help during a convention with easy tasks like picking up food or coffee for the booth team.
She worked on building up her relationships for two years until one day, Peter from Jellybean Games needed someone to help for customer support, so he came to her. From there, she proved that she could do customer support, so she was given more and harder tasks and slowly made her way up the company. After that, she started branching out to other jobs as more people knew who she was and that she had a great work ethic.
Deciding What to Freelance In
Sara initially wanted to do design and development work and thought that she did not want to do customer support or logistics. However, she did take the initial customer support job to help get her name out there and to show that she could be trusted. She definitely didn’t expect to actually enjoy answering emails and writing KS updates, but that’s what ended up happening!
This also helped her to get more freelance gigs, as it proved she could be a valuable member of the team and could be relied on. What else helped was to start branching out and trying to get brand awareness happening, while also making genuine connections.
Balancing Game Design With Freelancing
It was really hard for Sara to game design with freelance work while also working full-time. It became a lot easier to do just freelancing and game design, once she got enough work to transfer to only work freelance.
Making sure to treat the freelance work as a 9-5 gave Sara the time to go back to game design. Another aspect was making sure to designate time for design by putting it into her schedule.
What do you wish you’d known before you started freelancing?
You can’t build a business on disingenuous relationships. If you don’t make good connections with people, they’re not going to hire you. It’s really easy to get caught up in that and just go to events and hand out business cards and have that be the end of it.
If a publisher has two choices, with the same price and service, they’re going to hire their friend. You want to spend a lot of time making genuine connections with people. Try to help people out without expectations. Show that you care about people outside of what they can do for you.
You are your business, you don’t have a business. It’s just brand awareness. It’s great as you get to make friends along the way.
Types of Freelancers
Publishers might use freelancers for the following:
Logistics & Shipping
Graphic Design and Illustration
Pricing is really difficult to determine. The more expensive you make your pricing, the more exclusive your client list is. It’s a delicate line to tred, especially for small publishers, as you need to cover your living expenses but you don’t want to price yourself out of your market. You shouldn’t charge $100 an hour for a small publisher as the more you charge, the more you get closer to the price of someone that is already on staff. If you do charge $100, the publishers that can afford that already have someone on staff. So, it’s a difficult question on just how much to charge for your work.
It also depends on the services you’re offering and the clientele, You can reach out to the people you want to work with and see what they think of the price you’re thinking of. You can adjust the price if you get bad reactions and if you get encouraging reactions, you might not be charging enough.
Sara doesn’t use contracts and thinks that they’re probably more important when you’re working with people you don’t know that you don’t already have a working relationship.
You should definitely get the terms you’re talking about in writing, which could mean agreeing on the pricing and terms via email.
Sara used to write it all down in a notepad, but it was super inefficient. She’s since switched to using Toggle as there’s an app for it. You can also put in clients and tasks and it’s super searchable and easy.
Sara charges in 15 min increments. If a task takes 14 minutes, then 15 minutes is charged.
There’s also Clockify, if you want an alternative to Toggle for timetracking.
To get into freelance, you want to focus on two things: genuine connections and brand awareness. People need to know who you are and what you’re doing. Brand awareness will look different based on the services you’re providing and what you’re doing.
In Sara’s case, she tries to be active on twitter and Facebook, consistently participating in the industry and being a professional. She tries to be on podcasts and live chats, while also supporting other people. Sara puts in about 30 minutes a day for this brand awareness. If you have a list of things you want to do, it doesn’t take much time at all. You can take 30 minutes at lunch to go to all the different Facebook groups on your list and if there’s a question you can answer, answer it.
You can follow Sara on Twitter: https://twitter.com/saraperry96