7 Tips to be a Badass Freelance Floral Designer
If you’re completely starting from scratch and need my 3 step process for reaching out to floral designers to get started freelancing, go back and check out Part One:
Okay, you’ve found a floral designer you want to learn from, you’ve treated her to a drink, you followed up, and now she’s sent you a few dates that she could use some extra hands on!
Freelancing is the best, most efficient way to get started in the floral design business! Because this is an event-based industry, every designer’s schedule is different, which gives you the opportunity to work for multiple designers in the same season. Every designer has their own quirks and methods so you’ll get to learn multiple ways of doing things. If you keep your eyes open and ask questions, you’ll learn so much and you’ll be well on your way to being a designer in your own right!
Bonus: If you’re dreaming of starting your own floral design business, this is the best way to get client referrals from more experienced floral designers. I get inquiries for weddings all the time that I can’t take, either because they’re below my minimum budget or I’m already booked. I always forward those brides to designers who have freelanced with me because because I’ve seen them in action, trust them to do good work, and want to support their businesses!
Here are 7 tips to being the best freelance floral designer in town!
1. What to wear: clothes you don’t mind getting dirty and good shoes that you can stand in all day. You’ll be surprised how active this job is! And it’s definitely not a fashion show. You’ll be on your feet all the live-long day and you’ll probably end up hauling some super-duper heavy boxes of candles or buckets of water at some point. Depending on what the studio setup is like, you might want to bring a sweater - I keep my studio at 60 degrees for the flowers! On set up days you might want to wear a short apron - perfect for stowing clippers and discarded stems!
2. Be prepared to do the dirty jobs: digging/melting/scrubbing wax out of candle holders, cleaning or filling buckets, prepping vases, stripping thorns and leaves off of roses. Your first time in the studio might only include jobs like that. Have a good attitude and take it as an opportunity to learn.
3. When you are asked to design, make sure you really understand what is expected! If you’re not confident, it is totally fine to ask lots of questions, to ask for an example design, to take your time. I would rather a freelancer take twice as long as me to create something if it means good work instead of sub-par work!
4. As you’re designing, your goal here is to imitate the designer you’re working for as closely as possible. You’re here to carry out her design, not to develop your own style. My very best freelancers are the ones who can imitate my style and riff on it. It doesn’t have to be a perfect copy, but it needs to blend with my work and mimic my design style.
5. If you’re worried that you’re going too slow and taking too long, ask how long she would normally expect it to take. Repetition is the only way to get faster, so don’t get worried if the first boutonniere you do takes a long time - you’ll be flying through them once you hit the 20th one! And it’s better to be thorough than sloppy.
6. A few etiquette tips: it’s okay to check your phone throughout the day, but keep it to a minimum. It’s okay to take photos, but always ask for permission to post (everyone has a different approach to what they share before the wedding) and ALWAYS give above-the-fold credit to the floral designer you’re working for. As in, your Instagram caption should begin with “Freelancing for @maryloverichardson today!” or “@maryloverichardson had a gorgeous wedding today - loved helping out!” You get the idea. Those designs belong to her and that should be clear to your followers instantly. I love when my freelancers share the work they’ve done with me - it’s fun to see what they enjoyed and to hear their perspective!
7. Be flexible. Nothing ever goes exactly according to schedule with flowers. Every week will be different—heck, every day will be different! That’s what keeps it interesting! But be aware that the schedule may change, so if you commit to working a certain date, keep a little flexibility. I often don’t get the wedding day timeline from the planner until a few days before the wedding, so I might not know if I’ll need help in the morning or afternoon when I ask! I’ll always give a general timeframe and length, but that can easily vary, so I recommend keeping a little extra space in your schedule.
SECRET 1: You can never ask for too much feedback. I love it when designers double check their work with me at every step. That way I don’t have to go back and look over all their designs at the end of the day!
SECRET 2: Sweep before you’re asked to. There’s always a need for a clean floor in a flower studio. I always notice and greatly appreciate when a freelancer initiates a quick sweep of the studio!