30 days of killer (free!) lessons & tools to inject MOAR AWESOME
into every part of your freelance design biz


Institute of Awesome Day 8 Dear Client: Gimme More Money!

So... you're raising your rates, but not sure exactly how to broach the topic with your clients? Worried you'll sound like a no-good money-grabbing Greedy McGreedyPants?

Worry no more, we're here to help. Today's Institute of Awesome gift is...

Two friendly email templates to help you communicate your new rate raise, penned by a professional copywriter. Writer's block begone!


Institute of Awesome Day 9 Does Self-Promotion Make You Feel Sleazy?

It shouldn't. Self-promotion is all about sharing your skills. Let's face it: You're good at what you do. You're a pro.

You've got a lot to contribute, and clients out there need  you. Desperately. Who else, if not you, is going to get your name out there so they can find you?

Yep, that's right: nobody else. It's all you, baby. Our DAILY Self-Promotion for Freelancers Worksheet will help, with high-impact tasks that rate a big fat zero on the sleaze-o-meter. Get out there!


Institute of Awesome Day 10 Shakin' Up Your Self-Promo: Weekly Edition

For a talented creative like you, self-promotion is a mission. Remember, there are clients out there who're just dying to find you!

You can't complete a mission with tunnel vision. Spend all your time promoting yourself digitally from the comfort of your home office? It's time to get out into meatspace. Pound the pavement with flyers and cards? Then it's time to get buzzy online.

We're here to help! Check out our weekly Self-Promotion Worksheet for Freelancers, & spice up your sell life.


Institute of Awesome Day 11 Shakin' Up Your Self-Promo: Monthly Edition

Small, consistent actions snowball quickly. A guest post here, a biz card there & before you know it, you're rolling out a multi-media publicity gameplan!

Daily & weekly mini-tasks keep your self-promotional house in order, like making your bed every morning. But some chores every month or so -- like flipping the mattress (you DO do that, right?).

Today's gift is a MONTHLY Self-Promotion Worksheet: those "once-in-a-while" tasks you should keep bubbling on the backburner.


Institute of Awesome Day 12 Shakin' Up Your Self-Promo: Yearly Edition

Self-promotion isn't all spotlights and jazz hands. Sometimes, you need to light a scented candle and get introspective.

Once a year, set aside a quiet day for a thorough self-promotion audit. Are you getting where you wanna go?

Today's gift is an ANNUAL Self-Promotion Worksheet. You can certainly complete the checklist more than once a year, if you want to -- but take it easy, tiger. Freelancemeber isn't even halfway over yet!


Institute of Awesome Day 13 Extra Money — for Free!

Today we're switching gears from self-promotional checklists to everyone's favorite topic: BILLING (cue the worldwide groans).

Billing isn't at the top of most freelancers' Ultra-Fun List. But how about 10 things you can start billing your clients for, right now — without any additional work? THAT'S ultra-fun, right?

Chances are, you're underbilling. You're not billing for things you can (and should!) bill for. Let's fix that right now, shall we? Check out our Top 10 Things You Don't Bill For But Should!

Check out the top 10

Institute of Awesome Day 14 4 Tips to Bypass Billing Bafflement

When should you take an upfront deposit? How much? When should you get the balance, on completion or during the project?

What about kill fees?

It's time to end your confusion & set up rules to run your biz by. And The Institute is here to help.

Today's gift is a no-nonsense mini-guide to deposits -- setting them, getting them, persuading your client to pay them, & what to do with 'em. Download it now:


Institute of Awesome Day 15 Earn More with Packages Worksheet

Lots of your clients end up needing the same types of work from you over time, right? And even if they don't hire you for all of it right outta the gate, they end up hiring you to do 'em later on. And if they don't, they should. Right? Right.

That's why you should make it easier on yourself (and your client!) by bundling up some of your services into nice, clean, tidy, profitable packages.

Not sure what that entails? Awesome, because today's free gift is a Package-Building Cheat Sheet!


Institute of Awesome Day 16 Website Clarity Checklist

As a freelancer, your website is your digital calling card…your shopfront…your brochure…your billboard…your point-of-entry…your sales portal.

So, does your website make sense…to anyone besides you? Do your customers get an immediate sense of who you are, what you do, and – most importantly – how to contact you?

Today's Institute of Awesome gift is a Website Clarity Checklist: 5 quick questions to determine whether your site design is clear as glass (or clear as mud).

see the website clarity checklist!

Institute of Awesome Day 17 Vacations Without Catastrophe

Around this time of year, you could probably use a major break. Margaritas-on-the-beach-don't-call-unless-the-house-is-burning-down VACATION TIME.

But... What if your clients evaporate? What if you miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity? What if your website gets hacked & transformed into a virtual shrine for David Hasselhoff (not AGAIN?).

We're here to tell you: you'll survive. You'll keep your clients. And The Hoff never strikes twice. Use today's Pre-Vacation Preparation Countdown & jet away without fear!

see the pre-vacation prep list!

Institute of Awesome Day 18 Stalkspiration - Inspirational Stalking!

Here's a cozy, low-effort activity: build a Self-Promotion Mood Board.

A Mood Board is a trick well-loved by designers, interior designers, architects, writers, fashion designers, and just about any other visual profession.

Mood Boards can give you a shot in the arm, a kick in the butt, or get you in the mood for work… and help you keep track of your larger vision. Check out these examples. Then create your very own, with our handy dandy instructions!


Institute of Awesome Day 19 Get “Buffered” for Summer!

As your freelance business grows, do you feel yourself becoming, well... less and less human? It’s all fun and games until you realize it’s been several days since you took a shower, and you can’t even remember the last time you got a haircut. It’s time to slash and burn that hectic schedule before you burn out all together.

It’s time for a harsh dose of reality - and time management. This Sane Scheduler Worksheet will help you be a little bit more honest with yourself about where your time is going. Whether it’s a slow leak on emails or hemorrhaging on passion projects, there are plenty of places to reclaim some of those lost minutes (or maybe even hours) and put them back into your business (or gasp, your personal life!).


Institute of Awesome Day 20 The Dreaded Email Rabbit Hole

Email Bunnies are fluffy and cute, and may look harmless enough but don’t fall for it! That Email Rabbit from Hell will go straight to the jugular of your productivity if you drop your guard, even for a minute. Don’t fall victim to the seemingly harmless phrase “I’m just checking my email real quick...” you may never be heard from again.

Avoid the Dreaded Email Rabbit Hole, aka bottomless pit of email despair, with the Top 10 Ways to Curtail Your Email Addiction.

Check out the top 10

Institute of Awesome Day 21 A Quest For Your One True Hourly Rate

Your True Hourly Rate is a hidden, mystical creature. A unicorn! But you want to find and pet the unicorn.

Figuring out exactly what it costs you to acquire a new client by tracking time spent swirling around your sales funnel from the very first point of contact, and you’ll find your True Hourly Rate unicorn coming out of the magical mist.

Petting unicorns is profitable, and full of glitter! You know what else glitters? Money.

Check out the top 10

Institute of Awesome Day 22 Boundary Issues & The Bottomless Pit of Freebie Despair

It’s easy to get carried away at the start of an exciting project. Make sure you get a word in edgewise before getting carried away into the land of spec work, or worse, giving away some of your best ideas for free!

Try these Boundary-preserving Lifescripts next time you find yourself talking with someone about their next big idea, before it becomes your next big pro-bono project.


Institute of Awesome Day 23 A Letter to Your Future (Freelance) Self

Today’s gift is the gift that keeps on giving.

This fill-in-the-blanks letter will help empower the you of today with all of the confidence and attitude that the you of tomorrow has to offer. Your future Fortune 500 self will appreciate the scrappy - bootstrap aesthetic and hard work ethic that got you there... in a “you’re your own grandpa” sort of way.


Institute of Awesome Day 24 Payment Schedules Will Set You Free.

A fixed payment schedule, including up-front deposits, is one of the biggest differences between a Serious Freelancer and a Seriously Cash-Strapped Freelancer.

Chase away the in-between invoices blues, clearly defined payment schedules will set you free, with this easy to follow 3-part plan!


Institute of Awesome Day 25 Summer Reading List for Freelancers

Fire up that barbecue and spice up your summer with some sizzling tips and tricks about freelancing and consulting! Take advice from people who have been there before and who can help you add some zest to your biz with these Top 10 Freelancing Must Reads.

Read, grow, earn more & enjoy!

Check out the top 10

Institute of Awesome Day 26 Mmm...linky goodness in the form of Linkbaitalicious Post Titles

You’ve spent every waking hour building your business. Pouring your energy into new, awesome marketing collateral. Your copy is witty and your graphics are slick. You have literally been killing it. Now where’s all that traffic you’ve been working so hard for? Where’s the Audience? Where are the incoming links and search traffic crowds?

We’ve got them for you right here.

Check out these Top 10 Most Linkbaitalicious Post Titles, and get writin’ already!

Check out the top 10

Institute of Awesome Day 27 No mo’ pro bono!

Volunteer work and passion projects are great - they can feed your creativity while energizing you through things you are excited about. What they don’t have to be is a drain on your wallet.

Finding ways for your non-profit clients to pay your fees outright is better for everyone involved. You’ll feel better about devoting the time and resources the project requires, and they’ll feel better knowing that you won’t leave them stranded up pro-bono creek without a paddle (or passwords to their online accounts) if and when you have to jump ship to pay the bills.

Top 10 Ways To Turn Unpaid Work Into Money-Making Madness

Check out the top 10

Institute of Awesome Day 28 Ideaphoria is contagious!

We’ve all been there - that "Eureka!" moment when you’ve had a stroke of genius that you just know will hit it big!

Is your next big idea the next big thing, or are you about to go bust? Before you go running off telling everyone and their brother's mother's first cousin about it, or worse, spending all of your time and resources developing it, put it through quarantine with today’s guideline checklist:

How To Tell If You’ve Got A Great Idea Whose Time Has Come... …or, uh, not so much.


Institute of Awesome Day 29 Christmas in July - It’s Holiday Card Season!

HOLIDAY CARDS?!?! But it’s the middle of summer you say, you're wearing shorts and rockin’ a pretty hardcore flip-flop tan.
Well, to that I say: there’s no time like the present!

Get started today with your Holiday Marketing Brainstorm Bonanza:



Institute of Awesome Day 30 Institute of Awesome Summer School for Freelancers Graduation Day

Congratulations! You've made it to the end of the Institute of Awesome Summer School for Freelancers!

After the last day pizza parties, but before we hand out caps & gowns, it’s important to reflect on the past month and take a minute to let it all sink in. Learning anything new in thirty days is tough, especially when it comes to shaking up your business!

Today’s worksheet is designed to help you think about past lessons, organize next steps, and help motivate you towards future change. Enjoy!


Earn more and work less

Okay, we admit it: Time tracking is not a sexy subject. But earning more money?
Working less? Being more productive? Definitely sexy. And AWESOME.

Here's what customer Shawn Adrian had to say about our little app, Freckle Time Tracking:

I fell in love with the numbers.

I'd never really tracked my time. It sounded like a lot of work.

Shawn Adrian/Quote Robot

But it was so easy to get started with Freckle. And I fell in love with the numbers. I loved being able to see where my time had gone.

After I'd used it for a month, I got really excited. I learned something that changed my business:

I wasn't working nearly as many hours as I'd believed.

Using Freckle helps me give more accurate quotes — because I know how much time the last job really took me. And it showed me that I needed to raise my rates!

My productivity has increased, too. Now I can truly see how much time I spend goofing off during the week.

Tracking my time with Freckle's been a huge eye opener for me, and a real help.

Try it yourself. Now, for free!

There's no risk, just a totally free 30-day trial that'll prove it to you.

Freckle awesomeness, it could be yours!
Earn More. Work Less.
Start your free 30-day trial now →

Past Lessions are Past

The day went bye-bye... but the lessons are still here.

No past lessons yet—check back later!

“Clients… can't live with 'em, can't shoot 'em.”
Jazzercise, Processize Your Way to Awesome
Time to Vote a Client Off The Island? Top 10 Signs!
Slap your client in the face...
Bad Client Déjà Vu
Your Clients Will Help You Charge More
Raising Your Rates: Check List
Dear Client: Gimme More Money!
Does Self-Promotion Make You Feel Sleazy?
Shakin' Up Your Self-Promo: Weekly Edition
Shakin' Up Your Self-Promo: Monthly Edition
Shakin' Up Your Self-Promo: Yearly Edition
Extra Money — for Free!
3 Tips to Bypass Billing Bafflement
Earn More with Packages Worksheet
Website Clarity Checklist
Vacations Without Catastrophe
Sunday Chillin' and Expert Stalkin'
Get “Buffered” for Summer!
The Dreaded Email Rabbit Hole
A Quest For Your One True Hourly Rate
Boundary-issues & The Bottomless Pit of Freebie Despair
A Letter to Your Future (Freelance) Self
Payment Schedules Will Set You Free
Summer Reading List for Freelancers
Mmm...linky goodness Top 10 Most Linkbaitalicious Post Titles
No mo’ pro bono!
Ideaphoria is contagious!
Christmas in July - It’s Holiday Card Season!
Institute of Awesome Summer School for Freelancers Graduation Day

Hi, I'm Amy. These are my battle scars.

Hi, I'm Amy. I designed Freckle Time Tracking because I tried every damn tool out there for running my freelance biz, and they all hurt. None of them respected the reason I wanted to track time: to run a better business. (Or they were so frustrating I couldn't bring myself to use them.) I solved that for myself and thousands of customers, along with my team who helped build Freckle.

Now I'm leading the charge for the Institute of Awesome for the same reason: to make it easy to run a kickass business. I freelanced for over 14 years, doing everything from $10-an-hour data entry work to $450-an-hour interaction design work. Every lesson in the Institute of Awesome Summer School? A lesson I learned for myself, the hard way. I'll never forget what it was like to struggle and feel alone. I want to help you improve your freelance business the easy way. That's why I do what I do.