Meet Erol and learn more about the freelance lifestyle in Barcelona
Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your work.
I am a Creative Director. I managed the in-house design and production teams of significant e-commerce companies for 15 years in Turkey. I am currently managing a design studio called OlaCreative based in Barcelona. OlaCreative is a global design studio that provides end-to-end product development services focused on design and strategy.
How and why did you first start freelancing? Did a memorable incident steer your decision, and would you like to tell Ruulers about it?
I worked full time for years. I wanted to try freelancing for a while after I quit my last job. The idea of staying away from plazas was very tempting. With the feeling of “freedom” felt by freelance work, I turned my working style into a completely free working style. But of course, my decision to change countries was made accessible because of this way of working.
How is your daily routine? Can you share it with us in a few bullet points?
I like getting up early in the morning. It is more efficient. My first thing, I made coffee at 6 am. I can’t be ready for the day without drinking coffee. My priority is to check and reply to emails. When working with customers from different countries and different time zones, mail traffic also tends to differ. After breakfast, we plan the day, work sharing, and workflow. Then it remains to produce work.
Meetings take most of our time during the day. When working remotely, it becomes essential to communicate with customers over the right platforms and manage projects. Softwares such as Asana, Trello, Click Up help you maintain this order very much. We provide communication between us with tools like Slack.
My favorite thing after busy working days is nature or street walkings. Barcelona is very generous in this regard. In the evening, I wouldn’t say no to a glass of wine and cheese.
Where is your best working corner at home? The sofa, the bed, or an isolated room?
My working room is my best workspace, but sometimes you just want to be outside of the room. When you have a laptop with you, your favorite cafe, the sofa in the living room, or the garden can turn into the most enjoyable working space.
Any songs/albums/artists/genres you prefer listening to as you work? How about as you chill? Does your playlist differ according to what you are doing?
I love listening to music. I cannot work without music. The type of music I will listen to is determined by the project I am working on. Sometimes I can develop an idea with classical music or while using with rock filled with energy. I also love to follow my friend’s lists on Spotify.
In three words, how do you reckon a professional freelancer should be?
Disciplined, strong communication, and self-improving.
Are you a phone or e-mail person when it comes to communicating with clients?
I am an email person. I love emails the most because it is possible to save content and look back. Besides, it becomes more straightforward and more understandable when writing to people, and the subject that needs to be discussed in telephone communication can sometimes be scattered.
Would you still prefer video calls or instead meet people in person for work purposes if the pandemic was out of the picture?
I certainly would have preferred to do it face-to-face in the years I worked in Turkey. However, working with customers from different countries and the restrictions imposed by the pandemic pushed us to video calls like everyone else. I guess I got used to it. Video calls can now be as effective as face-to-face. But meeting face to face is a different kind of communication that makes us who we are. That’s why I prefer face to face whenever I have the opportunity.
Are there any tools you find indispensable as you work on a freelance basis? Could you name some?
It is my hobby to browse and examine new software and tools every day through sites such as Product Hunt. I use a lot of tools in my daily business life. For example, I use Sketch for wireframes & UI designs, Abstract for version control, Principle for prototyping, XMind for mind-mapping, Asana for Project Management, Slack for daily communication, Spark for email, dropbox for cloud, Visual Studio for coding, and Notion for everything. The list is endless, but these are my favorite daily tools.
Do you have any suggestions for fresh freelancers? Can you shortly elaborate on what freelancers should do or avoid doing in their journey?
What they should do: first of all, they should present themselves correctly, you know the work you are doing, the solutions you offer, but the person in front of you does not know where you can help. The customer should tell you that you are a good cook. So take care of your table, prepare the best plate you can, and put it on the table first. Let your customer enjoy their experience and enjoy the meal. Thus, he will think that you deserve every penny he gives.
What They Should Not Do: They should not start without planning, seeing the big picture, and focusing on the needs of the customer. Because freelancing means taking more responsibility, you can easily fall under the things you cannot do.
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