Taking Care of Business…with Lizzie Bildner

We’re passing the mic to some of our favorite freelancers who make Wingspan’s community thrive, and who remind us every day that there are no wrong ways to take care. of business. Want to be featured next? Nominate yourself here!

Lizzie Bildner is a Chicago-based branding and marketing consultant. You’ve probably used one of her client’s apps on your phone (Twitter, Uber, and yours truly, Wingspan) or in real life (Lola). She shares her go-to inspiration sources, the best freelancing advice she’s ever gotten, plus one thing she thinks all freelancers must master. 

In your own words, what do you do? 

I build and launch brands of all sizes, though I especially love working with early-stage companies. Specifically, my projects often start with understanding the customer and translating those insights into a brand's positioning, messaging, voice, name, identity, and marketing.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? 

My husband and I alternate on baby duty—we have a 7-month-old—and who makes coffee.

What’s your favorite thing about freelancing?

While it's always a good feeling to get a new project, as a freelancer, the feeling is all the more exaggerated because you are responsible for everything that made it happen.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten? 

“Care 10% less.” It’s not necessarily something I’d say to someone else, but it really resonated with me. I took it to mean a combination of “keep things in perspective” and “don’t let perfection be the enemy of good.” It keeps me accountable and makes sure the work is actionable.  

What’s your biggest challenge as an independent professional? 

TAXES. TAX CODE. ACCOUNTING: It’s the overwhelming feeling that all of those things give me. I recently watched an episode of Schitt’s Creek where David is “writing off” all his purchases, and I felt seen.  

What’s your favorite freelance project you’ve worked on? 

Does Wingspan count? This was such a fun project because I got to partner with the Wingspan team to build the brand from scratch and then launch it! Projects that run from start to launch are my favorite. It's so rewarding to see an idea grow into a fully-fledged business, take on the personality you drafted, and deliver the experience you imagined. Plus, as a freelancer, I felt really bought into what Wingspan was building because all of the customer pain points are my pain points.

What’s your best hot take/unpopular opinion? 

I am 100% a cold-weather person. Bring on the snow.

What do you wish you’d known 10 years ago? 

That I actually love structure and structured work environments and not be afraid to seek that out (or in my case now, create it).

Most iconic work role model? 

Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx. Guy Raz did a great interview with her on How I Built This that made me want to build a business that focuses on organic growth. Spanx is still privately owned today! 

How do you deal with difficult clients? 

It's tough. But I try to be diplomatic and understand why they feel the way they feel, so I can respond accordingly.

What—or who—is your go-to source for inspiration? 

Gallery shows, art fairs, and museum exhibitions. There are so many amazing online exhibitions right now. In many ways, COVID has forced the art world to innovate quickly, and these exhibitions have been a silver lining for me.

Best workday lunch? 

Anything that I don’t have to make myself. 

What’s your anthem? 

Pretty much anything Beyoncé. She’s right up there with Sara Blakely for my work role model. 

What is the best freelancing pro tip you have for folks venturing out on their own? 

Don’t put business expenses on personal credit cards because it creates a bookkeeping nightmare. I wish I had done this as soon as I started.  

What’s your email sign off? 

It depends. If the exchange is formal, I usually go with the classic “best” or “thank you." If it's casual with someone I know, I typically say "talk soon” or skip the sign off altogether. 

Where can people find you?  

@lizziebildner on IG and www.lizziebildner.com 

Want to share your freelance journey with the Wingspan community? Nominate yourself here!

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