Welcome to Recipes of Freelance Success, sharing the stories of graduates from the Kitchen

“It’s stuff I probably would’ve learned eventually, but The Master Freelancer basically fast-tracked my success.”


industry bake time

9 years

freelance flavour

Branding & UX Web Design


SME’s, focus on disability support providers

Chef’s ROI

3 x investment (and counting)

Chefs Notes

13 months ago, despite being highly skilled at her craft, Shannon found herself abruptly unemployed. She’d always worked for someone else, so this felt like an exciting and terrifying nudge to try something new. Shannon had always dreamed of freelancing but wasn’t sure she had the right recipes to make it work for her.

In the early days, she made some costly mistakes (as all of us do), but armed with determination and the internet, she found herself in my Creative Business Kitchen. Now, Shannon has an long line-up of clients who are ready and wanting to pay for access to her creative genius. We recently caught up so I could hear all about her delicious comeback.

Ingredients Shannon started with…

  • 2 cups of uncertainty about running a freelance business
  • ¾ cup of ‘winging it’ and making costly business mistakes
  • 750 grams of determination and research
  • 1 cup of passion for her craft
  • 1 x title of “Networking Queen”

Method to Shannon’s success

Jaz: Before investing in The Master Freelancer, what problems did your business have?

Shannon: I don’t know if I’d say it had ‘problems’ as such, but I was really rushed into freelancing and had made mistakes in the past. I knew I wanted some guidance to make sure I didn’t keep making avoidable mistakes. I had a lot of experience in the actual design side of things, but business practices were new to me, and I really needed to tighten up that side of things.

Jaz: It’s awesome that you say that because last night I was thinking about how it’s all well and good to have these skills as a creative, but once you start trying to make money from them as a business owner, it can really make you question everything. Because the business side of things isn’t going the way you want it to, you can start to wonder if your actual creative skills are the problem. In my experience, most of the time, it’s the business skills that are lacking. What made you choose me over other coaches? What made you want to do The Master Freelancer?

S: So I was actually employed but things didn’t work out the way I’d hoped that they would, and I stopped working there. I had to decide what I was going to do, and it seemed like a good time to sort of jump into the unknown. I started to do some research into freelancing and your name kept coming up. I had a look at some of your small resources and they were really helpful, but I could also see that you were what I aspired to become.

When I thought about where I wanted to be five years, it made sense to learn from you because your career was basically my end goal. I really liked that The Master Freelancer was group coaching because I’d never done anything like this and wasn’t sure what to expect, so having others doing it with me was a good way to ease into things. I didn’t actually know what group-coaching entailed, and it was such a bonus to find such a welcoming group of kick-ass women. I love that I get to still talk to some of the graduates and connect with other people in the Freelancer’s Pantry.

J: I think that’s one of my favourite parts of The Master Freelancer, being able to bring people together and form connections, and watching you do that was particularly rewarding. You particularly seemed to gain confidence as we went along and actually became a really helpful resource. You asked so many great questions and gave so much great feedback that it really helped the group dynamic. What was the main goal you hoped to achieve after The Master Freelancer and did you?

S: I don’t think I had a specific “main goal” in mind, I mostly just wanted to learn as much as I could from you and meet other like-minded people. This past year has been a bit of a lesson around being more flexible and saying “yes” to things, and that’s something you definitely helped me to learn.

I think if I had to pick one thing, it would be wanting to have more confidence around the business side of things, and that’s definitely happened. I’m doing quite a bit of mentoring now and helping other freelancers with stuff like negotiating their pricing and how to build a great portfolio. I’ve been able to grow my confidence overall and seen how other people have made freelancing work, then applied those things to myself.

J: Before The Master Freelancer, were you making money from your creative genius and, if so, how does it compare to now?

S: Yeah I was, but I was employed full-time. I think one of the best things about whole experience is that it’s given me the confidence to go after those bigger clients and have systems in place to do that. It’s stuff I probably would’ve learned eventually, but The Master Freelancer basically fast-tracked it all. I was only six months into freelancing when I joined, and I’ve been on this mission to make freelancing work. I felt like The Master Freelancer was a great avenue that would help me reach that goal.

J: Since finishing The Master Freelancer, what has been your biggest win?

S: Apart from two weeks off because of a dodgy contract (that I have definitely learned from!), I haven’t had a break in clients lining up to work with me. I’ve been talking to other freelancers and it seems like their biggest problem is finding that continuous flow of projects, but I haven’t had an issue with that. I’m pretty proud of what I’ve achieved in the last year, and I now have the confidence to approach businesses and sell my solutions.

I’ve always been a big networker, but this last year has really allowed me to flex that muscle. It’s one of the reasons I love the community aspect of doing The Master Freelancer. My default setting is to be an introvert but I’m definitely a lot more extroverted than I was, and that’s really helped me get ahead.

J: I’m glad to hear that ‘The Networking Queen’ is still very much your title! You are showing up so much more on your socials and I’m so incredibly proud. I think I can probably guess, but what has been your favourite part of doing The Master Freelancer?

S: The community of people. Both The Master Freelancer and now The Freelancer’s Pantry are literally filled with the best people. The camaraderie has been amazing, and everyone just celebrates each other. Even if it’s something like ‘I met my freelancing goal and to reward myself, I’m ordering a new couch’, I’ll tell everyone in the group and they’ll be excited for me. I went to your alumni event and that’s literally how I landed my first international client.

J: OMG yes, I remember that!! Still such a highlight to think about. How long did it take you to notice changes in your business once you finished The Master Freelancer?

S: Looking back, I can see that the changes started before I even finished the program, but I also didn’t realise all of the improvements until about a year or so later. I now approach things in a different and more confident way, and that alone has a huge impact on my business. It’s not just specific to me either, I still follow so many of the alumni from my cohort and everyone seems to be just killing it. I’m so so proud.

J: That’s what’s so cool though, we all get to be proud of each other. I never want my students to feel like I’m the coach and they’re the students. I always try to make it a collaborative ‘round table’ type experience where we’re all kind of on the same level. Yeah, I’m serving out the knowledge, but we’re all working as equals and able to be proud of each other. After implementing what you learned from The Master Freelancer, what do you think is the biggest change in your/your business? Your confidence?

S: Yeah, confidence for sure, especially around the earlier stages of a project. Putting together estimates and quotes is still the part I hate the most, but it definitely feels a bit easier now. I’m also a lot more confident in articulating my value when I’m talking to potential clients, and it’s something I used to really struggle with.

I’ve recently reconnected with a friend from uni and I keep telling her that she needs to join The Pantry and sign up for The Master Freelancer when it goes live. I’ve been telling her how much it’ll help her because you actually only teach the stuff that each person needs to learn.

(J: You know this might sound crazy, but sitting here right now, I have no idea what I’ll be teaching in this year’s round of The Master Freelancer. Once I onboard each student individually and find out what they need to know, I’ll put it all together.)

S: Yeah that was actually a huge selling point for me. I’ve done other coaching programs, none of them were really tailored in any way, and they were all self-paced. For me personally, that style just doesn’t really work. The fact that everyone was showing up and committing made me feel like I needed to do the same or I’d be letting down the team. It was the accountability that I needed, and I really appreciated it. The bespoke side of things is really nice, and I loved all the calls and opportunities to get your help.

So your initial investment was around $2k. What sort of ROI do you think you’ve made from that investment?

S: Financially speaking, at least doubled if not more, but in non-financial terms, it’s priceless. Truly.

The confidence, the connections, the systems, the ongoing support… I can’t put a price on that. With your help and guidance, I’ve been able to completely turn my life and freelance career around and I can’t thank you enough.

J: Right, well I’ll be a puddle on the floor for the rest of the afternoon. It’s always so humbling to hear that I have actually made a different in someone’s life, so I really appreciate your kind words. What would you tell someone who’s considering The Master Freelancer?

S: What would I tell someone? I think you mean what HAVE I told people!

I’ve told so many people that they need you.

The value that you get far outweighs the price, and it’s ongoing. Anytime I come across someone who’s freelancing, I tell them that they need to check out The Creative Business Kitchen as a whole because there WILL be something they can gain from it. I’m literally waiting for The Master Freelancer to open up for enrolments again because I have people who want me to send them the link.

J: Where can people find you to follow your freelancing journey?

S: People can find me at @shannontowell on Instagram or visit my website at www.shannontowell.design

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