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True Story: Caroline Duffy

Today’s true story comes from Caroline Duffy who responded to my plea for help on Twitter. Caroline is a free lance graphic designer and illustrator in the United Kingdom. She describes herself as “a skilled and intuitive visual communicator; someone my clients consider vital to their operations.” You can find her and her stylish designs here and on Twitter as @duffyc.

The Journey Begins

As a veteran freelance designer, Caroline thought she had her money matters under control. But, her largest client decided to move their design work in house and Caroline found herself with half her previous income. That’s where the trouble started and it wasn’t just about the money either. As Caroline says, “What I noticed straight away was how my attitude about myself changed. It’s fascinating and rather worrying to notice how many of us wrap our self esteem up in our pay-packet.”

Problems Multiply

There was the practical problem of keeping the financial ship afloat. Caroline remembers being desperate to secure work and lowering her prices without thinking that it could be alienating her potential clients. As she colorfully says, “Would you value a dentist that gave you a 50 percent discount before you even walked into the surgery?” She had lost her earlier confident attitude of not worrying about getting the work and no longer projected confidence.

Not only was she having trouble bringing in new business, the ship still needed provisions. Caroline found herself in the unaccustomed place of adding up prices in the supermarket and buying the cheapest toilet paper in the store.

Worst was the stealthy beast of unrealistic ideas about money. Caroline recalls being shocked at how she had started to value herself, and her work, less and having to face her feelings about self worth and income level. She says, “When I lost that big client and the work dropped off, I knew that the issues really sat with my confidence.”

Rough Seas

Caroline’s voyage was a year of work with no break and worry with no comfort before she found the root of her problem. She was fortunate to be given a copy of The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment* and says, “That was when I saw exactly where I was going wrong. My ego was killing me over a stupid little thing like money.”

She now knew that to move forward, both personally in and her business, she would have to quiet the ego that was whispering her worth as dollars in her bank account. She would have to face her unrealistic and defeating ideas about money.

Slaying the Beast

First, Caroline was determined to learn what she could from the loss of that client. That meant admitting the work she had lost wasn’t what she most enjoyed doing. It also meant the challenge of answering some questions about the inauthentic way she had been presenting herself and her work to the world.

It was a long process of self exploration, but as a result Caroline completely reworked her company and herself. As she proudly explains, “I redesigned my logo, website and general branding, I sent promotional cards out and I met people and learned how to network in a non-sleazy way!” She goes on to reveal that the most important process was internal: she had to find her own compass.

She began to see real results too. “As a made my business more “me” instead of what I thought people wanted from me, I found all sorts of new people coming into my life and wanting me to work with them,” Caroline says. “Suddenly I was being respected for who I am and what I have to give the world, rather than a sort of made-up person whom I thought my clients wanted me to be,” she says.

Safe in Port

Now, after battling her money monster and having arrived safely, Caroline is happy with her business. “I’m more creative and I love my work even more,” she says. “Losing that big client and half my income, as painful as it was, has been one of the best, most transformative things to happen for me and my business.”

What’s Your Story?

Do you have a money monster you’ve slain? Tell us about it in the comments!


Some things that Caroline found helpful and you might like too:

Price Yourself Right: A Guide to Charging What You’re Worth*

Book Yourself Solid: The Fastest, Easiest, and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle Even if You Hate Marketing and Selling*

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment*

(*These are Amazon Affiliate links)