Curiosity and process refinement. These were Melani Dizon’s initial reasons for joining the Creative Class. The Boulder, Colorado-based writer has been freelancing for 20 years, but she wanted to see how another creative (that would be Paul) ran his business, and she was eager to sharpen her own processes. Six months later, she has done exactly that – and a whole lot more.
Melani signed up in March, tore through the lessons and quickly implemented formal, multi-step client onboarding processes. There was just one problem. “They were working too well,” says Melani, who received so many new requests that she eventually had to disable her onboarding module. “It was hugely helpful, though, and it enabled me to weed out several people way earlier than I would have in the past.”
When she wasn’t fielding client inquiries, Melani was making connections in the Creative Creative Class. A self-described “raging introvert” who’s not usually drawn to online groups, Melani says the Slack interface encouraged her to participate. She mentioned that she was looking for a book and website designer, and later, someone to develop PDFs. Several students immediately provided referrals, while others contacted her to discuss the projects directly. Melani eventually hired Creative Class students Jessica Rea and Kieran Daly (for website and PDF design, respectively), and credits another student, Carrie Carter, for hooking her up with book designer Jamie Noel.
After two decades of freelancing, Melani says her contacts run deep, but she didn’t even consider tapping another network for referrals: “I have a million other places I could go. I know so many designers and website people, but it was a no-brainer for me to go into Slack first.” It’s a bold statement that begs the question: why?
“We’re all in this together,” says Melani. “We all have similar issues, and if you’ve found your way to the Creative Class, you tend to be creative in many different ways.” The open and welcoming nature of the community, plus the clean interface simplified the hiring and collaboration process. The student directory was another big draw, says Melani. Learning about fellow class members makes the online connections feel closer and more immediate. Oh, and the designers she hired surpassed expectations. “I couldn’t be happier,” she says.
With a full-time job as a senior copywriter at I Will Teach You to Be Rich and a heavy freelance client load, Melani doesn’t have much time to chat (or even lurk) in the Slack channel these days, but she’s continually impressed by the community’s generous spirit. Creative Class students range from rookie freelancers to seasoned veterans, and brand-new creatives who share their work always receive smart, useful advice, she says. There’s no ego and no competition.
The option to take the course sequentially, from the first lesson through to the last, or to pull out exactly what you want to learn suits different experience levels. “If this had been a drip class,” says Melani, “I wouldn’t have done it.” She also has high praise for the monthly Office Hours calls, which feature kick-ass experts in their fields.
Given her positive experience with the Creative Class, it’s not surprising that Melani encourages others freelancers to give it a shot. Her praise, however, was downright embarrassing. Is the class worth the price of entry? “The cost of not doing it is so much higher,” says Melani. “This is the most structured and useful content that you’re going to get for the price, and you’re going to get that investment back right away.”
To summarize, Melani has:
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