Creative Renegade Hall of Fame

Need some inspiration to keep yourself dedicated to the creative solopreneur life? Read on for tales of lone wolves who found a satisfying balance between creative excellence, positive client relations, and profitable businesses.

Are you, or is someone you know, a creative renegade? Email us at with the subject line “Creative Renegade” to tell us your story or nominate a peer. If you’re profiled on this page, you’ll receive an exclusive “Creative Renegade” icon to post on your website, social networking site, or just print out and post above your desk!

Tom N. Tumbusch
Solo copywriter and sustainability evangelist, WordStreamCopy

"Working as a full-time freelancer was a lifestyle choice for me from the very beginning. It's made my professional life about so much more than a paycheck because I get to work with some of the most honest, talented, and creative people I've ever met. My only regret is that the CFC didn't exist yet when I was getting started—it would have helped me to build a great client base faster and spend less time learning the ropes by trial and error.

My first act of "renegade creativity" was to launch a business in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. I walked away from the family publishing company I was being groomed to inherit. The market was awash in doom and gloom and a lot of people thought I was crazy, including my father and former boss.

I moved to another city with four month's savings and no work. After a few months with an agency to get settled, I paid a designer friend to whip up a logo and business card and started pounding pavement with no idea what I was doing. I ate a lot of my own chili for the first year and a half, working and living out of a third-floor apartment that didn't always have heat during the day. By 2003 I was doing well enough to get a home loan. I tried everything from technical writing to magazine articles to direct mail, getting valuable coaching from Ilise Benen and Peleg Top along the way. (I even wrote some of the original marketing copy for the first CFC.)

In 2009 I re-launched my business with an emphasis on sustainability. While I still write for a diverse client base, I actively pursue companies with sustainable missions. Since the re-branding I've intentionally emphasized my personality when I promote myself. I don't try to disguise that I'm a freelancer. I don't talk about "scalable solutions" or "thinking outside the box" on my website, and I inform clients on my FAQ page that Mrs. Tumbusch gets my undivided attention on weekends.

In April I celebrated my first ten years as a full-time solopreneur. Today my father envies MY business."

Alisa Bonsignore
Four-Time CFC Veteran, Writer & Editor
"CFC does an amazing job of reminding you that even if you're one person running a side gig from your kitchen table, you still need to present yourself as a professional; if you don't take your business seriously, your clients won't, either.
By the end of my first Creative Freelancer Conference, I had gotten the nerve to fire my most difficult client (done by phone from the bridge at the Chicago Hyatt); I had a tagline for my business thanks to Dyana Valentine's Pitch Perfect session; I had a list of action items that was as long as my arm; and I had met some spectacular people and cross-pollinated my brain with all kinds of ideas that wouldn't have come to me while sitting alone in my home office. The "wow" factor was amazing.
Within two months, I had overhauled my website; spoken with an accountant; had an attorney create a master services agreement for me; changed my marketing materials; and raised my rates. And I also, very gradually, practiced saying "no." I'm still working on that last one.
I have to say that as someone who tends to be overly accommodating, the most valuable tool that I've been given is the ability to say no. From that first year when I fired my client—walking away from a massive contract for the sake of my sanity—to the ability to say no on a smaller scale, this has been a huge benefit to my business. I've also learned how to find new clients and how to get them to pay me more, which sound like they should be the most important elements of any business. But for me, there was no greater lesson than "no."

My business has become more businesslike. Everything is more polished and less chaotic than before. Even if a situation comes up that I haven't encountered before, chances are that CFC has prepared me for it. It's a toolkit that you can use to adapt to challenges on the fly.

I can't ever underestimate the value of the CFC community. I've met such amazing people who have made a difference not just in my business, but my life. My CFC people have pushed me through personal and professional roadblocks, inspiring me to grow and develop. I get so much from the cross-pollination of ideas from other attendees, and that might be worth almost as much to me as the sessions themselves.

But it's not just the speakers. It's the candor and depth with which we, the attendees, speak about the serious aspects of business and life. This is the intangible layer of CFC, the stuff that goes above and beyond what goes on in the sessions, the friendships and professional relationships that carry me through the rest of the year.
If you get one tip, one tool, one idea that helps your business, what would that be worth to you? Now imagine walking out of those two days with pages of notes, 20 to-do items (or more accurately, "want to do" items, because you're actually inspired to do them,) a giant stack of business cards and an arsenal of creative resources that you can call on any time, night or day, throughout the year. What would that be worth?
Right. See you in Boston, then."