Are you ready to become a freelancer?
What does it take to actually be a freelancer? Well not much, besides a nice skill set, and a source for clients, and people knowing you do freelance work. Being a freelancer is like being your own boss - wrong. Its like being your boss, manager, marketer, designer, coder (some cases), etc etc. Its like being your own company all wrapped into one human. Essentially all your clients are your boss. Being a freelancer you can tell them to go tell hell, but its not in your favor to treat your mini bosses this way because you will end up with no clients.
When you start being known as a freelancer, you will get the people who think they can offer you any price and you will take it. When your first start you may want to take everything you can get. However, don’t get into a habit of doing this, because you will lose money. Your time will become money.
Alright so you want to be your own company, how do you start? You can start really anytime, even...now. You will need to ask yourself some of these questions before taking the plunge into becoming a web design freelancer.
- Are your skills worth money?
- Do you have a basic understanding of how people use websites, and how to build effective web sites?
- Have you thought about what you want to become a star in? (Graphic design, css, programming, etc etc)
- How much do you want or need to make to survive as a freelancer?
- Are you good with unruly clients? (Or people)
- Do you have the equipment to do real world projects?
This can go on and on, but it boils down to this. If you have the skill set, and knowledge; Do you need funding for equipment or to hire partners - or - do you have everything ready just need to know where to get the clients.
There is nothing wrong with getting funding, and writing up a business plan. You should write up a business plan even if you do not plan on using it anytime soon for a grant. It will help you, and get you sorted on how to deal with certain situations, and how to run your business.
If you have the skills, and equipment, all you need now is the clients!
So where are all these clients hiding, and why aren’t they looking for you! The obvious answer is they don’t know you, or of you. Before you can get clients you need to put your marketing and sales hat on - remember you are a one man business entity. You will need to attract these clients with a nice portfolio, and some live sites done if you are selling coding work. A great design portfolio will work well if you are only going to be doing that. If you are advertising a whole list of services, please show links to examples of all the services done.
Before you can go on the many freelance job boards, before you can even think about how much to charge them. Make your portfolio, get a host, and register a domain. Your portfolio should demonstrate all your skills, and services. Now, this means everything. Not just a image gallery, but how the site it self is coded. Savy clients will check your source code. If you are selling css/xhtml work, you better code your site with those, and make it damn nice. You will lose a lot of points if your portfolio is an image, or just sliced up in Photoshop. I have a friend in the UK, and he is damn good with graphic design. His coding skills are non-existent. I don’t know why he doesn’t learn the basics, but it hurts him in ways he may not be aware of. He has a portfolio that looks amazing, but its just an image of site. His whole site is just images. Its nearly impossible to use his site, he does not offer css work so it doesn’t matter much to him if the site is coded well. But to clients they make think that he is unaware of how web sites are coded, and he would create un-codable designs. Moreover, make sure the site is coded, and looks good on every browser.
Some tips on creating a portfolio. When I first started I always like to act like I was a huge company on my portfolio site, and often referred to myself as we. Don’t do this unless you are a huge company! Your potential clients want to work with freelancers and not companies. Make it personally but not too personal. Try to impress them within 30 seconds. The most effective portfolio trick is to make everything on the homepage. Which includes: your portfolio gallery, contact info, about you, and a featured project (optionally).
As soon as you feel you can handle clients, and your skill sets are up to par. Get the portfolio up, and come back here for more articles and tutorials about how to pick the host, get the clients, keep the clients and grow!
I will have more tips with more articles. So Stay Tuned!