The job could be one of the greatest jobs ever… but there’s some Gotcha’s I want to put out in the world, and Help people understand the gig.
But before I dig into it… I want to specify that “web designer” is different than “web developer”… for me, I had to move into the “web developer world”- I still love design and have a healthy appreciation for it, but “web design” alone didn’t fit my personality. In short I care more about doing things, compared to the concept of how things are done.
For Starters, Freelance is different than Business owner, which is different than Employee. I have done all. This is not to say that Freelancers are lone wolves out there doing everything themselves.. those type of people will fail. Don’t believe me? Prove me wrong…Find me a person that does Design, Development, Content Generation, SEO, SEM, Research, Social Media, Editing, Sales, Marketing, etc All on their own, with no help, and makes more than $50/hour Consistently. You won’t, I promise you.
What you will find instead are individuals that have resources for all of those things and executes well enough for most of those things. Friends, other freelancers, vendors, etc… all play a part in a freelancer’s work. So in many ways it is a business… but the difference is the business has an individual as a lynchpin. (Many Real businesses may really be “freelancers” masquerading as businesses)
A freelancer work flow starts with Sales… I’ve been blessed with a lot of sales experience, so I won’t go into the tactics, but I will say that the hardest part for freelancing in web design isn’t getting work… its actually very much the opposite… the hardest part is turning down projects/ knowing when to say no.
I’m actually quite a pussy on that front, so like a bad girlfriend I just make it too expensive to be around me if you are a bad project. Thus I don’t ever say “No” I just bump the cost 20% above their max. For those of you that are unfamiliar this is called price discrimination.
Inherently people don’t like price discrimination… but a funny thing happens when you practice it. People become easier to work with. You take your normal awesome client… they make life so easy that you unconsciously will forget about it sometimes… those are the clients that I always put extra hours in for. I time track everything so I’ll give a 20% to 30% addition on the time that I spend compared to what I bill for. Now the Bad clients, when you charge them normally… they suck 20%-30% more time than you will account for- it sucks. But if you charge for that extra time… for whatever reason they see you as more valuable, and will listen to you more. Crazy Right???
Thus my Balance works like this:
Great client = Give for free 20% to 30% more time to a project.
Bad Client = Pad your Estimate with 20% to 30% in what you charge.
If an expected bad client is really a good client you will spend more time on the project. If they are a bad client they will take more time from you by force. I’m sure you’re asking yourself: “where the normal pricing comes in?” Thats when someone is expected to be a good client and turns out to be a normal/ mediocre client.
So again… the (for me) the hardest part of sales was saying no. Clients won’t understand this… but you need to evaluate your own projects and what the quality is compared to what is out there… then charge a fair rate for what you are building. And then know when to say no.
I should probably say something about marketing your business… but then again. If you don’t know how to market your business with all the resources out there, you probably shouldn’t charging to market other peoples businesses. I will say… don’t be cheap, the second you can afford to spend money marketing start doing it and do it well.
So Lets say you land a client what next?
Well don’t forget to track your time… but a general work flow looks like this:
- Lots of Communication
Establishment of Requirements
Writing the requirements down/ communicating requirements through email
Design- Graphical Elements
Building Color Scheme
Page layouts for each template
Searching for correct Photography (even when assets are provided, you always end up finding something)
Photo Editing (min optimizing assets)
Conforming media tools (responsive images, centered image class, responsive videos)
Social Media Connectivity
Development of Little used pages (404, search, archives, etc)
Print Stylesheets (if required)
Preparing for Deployment
Functional Testing (real people)
Device Testing (all major browsers, IE9+, iPhone, android, iPad, Large screen, small screen)
Automated testing (Daydream + nightmare.js, import.io/, Karma, Mocha, gremlins, etc)
Finished product documentation
Minification of Assets/ Reduction of http calls
Deploying test site (subdomain) for client review
Somewhere in there will be the 10% => all of the crazy stuff that you don’t expect to have happen
Environment Setup / Migration
Setting up XML site maps, analytics, robots.txt
Deployment Review (in person) (more…)