I've been out of the freelance game since I joined Ecquire back in May. And, I feel I need to reflect on those years freelancing and see if I learned anything.
I think it's better that I'm writing this 8 months after leaving the freelance business – there are a tonne of articles that get into the nitty-gritty details of freelancing – this way, I can offer a broad overview. And, since significant time has passed, whatever lessons I remember will scientifically be more important!
When anyone asks my advice regarding freelancing, this is it: Communicate. Often. effectively. And, be polite.
A good portion of your clients won't know a thing about the web design (nor development) process. They may even try to fit their knowledge of their industry or domain onto you. So, you'll have to communicate. Every single step. And you'll need to be able to explain your decisions, obiously.
Most of my clients were located in different parts of the world. And, besides the couple Skype calls I would have during the life of a project, all communication was via Email. When it comes to email, brevity is best. if your client wants more details, they'll ask.
Hey John, I'm working on getting the Contact Page designed. Can we talk about the Gallery page closer to Friday?
The infinte scrolling is taking longer than hoped, I'll let you know tomorrow where it's at.
I'm going to start developing all of the page designs. I'm aiming to have the initial versions up next week. I'll update you this Friday on my progress.
Ha. How young and stupid I was. Everytime I raised my rates (sometimes by 100%), I was met with acceptance. I've never lost a project from a high-rate. I've come down to a lower rate before, but still didn't lose the project. I clearly should have had higher rates much sooner than I did.
If you're ever turning down work, because you're too busy. Double your rate. If they turn you down, oh well, you're too busy anyway. If they're fine with it, you've got a hellish couple weeks coming up, but you just doubled your rate!
They don't reflect the value you provide. Yeah, I can go in and fix that crappy jQuery or WordPress plugin in under an hour. Is the value I'm providing worth my hourly rate? No.
Think like a consultant. You aren't selling 3 hours of code-monkeying nor 2 days of design-monkeying! You are selling yourself (O boy) as a product. You have experience, opinions and knowledge that informs the code you spit out each hour. You are oncall to answer and educate your client on the work being done, and the problems being solved.
Five years of freelancing. All I learned was I should charge more and that communicating effectively and often is key. Whew.