Do you spend too much time as a freelance web designer or developer trying to live the dream every day? You know what I'm talking about, right? From the moment you wake up in the morning you think your day will consist of nothing except a steady stream of coffee and unleashing your creativity until it's time to take a break. Those are the freelance dreamers, and if you're not failing now it won't be long before you'll be looking for a real job. Here are 5 tips guaranteed to help any freelancer survive through the hard times ahead.
If you were to walk into a web design and development firm anywhere in Australia, how much dollars do you think they'll pay you per hour? That is most definitely not what you're worth, because the company has to make a profit too. The same thing is true of freelancers, so you can't charge what you think you're worth per hour as you'll need to take things like marketing and buying new equipment into account. It could take you a while to figure things out, but if you don't charge enough you'll never be truly successful.
I was going to say you'll need to keep updating your skills, but I'm sure you know the world of web design and development changes at lightening pace. You'll have no choice but to keep learning on the job. Where I see the average freelancer lose out has to do with their portfolio. They're so engrossed in the work, they don't take the time to update their portfolio to showcase their new skills, which can scare away lots of potential clients before they've even spoken to you.
If you're going to hand over your money to anyone, ideally you want it to be an expert. I know it seems like you'll have more opportunities if you cater to everyone, but it's actually counterproductive and you'll not understand it until you experience it for yourself. Take freelance web designers, for example. Think about how many dental practices there are in Australia. Would it be easier to be known as the designer who helps dentists increase patient numbers by redesigning their websites, or to be known as the best designer in the country at everything?
Let's stick with the dental profession for the moment. I'm sure you're well aware it's very hard to find new clients, and you might find most of your time is spent looking for work. Dentists will attend conventions around the country, so they'll know lots of fellow professionals. After every job, ask if they can give you the contact details of 3 potential prospects. People won't want you to help businesses down the street steal patients from them, but they'll be happy to introduce you to dentists in other cities.
This is going to be the difference between doing what you love and making money for someone else, so please don't take it lightly. You must have enough money to last you at least 6 months in case you go through a rough patch, and you might want to increase it to 12 months if you have a family. Always put a percentage of your earnings into your emergency fund every month. There are hundreds of tactics I could teach you to find paying work, but it's pointless if the rug can be pulled out from under you at any moment.
Developing an eye for great design and development work takes a lot of time and persistence. Persistence requires time, and time requires you to last long enough to live a life you're passionate about. In all likelihood, you will probably be successful even if you don't become filthy rich. But you do need to give yourself the best chance of survival when you're starting out, and following these tips will ensure you won't become another sad statistic. The people who fail usually forget all about the part where you actually have to grow your freelance business before it becomes easy.
If you're looking for a Web Designer/Developer or Creative Designer for your next project, let’s talk.
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