#22: Freelancer's Ten Commandments
To be a successful freelancer in the field of website design can involve many aspects that need to be followed. These ideas are not unique to freelance web design, but I thought it would be good to list them here and hopefully help other freelance web designers focus on their skill set.
The 10 Commandments
Learn, learn, Learn - Learn new skills through books, magazines, blogs & online articles. Never think you have learnt it all, as the net is always evolving, so to be on top of your game you need to be always learning new skills & staying informed.
Specialise - It is vital for a freelance web designer to have a varied range of skills to be successful, but there is also a need to focus on a certain skill, to achieve the standard of expert in that particular skill & then you will always be in demand.
Always Network - "it's not what you know, it's who you know", there has never been a more apt phrase for a freelance web designer to think about. Tell everyone you meet, family, friends etc. that you are a web designer. The local chamber of commerce events is a great way to get referrals & contacts. Contact local design agencies & go to relevant events in the area & chat to as many people in the field as possible.
Time Management - Working from home takes discipline, you need to spell out a regime for work & play. Set out a time to work & stick to it, otherwise, you could be at work all day doing a bit here & there with lots of breaks in between.
Financial Control - Budgets are important, as you don't always know when your next pay cheque is coming. A good philosophy to follow is to always have at least 3 months living expenses in the bank, to help buffer you against times when work is scarce or the customer is slow to pay up.
Your Image - A professional image is of the upmost importance for a freelancer, but your design image needs some focus, just like an artist there should be a desire to achieve a certain image, to say to people "this is who I am & what I am about".
Inspiration Outlook - The inspiration behind a new website can take the biggest proportion of time involved in its production. Ideas can be found anywhere i.e. online, magazines, books, the outside world - its endless just use your imagination.
Reputation Building - A good reputation is everything for a freelancer, treat every project no matter how small with the same professionalism. This will help turn past clients into repeat customers & in turn possible excellent referrals. Also to increase your reputation you can add your knowledge & experiences to web blogs, writing articles & speaking at local events.
Portfolio to die for - A CV has its uses, but for a freelance web designer, a good online portfolio is a must, its says everything about you. If you are starting out then ask family & friends for any projects you can do for them or charities & non-profit organisations to help get your portfolio started. Once you are established don't feel you should include everything you have done in the past on your site, you could be judged on your worst project not your best. So the work on your site should only include up to date projects that you will show off your skills to its full potential.
Love It - Having a passion for the work you do as a freelancer is of paramount importance for success. The passion will keep you going throughout the wee small hours of the night, when deadlines are tight. There is no boss to keep an eye on your work ethic, but a passion for the work will mean that motivational levels remain high.
Pick your freelancer wisely. Make sure they have rules and ethics that they follow. This will give you piece of mind.