5 Tips for Launching Your Freelance Business
So you’ve been teaching yourself to code and you have a good handle on WordPress, Blogger and Photoshop. You’ve redesigned your own website about 50 times and you’ve taken on a few clients and built sites for a couple friends. Now it’s time to start thinking big and turn this hobby into a business. Here are five tips for launching your freelance design business.
1. Start with a side hustle while you still have a job and keep that job as long as possible. I left my 9 to 5 when I was booked two months in advance and knew if I condensed about four clients into a month I could pay my bills, taxes and expenses.
2. Create a portfolio, Facebook page and spread the work that you’re looking for work. I can’t tell you how many random people – friend of a friend, relative’s coworkers, acquaintance on Facebook have come to me looking for a designer.
3. Charge what you’re worth. (I am now going to what most designers & blogger never do…talk in actually dollars and cents) When I started (with 5 years of professional experience) I posted a super cheap design deal on my blog – $250 for a full blog design. Now that I have two years worth of clients, I charge $400 for a basic, minimalist Blogger site and $1200 for a self-hosted WordPress small business site. Consider how much experience you have, what type of clients you have designed for, and what your living expenses are.
4. Set up a test site, so you can completely build the template before installing it on the client’s site. I have a Blogger, WordPress.com, and Tumblr account with dummy content that I only use to build templates. For self-hosted WordPress I did two extra installs so I can work on coding two client sites at once.
5. Create a contract – very important! Don’t do a second of work (even for friends!) without a contract & a deposit in your hand. I did lots of research into design contracts and then cobbled together what worked for me. I found long, jargony contracts are a little scary to those without lawyers on their payroll, so I have a simple one-page contract that covers the most important points.
Here are a few things that should be in your contract:
Client name & contact information
Project start date
Project completion time
Details of the design – I keep this fairly simple, stating if it’s WordPress or Blogger, number of pages, and any out of the ordinary design elements that cost extra (galleries, forums, drop-down menus, content rotators)
Deposit amount, when it should be paid and if it is refundable should the client cancel the project
Date the final payment is due & how many days the client has to pay
Number of revisions allowed
Your hourly rate for any additional work
Who owns the rights to the design elements and final product
Fees for late payment
A clause for clients who disappear or cancel the project after you’ve already put in hours
A clause stating if your branding/link must be displayed on the site & if the client is allowed to edit the design after it’s installed
For those of you looking to get into the design business – any questions?09.20.12 in freelance