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Smashing e8ook Series.

#2 Successul Freelancing or Web Designers


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Smashing e8ook Series. #2 Successul Freelancing or Web Designers
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Preface
8eing a greaL web designer or developer is one Lhing running a
successul reelance business anoLher. WheLher you already have work
experience in companies or you've jusL graduaLed rom design school.
8eing sel-employed enLails a number o Lasks you mosL likely didn'L
have Lo deal wiLh so ar. As a reelance web designer you also have Lo
be a projecL manager, oice adminisLraLor, accounLanL, conLroller and
l1 experL.
Juggling all o Lhese, among mosL designers noL exacLly popular, Lasks
while conceiving creaLive ideas and producing splendid websiLes, can
be very arduous. 1o help you wiLh Lhis eaL we have compiled 2
selecLed (-2 new) arLicles abouL successull reelancing LhaL have
been published on Smashing Magazine and Noupe in 2009 and 200
oering you invaluable Lips and guidelines rom proessionals in web
design. 1he ocus lies on communicaLing wiLh clienLs and co-workers,
including markeLing sLraLegies and piLching, as Lhis Lends Lo be mosL
problemaLic or reelance web designers.
We hope Lhis careully ediLed and especially illusLraLed ebook will
make you even more successul and helps you masLer "juggling".
Sven LennarLz, viLaly Friedman, Manuela Mller
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Imprint
Published in June/200
Smashing Media CmbH, Freiburg, Cermany
8ook Cover Design. Andrea AusLoni
lllusLraLions. Ricardo Cimenes
Prooreading. Manuela Mller
ConcepL & FdiLing. Sven LennarLz, viLaly Friedman
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Table of Content
Preface........................................................................................ 2
Imprint........................................................................................ 3
Basic Skills of Freelance Web Designers..................................6
FssenLial HabiLs o An FecLive Proessional Freelancer............7
Common QuesLions o Web Designers..........................................2
1he Designer Who Delivers.................................................................33
CriLical MisLakes Freelancers Make...................................................40
1he lmporLance o CusLomer Service..............................................49
CreaLively Handling Lhe Admin Side o Freelancing..................58
PiLching Like a Pro...................................................................................70
1he Finances o Freelancing................................................................95
Communication it! Clients " Partners.............................#$6
How Lo ldenLiy and Deal WiLh DierenL 1ypes O ClienLs...07
How Lo lmprove Designer-ClienL RelaLionships........................9
How Lo CommunicaLe wiLh Developers FecLively.................27
How Lo FducaLe our ClienLs on Web DevelopmenL..............36
How Lo Fxplain Lo ClienLs LhaL 1hey Are Wrong.......................43
How Lo Respond FecLively Lo Design CriLicism......................57
How Lo Persuade our Users, 8oss or ClienLs............................69
How Lo CreaLe Lhe PerecL ClienL QuesLionnaire......................77
%arketing & Con'incing Strategies For Freelancers...........#(6
CeLLing ClienLs. Approaching Lhe Company..............................87
ConverLing ProspecLs inLo ClienLs..................................................98
MarkeLing Rules and Principles or Freelancers........................208
How Many ldeas Do ou Show our ClienLs............................220
Contracts " Pricing ..............................................................22(
Freelance ConLracLs. Do's And Don'L's..........................................229
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WhaL's ln A Price. Cuidelines For Pricing Web Designs.........236
QualiLy-Price-RaLio in Web Design................................................250
T!e )ut!ors........................................................................... 2*+
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Basic Skills of Freelance Web
Designers
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,ssential -abits of )n ,ffecti'e Professional
Freelancer
by Rcb Smith
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1here's very liLLle Lo sLop anyone becoming a reelancer. ln a highly
compeLiLive and, in mosL places, saLuraLed markeL, you need Lo make
sure your repuLaLion as a reelancer is well-managed and conLinues Lo
grow. lL's very possible Lo geL a good repuLaLion wiLhouL being Lhe
besL in Lhe world, and iL's even easier Lo lose LhaL repuLaLion. ln Lhis
arLicle, we'll explore 5 habiLs LhaL are essenLial in helping reelancers
eecLively saeguard and grow Lheir repuLaLion, and we'll also discuss
how Lo make reelancing work or you.
%arketing an. /elations!ips
#. T!e Presentation -abit
our websiLe should be aL Lhe cenLre o your markeLing sLraLegy. lL's
where people go Lo see who you are, whaL you're abouL, wheLher you
know whaL you're Lalking abouL and whaL work you have done. lL's
your silenL 24/7 salesman, and iL needs Lo be righL. ForLunaLely, whaL
your websiLe needs is sLraighLorward.
Well-presenLed work wiLh a good descripLion o Lhe roles you
played
A brie hisLory o who you are and why you're where you are
ConLacL deLails LhaL are easily accessible
ConLenL LhaL is conLinually Lweaked, added Lo, and updaLed
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OLher Lhan LhaL, you can go wherever you wanL wiLh your own
websiLe - and so you should. PersonaliLy is key. Icscn Scntc Mcric
ces the whcle hc with c new Jesin jcr ecch cst c lct cj wcrl
but he stcnJs cut jrcm the crcwJ cs c result
2. T!e 0etorking -abit
1hey say LhaL wiLhin 6 degrees o separaLion, everyone knows
everyone. So you need Lo make sure LhaL everyone wiLhin your sL
degree (i.e. people you know), know exacLly whaL you do. lL needs Lo
be exacL as well. l you're a developer you don'L wanL people saying
you're a websiLe designer, and so on. our currenL neLwork o riends,
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amily, and associaLes are your ree word-o-mouLh markeLing so
geL Lhem Lalking abouL you righL now.
Once Lhis is done, your neLwork needs Lo be exLended and enhanced.
RegisLer wiLh any social neLworking plaLorms LhaL can work or you
- Linkedln, Facebook, and 1wiLLer. WiLhin Lhose places, sLarL geLLing
inLo Lhe righL circles. On Linkedln you may join some appropriaLe
discussion groups LhaL are eiLher local or skill based. On 1wiLLer you
may sLarL LweeLing and including appropriaLe hashLags so more
people can see your LweeL on LhaL subjecL.
1here are many ways Lo neLwork and connecL wiLh people, so iL's
crucial LhaL a reelancer noL be araid Lo Lalk Lo people and share
inormaLion and conLacLs. Learn Lhe neLworking habiL and geL yoursel
known.
3. T!e 0ic!ing -abit
Freelancers can geL inLo Lhe habiL o noL only inding Lheir niche, buL
creaLing niches. A niche in Lhis case is an area in your overall ield o
work in which you parLicularly specialise. l you've become very good
aL creaLing websiLes or gol courses, or example, Lhen LhaL's a greaL
niche.
1he reasons having a niche is valuable are simple. lL's easier Lo
become an experL in a niche. lL's easier Lo sell Lo oLher prospecLs
wiLhin LhaL niche as Lhey can see whaL you have done beore. As an
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experL in LhaL niche you can charge a premium or your depLh o
knowledge. 1he key Lo Lhis habiL is Lo proacLively build your own
niches. Seek ouL proiLable areas in which you can work and
concenLraLe on building niches.
1. T!e Pricing -abit
How you price your projecLs can easily be Lhe dierence beLween
winning and noL winning some work. our pricing needs Lo be
LransparenL aL all Limes and should be agreed upon up ronL. 1hings
go wrong when hidden cosLs appear laLer on. ClienLs like Lo know
how much Lhey're paying, when Lhey're going Lo pay iL, and whaL
Lhey're paying or. So make iL clear rom Lhe sLarL.
Second parL o Lhe pricing habiL - proLecL yoursel. lL's easy Lo geL so
wrapped up in winning a projecL LhaL you orgoL some simple rules. l
you have never worked wiLh a clienL beore, ask or a small
percenLage o Lhe ee beore you do any work. AL Lhis early sLage, you
won'L know wheLher Lhey will pay! Reduce your bad debL by eiLher
only working or clienLs you LrusL or having some remuneraLion irsL.
1hird parL o Lhe pricing habiL - be lexible. Make sure you ind a way
Lo make Lhe commercial deal a win-win or boLh parLies. 1his could
be.
MonLhly paymenLs (regular cash low over Lhe course o Lhe
projecL)
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PaymenL when you hiL cerLain projecL milesLones (e.g. projecL
perormance)
DeposiL and balance on compleLion (besL avoided or cash
low reasons)
Possible exchange o services
*. T!e 2rot! -abit
lL's been claimed LhaL iL cosLs seven Limes as much in resources Lo
acquire a new clienL Lhan iL does Lo grow an exisLing one. So Lhe
growLh habiL is abouL proacLively looking aL your clienLs in deLail so
you can discover new ways Lo help Lhem.
One pracLical way Lo do Lhis is Lo cross reerence. WriLe all your
services across Lhe Lop o an excel sheeL, Lhen puL your clienLs down
Lhe leL hand column. Now place an X in Lhe box where a service you
have done maLches a clienL. 1he boxes wiLhouL X's are poLenLial
growLh opporLuniLies and should all be explored beore spending Loo
much energy Lrying Lo acquire new clienLs.
Business an. Time
6. T!e Time %anagement -abit
Lacking good habiLs in Lime managemenL could cause you Lo over-
commiLLing yoursel aL cerLain Limes, which could lead Lo.
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Missing a deadline and disappoinLing a clienL
Producing sloppy or inaccuraLe work
Causing yoursel sLress because o Lhe pressure Lo geL
everyLhing done
1he soluLion Lo Lhis is an eecLive planning mechanism. FsLimaLe how
long Lhe work will Lake you, Lhen add a buer Lo your esLimaLion. 1his
will ensure LhaL, i iL does Lake longer, iL won'L eaL inLo oLher projecLs.
A 50% buer works well. 1haL may sound like a loL, buL i you go over
by 25% and Lhen Lhere are addiLional clienL emendaLions, you'll need
iL. Once you have Lhe LoLal Lime allocaLion, add iL Lo your diary. Now,
here's Lhe crucial parL. Do noL move iL, shrink iL, or change iL in any
way. l you have Lo do someLhing urgenL LhaL will inLerere wiLh LhaL
scheduled work, make sure Lhe Lime is reallocaLed elsewhere.
A simple calendar applicaLion like Coogle calendar or OuLlook can
help you plan your Lime as a reelancer. l you sLruggle wiLh where all
LhaL Lime goes and wanL Lo geL serious abouL making improvemenLs
in Lime managemenL, someLhing like Rescue 1ime can really help.
3. T!e Fle4ibilit5 -abit
8eing lexible, responsive, and eecLive aL whaL you do will allow you
Lo handle unexpecLed siLuaLions, such as when a clienL conLacLs you
wiLh urgenL needs and expecLs you Lo help. Having seL aside Lime in
advance or such urgenL siLuaLions will ensure LhaL you earn a
repuLaLion as a lexible worker.
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WhaL happens i noLhing comes up Lo ill LhaL pre-allocaLed Lime
Well you mighL inish LhaL oLher projecL early and can add someLhing
special. WhaL happens i Lhe whole day is Laken up by urgenL projecL
No problem, you had already planned Lhis mighL happen, so you
won'L leL anyone down.
O course you're noL going Lo be able Lo oresee everythin, buL a
cerLain level o lexibiliLy will allow you Lo please your clienLs and be
relaLively ree o sLress because o Lime consLrainLs.
(. T!e -onest5 -abit
Agencies will noL use you again i you leL a clienL down, and your
chance o repeaL work is slim Lo none. ln Lhe same way, you should
noL over commiL your Lime, buL sLay wiLhin your capabiliLies. We all
need Lo sLreLch ourselves on new projecLs and learn new Lechniques
and pracLices - LhaL's noL whaL Lhis is abouL. 1his is abouL promising
Lo do a Lask in a speciied Lime when, in acLualiLy, you don'L have any
idea wheLher iL's easible or noL. Above all else, people appreciaLe
honesLy. ou're beLLer o being honesL abouL wheLher you can handle
a projecL raLher Lhan Laking Lhe risk o leLLing Lhem down.
So how can you grow your skills and help your clienLs 8y being
honesL and asking some good quesLions.
"l don'L Lhink Lhis projecL is righL or me. l don'L have much
experience in [inserL Lechnology here]"
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"l can really help you wiLh Lhe [inserL service here] parL o Lhis
projecL, buL l know anoLher reelancer who can help wiLh iL.
Would you be happy i l managed Lhe projecL or you buL
ouLsourced Lhis oLher work"
"l'll need more inormaLion beore l know how long Lhis
projecL will Lake. Would you mind i l spenL a couple o hours
doing some research so l can give you an accuraLe Limescale"
+. T!e 6'er7Deli'er5 -abit
Do noL deliver your projecLs early. Sound sLrange lL's noL. l you
deliver early, Lhere's a possibiliLy Lhe clienL will Lhink you overcharged,
and may expecL parL o his paymenL Lo be reLurned. 1hey mighL also
expecL uLure work Lo be compleLed ahead o schedule, which may seL
a bad precedenL.
lnsLead, use Lhe exLra Lime Lo ocus on whizz-bang elemenLs - Lhose
exLra biLs o polish and creaLiviLy LhaL will gain you Lhe repuLaLion you
deserve and leL you grow. For a designer Lhis mighL mean spending
Lime adding nice Louches Lo your graphics, or a developer, iL could
mean more Lime Lo implemenL a cool piece o JavaScripL Lo replace
Lhe plain uncLionaliLy you originally seLLled or. 1he "over-deliver" will
earn you a solid repuLaLion, whereas inishing early could geL you inLo
Lrouble.
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#$. T!e Business ).'ice -abit
AlLhough as a reelancer you're skilled aL whaL you do, don'L assume
you'll be able Lo do your accounLs and bookkeeping, ill in Lax reLurns,
produce an invoice or wriLe a proposal all by yoursel.
Seek regular advice rom respecLed proessionals Lo help you wiLh
Lhese aspecLs o running your business. 1his mighL include speaking
wiLh people who run Lheir own operaLions and undersLand Lhe ins and
ouLs beLLer Lhan you do. Learn as much as possible rom Lheir
experiences and misLakes.
Specific Business )reas
WhaL's ouL Lhere Lo help you run your business and whaL areas do you
need Lo ocus on ln Lhis secLion, we'll discuss some applicaLions LhaL
have earned repuLaLions or helping reelancers do Lheir jobs and be
more proessional.
##. T!e ,mail -abit
Fmail is Loxic. As a reelancer you can easily become whaL's commonly
known as a busy ool. ou mighL spend a signiicanL parL o your day
jusL sending and receiving email wiLhouL ever geLLing any work done.
lnsLead, be in Lhe habiL o conLrolling email, and noL leLLing iL conLrol
you.
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1o do Lhis you need Lo.
1urn o all Lhe liLLle reminders, message counLs, and oLher
indicaLors LhaL may caLch your eye
Conigure your email clienL Lo run a "send and receive" aL
longer inLervals, maybe as liLLle as once per hour
SeL aside blocks o Lime in Lhe day Lo deal wiLh all email, Lhen
swiLch iL o, i someLhing is urgenL, people will use Lhe phone
Use Lhe 'Louch iL once' philosophy, ully read and deal wiLh
every email you open, insLead o hal-reading some and
coming back Lo Lhem laLer
#2. T!e Pro8ect %anagement -abit
Some clienLs will wanL you Lo iL in wiLh Lheir processes, while oLhers
will noL enorce Lhis. ou need Lo have very clear processes or how
you sLarL working wiLh a clienL and sLarL a new projecL. WhaL
quesLions do you ask a new clienL Where do you sLore Lhe
inormaLion Lhey Lell you How do you keep Lrack o how close Lhe
deadline is Where do you sLore all Lhe iles Lhey send you
Fmail is noL suicienL or Lhis! 1hings will geL losL, orgoLLen or
overlooked. ou mighL preer cardboard olders or ring binders or
whaLever works or you - buL use someLhing and sLick Lo your own
sysLem. 1here are applicaLions like 8asecamp LhaL can help wiLh Lhis.
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#3. T!e /esearc! " De'elopment -abit
Sounds like a big company Lhing Lo do buL R&D is essenLial Lo a good
reelance operaLion. ou need Lo be ahead o Lhe curve or aL Lhe very
leasL on iL Lo be servicing your clienLs mosL eecLively. 8e in Lhe habiL
o invesLing Lime or research and developmenL. Fxpand your currenL
skills and learn new ones. Never designed a billboard beore 1haL's
developmenL.
SeL aside Lime every week Lo do R&D. 8uild up a lisL o blogs LhaL eed
you new Lhinking and new ideas. LisLen Lo inormaLive podcasLs.
#1. T!e Sales an. C/% -abit
How can you allocaLe your Lime and resources and igure ouL wheLher
or noL you need Lo be hunLing or new work or concenLraLing on
servicing currenL clienLs ou should know aL any given Lime whaL
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your work pipeline looks like, how likely is iL all Lo maLerialize, and aL
roughly whaL value.
Hihrise is useJ by mcny tc mcnce their scles cnJ lecJs ct lcw ccst
#*. T!e )ccounts -abit
Making sure you have any easy way Lo produce, send, and Lrack
invoices is essenLial, as is geLLing inLo Lhe habiL o running your
accounLs proessionally, because such habiLs will ensure regular cash
low. ApplicaLions like 8linksale, Freshbooks or Simply lnvoices can
help ormalize Lhe accounLs side o your business and give a good
proessional eel Lo how you operaLe. ClienLs will need invoices or
Lheir accounLs make sure Lhey're noL hand wriLLen or unbranded.
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3linlscle ccn hel ycu crecte, senJ, cnJ trccl rcjessicncl invcices
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Common 9uestions of Web Designers
by AnJy RutleJe
1he design proession is ull o happy olks, and undersLanding why so
many designers enjoy Lheir work is noL hard. 8uL noL all are so happy.
l you're noL careul, Lhe joy o geLLing paid Lo pursue your passion
can be LainLed by Lhe less joyous realiLies o Lhe proessional world.
ou see, no maLLer how skilled you are as a designer, unless you are
equally prepared in proessional maLLers, your prospecLs will be
limiLed and your circumsLances compromised. 1his is Lrue wheLher
you work reelance, or an agency or in-house wiLh a company.
Fvery week l hear rom designers who are sLruggling Lo come Lo
Lerms wiLh Lhese realiLies. Unhappy wiLh Lheir currenL circumsLances,
Lhey wriLe Lo ask or advice on improving Lheir loL. Usually, Lhey eiLher
claim noL Lo undersLand how Lhings goL so bad, or Lhey lay Lhe blame
somewhere oLher Lhan aL Lheir own eeL. ln every case, however, Lhe
sole cause is Lheir poor choices and lack o proessional acumen. lL
needn'L be so.
Professional Diagnosis an. Solutions
Here, l'll paraphrase a ew emails l've received rom designers seeking
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advice. For each, l'll diagnose Lhe siLuaLion, explain in no uncerLain
Lerms whaL should have been done Lo avoid Lhe siLuaLion and suggesL
a sLraLegy Lhe designer can ollow Lo improve his or her
circumsLances.
1hese circumsLances are noL uncommon. Many o you reading Lhis are
likely experiencing similar problems. or may aL some poinL in Lhe
uLure. l hope LhaL Lhe inormaLion, advice and sLraLegies presenLed
here will help you avoid Lhese and oLher problems.
#. 2etting starte. as a freelance .esigner
Questicn. l recently rcJucteJ jrcm Jesin schccl cnJ hcve stcrteJ
jreelcncin, cnJ lm wcnJerin hcw ycu et clients? Hcw Jc ycu et
ycur ncme cut there?
1his person may jusL as well have jumped ouL o an airplane and Lhen
asked, "Now, how do l go abouL inding a parachuLe Oh, and should l
land somewhere speciic How exacLly do l do LhaL" Fven so, Lhis lack
o oresighL is quiLe common. 1he immediaLe lesson is LhaL you
shouldn'L become an independenL proessional wiLh liLLle Lo no
proessional experience, wiLh no prospecLs and knowing liLLle Lo
noLhing abouL Lhe business.
Fresh ouL o college or design school, you're noL a proessional, you're
a Lechnician (by deiniLion, Lhe opposiLe o proessional). For Lhe nexL
ew years you should be acquiring Lhe skills, knowledge and
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undersLanding required o a design proessional. 1he place Lo do Lhis
is in Lhe company o peers and under Lhe wings o menLors. aL an
agency or in-house wiLh a company. 1he successive lessons and builL-
in supporL sysLem inherenL in Lhese environmenLs are essenLial Lo a
designer's proessional developmenL.
1he way Lo "geL your name ouL Lhere" is Lo esLablish a paLLern o
excellenL work and a repuLaLion or inLegriLy over several years, while
you leL your agency or company carry Lhe burden o acquiring clienLs
and running Lhe projecLs. l you are any good, in Lime you will earn
Lhe respecL o your peers and superiors, esLablish a good repuLaLion
(spread by word o mouLh) and acquire proessional acumen. l in LhaL
Lime you make any eorL aL all Lo share your work and LhoughLs wiLh
Lhe wider design or business communiLy, your name will become
known (Lhrough word o mouLh and your porLolio or blog), and your
repuLaLion will be builL on subsLance raLher Lhan on social markeLing's
smoke and mirrors. 1his would be Lhe appropriaLe Lime Lo embark on
a reelance career.
As a reelancer, you'll be running Lhe whole show. So, you've goL Lo be
an ace aL inances and budgeLing, aL speaking wiLh and converLing
poLenLial clienLs, aL knowing whaL Lo discuss in order Lo weed ouL
unsuiLable poLenLial clienLs, aL preparing all manner o legal and
projecL-speciic documenLs, wriLing proposals, projecL managemenL,
inLra-projecL clienL communicaLions (and being Lhe conidenL,
unlinching pro in Lhe ace o every clienL requesL, quesLion and
disLasLeul siLuaLion), aL dealing wiLh dozens o Lypes o unoreseen
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issues wiLhouL hesiLaLion, aL mainLaining Lax inormaLion and
consLanLly preparing various Lax and business orms, aL markeLing,
preparing and mainLaining your own branding and idenLiLy, wiLh iLs
various elemenLs, and aL knowing how Lo begin and conclude all kinds
o projecLs conidenLly. Oh, and you'll also need a consLanL low o
inLeresLed poLenLial clienLs. l you're noL conidenL and accomplished
in all o Lhese areas, Lhen you're noL ready Lo be a reelance designer.
Freelancing is only suiLed Lo seasoned proessionals. Pursuing a
reelance career as your irsL sLep in Lhe proession is almosL always a
oolish move. Proessionalism is mainLained by habiL. l your irsL sLep
is a missLep, you've seL a poor Lone or Lhe work ahead. Unless you
immediaLely correcL your misLakes, Lhe habiLs you'll develop will be
clumsy and unproessional.
2. -o to e4plore !at t!e customer ants
Questicn. lm nct very ccJ ct the Jisccvery meetin with clients. lm
never reclly sure whct tc csl cr hcw tc jiure cut whct scrt cj Jesin
theyre lcclin jcr. My rcject mcncer cr C.D. usuclly enJs u cslin
mcst cj the Jesin questicns. Whcts the best wcy tc hcnJle this
situcticn?
1his is a common issue or designers aL agencies, especially Lhose
wiLh liLLle experience. Luckily, an agency is a good place Lo gain
experience and compeLence. 8uL Lhe quesLion signals a ew issues
LhaL require aLLenLion.
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FirsL o all, design quesLions are noL really appropriaLe during Lhe
discovery process. CranLed, speciic branding consLrainLs may need Lo
be deined and undersLood, buL Lhe design you will craL will come
noL rom Lhe clienL's judgmenL and undersLanding o design buL rom
yours alone. 1he design will be your arLiculaLion o whaL Lhey need,
based mosLly on Lheir business aims, Lhe websiLe's purpose, Lheir
cusLomers' needs and expecLaLions, Lhe end users' speciics and so on.
ln acL, i you ask no design quesLions aL all, you're probably on Lhe
righL Lrack.
lmagine or a momenL LhaL you're a physician Lrying Lo deLermine Lhe
besL course o LreaLmenL or your paLienL. ln LhaL siLuaLion, you would
noL ask Lhe paLienL whaL he Lhinks should be prescribed. lnsLead you
would inquire abouL his sympLoms, hisLory, environmenL, physical
needs (e.g. is he a pro aLhleLe, or does he simply need Lo be able Lo
geL around normally). 1he answers Lo Lhese quesLions will deine Lhe
consLrainLs and indicaLe Lhe appropriaLe course o acLion. our
paLienL's opinion on whaL prescripLion would be appropriaLe is likely
irrelevanL, he came Lo you because he lacks Lhe abiliLy Lo help himsel.
Co inLo Lhe discovery meeLing prepared. 8eore Lhe meeLing, learn as
much as you can abouL Lhe company, iLs hisLory and iLs pasL and
currenL acLiviLies. ScripL a lisL o quesLions-some speciic Lo Lhis clienL
and some appropriaLe or any clienL-Lo geL Lhe ball rolling. 1hese
quesLions will serve as a springboard Lo more in-depLh discussion,
which in Lurn will lesh ouL whaL you need Lo know.
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One more Lhing. you're Lhe design proessional and iL's your
responsibiliLy Lo conducL Lhe projecL successully. ou (noL Lhe PM or
CD) should be driving Lhe discovery. Use your Lime aL Lhe agency Lo
improve your discovery skills, Laking on more responsibiliLy wiLh each
successive clienL. RelecL on each projecL's discovery process, and look
or ways Lo improve Lhe process and your quesLions. WiLh Lime and
eorL, you should become compeLenL in Lhis essenLial parL o Lhe
design process.
3. C!arging comps & !at is t!e usual number:
Questicn. Scme cj my clients exect three cr jcur cr even mcre
ccmrehensive lcycuts (ccms) jrcm me. 1hct's c lct cj wcrl, cnJ l
wculJ rejer tc shcw just c ccule. ShculJ l just chcre mcre ij they
wcnt mcre ccms? Hcw Jc scme Jesiners et cwcy with just cne cr
twc jcr cll cj their clients?
1hese are inLeresLing quesLions, and Lhey beg a couple more.
. Why is Lhis designer allowing his clienLs, who are noL
designers, Lo seL Lhe number o design comps
2. Why is he leLLing quanLiLaLive preerence raLher Lhan
qualiLaLive necessiLy rame his undersLanding o Lhe issue
Cood design is noL ound by picking rom a pack o arbiLrary opLions,
buL is raLher Lhe resulL o deliberaLe, conLexLual choices. 1aking a
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scaLLershoL approach Lo design is in no way eecLive. our clienLs may
noL appreciaLe Lhis, buL you cerLainly should! our responsibiliLy is Lo
ensure LhaL your clienLs don'L shooL Lhemselves in Lhe ooL.
1he only person who knows how many design opLions are
appropriaLe is you. Lhe designer who is engaged in Lhe process. And
in almosL every case Lhere is one besL design soluLion. SomeLimes
anoLher compelling direcLion is worLh considering and presenLing Lo
Lhe clienL, buL Lhis cannoL be known unLil you have ully engaged in
Lhe process, conscious o Lhe parameLers speciic Lo LhaL projecL.
ln mosL cases, you'll explore a hosL o opLions during Lhe design
process. A Lhorough exploraLion will cull a majoriLy o Lhe Lrials,
leaving only Lhe mosL appropriaLe and compelling candidaLe(s) one
or Lwo. 1hese and only Lhese design opLions should be shown Lo Lhe
clienL. lnerior designs should never be presenLed, even Lo ulill a
requesL or more opLions (opLions or whaL. mediocriLy).
As a reelance design proessional, or even as an agency designer,
your responsibiliLy is Lo deine how many design opLions Lo presenL in
a given siLuaLion. l a poLenLial clienL insisLs on a less eecLive and less
proessional process, do noL agree Lo work wiLh LhaL clienL.
Compromise never brings excellence and has no place in design or
proessionalism. l you become comorLable making Lhis sorL o
compromise, oLher compromises will also become easy or you. our
clienLs deserve and are paying or more Lhan a compromised design.
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1. Dri'ing t!e .esign process in an agenc5
Questicn. l selJcm et tc meet my clients bejcre l resent Jesin
ccms tc them. 3y thct cint, the rcjects clmcst clwcys beccme c
tirescme series cj re-wcrlins cj my criincl iJecs. Hcw ccn l chcne
this?
One wonders whaL Lhese original ideas were based on i Lhe designer
has never meL Lhe clienLs. l so, eiLher ) Lhis person is aL Lhe wrong
agency, and/or 2) Lhis person lacks Lhe proessional undersLanding or
Lhe backbone Lo insisL on being Lhe one Lo decide how Lhe agency
should sLrucLure design projecLs and clienL-designer inLeracLion.
RelaLionships are builL on LrusL, and LrusL is born o experience and
undersLanding. our clienL cannoL LrusL someone Lhey have never meL
and whom Lhey know noLhing abouL. So, when designs are presenLed
by someone Lhe clienL has never meL, no wonder Lhe clienL is a biL
reLicenL and inclined Lo second-guess Lhe designer's decisions. 1hese
and Lhe ensuing problems are all a resulL o Lhe designer's ailings.
es, iL's on you. Always.
As Lhe designer and an aspiring proessional, you musL insisL on
driving Lhe design process. 1his means LhaL you musL be Lhe one Lo
meeL wiLh Lhe clienL in Lhe beginning. l a projecL brie is required, you
musL be Lhe one Lo creaLe iL, based on your direcL conversaLions wiLh
Lhe clienL and his Leam.
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l your agency has a process in place LhaL prevenLs you rom ulilling
your responsibiliLies, your opLions are eiLher Lo change Lhe process or
Lo ind a beLLer agency. AnyLhing less relegaLes you Lo an
irresponsible pracLice in an unproessional environmenL. Hopeully,
Lhis is noL accepLable Lo you, because iL would erode Lhe habiLs you
are proessionally obliged Lo culLivaLe.
*. ;ug.ing one<s communicational skills
Questicn. l lcve tc Jesin, cnJ l thinl lm retty ccJ ct it. 3ut lm nct
ccmjcrtcble tcllin tc clients. Whenever lm cn the hcne cr in jrcnt cj
c client, l et very nervcus. l thinl my nervcusness mcles me seem less
cccble, cnJ lm retty sure l lcse scme cj my clients ccnjiJence. Whct
ccn l Jc tc ccrrect this? ShculJ scmecne else Jc the tcllin?
FecLive communicaLion is one o a designer's mosL imporLanL jobs.
Fvery communicaLion, wheLher by email or phone or in person, is an
opporLuniLy Lo demonsLraLe value and win conidence. And i you
don'L demonsLraLe value, you'll seldom win conidence. Like in one o
Lhe examples above, you may simply noL be prepared Lo be a
reelance proessional.
l you ail in communicaLing, no maLLer how skilled a designer you are,
you won'L geL Lhe chance Lo ply your skills very oLen, and seldom or
Lhe besL clienLs. 1he besL clienLs are Lhose who invesL compleLe LrusL
in Lheir designers. 1haL LrusL musL be earned beore any acLual
designing happens (see iLem 4).
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And no, someone else should noL do Lhe Lalking. 1he design
proessional's job is Lo show conidence when dealing wiLh clienLs. No
one else can communicaLe your value or win LrusL or you. 1he reason
clienLs disLrusL Lhose who do noL communicaLe wiLh conidence is
because Lhis LraiL signals oLher incompeLencies. 1his may sound harsh,
buL iL's a acL. i you're noL conidenL, iL is because you lack capabiliLy
(wheLher proessional compeLence, design skill or perhaps
vocabulary). and you know iL. Address Lhis void, and your conidence
will shine Lhrough.
l you lack conidence in conversaLion, sLarL Lo address Lhis deiciency
immediaLely or ind anoLher calling. OLherwise, you may have a brighL
uLure as a producLion arLisL somewhere, buL noL much o one as a
design proessional. Design proessionals are experLs aL every aspecL
o inLeracLing wiLh people.
Conidence aside, iL goes wiLhouL saying LhaL excellenL vocabulary is
an imporLanL componenL o eecLive communicaLion. People judge
you by your words, as well Lhey should. Knowing Lhis, your
proessional responsibiliLy is Lo work on your vocabulary, jusL as you
work on your design abiliLy. daily.
Be5on. Design & )spects of Professionalism
Skill in design is only parL o whaL deines a compeLenL proessional.
Proessionalism is also measured by inLegriLy, preparedness in
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handling and inLeracLing wiLh clienLs, and breadLh o undersLanding in
Lhe myriad o issues LhaL will conronL you in Lhe course o working
wiLh oLhers (wheLher clienLs, co-workers, employees or oLhers).
Proessionalism is also measured by how well you uphold eLhical
sLandards in making Lhe diiculL decisions in every area o your work.
1alenL and skill can make you a Lechnician, and a Lechnician is, as we
noLed, noL a proessional. For conLexL, Lhink o LradiLional proessions.
lawyers, docLors, archiLecLs. 1he enormous responsibiliLy Lhey are
enLrusLed wiLh, and Lheir abiliLy Lo carry ouL LhaL responsibiliLy across
Lhe scope o Lheir work, makes Lhese people proessionals. 1hus, an
able proessional would noL be Lroubled by Lhe quesLions posed in
Lhis arLicle. RaLher, Lhey would know precisely how Lo proceed or how
Lo circumvenL Lhese issues. l you have any o Lhese quesLions, you
may noL be prepared Lo be a design proessional.
All o Lhese siLuaLions resulL rom designers believing LhaL being a
good designer is good enough. 1his proession has liLLle room or
Lhose who lack a proessional's inLegriLy and broad undersLanding.
Designers who are willing Lo compromise and simply accepL Lhe aulLy
decisions LhaL are handed Lo Lhem have had Lheir proession sLolen
rom Lhem. 1hese designers have no business working wiLh clienLs
who pay good money or proessional service.
8e beLLer Lhan Lhis. our irsL sLep Lo success is Lo assume your righLul
responsibiliLy or everyLhing LhaL involves you. DissaLisied wiLh Lhe
lawed sLrucLure aL your agency ou chose Lo work Lhere, change
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your circumsLances. FrusLraLed by your perpeLual lack o prospecLs
and sLalled repuLaLion Sounds like you've goL deiciencies Lo address.
Overwhelmed by Lhe challenges and complexiLies inherenL in
reelancing ou probably sLarLed reelancing wiLhouL suicienL
preparaLion.
Fix iL. Ycu ix iL. lL's all on you.
Designers. you geL paid Lo do whaL you love. How greaL is LhaL! 8uL
Lhis orLunaLe and enviable siLuaLion leads Lo ulillmenL only i you
Lake ull ownership o your proession. OLherwise, you're carrying a
Lime bomb. When iL goes o, your career will eiLher alLer or be blown
Lo smiLhereens. Don'L leL Lhis happen Lo you. FducaLe yoursel. Have
Lhe courage and inLegriLy Lo habiLually make good choices so LhaL
you enjoy a long and happy career as a design proessional.
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T!e Designer W!o Deli'ers
by Aurimcs AJcmcvicius
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WheLher you design and code websiLes all by yoursel or run a small
business wiLh a pool o LalenL, you will always ace Lhe challenge o
how much Lo work on a design and Ul beore passing Lhe mock-ups
on Lo Lhe developer Moreover, how much visual work needs Lo be
done in order Lo eecLively presenL a websiLe Lo a clienL ln Lhis
arLicle, we'll Lalk abouL besL pracLices or clear communicaLion, which
Lools Lo use and how Lo manage resources on boLh small and large
projecLs.
T!e )ppropiate 0umber of %ock7=ps to Deli'er
As Lhe owner o a small business, l have waLched our company grow
rom a parL-Lime, basemenL-dwelling, under-Lhe-radar operaLion Lo a
small business wiLh an oice, chairs, desks, and sLaplers (aren'L
sLaplers an indicaLion o legiLimacy). During Lhis process o breaking
ouL o our egg shell, we have birLhed a company culLure and a seL o
besL pracLices, and we have gained valuable experience in Lhe ield o
Web design and developmenL. One o Lhese nuggeLs o experience is
acquiring Lhe abiliLy Lo save Lime and money by creaLing jusL Lhe righL
amounL o visual maLerial Lo communicaLe clearly wiLh boLh Lhe clienL
and websiLe developer.
l won'L even boLher asking wheLher you've ever been assigned Lo
creaLe a cusLom Web applicaLion wiLh an inLricaLe Ul, only Lo see your
clienL preLLy well reak ouL and Lell you LhaL iL's compleLely Lhe
opposiLe o whaL Lhey had in mind. And leL's be honesL. Lhey reaked
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ouL noL because Lhey're Web inanLs who drool every Lime a Flash
inLro pops up, buL because you ailed Lo communicaLe Lhe projecL and
iLs uncLionaliLy.
Don'L geL me wrong. our Ul was probably slick. lL ran asL, Lhe scripLs
were miniied, iL had spriLes or all buLLon and Ul elemenLs. From a
Lechnical and design sLandpoinL, iL was as hoL as Lhe 8MW Mini
Cooper back in 2007. 1he only problem was LhaL your clienL was
looking or a pickup Lruck.
Our approach Lo Web design and number o mock-ups is usually
based on Lhe size o Lhe projecL. For Lhe purpose o Lhis arLicle, l'll
break projecLs inLo Lwo caLegories. Lhe brochure websiLe (i.e. a
conLenL-orienLed websiLe abouL a company or individual) and Lhe
applicaLion websiLe.
Broc!ure Website
For small websiLes, l recommend you siL down wiLh Lhe clienL and
spend a good hour jusL learning abouL Lheir business. 8eore Lhis
meeLing, all you probably had Lo sLarL wiLh was an email rom your
cousin saying someLhing like, "LisLen, Mike over aL CadgeL lnc. wanLs
a cool siLe LhaL will be # on Coogle." ALer your meeLing, Lhough, you
will be amazed aL Lhe quanLiLy o relevanL inormaLion LhaL your clienL
shares wiLh you. Don'L be araid Lo ask quesLions. inormaLion LhaL
would normally be diiculL Lo exLracL is buL a quesLion away when
you're siLLing ace Lo ace. our inquisiLive aLLiLude will also reassure
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Lhe clienL because iL indicaLes LhaL you're genuinely inLeresLed in
solving his business problems.
Now LhaL you have a wealLh o inormaLion, you should be able Lo
deduce whaL Lhe clienL really wanLs (iL mighL noL be exacLly whaL you
originally LhoughL). Make sure you undersLand well whaL websiLes
Lhey like and Lhe reasons Lhey like Lhem, along wiLh Lhe colors, logo
and oLher visual cues LhaL mighL help you geL sLarLed on Lhe design. l
your clienL has noL yeL commiLLed Lo you and is waiLing or sa
proposal, you may wanL Lo provide a single mock-up wiLh your
proposal. A mock-up is oLen a worLhwhile invesLmenL on a larger
projecL, because iL creaLes an emoLional aLLachmenL wiLh Lhe clienL
and speeds up Lhe bidding process.
1his more or less sums iL up or small websiLes. clear communicaLion
wiLh Lhe clienL helps you esLablish a good base Lo work rom, and Lhe
number o mock-ups should be kepL Lo a minimum i you're good aL
lisLening. ln case you geL sLuck on a minuLe deLail LhaL Lhe clienL
doesn'L like, you could always posL your mock-up on
ConcepLFeedback and geL some eedback rom oLher designers. MosL
o Lhe Lime, peer opinion will sway Lhe clienL Lo your side i you know
whaL you're doing.
)pplication Website
Larger projecLs and web applicaLions are a compleLely dierenL beasL
and should be dealL wiLh accordingly. our requiremenLs or Lhe
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projecL will arrive as a requesL or proposal (RFP), sealed in a gold-
encrusLed money-scenLed envelope and puL LogeLher by a projecL
lead. A commiLLee o people will be responsible or Lhe conLenL,
uncLionaliLy and goals o Lhe websiLe, and Lheir opinions will be
slighLly dierenL. 1he job o Lhe designer and/or Leam leader will be
Lo inLerpreL Lhe clienL's requiremenLs and communicaLe Lhem visually
Lo Lhe developmenL Leam.
l have learned LhaL wriLLen Lechnical speciicaLions are only as good as
Lhe people who read Lhem. our developers will undersLand Lhem, buL
your clienL commiLLee will inLerpreL Lhem in as many ways as Lhere are
people on Lhe commiLLee. our responsibiliLy, Lhen, is Lo illusLraLe Lhe
projecL or boLh Leams. All o Lhe iLems menLioned above or Lhe small
websiLe sLill apply, buL you will also need Lo build an inormaLion
archiLecLure map, uncLional low, inLeracLion mock-ups and more. As
you're working Lhrough Lhese visual elemenLs, consider using some o
Lhe Lools available on Lhe Web Lo geL eedback rom a wider audience.
While mock-ups LhaL encompass deLailed uncLionaliLy are a cosLly
venLure, Lhey are simply Lhe besL Lhing you can do beore wriLing a
line o code, because an illusLraLion will give your clienL Lhe righL
expecLaLions. As a Web developmenL company, you would also be
orLunaLe Lo have Web designers who undersLand mark-up, AJAX
limiLaLions, accessibiliLy and readabiliLy implicaLions and more. We
have had some curious inLeracLions wiLh designers who made
anLasLic brochures buL couldn'L mock-up a single screen o a websiLe
Ul.
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1his approach, while Lime-consuming aL irsL, will save hundreds o
developmenL hours, because Lhe applicaLion will behave and look Lhe
way Lhe clienL expecLs. our inormaLion hierarchy and uncLionaliLy
mock-ups will allow your developer Lo work compleLely
independenLly rom Lhe designer, wiLh minimal inLerrupLion and
quesLions.
/e. Flags
Fven i you ollow Lhese guidelines and wield a creaLive sLylus, you will
have conversaLions or geL emails LhaL should seL o alarms in your
head. 1hese communicaLions usually sLarL wiLh, "1his is noL as hip as l
wanLed," or "l was expecLing someLhing unexpecLed," or "We really
wanL iL Lo look social." 1hese sLaLemenLs are problemaLic or a couple
o reasons, Lhe irsL being LhaL you have a limiLed budgeL and Lime
rame or Lhe projecL and have already used up some o Lhem. 1he
second problem is LhaL Lhese sLaLemenLs are as ambiguous as Ricky
MarLin's sexualiLy (noL anymore, eh).
Well, jusL as wiLh Lhe requiremenL-gaLhering phase, your ocus here
should be Lo drill Lo Lhe hearL o Lhese sLaLemenLs and igure ouL whaL
exacLly is meanL by each. 1he work you have already done can usually
be salvaged, and Lhe clienL mighL wanL noLhing more Lhan a dierenL
illusLraLion, color combinaLion or onL sLack. l suggesL approaching
Lhis wiLh changes LhaL require liLLle eorL. SLarL wiLh small Lweaks, and
Lhen send Lhe mock-ups. ConLinue wiLh moderaLely complex changes,
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and Lhen send Lhe mock-ups. Rinse and repeaL. WhaL you will ind
Lhrough Lhese small adjusLmenLs and your communicaLions is LhaL Lhe
negaLiviLy in Lheir iniLial email was acLually an exaggeraLion o a small
issue.
>essons >earne.
1he rouLe you Lake in a successul projecL will depend on Lhe size and
composiLion o your Leam and your abiliLy Lo communicaLe wiLh Lhe
clienL. 1he more projecLs our Leam compleLes, Lhe more sLrongly we
believe in visual communicaLion, which alls sLricLly on Lhe designer's
shoulders. lL is also sae Lo say LhaL a Web designer is a mixed and
inLricaLe breed o proessional. an individual who musL undersLand
business, be able Lo read cusLomers, sLay creaLive and resh wiLh visual
soluLions, and be Lechnical enough Lo undersLand Web Lechnology
limiLaLions and besL pracLices.
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Critical %istakes Freelancers %ake
by Rcbert 3cwen
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Seeing as we are all human (well, presumably whoever is reading Lhis
posL anyway), we should recognize LhaL misLakes happen. 1hey even
have LhaL saying, "1o err is human.," which goes Lo show LhaL iL is noL
only commonplace or us Lo err once or Lwice. iL is execteJ. 8uL a
meLhod is behind Lhis madness, because making misLakes is one o
Lhe major ways we learn. 1his is no dierenL or reelancers.
Finding our way over Lhese bumps in Lhe road oLen gives us valuable
insighL Lo Lake away. lL helps us develop Lechniques and meLhods LhaL
we can incorporaLe inLo our creaLive process. As reelancers, we have
Lhe beneiL o access Lo an enLire online communiLy LhaL is willing Lo
share iLs experiences so LhaL we can learn wiLhouL having Lo make Lhe
same misLakes.
So in Lhis chapLer, we look aL some criLical misLakes reelancers make.
Hopeully, i you haven'L already made one o Lhese misLakes yoursel,
you can learn Lhe lesson behind iL.
T!e5 .on?t use a contract
One o Lhe irsL Lhings reelancers learn when conLracLing ouL Lheir
services Lo oLhers is. Lo use a conLracL! UnorLunaLely, we oLen learn
Lhis lesson Lhe hard way. For whaLever reason, we Lhink LhaL a
parLicular clienL o ours is someone we can work or wiLhouL Lhe aid
and proLecLion o a conLracL. 1his Lends Lo end in one way. by biLing
us in Lhe back end.
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WiLhouL Lhis saeguard in place, you open yoursel up Lo so many
poLenLial problems, and you may inadverLenLly end up commiLLing Lo
more Lhan you had inLended or even imagined. Freelancers only make
Lhis misLake once, i aL all. 1his lesson is noL a secreL in Lhe reelance
communiLy. 1he advice comes up oLen. always use a conLracL. And
many heed Lhe warning once Lhey hear iL.
T!e5 misuse social me.ia @or .on?t use it at allA
AnoLher common, buL criLical, piLall LhaL reelancers Lumble inLo is
misusing social media, i Lhey even use iL aL all. Social media is a major
Lool LhaL oers all reelancers an invaluable resource aL Lheir
ingerLips. An enLire communiLy o proessionals connecLed via
modems, ready and willing Lo oer each oLher whaLever assisLance
Lhey can. NeglecLing Lhis sLream o indusLry insighL, or noL using iL
properly, can hinder Lhe growLh o your business.
Social media is abouL inLeracLing wiLh people and osLering
relaLionships, which, i done wiLh consideraLion and aLLenLion, can
creaLe opporLuniLies you would have oLherwise missed ouL on (noL Lo
menLion riendships LhaL can ouLlasL jobs). Fspecially aL Lhe beginning
o your reelancing career, i you make Lhe misLake o misusing Lhe
media, you could be seen as an anLi-social pariah in your corner o
Lhe Web.
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T!e5 put Buantit5 o'er Bualit5 in t!eir portfolio
When puLLing Lheir porLolio LogeLher, some reelancers misLakenly
believe LhaL Lhe more Lhey add Lo Lheir porLolio, Lhe beLLer. 1hen iL
becomes abouL quanLiLy and noL qualiLy o work. 1hey orgeL Lhe
value o Lhe porLolio in opening doors and creaLing opporLuniLies.
1he phrase "PuL your besL ooL orward" applies in Lhis siLuaLion. our
porLolio speaks volumes abouL your skills, reeing you rom having Lo
say Loo much and risk coming o as more arroganL Lhan conidenL.
LeL your porLolio do Lhe Lalking, and don'L make Lhe misLake o
prioriLizing quanLiLy and sending Lhe wrong message. QualiLy makes
Lhe besL irsL impression, so make Lhe mosL o iL.
T!e5 stop learning
1his one has Lo be said. lL can do so much harm Lo reelancers, no
maLLer whaL Lheir ield. LhaL is, Lhey sLop learning. 8uL especially or
reelancers who work in a ield as dynamic and ever-expanding as
design and developmenL, sLaying ahead o Lhe curve is absoluLely
crucial Lo meeLing your clienLs' needs.
1his ield is conLinually evolving wiLh new Lechniques and
applicaLions. 1hrowing in Lhe Lowel on educaLion is virLual suicide.
ou, your work and your career would sLagnaLe. 1hankully, wiLh Lhis
online culLure we have Loday, culLivaLing an environmenL in which we
can susLain our educaLion is easy. NoL Laking advanLage o Lhese
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learning opporLuniLies is a misLake LhaL could poLenLially cosL you
your business.
T!e5 .on?t kno !o to .eal it! clients
AnoLher common misLake is LhaL reelancers orgeL Lheir people skills
when dealing wiLh clienLs. For whaLever reason, we leL slip in our
minds LhaL clienLs hire us because Lhey don'L know how Lo do Lhe
work Lhemselves. 1hey are in unknown LerriLory, and as reelancers we
should always be sensiLive Lo LhaL and bridge as many gaps in
knowledge as we can. 1his will only improve your uLure dealings wiLh
Lhe clienL and earn you more respecL and LrusL in Lhe business.
Obviously, wiLhouL clienLs, you are a reelancer in LiLle alone, so make
sure you know noL only how Lo engage clienLs buL how Lo enLice Lhem
back. 8eing able Lo assess needs LhaL Lhey aren'L even able Lo
arLiculaLe and Lhen communicaLing iL all back Lo Lhem is an invaluable
skill. NeglecLing iL can be cosLly.
T!e5 fail to prepare for .r5 spells
1his misLake is deiniLely beLLer learned second-hand, and LhaL is noL
preparing or occasions when no work is coming in. DroughLs hiL even
Lhe besL o Lhem, especially in Lhese Lough economic Limes.
Freelancers oLen orgeL Lo accounL or LhaL in Lheir pricing sLrucLure
and Lo save up in good Limes or when Lhings go souLh.
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1here is a logic behind Lhe raLes we charge, and parL o iL is Lo susLain
us aLer we have compleLed work or one clienL and eagerly awaiL Lhe
nexL. O course, we can always ind work Lo do, buL cyin work is
whaL susLains us as reelancers. Calling Lhis misLake cosLly is Loo close
Lo punning or comorL, buL iLs impacL is deiniLely elL and could orce
you Lo suspend reelancing and seek ouL supplemenLal employmenL,
Lhus making iL even harder or you Lo creaLe your own opporLuniLies.
T!e5 o'erloa. t!eir plate
1his nexL misLake someLimes resulLs rom a ear o Lhe
aoremenLioned dry spell. O course, greed mighL also play a role.
WhaLever Lhe reason, some reelancers don'L know when enough is
enough, and Lhey conLinue Lo Lake on new projecLs as Lheir plaLe
overloads. OverexLending yoursel and your business like Lhis can
desLabilize your worklow.
Freelancers need a cerLain degree o sel-awareness Lo know when
Lhey have reached Lheir limiL. RepuLaLion-LhaL is, a good one-is
imporLanL Lo your business' developmenL. Spreading yoursel Loo Lhin
is never good, and Lhe disLracLion could hamper your creaLiviLy. 1his is
anoLher o Lhose misLakes LhaL are diiculL Lo recover rom.
T!e5 miss a .ea.line @an. t!ink it?s no big .ealA
1his, Loo, is oLen a consequence o Lhe previous misLake in our lisL.
Falling behind when you are overloaded is all Loo easy, buL missing a
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deadline can have a debiliLaLing eecL on your business. And i you
Lhink missing a deadline is no big deal, your career may be over
beore iL begins. Deadlines keep you on Lrack and help you mulLiLask,
as well as keep your clienL on Lrack wiLh Lhe developmenL o Lheir
projecL.
Once again, repuLaLion is criLical Lo building your brand and making
your mark in Lhe reelancing markeL. And a greaL way Lo ruin LhaL
repuLaLion is by proving yoursel unreliable. SLay producLive and
ahead o your Lasks Lo avoid disrupLing your clienL's LimeLable. l you
end up making Lhis misLake, own up Lo iL. Don'L oer excuses, simply
propose a new LimeLable and conLinue working hard Lo meeL iL. 8uL
clearly acknowledge Lhe problem you have creaLed or your clienL. l
you make Lhis misLake once, you may noL have an opporLuniLy Lo
make iL again.
T!e5 lack confi.ence
Lacking conidence in Lhemselves or in Lheir work is anoLher misLake
LhaL can plague reelancers, even beyond Lheir business. 8eing your
own worsL criLic and holding your work Lo a higher sLandard Lhan LhaL
o oLhers is naLural (righL). 8uL aL a cerLain poinL, you are no longer
criLiquing so much as Learing down your work. Dismissing Lhe LalenL
and abiliLies LhaL have carried you Lhis ar is misguided and will do
noLhing or your producLiviLy.
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WiLhouL conidence, making iL as a reelancer will be exLremely
diiculL. ou'll sLarL Laking useul and well-inLended criLicism biLLerly,
missing Lhe person's poinL and spiraling urLher inLo a pool o doubL
and sel-piLy. Lack o conidence hinders your skills and Lhe growLh o
your business. ClienLs will pick up on iL quickly, because Lhe reelancer
is supposed Lo have a commanding role. Our responsibiliLy is Lo guide
Lhe clienL Lo make eecLive decisions and win Lhem over Lo our poinL
o view, wiLhouL conidence, Lhis becomes unlikely. ou'll undervalue
boLh yoursel and your work. So have aiLh in your abiliLies, and know
LhaL your unique voice is needed in Lhe ranks o Lhe reelancing arena.
T!e5 go to ork for someone else
AnoLher blunder reelancers make is Lo work Lirelessly Lo build Lheir
business, only Lo accepL Lhe irsL oer or a cushy job LhaL comes
along. No longer being your own boss would seem easy Lo adjusL Lo,
buL iL can be like moving back under your parenLs' roo aLer you've
LasLed Lhe reedom o living on your own. lL simply doesn'L iL as
comorLably as iL once did. Simply readjusLing is noL so easy because
reelancing is more Lhan a job. iL is a way o lie.
Some people Lell Lhemselves LhaL reelancing was all along a sLopgap
Lo some greaLer dream, buL Lrue reelancers ind LhaL pill hard Lo
swallow. For some, LhaL mighL be Lrue, buL Lhen Lhose people were
noL reelancers so much as Lemporary independenL conLracLors.
Freelancers crave Lhe reedom LhaL comes wiLh Lhe 'lancing. SLill
oLhers believe Lhey can work or someone else and mainLain Lheir
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reelancing on Lhe side. ln Lheory, Lhis mighL appear viable. 1he realiLy
is harsher. reelancing is ull-Lime. lL is a way o lie, and Lurning iL inLo
a parL-Lime job spells Lrouble.
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T!e Importance of Customer Ser'ice
3y Rcbert 3cwen
Once upon a Lime, when Lhe lnLerneL was dialed-up and 36,600 K8PS
was like lighLning, l was living in a small Lown working or a compuLer
reLailer and lnLerneL service provider. My boss aL Lhe Lime was. well,
leL's jusL say LhaL cusLomer service was noL his prioriLy. NoL only would
he beraLe and verbally assaulL almosL every cusLomer who happened
Lo cross his paLh when he was rusLraLed by a compuLer repair, buL his
relenLless Lirades caused cusLomers Lo leave eiLher in Lears or on Lhe
verge o Lhem.
l wondered during my our-year sLinL, aLLempLing Lo clean up Lhe
cusLomer service messes he leL in his wake, how he managed Lo sLay
in business in Lhe years beore and since my employmenL. And Lhe
answer was simple. he was a big ish in a Liny pond.
ln a Lown o 8,000 residenLs, Lhere were only Lhree compuLer reLailers
LhaL had qualiied Lechnicians who could handle in-house repairs. He
was one o Lhem. 8uL as web reelancers, we are swimming in an
ocean LhaL is Leeming wiLh qualiied ish, all waiLing or a hook rom
clienLs. So, we have Lo pay special aLLenLion Lo Lhe cusLomer-relaLions
parL o our business i we wanL Lo build and mainLain our clienL lisL.
1he problem is LhaL many o us have spenL mosL o our Lime
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LhroughouL Lhe years working or someone else, possibly ar rom Lhe
reach o our employer's cusLomers. So, our cusLomer service skills
may be rusLy, or even non-exisLenL.
Does it /eall5 %atter:
Meager people skills and miniscule paLience make some o us a
business hazard when inLeracLing wiLh clienLs. Some people may noL
believe LhaL Lhis could be explosive Lo a reelancer's repuLaLion, buL
according Lo a 2009 online survey by 1ealea, Lhere is cause or
concern.
1he survey results clsc shcw thct cnline cJults cre
increcsinly turnin tc sccicl meJic tc shcre their
cnline exeriences with cthers, while simultcnecusly
beccmin less lilely tc clert c ccmcny Jirectly - c
shijt in ccnsumer behcvicr which extenJs the business
imcct cj custcmer exerience issues beycnJ cny
sinle trcnsccticn.
Civen Lhis Lrend among consumers, we can assume LhaL Lhe same
would hold Lrue or our reelance clienLs, and LhaL Lhe impacL o Lhe
cusLomer's experience will be elL long aLer Lhe experience concludes.
1his makes iL evermore criLical or us Lo mainLain as much conLrol as
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possible over whaL LhaL impacL is, negaLive or posiLive.
1his is imporLanL or reelancers adriL in Lhe design and developmenL
ocean, where even Lhe biggesL among us sLill look small compared Lo
Lhe agency sharks LhaL we compeLe wiLh or work. l a clienL leaves
wiLh a bad LasLe in Lheir mouLh and decides Lo porLray our business in
an unlaLLering lighL, we have ewer resources Lhan Lhose sharks Lo
seek ouL and address Lhese word-o-mouLh reviews in social media.
8igger businesses have more Lime, Lools and employees Lo scour
social media ouLleLs or menLions o Lheir companies and Lo recLiy
complainLs.
1his was demonsLraLed Lo me recenLly when we awoke Lo ind our
lnLerneL access down. ALer Lhe sLandard panic and reseLLing o
sysLem, rouLer and modem, we deLermined LhaL Lhe problem did noL
sLem rom our end buL raLher rom our provider's. Suddenly, we
realized LhaL, wiLhouL a phone book in Lhe building or access Lo Lhe
lnLerneL or Lo our invoices (which we receive by email, doing whaL we
can Lo be as paperless as possible), we did noL have Lhe phone
number o our provider anywhere in Lhe house. ALer a rusLraLing
hour, we were inally back online and a biL sLeamed rom our Lime o
rom being connecLed. Did we Lhen conLacL Lhe provider Lo venL or
inquire abouL Lhe problem No. We did whaL 1ealea's survey
predicLed we'd do. we Lurned Lo 1wiLLer.
Having menLioned Lhe company by name on 1wiLLer, we were easy Lo
ind. AlmosL immediaLely, our provider read whaL we had Lo say and
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responded Lo us on Lhis social media ouLleL, making sure we were noL
experiencing any more problems wiLh connecLiviLy. Overall, iL made
or an inLeresLing lesson in cusLomer service, and iL showed where we
as small ish mighL be missing opporLuniLies Lo nip bad word o
mouLh in Lhe bud beore iL spreads inLo viral gospel. As reelancers
who wear every haL in Lhe business ourselves, our Lime is limiLed, so
we cannoL sLay on Lop o every menLion o our business ouL Lhere.
1he number cj ccnsumers whc ccntcct c ccmcny
Jirectly in rescnse tc cnline trcnsccticn issues
JeclineJ.
26 cj cnline cJults whc exerience rcblems
ccnJuctin cnline trcnsccticns then csteJ ccmlcints
cn c ccmcnys Website in 2009, versus J2 in 2008.
J8 cj cll cnline cJults ccntccteJ c ccmcnys ccll
center cjter enccunterin rcblems usin the Website
in 2009, versus 47 in 2008.
(lxcert jrcm 1eclecj survey)
1he survey also reporLs LhaL more Lhan hal o adulLs who spend Lime
online have been inluenced by social media in Lheir consumer
choices, which reinorces Lhe imporLance o cusLomer service Lo Lhe
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healLh and growLh o our reelancing businesses. A irsL impression no
longer carries as much weighL as iL once did, each inLeracLion wiLh our
clienLs bears as much on our business as anoLher. We may Lhink LhaL
as long as our business dealings end on a high noLe, LhaL Lhe rocky
road LhaL led Lhere will noL play a acLor in Lhe success o our
reelancing career. A 2007 sLudy released by Harris lnLeracLive says
dierenL, suggesLing LhaL each dealing wiLh our clienLs needs Lo be
handled wiLh care.
1he stuJy recrteJ thct 80 cj 2,049 US cJults
surveyeJ JeciJeJ never tc c bccl tc c
business/crcnizcticn cjter c bcJ custcmer service
exerience. 1he stuJy clecrly inJicctes thct cn
crcnizcticns custcmer service level is c Jejinin
jcctcr thct will mcle cr brecl c ccmcny.
Ccnsumers hcve increcsinly hiher exectcticns cj
businesses cnJ cre willin tc wcll cwcy quiclly jrcm
c mcjcrity cj businesses ij thcse exectcticns cre nct
met.
1he daLa shows LhaL each and every inLeracLion we have wiLh a clienL
is an opporLuniLy Lo improve our business sLanding. because
consumers are quicker Lo go elsewhere aLer a negaLive inLeracLion.
Fven i our sLrengLhs do noL lie in cusLomer service, we need Lo
ensure LhaL each experience, whenever iL occurs during Lhe course o
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a projecL, is an agreeable one. Again, as reelancers, we have Lo deal
wiLh our clienLs aL every sLage o Lhe projecL, and so we have Lo
address noL only Lhe requiremenLs o Lhe projecL, buL also any
cusLomer service issues LhaL may arise in Lhe process.
W!at Can We Do:
We can do several Lhings Lo improve our chances o geLLing posiLive
resulLs rom all o our cusLomer inLeracLions. O course, no one is
guaranLeed Lo saLisy all o Lheir clienLs' needs and expecLaLions 00%
o Lhe Lime, buL we can Lake sLeps in Lhe righL direcLion. lL sLarLs wiLh
Laking as much responsibiliLy as we can or Lhe impressions we leave
wiLh our cusLomers.
Be Frien.l5
1his one almosL goes wiLhouL saying, buL iL should be considered
rom anoLher perspecLive. Civen LhaL Lhe majoriLy o our inLeracLions
wiLh our clienLs mighL be online, we need Lo remember LhaL Lone and
inLenL does noL always LranslaLe well Lo Lhis medium.
So, read Lhrough your communicaLions Lo caLch anyLhing LhaL may
come o negaLively. We always wanL Lo be aware o Lhe impression
we're making in Lhese seemingly minor momenLs. As shown beore,
Lhe weighL o an experience is elL long aLer Lhe momenL has passed.
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Be Patient
Remember LhaL your clienL probably does noL share your level o
experLise in your ield. 1heir quesLions may noL be clear and Lheir
eedback noL as consLrucLive as iL needs Lo be. PuL yoursel in Lheir
posiLion and be as paLienL as you would wanL someone else Lo be
wiLh you. Fven i paLience is noL your sLrong suiL, your cusLomers wanL
Lo eel LhaL you are lisLening Lo and considering Lheir opinions. l you
swiLch o because Lhey cannoL communicaLe wiLh you in your mode
o parlance or you dismiss Lheir eedback because Lhey don'L know as
much as you do, you will be hurLing your business more Lhan your
clienL.
Be )ccessible
AnoLher Lhing LhaL rusLraLes clienLs is lacking access Lo you when
Lhey need iL mosL. As reelancers, we pride ourselves on our lexibiliLy
and being able Lo seL our own hours. 8uL we have Lo respecL Lhe
hours during which our clienLs work, Loo, and make ourselves
available aL Lhose Limes, so LhaL Lhey are able Lo share ideas and
discuss progress in a back-and-orLh conversaLion. One-sided
conversaLions can easily be misinLerpreLed wiLhouL urLher
explanaLion and jusL delay Lhe clienL rom achieving Lheir goal.
Be Informati'e
One o Lhe Lhings Aaron lrizarry said in a recenL videocasL sLuck ouL.
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He advised us Lo mind Lhe skill gap beLween us and clienLs and Lo
bridge Lhese inormaLional gaps whenever possible. Help Lhem
undersLand our processes and Lhe reasons or Lhe decisions we make.
1his gives Lhem more aiLh in ollowing our advice and increases Lhe
chances LhaL Lhey will reLurn as clienLs.
Ceep Track an. 2et Back
When l menLioned LhaL larger irms have more resources Lo invesL in
Lhe cusLomer service ouLleLs LhaL are available Lo all o us, l didn'L
mean LhaL we shouldn'L use Lhose ouLleLs aL all. 1ake advanLage o
Lhem Lo Lrack whaL is said abouL your skills, or lack Lhereo, and
respond accordingly. ou may noL be able Lo respond immediaLely,
buL do iL when you can. l you ind a criLicism, consider Lhe poinLs
Lhey raise and address Lhem LhoughLully, noL dismissively. l Lhey
praise you, be gracious and reLurn Lhe gesLure in kind.
Be Proacti'e Wit! %istakes
As l said in CriLical MisLakes Freelancers Make, we are all human, and
misLakes happen. Don'L shy away rom Lhem or, worse, neglecL Lo
acknowledge Lhem aL all. Own up Lo Lhem. 1his is a Lime Lo shine by
proacLively addressing misLakes beore Lhey become an issue LhaL Lhe
clienL eels compelled Lo bring Lo your (and oLher people's) aLLenLion.
ou'll show your commiLmenL Lo Lhe clienL and projecL, and iL will
speak volumes abouL your characLer. 8y owning up Lo our misLakes,
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we show pride in our work, and more oLen Lhan noL Lhe clienL will
undersLand and orgive us.
2o )bo'e an. Be5on.
Doing all o Lhe above usually puLs you in Lhe "above and beyond"
caLegory, buL you could always push your reelancing business over
Lhe Lop by over-delivering. 8y giving your clienL more Lhan Lhey have
asked or, you urLher demonsLraLe your commiLmenL Lo making Lhem
happy and your pride in your perormance. 1his can be as simple as
addressing cusLomer service concerns posiLively and proacLively. lL
also encourages your clienLs Lo come back Lo you Lime and again.
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Creati'el5 -an.ling t!e ).min Si.e of
Freelancing
3y Rcbert 3cwen
1here are very ew who would argue againsL Lhe noLion LhaL mosL
reelance proessionals, especially Lhose operaLing in Lhe
design/developmenL and wriLing arenas, Lend Lo operaLe rom a
creaLive base. 1hey are, by and large, a group LhaL has chosen Lo leL
Lhe righL side o Lheir brain sLeer Lhem as ar as Lhe road sLreLches ouL
beore Lhem. Having embraced Lheir creaLive and arLisLic naLure,
merging iL inLo Lheir career paLh and never looking back. And or Lhe
mosL parL, a creaLive mind iLs well in Lhis reelance environmenL
because Lhey ulLimaLely call all Lhe shoLs and are bound by very ew
resLrainLs or Lhe mosL parL.
1his road, however, is noL wiLhouL iLs bumps, and or a loL o
reelancers, Lhese bumps come when Lhe leL brain musL be engaged
Lo navigaLe Lhe Lerrain.
MosL o us are amiliar wiLh Lhe concepL o righL brain versus leL
brain, wherein iL has been shown LhaL Lhe Lwo hemispheres o Lhe
brain conLrol dierenL modes o Lhinking. 1he righL is Lhe creaLive and
arLisLic side, Lhe leL being Lhe more logical and analyLical.
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Civen LhaL mosL o us are less apL Lo be ull-minded (meaning we
excel in boLh modes o Lhinking), Lhere Lend Lo be some issues when iL
comes Lime or you Lo menLally cross over or a shorL Lime Lo Lhe
oLher side. 1his can be a problem in reelancing, because Lhough we
mighL preer Lo Lurn righL, we have Lo handle every aspecL o our
business and LhaL means every so oLen going leL.
1he adminisLraLive side o Lhe job Lends Lo be leL-brain-heavy, and
can prove diiculL or some righL-brainers Lo Lackle. 8elow, l have
broken down Lhe oending areas LhaL oLen hang us up, and have
provided some Lips or how Lo make iL Lhrough Lhese leL-brained
business barriers.
Sc!e.uling
1he irsL adminisLraLive Lask we will look aL is scheduling. NoL only
because o iLs imporLance Lo our reelance business, buL because
eecLive Lime managemenL can aid wiLh Lhe oLher elemenLs o your
admin responsibiliLies. 1his Lends Lo be very diiculL or exLremely
creaLive individuals or Lhe simple acL LhaL righL-brainers Lend Lo be
more random and less sequenLial in LhoughL. And since scheduling
creaLiviLy is noL someLhing we can always eecLively manage, we Lend
Lo overlook Lhe idea o scheduling our work alLogeLher.
lronically, Lhis oLen-avoided admin elemenL by creaLives can acLually
help sLimulaLe our creaLive worklow. Scheduling dierenL leL-brained
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adminisLraLive Lasks Lo be handled LhroughouL Lhe day oers your
creaLive mind a change o gears. lL essenLially unplugs you rom Lhe
mindseL you're in when you creaLe and gives your oLen overworked
righL brain a biL o a break. So when you reLurn Lo Lhe righL side o
Lhings, you do so rereshed and recharged. Scheduling your day,
Lhereore, can beneiL boLh sides o your reelance business.
Tips for Tackling
1he more un LhaL iL is or you Lo use, Lhe more likely iL is LhaL
you're going Lo use iL. Find an easy-Lo-use Lime managemenL
app wiLh a un Ul and you will ind LhaL iL is easier Lo moLivaLe
yoursel Lo open iL up and dive in.
8e sLricL wiLh yoursel abouL all Lhe sel-imposed schedules
you have come up wiLh. 8y enorcing Lhe schedules and
Lhrough repeLiLion, Lhey will evenLually become second naLure
and will be easier Lo work inLo your rouLine.
Do noL be Loo hard on yoursel, jusL leL your sysLem evolve
wiLh you. Chances are, you are going Lo have a period o
adjusLmenL or Lhis, so leL iL evolve and grow Lo suiL you beLLer
raLher Lhan geL rusLraLed and give up. 1he beLLer Lhe iL, Lhe
beLLer iL will serve your business.
Always seL yoursel up wiLh a redundancy sysLem! Civen LhaL
you may noL be used Lo scheduling yoursel, iL may behoove
you Lo have a backup plan. Having Lhe exLra coverage may
also provide some peace o mind.
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)ccounting
1he nexL adminisLraLive Lask we'll Lalk abouL is Lhe bookkeeping side
o business. l have always had an aversion Lo numbers, maLh and
anyLhing accounLing relaLed, so Lhis was a big adjusLmenL or me as l
imagine iL has been or a loL o oLher reelancers. 1he easy answer or
Lhese woes is Lo simply hire an accounLanL, buL or some - especially
Lhose jusL sLarLing ouL in Lhe business - Lhis is noL necessarily an
aordable plan o aLLack. So we have Lo Lake Lhese Lasks upon
ourselves and be able Lo make sense o iL all.
1he greaL Lhing abouL Lhis area o your reelance lie is LhaL so many
applicaLion auLhors undersLand our pain and Lhey have developed
wonderul programs LhaL Lake mosL o Lhe guesswork ouL o Lhe
equaLion or you. ClienL, accounL, and projecL managemenL are
becoming easier-Lhan-ever or Lhe righL-brained inhabiLanLs wiLh
applicaLions. ln Lhese cases Lhe soLware essenLially handles mosL o
Lhis or you, while you simply inpuL a biL o daLa.
Tips for Tackling
Find a program LhaL is suiLed Lo your needs only. 1he bells and
whisLles LhaL go above and beyond are noL necessary, and may
only cause conusion. Fspecially in Lhe beginning, keep iL
simple so you do noL geL overwhelmed.
Make sure LhaL you sLay on Lop o Lhese Lasks. 1he
bookkeeping is whaL keeps you going and sLable, so make
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sure you do noL geL behind in your billing.LhaL's Lhe clienL's
job. SeL billing reminders and collecLion reminders so LhaL you
do noL leL anyLhing all Lhrough Lhe cracks.
1he less Lime iL Lakes Lo geL done, Lhe less apL we are Lo puL iL
o. CreaLing LemplaLes or your accounLing paperwork can
help cuL down Lhe Lime and LhoughL LhaL has Lo go inLo iL. And
LhaL will naLurally make us more prone Lo Lackling.
Help avoid penalLies or your accounLing pracLices. Fach
counLry and province has dierenL laws and regulaLions LhaL
are governing your business and Lhe Laxes LhaL accompany iL.
8e sure LhaL you ind ouL whaL Lhey are and keep up wiLh
changes Lo avoid accumulaLing penalLies and ines.
Correspon.ence
AnoLher aspecL o Lhe adminisLraLive side Lo your reelance business
LhaL will oLen draw periods o procrasLinaLion is your business
correspondence. 1his is noL reerring Lo replying Lo a pen pal or any
kind o creaLive wriLing, Lhis generally is deLailed and conLracLual
which immediaLely presenLs iLsel as a barrier Lo Lhe righL-brained
Lhinkers. So iL is a naLural reacLion or Lhe creaLively minded Lo avoid
dealing wiLh Lhe inbox or reLurning messages LhaL we cannoL deny are
imporLanL. Fven Lhough Lhis is noL occurring ace-Lo-ace, we sLill eel
ouL o our elemenL, so we puL o unLil Lomorrow whaL should have
been done Loday.
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Once again, Lhe righL-brainers Lend Lo Lhink more randomly Lhan
sequenLially, so communicaLing our LhoughLs Lo Lhose populaLing Lhe
opposiLe sphere can prove problemaLic. 8uL Lhis is where Lhe
scheduling can urLher assisL you. MosL o our business runs on some
orm o back-and-orLh communicaLion - be iL wiLh clienLs, users,
colleagues, eLc. - so making Lime every day Lo sorL Lhrough your
inbox will keep iL running smooLhly. CeLLing back in a Limely ashion
will relecL posiLively on you and build LrusL in your brand.
Tips for Tackling
Again, geL Lime on your side and Lhis will help geL you going. l
you ind LhaL you are regularly responding Lo Lhe same Lypes
o queries, creaLe copy LemplaLes Lo move your mail along.
PrioriLize and caLegorize and Lhe Lask will ly pasL. Keeping a
hierarchy o your correspondences and having Lhem separaLed
by Lypes will keep you rolling Lhrough quick and easy. Again,
Lhis breaking down and separaLing o your messages may noL
be Lhe easiesL or Lhe righL-brainers Lo build inLo a habiL, buL iL
is cerLainly worLh a Lry.
CeL in and geL ouL! 1ry Lo keep your inbox empLy and your
messages iled away or easy reerence and prioriLizaLion. l iL
is a message LhaL can be replied Lo quickly, Lhen go ahead and
immediaLely geL Lhis done, oLherwise ile iL or laLer.
8reviLy is beyond key, iL is your besL riend. Keep your
correspondence brie and Lo Lhe poinL and avoid venLuring
down unnecessary avenues LhaL open yoursel up Lo urLher
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quesLions. l you ramble on, you are simply wasLing Lime LhaL
you could be using elsewhere.
Client /elations
AnoLher oLenLimes adminisLraLive nighLmare LhaL reelancers come
across is Lhe clienL relaLions porLion o Lhe posiLion. 1here is a reason
we like Lhe soliLude LhaL Lends Lo accompany Lhe reelance career
paLh, and so breaking ouL o LhaL soliLary shell Lo be able Lo eecLively
communicaLe wiLh clienLs can be daunLing. lL's no secreL LhaL in order
or your business Lo Lhrive, you need Lo have a clienL base Lo build
upon. And as should be no secreL Lo anyone, Lhe way you deal wiLh
your clienLs will oLen deLermine i Lhey will reLurn.
As a creaLive individual whose Lrain o LhoughL pulls righL, inLeracLing
wiLh Lhose on Lhe leL side o Lhe Lracks will noL always go smooLhly. ln
acL, iL may noL LranslaLe well. 1he means and meLhods LhaL righL-
brainers subscribe Lo, even in explanaLions and conversaLions, can
Lend Lo be hard Lo ollow or leLers, and vice versa. So iL is imperaLive
LhaL we Lry Lo make an eorL Lo keep Lhese inLeracLions ocused and
on Lopic. And by undersLanding LhaL such a LranslaLion gap exisLs, we
can make more o an eorL Lo bridge Lhe gap when we deal wiLh our
clienLs.
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Tips for Tackling
1ry Lo sLep ouLside your regular righL-brained random ways.
MomenLarily leave Lhem behind and organize your LhoughLs
beore meeLings. 1aking noLes and ouLlining Lhe poinLs you
need Lo cover beorehand can help you sLay ocused and have
an easier Lime ollowing.
JusL as we are oLen responsible or sLeering clienLs Lowards a
decision once Lhey employ us, we need Lo conLinue Lo make
sLrides Lowards being able Lo sLeer Lhe conversaLion. 1his helps
Lo ensure we sLay comorLable as we converse, and iL keeps us
in our elemenL as much as possible.
Since iL is necessary or us Lo undersLand Lhe projecL rom
every angle, have your clienLs explain Lheir approach rom
many direcLions. 1his may help you ind a way Lo relaLe Lo iL
when you oLherwise wouldn'L.
lL may sound cheesy, buL you may wanL Lo seL up dry-run
pracLices wiLh some o your non-creaLive riends or amily.
Running Lhrough your side o Lhe conversaLion wiLh someone
who does noL work rom a creaLive place may prepare you or
meeLings wiLh clienLs.
Backups an. =p.ates
When iL comes Lo imporLanL adminisLraLive Lasks LhaL so many
reelancers Lend Lo leL slip Lhrough Lhe cracks, keeping up wiLh
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backups and updaLes ranks high on Lhe lisL or righL-brainers. CreaLive
people Lend Lo work in Lhe momenL o inspiraLion, and we are
enveloped by LhaL momenL. 8uL Lhe momenL moves on, and when iL
does move on, we are swallowed up by Lhe nexL Lask. WiLh our ever-
orward-moving momenLum pushing againsL us, we orgeL Lo look
back, leL alone backup (.sorry). And sLopping in Lhe middle o our
creaLive low Lo updaLe our soLware doesn'L exacLly rank high eiLher.
NaLurally, as a reelancer you are going Lo be Lhe only one managing
and keeping records o whaL is happening on your end, including
Lhose ever-precious works-in-progress. Losing Lhem would be
devasLaLing, buL remembering Lo back Lhem up, wouldn'L exacLly be a
righL-brainer move .Lhough l Lhink iL may be a boLh-brain sphere
issue. lL seems LhaL mosL o us do noL consider backing up our iles
unLil someLhing acLually happens Lo cause our drive Lo crash and we
lose Lhem all. 8uL again, in Lhe reelance ield you are on your own
when iL comes Lo daLa loss, Lhere is no l1 deparLmenL backing you up,
so Lo speak.
Tips for Tackling
AuLomaLion is a righL-brainer's buddy, and iL jusL means LhaL
you may acLually geL your backups and updaLes done! Finding
a service LhaL backs up your daLa auLomaLically Lakes Lhe sLress
o you and ensures LhaL you won'L have Lo worry abouL any
righL-brained inLererence in Lhis area.
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1ake a momenL, and Lake a hike! For many o us, as long as we
are aL our compuLer, we will noL have Lhe willpower Lo sLop
working and geL our backups and updaLes done. So walk away.
Cive yoursel a break, sLarL Lhe process and come back laLer
ready Lo go.
A loL o basic soLware updaLes are quick and easy and do noL
inLerrupL your worklow or very long. Scheduling can
deiniLely work wiLh you in Lhis arena, as mosL producLiviLy
meLhods encourage you Lo Lake shorL breaks LhroughouL your
work day. SeL up Lo run updaLes during Lhese breaks so LhaL
you know Lhey geL done.
Once again, Lurn Lo prioriLizaLion and a leL-brained-sLyle
breakdown Lo geL over Lhe procrasLinaLion hump LhaL bars
mosL creaLives (and so many more) rom geLLing Lheir updaLes
and backups done. Decide whaL are your mosL imporLanL iles
and programs, and make sure LhaL Lhey geL done irsL and
oremosL. 1hen as you work Lhrough your week, work Lhrough
your lower-prioriLy iLems.
6'erall ).'ice
Dou are creati'eE so act like itF
Overall, you cannoL ignore your adminisLraLive responsibiliLies and
hope Lhey go away. So do whaL iL is LhaL you do besL - approach iL
creaLively. 1he inLerwebs are alive wiLh creaLive soluLions Lo so many
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dierenL problems LhaL you are bound Lo be able Lo ind one LhaL iLs
yours. l noL, maybe come up wiLh your own. NoLhing is ouL o reach
or Lhe creaLive mind, because we know no limiLaLions. even Lhe
occasional cross-over Lo Lhe leL side.
Inspiration is t!e eas5 partE no lets talk moti'ationF
One o Lhe hardesL Lhings or mosL creaLive-minded individuals Lo do
when approaching Lhe LerriLory o Lhe leL, is geLLing moLivaLed Lo
Lackle Lhese Lasks. Fven Lhose o us noL prone Lo procrasLinaLion will
Lend Lo leL Lhe leL work pile up longer Lhan Lhe righL simply because
iL is a less comorLable iL or us. 1he Lhing Lo remember is LhaL
geLLing sLarLed is usually Lhe hardesL parL. NoL Lo go all Nike on you,
buL jusL do iL. Force yoursel Lo geL sLarLed, and leL iL roll. lmmerse
yoursel in as much o a creaLive environmenL as you can Lo help
smooLh Lhe LransiLion, and run wiLh iL!
Do not elaborateE t!at 8ust complicatesF
ou know i iL rhymes iL's goL Lo be Lrue (even Lhough LhaL absoluLe
doesn'L rhyme, buL sLill.). AnoLher imporLanL Lhing Lo remember is Lo
keep Lhings simple Lo help wiLh Lhese momenLary orays inLo oreign
LerriLories. Remember LhaL Lhis is noL where your sLrengLhs lie, so iL
may be besL or you noL Lo Lake on Loo much in one biLe. Keep Lhings
as concise and brie as you can, Laking Lhem a piece aL a Lime. As
righL-brained Lhinkers we Lend Lo see Lhings as a whole raLher Lhan in
parLs, so Lry Lo ind Lhe dierenL parLs and break Lhem down, Lackling
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one aL a Lime. 1haL was Lhe reason or breaking everyLhing aparL
above, so LhaL you could see a way Lo sLarL separaLing Lhe dierenL
parLs rom Lhe whole. 1his can make Lhe Lasks aL hand seem less
overwhelming.
It?s in 5our reac!E 5ou 8ust !a'e to go for itF
An imporLanL Lhing Lo remember, overall, is LhaL jusL because we Lend
Lo preer one mode o Lhinking (be iL righL- or leL-brained), we can
improve our abiliLies wiLhin each side Lhrough exercises LhaL sLimulaLe
Lhe dierenL hemispheres. 1he problem Lends Lo arise when Lhere is
an imbalance in educaLional ocus LhaL ails Lo appeal Lo boLh sides o
Lhe brain. 1his doesn'L mean iL is beyond us, jusL LhaL we have noL
worked aL improving Lhe opposiLe sphere. So Lhe more LhaL we keep
Lhose sides sLimulaLed, Lhe easier Lhe Lasks LhaL all Lo LhaL side o Lhe
brain will be Lo Lake on.
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Pitc!ing >ike a Pro
by Ccmercn Chcmcn
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Correspondence wiLh poLenLial clienLs is viLal Lo securing new work.
8eing able Lo wriLe a compeLenL, persuasive prosposal as well as a
proessional cover leLLer and oLher leLLers (or emails) can seL a
designer aparL rom his or her less proessional compeLiLion.
1he idea o craLing a ormal proposal can be inLimidaLing Lo many
designers. 8uL a good proposal can land you clienLs and seL Lhe Lone
or your relaLionship wiLh Lhose clienLs. lL's worLh Lhe Lime and eorL
Lo learn Lo creaLe a compelling proposal LhaL will convince prospecLive
clienLs LhaL you're Lhe designer or Lhem.
WhaL ollows is a guide Lo creaLing a proessional proposal, broken
down by secLion, as well as some Lips or wriLing greaL cover leLLers Lo
accompany your proposals. 1here are also hinLs aL convincing
prospecLs Lo sign wiLh you insLead o your compeLiLion aL Lhe end.
)natom5 of a Professional Proposal
1he web design proposal is one o Lhe mosL imporLanL documenLs in
Lhe clienL-designer relaLionship. lL serves mulLiple uncLions. an
ouLline o Lhe projecL, a conLracL beLween Lhe clienL and designer, and
a meLhod or clariying whaL Lhe projecL is all abouL.
FxacLly how you ormaL your proposal is up Lo you, buL Lhere are
cerLain parLs LhaL virLually ever proposal should include. Feel ree Lo
geL creaLive in Lhe design o Lhe proposal, buL remember LhaL Lhe
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primary purpose is Lo convey inormaLion. AnyLhing LhaL inLereres
wiLh Lhe readabiliLy o Lhe documenL should be cuL.
Co'er Page
Fvery proposal should have a cover page. 1his cover page needs Lo
conLain some basic inormaLion abouL whaL Lhe documenL conLains.
Mainly, iL should have.
A line LhaL says someLhing like. "WebsiLe Design Proposal or
XZ Company".
Who prepared Lhe proposal, including company name and
conLacL inormaLion.
ou mighL also wish Lo include your company's nondisclosure
sLaLemenL here.
1he cover page makes iL easy or your clienL Lo immediaLely idenLiy
whaL Lhe documenL is and who iL's rom. AnyLhing you can do Lo
make iL easier or your prospecLive clienL Lo geL in Louch wiLh you (or
jusL remember who you are), is a posiLive Lhing or you.
0on.isclosure Statement
A nondisclosure sLaLemenL should always be presenL on any proposal
you send Lo a clienL, no maLLer how inormal LhaL proposal is. Many
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clienLs don'L realize Lhere's anyLhing wrong wiLh Laking Lhe ideas o
one designer and sharing Lhem wiLh anoLher designer. Many also
don'L realize LhaL sharing inormaLion abouL how you ormaL your
proposals, whaL you include, and whaL your raLes are, is oLen
sensiLive inLernal inormaLion LhaL should noL be shared wiLh your
compeLiLors.
While a nondisclosure sLaLemenL will do liLLle Lo deLer shady clienLs
rom sharing your proposal's conLenL wiLh anoLher design irm, iL can
do a loL Lo deLer clienLs who jusL don'L know any beLLer. ln any evenL,
including one is an imporLanL legal proLecLion. WheLher you wanL Lo
have a ormal, legal nondisclosure sLaLemenL draLed by a lawyer or
simply sLaLe someLhing in plain language is up Lo you. 8uL Lhe
sLaLemenL should basically say LhaL all Lhe inormaLion conLained in
Lhe proposal is Lhe properLy o your design irm and should noL be
shared wiLh anyone wiLhouL prior wriLLen auLhorizaLion.
Compan5 Statement
our company sLaLemenL is a surprisingly imporLanL parL o any
design proposal. 1his is where you geL Lo give Lhe clienL a liLLle
inormaLion LhaL will seL your company aparL rom compeLing irms.
SLress your sLrengLhs here, as well as any perLinenL inormaLion LhaL
makes you parLicularly qualiied or Lheir projecL.
our company sLaLemenL should include a liLLle background on your
company, as well as your company philosophy or mission sLaLemenL.
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8uL keep Lhe whole Lhing shorL, a couple paragraphs is ideal, buL no
more Lhan a page under any circumsLances. l you go longer, you risk
your clienL skimming LhaL parL o Lhe proposal in avor o geLLing Lo
Lhe deLails o Lheir projecL.
Client Information
1he clienL inormaLion should sLaLe noL only Lhe name o Lhe company
and Lheir conLacL inormaLion, buL also your parLicular conLacL aL Lhe
company. 1here should also be a brie, one-line descripLion o Lhe
projecL here.
Client 2oals
1his secLion should ouLline whaL Lhe clienL's projecL aims Lo do.
Consider wheLher Lhe siLe Lhey're seeking bids or will be an
ecommerce siLe, a social neLwork, or someLhing else. ou should have
soughL Lhis inormaLion prior Lo wriLing Lhe proposal, and should have
a good idea o whaL Lhe clienL is looking or. l noL, you'll need Lo ask
Lhe clienL some quesLions abouL whaL Lhey're looking or.
l Lhere are speciic objecLives already ouLlined or Lhe projecL, a
bulleLed lisL can work really well or Lhis secLion. OLherwise, jusL a
paragraph or Lwo LhaL describes Lhe projecL as you undersLand iL is
suicienL.
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Special Consi.erations
1his is a preLLy broad area, buL almosL every projecL will have aL leasL a
ew special consideraLions. ou need Lo ouLline Lhem righL in Lhe
proposal, and consider Lheir impacLs on your overall Limeline and
cosLs. WhaL, exacLly, Lhese speciic consideraLions are is likely Lo vary
subsLanLially beLween dierenL projecLs and dierenL clienLs. A ew
examples.
A siLe aimed aL children will need Lo ollow cerLain legal
guidelines regarding conLenL and parenLal permissions
A siLe or disabled users will need Lo have special aLLenLion paid
Lo accessibiliLy issues
1he design mighL need Lo smooLhly LransiLion rom an older
design, ollowing a similar layouL or color scheme
1here could be special bandwidLh or sLorage needs i Lhe siLe
will be hosLing a loL o mulLimedia iles or will be parLicularly
high-Lraic
O course, Lhere are poLenLially hundreds o dierenL "special
consideraLions" you may need Lo accounL or in Lhe design process.
OuLlining as many as you can in Lhe proposal sLage will help Lo ensure
Lhere are ewer misundersLandings laLer in Lhe process.
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lL also helps Lo reassure your clienL LhaL you're really lisLening Lo Lheir
needs and will come up wiLh a comprehensive soluLion LhaL works or
Lheir company.
Propose. Solution
1his secLion should oer a brie descripLion o how you propose Lo
meeL Lhe goals o Lhe clienL. Ceneral Lerms like "ecommerce siLe" or
"social neLwork" are key here, as Lhis secLion will be ollowed by more
speciics.
Keep Lhis secLion Lo less Lhan a page, preerably a couple o
paragraphs LhaL ouLline whaL Lypes o conLenL will be included on Lhe
siLe, as well as Lhe general uncLionaliLy Lhe siLe will possess. Again,
you'll geL inLo more speciics in subsequenL secLions.
Pro8ect Specifics
1his is Lhe real meaL o Lhe proposal. 1his is where you ouLline
speciically whaL Lhe siLe will consisL o. An iLemized lisL o exacLly whaL
work you're proposing Lo do should be included.
1he lisL should include a brie descripLion o any parL LhaL isn'L
obvious. Keep Lhese descripLions Lo a couple o senLences aL mosL, or
break Lhem down inLo smaller parLs. 1his secLion should give your
clienL an idea o exacLly whaL Lhey're geLLing or Lheir money.
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Depending on Lhe Lype o siLe you're designing, you mighL include
here speciic plugins LhaL will be used (or creaLed), as well as any
cusLom arLwork you'll be creaLing or Lhe clienL. lL's noL uncommon or
Lhis secLion Lo run well over a page, and oLenLimes much longer or
complicaLed or parLicularly large siLes.
Pro8ect P!ases
1his is where you wanL Lo ouLline exacLly how long each parL o Lhe
projecL will Lake. For example, you mighL propose Laking Lwo weeks Lo
provide wirerames or an iniLial mockup. ou mighL Lhen give Lhe
clienL one week Lo approve Lhose or suggesL changes.
Make sure you ouLline boLh your parLs and Lheirs. Fmphasize LhaL iL's
imporLanL Lhey meeL Lhe deadlines you've seL i Lhey wanL Lo keep Lhe
projecL on schedule. lL's also a good idea Lo overesLimaLe how much
Lime Lhings will Lake you, as iL's beLLer Lo under-promise and over-
deliver Lhan Lhe oLher way around. lL can also be helpul Lo someLimes
give your clienLs LighLer deadlines, as iL creaLes a sense o urgency and
oLen moLivaLes Lhem Lo Lake care o Lhings immediaLely raLher Lhan
waiLing unLil Lhe lasL minuLe.
Using speciic daLes raLher Lhan jusL a general Limeline can also add a
sense o urgency. l you opL noL Lo seL speciic daLes in Lhe proposal,
speciy LhaL you'll provide Lhem wiLh a inalized schedule once Lhe
conLracL has been signed.
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Some designers may opL Lo include Lhe projecL phases wiLhin Lhe
secLion on projecL speciics. 1his can work well or relaLively simple
projecLs, buL or complex projecLs iL may be conusing. lL's besL Lo
decide Lhis on a case-by-case basis.
%aintenance Plan
lL's a good idea Lo include inormaLion on a monLhly mainLenance
plan or your clienLs in Lhe proposal. OuLline whaL your regular
mainLenance agreemenL consisLs o and how many hours o work LhaL
includes. Also speciy wheLher any unused Lime can be rolled over
inLo subsequenL monLhs or noL.
lnclude here wheLher hosLing is included in Lhe monLhly mainLenance
plan or i LhaL's a separaLe cosL. Also include here inormaLion on your
Limelines or mainLenance or updaLes. ClienLs wanL Lo know wheLher
your Lypical Lurnaround Lime is a day or a week up ronL.
Fees
ou'll need Lo ouLline exacLly whaL your ees are or Lhe projecL.
lLemizing Lo some exLenL is oLen helpul or clienLs. Also speciy
wheLher Lhis esLimaLe may change, and under whaL circumsLances.
LeLLing clienLs know LhaL delays on Lheir parL or exLra rounds o
revisions will add Lo Lhe cosL is someLhing LhaL's oLen overlooked by
designers. And i iL's noL poinLed ouL Lo clienLs in Lhe proposal sLage,
Lhey may dispuLe exLra charges laLer.
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Civing clienLs inormaLion abouL how Lhe projecL is being charged can
someLimes be helpul in landing Lhe projecL, buL can also be
deLrimenLal. Many clienLs don'L care how many hours someLhing will
Lake you, Lhey're only inLeresLed in Lhe inal cosLs. O course, oLher
clienLs wanL Lo know exacLly whaL Lhey're paying or, and will requesL
a more deLailed breakdown o charges. 1his is anoLher Lhing you'll
need Lo Lailor Lo Lhe parLicular clienL.
AnoLher Lhing Lo include here is Lhe paymenL schedule, including how
much o a deposiL is required beore you sLarL work. Unless you've
worked successully wiLh Lhe clienL beore, you should always geL a
deposiL beore you begin work. Some designers charge a small
amounL, only 0% or so, while oLhers mighL require as much as hal o
Lhe LoLal up ronL. 1his is also largely dependenL on Lhe scope o Lhe
projecL, Lhe overall Limeline, and Lhe LoLal charges.
0e4t Steps
DeLailing exacLly whaL Lhe clienL needs Lo do Lo geL Lhe ball rolling on
Lheir projecL is someLhing LhaL's oLen overlooked. Using Lhe proposal
as a conLracL can oLen work beLLer Lhan having a separaLe documenL
LhaL basically lays ouL exacLly Lhe same Lhing. lncluding a line or Lhem
Lo sign as well as insLrucLions or sending whaLever deposiL you
require Lo geL sLarLed can prompL a clienL Lo sign wiLh you.
lncluding a deadline or Lhe clienL Lo sign Lhe proposal and geL iL back
Lo you can also increase your chances o geLLing a signed conLracL.
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1elling Lhem LhaL i Lhey geL Lhe signed conLracL back Lo you by X daLe
or you Lo sLarL work by daLe can be a sLrong moLivaLor. ALer all,
clienLs are oLen eager Lo geL Lheir projecL underway.
Formatting Dour Proposal
our proposal should be ormaLLed like any business correspondence.
lL should emphasize Lhe conLenL over all else. lL should be easy Lo
read and noLhing should disLracL rom whaL iL says. lncluding a logo
or similar graphics on Lhe cover page is ine.
l you're going Lo email Lhe proposal, converLing iL Lo a PDF beore
sending will help ensure LhaL iL's seen by your prospecLive clienL Lhe
way you inLended iL Lo be seen. Make sure you check your ile size
beore emailing iL, and Lry Lo make sure iL's less Lhan M8 Lo prevenL
any Lransmission problems. Always aLLach your proposal, never
include iL in Lhe body o Lhe email.
l you're going Lo mail iL, make sure you use a good qualiLy paper, buL
don'L go overboard. A high qualiLy, brighL whiLe prinLer paper is ine.
1here's no need Lo use someLhing ancy like a coLLon paper or resume
paper. Make sure your prinLer Loner or ink isn'L running ouL and is
prinLing suicienLly dark. Review Lhe inal documenL in iLs prinLed
orm beore mailing iL Lo make sure Lhere were no prinLing problems.
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Co'er >etters an. Business Correspon.ence
Whenever you're sending a documenL or a clienL Lo review, you
should include a cover leLLer. lL makes Lhe enLire package look more
proessional, and makes sure your clienL knows exacLly whaL iL is
Lhey've jusL received. ln Lhe case o a proposal, iL helps seL Lhe Lone
or a proessional clienL-designer relaLionship.
Stan.ar. Business Format
our cover leLLer should ollow esLablished business-leLLer ormaL. 1his
means iL should include Lhe ollowing parLs, in order.
1he daLe, ormaLLed as. "day monLh, year" or "monLh day, year"
our address, unless iL's included somewhere on your leLLerhead
1he clienL name and address
1he saluLaLion (Dear Mr. X, or similar)
1he body o Lhe leLLer. Keep Lhis proessional, use proper
capitalization and punctuation, and only make it as long as it
needs Lo be
1he closing (Sincerely, or someLhing equally proessional)
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our signaLure
our name and LiLle, Lyped
l Lhere are any enclosures
l Lhe leLLer has been CC'd Lo anyone
Cover leLLers should be prinLed on your leLLerhead, on good qualiLy
paper. Make sure you use a onL LhaL's proessional and readable (a
good rule o Lhumb is Lo use aL leasL an pL. onL, and preerably a
2 pL. onL). our cover leLLer should rarely run more Lhan a single
page.
Business >etters
Cover leLLers aren'L Lhe only business leLLers you're likely Lo send in
your career. For Lhe mosL parL, Lhough, you'll be corresponding by
email more Lhan mail. lL's LempLing Lo be very casual in an email, buL
Lhis is a very bad idea when dealing wiLh prospecLs and clienLs,
especially new ones.
Whenever you're corresponding wiLh a clienL or prospecL, always use
proper grammar and puncLuaLion, capiLalizaLion, and oLher sLandards
you would use in a prinLed business leLLer. Avoid using emoLicons or
slang, aL leasL unLil aLer Lhe clienL has done so. Fven Lhen, Lhey
should be used sparingly.
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JusL because someLhing is being LransmiLLed elecLronically isn'L an
excuse Lo be less proessional Lhan you would be in a mailed leLLer.
Always remember LhaL you're engaging in business correspondence
and acL accordingly. CreaLe a proessional signaLure Lo include in
every email you send LhaL includes your name and LiLle, phone
number, preerred email address, and websiLe address, as well as
oLher perLinenL conLacL inormaLion.
Special ,mail Consi.erations
l you're emailing your proposal, you'll wanL Lo wriLe Lhe cover leLLer in
Lhe body o Lhe email. 1here are some ormaLLing consideraLions
you'll wanL Lo Lake inLo accounL when emailing your cover leLLer raLher
Lhan prinLing iL ouL. FirsL o all, omiL everyLhing above Lhe saluLaLion
in sLandard business leLLer ormaL. SLarL wiLh "Dear Mr. X," or similar.
AL Lhe end o your email, below your signaLure, you'll wanL Lo include
your conLacL inormaLion, raLher Lhan aL Lhe Lop o Lhe email. ou can
omiL Lhe "CC'd" secLion aL Lhe end, as iL will be apparenL in Lhe header
o Lhe email i iL's been CC'd. ou can also generally omiL Lhe
"enclosures" secLion, as iL should be apparenL whaL's been aLLached Lo
Lhe email. ou may wanL Lo menLion any aLLachmenLs in Lhe body o
Lhe email, Lhough, so LhaL your recipienL knows whaL Lhey're opening.
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Con'incing Clients
Fven wiLh an excellenL wriLLen proposal and cover leLLer, you may have
Limes when a clienL is hesiLanL Lo sign you or your company. A loL o
designers aL Lhis poinL will simply waiL or Lhe company Lo make up
Lheir mind. 1hey're so araid o coming across as pushy or like Lhey're
going or Lhe "hard sell" LhaL Lhey don'L go or any sale aL all.
1here are ways you can persuade a prospecL Lo sign wiLh you, Lhough,
LhaL aren'L pushy and won'L make you come across like a used car
salesman.
Stress Dour Strengt!s
When you're Lrying Lo convince a prospecLive clienL Lo hire you, you
need Lo sLress why you're Lhe perecL person or Leam or Lheir projecL.
1hink abouL Lhe Lhings Lhey need and how you can provide Lhose
Lhings. Keep reiLeraLing Lo Lhem LhaL you have Lhe skills Lhey need.
Provide evidence o Lhose skills. Show Lhem oLher projecLs you've
Laken on and how whaL you did in Lhose insLances can be applied Lo
Lheir projecL. Proo o your sLrengLhs and compeLencies can be a
powerul persuasive Lool.
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Don<t Disparage Competitors
When a clienL Lells you Lhey're Lrying Lo decide beLween you and a
compeLing design irm, iL can be LempLing Lo poinL ouL all Lhe laws in
LhaL oLher irm. 1he LempLaLion grows even sLronger when Lhere are
real, idenLiiable problems LhaL Lhe oLher irm is Lrying Lo hide.
/esist t!at temptationF
ln a besL case scenario, you disparaging your compeLiLion is likely Lo
have liLLle eecL on Lhe clienL's decision. ln a worsL case scenario, iL
looks like you've goL sour grapes over someLhing or oLher, and
acLually works in your compeLiLor's avor. l Lhere are real problems
wiLh Lhe compeLiLor (a hisLory o uneLhical pracLices or uninished
projecLs, or example), simply urge your prospecLive clienL Lo check
reerences or boLh you and Lhe compeLiLor beore making Lheir
decision.
)sk 9uestionsE 6ffer Solutions
l a clienL is on Lhe ence, ask Lhem quesLions abouL why Lhey're
having a hard Lime deciding. 1hen address Lheir answers direcLly. Find
soluLions Lo Lheir concerns. ln many cases, Lhey mighL jusL be
conused abouL some parL o Lhe process or your proposal (or your
compeLiLor's proposal).
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Open and honesL communicaLion wiLh prospecLive clienLs will lead Lo
beLLer clienL-designer relaLionships in Lhe long run. ou'll have a
clearer undersLanding o exacLly whaL Lhey wanL, and Lhey'll eel
comorLable asking you quesLions abouL Lhe process or oLherwise
communicaLing when Lhey're conused abouL someLhing. 1his
generally resulLs in happier clienLs in Lhe end and less sLressed
designers during Lhe projecL iLsel.
T!ings to Watc! 6ut For
l a clienL seems impossible Lo saLisy, you may be beLLer o walking
away rom Lhe projecL. l Lhey're unable Lo make a decision during Lhe
proposal sLage, iL's only likely Lo geL worse as Lhe projecL progresses.
ou wanL Lo work wiLh clienLs who can make decisions and meeL
deadlines. ClienLs who can'L do eiLher only resulL in headaches or Lhe
designer and are rarely compleLely happy wiLh Lhe inished resulL.
AnoLher Lhing Lo waLch ouL or is a clienL who's consLanLly Lrying Lo
geL you Lo come down on price or Lo Lhrow in exLras wiLhouL charging
or Lhem. While someLimes Lhis is jusL indicaLive o a budgeL-
conscious clienL, iL can also mean LhaL Lhe clienL is going Lo Lry Lo
nickel-and-dime you on every parL o Lhe projecL, will dispuLe charges,
and possibly even delay or neglecL Lo pay Lheir bills.
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6'ercoming Specific Concerns
SomeLimes when a clienL can'L make up Lheir mind, iL seems
compleLely arbiLrary. 1hey don'L give you enough inormaLion abouL
why Lhey're hesiLanL Lo hire you Lo eecLively convince Lhem wiLh
anyLhing buL generaliLies. 8uL in oLher cases, Lhey give you speciic
reasons why Lhey're unsure abouL hiring you. When Lhis happens, iL's
an opporLuniLy. 1hey're giving you Lhe chance Lo overcome Lheir
objecLions, as well as all Lhe inormaLion you need Lo do so.
1here are a number o common concerns clienLs have. And each one
can be overcome once you know whaL Lhey're hesiLaLion is based on.
Here are some o Lhe mosL common concerns clienLs have, and whaL
you can do in response.
Scope an. Scale of t!e Pro8ect
ALer reviewing your careully craLed proposal, some clienLs may geL
cold eeL and say Lhey only wanL Lo Lackle parL o Lhe projecL aL LhaL
Lime. ln mosL cases Lhis is relaLed Lo eiLher Lhe Lime involved in Lhe
projecL or Lhe price. ou'll need Lo ind ouL which one iL is, and Lhe
easiesL way Lo do so is Lo ask. 8e upronL and simply ask Lhem i iL's
Lhe Limeline or Lhe projecL or Lhe budgeL LhaL makes Lhem wanL Lo
only compleLe parL o Lhe projecL aL Lhis Lime.
l iL's Lhe Limeline or Lhe projecL, suggesL sLicking Lo Lhe proposed
schedule (or a slighLly modiied one), buL rolling ouL new eaLures as
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Lhey're compleLed, raLher Lhan waiLing or Lhe enLire siLe Lo be
inished beore launching Lhe new siLe. AdjusL Lhe schedule i
necessary Lo make sure each parL o Lhe projecL is modularized so
parLs o Lhe siLe can be rolled ouL separaLely. 1hen, adjusL Lhe
paymenL schedule so paymenL is made or each secLion launched.
1his helps assure you won'L end up compleLing more work Lhan you're
paid or i Lhe projecL sLalls or is puL on hold by Lhe clienL.
l iL's price Lhe clienL is concerned wiLh, you'll likely need Lo come up
wiLh a plan Lo sLreLch Lhe projecL over a longer Lime period. ou can
also propose a compromise, wiLh a biL more Lhan whaL Lhey're
proposing or Lhe projecL, buL shorL o Lhe enLire proposal. l Lhe clienL
has decided Lhey don'L wanL Lo spend as much money as Lhey'd
originally planned, Lhere's oLen noL much you can do Lo overcome
LhaL. lnsLead, work wiLh Lhe clienL wiLhin Lhe new budgeL. 1he goal
here is Lo make Lhem very happy wiLh Lhe irsL phase o Lhe projecL so
Lhey'll Lhen be eager Lo move on wiLh Lhe resL. 1here's more on
overcoming price objecLions laLer in Lhis secLion.
,ffecti'eness
ClienLs oLen have high hopes or Lheir websiLe when Lhey irsL sLarL
ouL. 1hey hope iL will bring Lhem more cusLomers and more money.
8uL as Lhey move along in Lhe process, Lhey oLen sLarL Lo doubL Lhose
original goals. 1his is oLen due Lo honesL eedback and guidance
rom designers, who don'L wanL Lhem Lo have unrealisLic expecLaLions
rom Lheir siLe. 8uL iL can quickly spiral ouL o conLrol and suddenly
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Lhose once-enLhusiasLic clienLs are wondering i Lhere's even any poinL
in a new websiLe.
AL Lhis poinL, iL's usually a good idea Lo give Lhe clienL a pep Lalk. Ask
Lhem again whaL Lhey're hoping Lo geL ouL o Lhe websiLe, and Lhen
give Lhem concreLe inormaLion on how your proposal will help Lhem
meeL Lhose goals. Remind Lhem LhaL a new websiLe isn'L going Lo
miraculously improve Lheir business, buL iL's an imporLanL aceL o a
successul markeLing and sales plan or many businesses. Don'L over-
promise, buL be posiLive and remind Lhem why Lhey wanLed a new
websiLe in Lhe irsL place.
,4perience
1his can be a Lough one Lo overcome. LeL's say your prospecLive clienL
has proposals rom a number o designers Lhey're considering, and
you're Lhe leasL-experienced. While someLimes coming in aL a lower
price Lhan your more experienced compeLiLors can be enough Lo
enLice Lhe clienL Lo Lake a chance, in oLher cases Lhey're more
concerned wiLh resulLs Lhan money.
1he Lhing Lo do here is Lo reassure Lhem LhaL you have Lhe necessary
skills Lo geL Lheir projecL done. PoinL Lhem Lo previous successul
projecLs you've compleLed, and give Lhem LesLimonials or reerences
Lo back up your claims. 1ell Lhem LhaL your price relecLs Lhe acL LhaL
you have less experience, buL LhaL you're conidenL you can compleLe
Lheir projecL successully. ln many cases, i you're conidenL you can
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do Lhe work, iL will Lranser Lo Lhe clienL, and Lhey'll gain conidence
LhaL you know whaL you're doing.
)ccessibilit5 to Dou
1his can be a big concern Lo many clienLs. 1hey wanL Lo know LhaL i
Lhey have a quesLion or need Lo geL in Louch wiLh you, LhaL you'll be
accessible Lo Lhem. People are used Lo 24-hour supporL lines and
insLanL answers when Lhey run inLo a problem. 8uL in mosL cases,
designers can'L be quiLe LhaL accessible.
Remind your clienL o all Lhe dierenL ways Lhey can geL in Louch wiLh
you, and leL Lhem know LhaL you'll be available should an emergency
wiLh Lheir websiLe arise. LeL Lhem know whaL your policy is when you
go on vacaLion or are sick (is Lhere someone else who handles Lhings
while you're gone or do you handle emergency work personally, even
i you're siLLing on Lhe beach in Cabo) and assure Lhem LhaL you
won'L drop o Lhe ace o Lhe earLh aL Lhe exacL Lime Lhey're websiLe
crashes due Lo a huge increase in sales.
Time /eBuire. on T!eir Part an. Dours
l your clienL plans Lo keep Lheir websiLe updaLed Lhemselves, Lhey
may be concerned abouL how much Lime LhaL will require. Some
clienLs may envision having Lo hire an enLire new sLa member jusL Lo
keep Lheir websiLe updaLed. 1he besL way Lo overcome Lhis is Lo give
Lhem a sneak peek inLo Lhe CMS Lheir siLe will be builL on. Show Lhem
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how easy iL will be or Lhem Lo add a new image or change around
some LexL. l you're using a good CMS, Lhis should seL Lheir mind aL
ease.
l Lhe clienL wanLs you Lo be able Lo do updaLes Lo Lheir siLe, you may
need Lo reassure Lhem LhaL a) you have Lime Lo keep Lheir siLe
updaLed and won'L Lake weeks Lo make simple changes, and b) LhaL iL
won'L Lake you hours and hours every monLh Lo make simple changes
LhaL will end up cosLing Lhem hundreds or Lhousands o dollars.
Civing Lhem an esLimaLe o how much Lime dierenL basic updaLes
Lake, as well as reminding Lhem o your policy on minimum charges,
will make Lhem less wary o huge unexpecLed mainLenance charges in
Lhe uLure.
Content 6ners!ip
1his concern is someLimes surprising or many designers. ClienLs oLen
wonder who acLually owns Lheir websiLe, boLh Lhe conLenL on iL and
Lhe siLe iLsel. 1his can be exacerbaLed i you're also oering Lhem
hosLing and domain regisLraLion services. 1hey wanL Lo know whaL
happens i Lhey decide Lo move Lheir siLe Lo a dierenL hosL or i Lhey
wanL Lo make changes in Lhe uLure wiLh a dierenL designer.
Make sure Lhere's someLhing in your proposal or conLracL LhaL sLaLes
LhaL as long as Lheir bills wiLh you are currenL, Lheir websiLe and all
conLenL on iL are Lheir properLy. LeL Lhem know LhaL aL any poinL Lhey
can swiLch web hosLs or designers and you'll help aciliLaLe LhaL
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change (aL your normal hourly raLe) in whaLever way is necessary.
Assure your clienLs LhaL Lhe conLenL Lhey puL up on Lheir siLe is Lheir
properLy, and LhaL Lhe siLe iLsel is also Lheirs.
ou may wanL Lo puL a clause in Lhis, Lhough, LhaL sLaLes LhaL Lhe code
is your copyrighLed maLerial and is only oered Lo Lhe clienL on a
non-exclusive license. OLherwise, iL's easible LhaL a clienL could sue
you i Lhey saw you designed a compeLiLor's siLe and used similar or
idenLical eaLures. 8uL assure Lhem LhaL Lhis only applies Lo Lhe code,
noL Lo Lhe design or conLenL.
Price
SomeLimes Lhe clienL's resisLance is relaLed Lo price. 1here are a Lon o
low-priced (and oLen low-qualiLy) designers ouL Lhere, undercuLLing
Lhe compeLiLion and enLicing clienLs wiLh big promises. lL can be
LempLing, especially as a new designer, Lo Lry Lo maLch Lhese
compeLiLors on price. 8uL LhaL's a bad idea or a ew reasons. iL
undervalues your work, iL makes clienLs come Lo expecL low prices
(which leads Lo even lower prices), and iL seLs a bad precedenL or
uLure work rom LhaL clienL. While someLimes oering a small
discounL Lo secure an accounL or Lo keep a long-Lerm clienL happy is
accepLable, iL's a bad habiL Lo geL inLo.
RaLher Lhan Lrying Lo compeLe on price, compeLe on vclue. ln all
likelihood, i a company is undercuLLing your price by a loL, Lhey're
cuLLing corners in one way or anoLher. Ask Lhe clienL quesLions abouL
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whaL your compeLiLor is oering. 1hen compare iL Lo whaL you're
promising Lhem. Asking quesLions in a non-LhreaLening manner can
lead Lo Lhe clienL more careully scruLinizing whaL Lhe compeLiLor is
acLually Lelling Lhem. Reassure Lhe clienL LhaL you sLand behind your
work, and while you can'L guaranLee resulLs, you will guaranLee LhaL
Lhe websiLe will be ully-uncLional and supporLed.
l Lhe compeLiLion is promising Lhe moon or very liLLle money, iL can
be a good idea Lo remind your prospecL Lo geL and check reerences,
and Lo visiL and use some o Lhe siLes wiLhin LhaL company's porLolio.
lL also pays Lo remind Lhem Lo be sure Lhe compeLiLor did Lhe enLire
websiLe, noL jusL Lhe design or coding. 1here are horror sLories ouL
Lhere o people paying Lhousands or whaL Lhey Lhink will be a ully-
uncLioning websiLe and in Lhe end all Lhey end up wiLh are some PSD
iles and a company LhaL won'L answer Lheir emails.
As menLioned beore, you don'L wanL Lo Lrash your compeLiLion. 8uL
LhaL doesn'L mean you can'L encourage your prospecLive clienLs Lo
carry ouL proper due diligence in choosing which irm Lo hire. Make
sure, Loo, LhaL you don'L alienaLe Lhe clienL i Lhey decide Lo go wiLh a
dierenL irm. l Lhe sole reason was price (and iL was a signiicanL
dierence), chances are Lhey may be unhappy wiLh Lhe inished
producL. ou wanL Lhem Lo come back Lo you i Lhey decide Lo redo
Lheir siLe.
l Lhe price issue has less Lo do wiLh a compeLiLor undercuLLing you
and more Lo do wiLh general sLicker shock, meeL wiLh Lhe clienL Lo
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discuss Lheir budgeL needs in beLLer deLail. 1ry Lo come up wiLh a
soluLion LhaL works or Lheir budgeL. Again, be careul o prospecLs
who are Lrying Lo nickel-and-dime you, buL realize LhaL someLimes
people jusL don'L realize how expensive a websiLe can be. Consider
working ouL phases o Lhe projecL, so Lhey don'L have Lo pay
everyLhing all aL once and can compleLe dierenL phases as Lheir
budgeL allows. Working wiLh a clienL and coming up wiLh muLually-
beneicial soluLions like Lhis can be an excellenL oundaLion Lo
building a long-Lerm relaLionship wiLh a clienL who will noL only bring
you consisLenL work, buL will also appreciaLe LhaL you're sensiLive Lo
Lheir business needs.
In Conclusion
CreaLing a proessional proposal is a key sLep in landing new clienLs.
Spend Lhe Lime and energy Lo creaLe a cusLom proposal or each
prospecLive clienL raLher Lhan using some boilerplaLe copy and you'll
see your closing raLes rise. A clienL who eels like you're paying
speciic aLLenLion Lo Lhem, Lheir needs, and Lheir projecL will be more
likely Lo hire you and will likely be happier wiLh Lhe end resulL.
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T!e Finances of Freelancing
3y lule Reimer
We're noL accounLanLs. We're web designers. Fspecially when
working as an individual raLher Lhan as parL o a Leam, many
reelancers geL caughL up in ocusing on Lhe websiLes LhaL Lhey creaLe
raLher Lhan Lhe necessary pracLices surrounding each projecL. 1hese
pracLices can aid in a number o ways, such as sLress-relieving
organizaLion, more eicienL Lime managemenL, a beLLer
undersLanding o cosLs and pricing, and ulLimaLely how your reelance
work iLs inLo your overall annual income.
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T!e Foun.ation
Record keeping and analysis are oundaLional Lo inancial eorLs,
wheLher we like iL or noL. 1racking Lime spenL and corresponding Lasks
during a projecL is crucial Lo beLLer undersLanding your reelance work
rom a high level. lL doesn'L need Lo enLail an hour-by-hour log even
esLimaLing Lime spenL aL Lhe close o a projecL, when Lhese igures are
resh in your mind, can do Lhe Lrick. 1he boLLom line is, beore you
can seek Lo improve or LighLen up your reelance inances you need Lo
accuraLely undersLand where you currenLly sLand.
1he Lhree elemenLs o keeping records are Lime, income, and
expenses. l you can record Lhese or each projecL, and how Lhe Lhree
o Lhese inLeracL you're in greaL shape Lo begin analyzing how you
can beLLer sLay organized and even increase your revenues.
%a4imiGing Profit
W!at to In'oice For
Our income as web designers is relaLively sLraighL orward we geL
paid or a web projecL according Lo a price predeLermined in projecL
planning and clienL inLeracLion. However, iL's a good pracLice Lo
develop a more deLailed invoice Lhan jusL Lhe overall projecL cosL.
Common lines on your invoice can include adminisLraLive Lime spenL
documenLing and organizing Lhe projecL, overhead or managing
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conLracLors or projecL managemenL, maLerials such as sLock
phoLography/onLs and any special soLware requiremenLs, and
conerence calls, Lravel, and meeLings. lL can eel a liLLle
uncomorLable aL irsL billing or Lhings like adminisLraLion or cosL per
kilomeLer or Lravel, buL Lhese are generally accepLed pracLices LhaL
mosL clienLs engage in Lhemselves.
9uoting Best Practices
1he projecL quoLe or bid is where your projecL income all begins.
1here are enLire arLicles wriLLen on Lhis Lopic alone and iL's besL Lo
do Lhe research Lo deLermine boLh how Lo go abouL quoLing a projecL
wiLh a clienL, and how Lo quoLe accuraLely (noL Loo high, noL Loo low).
lL's imporLanL Lo engage in Lwo speciic pracLices when quoLing a
needs analysis, and a markeL analysis. 1he needs analysis enLails
gaLhering every biL o relevanL inormaLion perLaining Lo Lhe projecL
and whaL Lhe clienL requires, and Lhe markeL analysis involves
assessing Lhe currenL web markeL or Lhe Lype o projecL, as well as
your level o skill and experience (and LhaL o your Leam members i
applicable).
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%inimiGing ,4penses
=sing Web Tools
1here are liLerally hundreds o web apps, online Lools, and open
source downloads LhaL can assisL you in Lime managemenL, invoicing,
documenL LemplaLes, process mapping, and all sorLs o Lasks LhaL
occur LhroughouL Lhe design and developmenL process as well as
overall inances. Pick a ew o Lhese, buL noL all o Lhem, and work
Lhem inLo your business model.
Pen and paper, or sporadic spreadsheeLs and documenLs, can only
Lake you so ar beore Lhey begin wasLing your Lime raLher Lhan
saving iL. l ind web Lools parLicularly useul or Lime Lracking, projecL
managemenL, invoicing, and sLreamlining communicaLions.
Streamline Dour Process
8e sure Lo develop a process or Lo save Lime and prevenL yoursel
rom re-invenLing Lhe wheel wiLh every projecL. 1here are some greaL
web design process guides in Lhe resources secLion check Lhem ouL!
OLher sLreamlining Lime-saving acLiviLies can involve draLing
common emails, Lo-do lisLs, and leveraging collaboraLion Lools.
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)'oi.ing Pitfalls
1here are cerLainly some inancial risks when iL comes Lo reelancing
LhaL can leave you ouL in Lhe cold. Some o Lhese pracLices have
helped keep me rom geLLing burned, or have come abouL rom
experiencing some unorLunaLe siLuaLions in Lhe pasL!
Fi4e. Buotes from subcontractors
1his is someLhing LhaL l almosL always demand, especially
concerning a large projecL. Allowing sub-conLracLors Lo charge
by Lhe hour opens you up Lo serious risk, even i Lhe individual
in quesLion is a LrusLed riend or associaLe. l he or she
underesLimaLes Lhe Lasks unorLunaLely, LhaL's Lheir problem,
noL yours. ALer all, you're Lrying Lo run a business.
Clear financial communication
Wit! clients
8eing upronL abouL cosLs and expenses could very
well be Lhe number one rule Lo inancial eecLiveness
in reelancing. Remaining clear abouL expenses aL Lhe
beginning o a projecL is much easier Lhan Lrying Lo
jusLiy Lhem in Lhe end. l all is laid ouL and Lhe clienL
undersLands whaL Lhey will be charged and why Lhey
are being charged or iL Lhey'll be happy Lo pay you.
Surprises, on Lhe oLher hand, can cause delays and
conlicLs.
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Wit! subcontractors
Clear inancial communicaLion is jusL as crucial when
dealing wiLh your Leam or your subconLracLors. Make
sure Lhey are aware exacLly whaL you will pay, when you
will pay iL, and conversely whaL you expecL in reLurn,
and when you expecL Lo geL iL.
C!arge part of 5our pro8ect re'enue up front
lL's common indusLry pracLice Lo charge a percenLage o your
projecL revenue up ronL or aL leasL a porLion o iL
somewhere in Lhe early sLages. l you've pracLiced good clienL
inLeracLion, sales, and communicaLion, Lhe clienL shouldn'L
have a problem wiLh Lhis concepL. 1his can also save your Lail i
Lhe clienL or some reason decides Lo upseL Lhe projecL parL-
way Lhrough, and drives urLher commiLmenL Lo conLribuLe Lo
Lhe working relaLionship.
Back up 5our files
lL only Lakes one hard drive ailure Lo burn Lhis pracLice inLo
your memory orever, and you'll never quiLe expecL iL when iL
comes. PrevenL Lhis Lype o scenario by backing up noL only
your web siLe iles, buL all o your records and inancial daLa as
well. lL's a good policy even Lo make hard copies o cerLain
imporLanL documenLs such as conLracLs and income
sLaLemenLs.
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1he way l approach backing up inormaLion is Lhe "ire
menLaliLy". l my laL or oice burned Lo Lhe ground, whaL
would l have leL 1his means LhaL beyond your compuLer,
your exLernal hard drives, and hard copies you need Lo have
addiLional or supplemenLary backup eiLher online or aL a
separaLe locaLion.
Banking
While many o us sLarL by working ouL o our kiLchens or bedrooms as
an individual reelancer, iL's imporLanL Lo separaLe your personal
inances rom your business inances especially i you're planning on
expensing cerLain iLems Lo Lhe business or Lax deducLions.
SLarL by meeLing wiLh someone rom your local bank Lhey're
generally happy Lo siL down by appoinLmenL and discuss your needs
as a small business owner, and Lhey can shed some greaL lighL on
your inancial siLuaLion sLemming rom Lheir experience in Lhe
banking indusLry. Once you have a good handle on your opLions and
whaL Lhe sLandards are, open up a business bank accounL and sLarL
running your income and expenses Lhrough iL raLher Lhan your
personal accounL. 1haL way everyLhing is kepL nicely separaLe and iL's
easy Lo view your business acLiviLy by checking ouL your accounL
hisLory.
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l you expense equipmenL, Lravel, ood, supplies, and Lhe like Lo your
business or Lax deducLion, be sure Lo keep a record o all receipLs as
hard copies as well as Lo enLer Lhe daLa elecLronically in some ashion
(poLenLially using a web Lool).
2o'ernment or Institutional Support
lL may be dierenL depending on your geographic locaLion, buL iL's
worLh looking inLo eiLher way. ln Canada, or insLance, Lhere are a
whole pile o resources aimed aL helping small business owners
succeed Lhese include small business cenLers in every major ciLy or
seminars, neLworking, and markeLing, as well as applicaLions or
granLs and loans rom Lhe governmenL Lo help you on your way. lL's
worLh looking inLo Lhe supporL LhaL may be available Lo you, wheLher
iL's simply a neLwork or acLual inancial aid.
2etting Personal
-ig! >e'el Perspecti'e on Dour Income
Freelance income is oLen seriously sporadic, especially i iL's a parL
Lime side gig as wiLh mosL web designers. ou do some work in whaL
eels like your spare Lime, and you receive almosL random inluxes o
cash as projecLs close or you move Lhrough paymenL schedules.
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1his sLyle and Lype o income generaLion can be diiculL Lo wrap your
head around in comparison Lo a sLeady salary and a sLandard pay day
once every ew weeks LhaL you'd receive rom a ull-Lime corporaLion.
lL's imporLanL Lo sLep back and undersLand how much you're acLually
earning, especially in comparison Lo Lhe overall Lime you puL inLo each
projecL.
Personal Bu.geting
Personal budgeLs are always a pain, unless you're Lhe hyper-organized
Lype. However, using Lhe igures gleaned rom inancial esLimaLes and
calculaLions based on web projecLs can play a major role in organizing
yoursel economically.
lnsLead o "oh, and l'll probably make a couple grand here and Lhere
rom web projecLs", iL should ideally be, "lasL year my neL income rom
web design was roughly SXXXXX, so l can acLor Lhis inLo my overall
expenses and income."
Ta4es
1his is also a localized issue depending on whaL counLry you design
ouL o, buL iL's a generally imporLanL piece o Lhe puzzle Lo keep in
mind LhroughouL Lhe enLire year. All o your record keeping and LighL
organizaLion will conLribuLe Lo a much more sLress-ree Lax iling
season Lhan a mad scramble Lo dig up receipLs and old senL emails.
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8e sure Lo invesLigaLe Lhe proLocols and limiLs or whaL you can
expense Lo your business, as well as any oLher regulaLions. Web
design income can be LempLing Lo keep o o Lhe books in cerLain
siLuaLions, buL in Lhe long Lerm iL is rarely in your avour. ou're much
beLLer o developing sLrong small business accounLing pracLices and
inancial discipline Lo aid you in uLure work.
Financial Planning
Linking Lo Lhe discussion o undersLanding your web design income
rom a high level, inancial planning on a longer Lerm scale is also
imporLanL. When analyzing your personal income plan and having a
birds-eye-view inancial ouLlook, iL's imporLanL Lo consider reLiremenL
planning as well as debL pay-down plans. Use Lhe records you've
begun Lo keep and your inancial daLa rom web income Lo assisL
Lhese personal inancial plans. 1he previously menLioned discussion
wiLh a banker can also be a good Lime Lo bring up Lhese concepLs.
Conclusion
lL all comes down Lo spending Lhe righL Lime and eorL Lo keep Lrack,
save Lhe inormaLion, and Lhen use iL when necessary Lo accomplish
Lasks and adminisLraLion aL high eiciency. FsLimaLion is a concepL
employed a greaL deal by web designers, and sLriving Lo make Lhese
esLimaLions accuraLe should be a very high prioriLy. WiLh Lhis
inormaLion you can reach ideal revenue rom projecLs, minimize your
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expenses wiLh each new venLure, and organize yoursel inancially or
discipline and reedom rom sLress.
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Communication it! Clients "
Partners
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-o to I.entif5 an. Deal Wit! Different
T5pes 6f Clients
by Rcbert 3cwen
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ln business, being able Lo read people and quickly geL a sense o who
you're dealing wiLh is an invaluable skill. lL Lurns your encounLer wiLh a
clienL inLo an opporLuniLy Lo caLch a glimpse o Lhe upcoming projecL
and how iL will need Lo be handled. lL is one o Lhe building blocks o
a proessional relaLionship.
ln Loday's digiLal age, Lhe arena has shiLed Lo Lhe Web, and Lhe online
oice space LhaL mosL reelancers inhabiL limiLs personal inLeracLion.
1hough sussing ouL a clienL's personaliLy via online communicaLion is
diiculL, iL sLill remains an invaluable Lool in your arsenal.
ln Lhe reelancing ield, you will encounLer a range o clienL Lypes.
8eing able Lo idenLiy which you are dealing wiLh allows you Lo
develop Lhe righL sLraLegy Lo maximize your inLeracLions wiLh Lhem,
and iL could save your saniLy. 8elow is a lisL o Lhe mosL common
personaliLy Lypes and Lhe Lell-Lale signs LhaL will Lip you o.
T!e Passi'e7)ggressi'e
1his is Lhe clienL who is very passive when you ask or iniLial inpuL, buL
when you submiL Lhe inished producL, Lhey aggressively aLLack iL,
demanding a loL o deLailed changes, boLh major and minor. 1hey had
an idea o whaL Lhey wanLed all along buL kepL iL mosLly Lo
Lhemselves.
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Fven Lhough Lhey showed appreciaLion o cerLain ideas and elemenLs
LhroughouL Lhe developmenL process, do noL expecL Lhe passive-
aggressive clienL Lo keep any o Lhem as Lhey send revisions your way.
I.entif5ing C!aracteristics
CommunicaLion is mosLly one-sided and unhelpul during
projecL developmenL.
Makes sLaLemenLs such as.
"l'm noL really sure whaL we're looking or."
"JusL do someLhing LhaL would appeal Lo us generally."
"ou LoLally missed Lhe poinL o whaL we wanLed."
-o to Deal
PaLience is Lhe key. FxpecLing Lhe lasL-minuLe requesLs or revisions
may soLen Lhe blow o Lhe clienL's aggressive behavior. Keep your
original layered design inLacL so LhaL you can easily reine and change
iL laLer (noL LhaL you wouldn'L, buL iL does happen). Also, make sure
your conLracL speciies a limiLed number o revisions.
T!e Famil5 Frien.
1his is Lhe clienL whom you have known or years eiLher Lhrough
personal or amily inLeracLion, and Lhis connecLion has landed you Lhe
job. 1he relaLionship will be LesLed and perhaps marred orever by
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whaL could very well be a nighLmare o a projecL. 1his amily riend
believes he deserves a "special" price and unbridled access Lo your
work. 1hey will someLimes unwiLLingly beliLLle your work or noL Lake iL
seriously because o Lheir personal connecLion Lo you.
I.entif5ing C!aracteristics
1hese clienLs are easy Lo idenLiy because. well, you know
Lhem.
Makes such sLaLemenLs as.
"Could you jusL Lhrow someLhing LogeLher or me"
"l don'L wanL you Lo Lhink LhaL jusL because l know you
l wanL you Lo cuL me a deal."
"ou're going Lo charge me whaL! 8uL we go way
back!"
-o to Deal
1he way Lo deal wiLh Lhis clienL depends on how well you know Lhem
and how much you value your relaLionship wiLh Lhem. 8uL remember
LhaL anyone who would Lake advanLage o such a relaLionship is noL
Lruly a riend, so respond accordingly. An honesL approach could end
up saving Lhe relaLionship. 8uL sLarL o wiLh a proessional, noL
personal, Lone, and Lhey may ollow your lead. O course, i you Lruly
value Lhe relaLionship, you may wanL Lo pass on Lhe job alLogeLher.
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T!e =n.er7Haluer
Like Lhe amily riend described above, Lhis clienL will devalue your
creaLive conLribuLions. 8uL Lhere is a dierence. you do noL acLually
know Lhis person. 1here is no raLionale or Lheir behavior. 1hey eel
Lhey should geL a "riend's" pricing raLe noL because Lhey wanL Lo be
riends wiLh you, buL because Lhey do noL see your work as being
worLh LhaL much. even i Lhey couldn'L do iL Lhemselves. NoL coming
rom a creaLive background or even having had exposure Lo Lhe arLs
can mar someone's appreciaLion o Lhe work LhaL you do. ALer years
in our ield, we make iL look easy, and LhaL is whaL Lhe under-valuer
sees.
I.entif5ing C!aracteristics
Does noL respond Lo quesLions in a Limely ashion.
Makes such sLaLemenLs as.
"lL's noL like iL Lakes much eorL on your parL."
"Couldn'L you jusL Lhrow someLhing LogeLher or me"
"How hard can Lhis really be"
-o to Deal
Conidence is key here. ou know whaL your work demands and how
well you do your job. 1he under-valuer will recognize Lhis conidence.
Don'L back down or concede a poinL Lo Lhe clienL when discussing
your role in Lhe projecL. SLanding irm will esLablish Lhe proessional
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and respecLul Lone you deserve. l Lhe clienL does noL respond in
kind, cuL your losses and decline Lheir projecL.
T!e 0it7Picker
1his clienL is never ully saLisied wiLh Lhe work you do and will
consLanLly pick on minor deLails here and Lhere LhaL Lhey dislike and
wanL changed. Do noL be surprised i Lhey ask you Lo change Lhese
same deLails over and over ad nauseam.
lL is noL a sign o disrespecL (as iL is wiLh Lhe oLher clienLs), buL simply
Lhe naLure o Lhe person. 1hey may have been burned in some oLher
projecL and are now unsaLisied wiLh everyLhing in Lheir paLh,
including your work.
I.entif5ing C!aracteristics
Complains almosL consisLenLly abouL unrelaLed Lhings.
Personal ouLlook comes wiLh a scaLhing biLe.
Makes such sLaLemenLs as.
"How hard is iL Lo [ill in Lhe blank wiLh any ranL]"
"l'm really noL sure abouL Lhis elemenL here. lL jusL
doesn'L pop!"
"l don'L Lhink you are really geLLing iL."
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-o to Deal
Once again, paLience is imporLanL (especially i you have some
masochisLic reason or Laking on niL-picking clienLs). 1ry Lo deLach
yoursel rom Lhe projecL as much as possible, so LhaL Lhe consLanL
niL-pickery does noL aecL you personally.
lL is easy Lo eel hurL or geL deensive when your work is repeaLedly
quesLioned, and you may begin Lo doubL your skill. 8uL undersLand
LhaL Lhis is noL abouL you or your LalenL, iL is simply a personaliLy LraiL
o Lhe person you are dealing wiLh. And once again, proLecL yoursel
in Lhe conLracL.
T!e Scornful Sa'er
1his clienL has similariLies Lo Lhe niL-picker and under-valuer buL is
acLually impressed wiLh your work and skill seL. 1hey criLicize you
merely Lo undermine your conidence in an aLLempL Lo lower your
pricing raLe. Unlike some oLher clienL Lypes, Lhe scornul saver
undersLands creaLive people and Lheir processes. 8uL Lhey are cheap
and manipulaLive, and Lheir scheme may have worked in Lheir avor
once or Lwice in Lhe pasL. So, Lhey conLinue Lo subLly abuse Lhe
people Lhey hire in Lhe hope o saving every lasL penny.
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I.entif5ing C!aracteristics
ComplimenLs always come wiLh a less-Lhan-laLLering qualiier.
1akes Lime Lo respond Lo quesLions, someLimes making you
ask more Lhan once.
Makes such sLaLemenLs as.
"l really like whaL you've done overall, buL l'm unsure
abouL one or Lwo Lhings."
"ou may noL have goLLen exacLly whaL we're looking
or, buL you're close."
-o to Deal
Once again, iL is all abouL conidence. Having a solid undersLanding o
your ield and being conidenL in your knowledge and abiliLies will
keep Lhis clienL's manipulaLion in check. SLanding your ground and
even calling Lhe clienL on some o Lheir LacLics could shiL Lhe balance
o power over Lo you. 8e prepared Lo walk away rom Lhe projecL i
Lhe disrespecL and manipulaLion conLinues. 1here will be oLher
projecLs and oLher clienLs.
T!e II7Coul.7Do7T!is7%5selfJ7er
Where Lo begin. When Lhis clienL arms a projecL ouL Lo you, Lhey
make clear Lo you LhaL Lhey know how Lo do whaL Lhey're hiring you
Lo do buL LhaL Lhey jusL don'L have Lhe Lime Lo acLually do iL. 1hey may
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be working aL a irm or an enLrepreneur, eiLher way, you are Lhere Lo
pick up Lheir slack. l Lhey're aL a irm, you could be in or an
inLeresLing siLuaLion, Lhey were likely hired or Lheir parLicular sLyle
and proposals, and now you will have Lo please Lwo seLs o people.
Lhe person who hired you and Lhe people who hired him.
I.entif5ing C!aracteristics
Will generally be (or look) hecLic and rushed.
CommunicaLion rom Lhem oLen Lakes Lhe orm o shorL
bursLs o inormaLion.
Makes such sLaLemenLs as.
"l could easily handle Lhis i my schedule weren'L so
ull."
"Really NoL sure LhaL's Lhe direcLion l would've gone in,
buL whaLever."
"Remember, you are illing my shoes, and Lhey're preLLy
big."
-o to Deal
1he "l-Could-Do-1his-Mysel"-er will likely have recognized your
LalenL and skill righL away, which is why Lhey hired you. 1hey merely
wanL you Lo know LhaL Lhis projecL (and Lhus you) is noL above Lheir
abiliLy. And Lhough Lhese reminders will graLe on you periodically,
Lhey will leL you run wiLh your ideas, perhaps oering suggesLions or
eedback on Lhe inal design.
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T!e Control Freak
1his clienL desperaLely needs Lo micro-manage every liLLle deLail o
Lhe projecL, no maLLer Lheir qualiicaLions. No decision may be made
wiLhouL Lheir expliciL inpuL and approval. 1his Liresome clienL orces
himsel inLo your worklow, heedless o eiLher inviLaLion or proLesL,
and will demand access Lo you aL whim. 1he concepLs o boundaries
and sLricL work processes are easily losL on Lhe conLrol reak, who
consLanLly disrupLs Lhe low. 1hey may also believe you lack
dedicaLion or preparedness, urLher reinorcing Lheir need Lo inLerere.
I.entif5ing C!aracteristics
lniLial conLacL is long, deLailed and one-sided, wiLh liLLle inpuL
soughL rom you.
our inpuL remains unsoughL as Lhe projecL pushes orward.
Makes such sLaLemenLs as.
"1his way we can keep in conLacL 24/7 in case you have
any quesLions, or l do."
"l really know besL whaL is righL or Lhe projecL and
whaL is noL."
"WhaL do you mean, l'm disLracLing you l am Lhe only
Lhing keeping Lhis projecL on Lrack!"
-o to Deal
l you absoluLely musL Lake on Lhis clienL, or whaLever reason, resign
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yoursel Lo Lhe acL LhaL you will noL be sLeering aL any poinL. ou will
have Lo deLach yoursel rom Lhe work because you will have no
conLrol aL all. ou will merely be consLrucLing, noL designing, so jusL
leL go and leL iL happen. ou may wanL Lo exclude Lhis projecL rom
your porLolio.
T!e Dream Client
1his clienL, widely dismissed as a myLh, does in acL exisL and
undersLands Lhe ull scope and arLisLry o your work. 1hey value your
role and creaLive conLribuLions and wanL you in Lhe driver's seaL as
soon as Lhe projecL geLs underway. 1hey are Limely wiLh responses
and paymenLs. paymenLs LhaL Lhey did noL "negoLiaLe" buL raLher
accepLed or whaL Lhey are. 1hey relecL on your suggesLions and have
conidence in your capabiliLies.
I.entif5ing C!aracteristics
ls enLhusiasLic abouL Lhe projecL and your involvemenL in iL.
CommunicaLion shows awareness o and respecL or your role.
Makes such sLaLemenLs as.
"Here's Lhe brie we prepared. 1he resL is preLLy much
up Lo you."
"We like whaL we've seen and LrusL you'll do greaL
Lhings or us."
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-o to Deal
Don'L brag! JusL enjoy Lhe ride and hold on Lo Lhem or as long as you
possibly can!
Wrap7up
8eing able Lo idenLiy Lhe Lype o clienL you are dealing wiLh will
prepare you or Lhe job ahead. lL will also help you decide wheLher Lo
accepL Lhe job in Lhe irsL place. our conLracL will relecL Lhe power
dynamics o Lhe projecL, so Lhe more you know abouL Lhe clienL, Lhe
beLLer able you will be Lo adjusL Lhe conLracL as necessary.
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-o to Impro'e Designer7Client
/elations!ips
3y Acrcn Crijjith
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Cood business relaLionships rarely jusL happen. While a smiLLen
designer and Lheir sLarry-eyed clienL may sLarL ouL well wiLh a
"honeymoon" o a successul iniLial projecL launch, Lhings can geL
rocky asL. 1he once-anLicipaLed phone calls requesLing new designs
LhaL used Lo be welcomed are now dreaded, and Lhe previously
inrequenL and brie revision requesLs are now hosLile diaLribes
criLiquing every aspecL o a submiLLed projecL.
1ruly, i you LhoughL LhaL hearing "LeL's jusL be riends" rom your
junior high love inLeresL was bad, waiL unLil one o your clienLs cancels
your projecL wiLh an email LhaL ends wiLh "One o our sales guys
boughL LhaL PhoLoshopper Lhing, he's going Lo give Lhis logo sLu a
shoL."
JusL like a romanLic relaLionship, clienL/designer parLnerships Lake
work Lo be successul. While each clienL has Lheir own unique needs,
here are a ew Lips LhaL hopeully will keep your working relaLionships
healLhy and enjoyable.
#. Don?t be afrai. to sa5 KnoK
1his may seem counLerinLuiLive, buL you cerLainly can have Loo many
clienLs LhaL require way more Lime and eorL Lhan Lhey are worLh. l
you have Lhe Lime, energy, and manpower aL your disposal Lhen, by all
means, Lake on new projecLs and grow your business. However, i you
don'L have Lhese limiLed resources (and Lhey are limiLed!), don'L place
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an unneeded burden on yoursel or your Leam Lo pull an excellenL
inal producL ouL o Lhin air. l you over-commiL yoursel Lhen Lhere is
Lhe risk o noL spending Lhe Lime and eorL needed on exisLing work,
making your currenL clienLs unhappy and poLenLially driving Lhem
away. lL can be very LempLing Lo obligaLe yoursel Lo new projecLs LhaL
could be enjoyable or lucraLive or you and your Leam, buL i you
know LhaL you can'L handle Lhe work aL LhaL momenL, iL is ar beLLer Lo
say "no" Lhen Lo risk your repuLaLion and good name. AL besL you will
eiLher hand Lhe projecL in laLe or you will overwork yoursel and your
Leam while sacriicing Lime on exisLing work- neiLher is desirable. Far
beLLer Lo poliLely decline a requesL and ask or a rain check- Lhe
prospecLive clienL will respecL you or iL and poLenLially come calling
laLer.
On a relaLed noLe (and keeping wiLh Lhe relaLionship Lheme),
someLimes a "divorce" is called or beLween yoursel and a clienL. l
you ind LhaL one clienL is Laking up mosL o your Lime, causing mosL
o your headaches, and could easily be replaced by someone beLLer,
Lhe Lime may be righL Lo move on. A decision like Lhis should never be
made lighLly, buL iL can poLenLially make your lie easier and open up
space or beLLer cusLomers.
2. Talk t!ings out
A loL o problems in a romanLic relaLionship can be avoided i boLh
parLies are willing Lo admiL LhaL Lhey aren'L mind readers LhaL
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inLuiLively undersLand Lhe needs o Lhe oLher person. 1he same goes
or designers and Lheir clienLs. no maLLer how well a designer Lhinks
Lhey undersLand a clienL's insLrucLions, Lhey likely are missing
someLhing because Lhe clienL eiLher doesn'L Lhink LhaL Lhey need
cerLain inormaLion or Lhey assume LhaL such ino is a given. 8y simply
asking a ew poinLed quesLions Lo your clienLs, you can sLimulaLe
necessary discussion LhaL will do away wiLh uncerLainLies LhaL lead Lo
unnecessary revisions and wasLed Lime. Here are a ew examples.
WhaL is Lhe ulLimaLe purpose o Lhis design
Who are you Lrying Lo reach wiLh Lhe design
How will Lhis design be used (lyer, websiLe, billboard, eLc.)
How much Lime should l spend on Lhis/ how much money are
you willing Lo spend
Also, i you anLicipaLe any poLenLial conlicL or diiculLies LhaL will
arise wiLh your clienL while you work on a projecL or Lhem, negoLiaLe
Lhe deLails beore sLarLing work. ln many cases negoLiaLion may mean
leLLing Lhem know LhaL you require a cerLain amounL o reedom in
your work Lo make Lheir design a success. 1o have a reerence poinL
or uLure discussions, wriLe down all Lhe agreemenLs LhaL you and
your clienL come Lo in your negoLiaLions. UlLimaLely, you need Lo
make sure LhaL you undersLand as much as you can abouL who your
clienL is and whaL Lhey expecL rom you beore you sLarL work. While
Lalking Lhings ouL aL lengLh beorehand may seem Ledious, Lrying Lo
work solely o o your inLuiLion won'L geL you very ar and iL likely
won'L endear you Lo your clienLs.
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3. Create a ork process
CreaLive Lypes Lypically eschew uniormiLy and predicLabiliLy, buL Lhe
implemenLaLion o a sLandardized (read. boring) work process mighL
be jusL whaL you need Lo improve relaLionships wiLh your clienLs. es,
"process" has Lhe connoLaLions o an overused piece o managemenL-
speak, buL whaL is iL really Simply puL, iL is a sLandardized way LhaL
you organize your LhoughLs and work so LhaL you can work more
eicienLly and eecLively. our process doesn'L have Lo be Loo speciic
or deLailed, buL iL should Louch on every aspecL o sLarLing, working
on, and delivery o your projecL Lo a clienL. WhaL does a process look
like Here's a general example upon receiving a projecL requesL.
. Conirm projecL deLails (due daLe, cosL, eLc.)
2. 1ask ouL every aspecL o projecL
3. Figure ouL whaL Lasks are yours, delegaLe oLhers wiLh speciic
insLrucLions
4. CreaLe draL or review
5. SoliciL eedback rom clienL
6. Make adjusLmenLs based on eedback (RepeaL sLeps 5 and 6 as
needed)
7. 8ill cusLomer
8. Check back in 6 monLhs or more projecLs
ou may Lhink LhaL someLhing as simple as Lhis plan is unnecessary,
and you may be righL. However, iL can be very helpul Lo have an
ordered checklisL o Lhings LhaL you always do Lo reer Lo when
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working wiLh clienLs. Having a process checklisL like Lhis hanging on
your wall can give you direcLion and keep you on Lrack when
managing mulLiple or complex projecLs. 8eLLer yeL, one idea mighL be
Lo even share your process wiLh your clienL LhaL way you can poinL
Lhem Lo speciic sLeps LhaL you are on in your work or Lhem. A clienL
will appreciaLe knowing exacLly whaL is going on wiLh Lhe projecL, and
Lhey will be less likely Lo badger you wiLh requesLs or sLaLus updaLes.
1. 2et Kpreempti'eK fee.back
8eore you asked your middle school crush ouL on a daLe, you
probably ran your game plan by your riends and had Lhem look or
laws ("Dude, you should deiniLely noL Lake her Lo 8urger King and
Lhen SchinJlers list!"). Similarly, Lhere are ew Lhings LhaL can be more
helpul Lhan having oLher people look over your design work and
criLique iL beore you submiL iL Lo a clienL. However, geLLing good,
acLionable eedback isn'L always easy and iL can be a very humbling
process. Here are Lwo Lips or Lhose who wanL Lo geL preempLive inpuL
rom oLhers.
2et fee.back from t!e rig!t people
NoL all criLicism is creaLed equal. Some o iL is really valuable, some is
average, and Lhe resL could geL you ired i you implemenLed iL.
1hereore, you need Lo choose your eedback sources careully.
However, Lhis doesn'L mean LhaL you should only soliciL help rom
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oLher designers or proessionals in your ield. lL is essenLial Lo geL an
ouLsider's perspecLive LhaL comes rom someone in your clienL's
LargeL markeL, or aL leasL oLher designers LhaL undersLand Lhe
populaLion LhaL you are Lrying Lo caLer Lo.
Put 5our ego asi.e
CeLLing your work criLiqued by oLhers can be a painul process,
especially i you puL loLs o Lime and energy inLo your projecLs and
you Lake pride in whaL you do. However, i you really wanL good
eedback Lhen be prepared Lo have your design ideas called inLo
quesLion. Don'L be deensive or view criLiques as ad hominem aLLacks
on you or your philosophy as a designer. 1ry Lo remember LhaL your
work isn'L ulLimaLely abouL you iL`s a service or someone else and
Lheir needs as a clienL. Once you do Lhis you are lessening Lhe
emoLional burden on yoursel, Lhus making iL easier Lo hear and
implemenL suggesLions rom oLhers regarding your work.
*. Be timel5
ou wouldn'L show up 30 minuLes laLe or a irsL daLe, and regular
Lardiness can be a consLanL source o aggravaLion or some signiicanL
oLhers. lL's noL Loo dierenL wiLh your design work, be on Lime, and
nerves are much less likely Lo be rayed. 8eing Limely sounds simple
(and iL is), buL iL is essenLial LhaL designers undersLand LhaL noLhing
peeves a clienL like Lurning projecLs in laLe or missing seL deadlines.
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1he key Lo being on Lime has a loL Lo do wiLh sLaying ocused on your
work, doing whaL you say you will do, and noL sLreLching yoursel Loo
Lhin (see Lip #). 8uL perhaps Lhe besL sLraLegy or working wiLh your
clienL in a Limely manner is Lo sLay in consLanL communicaLion wiLh
Lhem. 1his may mean giving a regularly scheduled updaLe on Lhe
projecL's progress, or iL may jusL require Lhe occasional email or phone
call Lo leL Lhem inormally know how Lhings are going. Choosing how
Lo do Lhis is up Lo you, buL Lhe main reason or doing so is Lo keep
your clienL aware o any issues or problems LhaL you run inLo LhaL
would prevenL you rom handing in a projecL on Lime. MosL clienLs will
have no problem pushing back a due daLe because o unoreseen
circumsLances as long as Lhey are kepL in Lhe loop wiLh whaL is going
on and Lhey are made known o Lhe problems when Lhey happen.
Fxplaining an unexpecLed issue Lwo weeks (or even Lwo days) rom
Lhe due daLe is much easier Lhan Lwo hours beore Lhe projecL was
due.
Conclusion
Hopeully Lhis arLicle has given you some help in successully
improving and mainLaining your relaLionships wiLh clienLs (wiLh a ew
ree daLing poinLers along Lhe way, ree o charge!). 1his lisL isn'L
exhausLive Lhere are many dierenL sLraLegies Lo build rapporL wiLh
your clienLs buL jusL sLarLing wiLh Lhese 5 basic pracLices will
sLrengLhen Lhe relaLionships you currenLly have and build a solid
oundaLion or sLarLing new ones.
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-o to Communicate it! De'elopers
,ffecti'el5
by Rycn Scherj
l you have ever worked wiLh a developer or a developmenL Leam, Lhis
arLicle will probably sLrike close Lo home. As designers, we work wiLh
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dozens o developers across Lhe globe aL lengLh in Lerms o whaL
needs Lo be accomplished wiLh Lhe user inLerace, and whaL iL needs
Lo make Lhis happen. MosL oLen, however, we ind developers LhaL we
generally don'L see eye Lo eye wiLh.
When many people are involved in a projecL, iL is very imporLanL Lo
make sure LhaL Lhey have a common undersLanding o Lhe problem
and iLs soluLion. 1his is noL meanL as a slam on developers, as l
believe Lhey are a much dierenL breed Lhan designers, raLher, Lhe
hope is LhaL i you ollow some o Lhe principles ouLlined here, your
developmenL process can hopeully be sLreamlined a biL more Lhan iL
was beore.
#. Pro'i.e an a.eBuate le'el of .ocumentation
Modern soLware developmenL meLhodologies may lead you Lo
believe LhaL less documenLaLion is beLLer, however Lhis isn'L
necessarily always Lhe case. For sLarLers, Lhe besL documenLaLion LhaL
is provided is Lhe user inLerace. NoL only does Lhe Ul show Lhe
developer where daLa should be and how iL should be ormaLLed, buL
iL also represenLs Lhe basic low o whaL needs Lo happen. A well
LhoughL-ouL and compleLe Ul will make you a developer's dream
colleague. CranLed, Lhere will always be developers who don'L like
everyLhing deined and love Lo Lake liberLies wiLh your inLerace.
1hese developers are rare (and mosL o Lhe Lime unwelcome) in Lhe
design communiLy.
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Sta5 a!ea.
As a designer, you don'L need Lo have every single page LhoughL ouL
beore sLarLing developmenL, buL iL is helpul Lo sLay ahead o Lhe
developers. Plan your eaLures accordingly, and make sure you aL leasL
have some Lype o sLrucLure (H1ML, eLc) ready Lo go when Lhey need
iL. lL is a loL easier or developers Lo come Lhrough on a polished page
and inserL daLa where iL is needed insLead o creaLing Lhe page rom
scraLch and having Lhe designer come in aLer Lhem.
2. Be .ecisi'e
As designers, we make hundreds o decisions on each inLerace we
work on. WheLher iL is Lhe heighL o navigaLion, Lhe amounL o LexL in
a Lable cell, or Lhe alignmenL o LexL in Lhe ooLer, we need Lo make
many decisions each and every day. 1his is very much like or
developers who have jusL as many (or more) niLpicky decisions Lo
make on every piece o uncLionaliLy Lhey wriLe. 8uL Lhe beauLy o
developmenL is LhaL iL is less subjecLive Lhan design. Sure, Lhe
archiLecLure, code sLyle and language could all be subjecL Lo opinions,
buL noL in Lhe way LhaL design is subjecLive. Some people preer sLock
images, while oLhers illusLraLions. Fveryone has a avoriLe color, while
many colors may be perceived dierenLly by every person.
As designers, we need Lo decide whaL Lhe inLerace should look like.
AlLhough some developers may enjoy Linkering wiLh Lhe Ul, iL's noL
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Lheir job, and ulLimaLely slows Lhem down rom whaL Lhey should be
doing. developing.
Don?t c!ange mi.7c5cle
lL is also imporLanL Lo Lry noL Lo change Lhe design while Lhe
developers is in Lhe middle o developing LhaL speciic eaLure. Agile
and Scrum meLhodologies insisL LhaL Lhe developers work wiLh Lhe
requiremenLs Lhey had aL Lhe Lime, and in Lhe ollowing sprinL, Lhe
developer could revisiL Lhe eaLure and make modiicaLions. As
designers, we should Lry Lo avoid any Lype o reacLoring o Lhe Ul as
we can. lL is Ledious work or developers Lo go back and change
H1ML.
Choose an H1ML sLrucLure and sLick Lo iL. 1ry Lo accounL or any Lype
o design eaLure in your irsL draL o Lhe H1ML (even i iL makes your
H1ML seem somewhaL bloaLed). CSS should already conLrol Lhe look
o your inLerace, so Lry Lo Lhink o H1ML as backend code LhaL is
more diiculL Lo change Lhan a onL color in CSS.
Developers don'L like reacLoring Lheir code as much as we don'L like
providing revisions Lo clienLs. CeL Lhe 'mosL perecL' resulL as soon as
you can.
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3. Communication is ke5E so be a'ailable
ou have spenL counLless hours mocking up Lhe Ul, polishing iL Lo
your liking and you're ready Lo hand iL o Lo Lhe developmenL Leam.
OLen Limes, Lhis is where design ends and developmenL begins. As
designers, Lhis is where we should be mosL involved Lo ensure LhaL Lhe
design concepL is ully realized in Lhe working applicaLion. Avoid jusL
'Lhrowing Lhe design over Lhe ence', and hoping Lhe developers
implemenL iL exacLly how you have envisioned iL in your mind.
Sta5 In'ol'e.
lL is also imporLanL Lo noL drop o Lhe projecL here. AL Lhe leasL, be
available by email so Lhe developers can conLacL you abouL issues
wiLh your designs. Respond quickly Lo ensure your developers are
sLaying on Lrack wiLh Lhe inal producL. Once again, be decisive in your
communicaLion. MosL o Lhe Lime, Lhe real daLa don'L maLch whaL you
mocked up, and Lhere are many issues you will need Lo work ouL in
conjuncLion wiLh your developer.
1. )'oi. feature creep
1he crew over aL 37signals wroLe a quiLe amous book CeLLing Real
which Lalks abouL Lhis exacL problem. 1his Lopic probably is more
relevanL Lo producL managers, however iL is also imporLanL or
designers. Always ask yoursel, "why does Lhis eaLure maLLer" Avoid
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a Ul LhaL is ar Loo complex, as iL only adds Lime on Lo developmenL,
and ulLimaLely orces you Lo miss deadlines. l you can'L come up wiLh
a good reason why iL should be included, Lhen iL doesn'L need Lo be
Lhere. lL will only slow your Leam down, as well as creaLe more or you
Lo supporL.
Sta5 Focuse.
Focus on whaL is imporLanL or your users. For example, i your users
aren'L going Lo use invoicing heavily, or you already know beLLer
alLernaLives exisL in Lhe markeL LhaL you can'L beaL, don'L include
Lhem.
As we developed one o our recenL projecLs, we weren'L planning on
providing a ull suiLe o Lools LhaL included invoicing. We wanLed Lo
concenLraLe on proposals, bids and requesLs or proposals (RFPs),
knowing LhaL we sLill needed Lo serve a small user base LhaL may
require invoicing. We chose Lo add in a bare-bones sysLem (simple
line iLems, noLhing recurring), because we elL iL may be useul Lo
some people who didn'L already have an invoicing soluLion. We also
realized LhaL users probably wouldn'L wanL Lo swiLch Lo our invoicing
sysLem (mainly because Lhey already had a soluLion), so Lhere was no
sense in creaLing someLhing robusL.
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*. Set realistic .ea.linesE an. stick to t!em
As designers, we can quickly Lurn around designs in a ew days and
be done wiLh iL. UnorLunaLely, Lhis is noL Lhe case or developmenL.
1he raLio o design Lo developmenL hours is noL even close Lo ..
Make sure your deadlines allow enough Lime or Lhe developer Lo
implemenL Lhe eaLures, as well as any back and orLh Lime or
quesLions.
No maLLer how hard you Lry Lo hiL your deadlines, someLhing always
comes up. Perhaps anoLher projecL, kids, amily, eLc. 1ry your besL noL
Lo announce any hard daLes unLil you are absoluLely sure you will hiL
Lhem. Announce Lhe week beore (or even monLh beore) i you eel
comorLable. l you jusL sLarLed a projecL, never commiL Lo launching
in Lhe nexL 6 monLhs. lL jusL won'L happen, and your users may or may
noL hold you accounLable or LhaL daLe.
Don?t make promises 5ou can?t keep
As irriLaLing as missing deadlines is or you and your Leam, iLs even
more irriLaLing or poLenLial cusLomers who are waiLing or your app
Lo change Lheir worklow. 8e vague abouL deadlines, and keep people
wanLing more.
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6. Test it 5ourself
Don'L rely on your developers Lo wriLe perecL code, as iL will never
happen. ou can'L always rely on developers Lo LesL Lheir code Lo
make sure iL uncLions properly, ulills requiremenLs and ulLimaLely
works in Lhe manner you described. 8uL remember, developers don'L
wriLe buggy code on purpose. 1hey would raLher wriLe perecL code
and work on newer, cooler eaLures each release. Since your
developers are so close Lo Lhe code and sysLem, Lhey will ineviLably
miss someLhing. Don'L blame Lhem, help Lhem ix iL. Fxplain Lo Lhem
where iL's ailing and whaL Lhe desired acLion should be.
Also as you Lake on Lhe LesLing, Lhis rees up Lhe developer Lo keep
moving on Lhe back-end, which once again, is where Lhey should be
ocusing. And as you ind bugs, make sure Lo ully documenL Lhem,
including screenshoLs, how Lo recreaLe and mosL imporLanLly, Lhe
desired ouLcome.
O all Lhe developers we've worked wiLh, none o Lhem has been
inLeresLed in any Lype o LesLing pasL in-Lhe-code uniL LesLing. Large
enLerprise shops higher enLire QualiLy Assurance Leams Lo ollow-up
on developers work (which doesn'L make iL righL, buL iL's Lhe way iL is).
Help your developers ouL by LesLing Lheir eaLures - your app will be
much beLLer or iL.
One lasL poinL is Lo measure perormance. SeL milesLones and goals
and make sure you are hiLLing your marks. 1ry Lo moniLor how your
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Leam is doing on ixing bugs versus creaLing new eaLures, as Lhere
will always be a snowball eecL. Fix bugs early and oLen Lo prevenL
Lhem rom growing inLo larger and more complex bug colonies in Lhe
uLure.
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-o to ,.ucate Dour Clients on Web
De'elopment
3y Aurimcs AJcmcvicius
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l you are running a design agency, your job is very likely Lo combine
business developmenL, graphic design, Lechnology and user
experience design. a baskeLul o very dierenL ields. When dealing
wiLh clienLs, one aces Lhe challenge o clearly and eecLively
communicaLing Lhe goals and resulLs o Lhe work done in Lhese areas.
ln Lhis arLicle, we'll provide you wiLh some ideas on sharing
inormaLion and knowledge wiLh developers and clienLs a couple o
Lips and Lricks we've learned rom our own experience.
As designers, our core purpose is Lo solve business challenges or our
clienLs. No, l haven'L orgoLLen you Mac-loving, single-mouse-buLLon-
anaLic designers. A business soluLion includes an applicaLion
plaLorm, solid daLa design and a page design LhaL makes Lhe Ul and
websiLe approachable and easy Lo use (or converLing, LransacLing,
clicking on a monkey's buLL, eLc.). our daily challenge, Lhen, is Lo
deliver Lhe projecL on Lime while saLisying Lhe clienL's visual, business
and aesLheLic requiremenLs.
Dou?re 0ot as Smart as Dou T!ink
l like Lo Lhink LhaL l'm always righL (boy, would my wie have
someLhing Lo say abouL LhaL), and LhaL becomes Lricky when
communicaLing wiLh clienLs. As a proessional, l am able Lo deLecL
paLLerns, usabiliLy issues, Lrends in Lhe indusLry and oLher imporLanL
issues LhaL Lhe clienL mighL noL be aware o. On Lhe oLher hand, l'm a
compleLe idioL when iL comes Lo semi-conducLor LemperaLure
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Lolerances, urniLure or pre-school insLiLuLions and Lhe imporLance o
sLeel spikes in lederhosen. My clienL, on Lhe oLher hand, may be an
Fncyclopedia 8riLannica on every single one o Lhose Lopics. WhaL l'm
Lrying Lo say is LhaL you have Lo remember LhaL you're an experL only
on your cwn jielJ and LhaL you should prick up your ears when Lhe
clienL Lells you someLhing.
0egotiating for a Win7Win /esult
So, as you Lread your piLiable pixel-pushing exisLence, you should be
aware o Lhings LhaL mighL give your sorry designer sel an advanLage
in negoLiaLing Lhose sLicking poinLs in projecLs. Have you ever had a
clienL who wanLed a larger logo on Lheir websiLe Maybe a logo done
in Flash, wiLh a spinning earLh and sparkles! All valid requiremenLs,
l'm sure, and so during LhaL meeLing, as you slowly reached or Lhe
pencil Lo sLab your quads under Lhe Lable, you should have realized
LhaL business owners love Lheir brands and are emoLionally aLLached
Lo Lhem. ou should have based your response, Lhen, on a composiLe
o research-based acLs (besL presenLed as a link Lo a repuLable source
on Lhe Web) - an explanaLion LhaL is speciic Lo Lheir business.
Client. l reclly wcnt c bier lcc. l jeel lile its
ettin lcst in the website.
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You: l unJerstcnJ why ycur brcnJ is imcrtcnt tc
ycu. l hcve resecrch here bcseJ cn the tc S00
retcilers cn the lnternet cnJ their lcc sizes. 1he
resecrch inJicctes thct the lcc shculJ tcle u less
scce thcn cr be similcr in size tc the ccll-tc-ccticn
element, cr be cne-jcurth cj the websites wiJth ct
mcst. ln cur ccse, thct view rcJucts linl shculJ be
the jcccl cint cj the website.
Damage ControlL 2i'ing in Is Part of t!e ;ob
A successul negoLiaLor (and you cre a negoLiaLor - perhaps noL a
gun-LoLing, hosLage-holding Samuel L. Jackson, buL a negoLiaLor
noneLheless) delivers a soluLion LhaL makes boLh parLies win. our
clienL is happy LhaL Lheir demands were meL by Lheir responsive and
well-inormed developer, and you're happy because you didn'L have
Lo wasLe Lime in meeLings. Hopeully, aLer you've demonsLraLed Lhe
acLs and your reasoning or keeping Lhe logo aL Lhe same size, Lhe
clienL will change Lheir mind and leave you basking in Lhe glory o
being righL and noL having Lo go back or a ix. ln case Lhey don'L, you
sLill mighL noL have Lo increase Lhe size, perhaps you could reassess
your use o whiLe space or employ oLher visual Lrickery o LhaL
devilishly sexy design ield.
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Position of )ut!orit5L Dour Hoice %ust Be -ear.
As l menLioned, you do wield some auLhoriLy in Lhis line o work, buL
your clienL does also in Lheir business. l recommend LhaL or every
projecL, you esLablish aLLainable and clearly deined goals, goals LhaL
will be measured by Lhe websiLe's perormance and enorced by sLricL
deadlines. l you or your clienL doesn'L meeL cerLain goals or
deliverables by Lhe deadlines, you could sLill launch Lhe websiLe i all
criLical iLems are compleLed, and Lhen clear up Lhe remaining iLems
once Lhe websiLe is live. 1his sLraLegy is used by major Lech companies
such as Coogle and accomplishes several imporLanL Lhings.
Forces you Lo deliver on Lime,
Focuses you on daLe-based deliverables, which makes Lhe
clienL easier Lo educaLe on "sLicky" issues,
Forces Lhe clienL Lo deliver conLenL, sLock phoLos and Lheir
ideas Lo you on Lime, because any missing eaLures would
have Lo be paid or on an hourly consulLing basis.
As you work Lowards Lhese goals, know LhaL aL a cerLain poinL your
opinion and decisions are criLical Lo Lhe projecL's success. 1here's no
backing down or hiding your Lail beLween your legs. SomeLimes you
cannoL negoLiaLe, and Lhe clienL musL undersLand LhaL Lhey are paying
you or a reason. because you know your sLu!
Keep in mind LhaL your clienL also has auLhoriLy and knowledge LhaL
mighL noL be apparenL Lo you during negoLiaLions. For example.
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Client. We wcnt ll6 sucrt thrcuh the website. 1he
website will hcve c lct cj IcvcScrit, Jyncmic
elements, PNC rchics, etc.
You. [Icttin Jcwn c reminJer tc senJ hcte mcil tc
the ll6 tecm ct Micrcscjt,j ll6 is cctuclly cn cutJcteJ
brcwser thct hcs security jlcws, c very ccr renJerin
enine cnJ very jew users cut there. l reccmmenJ we
Jcnt ccccmmcJcte it (even Mcilchim Jcesnt!), cnJ
we tell thcse suclers tc c tc hell.
Client. DiJ l menticn thct we service c lcre
restcurcnt inJustry, cnJ c lct cj the termincls in
restcurcnts still run WinJcws XP with ll6?
You. [UJctes reminJer tc hunt Jcwn ll6's crectcrs.j
AL Lhe end o Lhe day you are aL Lhe mercy o Lhe clienL, and you need
Lo meeL all o Lheir requiremenLs. 8uL you also have Lo recognize your
value and be able Lo demonsLraLe iL Lhrough examples, research and
logical argumenLs.
8e responsive. ask a loL o quesLions in order Lo undersLand Lhe
clienL's moLivaLion. l endorse clienL educaLion, buL noL Lo Lhe poinL o
losing Lhe clienL and projecL. Remember LhaL your clienL is a resource
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Lo you, and good communicaLion will enable boLh o you Lo compleLe
Lhe projecL in Lime Lo waLch Lhe men's igure-skaLing compeLiLion.
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-o to ,4plain to Clients t!at T!e5 )re
Wrong
by Scm 3crnes
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ClFs o spinning @s on Lhe "ConLacL us" page. Common usabiliLy
misLakes or Lhe sake o visual appeal. Splash pages. Fancy search box.
No whiLespace. Music on page load. Home page banner o a jigsaw-
puzzle globe wiLh a piece missing. SomeLimes you jusL know LhaL
whaL a clienL is requesLing is wrong and LhaL you have Lo ind a way Lo
Lell Lhem. 8uL how
Is T!e Client Wrong:
8eore geLLing inLo hcw Lo explain Lo a clienL LhaL Lhey're wrong, ask
yoursel, "ls Lhe clienL wrong Lo begin wiLh" JusL because you don'L
approve o Lhe direcLion Lhey're Laking or o a requesL Lhey've made
doesn'L necessarily mean iL is noL a sLep in Lhe righL direcLion or Lhe
projecL. 1o be able Lo answer Lhis quesLion eecLively, you need Lo
Lrain yoursel Lo be compleLely objecLive and humble when dealing
wiLh clienL requesLs.
FirsL o all, appreciaLe one criLical Lhing. Lhe clienL probably knows
Lheir LargeL audience a loL beLLer Lhan you do. JusL as Web
proessionals quickly learn personaliLy Lypes among Lheir own clienLs,
your clienL inLeracLs wiLh Lheir LargeL audience on a daily basis and
knows whaL makes Lhem Lick. and LhaL may be jusL whaL makes you
cringe.
ou can begin Lo esLablish i Lhe clienL is wrong simply by exploring
why Lhe clienL is making such a requesL and whaL Lhe business case
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or iL is. lL could well be a siLuaLion in which Lhey spoke Lo many
people in Lhe LargeL audience demographic, and Lhey all said LhaL
Lhey were more likely Lo click an animaLed Flash banner link Lhan a
sLaLic one, or LhaL Lhey elL more engaged by a websiLe LhaL had sLock
images o smiling people everywhere.
lL could be LhaL Lhe picLure o Lhe jigsaw-puzzle globe wiLh a piece
missing acLually sums up Lhe clienL's sales piLch quiLe well and LhaL
similar messaging has proven Lo win over poLenLial cusLomers in Lhe
pasL.
O course, when aced wiLh such a siLuaLion, a good Web proessional
would undersLand Lhe business driver and suggesL alLernaLive
soluLions LhaL convey Lhe same message and achieve Lhe same goal
buL LhaL are unique, original and creaLive.
WhaLever Lhe case Lhough, always keep an open mind. Don'L assume
Lhe clienL is wrong beore seeing Lhe evidence. One guaranLee in Lhis
business is LhaL Lhe more you design and develop websiLes, Lhe more
oLen you'll ind yoursel in siLuaLions where, six monLhs aLer a
projecL's launch, you hear LhaL Lhe mosL posiLive eedback rom users
wasn'L Lhe cool biL o JavaScripL you implemenLed using
groundbreaking Lechnology, buL raLher someLhing LhaL you
considered boring and unoriginal buL LhaL exciLed Lhe clienL during
developmenL. We deliver websiLes or Lhe clienL's LargeL audience, noL
our peers in Lhe Web communiLy. someLimes painul Lo swallow, buL
clwcys Lrue.
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1haL scenario aside, leL's puL our cool haLs on again and assume LhaL
Lhe requesL or Lhe jigsaw-puzzle globe has come in, and LhaL iL
clearly has noLhing Lo do wiLh Lhe clienL's business, and LhaL iL has
made you curl up in a corner o Lhe room, banging your head againsL
Lhe wall, muLLering "Why Why Why"
WhaL approaches can you Lake Lo explain Lo Lhe clienL LhaL, in your
proessional opinion, Lhey're wrong
Speak t!e Client?s >anguage
One o Lhe mosL common problems, especially among reelancers, is
an inabiliLy Lo speak Lhe clienL's language. 8eing able Lo speak in a
way LhaL relaLes Lo Lhe clienL's business sense is crucial aL all sLages o
managing a Web projecL, buL never more so Lhan when challenging a
clienL's decision.
l you're Lrying Lo explain Lo a clienL LhaL a roLaLing banner (or any
oLher eaLure) may noL be Lhe mosL eecLive use o Lheir budgeL,
raLher Lhan say someLhing like, "l jusL don'L Lhink iL will work," or "l'm
noL sure you have Lhe budgeL," ask insLead how Lhey Lhink
implemenLing iL will beneiL Lheir business, generaLe more qualiLy
leads or increase conversions.
Always emphasize Lhe main goals, or KPls (key perormance
indicaLors), o Lhe projecL. ou'd be surprised by how oLen such a
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quesLion will resulL in a ew seconds o uncomorLable silence, as Lhe
clienL realizes LhaL Lhey wanL Lhe eaLure because Lhey Lhink iL looks
cool, when in acL Lhey can'L connecL iL Lo a KPl.
8uilding a websiLe or Web applicaLion should be LreaLed in Lhe same
way as growing a business.
. Know whaL you wanL Lo achieve.
2. Deine some measurable KPls or goals.
3. Develop a plan.
4. 8egin execuLing Lhe plan.
5. FvaluaLe every decision along Lhe way Lo make sure iL supporLs
a KPl, Lhus Laking repeaLed sLeps Lowards achieving Lhe
projecL's goals.
8y mainLaining Lhis approach, you will also rcJicclly change Lhe
clienL's opinion o you, rom LhaL o a creaLive hippie-Lype Lo a
business-savvy Web designer or developer whom Lhey should lisLen
Lo i Lhey wanL Lo sLay ocused on Lhe purpose o Lhe projecL.
8eing able Lo speak Lhe clienL's language will undoubLedly help
greaLly when Lhe Lime comes Lo Lell Lhe clienL LhaL Lhey're wrong.
8eyond using 8uzzword 8ingo words wiLh conidence, you need Lo be
able Lo back Lhem up wiLh valuable advice drawn rom your area o
specializaLion.
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,stablis! Dourself as t!e ,4pert
One o Lhe mosL imporLanL ways Lo make Lhe ordeal o explaining Lo a
clienL LhaL Lhey're wrong as sLress-ree as possible or boLh parLies is
Lo esLablish yoursel as Lhe Web experL. l you do Lhis, Lhe clienL will
compleLely LrusL you and your recommendaLions wiLhouL a momenL's
hesiLaLion.
8uL even i you are a Web experL, Lhe posiLion is noL always easy Lo
esLablish, because iL usually only becomes apparenL over Lime, aLer
you've goLLen a ew successul decisions or projecLs under your belL
wiLh Lhe clienL. lL doesn'L help eiLher LhaL many clienLs sLill regard
creaLive digiLal agencies and reelancers as eiLher kids living in Lheir
parenLs' basemenL or shady proessionals ouL Lo Lake Lhem or every
lasL penny.
1hough a challenge, you can esLablish your credibiliLy quickly using a
ew meLhods, some o which are relaLively simple Lo do.
Be Professional
8eore Lhey're convinced LhaL you're a digiLal proessional and LhaL
Lhey should LrusL your recommendaLions, you musL irsL demonsLraLe
your proessionalism by doing Lhe basics well.
8e puncLual aL meeLings and Leleconerences.
Always speak in a proessional manner.
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Deliver pre-sales paperwork on Lime.
PresenL all documenLs and images on proessionally branded
LemplaLes.
Use correcL grammar and puncLuaLion in emails.
ou'd be surprised by how quickly clienLs pick upon deiciencies in
Lhese basic business skills. 1heir percepLion o you and your
recommendaLions will be immediaLely aecLed. Unless you come
across as Lhe consummaLe proessional early on, shaking o Lhis
repuLaLion will be diiculL.
Don?t Be S!5 about Citing -ig!7Profile Clients
ou could well be a digiLal guru who has spenL years working in Lhe
indusLry and earned Lhe respecL o Lhe Web communiLy, buL mosL
clienLs won'L undersLand whaL Lhis means. 1hey have never heard o
websiLes such as Smashing Magazine or magazines such as .NeL, and
Lhey probably won'L grasp Lhe graviLas LhaL comes wiLh being a
speaker aL Web conerences such as SXSW.
However, all clienLs Lend Lo respond when you say you have worked
on a high-proile brand websiLe. When clienLs hear LhaL you've been
hired by a big name LhaL Lhey've heard o and whose producLs Lhey
perhaps use, Lhey siL up like a meerkaL and Lhink Lhey've hiL Lhe
jackpoL. Simples!
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While some Web olk aren'L always comorLable selling Lhemselves,
and while big brand experience is noL always proo o abiliLy, iL almosL
always resonaLes wiLh clienLs and makes Lhem see you as more
credible. 1his reinorces your posiLion as an experL whose advice
should be heeded. ALer all, i big brand X LhoughL you were good,
you musL be, righL
SomeLimes, o course, no maLLer how much credibiliLy you
demonsLraLe, a clienL may choose noL Lo lisLen Lo your
recommendaLions. 8uL perhaps Lhey'll lisLen Lo oLhers.
Backup /ecommen.ations it! ,'i.ence
How oLen in lie have you volunLeered your poinL o view Lo someone
or monLhs, only Lo be beaLen down each Lime, and yeL when
someone else comes inLo Lhe picLure and says Lhe exacL same Lhing,
Lheir advice is seized upon as revoluLionary. 1his is human naLure and
happens jusL as much when explaining Lo clienLs LhaL Lhey're wrong.
l a clienL is, or whaLever reason, unpersuaded by your argumenLs,
you mighL wanL Lo consider producing evidence LhaL backs up your
recommendaLions.
1his evidence can come in many orms. For example.
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8log posLs rom world-respecLed Web experLs.
SLaLisLics rom large usabiliLy sLudies.
Well-known cases where Lhe same Lhing was Lried and had
negaLive resulLs.
1his kind o evidence is obvious. 8uL someLimes, Lhe less obvious kind
can be jusL as eecLive.
Cuerrilla usabiliLy LesLing, by asking Lhe clienL Lo obLain
eedback rom employees wiLhin Lhe company.
Using ree Lools like Lo lash LesL designs.
SubmiLLing designs Lo communiLies dedicaLed Lo providing
design eedbacky.
Feedback rom cusLomers wiLh whom Lhe clienL has a good
relaLionship.
SeLLing up a poll on Lhe websiLe LhaL presenLs boLh ideas.
Web analyLics rom Lhe currenL websiLe.
Common poinLs o conLenLion will be which browsers Lo supporL,
which screen resoluLions Lo opLimize or and where Lo puL Lhe old.
8uL no maLLer Lhe debaLe, backing up your poinL o view wiLh LrusLed
Lhird parLies can someLimes Lip Lhe balance in your avor and improve
how Lhe clienL perceives your dedicaLion, enLhusiasm and passion or
geLLing iL righL.
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SometimesE Being Direct Works
When all else ails, you could always Lell Lhe clienL laL ouL LhaL Lhey're
wrong. 1his is always a risky move, because clienLs will reacL
dierenLly. Some will appreciaLe iL, while oLhers will ind iL
disrespecLul or personally insulLing. 8uL i you eel sLrongly abouL iL
and you've Lried every oLher meLhod, being direcL mighL do Lhe Lrick.
Personally, l've been in siLuaLions in which l've had no alLernaLive buL
Lo Lell a clienL LhaL Lheir requesL is "na." 1o my surprise, despiLe Lhe
erociLy wiLh which Lhe clienL iniLially deended Lheir opinion, Lhey
backed down immediaLely and Lhanked me, saying LhaL Lhis is whaL
Lhey were paying me or. Lo be sLrong and sLubborn and Lo Lell Lhem
Lhings like Lhis. However, merely saying LhaL someLhing is na and
noLhing more is noL ideal, you have Lo oer an alLernaLive soluLion.
Use Lhis approach wiLh cauLion. 1ake inLo accounL your rapporL wiLh
Lhe clienL, and be passive in your Lone o voice. Also, choose your
meLhod o communicaLion wisely, or example, being so direcL by
email is usually a big misLake because o Lhe possibiliLy o
misinLerpreLaLion.
l possible, be direcL wiLh Lhe clienL ace Lo ace or by Lelephone. 1his
allows you Lo deliver Lhe message direcLly and seL Lhe righL Lone. ou
will also be able Lo observe Lhe clienL's body language or hear Lheir
response insLanLly and Lhen quickly adjusL your approach i needed.
Cenerally, i a clienL Lurns green wiLh ury, Lheir nosLrils emiL a Lrace o
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sLeam and Lheir cloLhes rip aL Lhe seams, you may wanL Lo back down
and move swiLly Lo Lhe nexL iLem on Lhe agenda. or call an
ambulance because Lhey may be ill.
O course, someLimes no maLLer whaL you say or do, a clienL will
overrule and insisL LhaL you ollow Lheir requesL. ou know whaL
1haL's okay. lL happens. 1haL's lie.
8uL LhaL doesn'L necessarily have Lo be Lhe end o Lhe debaLe!
Cno W!en an. -o to ).mit Defeat
Occasionally you'll Lry every known meLhod o explaining Lo a clienL
LhaL Lhey're wrong, and noLhing works. 1hey'll conLinue insisLing LhaL
you design or develop whaLever Lhey wanL or else Lhey'll go Lo
someone who will. And yeL you eel wiLh ccmlete sincerity LhaL
Lhey're making a misLake LhaL will have a negaLive impacL on Lheir
business. 1his is never a good siLuaLion Lo be in.
1here really are no hard and asL rules on whaL Lo do in such a
siLuaLion. Fach case should be LreaLed on iLs own basis. 8uL wiLh
experience comes Lhe insLincL o knowing when Lo admiL deeaL and
do as you're Lold.
1his eeling is never nice, buL someLimes LhaL's how iL is. And i you
have Lo siL in Lhe corner and be quieL, do iL proessionally and poliLely.
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Under no circumsLances should you Lhrow your Loys ouL o Lhe pram
and give Lhe clienL aLLiLude. Simply explain Lo Lhem LhaL you have puL
orward your recommendaLions and given your reasons. AL Lhe end o
Lhe day, iL's Lheir business and Lheir decision. lL sLings, buL you've
done all you can, and your digniLy remains inLacL. 8uL don'L give up
yeL!
Treat Defeat as an 6pportunit5
Saying LhaL good enLrepreneurs view every deeaL as an opporLuniLy
is almosL a clich Lhese days. 8uL iL's Lrue, and Lhese siLuaLions are no
dierenL. 1here's admiLLing deeaL, and Lhen Lhere's retenJin Lo
admiL deeaL! Once you've been beaLen down by a clienL, accepL iL,
geL over iL and Lhink posiLively abouL how you can Lurn deeaL inLo a
win/win or everyone.
For example, suggesL Lo Lhe clienL LhaL i Lhey choose Lo press ahead
againsL your recommendaLion, Lhen your nexL recommendaLion will
be Lo implemenL some cusLom Web analyLics Lo moniLor Lhe ouLcome
o Lhe decision.
l a clienL insisLs on giving Lhe home page banner a small call Lo
acLion LhaL, in your opinion, is diiculL Lo read or noL prominenL
enough, persuade Lhem Lo leL you implemenL some A/8 LesLing. one
monLh wiLh Lheir banner and one monLh wiLh your proposed soluLion,
and leL Lhe sLaLisLics do Lhe Lalking. No clienL would conLinue Lo insisL
on Lheir soluLion i yours delivered a beLLer reLurn on invesLmenL.
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l you're Lhinking, "WhaL Lhe heck is A/8 LesLing" even beLLer! 1his is
an ideal opporLuniLy Lo learn a valuable skill while geLLing paid and
giving your clienL excellenL service!
Summar5
Fxplaining Lo a clienL LhaL Lhey're wrong is never easy. lL could blow
up in your ace and damage whaL was a good relaLionship. 8uL
everyone is wrong someLimes, and clienLs are no dierenL. Always
sLarL by asking yoursel i Lhe clienL is, in acL, wrong. Or are you Lrying
Lo impose your opinion (based on a narrow Web-only view) on whaL
is ulLimaLely a business decision LhaL aecLs Lhe clienL's enLire
sLraLegy, boLh online and oline.
l you conclude LhaL Lheir direcLion is sLill misguided, open a dialogue
wiLh Lhem in language Lhey relaLe Loo. business language. RaLher Lhan
say iL won'L work, ask Lhem whaL goals or reLurn on invesLmenL Lhey
Lhink Lhe direcLion will help achieve.
FsLablish yoursel as Lhe digiLal experL rom Lhe momenL you make
conLacL wiLh Lhe clienL by conducLing all aspecLs o your work wiLh
proessionalism. Do everyLhing you can Lo posiLion yoursel as
someone who has Lhe experience Lo suggesL alLernaLive soluLions.
And where possible, back up your recommendaLions wiLh Lhird-parLy
maLerial and user eedback.
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l all else ails, be direcL wiLh Lhe clienL. 8uL know which clienLs you
can be direcL wiLh and when you will have Lo back down. Finally, don'L
leL being overruled be Lhe end o Lhe debaLe. SuggesL LesLing periods,
and leL Lhe Web analyLics do Lhe Lalking. All clienLs respond when Lhey
see imporLanL meLrics go up raLher Lhan down!
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-o to /espon. ,ffecti'el5 to Design
Criticism
by AnJrew lcllett
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WinsLon Churchill once said. "CriLicism may noL be agreeable, buL iL is
necessary. lL ulills Lhe same uncLion as pain in Lhe human body. lL
calls aLLenLion Lo an unhealLhy sLaLe o Lhings." Regardless o where
you work or who you work or, being able Lo Lake criLicism is parL o
Lhe job descripLion. WheLher you're geLLing eedback rom your boss
or a clienL, having a proper perspecLive on criLicism and a sound
undersLanding o how Lo use iL eecLively is imporLanL.
UnorLunaLely, noL many people enjoy criLicism. ln acL, many have
developed a Lhick skin and Lake pride in Lheir abiliLy Lo brush iL o
and move on. However, despiLe iLs negaLive connoLaLion, criLicism
oLen presenLs an excellenL opporLuniLy Lo grow as a designer. 8eore
you can respond eecLively, you need Lo undersLand whaL Lhose
opporLuniLies are. LeL's look aL some imporLanL aspecLs o geLLing
consLrucLive criLicism.
=nco'er blin. spots
Doing your own Lhing is easy, buL your habiLs will evenLually
become deeply ingrained and hard Lo break. CriLicism gives
you a viLal ouLside perspecLive on your work, uncovering
poLenLial areas or improvemenL LhaL you are unable Lo see by
yoursel.
C!allenge 5ourself
Feedback challenges you Lo be a beLLer designer. RaLher Lhan
seLLle or your own sLandards, you are pushed Lo Lake your
work Lo Lhe nexL level.
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De'elop communication skills
l noLhing else, dealing wiLh a criLic can dramaLically improve
Lhe way you communicaLe - an essenLial skill or any
successul design career.
6utsi.e moti'ation
ConsLrucLive criLicism oLen gives you Lhe kick in Lhe buLL you
need Lo learn a new design skill or Lechnique. Sel-moLivaLion
is greaL, buL everyone could use a hand rom Lime Lo Lime.
) lesson in !umilit5
Never underesLimaLe Lhe imporLance o humiliLy. AlLhough
criLicism can bruise Lhe ego, iL keeps you grounded, making
you easier Lo work wiLh and more open Lo learning rom
oLhers.
A posiLive view o criLicism isn'L enough. ou also need Lo know how
Lo respond eecLively when iL comes. Here are eighL Lips you can use
Lo sLarL making Lhe mosL o criLicism Loday.
#. -a'e t!e /ig!t )ttitu.e
Design is subjecLive and, like any arL orm, has no rulebook. No one
can Lell you whaL is "righL" and "wrong" wiLh your work, buL LhaL
doesn'L mean you can compleLely ignore your boss or clienL's opinion
eiLher.
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However, by Laking criLicism and eedback wiLh Lhe righL aLLiLude, you
can use iL Lo your advanLage and even enjoy iL.
Fveryone looks aL design Lhrough a ilLer shaped by personal
experience, and Lhis ilLer is usually very dierenL rom your own.
While you may have a degree in design and 0 years o experience,
noL everyone will agree wiLh your "experL" opinion, so don'L expecL
Lhem Lo.
1he imporLanL Lhing is Lo have a proper aLLiLude rom Lhe beginning.
FxpecL oLhers Lo disagree wiLh you, and be open Lo new perspecLives.
Align your expecLaLions and undersLand LhaL criLicism is parL o Lhe
process. While harsh criLicism can cuL deep and even scar, iL can also
moLivaLe, insLrucL and do all o Lhe good Lhings menLioned above.
LasL, buL noL leasL, Lry Lo remove yoursel rom Lhe criLicism and view
iL as a commenLary on your acLions or work and noL a personal aLLack.
While easier said Lhan done, Lhis disLincLion is key Lo responding
eecLively. l you can rise above Lhe criLicism and respond calmly and
eecLively, you will noL only earn Lhe admiraLion o your criLic buL eel
beLLer doing iL. SeL Lhe righL expecLaLions, undersLand Lhe beneiLs,
remove yoursel rom Lhe equaLion and, remember, aLLiLude Lruly is
everyLhing.
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2. =n.erstan. t!e 6b8ecti'e
Clearly idenLiying Lhe goal o a design beore you share iL wiLh oLhers
is always a good idea. Are you showing iL o Lo mom or some ridge
Lime ls iL a clienL who's Lrying Lo solve a business challenge Lhrough
design Or perhaps you're consulLing a riend wiLh no experience or
sLake in Lhe projecL.
Regardless, a vague or conused objecLive will always eliciL o-LargeL
eedback, so make sure everyone involved "geLs iL" beore Laking
acLion. 1o respond eecLively Lo criLicism, you need Lo be sure LhaL Lhe
criLic undersLands your goals. 8e speciic. PresenL your objecLive in
clear and concise Lerms, Lhe criLicism you receive will be LargeLed and
acLionable as a resulL.
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3. C!eck Dour First /eaction
For mosL people (me included), Lhe irsL reacLion Lo criLicism is Lo geL
deensive or even lash ouL. l Lhis sounds like you, Lake Lime Lo
develop Lhe habiL o Laking a deep breaLh and counLing Lo 0 beore
responding. 1his simple yeL eecLive meLhod gives you a chance Lo
regain composure and allow logic Lo prevail over emoLion. 1he lasL
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Lhing you wanL Lo do is geL overly emoLional and give a response LhaL
you will laLer regreL. Remember, in mosL cases, your criLic is only
Lrying Lo help you.
DespiLe Lhe iniLial sLing, you need honesL eedback Lo become a
beLLer designer. 1his is especially imporLanL or enLhusiasLs or
beginners in Lhe Lrade. All visual arLs have an inLrinsic reward
mechanism. Lhe more you creaLe, Lhe more you sense Lhe progression
o your skill. lL's a loop LhaL keeps all arLisLs going, and when Lhis
euphoric momenL is crushed by accuraLe and much-needed criLicism,
recovering may be diiculL. Keep in mind, Lhough, LhaL your skill and
percepLiveness in Lhis ield will maLure over Lime. l you have Lhe righL
aLLiLude Lo begin wiLh, Lhe proper response will ollow.
1. Separate W!eat from t!e C!aff
UnorLunaLely, noL all criLicism is consLrucLive. Some people are in a
bad mood, biLLer or jusL plain negaLive and will Lake any chance Lo puL
oLhers down. Some are also inexperienced or unqualiied Lo give you
valuable eedback. While design is subjecLive, being able Lo separaLe
useul eedback rom cheap shoLs and misinormaLion is imporLanL.
However, Lhis is noL an excuse Lo ignore commenLs LhaL you don'L like.
Unless you believe a criLique was given in malice or ignorance, don'L
be quick Lo dismiss iL.
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Here are a ew Lips Lo disLinguish beLween Lhe Lwo.
Specific.
valuable eedback is always speciic. lL is clear, logical and
deined. "1he logo is ugly" or "l don'L like Lhe color choice" are
examples o useless criLicism (i you geL a loL o Lhis, see #7
below).
)ctionable.
ConsLrucLive criLicism should enable you Lo Lake immediaLe
acLion. ou should come away wiLh a clearer idea o how Lo
improve Lhe concepL and Lhe paLh Lo ollow.
6b8ecti'e.
Useul eedback is unbiased. lL gives you a unique perspecLive
wiLhouL an ulLerior moLive. ObjecLive criLicism will always be
even-Lempered and appropriaLe.
*. >earn from It
1his sLep is possibly Lhe hardesL one in Lhis learning experience buL by
ar Lhe mosL imporLanL. For criLicism Lo serve iLs purpose, you need Lo
acL on iL! Don'L jusL go back Lo business as usual, make an eorL Lo
improve. 1he greaL Lhing abouL criLicism is LhaL iL uncovers our blind
spoLs, weaknesses LhaL only oLhers can see. When you're conronLed
by criLicism, don'L leL Lhe opporLuniLy pass. wriLe iL down and do
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whaLever iL Lakes Lo change or Lhe beLLer. l someone criLicizes your
copywriLing skills, sLarL wiLh baby sLeps. Read a relevanL blog once a
week. 8uy a book. PracLice wriLing headlines or 0 minuLes each day.
Small vicLories are oLen Lhe quickesL paLh Lo success. FvenLually you
will improve and have your criLic Lo Lhank.
6. >ook for a 0e I.ea
l you can'L learn anyLhing new, look or a new idea. A dierenL
perspecLive gives you a chance Lo examine your work rom a
viewpoinL LhaL you would never have considered oLherwise. JusL as
you geL inspiraLion rom a gallery or anoLher LalenLed designer, you
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can ind ideas and inspiraLion in consLrucLive criLicism, seeing iL jusL
requires you Lo sLep back. 8e curious, and approach Lhe criLicism
objecLively, iL could be incredibly useul.
CriLicism is someLimes Lhe cold shower you need Lo wake up and hiL
Lhe "ReseL" buLLon on a projecL. Remember, your work is based on
your own preconceived noLions o whaL Lhe clienL wanLs, and you
should always be open Lo Lhe possibiliLy LhaL you have missed Lhe
mark. ln Lhe evenL LhaL you do need Lo sLarL over, discuss Lhe
objecLives and expecLaLions righL away. Clariying Lhis inormaLion in
Lhe irsL place could have prevenLed a re-do alLogeLher.
3. Dig Deeper W!en 0ecessar5
AL some poinL, everyone has received vague, unclear or unacLionable
eedback. lL's a parL o lie. UnorLunaLely, unless you Lake Lhe
iniLiaLive, Lhis Lype o eedback is more or less useless Lo everyone
involved. However, i you're willing Lo dig a liLLle deeper, you may
uncover Lhings LhaL no one else was willing Lo Lell you. SLarL by asking
open-ended quesLions LhaL geL Lo Lhe core o Lhe issue, quesLions like,
"l wanL Lo undersLand your poinL o view. Could you please provide
more deLail" or "How can l improve" Ask or speciics and, above all
else, honesLy. 1hese kinds o quesLions will help keep communicaLion
lines open and allow you Lo walk away wiLh pracLical and concreLe
advice.
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l you eel uncomorLable asking your criLic or more deLail, or i Lhey
are unwilling Lo provide iL, approach someone you respecL or LrusL
and ask Lhem whaL Lhey Lhink. Do Lhey agree wiLh Lhe criLicism Why
or why noL Assuming Lhis person is honesL and knowledgeable, you
should be able Lo geL Lhe answers LhaL you need Lo move orward.
(. T!ank t!e Critic
WheLher Lhe criLicism you receive is genuine or downrighL rude, make
a poinL o saying "1hank you." 1hanking even your harshesL criLics can
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creaLe a lasLing impression, keep you humble and open Lhe door Lo
addiLional eedback in Lhe uLure. Fxpressing graLiLude will also make
you eel beLLer abouL Lhe experience and help you alleviaLe any innaLe
avoidance o eedback and criLicism you may have. l you have
ollowed Lhe guidelines above and recognize Lhe Lrue value o Lhe
criLicism you have received, saying "1hank you" shouldn'L be Loo
diiculL.
l you respecL Lhe person and Lheir opinion, go one sLep urLher and
develop a long-Lerm menLoring relaLionship wiLh Lhem. Much like in
Lhe old days o craLsman and apprenLice, an individual whose opinion
you value and hold in high esLeem can go a long way in developing
your skills and abiliLies. l noLhing else, a menLor can keep you
accounLable Lo your work and help you conLinually improve.
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-o to Persua.e Dour =sersE Boss or Clients
by Pcul 3cc
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WheLher you are geLLing a clienL Lo sign o on a websiLe's design or
persuade a user Lo compleLe a call Lo acLion, we all need Lo know how
Lo be convincing. Like many in Lhe Web design indusLry, l have a
sLrange job. l am parL salesperson, parL consulLanL and parL user
experience designer. One day l could be piLching a new idea Lo a
board o direcLors, Lhe nexL l mighL be designing an e-commerce
purchasing process. 1here is, however, a common Lheme. l spend
mosL o my Lime persuading people.
As Web designers, we oLen have Lo nudge people in Lhe direcLion we
wanL Lhem Lo go. lL is a viLal skill we all have Lo learn. We're noL
Lalking abouL manipulaLion. Underhanded Lechniques, and cerLainly
lying, won'L geL you anywhere. 8uL you can presenL yoursel and your
argumenLs in ways LhaL make people more recepLive. 1he irsL and
probably mosL imporLanL way is Lo empaLhize.
1he worsL Lhing you can do is enLer a meeLing or begin designing a
user inLerace wiLh a personal agenda. l your goal is Lo push Lhe oLher
parLy inLo agreeing wiLh you, iL will resisL. 8uL i you seek Lo
undersLand Lheir needs and respond Lo Lhem, you will ind Lhe oLhers
more cooperaLive.
#. Start b5 >istening
1o achieve Lhis, you musL really lisLen. Paying lip service Lo Lhe "idea"
o lisLening is noL enough. ou have Lo hear whaL Lhey are acLually
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saying and look or Lhose "poinLs o pain" LhaL your ideas mighL
acLually relieve.
Tailor Presentation of )gen.a
RaLher Lhan orcing Lhe people in Lhe room Lo relucLanLly agree, Lailor
your presenLaLion o ideas so LhaL Lhey see Lhe beneiL o Lhem. 1his
involves some creaLive Lhinking on your parL buL is possible i you
really undersLand Lheir needs.
S!o Benefit to 6t!er Part5
Remember, explaining how your ideas will help you or oLhers is noL
enough. ou have Lo demonsLraLe how Lhey help Lhe acLual people
you are speaking Lo. For example, raLher Lhan saying Lo your clienL,
"Users are going Lo love Lhis new eaLure," you could insLead say, "1his
new eaLure will keep users coming back, which will dramaLically
improve Lhe number o leads you receive." Once you undersLand Lhe
oLher parLy and have LhoughL abouL Lheir needs, your nexL sLep is Lo
orm a relaLionship wiLh Lhem.
2. Be Personable
l you have a good relaLionship wiLh your users, boss or clienL, Lhey
will be more inclined Lo Lake your suggesLions. O course, Lhe kind o
relaLionship you build depends on who Lhe oLher person is. our
relaLionship wiLh websiLe users is dierenL rom your relaLionship wiLh
your boss. However, cerLain approaches hold Lrue across Lhe board.
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2et T!em 0o..ing
lL's a silly liLLle Lhing, buL when l give a piLch, l Lry Lo geL people Lo
nod. Nodding is a good sign and puLs Lhem in a posiLive mood. l
normally achieve Lhis by repeaLing back Lo Lhem (in dierenL words)
one o Lheir own poinLs. 1hey will obviously agree wiLh whaL you're
saying, buL iL also demonsLraLes LhaL you're lisLening and are on Lhe
same wave lengLh.
1he same approach can be used online. For example i l am wriLing a
posL aimed aL Web designers, l know LhaL beraLing lF6 will geL Lhem
nodding in agreemenL righL away. l have succeeded in making a
connecLion.
Be ,nt!usiastic
FnLhusiasm is so imporLanL. ClienLs wanL Lo know you care abouL Lheir
projecL. 8osses wanL Lo know you are moLivaLed Lo work, and users
wanL Lo know you care abouL Lhe service you deliver. However, so
many people lack enLhusiasm when communicaLing Lheir message.
1hey come across eiLher as deeaLed beore Lhey even begin or as
overly aggressive. lnsLead, Lry overwhelming enLhusiasm. lL is
inecLious, and people geL caughL up in iL. More imporLanLly, saying
"No" Lo somebody who is oozing enLhusiasm and exciLemenL rom
every pore is noL easy. lL would be like kicking a puppy. (Well, noL
quiLe.)
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%irror T!em
ou have probably heard how mirroring a person's body language
helps esLablish a posiLive connecLion. WhaLever you do, do noL do iL!
Consciously doing iL jusL comes across as creepy! lL will happen
naLurally, so don'L worry abouL iL. 1haL said, iL is a useul indicaLion o
wheLher a ace-Lo-ace meeLing is going well. l Lhe oLher person is
mirroring your body language, chances are Lhey like you. WhaL you
can consciously do is mirror Lheir language or use Lhe same
Lerminology.
l your boss or clienL Lalks abouL "reLurn on invesLmenL" or "success
criLeria," do iL yoursel. And i you suspecL Lhe oLher parLy is noL
amiliar wiLh cerLain Lerminology, make sure Lo avoid iL. Our way o
speaking associaLes us wiLh a cerLain "Lribe." l we share Lhe same
language, we are more likely Lo build a rapporL.
%ake T!em Smile
AnoLher Lrick or building relaLionships is Lo injecL humour inLo Lhe
proceedings. l you can make Lhe oLher person smile, you've gone a
long way Lo breaking down any barriers. O course, Lhis has Lo be
done wiLh care. Overdo iL and you'll look like Lhe ool. 8uL even Lhe
mosL miserable-looking direcLors on a board are human beings, Loo,
and like Lo smile. AlLhough all o Lhese approaches are greaL or
building relaLionship, one Lrumps Lhem all. openness.
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3. Be 6pen
ou may be reading Lhis Lhinking, "1his guy is mad. WhaL i his clienLs
read Lhis sLu. Won'L Lhey eel manipulaLed" My answer is no. l am
open and honesL abouL whaL l do. l would be enLirely ine wiLh any
one o my clienLs reading Lhis because noLhing manipulaLive or secreL
is here. People haLe being deceived, so i anyLhing, Lhe honesLy in Lhis
arLicle will build my relaLionship, noL undermine iL. 1wo key
componenLs help build open relaLionships and creaLe a recepLive
audience.
Disarming -onest5
Many Limes, Lhe besL way Lo diuse a poLenLial conlicL is wiLh
disarming honesLy. For example, l regularly acknowledge in sales
siLuaLions LhaL l am Lhere Lo sell and LhaL Lhey should Lake anyLhing l
say wiLh a pinch o salL. 1he clienL obviously knows Lhis already. 8uL
verbalizing iL shows a kind o honesLy LhaL people rarely encounLer.
Be Willing to S!o Weakness
We can someLimes be so desperaLe Lo make a poinL LhaL we become
unwilling Lo admiL even Lhe slighLesL weakness in our argumenL.
UlLimaLely, Lhough, we come across as pig-headed and inlexible.
People respond well when you admiL you are wrong or are unsure o
an answer. 8e willing Lo say "l don'L know" or "l've messed up" i
necessary. People will respecL you or iL. One o Lhe besL examples o
Lhis is Flickr's blog posL "SomeLimes We Suck," in which Flickr
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apologizes or perormance problems. 8y Laking Lhis approach, iL
demonsLraLed iLs inLegriLy and compleLely deused Lhe anger o Lhose
who were complaining. O course, being willing Lo show weakness
Lakes a loL o conidence, and LhaL LraiL is criLical i you are Lo convince
oLhers.
1. Be Confi.ent
As humans we are drawn Lo conidenL leaders. We ollow Lhose who
have a clear vision and walk Lhe paLh wiLh conidence. CommunicaLing
your message wiLh conidence, Lhereore, is imporLanL. FsLablish
yoursel as an experL, and speak wiLh auLhoriLy.
Bet Confi.entE 0ot )rrogant
8eing conidenL also means having Lhe sLrengLh Lo admiL when you
are wrong. A Lruly conidenL leader does noL claim Lo have all o Lhe
answers all o Lhe Lime. 8eing able Lo concede poinLs and allow oLhers
Lo express Lheir views is a key aspecL o conidence. Only Lhose who
lack conidence ear opposing views.
Dou Do 0ot )la5s -a'e To Win
Pick your baLLles. Conceding some poinLs Lo achieve Lhe greaLer aim is
okay. Civing ground does noL undermine your posiLion. SomeLimes
you have Lo be a liLLle submissive Lo geL people on board. Don'L allow
your ego Lo geL in Lhe way. l someone eels good abouL having won
an argumenL, Lhen Lhey will more likely be accommodaLing when you
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suggesL an alLernaLive. Compromising someLimes is okay. lL is
cerLainly beLLer Lhan consLanLly being negaLive and rejecLing counLer-
proposals.
*. Be Positi'e
WheLher dealing wiLh a demanding boss, diiculL clienL or inicky
users, you have Lo impress Lhem wiLh your aLLiLude and service.
Always be helpul and keen Lo leave a posiLive impression. ln
cusLomer service, LhaL someLimes involves going Lhe exLra mile. WiLh
your boss, iL means seeing Lhe beneiLs o Lheir laLesL mad scheme.
WhaLever Lhe siLuaLion, developing a repuLaLion or being unhelpul
and negaLive is Lhe worsL Lhing LhaL can happen.
Conclusion
1here are no Jedi mind Lricks LhaL will help you Lo always convince
your clienLs LhaL you are righL. AL Lhe end o Lhe day, Lhe secreL Lo
persuading oLhers is Lo show respecL, lisLen Lo Lheir opinions and
presenL your vision in language LhaL Lhey undersLand.
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-o to Create t!e Perfect Client
9uestionnaire
3y Ccmercn Chcmcn
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Discovering whaL your clienLs really wanL is one o Lhe mosL
undamenLal sLeps in creaLing a good working relaLionship. l you can
igure ouL exacLly whaL your clienLs wanL or Lheir websiLe up ronL, iL
will save boLh o you Lime and rusLraLion laLer.
CreaLing a clienL quesLionnaire isn'L complicaLed, Lhough iL can be a
biL Lime-consuming i you don'L know where Lo sLarL. ou have Lo
Lhink abouL who your clienLs are and whaL inormaLion you need rom
Lhem, and Lhen go rom Lhere. 8elow is a compleLe guide Lo creaLing
a cusLom quesLionnaire or your design business.
W!5 Dou 0ee. a 9uestionnaire
A clienL quesLionnaire serves Lwo purposes. 1he irsL is Lo igure ouL
whaL Lhe new websiLe should achieve. 1he second is Lo igure ouL
whaL Lhe clienL wanLs Lhe websiLe Lo look like.
8oLh o Lhese Lhings are very imporLanL Lo ind ouL up ronL. 8y
iguring ouL whaL your clienL wanLs and needs, you can avoid
delivering someLhing Lo Lhem LhaL doesn'L iL Lhe direcLion in which
Lhey wanL Lo Lake Lheir websiLe.
WiLhouL a good clienL quesLionnaire, you could end up having Lo
repeaLedly go back Lo your clienL LhroughouL Lhe projecL Lo geL more
inormaLion or clariicaLion on whaL Lhey really wanL. ou could also
wasLe a loL Lime designing and coding Lhings LhaL aren'L quiLe whaL
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Lhe clienL is looking or. A good quesLionnaire removes a loL o Lhe
guesswork in designing and makes iL a beLLer experience or boLh
parLies.
Formulating Dour 9uestions
our quesLions should geL Lo Lhe rooL o your clienL's needs. 1hey
should also help you assess your clienL's likes and dislikes.
1ake Lhe Lime Lo cusLomize your quesLionnaire wiLh Lhe inormaLion
LhaL you mosL oLen need rom clienLs. 1he Lypes o websiLes you
usually design, Lhe indusLries you work wiLh mosL and Lhe level o
Lechnical knowledge your clienLs Lend Lo have can all deLermine Lhe
kinds o quesLions you will include and how Lhey are phrased.
Backgroun. an. 2eneral 9uestions
8eore you dive inLo Lhe quesLions LhaL will suss ouL how your clienL
wanLs Lheir websiLe Lo look and whaL Lhey wanL iL Lo do, you need Lo
geL an idea o whaL Lhe clienL is all abouL and why Lhey're looking or
a new websiLe. 1his secLion o your quesLionnaire can be very
revealing, especially i Lhey're unhappy wiLh Lheir currenL websiLe.
ou'll also wanL Lo geL some general inormaLion in Lhis secLion. Ask
abouL Lhe budgeL or Lhe projecL, who you'll be working wiLh direcLly,
who Lhe decision-makers are and whaL sLa are going Lo be involved
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in Lhe design process and whaL Lheir roles will be. Find ouL who Lheir
LargeL visiLor is, who Lheir cusLomers are, how Lhey're currenLly
inLeracLing wiLh Lhose cusLomers online and how Lhey'd like Lo
improve LhaL inLeracLion. And make sure Lo ind ouL wheLher Lhey
already have a domain name and hosLing package LhaL Lhey're happy
wiLh.
Here are some sample quesLions Lo gaLher background and general
inormaLion.
Why cre ycu lcclin jcr c new website Jesin cr reJesin?
Whct Jc ycu lile mcst cbcut ycur current website?
Whct Jc ycu Jislile mcst cbcut ycur current website?
Dc ycu clrecJy hcve c Jcmcin ncme cnJ hcstin lcn?
Function7Focuse. 9uestions
Figuring ouL whaL exacLly your clienL wanLs Lheir websiLe Lo do is key
Lo making sure you give Lhem whaL Lhey wanL. ou need Lo ask Lhem
quesLions LhaL sLrike Lo Lhe hearL o exacLly whaL Lhey wanL rom Lheir
websiLe. Sounds easy enough, righL FxcepL in many cases, clienLs
don'L really know whaL Lhey wanL Lheir websiLe Lo do. our
quesLionnaire can acLually help Lhem clariy Lheir needs and wanLs.
Some example quesLions or iguring ouL how Lhe websiLe should
uncLion.
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Dc ycu wcnt tc sell rcJucts cn ycur website?
Dc ycu wcnt c ccntcct jcrm cr cny cther jcrms cn ycur website?
Dc ycu neeJ cn imce cllery, viJec cr cther multimeJic ccntent?
Dc ycu wcnt c blc cr cther reulcrly uJcteJ ccntent?
Design7Focuse. 9uestions
Finally, you'll wanL some inormaLion abouL Lhe aesLheLics o your
clienL. Now, in an ideal world, your clienL will have perused your
porLolio and seen Lhe kinds o websiLes you design and will have
decided Lo work wiLh you because Lhey like ycur aesLheLic. 8uL LhaL's
noL always Lhe case. Figuring ouL Lheir design preerences up ronL
helps you avoid designing someLhing Lhey will haLe laLer on.
ou have a ew dierenL ways Lo learn Lheir LasLes. Ask your clienL
whaL colors Lhey'd like Lo use. 1hey may have a seL color scheme or
have colors associaLed wiLh Lheir brand. Or Lhey may be open Lo your
inpuL. 1he same could be done or qualiLies LhaL Lhey wanL Lheir
websiLe Lo be associaLed wiLh (e.g. "bold," "soL," "proessional,"
"inormal," eLc.).
One o Lhe besL ways Lo geL a sense o your clienL's design
preerences is Lo ask Lhem Lo provide you wiLh examples o a ew
websiLes LhaL have designs Lhey like and a ew websiLes whose
designs Lhey don'L like. Also ask Lhem whaL Lhey like or dislike abouL
each o Lhese designs, because Lhis sheds lighL on Lheir overall LasLes.
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AnoLher, someLimes more Lelling, meLhod o doing Lhis is Lo show
Lhem ive Lo Len websiLes and ask Lhem whaL Lhey like and dislike
abouL each. 1his is oLen more eecLive, because you can choose
websiLes LhaL have a wide range o sLyles and geL a uller picLure o
whaL Lhey like and don'L like.
Here are some sample quesLions Lo igure ouL Lhe clienL's design
LasLes.
Dc ycu hcve c cclcr scheme ycuJ lile tc use?
Whct wcrJs wculJ ycu lile ecle tc cssccicte with ycur website?
Dc ycu hcve c secijic style cj Jesin in minJ?
W!at 0ot to )sk
l don'L know how many Limes l've seen quesLionnaires ask Lhings LhaL
are eiLher compleLely irrelevanL or Loo Lechnical or Lhe average clienL
Lo undersLand. Remember LhaL your clienLs likely don'L know much
abouL Lhe Lechnical aspecLs o design. 1hey probably know Lhey wanL
someLhing like an image gallery or a map, buL Lhey won'L know
wheLher Lhe Lhings Lhey wanL will require a cusLom daLabase or
JavaScripL. ln many cases, Lhey mighL noL even know basics, like
wheLher Lheir websiLe should have an RSS eed or Flash.
Here are some examples o unhelpul quesLions Lo ask.
Will ycu neeJ c custcm Jctcbcse?
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Will ycu neeJ IcvcScrit ( jQuery, Mcc1ccls, etc.)?
Will ycu neeJ cn e-ccmmerce scluticn?
Will ycu neeJ tc hcnJle ulccJin cnJ JcwnlccJin?
Will ycu neeJ c secrchcble Jctcbcse?
While geLLing an idea o whaL Lhe Lechnical speciicaLions o Lhe
websiLe mighL be is imporLanL, sLrucLure your quesLions around Lhe
eaLures and beneiLs o Lhe websiLe, noL Lhe speciicaLions. So insLead
o Lhe quesLions above, ask Lhings like.
WculJ ycu lile c secrch enine cn ycur website?
ShculJ visitcrs be cble tc JcwnlccJ jiles jrcm ycur website cr cst their
cwn jiles?
WculJ ycu lile visitcrs tc be cble tc sin u jcr ccccunts, cr wculJ ycu
lile c secure crec just jcr visitcrs whc hcve sineJ u jcr ccccunts?
WculJ ycu lile tc sell rcJucts cn ycur website?
Planning for t!e Future
Make sure Lo ask clienLs abouL Lheir uLure needs, Loo. l you know
Lhey mighL wanL an e-commerce soluLion six monLhs down Lhe road,
make provisions or LhaL in Lhe iniLial websiLe design. 1he goal is Lo
build a long-Lerm relaLionship wiLh Lhe clienL, so Lhe more involved
you are in Lheir goals and plans, Lhe easier your job will be now and in
Lhe uLure.
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ou'll also wanL Lo ask clienLs abouL regular updaLes and mainLenance
or Lhe websiLe. And you'll wanL an idea o how much updaLing and
mainLaining Lhey will wanL Lo handle in-house and how much Lhey
mighL wanL you Lo do. Some sample quesLions.
Hcw cjten Jc ycu wcnt cr will ycu neeJ tc mcle uJctes tc ycur
website?
Dc ycu hcve scmecne in ycur ccmcny whc will be rescnsible jcr
cncin website uJctes?
Dces thct erscn hcve cny exerience with website mcintencnce?
Whct jectures Jc ycu cnticicte cJJin tc ycur website in the juture?
Tips to /efine Dour 9uestionnaire
Once you have a basic quesLionnaire mapped ouL, iL's Lime Lo make
some reinemenLs so LhaL you geL Lhe besL resulLs rom iL. 1he goal o
Lhe quesLionnaire is Lo improve your worklow and communicaLion, so
you wanL Lhe process Lo be as eicienL and eecLive as possible.
FirsL o all, keep Lhe quesLionnaire shorL. ou wanL as much
inormaLion rom your clienLs as possible, buL i your quesLionnaire is
Loo long, your clienLs will geL bored and may noL give iL Lhe aLLenLion
iL deserves.
1here are Lwo ways Lo keep Lhe quesLionnaire shorL. limiL Lhe number
o quesLions and/or limiL Lhe lengLh o quesLions. Reine your
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quesLions unLil Lhey are as shorL as possible (ive Lo Len words is
plenLy).
Don'L be araid Lo be creaLive wiLh some quesLions Lo geL your clienLs
Lhinking ouLside Lhe box. Ask a ew unorLhodox quesLions. Ask Lhem
Lo compare Lheir websiLe Lo someLhing unrelaLed (such as a building
or a ood). ou could provide sample answers Lo guide your clienLs Lo
giving you Lhe inormaLion you're looking or.
ConLinue Lo reine your quesLionnaire over Lime and as you geL clienL
eedback. Consider adapLing Lhe quesLionnaire Lo individual clienLs Lo
geL inormaLion LhaL is more relevanL Lo parLicular projecLs. lL's your
quesLionnaire. use iL Lhe way LhaL works besL or you and your clienLs.
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%arketing & Con'incing Strategies
For Freelancers
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2etting ClientsL )pproac!ing t!e Compan5
by Peter Smcrt
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A deining acLor in any reelancer or agency's success in gaining new
business is Lheir abiliLy Lo markeL Lheir skills eecLively. ln Lhis Lhree-
parL series, we will explore ways in which designers can sLraLegically
promoLe Lhemselves Lo geL new clienLs. Securing new business by
approaching companies can be a very challenging process, ull o
piLalls. Here, we will look aL a couple o sLeps Lo impressing poLenLial
clienLs and avoiding Lhe mosL common misLakes.
Step 6neL Be Focuse.
A ocused approach Lo work is paramounL or success. Freelancers
oLen Lake on every job opporLuniLy LhaL presenLs iLsel. AlLhough Lhis
would rapidly expand your showcase o work, more oLen Lhan noL iL
leaves you over-sLreLched, wiLh a porLolio o odds and ends insLead
o specialized resulLs. Focus insLead on who you would like Lo work
wiLh. 1his could be based on several acLors, such as.
In.ustr5. 8y specializing in a parLicular indusLry, such as
healLh care or reLail, you build a porLolio o relevanL
experience. AlLhough Lhis could limiL your workload iniLially,
you will be acLively working Lowards idenLiying yoursel as
someone wiLh experLise in your chosen ield.
%e.ia. Deciding which media and plaLorms Lo specialize in is
imporLanL or any irm or individual. For many, Lhe choice is
beLween specializing in prinL and digiLal communicaLion. 1his
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disLincLion will, again, allow you Lo ocus and build relevanL
knowledge LhaL you can Lhen oer Lo your clienLs.
2eograp!ical location. ou may also wish Lo ocus your
eorLs on a parLicular geographical locaLion. 1his could be a
neighborhood, ciLy or region. 8y doing so, your adverLising in
local media can be more personal and LargeLed, and you
ensure easy Lraveling beLween you and clienLs.
Step ToL Be Insig!tful
Once you have esLablished Lhe kind o organizaLions you would like Lo
work wiLh, learn how Lheir businesses work. visiL a range o websiLes
in Lhe ield and ask yoursel some key quesLions, such as.
W!o .o t!e5 ork it!:
Knowing who your clienLs work wiLh will give you an indicaLion
o how you can be o service Lo Lhem. For example, an
insurance irm looking Lo LargeL universiLy sLudenLs mighL
need Lo reresh iLs lyer and lealeL campaign in Lime or Lhe
beginning o Lerm.
W!at are t!e compan5?s et!ics:
MosL esLablished organizaLions puL a vision sLaLemenL on Lheir
websiLe. 1his will give you key insighL inLo a company's values,
hisLory, growLh and uLure direcLion. 1his inormaLion is
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invaluable because iL will help you beLLer undersLand how Lhe
business operaLes and, Lhus, how you can Lailor your approach
Lo iL. For example, i Lhe company has a progressive sLance on
susLainabiliLy and Lhe environmenL, you could approach Lhem
wiLh ideas or paperless adverLising and communicaLion.
Does it !a'e an a.'ertising bu.get:
AlLhough Lhis will noL be expliciLly sLaLed, by reviewing a
business' prior adverLising, you will be able Lo esLimaLe how
much capiLal iL Lypically invesLs in design per annum. Again,
Lhis allows you Lo Lailor your markeLing proposal Lo iLs budgeL.
1hese kinds o quesLions will give you imporLanL insighL inLo Lhe
services LhaL an organizaLion requires and, Lhereore, whaL services
you can oer.
Step T!reeL Be Personal
1he power o ace-Lo-ace conLacL should noL be underesLimaLed. A
common LempLaLion or graphic designers is Lo manage Lheir small
empire rom behind a desk over Lhe lnLerneL. AlLhough work can be
ound online, Lhe relaLionship beLween clienL and designer is oLen
leeLing.
8uild sLrong links wiLh your clienLs, which will increase Lhe likelihood
o repeaL business. One o Lhe mosL imporLanL skills Lo learn, Lhen, is
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ace-Lo-ace meeLings. MeeLing a clienL ace Lo ace orces Lhem Lo
give you Lheir undivided aLLenLion. ou will be able Lo convey your
passion much more eecLively and personally.
AcLively seek ouL opporLuniLies Lo meeL poLenLial clienLs ace Lo ace.
Cold-calling or emailing can be a Liring and dishearLening experience
and may give you limiLed resulLs. lnsLead, when approaching a
business or Lhe irsL Lime, ind ouL Lhe name and conLacL deLails o
Lhe markeLing direcLor, which you can oLen ind on Lhe company's
websiLe. l iL's noL Lhere, make a quick phone call Lo Lo ask or iL.
8eore making your irsL conLacL wiLh a clienL, do your research.
Familiarize yoursel wiLh Lheir business and undersLand o whaL Lhey
do. When you're ready Lo make conLacL, have a ew shorL senLences
prepared LhaL summarize Lhe speciic inormaLion you wish Lo
communicaLe. 1his should include your.
Intro.uction. Fxplain who you are and why you are calling.
AlLhough Lhis may seem obvious, esLablishing Lhese acLs is
crucial Lo presenLing yoursel clearly and memorably. 1his
could be as simple as. "Cood aLernoon. My name is PeLer
SmarL, and l am calling on behal o Roam Design."
-ook or pitc!. Once you have esLablished who you are,
engage your poLenLial clienL. MenLioning LhaL you specialize in
Lheir parLicular indusLry and LhaL you oer a range o Lailored
services is an aLLracLive proposiLion and good way Lo begin.
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AlLernaLively, you could begin wiLh a hook. A hook is a one-o
special oer LhaL makes your services more aLLracLive. 1his
could be oering 50% o Lhe cosL o design work in
November or a ree hour o consulLaLion.
Call to action. FsLablish Lhe nexL sLep your clienL should Lake.
Oer Lo meeL Lhem and consulL in person, aL a Lime and
locaLion suiLable Lo Lhem.
Step FourL Be Prepare.
Once you have arranged your meeLing, research Lhe company more
exLensively. Make noLes on key areas o inLeresL Lo develop laLer. For
example, you could look aL Lhe company's.
).'ertising
1he company's media presence is a good indicaLion o iLs
capaciLies in communicaLion. Look aL where iL adverLises, how
iL does iL and where iL doesn'L adverLise. l iL does noL
adverLise online, you could presenL Lhis as a possibiliLy.
Bran.ing. l possible, source a varieLy o Lhe company's
markeLing maLerial. Fxamine iL and noLe anyLhing you would
do dierenLly.
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Website. Does Lhe company have a websiLe l noL, Lhis could
be a greaL opporLuniLy Lo expand iLs online presence. l iL
does, look aL Lhe sLrucLure, conLenL and presenLaLion. NoLe
areas or improvemenL and, more imporLanLly, why Lhey could
be improved.
Having an inormed opinion on Lhe sLrengLhs and weaknesses o Lhe
company's currenL markeLing and perceived idenLiLy allow you Lo
guide iL Lo services LhaL would beneiL iL. ou may also ind iL helpul
Lo compare iLs adverLising Lo LhaL o iLs compeLiLors.
Also, prepare your "elevaLor piLch," which is a brie summary o your
business, iLs aims and how iL helps clienLs. 8eing able Lo explain whaL
you do concisely demonsLraLes LhaL your business goals are clear and
your approach LargeLed.
Step Fi'eL Be =niBue
SLanding ouL rom Lhe crowd is diiculL, especially i you are an
emerging LalenL. 1o sLand ouL, come up wiLh original ideas on how Lhe
company can markeL iLsel. SuggesL opLions iL may noL have yeL
considered, such as viral markeLing, Web-based promoLion or
LargeLed lealeLing, and demonsLraLe how Lhey would improve
business.
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lmpress Lhe clienL and exceed iLs expecLaLions. l you are going Lo
propose a websiLe redesign, Lake Lime beore your meeLing Lo
produce a ew draLs o whaL iL could look like. ou could presenL
alongside a concise wirerame showing how Lhe inormaLion could be
beLLer presenLed. AlLernaLively, i you will be proposing Lo reresh Lhe
company's branding and idenLiLy, bring some visual sLimuli Lo supporL
your argumenL. Don'L presenL a whole new idenLiLy, buL raLher
suggesL colors, layouLs, Lypeaces and adverLising ormaLs LhaL could
guide Lhe conversaLion.
1he clienL will wanL evidence o your skill Lo deliver on your ideas, so
bring your porLolio along Lo impress Lhem, along wiLh reerences and
endorsemenLs rom previous clienLs.
Step Si4L Be Professional
our irsL meeLing wiLh Lhe poLenLial clienL is o paramounL
imporLance because iL will deLermine wheLher you gain Lheir business.
1o make a good impression, be meLiculous in your preparaLion.
Research and plan you presenLaLion well so LhaL you are conidenL in
your delivery and can supporL your proposals wiLh acLs. 1his means
you should have a irm grasp o Lhe igures and cosLs associaLed wiLh
your proposal.
For example, i you will be proposing an inner-ciLy billboard and bus-
sLop markeLing campaign, know Lhe cosLs involved in producing
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large-ormaL prinLing and renLing adverLising space. Find ouL Lhe
number o people who will see Lhe adverLisemenLs daily. 1his will give
Lhe clienL a balanced appreciaLion o boLh Lhe ouLlay and Lhe beneiLs
o your proposal.
Fqually imporLanL is your appearance. lnvesL in a suiL or smarL
business-wear. 1his will impress upon Lhem LhaL you are serious abouL
whaL you do, which will make Lhem Lake you seriously, Loo.
Step Se'enL Be )ttenti'e
LisLen Lo Lhe clienL. 1his sLep is oLen missed by designers who are
overly keen Lo explain Lheir innovaLive ideas. LisLening is a powerul
Lool. lL shows you Lruly care abouL whaL Lhe clienL has Lo say. 1ake
noLes on any inormaLion Lhey oer abouL Lhe company, iLs plans and
immediaLe requiremenLs.
Step ,ig!tL Be /esourceful
Fvery meeLing wiLh a clienL is an opporLuniLy and should noL be Laken
lighLly. Approach meeLings resourceully and demonsLraLe your
proessionalism. ou could even prepare a package o maLerials Lo
leave wiLh Lhem, including.
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Business car.. Always have a business card on hand. lL should
have your name, conLacL deLails and, ideally, a websiLe where
Lhey can see samples o your work.
Samples of ork. ou mighL also wanL Lo leave a mini-prinLed
porLolio o some o your besL and mosL relevanL work. Fven i
you don'L win LhaL parLicular projecL, your deLails and
experience will be in Lheir ile or uLure reerence.
Curriculum Hitae. A Cv is a useul record o relevanL work
experience and is a good place Lo lisL your previous clienLs and
Lechnical compeLencies.
Remember, Lhe decision abouL which reelancer Lo hire may noL resL
wiLh one person in Lhe organizaLion. 8y adhering Lo Lhis simple sLep,
you allow oLhers who are involved in Lhe process Lo see your work aL
Lheir convenience, making your applicaLion even sLronger.
Step 0ineL Be Committe.
l you do noL hear rom Lhe clienL immediaLely, don'L panic or give up
hope. WaiL a ew days, and Lhen send a poliLe email, Lhanking Lhem
or Lheir Lime. ln Lhe email, reiLeraLe in brie your proposal and
menLion how you would love Lo work wiLh Lhem. 1hen waiL. l you
receive no response wiLhin Lhree weeks o your meeLing, you may
wanL Lo re-inquire by Lelephone. Chances are, Lhey have noL orgoLLen
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abouL you, moreover, your call will demonsLraLe your enLhusiasm and
commiLmenL.
Step TenL ,'aluate
WheLher or noL your meeLing was successul, you can learn someLhing
rom iL. FvaluaLe your perormance, whaL you did well and,
imporLanLly, whaL you could improve. Learn rom your misLakes, and
recLiy Lhem or your nexL venLure. our abiliLy Lo do Lhis plays a viLal
role in your uLure success.
Conclusion
1hese are jusL Len o Lhe key sLeps Lo consider when approaching a
company. Remember. be bold, be proacLive and don'L be araid Lo
make misLakes. Fvery person has Lheir own meLhods o inding work,
buL learning Lhese sLeps could be Lhe dierence beLween realizing a
dream and seLLling or second besL.
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Con'erting Prospects into Clients
by Alyssc Crecry
1he abiliLy Lo communicaLe, and communicaLe well, is one o Lhe
biggesL acLors in business success. ou could be an excellenL
designer, buL i you're unable Lo promoLe your services and
communicaLe eecLively wiLh clienLs and colleagues, your poLenLial is
limiLed. 1he principal areas where communicaLion is essenLial include.
PiLching poLenLial clienLs,
ClienL meeLings,
CusLomer service,
Face-Lo-ace neLworking,
MarkeLing your business
Pitc!ing Potential Clients
When you reelance or own a business, your livelihood depends on
your abiliLy Lo sell your services. ou need Lo be able Lo convince
prospecLs LhaL you are Lhe besL person or Lhe job, and Lhe
communicaLion secreLs in Lhis arLicle will help you do Lhis successully.
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#. )sk t!e /ig!t 9uestions
ParL o selling your services is being able Lo undersLand Lhe clienL's
unique needs. ou can do Lhis only by asking quesLions LhaL geL Lo
Lhe hearL o Lhe challenges Lhey are acing. Once you have a clear
undersLanding o Lhe problem LhaL Lhe clienL needs Lo solve, you can
piLch your services as Lhe besL possible opLion or Lhe clienL, ouLlining
how you will meeL Lheir needs.
For example, when l am conLacLed by a prospecLive clienL, l have Lhem
ill ouL a websiLe requiremenLs documenL LhaL poses various quesLions
Lo help me beLLer undersLand whaL Lhey are looking or in a websiLe.
Some o Lhe quesLions l ask are.
Describe Lhe naLure o your business.
Who is your LargeL audience
WhaL is Lhe background on Lhe projecL (ls iL brand new Has
iL already begun)
WhaL are Lhe goals and objecLives o Lhe projecL
WhaL is Lhe Limeline or Lhe projecL
2. Communicate Professionall5
our proessionalism can win you conLracLs, and your communicaLion
skills add Lo Lhe compleLe package. 1ake Lime Lo prooread all emails
prior Lo sending, use a business email address wiLh a proper
signaLure, answer Lhe phone proessionally, and speak arLiculaLely and
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compeLenLly aL all Limes.
While my email signaLure has evolved over Lime, below is Lhe general
ormaL l ollow, which has worked well or me.
-
Ncme
Ccmcny | Website
lmcil | Phcne number
Client %eetings
ClienL meeLings, even Lhose LhaL Lake place over Lhe Lelephone, are an
inLegral parL o every successul business. Follow Lhese Lips Lo make
your meeLings as producLive as possible.
3. Sc!e.ule an. Prepare T!oroug!l5
We're all busy Lhese days, so scheduling your meeLings in advance
ensures LhaL you and your clienLs have an adequaLe amounL o
uninLerrupLed Lime Lo speak. Once your meeLing is scheduled, Lake
Lime Lo prepare an agenda LhaL ouLlines ocus poinLs and seLs a
sLrucLure. Sharing Lhe agenda or Lhe meeLing gives boLh you and Lhe
clienL an opporLuniLy Lo ully prepare.
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8ecause you may noL be using Lhe same calendar or scheduling
program as your clienL, conirming Lhe daLe and Lime o your
meeLings in an email and sending a reminder and Lhe agenda Lhe day
beore is good pracLice. l you are unsure how Lo ormaL an agenda,
plenLy o LemplaLes are available or ree online.
1. SpeakE PauseE >isten
When you have several Lopics Lo Lackle, rushing Lhrough Lhem Lo geL
all o your ideas ouL may be LempLing. 8uL Lhis causes conusion and
makes Lhe clienL eel LhaL Lheir inpuL is noL imporLanL. Slow down, and
remember LhaL communicaLion is a Lwo-way sLreeL. FsLablish a give-
and-Lake LhaL allows boLh parLies Lo have Lheir say.
One way Lo become a beLLer lisLener is Lo limiL or eliminaLe
disLracLions during your conversaLions. 1haL may mean closing your
email clienL, Lurning o Lhe Lelevision and closing Lhe door Lo your
oice. 8y doing Lhese small Lhings, you ensure LhaL Lhe clienL has your
ull aLLenLion, and Lhey will sense LhaL, Loo.
*. Follo =p in Writing
While you may be Laking noLes during phone or in-person meeLings,
Lhe oLher parLy mighL noL be, so ollow up aLer Lhe meeLing wiLh a
wriLLen message, giving an overview o Lhe discussion Lo make sure
you are boLh on Lhe same page. Summarize whaL was agreed, repeaL
quesLions LhaL were raised and ouLline Lhe nexL sLeps and
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responsibiliLies or boLh parLies. ln addiLion Lo sending your noLes,
inviLe Lhe oLher parLy Lo give Lheir eedback on whaL you have senL.
1his way, iL becomes a collaboraLive documenL and noL jusL one
person's view.
Customer Ser'ice
our clienLs wanL Lo eel LhaL Lhey are your prioriLy. ou can make
Lhem eel so by providing exemplary cusLomer service. 1ry Lhese
communicaLion-ocused acLions Lo improve your cusLomer service.
6. )sk for Fee.back
One way Lo mainLain long-Lerm relaLionships wiLh your clienLs is by
keeping open lines o communicaLion. 1his means asking Lhem or
Lheir inpuL on how Lhings are going and how Lhey eel abouL Lhe
service you're providing. 1his can be accomplished by inquiring aL Lhe
end o a projecL, during day-Lo-day conversaLions or Lhrough ormal
surveys. 1he ormaL maLLers less Lhan Lhe acLual acL o iL, so work iL
inLo your business and ine Lune as you go along.
When conducLing surveys, use an online service LhaL Lracks responses
or you. 1here are several online services LhaL should give you enough
uncLionaliLy Lo conducL clienL surveys.
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3. )..ress Problems
l a clienL is unhappy, don'L ignore Lheir complainLs. Ask Lhem why
Lhey are unhappy and whaL you can do Lo ix Lhe siLuaLion. 1he longer
you waiL Lo bring iL up, Lhe worse iL will geL. Addressing Lhe issue and
being accounLable when appropriaLe puLs you on Lhe paLh Lo
resoluLion. And your willingness Lo ace Lhe problem head-on Lells Lhe
clienL LhaL you care abouL Lhe projecL and Lheir saLisacLion.
l a clienL complains abouL your Lurnaround Lime or responsiveness,
you may need Lo creaLe a more ormal projecL plan Lo clariy
expecLaLions. A working documenL like Lhis can also eliminaLe some o
Lhe uncerLainLy regarding responsibiliLies and keep everyone on Lrack.
(. Tr5 a 0e Format
l a problem wiLh your clienL sLems rom miscommunicaLion, Lry a
dierenL meLhod o communicaLion. l you have been handling
everyLhing via email, schedule a phone call Lo see i LhaL clears Lhings
up.
ALer Lhe call, you can summarize Lhe conversaLion in an email Lo Lhe
clienL, which will give you anoLher opporLuniLy Lo geL boLh o you on
Lhe same page again.
1oday, so much communicaLion is done via email LhaL Lhe opporLuniLy
or major miscommunicaLion is almosL ineviLable. A rule o Lhumb is
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Lo limiL your email Lo one screen-ull (i.e. above Lhe old), anyLhing
LhaL requires more space Lhan LhaL should be handled by phone. 1his
should help you avoid some o Lhe piLalls o relying on email alone.
Face7to7Face 0etorking
NeLworking evenLs, conerences and oLher ace-Lo-ace opporLuniLies
can Lake your business Lo a new level. 1hese Lips ocus on helping you
geL Lhe mosL rom in-person neLworking acLiviLies.
+. Communicate Confi.entl5
8e conidenL and use body language Lo supporL LhaL conidence.
Shake hands irmly, smile and make eye conLacL while communicaLing
aL live neLworking evenLs. Don'L orgeL Lo bring business cards Lo
hand ouL Lo everyone you meeL, and remember Lo relax and be
yoursel.
8eore heading ouL Lo a neLworking evenL, pracLice inLroducing
yoursel Lo new people Lo gain conidence. Working on your
inLroducLion wiLh someone you LrusL and asking or Lheir eedback
also helps.
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#$. Prepare an ,le'ator Speec!
An elevaLor speech helps you make Lhe mosL o a irsL impression,
while making neLworking siLuaLions easier and more producLive. 8e
prepared wiLh your speech and ready Lo answer common quesLions
abouL your business and whaL you do. PracLice your elevaLor speech
ahead o Lime so LhaL you are relaxed and comorLable wiLh
inLroducing yoursel.
our elevaLor speech should lasL no longer Lhan 30 seconds and
should convey how your producL or service solves a problem or your
LargeL audience. An elevaLor speech could go someLhing like.
Hcve ycu ever ctten ccmletely lcst cn c website
beccuse the ncvicticn wcs inccnsistent, ccnjusin
cnJ JiscrcnizeJ? Whct l Jc is reJesin websites jcr
smcll-business cwners whc neeJ c strcner, mcre
ccherent cnline resence. 3y lecrnin cs much cs l
ccn cbcut the ccmcny, l crecte c strcteic lcn jcr
reinventin cn existin website tc be mcre juncticncl
cnJ user-jrienJly.
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%arketing Dour Ser'ices
WheLher you markeL your business online, in person or Lhrough
LradiLional adverLising, communicaLion is key Lo brand awareness.
Here are Lwo secreLs Lo magniy Lhe impacL o your markeLing across
Lhe board.
##. Be /esponsi'e
A big parL o markeLing is being available Lo your LargeL audience and
ollowing up when necessary. l you markeL your business Lhrough
social media ouLleLs-including 1wiLLer, Facebook and blogging-
waLch or and respond Lo commenLs, quesLions and especially
complainLs. And when you are conLacLed as a resulL o oline
markeLing acLiviLies, respond quickly and proessionally.
PlenLy o recenL examples on 1wiLLer show how cerLain brands have
been slow Lo respond Lo criLicism, hoping iL would die down, only Lo
see iL spin ouL o conLrol. Also, when you do respond on social media
websiLes, keep iL proessional, and avoid conronLaLion because LhaL
would only spread Lhe ire.
#2. Write Well
ou can'L successully promoLe your business i your markeLing copy is
noL clear, concise and acLion-provoking. l wriLing is noL your orLe,
consider hiring someone Lo help you craL copy LhaL aLLracLs poLenLial
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clienLs, generaLes inLeresL in your services and moLivaLes poLenLial
clienLs Lo acLion.
1o sLrengLhen your wriLing skills, sLarL a swipe ile o markeLing copy
LhaL you like and have ound inspiraLional. Read Lhrough iL and make
noLes o whaL you like in parLicular and whaL pulls you in. 8y making
Lhis a requenL exercise, you should be able Lo learn whaL makes good
copy good and bad copy bad.
Dour Turn to Weig! In
8eing a Lolerable communicaLor and an eecLive communicaLor is Lhe
dierence beLween being good and greaL aL whaL you do. l your
design skills are up Lo par wiLh your compeLiLion's, Lhen sLrong
communicaLion skills can puL you ahead. SLrengLhening your
communicaLion skills is worLh Lhe Lime and eorL, and you may be
surprised by how much you beneiL rom more polished and
proessional inLeracLion.
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%arketing /ules an. Principles for
Freelancers
3y Iejj CcrJner
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Freelancers have iL hard. l mean, really hard. ln Lheory, Lhe idea o
working or yoursel, o being able Lo choose who you work wiLh and
whaL you work on, sounds like Lhe perecL job. ln pracLice Lhough, iL's
a loL more Lhan jusL working on amazing projecLs or amazing clienLs
rom Lhe comorL o your own home.
1here is a Lremendous amounL o compeLiLion ouL Lhere, and a loL o
iL is willing Lo play dirLy, cuL-LhroaL and underhanded Lo beaL you Lo
Lhe clienLs. How are you supposed Lo geL ahead o Lhose guys ls iL
even possible Lo earn an honesL buck 1hankully, iL is possible and
can be a loL easier Lhan you Lhink.
%arketing is a bran. game
MarkeLing and iLs in-your-ace division adverLising are all abouL one
Lhing. 8uilding brand equiLy. l you Lake away only one concepL rom
Lhis arLicle, please leL iL be Lhis one! ln Lhis inLerneL ueled economy,
brand sLrengLh is everyLhing! 8uL brand and brand equiLy are oLen
misundersLood concepLs, Lhe easiesL way Lo Lhink abouL brand equiLy
is LhaL iL's Lhe sum LoLal o eelings people geL when Lhey Lhink abouL
your business or service. And iL's imporLanL Lo remember LhaL brand
equiLy can be posiLive or negaLive.
A company like Kiva has copious amounLs o posiLive brand equiLy
Lheir business impacLs Lhe world in a posiLive way and Lhey are nearly
universally liked because Lhey are air and pleasanL Lo work wiLh.
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On Lhe oLher hand, negaLive brand equiLy (like Mr. Mado), is LhaL
horrible, sinking eeling LhaL people geL when any menLion o your
name is raised, which, as you can imagine, makes doing business very
diiculL.
8rand equiLy is one o Lhe mosL monumenLally imporLanL parLs o
running a successul business. l people associaLe your business wiLh
nice eelings and posiLive images Lhey will wanL Lo work wiLh you. l
Lhey associaLe noLhing buL leL downs and suering wiLh your brand, iL
doesn'L maLLer how good your work is, no one will ever come
knocking.
>et?s take it from t!e top
From Lhe very irsL sLep seLLing ouL as a reelancer, you're giving up
Lhe securiLy o a consisLenL paycheck or Lhe reedom Lo work wiLh
who you wanL and when you wanL. 1here are a loL o risks, buL Lhere
are also plenLy o rewards or Lhose who succeed. FirsL Lime
reelancers and Lhose jusL sLarLing ouL oLen ask abouL inding Lhose
iniLial clienLs. A reasonable requesL. buL one LhaL is, unorLunaLely, very
hard Lo answer. SLarLing a business, especially a one man shop (in Lhe
way LhaL mosL reelancers operaLe) is a very individual process.
Fveryone has Lheir own sLory and Lheir own paLh. However, aLer
conversaLions wiLh many reelancers and my own experiences, l've
come Lo learn LhaL Lhere are a ew common Lhemes LhaL can go a
long way Lowards helping rookie reelancers geL up and running.
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It pa5s to !a'e a plan
ln Lhe beginning, iL's LempLing Lo Lry and Lake every job LhaL comes
your way. 8uL Laking every job is a misLake. ou will end up over-
sLreLched on vasLly dierenL projecLs, Lrying Lo work wiLh clienLs in
indusLries LhaL you know noLhing abouL. lnsLead, Lake some Lime
beore you even sLarL Lrying Lo recruiL clienLs Lo ormulaLe a plan. Ask
yoursel whaL Lype o work you wanL Lo do, wiLh whaL Lypes o clienLs
Knowing your audience and knowing your ocus rom Lhe ouLseL will
help you Lo qualiy prospecLs and qualiy Lheir projecLs.
For example, imagine LhaL, aLer much relecLion and research, you
decide LhaL you wanL Lo ocus solely on designing and building
webpages or 8roadway acLors. ou live in New ork CiLy and many o
your riends are acLors, plus you jusL love Lhe LheaLre. From LhaL
decision, you now have a clearly deined markeL and a clearly deined
producL or LhaL markeL. Finding prospecLs and explaining your
business becomes easier or you, and easier or Lhose prospecLs Lo
undersLand.
1i. T!e ,le'ator Pitc!L An elevaLor piLch is a one and a hal Lo Lwo
minuLe summaLion o whaL your business is and how iL beneiLs your
prospecLive clienLs. l you can'L concisely explain whaL iL is LhaL you do
and how iL helps your clienLs in LhaL shorL amounL o Lime iL's a preLLy
good indicaLion LhaL you need Lo ocus your business goals a liLLle
more.
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Having a clearly deined plan also simpliies Lhe process o qualiying
clienLs and poLenLial projecLs. l iL doesn'L iL inLo your plan don'L
Lake Lhe work, iL's LhaL simple. lL may eel counLer-producLive aL Lhe
sLarL Lo be Lurning prospecLive clienLs away buL, remember, you're in
Lhis or Lhe long haul and building a brand around your work Lakes
Lime, commiLmenL and ocus. ou can'L build a brand by working or
everyone doing whaLever projecL Lhey happen Lo have.
,'er5 person 5ou kno is 5our au.ience
When you're consLrucLing your plan, iL's imporLanL Lo Lhink abouL
whaL you wanL Lo work on and where you wanL Lo be in Lhe uLure buL
don'L orgeL Lo include Lhe groups LhaL you are already a parL o and
Lhe people you already know. our hobbies can be a greaL source o
business and a greaL way Lo geL your reelancing business o Lhe
ground. l you have a loL o riends LhaL are acLors, and you love Lhe
LheaLre LhaL mighL be a good indusLry Lo ocus on.
l you really love phoLography you can ocus on serving galleries or
phoLographers. l you already know you're passionaLe abouL Lhe
subjecL maLerial, doing Lhe work becomes LhaL much easier! And
you've already won hal Lhe baLLle wiLh Lhe people LhaL know (and
LrusL) you, so don'L be araid Lo ask. Family, riends, old coworkers,
Lhey are all poLenLial clienLs. A word o warning Lhough, mixing
business wiLh pleasure can be dangerous LerriLory and cerLainly noL
Lhe area or hard selling LacLics. Here are a ew guidelines Lo make
sure your sales piLch remains respecLul o your currenL relaLionships.
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. %ake sure 5ou?re clear about 5our intentions. l you're
sLarLing a new business iL should be clear LhaL you are going
Lo be charging or your services. 8e cerLain, rom Lhe sLarL, LhaL
your poLenLial clienL (and riend) knows LhaL you're noL giving
work away or ree.
2. 6nl5 offer !elp !ere 5ou can make an !onestE positi'e
.ifference. 1hese people LrusL you, don'L abuse LhaL LrusL jusL
Lo build your porLolio. ln Lhe long run, your riendship (and
your repuLaLion) is more imporLanL Lhan your porLolio.
3. Start small an. o'er7.eli'er. Don'L promise Lhe moon in
order Lo sell your services. lL's always beLLer Lo sLarL wiLh a
small projecL and execuLe iL perecLly. l you have an idea on
how Lo expand Lhe projecL, discuss iL aLer you've proven
you're a genius.
Bu5 localE Be local
AnoLher good place Lo sLarL is by ocusing locally. While iL's cerLainly
more inLimidaLing Lo walk inLo a local business and Lry Lo sell your
services ace Lo ace, iL can also be a loL more powerul. lL is imporLanL
Lo remember LhaL noL everyone is as comorLable wiLh doing business
over Lhe inLerneL as us web proessionals, or many clienLs, iL's easier
Lo puL LrusL in anoLher local business because Lhey can see and Louch
Lhe person wiLh whom Lhey are doing business. Physical meeLings
seLLle ears abouL ly-by-nighL inLerneL operaLions LhaL mighL jusL be
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Lrying Lo geL Lheir check and deliver someLhing sub-sLandard.
8uL ace Lo ace selling is a loL more diiculL Lhan sending ouL a ew
hundred emails and waiLing or Lhe responses Lo come pouring in.
Here are a ew Lips or successul ace Lo ace selling.
. Be Prepare.. lL's noL jusL or Lhe 8oy ScouLs! Make sure you
undersLand your clienL's business beore you walk Lhrough Lhe
door. lL's an insLanL credibiliLy boosLer when you can show LhaL
you clearly undersLand Lhe problems LhaL your prospecLive
clienL is acing.
2. S!o 5our past successes. Have a ew anecdoLes and a ew
samples o your work ready Lo show. NoL an enLire Lome o
every siLe you've ever had a hand in jusL a ew o Lhe besL
will suice.
3. Don?t be afrai. to ask. When you've shown LhaL you
undersLand your prospecLive clienLs issues and challenges and
you've esLablished Lhe qualiLy o your work, iL's Lime Lo ask or
whaL you wanL. Don'L beaL around Lhe bush, jusL Lell Lhe
prospecLive clienL whaL beneiL you can provide Lhem and how
much iL will cosL Lhem. 8e orLhcoming and honesL abouL whaL
you charge and, above all, don'L be embarrassed abouL Lhe
number you give Lhem, Lhis is business aLer all.
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Working locally is also a greaL way Lo build a communiLy around your
brand. A communiLy LhaL you can Louch and eel and Lalk Lo on a
regular basis can be a gold mine or reelancers because smaller,
local-run businesses are generally well connecLed wiLh each oLher and
are quick Lo oer recommendaLions (when deserved) Lo oLher local
businesses.
l've heard o reelancers LhaL have builL websiLes or, quiLe liLerally,
every small Lo medium sized business in Lheir Lown. 1hey sLarLed wiLh
one and, based on glowing recommendaLions and personal
connecLions, were comorLably in work or years Lo come.
,4pan.ing 5our reac!
So you've esLablished yoursel, you've goL a sLeady low o business
and you're relaLively comorLable, buL how do you Lake your business
Lo Lhe nexL level How can you earn more while mainLaing Lhe same
hours
HiLLing an earnings plaLeau is a common problem or small
businesses, especially one-person operaLions. Sure, you could bring in
employees or sub-conLracL ouL some o your work Lo oLher
reelancers buL your underlying problem sLill remains. ou are doing
work or oLher small Lo medium sized businesses LhaL can only aord
Lo pay a cerLain amounL. 1o make Lhe jump inLo a higher Lax brackeL
Lhe name o Lhe game is brand recogniLion and dierenLiaLion. People
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ar and wide need Lo know your brand and Lhey need Lo have an
acuLe undersLanding o why Lhey know your brand. ln essence, you
need Lo seL your business aparL rom, and above, Lhe compeLiLion.
Cast a i.e net
Moving rom a clienL base o small ish Lo one o big ish Lakes Lime
and, unless you live in one o Lhe major corporaLe cenLers o Lhe
world, iL Lakes geographical expansion. ou cannoL source all o your
work locally anymore and Lhis is where adverLising comes inLo play.
ConLrary Lo whaL many web personaliLies Lhese days would have you
believe, adverLising is noL dead. No, in acL, iL's more alive and more
helpul Lhan you may know! 1he Lrick wiLh adverLising Lhough, is
geLLing iL righL.
. Fa'or !ig!l5 targete.E capti'e au.iences. Place your ads
wiLhin ad neLworks who caLer only Lo your
design/developmenL niche. 8road campaigns are cosLly and
yield low conversion raLes, whereas LargeLed ads Lo people
who are acLively looking or a web designer or developer can
cosL ar less and provide many more conversions.
2. Place t!e a.s 5ourself. 8y direcLly conLacLing small niche
blogs and oLher siLes LhaL you know Lo be requenLed by Lhe
exacL clienLs you hope Lo aLLracL you can generally pay less or
adverLising space. ln addiLion, orming a relaLionship wiLh Lhe
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people on Lhe oLher end is likely Lo allow you more conLrol
over when and how your ads are shown.
3. %aintain a consistent message. Make sure LhaL all o your
adverLising is consisLenL wiLh your brand. And l'm noL jusL
Lalking abouL Lhe design o your ads. our message and your
Lone are jusL as imporLanL as how your ad looks. ConsisLency
across all o Lhese areas will help Lo build a solid brand
idenLiLy.
4. Publicit5 Stunts 2.$. 8eLLer yeL, save Lhose ad dollars,
challenge yoursel Lo pull o someLhing incredible in a shorL
period o Lime (build a working web app in 2 hours, eLc.) or
redesign Lhe homepage o a poLenLial clienL's siLe and Lhen
send Lhem redesign idea wiLh your sales piLch included.
lL's imporLanL Lo noLe. ou can'L jusL run a ew ads and expecL Lhe
business Lo jusL pour in. FecLive adverLising Lakes Lime and, above
all, consLanL measuremenL Lo be successul. SLarL small and keep good
records o new business LhaL is a direcL resulL rom your adverLising
eorLs. 1his way you can ocus your spendings on eorLs LhaL pay o
and drop adverLising wiLh liLLle Lo no reLurn on invesLmenL.
>et t!e lo'e gro
ou've heard iL beore, buL iL's so imporLanL LhaL iL's worLh menLioning
again. 1eaching Lhe world whaL you know is a Lremendously powerul
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meLhod o esLablishing credibiliLy and bringing in new clienLs. l
you've esLablished your business as Lhe experL in a given niche o
design or developmenL you've, more Lhan likely, builL an incredible
sLore o very speciic knowledge and experience. While iL would seem
Lo make good sense Lo keep LhaL inormaLion Lo yoursel (in order Lo
preserve your compeLiLive advanLage) Lhe opposiLe is acLually Lrue.
WriLe guesL posLs on inluenLial blogs, posL requenLly Lo your own
blog, make sure you're helping as many oLher designers or developers
LhaL you can. Fvery new place you can geL your name and your
inormaLion only helps Lo spread your brand and solidiy your sLaLus
as an experL. And conLrary Lo beliLLling your compeLiLive advanLage
(remember, compeLiLive advanLage is a mulLi-headed monsLer and iL
Lakes more Lhan jusL your knowledge Lo Lake your place in Lhe
markeL), iL orLiies your posiLion in Lhe markeL as Lhe mosL
knowledgeable and skilled pracLiLioner in your ield.
Need an example 1hink abouL Lhe ches o high end resLauranLs.
Why do you Lhink Lhey are so happy Lo wriLe cook books ull o Lheir
mosL prized recipes l'm sure Lhe big royalLy checks help, buL iL's
because Lhey know iL Lakes more Lhan Lhe ingredienL lisL Lo make a
beauLiul and delicious dish, and LhaL Lhose cookbooks are helping
Lhousands o people cook beLLer ood or Lhemselves, which only
serves Lo build Lheir posiLive brand equiLy and name recogniLion.
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C!arge %ore
up. Simple idea righL ou wanL Lo earn more 1hen charge more. l
you have a consLanL sLream o good business, and especially i you
have Lo Lurn clienLs away because you are Loo busy, you should be
charging more or your services.
Working Loo many hours Raise your prices and you'll cull some o
Lhe price conscious clienLs o Lhe boLLom. Chances are, you'll be
earning Lhe same or more rom less hours. A wedding phoLographer
LhaL l know has been sLeadily raising her prices since abouL Lhe Lhird
clienL she ever goL and iL's only ueled her business. She is now
charging aL leasL double whaL she was originally charging and
conLinues Lo increase her clienL-base.
SomeLhing Lo remember abouL price changes Lhough. l you are
going Lo raise your prices, give air warning Lo your currenL and
possible uLure clienLs wiLh an announcemenL on your blog abouL Lhe
price hike. 8eing honesL and orLhcoming abouL whaL your prices will
be and why you are becoming more expensive will generally quell any
opposiLion rom clienLs abouL Lhe higher price Lag on your services.
Hopeully l've given some hope Lo Lhose newbie reelancers ouL Lhere
and some encouragemenL Lo Lhose siLLing on Lhe earnings plaLeau.
And l hope LhaL everyone has Laken away Lhe idea LhaL, more Lhan
any oLher single concepL, Lhe idea o 8rand FquiLy should be Lhe
paramounL concern in any markeLing eorL you decide Lo ollow!
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-o %an5 I.eas Do Dou S!o Dour Clients:
3y Crchcm Smith
l read somewhere LhaL showing your clienL Lhe ull range o your
creaLive ideas during a projecL is imporLanL, Lhe raLionale being LhaL
Lhe clienL is enLiLled Lo see Lhe ideas coming rom Lhe creaLive
proessional who Lhey have hired and invesLed in. While Lhis approach
has some beneiLs, in some cases showing Loo many ideas is counLer-
producLive Lo Lhe naLural low o a projecL. Proo o how imaginaLive
you are can be shown in oLher ways.
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Spoilt For C!oice
Scenario #
ou look aL your lllusLraLor pasLeboard and see hal a dozen cool logo
ideas. noL jusL cool, buL super-cool. noL jusL super-cool, acLually, buL
pracLical and appropriaLe. ou have LranslaLed Lhe brie brillianLly. ou
eel raLher pleased wiLh yoursel. However, Lhe lasL Lime you showed a
clienL all o your ideas, you goL caughL up in a dizzying merry-go-
round, orced Lo mash up parLs o one logo wiLh parLs o anoLher,
using unsuiLable and under-baked concepLs.
1haL clienL was overwhelmed wiLh ideas and unable Lo choose one or
Lhe oLher. Loo many direcLions, and Loo many good ideas. ou oered
all your super-cool ideas on a plaLLer, convinced LhaL you had nailed
all possible direcLions. ou worked hard Lo pre-empL your clienLs
quesLions and suggesLions. 8uL wiLh all o Lhis hard work, you
unwiLLingly seL in moLion a series o evenLs LhaL many designers
beore you have experienced.
PuLLing your clienL in Lhe posiLion o a kid in candy sLore can lead Lo
some o Lhe more rusLraLing experiences in design work. Are we
undermining Lhe low o a projecL wiLh our need Lo have our creaLive
ego sLroked by Lhe clienL
Too muc! c!oice can be a ba. t!ing for clients.
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Scenario 2
Again, looking aL your lllusLraLor pasLeboard, you see hal a dozen
cool logo ideas. super-cool, pracLical and appropriaLe, in acL. ou
have LranslaLed Lhe brie brillianLly, as beore.
1he clienL is impressed by your imaginaLion, your inLerpreLaLion o Lhe
brie and your abiliLy Lo Lhink ouLside Lhe box. 1hey eel embarrassed
- even spoilL - by Lhe choice o amazing ideas, noL whaL Lhey were
expecLing, given Lheir previous experiences. 1he clienL looks aL Lhe
ideas and realizes you were Lhe righL person or Lhe job. 1hey go away
Lo mull over Lhe ideas.
Dou?re please.. T!e client is please.. Time for a beer.
1he clienL reLurns wiLh a decisive plan o aLLack. 1hey have picked ouL
one or several poLenLial winners rom among your ideas and are keen
Lo walk Lhrough Lweaks and changes wiLh you. 8y showing Lhe clienL
all o your ideas, wheLher cool or unky, pracLical or sae, you have
covered all bases, leL no room or misinLerpreLaLion and accounLed
or LhaL noLion o "subjecLive percepLions."
As is almosL always Lhe case, you have your own avoriLes, buL prior
experience has shown LhaL you musLn'L assume Lhe clienL will eel Lhe
same.
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Feer I.easE >ess C!oice
We could alLer Lhese Lwo scenarios by changing Lhe "showing all
ideas" Lo "showing jusL a ew." 1he advanLages would be LhaL Lhe
clienL would noL be overwhelmed. you will have provided jusL a ew
promising ideas. 1his way, you are being asserLive and conidenL in
your abiliLy Lo inLerpreL Lhe brie. ou also believe LhaL Lhe clienL
would be handicapped by more choice.
ln boLh cases, Lhe clienL mighL be pleased wiLh Lhe ideas you have
picked ouL and your abiliLy Lo geL Lhe job done. ou are a creaLive
laser-guided missile. ou don'L need your ego sLroked, and you don'L
need Lo show o your awesome imaginaLion Lo every clienL. our
porLolio does LhaL jusL ine.
ou have many oLher cool and pracLical ideas up your sleeve, buL
puLLing all your cards on Lhe Lable aL Lhis Lime is noL necessary. Save
Lhem. l Lhe clienL does noL buy any o Lhe ideas you've ilLered or
Lhem, even aLer you have jusLiied Lheir suiLabiliLy, you can all back
on Lhose. Fven i you lose round , you're prepared or round 2.
Be )are
Consider Lhese poinLs beore aLLempLing a ull-360 Lriple-duck-Lailed
high-board dive. 1his is noL a comprehensive lisL buL a good sLarLing
poinL when deciding wheLher Lo show some or all o your ideas.
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Cnoing Dour ClientL ) Ps5c!ological )ngle
UlLimaLely, your lexibiliLy in your presenLaLion o ideas will be
deLermined by how well you know Lhe clienL. geLLing a good sense o
Lheir personaliLy, Lheir brie and oLher personaliLy- and business-
relaLed issues. ou will also have Lo know Lhe process LhaL your
conLacL will go Lhrough back aL Lheir base. are Lhey Lhe decider, or do
Lhey reporL back Lo a board or senior sLa member
When a group o people is involved in making decisions, you may
wanL Lo keep a LighLer reign on Lhe creaLive process. PresenLing Loo
many ideas Lo one person can be overwhelming, buL Loo many ideas
or a board o six spells disasLer.
8eing able Lo read people is noL only useul. iL can save your saniLy
over Lime. Design and creaLiviLy are one Lhing, buL i you wanL Lo excel
aL business and aLLracL new clienLs, especially as a reelancer, being
well versed in basic psychology goes a long way.
Co'er Dour BackL ) Soli. Brief
A LighL brie is always essenLial and one o Lhe irsL Lhings Lo cover
beore doing anyLhing creaLive. A irm and assured hand is oLen
required. Research Lhe company. UndersLand iLs decision-making
sLrucLure. our poinL o conLacL may noL always be Lhe decision-
maker, you don'L wanL Lo pander Lo Lhe wrong person. Pre-empL
undesirable ouLcomes by amiliarizing yoursel as much as possible
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wiLh your clienL and Lheir business. For example, you may have been
given a Lhorough brie, buL i Lhe person who prepared iL is noL
responsible or making decisions, iL could be all or noughL.
1he brie can change during a projecL, and iL can change signiicanLly
wiLhouL you being aware o iL. 1he very naLure o Lhe creaLive process
and your collaboraLion wiLh Lhe clienL can unearLh ideas noL
previously considered. 8e luid and organic in your approach. When
you eel Lhe brie no longer relecLs Lhe direcLion o Lhe projecL, be
prepared Lo revise iL wiLh Lhe clienL.
1ake a Lime-ouL, and give yoursel Lime Lo breaLh and re-evaluaLe.
Don'L eel pressured Lo commiL. Assess Lhe siLuaLion and deLermine
wheLher a realignmenL is in order. 8eLLer Lo backLrack a liLLle now,
because aL Lhe end you will jusL have urLher Lo backLrack.
)sk a lot of Buestions. 1he more you immerse yoursel in Lhe projecL,
Lhe more amiliar you will become wiLh Lhe subjecL maLLer. Don'L be
araid Lo keep asking quesLions i you eel Lhey are imporLanL Lo Lhe
ouLcome o Lhe projecL.
Communication
For many reelancers, meeLing Lhe clienL ace Lo ace is noL always
possible, and you may run inLo complicaLions i you haven'L made
provisions. Personally, l liaise wiLh clienLs Lhrough email or Skype, buL
only when Lhe brie and communicaLion are solid. l Lhe responses are
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shorL or noL orLhcoming, Lhen l Lake iL Lo Lhe phone. Only Lhen am l
able Lo geL a sense o whaL Lhe clienL is abouL.
ln my experience, we are geLLing lazy as communicaLors, Lrying Lo
deal wiLh all aspecLs o lie - business and personal - via email and
LexL messages. Some clienLs l've had have reused Lo speak wiLh me
by phone, while Lheir wriLLen communicaLion ailed Lo inspire me wiLh
conidence.
l Lhis happens Lo you, relecL on wheLher Lhe projecL is worLh Laking
on. l you have problems communicaLing beore Lhe projecL has even
sLarLed, you will likely hiL a brick wall when Lrying Lo geL eedback on
creaLive ideas or dealing wiLh seL-backs. l have on occasion "ired"
clienLs because Lhey were noL pulling Lheir weighL, yeL expecLed me Lo
busL my guL. lL doesn'L work like LhaL.
A Lrue collaboraLion requires Lhe commiLmenL o aL leasL Lwo people.
Lhe designer and clienL.
To Conclu.e
1here is no righL or wrong answer Lo Lhe quesLion o wheLher Lo show
all o your besL ideas righL away. Assess each clienL on Lheir own Lerms
and igure ouL whaL's besL. Would Lhe clienL be overwhelmed by Loo
many choices, or would Lhey welcome Lhe varieLy No one size iLs all.
On occasion, your experience or a hunch will Lell you Lo ocus on only
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one concepL, wiLh perhaps a ew minor variaLions. 1he work period
may be slow, and you have only one projecL on Lhe go and are happy
Lo spend Lhe exLra Lime on whaL may be a valuable repeaL clienL.
SomeLimes sLicking your neck ouL and giving more Lhan you are
being paid Lo do is worLhwhile, buL LhaL's a choice only you can make.
Don'L make iL a habiL, or your clienLs will come Lo expecL LhaL exLra
workload o you all Lhe Lime. a quick paLh Lo reelance burn-ouL.
8eing a good judge o characLer, undersLanding human inLeracLion,
being able Lo see pasL Lhe here and now Lo pre-empL laLer problems,
all o Lhis helps you keep your saniLy. Spend Lime learning and
researching noL only creaLive Lechniques buL people, Loo. our job and
overall qualiLy o lie will improve as a resulL.
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Contracts " Pricing
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Freelance ContractsL Do?s )n. Don?t<s
by Rcbert 3cwen
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ln Lhe world o reelancing, Lhe enLrepreneur has Lo Lake on a number
o Lasks or Lhemselves LhaL would normally be handled by a separaLe
deparLmenL aL a bigger company. MosL o Lhese Lasks are noL parL o
Lhe creaLive processes LhaL reelance workers are used Lo, buL raLher
are more Ledious, leL-brain paperwork. RighL-brain creaLives oLen
shudder aL Lhe LhoughL o Lhese orays inLo linear domains. Such
deLail-ridden Lasks would sLrain any reelancer who wears mulLiple
haLs, buL Lhey musL be compleLed.
One such Lask is conLracLs. DraLing a conLracL LhaL covers you, and
doesn'L jusL enumeraLe inormaLion, is more Lhan imporLanL. iL is a
musL. Freelancers do noL have Lhe beneiL o a legal deparLmenL
dedicaLed Lo proLecLing Lheir inLeresLs wiLh a waLerLighL conLracL.
NeverLheless, a reelancer's conLracL musL be comprehensive, concise
and clear. lL should ouLline Lhe scope o Lhe job, scheduling demands,
Lhe expecLaLions o boLh parLies and more.
ln Lhis arLicle we'll help you idenLiy Lhe inormaLion LhaL should be
included in your conLracL and make sure you have a concreLe
agreemenL LhaL leaves liLLle chance o Lhings geLLing ouL o hand. as
can someLimes happen Lo Lhose o us in Lhe reelancing crowd.
1hese do's and don'Ls will hopeully remove a loL o Lhe headache and
guesswork LhaL comes wiLh draLing a conLracL. 8y undersLanding Lhe
raLionale behind various conLracLual elemenLs, you will be able Lo
beLLer cusLomize your conLracLs Lo iL Lhe speciic job you have been
hired or.
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T!e Basics
lnclude Lhe basic inormaLion, obviously. 1he "who" and Lhe "whaL" o
Lhe projecL. Who is conLracLing you Lo do whaL kind o work 1his is
sLandard sLu included in every conLracL LhaL deines Lhe job as a
whole. While Lhis inormaLion is probably well known by boLh parLies,
puL iL in Lhe conLracL anyway so LhaL everyone is on Lhe same page
abouL Lheir roles and responsibiliLies. 8ecause iL is such basic
inormaLion, reelancers oLen overlook how imporLanL Lhis secLion is
or esLablishing Lhe ramework o Lhe projecL.
Do?s an. Don?t<s
K.l.S.S. Keep lL Simple, Simon (your name may noL be Simon, buL iL is
nicer Lhan Lhe LradiLional "S" in Lhe phrase.) Do be sure Lo clariy your
role in Lhe projecL rom sLarL Lo inish and exacLly whaL iL enLails, so
LhaL Lhe clienL doesn'L Lry Lo puL a haL on your head LhaL you do noL
wanL Lo wear (or example, Lrying Lo make you swiLch rom designing
Lo providing Lech supporL once Lhe projecL has launched).
ou know who you are and whaL your sLrengLhs are, don'L leave room
or Lhe clienL Lo change your role in Lhe projecL or Lheir convenience.
8e speciic abouL whaL roles you are and are noL willing Lo play.
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Time Frame
1his simply esLablishes Lhe Lime LhaL Lhe projecL will Lake and Lhe
duraLion LhaL Lhe conLracL covers. SomeLimes a reelancer has Lo leave
Lime open aLer a projecL's compleLion Lo help inLegraLe Lhe producL
inLo Lhe clienL's exisLing media sLream. 8uL noL always. DeLermining
LhaL Lime rame aL Lhe beginning and ormalizing iL in Lhe Lerms and
condiLions o Lhe conLracL will ensure you are noL Laken advanLage o.
Do?s an. Don?t<s
Many people do noL like deadlines, and some reelancers are no
dierenL. WheLher you love or haLe Lhem, including deadlines in your
conLracLs is imporLanL. Don'L overlook Lhis deLail simply because o
Lhe pressure iL may bring. Cive yoursel enough Lime Lo properly
compleLe your Lasks, while keeping Lhe clienL's LimeLable in mind.
8eing vague abouL how much Lime Lhe conLracL covers will give your
clienL room Lo ind Lhings or you Lo improve aLer Lhe projecL has
launched. Also, do be sure Lo include Lime rames on when Lhe clienL
needs Lo respond Lo your submissions wiLh Lheir quesLions and
concerns, so LhaL you are noL endlessly sLrung along waiLing Lo hear
back on how Lo proceed.
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Deli'er5 Details
PuLLing Lhis in Lhe conLracL urLher clariies expecLaLions aL Lhe ouLseL.
1he clienL knows up ronL whaL Lhe inal producL will be and how you
will be delivering iL Lo Lhem. 1his rees you rom having Lo guess laLer
on Lhings like whaL ile Lypes Lhey can access, and iL gives Lhe clienL
peace o mind knowing LhaL you are boLh on Lhe same page.
lL also gives you an indicaLion o Lhe depLh o Lhe clienL's knowledge
in Lhis area o work and how well Lhey will be able Lo work wiLh Lhe
producL once you hand iL over. And being able Lo anLicipaLe Lhe
clienL's need or assisLance in accessing and inLegraLing your producL
will help you ormulaLe oLher parLs o Lhe conLracL.
Do?s an. Don?t<s
Once again, keep iL simple. Once you've assessed Lhe clienL's needs,
don'L send Lhem more iles or ile Lypes Lhan are needed Lo saLisy Lhe
projecL's requiremenLs. Don'L Lry Lo impress Lhem wiLh a ZlP ile ull o
exLras LhaL show how proessional you are. 1his will overwhelm clienLs
who are noL design-savvy and encourages needless pesLering.
Keeping iL simple will move your clienL happily along Lheir way, noL
only giving you peace o mind rom a job well done buL reeing you
rom uLure disLracLions as you move on Lo your nexL clienL.
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T!e Financials
For mosL design work, billing by Lhe job, raLher Lhan by Lhe hour, is
easier or everyone. ou may have already come Lo an agreemenL on
inancial maLLers, buL include Lhem in Lhe conLracL anyway or good
measure. JusL because you have an undersLanding abouL paymenL,
Lhe clienL could always convenienLly "orgeL" Lhe amounL or change
Lhe Lerms.
Do?s an. Don?t<s
Agree on an iniLial deposiL (whaLever seems air) beore doing any
work, Lo proLecL boLh parLies i eiLher wanLs Lo back ouL. Make sure
Lhe clienL undersLands LhaL Lhis deposiL proLecLs Lhem as well by
commiLLing you Lo Lhe projecL and keeping you rom being
sideLracked by oLher clienLs. Also include a CancellaLion Clause in Lhe
inancial secLion o Lhe conLracL. 1his isn'L SanLa's less amous broLher,
iL acLually proLecLs you, Lhe reelancer, in case your clienL backs ouL by
sLaLing Lhe inancial obligaLions o boLh parLies should Lhe projecL
LerminaLe beore compleLion.
/e'isions )n. )lterations
ou can also proLecL yoursel by including a clause LhaL sLaLes how
many alLeraLions and revisions Lo Lhe producL are covered by Lhe ee.
ou can seL Lhe pricing or changes requesLed by Lhe clienL LhaL go
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beyond Lhe number speciied in Lhe conLracL, Lhus prevenLing Lhe
clienL rom abusing Lheir privilege. 8e clear LhaL Lhis is noL a
commenLary on eiLher parLy, by including Lhis, you are noL implying
LhaL Lhe clienL will be hard Lo please or LhaL you will need mulLiple
aLLempLs Lo geL iL righL. lL simply recognizes LhaL we someLimes need
Lime Lo ully process someLhing beore making a decision and LhaL we
should have Lhe reedom Lo change our minds abouL wheLher an idea
works or noL once we acLually see iL in acLion.
Do?s an. Don?t<s
Remember LhaL proessionalism should win ouL aL all Limes, so don'L
leL Lhis parL o Lhe conLracL be any dierenL. es, iL can be aggravaLing
how some clienLs come back Lo you over and over wiLh requesLs as a
resulL o every whim LhaL moves Lhem, buL do be reasonable. Don'L
punish all o your clienLs because o one LhaL burned you in Lhe pasL.
And don'L leL pride keep you rom accommodaLing a modesL amounL
o revision by Lhe clienL, even i Lhey don'L suiL your LasLe. ALer all, Lhe
design may be yours, buL Lhey are paying you Lo creaLe iL or Lhem.
T!e Fine Print )n. Bottom >ine
ln Lhe end, make sure Lhe conLracL is proessional and clear
LhroughouL, and be as deLailed as possible in deining Lhe roles o
boLh parLies in Lhe projecL.
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W!at?s In ) PriceL 2ui.elines For Pricing
Web Designs
3y 1hursJcy 3rcm
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Pricing a websiLe design can seem impossible. A good websiLe design
can cosL anywhere beLween Lhousands o dollars and under iLy
dollars, depending on Lhe Lype o siLe, how you build iL and a hundred
oLher numbers. 1hose numbers can make iL diiculL Lo decide where
Lhe righL price poinL or your own work is. how do you know whaL
your work is worLh when oLher designers' prices are all over Lhe
place
All prices are noL creaLed equal. while iL may seem Lo Lhe lay person
LhaL all websiLes are similar, dierences like Lhe ramework Lhe siLe is
builL upon and Lhe process Lhe websiLe designer uses can require
drasLically dierenL prices. A websiLe design LhaL doesn'L require you
Lo do much more Lhan design a new Lheme or WordPress probably
shouldn'L be priced Lhe same way LhaL an e-commerce siLe LhaL
expecLs Lo see plenLy o Lraic should be. lL comes down Lo Lhe
quesLion o whaL's in your price. ln Lhis arLicle, we'll look aL how our
web designers seL Lheir prices - and how you can learn rom Lheir
experiences.
T!e Basics of Pricing
AL Lhe mosL basic, your prices musL cover your expenses wiLh
hopeully a liLLle exLra leL over, unless you have anoLher source o
income. 1he sLandard advice or deLermining your prices is Lo
calculaLe whaL you need Lo live or a monLh - and Lhen break LhaL
down Lo whaL you need Lo earn per hour. 1here are some nuances. iL's
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rare or a web designer Lo have 40 hours o paying work every week.
lL's noL impossible or a reelancer Lo have only 20 billable hours a
week, especially when he's jusL sLarLing ouL. 1he resL o Lhe week may
be spenL markeLing Lo new clienLs, handling paperwork and oLher
necessary Lasks.
1here's also Lhe danger o underesLimaLing your expenses when you
decide on your raLes. lL's easy Lo miss one or Lwo expenses, like healLh
insurance, and wind up wiLh prices LhaL jusL won'L work. lL's imporLanL
Lo build in a buer when esLimaLing Lhe money LhaL you need Lo
bring in. your income needs Lo be able Lo cover savings, emergencies
and even price hikes on your sLandard expenses. 1hese acLors mean
LhaL Lhe price range you ind by esLimaLing whaL you need Lo cover
your expenses should acLually be Lhe boLLom end o where you seL
your prices. our own expenses are only a small parL o whaL goes inLo
Lhe price you charge or a websiLe design.
#. Deci.ing Beteen Per Pro8ect an. Per -our
One o Lhe biggesL decisions you have Lo make as a web designer is
wheLher you'll charge per hour or per projecL. MosL websiLe designers
Lhink in Lerms o how many hours a projecL will Lake Lhem Lo
compleLe, which LranslaLes easily Lo charging by Lhe hour. 1here are
some oLher beneiLs, as well. an hourly raLe makes iL easy Lo revise an
esLimaLe i a clienL suddenly changes a projecL or needs an exLra
round o revisions.
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S!oul. I C!arge Per -our:
Mary-Frances Main is a web designer based in Colorado. She chooses
Lo only work on an hourly basis. As Main says.
We cnly qucte er hcur. very very ccccsicnclly we
will et c bcllcrl ccmlete rcject ccst, but rcrely.
We jinJ thct rcject biJs very rcrely enJ u in cur
jcvcr. lts tcc Jijjicult tc cJjust jcr Jesin Jilemmcs cr
chcnes in Jirecticn cr lccl cj crcnizcticn jrcm c
client. We mcle u jcr nct ivin whcle rcject biJs
by cnly chcrin uJctes with c bcse rcte cj c qucrter
cj cn hcur.
1he Lype o clienL Main usually works wiLh is a big acLor in her
decision Lo work on an hourly basis. She preers clienLs LhaL need a
web designer or Lhe long haul - Lhey need Lhe web designer Lo
handle updaLes, mainLenance and any adjusLmenLs Lhe siLe needs.
8ecause Main charges an hourly raLe, she can comorLably handle
Lhose updaLes, while sLill making enough money Lo cover her needs.
C!arging per !our makes sense ifL
ProjecL requiremenLs may change aLer you've already sLarLed
working, lL's hard Lo Lell exacLly how long a projecL will Lake,
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ou're handling loLs o small Lasks or projecLs as Lhey come up,
our clienL wanLs someLhing beyond whaL you ordinarily oer.
S!oul. I C!arge Per Pro8ect:
While charging per hour makes sense or some web designers, iL
doesn'L always make sense or everyone. 1here are drawbacks Lo
pricing by Lhe hour, as well. A clienL who doesn'L really know whaL Lo
expecL in Lerms o Lhe amounL o work iL Lakes Lo creaLe a websiLe can
look aL an hourly raLe and quickly become concerned.
Having a raLe o S00 per hour can scare o a clienL who Lhinks in
Lerms o people working 40-hour workweeks. l you say LhaL you can
have Lhe projecL done in 3 weeks, you can wind up wiLh a clienL
picLuring a bill in Lhe Lens o Lhousands o dollars, no maLLer how
large or small his projecL acLually is. Civing a seL raLe or a whole
projecL can eliminaLe LhaL sorL o pricing conusion.
Noel Creen, a web designer based in New Mexico, Lakes a per projecL
approach Lo pricing his work.
While we hcve c er hcur rcte, we rejer tc qucte er
rcject rcther thcn er hcur. Ajter 8 yecrs cj Jcin
this, were quite ccJ ct lncwin, crcximctely, hcw
lcn c rcject is cin tc tcle us, sc ivin c client c
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jlct jee lets them jeel mcre ccmjcrtcble with the
rccess.
Pricing per projecL has had oLher beneiLs or Creen, as well. He's
ound LhaL clienLs are less likely Lo add on Lo Lhe original projecL i
Lhey know LhaL Lhey'll have Lo pay an hourly raLe or any changes.
C!arging per pro8ect makes sense ifL
ou do Lhis Lype o projecL oLen enough LhaL you know how
long iL should Lake,
our clienL has a budgeL LhaL doesn'L allow or an open-ended
number o hours,
ou wanL Lo oer a package deal, such as a websiLe and
hosLing or a cerLain price,
1he projecL is relaLively shorL and speciic.
Price Per Pro8ect )n. Per -our
1here is one oLher opLion, which Dixie vogel, a web designer wiLh
more Lhan 0 years o experience, uses. ou can use per hour pricing
in some siLuaLions and per projecL in oLhers.
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lcr lcrer rcjects, l rice by rcject (cjter jiurin
cut c time estimcte tc multily ccinst my bcse rcte).
l Jislile time trcclin cnJ the jeelin cj rushin
thrcuh wcrl tc lee my clients jrcm bein
cverchcreJ. lm clsc jrequently interruteJ, which
mcJe trcclin Jijjicult. lcr smcll, limiteJ scce
rcjects, l Jc bill hcurly cs l tenJ tc unJerestimcte the
time cn simler tcsls cnJ enJeJ u unJerchcrin.
lither wcy, hcwever, l ive my clients c rcne ct the
cutset cnJ sticl very clcse tc thct.
-o >o S!oul. I 2o:
lL can be LempLing Lo price yoursel below your compeLiLion,
especially i you can bring in enough income Lo cover your expenses
even aL Lhose lower prices. lL seems like a lower price would geL you
more work and more clienLs. 8uL iL's a LempLaLion you should avoid.
noL all clienLs assume LhaL a low price means LhaL a parLicular web
designer is oering a deal. lnsLead, many prospecLive clienLs will Lhink
LhaL Lhere is a reason your prices are below oLher web designers wiLh
similar porLolios and skills. Maybe Lhere's someLhing wrong wiLh your
work or maybe you're a parLicularly slow worker - a low price could
be more easily explained by a problem Lhan by a web designer Lrying
Lo seL a price lower Lhan his or her compeLiLion.
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C!arging For )ll T!e Time Dou Spen.
1here's a more subLle version o Lhis problem LhaL can appear
depending on jusL whaL you charge or. Many new web designers
charge only or Lhe Lime Lhey spend acLually creaLing and
implemenLing a websiLe. When Main irsL sLarLed designing websiLes,
abouL nine years ago, she ell inLo Lhis Lrap. Now, her prices cover a
loL more.
We useJ tc hcve entire emcil exchcnes cnJ Jesin
rccesses thct went unchcreJ, we ncw lc cll cj thct
time cnJ chcre jcr it ccccrJinly.
8eyond Lhe acLual Lime you spend on designing a websiLe, you can
and should bill your clienLs or Lhe ollowing.
/e'isions. lL's rare or a clienL Lo like a design exacLly Lhe way you
come up wiLh iL, buL you can bill Lhem or Lhe Lime you spend revising
your designs.
,.ucation. WiLh some clienLs, you can spend hours going back and
orLh, educaLing Lhem on whaL a websiLe design acLually includes.
1haL is Lime you've spenL on your projecL and iL's Lime you can bill Lo
your clienL.
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Set up. Some designers Lake care o seLLing up hosLing, i noL
providing iL enLirely. 1he Lime iL Lakes Lo geL everyLhing ready on Lhe
hosLing end o Lhings is an expense your clienL can cover.
,4plaining Dour Prices
1here may be a clienL or Lwo who quesLions your prices. lL seems Lo
happen more wiLh clienLs LhaL aren'L amiliar wiLh Lhe work necessary
Lo creaLe a websiLe, buL iL can happen wiLh a wide varieLy o clienL
Lypes. As long as you can explain your prices and you remain irm
on Lhem lenLs are Lypically willing Lo work wiLh you. Creen has had
clienLs who Lried Lo bargain and barLer wiLh him on his raLes.
We JiJnt buJe, sc they chcse scmecne else.the
client whc lejt beccuse we wculJnt c Jcwn in rice
enJeJ u ccmin bccl tc us cjter the ccmcny they
DlD c with JiJnt Jeliver whct theyJ rcmiseJ.
When a prospecLive clienL wanLs Lo argue prices wiLh you, iL can be
hard Lo sLand irm, i only because you wanL Lhe projecL even i iL
means dropping your raLes a liLLle. 8uL Lhere are a loL o reasons LhaL a
web designer can ask or high prices and geL Lhem.
ou can compleLe a projecL signiicanLly asLer Lhan an amaLeur. lL's
cheaper Lo pay your hourly raLe and geL a good design quickly Lhan
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Lo leL a non-designer drag ouL Lhe process or weeks or even monLhs.
ou do more Lhan jusL design - you manage Lhe projecL as a whole,
rom creaLing a design Lo coordinaLing conLenL.
ou're a proessional. our clienLs wouldn'L ask a vendor Lo drop Lheir
prices.
lL can be hard or a new web designer Lo price a projecL high enough,
simply because o a lack o conidence. As you build your skills and
gain conidence, iL becomes easier Lo quoLe higher prices Lo clienLs
wiLhouL worrying LhaL Lhe price is Loo high. SLephanie Hobbs, a web
designer based in SouLh Carolina, has increased her prices along wiLh
her conidence.
When l stcrteJ in 200J, my jirst cyin website wcs
$4S0 jcr S ces. Once l jiureJ cut c recscncble time
estimcte, l cjjereJ c jcur ce site jcr $600. As my
slill level hcs increcseJ cnJ lve rciseJ my hcurly rcte,
thct number hcs cne tc $800, $1000, cnJ ncw
$1200. My hcurly rcte stcrteJ ct $40 (l thinl, it miht
hcve been $S0) cnJ is ncw ct $7S. 3ut lve rciseJ my
rctes beccuse l wcs very lcw tc bein with beccuse l
JiJnt hcve ccnjiJence in myselj.
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W!en S!oul. I Increase %5 Prices:
WhaL you charge Loday isn'L necessarily whaL you should be charging
or iL a year rom now. As you add Lo your skills, as well as your
repuLaLion, you'll noL only be more valuable Lo your clienLs buL you'll
be able Lo demonsLraLe your worLh wiLh a larger porLolio o
compleLed projecLs. ou'll be able Lo increase your prices - and you
should.
vogel sLarLed reelancing aL S25 per hour. She acLually considers
clienLs noL complaining abouL prices a bad sign. "l no poLenLial clienL
complains, you're noL charging enough."
As she raised her prices, vogel would sLarL quoLing new projecLs aL
her higher raLes, as well as inorming her exisLing clienLs.
For any raLe increases, l've always senL ouL noLices Lo my clienLs
explaining whaL l was doing beorehand and giving Lhem all plenLy o
opporLuniLy Lo opL ouL. l've never losL a single clienL raising my raLes.
Timing ) Price Increase
1iming when you're going Lo announce your raLe increase can be
Lricky, especially when you have exisLing clienLs or you've already
oered an esLimaLe or a new projecL. New clienLs are much easier Lo
deal wiLh. iL's jusL a maLLer o quoLing your new raLe as you Lalk abouL
new projecLs. WiLh exisLing clienLs, however, you may ind LhaL Lhey've
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goLLen used Lo your old raLes and aren'L prepared Lo budgeL more or
your services. 1here are a couple o Limes LhaL iL can be easier Lo
announce Lhose new raLes.
T!e 0e Dear. WiLh Lhe end o Lhe year approaching, you can simply
send ouL a noLice LhaL your raLes will be going up on Lhe irsL o Lhe
year. 1he same approaches works wiLh Lhe beginning o a new monLh
i you aren'L prepared Lo waiL unLil Lhe end o Lhe year.
0e Pro8ects. l your clienL brings you a new projecL, iL can be an
ideal Lime Lo make Lhe swiLchover. ou can explain LhaL or uLure
projecLs, you've increased your raLes, which provides you and your
clienL a chance Lo Lalk abouL Lhe maLLer.
Contracts. l you have a conLracL wiLh your clienL Lo provide cerLain
services, like mainLenance, on a conLinuing basis, LhaL conLracL should
have an ending daLe. 1haL daLe gives you an opporLuniLy Lo
renegoLiaLe your raLes.
lncreasing your prices may noL always be jusL a maLLer o making
more money. l you wanL Lo be able Lo oer a discounL on your work,
as Hobbs does, having higher raLes is necessary.
l Jc cjjer c 20 Jisccunt jcr ecle in my netwcrlin
rcu, cnJ c J0 Jisccunt tc ncnrcjits (which is crt
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cj why l rciseJ my rctes jrcm $1000. lm cctuclly
mclin clcser tc whct l intenJeJ tc mcle, since mcny
cj my clients cre jrcm my netwcrlin crcnizcticn).
Prices in t!e Wil.
All Lhe inormaLion on how Lo seL prices may noL be enough Lo help
you decide whaL is a reasonable price or your web design work.
AcLually seeing whaL oLher web designers charge is necessary Lo
decide i your prices are comparable.
Mary-Frances Main charges S60 per hour or mosL web design work.
For programming, her raLe is S72 per hour and or Flash, her raLe is
S65 per hour.
Noel Creen charges beLween S2,500 and S5,000 or a compleLe
websiLe, guaranLeeing a 4-week Lurnaround on projecLs. ProjecLs aL
Lhe upper end o LhaL range Lypically involve more complex eaLures,
such as shopping carLs.
Dixie vogel charges beLween S60 and S80 per hour or mosL web
design work.
SLephanie Hobbs's raLes sLarL aL S,200 or a 4-page websiLe, add Lo
her esLimaLe or larger projecLs and siLes wiLh exLra eaLures, like Flash.
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1hese prices dier due Lo acLors like Lhe designer's locaLion, Lheir
experience and even Lhe Lype o clienLs Lhey preer Lo work wiLh. 8uL,
in each case, Lhe web designer in quesLion has LhoughL Lhrough noL
only whaL he or she needs Lo earn buL how comparable Lhose prices
are Lo oLher designers and where Lhe prices can be increased.
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9ualit57Price7/atio in Web Design
3y Iejj CcrJner
I?m about to make a bol. statement. 1he qualiLy o a design and
Lhe moneLary cosL o producing or procuring LhaL design have
absoluLely no relaLionship whaLsoever. lL's a biLLer pill Lo swallow, l
know. Many o you are crying oul aL Lhis very momenL, buL hear me
ouL. l'll explain my radical posiLion and hopeully give you a ew
poinLers abouL how Lo more eecLively price and posiLion your design
business in Lhis brave new, and uncorrelaLed, world.
9ualit57Price7/atio (or QPR as iL's commonly reerred Lo) is a
concepL LhaL is used exLensively in Lhe wine Lrade. ln iLs essence iL's
noLhing more Lhan a measure o perceived value, o Lhe enjoymenL
you receive weighed againsL Lhe price you have Lo pay. Do you eel
LhaL Lhe beneiL your gained was worLh Lhe price you've paid l you
don'L, Lhen Lhe producL or service has a low QPR. On Lhe oLher hand,
i you eel like you goL away wiLh highway robbery Lhen Lhe producL
or service has a very high QPR. l'll spare you Lhe meLaphysical
comparisons beLween wine and design beyond Lhis one imporLanL
poinL. 1here is no correlaLion beLween price and qualiLy when
discussing wine or design.
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T!e )ssumptions
2oo. .esign is sub8ecti'e
While mosL good design shares many o Lhe same basic
characLerisLics, beyond a cerLain poinL Lhe perceived value o all
design is subjecLive. WhaL appeals Lo me may noL appeal Lo you, in
acL, you could go so ar as Lo say LhaL you haLe iL. 8uL, i you were
being honesL (and Lhe work in quesLion was in acL well done) you
would have Lo admiL LhaL iL was, aL Lhe very leasL, well puL LogeLher.
2oo. .esign is c!eap
Don'L misundersLand me. l'm noL saying LhaL good design shculJ be
cheap or LhaL iL always is cheap. l'm jusL saying LhaL, Lhese days, good
design can be ound very inexpensively. 1hink 99designs, Craphic
LeLovers, and even some o Lhe more repuLable sLock agencies. 1hese
services are exLraordinarily popular because Lhey bring good design
Lo people on a budgeL. 1hese services can also be exLraordinarily
diiculL Lo compeLe againsL.
2oo. .esign !as no correlation it! price
From Lhe clienL's poinL o view, Lhe QPR o design alls inLo our, and
only our, caLegories.
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LisLed rom lowesL QPR Lo highesL.
. 8ad design LhaL's expensive. As a clienL, you do noL wanL Lo be
here iL's a world o pain.
2. 8ad design LhaL's cheap. 1his Lype o design, l Lhink we'll all
agree, has a airly low QPR because, well, iL sLill sucks even
Lhough you paid very liLLle or iL.
3. Cood design LhaL's expensive. 1his is a Lough one. ou've
goLLen a greaL producL, buL you've paid a heLy price. ou
normally jusL Lell yoursel LhaL you did Lhe righL Lhing because
everyone knows, "you geL whaL you pay or".
4. Cood design LhaL's cheap. 1his caLegory has Lhe highesL QPR
because you are geLLing a greaL producL or a small price! Who
doesn'L wanL Lo be here
our clienLs are clearly looking or LhaL magic ourLh caLegory, while
you're Lrying Lo geL Lhem closer Lo Lhe Lhird. 1his is whaL makes
selling design so diiculL you're inLeresLs and Lhe clienLs inLeresLs
are clearly aL odds.
2oo. .esign is about attitu.e
A liLLle aLLiLude and a liLLle cockiness never hurL anyone. l would argue
LhaL Lhose Lwo qualiLies have acLually helped more businesses Lhan
Lhey've harmed.
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Why 8ecause being conidenL in your producL or service is inecLious.
l you believe sLrongly in Lhe value and Lhe worLh o whaL you're
selling, your clienLs are going Lo see LhaL and respond in kind.
2oo. .esign is about bran.ing
8rand is all abouL good will. Having high brand equiLy is noLhing
more Lhan having a sLockpile o good emoLions and good response
reacLions rom consumers. WhaL does Lhis have Lo do wiLh good
design lL doesn'L, oLher Lhan Lhe acL LhaL consumers will give Lhe
beneiL o Lhe doubL Lo a design LhaL has a sLrong brand behind iL.
1hey may noL know whaL good design is, buL i Lhey respecL your
name chances are Lhey will respecL your design.
Pricing Strategies
LeL's ace iL, deciding how Lo price your creaLive services is hard. ou
are, in essence, Lrying Lo aLLach a discreLe number Lo your creaLive
acumen, which makes iL seem very much like you are bragging i you
charge a loL or like you have no backbone i you charge Loo liLLle. 8uL
iL is imperaLive LhaL you geL beyond Lhese eelings. Design, and good
design especially, is a very scarce resource and, as such, should be
priced accordingly. 8uL how Lo go abouL arriving aL a number
A noLe abouL premium services. "l once heard abouL a wedding
phoLographer (who charged average prices) LhaL wanLed Lo work less.
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So, she igured LhaL i she jusL began raising her prices Lhere would
simply be less inLeresL rom clienLs. FirsL she bumped up Lo S3,000 a
weekend, Lhen S4,000, Lhen S5,000. 1o her asLonishmenL, she acLually
began receiving more requesLs rom clienLs. 1he clienLs igured LhaL i
she was charging such a high sum, she musL be really good. 1ruLh
being Lold, she hadn'L goLLen any beLLer, she'd always been a good
phoLographer buL Lhe higher price led her poLenLial clienLs Lo
believe Lhis and, in Lhe end, Lhey were never disappoinLed. Finally Lhis
phoLographer raised her prices Lo S20,000 per weekend, essenLially
pricing hersel above whaL almosL anyone could aord. Her poLenLial
clienLs Lhen began oering Lo ly her Lo remoLe locaLions around Lhe
world jusL or Lhe chance Lo have her shooL Lheir exoLic weddings.
l Lhink you geL my poinL. 1he old economic adage LhaL higher price
correlaLes Lo lower demand doesn'L always hold Lrue, and Lhis is
especially Lrue o luxury goods. Design is a premium service. A luxury
good. lL is cerLainly noL necessary Lo run a business (jusL Lake a look aL
all Lhe used car dealers o Lhe world or conirmaLion), buL resulLs in a
deiniLe advanLage Lo Lhe businesses who value good design. Don'L be
surprised Lo ind LhaL design and Lhe pricing o design ollows a
slighLly paradoxical pricing relaLionship.
1his liLLle sLory also illusLraLes how imporLanL markeL posiLioning is Lo
luxury goods. ou'd be a ool Lo Lry and compeLe on price wiLh siLes
like 99designs, so don'L Lry. CompeLe on compleLeness, your creaLive
vision and your cusLomer service."
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WiLh our new assumpLions and Lhe idea LhaL design is a luxury good,
leL's Lake a look aL a ew Lips Lo help you ormulaLe a sensible price or
your design services.
Don?t c!arge per !our
Design, or any oLher creaLive endeavor, should never be charged
hourly. l know, iL's an indusLry sLandard meLhod, buL l whole-hearLedly
disagree wiLh iL and here's why.
Charging hourly works anLasLically or Lhings like sLamping exhausL
pipes or wriLing legal bries any Lype o job LhaL is characLerized by
Laking inpuLs and Lransorming Lhose inpuLs using a speciic process,
iL's easy Lo see Lhe direcL correlaLion beLween hours and number o
exhausL pipes or legal bries.
On Lhe oLher hand, wiLh creaLive pursuiLs, and design in parLicular,
Lhere is oLen no Lime correlaLion whaL-so-ever. SomeLimes you geL
LhaL spark and a projecL Lakes 2 hours, someLimes you have Lo baLLer
yoursel or days beore you eel LhaL you have someLhing remoLely
resembling a decenL design. Should Lhe clienL in Lhe irsL insLance
have Lo pay nearly noLhing or Lheir design while Lhe clienL in Lhe
second pays Lhrough Lhe LeeLh
Hourly raLes are unair Lo boLh Lhe designer and Lhe clienL. Well Lhen, l
can hear you asking, i noL hourly, how are you supposed Lo igure ouL
how Lo charge
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T!e cost of .oing business
1he irsL sLep in coming Lo a air and reasonable valuaLion o your
services is Lo Lake a look aL your cosL o doing business. CosL o
business is simply everyLhing LhaL iL Lakes or you Lo operaLe. 1he cosL
o your compuLer, Lhe cosL o all Lhe soLware LhaL you use, i you renL
oice space, Lhe cosL o your oice space. 1hink o every single Lhing
LhaL you use on a daily basis Lo geL your work done and wriLe Lhem all
down. 1his is your cosL o doing business (l ind iL easiesL i iL's wriLLen
in monLhly Lerms), and you should revisiL and revise Lhis number aL
leasL once a year. 1o esLimaLe a per projecL break even igure you can
divide your monLhly cosL o doing business by your average number
o projecLs compleLed in a monLh and you will have an average
baseline projecL cosL.
our cosL o doing business serves as a baseline Lo your pricing
equaLion. 1his, by Lhe way, doesn'L mean LhaL Lhe average baseline
projecL cosL is Lhe lowesL price you can ever charge or a projecL, buL,
iL should, insLead, serve as a guide posL Lo help you mainLain
proiLabiliLy.
T!e creati'it5 coefficient
LeL's noL mince words, creaLiviLy is hard work. lL's noL roLe producLion,
Lransorming inpuLs using a sLandard process. Design, as wiLh all
creaLive pursuiLs, is all abouL creaLing someLhing rom noLhing, and
because o Lhis, creaLive work demands iL's own pricing meLhods.
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Price = CreaLiviLy CoeicienL CosL o doing business
1he creaLiviLy coeicienL is noLhing more Lhan a mulLiplier LhaL you
apply Lo your base cosL o doing business. 1his coeicienL (or
mulLiplier) gives Lhe designer a measure o conLrol Lo help maLch Lhe
prices Lhey charge wiLh Lhe diiculLy and involvemenL o Lhe projecLs
Lhey work on. 1he creaLiviLy coeicienL should be based upon Lhree
Lhings.
. Difficult5. l Lhe projecL is diiculL or very involved charge
more. 1his should be clear aL Lhis poinL. l you're producing
one Lri-old brochure your mulLiplier may be as low as .20, on
Lhe oLher hand i you are compleLely rebranding and
redesigning a medium Lo large company's image your
creaLiviLy coeicienL may go as high as 0 or 5.
2. Bran. strengt!. Simply puL, i you have a sLrong brand behind
you charge more. AL irsL glance Lhis may seem unair buL, in
realiLy, iL is Lhe simplesL and mosL eecLive way Lo separaLe
poLenLial clienLs inLo Lhe Lwo groups LhaL maLLer. 1he ones LhaL
jusL wanL Lo work wiLh you because o your name buL are
going Lo be a major headache (especially over price), and Lhe
ones LhaL recognize Lhe value LhaL your brand brings and are
willing Lo pay or LhaL value.
3. In.i'i.ualit5. l Lhe clienL is coming Lo you because you
specialize in a cerLain Lype o design or in a speciic medium
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and Lhere is no one else ouL Lhere LhaL can compeLenLly
perorm Lhe work charge more. Niche work is imporLanL and
Lhere is value in being dierenL, especially in Loday's hyper-
homogenized world, clienLs LhaL come looking or someLhing
dierenL will be expecLing Lo pay premium prices or
someLhing LhaL Lhey cannoL geL anywhere else.
1he creaLiviLy coeicienL gives designers a simple and eecLive way Lo
Lry and wrangle concreLe numbers around Lhe value o creaLiviLy. And
because you are sLarLing wiLh a baseline amounL LhaL relecLs your
acLual cosL o doing business you are ensuring LhaL your business will
sLay proiLable.
T!e Take7aa5
Finding a balance in Lhe way LhaL you price your designs isn'L jusL
abouL economics and inding Lhe highesL number LhaL you can geL
away wiLh. 1hese guidelines are jusL LhaL, guidelines. Hopeully Lhey
have given you a new, and inspiring, lighL in which Lo view your
services and Lhe value o Lhose services buL in Lhe end, iL comes
down Lo eeling LhaL you are providing a valuable service Lo your
clienLs and LhaL you are being airly paid or Lhose services.
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T!e )ut!ors
/obert Boen
An emerging auLhor, celebraLed podcasLer and poeL, co-ounder and
imaginaLive co-conLribuLor o Lhe creaLive design and blogging duo aL
Lhe ArbenLing 8log and Dead Wings Designs.
Tim %ercer
PhoLography enLhusiasL, graphic designer, arLisL and blogger. His blog
oers ree resources or Lhe digiLal arLisL and graphic designer, as well
as LuLorials, arLisL inLerviews and inspiraLion.
Cameron C!apman
Proessional Web and graphic designer wiLh over 6 years o
experience. She wriLes or a number o blogs, including her own,
Cameron Chapman On WriLing. She's also Lhe auLhor o lnLerneL
Famous. A PracLical Cuide Lo 8ecoming an Online CelebriLy.
>uke /eimer
Web projecL manager, designer, and developer currenLly operaLing
Fluid Media web design group ouL o WaLerloo, Canada.
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Paul Boag
Founder o UK Web design agency Headscape, auLhor o Lhe WebsiLe
Owners Manual and hosL o award-winning Web design podcasL
8oagworld.
)n.re Follett
Small-business markeLing direcLor and ounder o ConcepL Feedback,
a communiLy o designers and markeLers dedicaLed Lo sharing ideas
and eedback on design projecLs.
Sam Barnes
Web ProjecL Manager aL RawneL. AlLhough a liLLle shorL or a
SLormLrooper, he can be ound posLing arLicles aL Lhesambarnes.com,
a blog dedicaLed Lo Lhe subjecL o Web ProjecL ManagemenL.
2ra!am Smit!
Freelance Logo Designer wiLh lmJusLCreaLive being his brand and
idenLiLy. C's main moLivaLion Lo wake up in Lhe morning can be
aLLribuLed Lo HelveLica, logos, Lypography, coee and silly puLLy. ou'll
also ind C pracLicing Lhe overL arL o Social Media.
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/5an Sc!erf
Freelance web designer, developer and enLrepreneur. When he isn'L
wasLing Lhe day away on 1wiLLer, he can be ound building his mosL
recenL venLure SixCenLral, a clienL proposal organizaLion &
managemenL applicaLion.
)urimas ).oma'icius
CreaLive lead aL Dev8ridge, a Chicago based web applicaLion
developmenL company. He is also responsible or Lhe creaLion o Lhe
websiLe review communiLy, ConcepL Feedback. A phoLographer, web
developer, and web designer whose opinion can be oLen heard on
Lhe company blog and on 1wiLLer.
)n.5 /utle.ge
Principal aL UniL lnLeracLive in Plano, 1exas. When noL working, road
cycling, or banging on Lhe piano, he's usually ound ranLing abouL
design or proessionalism on his personal siLe, Design view.
/ob Smit!
DigiLal direcLor o 8luelea helping clienLs wiLh Lheir digiLal needs
rom Lheir websiLe Lo email markeLing Lo analyLics. He also wriLes in
his own blog on digiLal media and ecommerce
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;eff 2ar.ner
8usiness nerd who loves spreadsheeLs, graphs and helping companies
igure ouL how Lo perorm beLLer. He also enjoys wriLing, phoLography
and being ouLside.
Peter Smart
SLaring his company aL Lhe age o 5, PeLer SmarL runs award-winning
CreaLive MarkeLing ConsulLancy, Roam Design. WiLh an impressive
porLolio, Roam Design creaLe cuLLing-edge brand experiences or
domesLic and inLernaLional clienLs.
)aron 2riffit!
MarkeLing projecL manager or Air Cycle CorporaLion and
LampRecycling. 8oLh companies provide recycling and oLher green
soluLions or businesses and large organizaLions all over Lhe world.
)l5ssa 2regor5
Owner o averLua, LLC, a ull-service virLual assisLanL irm. She has a
passion or supporLing small businesses, and provides business Lips,
advice and news Lhrough her business blog, Lhe Small 8usiness ldea
CeneraLor.
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T!urs.a5 Bram
Full-Lime reelancer who has been working on her own or more Lhan
seven years. She wriLes abouL Lhe business side o reelancing and
mainLains her own websiLe.
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