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Preface

I compiled this introductory freelance web design/development guide together over the course of two

days (and in only a few hours) due to the amount of interest display via you Redditwhores. This guide is aimed at absolute beginners looking for a secondary income or existing web designers/developers

looking to pop their freelancing cherry. Keep in mind that web design/development and freelancing are both extensive subjects and this document will only skim the surface.

I wish you all the best and hope you continue your escapades beyond this document.

The amount of interest shown is truly inspiring. I will be doing everything in my power to compile an extensive/complete freelancing guide in the form of a website over the next few weeks (weekends, rather).

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Table of Contents

Preface

1

Table of Contents

2

Background Knowledge

3

Website Basics

3

Domain Names

4

Hosting

5

Website Languages

6

WordPress

7

WordPress Basics

7

WordPress Installation

7

WordPress Theme Installation & Setup

8

WordPress Use

9

WordPress Plugins

10

Freelancing

11

Before Soliciting Clients

11

Mindset

11

Finances

12

Documentation

13

Quotes & Evaluations

13

Contracts & NDA’s

14

Organization

16

Practice, Practice, Practice!

16

Create a Portfolio

17

Estimating

18

Finding Clients

19

Keeping Clients

21

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Background Knowledge

Website Basics

Simply put, a website is a collection of webpages (and/or various digital assets) hosted on a web

server. A web server is a virtual entity that processes request via HTTP (a protocol that transfer information from the server to display in the user’s browser) and holds webpages. A webpage is

a document that is written/marked up in a language (typically HTML).

A web browser (such as Chrome, FireFox, Opera, Safari, and, dare I classify it, Internet Explorer)

takes webpage addresses/URLs (http://www.reddit.com) input from users, find the location of the web server, request the associated webpage files and relevant digital assets (HTML, CSS, JS, images/videos/audio, etc.), and process it within a layout engine to be rendered for the user to view and interact with.

Websites (and webpages) consist of a slew of components, some of the most obvious, basic, and consistent being:

Home Page (or Index) the first impression; the first contact you will have with your target audience.

Header one of the most valuable areas of your website; most often running across the top of every webpage on the website (being one of the first components your audience will see) and including brand information (logos, business philosophies, what the business does, etc.), navigation, contact information, and the likes. https://thrivethemes.com/perfect-header/ http://www.headerlove.com/

Navigation an area on the webpage that helps users move from one page to another (can come in different forms such as primary navigation, secondary navigation, etc.) and is often on every webpage.

Content a vague term that encompasses everything between your header and footer; your content will change from webpage to webpage.

Footer the last stand; when a user scrolls down to the bottom of your webpage, they will be greeted by the footer (which often contains a short bio, contact information,

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links to social media, a navigation area—or ‘return to top’ button, copyright information, and possibly some unique content). http://www.bourncreative.com/a-website-footer-more-than-a-copyright-notice/

Layout/Design the look/feel, layout, design, and style of your website (or each individual web page); this includes everything from combined aesthetic, colors, images, fonts, to consistency, usability, and clarity.

Again, the above list contains the very basic, low-level components of a website. There are, essentially, an infinite number of building blocks available to you (the designer/developer). http://www.smashingmagazine.com/web-design-essentials-examples-and-best-practices/

Domain Names

A domain name is a unique string (i.e., reddit.com) that a Domain Name System (DNS) maps to

the physical location of a websites webserver to be identified and communicated with. It is NOT the same thing as a URL.

I won’t go into the specifics here, but you (or your clients) will need one for every website that goes into production. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domain_name http://netforbeginners.about.com/od/d/f/domain_name.htm https://kb.iu.edu/d/aoup

Domain names can be purchased/registered from any number of companies. It is likely that a lot of the clients hiring you have already purchased one on their own; if not, it is your job to purchase one on their behalf (charge them for it, of course). As a freelancer, you can look into

obtaining “reseller” accounts in order to keep all of your clients’ domain/registration accounts in

a centralized location and earn a bit of extra income.

If you’re just starting out or are soliciting clients that are unfamiliar with the web, your best bet

is GoDaddy (http://www.godaddy.com/). They have extremely low prices, offer reseller

accounts, and will, just about, set up everything for you (if you don’t want to learn the ins-and- outs). Personally, I dislike them, but they are widely known and it’s unlikely that you will find a client interested in a website who has not heard of them.

For those with more knowledge, I would recommend Gandi (http://www.gandi.net/). I use them for all of my domain needs. @Gandi, I’ll send you an invoice for my plug.

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Hosting

Website hosting is the term for the service that stores your website files and allows them to be retrieved. Hosting is essentially the web server (or, most likely, a small portion of a server assigned to you). There are many types of hosting, but as an entry-level freelancer you will likely want to stick to “shared” hosting as they will suit all of your small business clients’ needs and are the cheapest of options.

Again, I won’t go into the specifics on hosting, but you (or your clients) will need a hosting plan/space/location to host each website. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_hosting_service http://searchsoa.techtarget.com/definition/hosting

If you’re just starting out, I would, again, recommend GoDaddy (https://www.godaddy.com/hosting/web-hosting.aspx). They often will bundle your domain name with a hosting service package… you can kill two birds with one stone and have the support to help you maintain both. As a bonus, they offer “WordPress-specific hosting” which comes with WordPress pre-installed and configured (allowing you to skip the “WordPress Installation” and “WordPress Setup” sections in this guide)I would recommend this option for anyone without previous knowledge of web design/development/networking.

For those with more knowledge, I would recommend InMotion Hosting (https://www.inmotionhosting.com/). For the extremely advanced, you can’t go wrong with setting up and configuring your own Linode (https://www.linode.com/).

In order to access your hosting server (assuming you don’t purchase pre-configured WordPress hosting), you will need a FTP client. In order to use the FTP client, you will need information from your web hosting server (just call them up and ask if you don’t know where to find this information).

I recommend FileZilla (https://filezilla-project.org/) for all your FTP needs and applications.

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Website Languages

There exists a number of website programming languages

C/C++, SQL, and many more make up what are called “back-end” or “server-side” languages. These languages are above the scope of this guide; however, it is important for you to know that WordPress is built on PHP and uses MySQL as a database management system.

There also exists a number of “markup” and “scripting” languages

JavaScript/jQuery, XML, and a handful of others which make up what are called “front-end” or “client-side” languages. Technically, you don’t need any of these to continue as a freelance web design/developer these days; however, I would recommend you familiarize yourself with the basics of HTML and CSS.

PHP, Python, C#/ASP.Net, Java,

HTML, CSS,

HTML – Hypertext Markup Language; a basic language for describing web pages (don’t let the name scare you). http://webdesign.about.com/od/htmlxhtmltutorials/a/what-is-html.htm

CSS – Cascading Style Sheets; the basic language of HTML isn’t complex enough and needs the help of CSS to display elements in a more complex way, give them attributes, characteristics, and behaviors to bring webpages to life.

Unless you plan on pursuing web design/development as an intensive career path, all you will need to pick up on are the basics (which can be learned from the resources below).

I hope that you discover a love for the art of web and continue beyond the basics.

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WordPress

WordPress Basics

What is WordPress?

WordPress Installation

If you didn’t purchase a web hosting package with WordPress pre-installed, you will need to locate your server/user credentials and load up your FTP client (FileZilla). It honestly takes less than 5 minutes (and you only have to do it once per site). The follow steps are a brief outline and I will link step-by-step tutorials/walkthroughs below:

1. Navigate to https://wordpress.org/download/ and download the official, stable release of WordPress.

2. Upload the files from the .ZIP you’ve acquired in Step 1 to your server using the FTP client.

3. Create a MySQL database within your web hosting’s control panel. You will need to create a database, create a user (with a password), and then assign the user to the database.

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can simply click the “Create a Configuration File” button presented on the webpage.

5. WordPress will tell you what information you need in order to continue. You will need the database name, user name, password, and host from above (you can get your host from your web hosting control panel). Continue.

6. Enter your database credentials. Submit.

7. Run the install.

8. WordPress will prompt you to provide some basic information and a username/password that you will use to log into WordPress from here on out. Don’t forget your password.

9. You’re done! Log in using the username/password you set in Step 8.

Here are some step-by-step guides with pictures and/or videos:

If the above instructions have lost you, don’t panic. You can purchase a pre-installed WordPress hosting plan from someone like GoDaddy or purchasing hosting on a site that offers some type of “one-click WordPress install” option like BlueHost (https://my.bluehost.com/cgi/help/wp_install you can find others by Googling).

WordPress Theme Installation & Setup

Once you have WordPress installed, the first thing you’ll want to do is install a theme. A theme includes pre-built and pre-assembled assets that provides all of the front-end styling (the HTML/CSS/JS/jQuery). Themes tend to include additional functionality… such as plugins for testimonials, slideshows/sliders, image galleries, forms, etc. In addition, most themes come with a configuration panel that will allow you to easily upload a business’ logo, change the colors/fonts, and configure a number of theme-specific display settings.

There are both free and premium WordPress Themes. There are millions of themes available. Below is a list of websites where you can browse, view, and acquire themes:

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You will find more unique/less-used themes by Googling things such as “best WordPress themes” and searching through the lists of “Top 40” or “Best 50” or paging deep through in results. Be sure that your theme is “responsive” (meaning it will scale content to fit mobile devices); all new themes should be responsive, but you may run into some older themes in your search for something that fits your clients’ needs.

Installation of WordPress themes is quite easy and should only take a few minutes. Most themes will come bundled with instructions (or have a help/walkthrough guide on their website) for you to follow. For those that come without instructions, you can use the following guides/tutorials:

Often times, especially with premium/paid themes, you will be given access to tutorials, videos, and support forums in order to help you get the most out of your theme. Use them!

WordPress Use

You’ve got WordPress running and a theme installed. All you’ve got to do now is learn to use it (lol). Below is a list of beginner resources for navigating around the WordPress dashboard and completing basic tasks.

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Unfortunately, it would take me weeks to write up a tutorial to get you through everything; so, it’s up to you from here on out. WordPress is the most widely-used content management system on the web; if you find yourself stuck or unable to figure out how to complete a task, Google it!

WordPress Plugins

WordPress plugins are a little more advanced (most of your themes will come included with all of the plugins you need). However, there are a few plugins I would recommend for any WordPress website (aka, download these if your theme does not come bundled with them):

https://ithemes.com/security/ - A great security plugin that will keep all of you newbies out of harm’s way when implementing a WordPress site for your clients. This is a must have. It’s free here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/better-wp-security/ .

http://www.wpbeginner.com/refer/backupbuddy - A backup plugin, created by the same company above. It will keep backups of your site and allow you to download them. Back up your sites often.

https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/seo/ - An excellent array of Search Engine Optimization tools that will save you time and hassle. Use it.

https://wordpress.org/plugins/contact-form-7/ - An easy-to-use contact form builder that will validate your forms, send e-mails automatically, provide captchas, and allow you to connect to third-party organizations for things such as mailing lists.

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Freelancing

Before Soliciting Clients

Before you go out and start telling people you can make websites, you need to get all of your ducks in a row.

While I had been designing/developing websites since the age of 15, I didn’t jump into the world of freelancing until I was 18/19; and, at that age, I dove in blindly. I spent a good year or two learning (typically the hard way) the ins-and-outs of ‘business’. Hopefully, I can save you Redditwhores from having to experience some of the hardships I faced.

Below are some in-depth resources that cover many aspects of the freelancing process:

Mindset

I recognize that I said freelance web design was an easy way to make money (because it is), but that does not imply that it will not require effort, time, and adequate planning.

A lot of the comments/private messages I’ve received were aimed at solely at “making money”. Please don’t forget that your prospective clients are people; they’re working as hard as, if not harder than, you in order to keep their businesses alive. Treat them with love and respect don’t let the dollar signs disrupt your vision.

Before you can go out into the world with your freelance business, you need to figure out your ideologies and philosophies. Once you’ve got those nailed down, start fleshing out a business plan.

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Finances

The word freelancing’ might be a bit misleading… there are costs associated with getting you situated, off the ground, as well as into the hands of paying businesses. That said, the costs for getting started in freelance web design/development are minimal compared to other professions.

For starters, you will need to ensure that you have all of the proper technical equipment. For instance: a computer for producing the work/communicating, a phone for keeping in touch with clients or receiving urgent updates and mobile testing/demonstrations, a tablet of some sort for mobile testing/demonstrations, a laptop (if your main workstation is a desktop) to travel to client locations, a printer, stable internet connection, etc. Keep in mind that you MUST have a banked savings in case any of the aforementioned assets fail; you can’t call a client and tell them you’ll be unable to finish their website because your computer died.

Along with the proper technical equipment, you will need to make sure you have the software and miscellaneous tools to keep you running efficiently. For the majority of you pirates, the software portion will be financially optional ;). However, you will still require a domain name of your own, a hosting account, a mail server (you don’t want to communicate to potential/active clients with @yahoo.com, @aol.com or @gmail.com accountsyour image is important). Other software and miscellaneous tools include things like: calendars to keep track of appointments and deadlines, time-keeping software to track your projects and time spent on each, business cards/flyers/advertisements you wish to print and get out, along with any other marketing efforts you may implement.

For those of you planning on quitting your job to pursue life as a freelancer, I would recommend creating a formal budgeting document to keep yourself in line. Also, I would avoid quitting your

job on the spot and diving right in

increase them over time while phasing out your current job. In this case, you will NEED an emergency fund; I would recommend 3 months’ worth of your estimated monthly cost of living. It’s not uncommon to have a dead month with no paying clients (as they’re either still on the fence, are discussing options within their company, are still in the process of reviewing/signing your documentation, or ran off without paying). Don’t forget that you will need to pay for health/dental/life/retirement/etc. on your own and will no longer have the aid of your corporate employer.

pick up a freelance project or two on the side and slowly

You should register yourself under a business name or a DBA sole proprietor. I worked without registration for a couple of years (which I later learned is dangerous) prior to speaking with an attorney and becoming registered as a DBA SP; toward the 3 rd or 4 th year, we switched from SP to a LLC under a true business name as my clients had evolved from small mom-pop businesses to expanding small businesses and large universities. To be honest, I only know the basics of what this all entails and let my attorney handle all of the heavy lifting/decision making. If you go the route I did, you will need to pay your legal counsel.

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You will still have to take care of income taxes which can be quite difficult. So, if you suck at that type of thing, you will need to hire assistance. It’s also a good idea to create a separate, business bank account under your business’ (or DBA) name; this will help you keep your funds separate and allow for easier tracking. Don’t forget that when the end of the year rolls around, you will have to pay taxes on all of the money you’ve collected from clients. I’ve seen a lot of friends attempt freelancing, make good money, and, when tax season rolls around, screw themselves over because they spent all of their money and now owe thousands. Make a habit of storing 30% of each client payment you receive into your business account and do NOT touch it; you’ll thank me when tax season rolls around.

Documentation

Create a paper trail

freelancer. Store everything (especially documents signed by clients) on your computer, a backup drive, and the cloud.

you will need to follow it back at some point in your endeavors as a

Quotes & Evaluations

Quotes/estimates are mandatory. You will want to create a template for quoting that contains an overview of tasks to be completed, how long they will take, and their individual prices along with a sum (or final estimated total).

How you decide to estimate is up to you (and will be covered in a section below). I’ve always used an hourly rate and estimate the number of hours per individual task within each phase.

Items you will want to include on your quote will be your company’s/DBA name, the client’s business name, the point of contact (or the person soliciting your services) on behalf of the company (along with all of their contact information: their title within the company, the company’s physical address, their phone number, and their e-mail address), your contact information, the quoted/estimated work, intervals, and dollar amounts, and a place for the client to sign and date. I also include a list of “additional services”, such as domain name registration, SSL certificates, hosting, e-mail hosting services, training, and on-going maintenance and support (for residual income). A disclaimer stating the time intervals and dollar amounts shown on the quote are merely estimates and not a final invoice is required for your protection. A small blurb on the elements being requested by the company, notice of a future contract (as the quote is NOT a contract), and notice that it is the responsibility of the client to provide me with content to fill the site with (as I am not a content writer) can only help your case in the future.

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Only the client needs to sign a quote/estimate.

You can view an example of my quote here:

Evaluations are not mandatory, by any means, but I would highly recommend creating a vague, overarching template to alter on a per-client basis as the need arises. I started my first project with an in-depth evaluation and have been creating and updating them since; to this day, I would not begin a project without one.

An Evaluation is a detailed, in-depth plan for the work that is to be done and how you will go about doing it. It encompasses a summary of the project (identifying and describing the scope of work), a breakdown of each phase of your process (along with each task in each phase), a rough explanation of budgets and costs, a rough timeline, and a clear visual of what you will and will not provide.

In plain sight, an evaluation will determine client’s dedication to the project, provide a degree of assurance to both parties, detail client expectations and deliverables from your end along with estimated timetables, serve as an outline for you to follow during production of the requested work, and can save your ass when a client comes back with the question of “why didn’t we get XYZ with our website?”. In the background, an evaluation will help you design and develop a more effective site by getting into the mind of the client or their business, researching competitors, exploring options you might not have considered otherwise, and eliminating the guesswork that might arise in the future.

You and the client will both want to sign an evaluation.

Contracts & NDA’s

Contracts are absolutely, 100%, mandatory. You should spend a lot of time research, writing, researching, re-writing, asking for advice, and re-writing your contract before throwing it at a client. CYA. Cover Your Ass.

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If you feel uncomfortable writing it on your own, hire an attorney (this is a one-time fee that will be worth more than its weight in gold).

The majority of a contract’s contents can be templated and re-used for each client; however, there will be sections that you need to paste items from your quote and/or evaluation (if you’ve written one) into.

You will want to cover (this is not an extensive list so, please, please, please, do your research): the scope of the project, what both parties are agreeing do, what the work to be completed is, who will provide what work for each phase of the project, who will have ownership of each asset when it’s all said and done, any privacy/security concerns, copyright information, your payment schedule and payment requirements, and how the transfer of the finished product will be handled.

A payment schedule is dire. You should require at least 25% (but anywhere from 25-

50%) of the quoted/estimated total as a down payment BEFORE YOU BEGIN ANY WORK. I like to collect a second installment, of another 25%, about halfway through the outlined time schedule, and collect the final payment upon website delivery. This will help minimize the amount of risk associated with doing work for free (in case the client changes their mind, bails, or has to postpone the project). I learned the hard way so you dont have to!

To avoid being the target of anyone’s legal woes in the future, I will not post an example of my personal contract. You can use the resources below for information (and I would highly recommend doing some external research on your own).

You and the client will both want to sign a contract. Having a witness can never hurt.

NDA’s are not mandatory. I’ll assume you all know what this is or, at least, have the ability to copy/paste to figure it out. It’s possible that your client will have one ready for you to sign (read and review it carefully—be sure you understand what it is you’re agreeing to). It can’t hurt to come prepared with one if you wish to make your client feel more comfortable in opening up to you.

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Personally, I’ve never bothered writing an NDA as I would never disclose a client’s information and have a small excerpt regarding privacy/security within my contract. I’ve been required to sign many at the client’s request.

Organization

Run like a well-oiled machine. It will, of course, take time for you to learn the ins-and-outs, make mistakes and correct them, and keep your efficiency at a high level.

To keep people like us from committing suicide, companies have developed some nifty web applications to keep us from having to keep track of all our appointments, tasks, deadlines, time worked, finances, client data, passwords, etc. You can view some here:

Finances

Practice, Practice, Practice!

You must practice. Don’t create a single WordPress website for yourself and consider yourself worthy of soliciting clientseach client will come to you with different requirements and you will need to be prepared to jump those hurdlesas you will end up destroying your reputation.

Follow through with some of the tutorials I’ve posted above and go out of your way to find other tutorials to mess around with. Dedicated a few hours a day to pumping out a number of WordPress websites. Learn the ins-and-outs of WordPress’ dashboard, familiarize yourself with a handful of themes and their display settings/miscellaneous options, and experiment with moving content around, changing the styles, adding/removing items, etc.

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More often than not, setting up the site is easythe hard part is conforming to client changes and suggestions AFTER they’ve viewed the site for the first time (and trust me, they always want a slew of changes).

Make a list of some businesses models that you would be interested in creating websites for and write out what their business goals, expectations, and requirements might be. Then, take this information, turn it into a fake company, and create a website for it. Rinse and repeat using a few different business models or areas of practice.

I can’t say it enough. Practice, practice, practice!

You don’t ever want to promise a client something you cannot deliver on.

Create a Portfolio

Once you feel confident in your knowledge of the web and WordPress, you will want to use the skills you’ve acquired to create yourself a home on the web. This is, likely, the most important site you’ll ever have to create in your career.

Once you have your portfolio site created, you’ll want to flesh it out with examples of your work. Use your favorite works from the “Practice, Practice, Practice!” section above or, better yet, use the culmination of your skills and create new faux company websites (be sure to label them as faux or you may get weird looks or lose clients over dishonesty).

An excellent way to beef up your portfolio is to seek out local non-profit organization and charities or find close friends/family members that are in need of a web presence. Perform the work pro bono; this will help you gain real-world experience without the pressure of contracts, expectations, and potentially false promises. Be sure to utilize your documentation (quotes,

evaluations, contracts, etc.) for the full experience arrangements.

simply null all of the dollar amounts/pricing

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If you do a website pro bono, do not hesitate to ask for a review/testimonial and use it on your site (or ask if they wouldn’t mind performing as a life reference).

Estimating

When I started freelancing, estimation of client projects proved to be difficult. I had been designing and developing websites for as long as I could remember, but I never once paid attention to how long any of my projects took. My first few projects were hectic; I dedicated all of my time, energy, and focus to each project and didn’t realize, until the project was completed, that I had just been extremely underpaid for my efforts.

My first line of advice: track the time it takes you to build all of your practice/faux company

websites, your personal portfolio, and pro bono/portfolio fluffer websites 15 minute interval you spend and save the log so you can reference it later.

My second line of advice: after you formulate an estimate (references below), revise it by adding

a solid 25-30%

with clients online (add a line to your quote template for meetings if they wish to schedule regular in-person or phone meetings), making changes based on their requests, or searching the web for topics you are unfamiliar with.

take note of every

this will help make up for all of the overhead involved such as communicating

My third line of advice: don’t calculate your estimated time based on the size of a website,

rather the complexity and required functionality

same amount of time and effort as a website with only 5 pages.

You are free to formulate your estimates however you wish. I’ve met freelancers that charge a

fee on a per-project basis with no breakdown and others that charge by the day. Personally, I’ve always charged by the hour. As a newbie to freelancing at the age of 18/19, I started my hourly

rate at $25/hour

and so on until

maxing out at $115/hour (just before I made the decision to hop on the corporate train at the age of 23).

rate to $50/hour (to weed out the cheapskates and less interesting websites)

building a website with 25 pages can take the

a year later, as my client base and requests for websites grew, I increased this

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Finding Clients

You can’t make money without clients

for us, we live in a time where the market is plenty big enough to go fishing.

and the clients aren’t just going to come to you. Luckily,

To hammer the nail into the coffin, practice, practice, practice! You won’t land clients if you aren’t confident in your abilities or your business model. In addition having confidence, you need to be willing to learn how to speak with people, network, and sell your services. If you do not have the confidence or outgoingness (and are not willing to learn), your only bet is to partner up with someone who isfind someone you know who is good at talking/bullshitting/selling, give them a rundown of the basics, and let them handle your client interactions (of course, you’ll have to pay them).

Getting the first client is the hardest. There exists a wide array of ways to find people in need a website. I will detail a few of the ways I’ve gone about getting clients and provide additional resources (below).

The most obvious, basic, and effective of them all: “cold calling”. Compile a list of local businesses, scout out their online presence (if they don’t have a website, awesome! If they have a website, make note of how it can be improvedDoes it look good? Does it speak to their target audience? Is it responsive? Does it load quickly?), research their local competitor’s (add them to your list if they, too, lack a website), and get your ass out there. Literally calling them or writing an e-mail will do if you are a bit nervous, but your best bet will be to dress up nicely, stock yourself with business cards/pamphlets, have a laptop attached to your hip and ready to show off your work (clear your fucking browser history—I’ve made that mistake and managed to escape with only a few awkward giggles), and walk in. Introduce yourself confidently, say what it is you do, mention that you are independent, bring up that you noticed they don’t have a website/can improve their website, and ask if they’d have time to sit down and discuss the prospect of a new website with you at some time in the future. If they aren’t interested, thank them for their time, hand them a business card, and move onto the next business. If they are interested, schedule the meeting and don’t forget about it. After a number of walk-ins, you will become increasingly comfortable, be able to handle/negotiate rejections, and obtain information about their friends or partners who may be in need of a website. On average (roughly estimated memories), 1 out of every 5 businesses I visited in my area were willing to schedule a meeting and 1 out of every 10 businesses I had a meeting with turned into a client.

You can get through many more phone calls in a day than physical visits you make more of an impression by showing up in person.

just keep in mind that

Another tactic I implemented that landed me quite a few clients is “pissing” (I don’t actually

know what this method is called

neat little tear-off phone numbers), post cards, pamphlets, etc. and post them around local hot

spots (coffee shops, bars, parks, and college campuses are all safe bets). The world is your oyster; mark that shit up. Include a link to your portfolio, your name, your phone number, and your e-mail address on each. It’s best if you frequent these places and people get to know you.

but it works). Design business cards, some flyers (with the

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This method requires minimal effort and investment (mass printing promotional material is cheap). Keep in mind that you will need to have a second business line in which you take these calls from or remember to answer your personal line professionally each and every time an unknown number pops up.

Go out and mingle. Having a friendly conversation with someone at the coffee shop? When they ask what you do, hand them a business card. You have family or friends, too, yes? Talk to them. It’s likely someone you meet out, or someone you already know, will know at least one person or company that could use a website. Network.

You just learned WordPress, right? Teach others. Host a local WordPress training session at a local business or venue (coffee shops are an excellent location for just about anything involved in freelance web design/development). Don’t give away all your secrets. Post this on job/training boards, local community forums, create a MeetUp group (or join an existing one), throw up some simply flyers at your local universities, etc. You can’t go wrong with helping others and it’s likely that people signing up for these classes are trying to learn to create a site for their business. Market your services to them.

Lastly, classifieds and job boards. Local classified ads in the paper, online classified forums (Craigslist, AngiesList, etc.), and various freelance websites are all great options. Check your local Craigslist/AngiesList for companies/individuals looking for a website. Post your own ad for designing/developing websites (put in a link to your website and all of your information). Spend a few minutes a day browsing the top freelancing websites and responding to projects within your level of expertise.

As promised, here are a slew of external resources with more ways to land clients:

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I found that, after servicing a handful of clients, word of my services spread like wildfire. After that point, I rarely had to use the above methods to find clients as I always had someone calling me, saying they liked so-and-so’s website, and requesting one for themselves. At first, this was a disaster; I would take on 3-4 clients a time and have them all raining down on me from the heavens. Don’t be afraid to let a client know that you are currently at maximum capacity and prefer to keep your workload low and streamlined so that you can deliver quality products

consistently

wouldn’t mind waiting (chances are they’ll have no issue waiting a month or two).

give them a heads up of your current project’s estimated end date and ask if they

Keeping Clients

After you’ve transferred your work of art to the client and they are satisfied with the results, you may think everything is said and done. This isn’t the case.

Your business model may differ from mine, but I always aim to treat clients like family. I interact with them on a level of closeness and understanding that keeps our conversation going long after their website is online. If they reach out for a quick website update or refresher on how to update something themselves, I will often take care of it for them for free (as long as it isn’t a huge update or they don’t request changes too often). If they haven’t reached out in a while, I will send them an e-mail to ensure everything is going well, let them know they are on my mind, say hello, or let them know that I’m going to perform a monthly backup of their website.

If not for the love of your clients, do it for the prospect of your business

they will be expanding or when they will run into a new partner that needs a new website. You want to be the first thing that pops into their mind when someone mentions needing a website.

Keep the conversation alive.

you never know when