I’m a freelance web designer and I recently had an experience with a client using PayPal as a payment method which I think more freelancers need to be aware of.
Mistake #1: I didn’t research my client.
In February last year, a potential client emailed me and said he’d seen my site in a CSS design showcase and asked me to quote for a project he had. I spent a lot of time helping him through the jargon and helping him lay a good foundation for a successful web project by defining his ideas of what he wanted the site to achieve. After lots of the usual emails back and forth, he then abruptly emailed and said “This is on hold sorry”. He disappeared for a couple of months and then made contact again only after he said he’d “wasted 4 weeks with the last designer”. Now I know obviously this should have sent a few alarm bells ringing, and with hindsight being 20/20, I should have questioned and done a bit of research on this client before I made the decision to accept the job.
Mistake #2: I accepted credit card payments via PayPal.
As the client was in New York and I was in Brisbane, Australia, I thought I’d better be cautious let him know up front that I’ll require payment at regular intervals. First, a small deposit up-front, then only at key stages when work has been completed and approved. I chose PayPal as the payment method for as an easy and secure way of transferring the funds internationally. Continue Reading
I’ll bet that you yourself track one or two major stats on a somewhat regular basis. Most website owners track visitor traffic, Adsense clicks, RSS subscribers and the like. Brick and mortar business owners track income, customers, items sold and shipped, etc. This is fine and these are definitely good things to track as they are the broad picture of your site, business, etc.
Unfortunately, most of us stop there at the broad picture while it’s still way too broad to do us much good.
The problem with only tracking visitors or income or RSS subscribers is this:
Money and customers are not the products you create. They’re incidental to the products you create.
People subscribe to your site because you write good content. People give you money because you give them a website in exchange. It’s fine to track your income and subscriber-base, but as stated in the first post of this series you must also track your personal production.
Welcome to the second and penultimate post in our series on statistics. I know it’s not the most glamorous of subjects and you’re certainly not going to get any hot dates talking about it. But as we said in part one, stats are the backbone of everything you do.
We’re going to keep it pretty basic here to cover something so dreadfully obvious it tends to languish below our radar: reading stat graphs.
Stat Charts and trends
Stat charts come in a few different forms: pie charts, bar graphs, etc. I think the best by far for our purposes is the ordinary line graph, ala Google Analytics.
We all know this type of graph. It’s the best style because it shows the high points, low points and the all-important trends. There are really only three basic trends we need to know:
Freelancers spend an inordinate amount of time fretting over how much to charge. But there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to pricing. It’s all completely subjective and dependent on a wide variety of factors, including what the market will bear, geographic location, timing, aggravation factor (or lack thereof) and your level of desperation (hopefully low to non-existent), just to name a few.
If you are selling creative services, one of the things that can get in the way of clear pricing is the belief that what you charge is related to your value as a person. Wrong! It has nothing to do with you.
For example, a client will often ask, “How much do you charge for a web site?” or “How much do you charge for a brochure?” They ask these questions as if they are buying shoes or tomatoes.
Becoming a better freelancer is a little like learning to play the guitar. There may be certain songs you know and love to play, but if they don’t present a challenge or teach you something new, you won’t progress as a guitarist. Venturing out of your comfort zone is the only way to improve.
And so it is with freelancing. Your skills progress to a certain point that you can complete certain types of jobs quickly and easily — possibly even building on work you’ve already done before. The pressure of having to complete jobs that pay dollars and cents can make it easy to forget the importance of adding future value to your freelancing business — the importance of building new skills and venturing out of your comfort zone.
We all know that giving is fantastic. Give great customer service; give great rates, and always give your best. But, what about getting? What kinds of things should you expect from your clients? Asking is also a great marketing strategy! Here is a list of 25 things you can (and should!) ask for when working with a client.
1. Ask for a down payment - Just like there are flaky freelancers out there, there are flaky clients as well. It’s completely okay to protect yourself and your time. Ask for a down payment, and make it fully refundable if you don’t do your share. Most clients will be happy to oblige.
2. Ask for more time if you need it – Sometimes your creative genius self needs time, and who can blame you? Between Twitter, and Facebook and well… clients, it’s a busy life! So, feel free to ask for more time if you need it. Just don’t go overboard.
3. Ask for clear directions - If a client wants exactly what they have in mind, they have to be able to communicate those thoughts. Help them along. Make sure to ask for clear directions and double check.
If you’re anything like me, you probably feel a little funny about how often you check your stats. I check them throughout the day, with a regularity I’m almost ashamed to admit. There’s even a particular stat program I use which plots out a sexy graph, above which are written the words: “Statistics updated every 24 hours.” That doesn’t keep me from checking it about three times a day.
Regardless of the social implications, we stat-freaks are on the right track. For whether you acknowledge it or not statistics are the very backbone of your business, your production, your income and pretty much everything else that matters. I use them (not just look at them) every single day, whether it’s at my blog or examining my design business.
What are statistics?
If you look up “statistic” in pretty much any dictionary, you’ll notice that even people who write dictionaries have bad days. A survey of dictionaries I have to hand uncovered the following definitions for the word “statistic”:
This post is a guest post from Allan Branch, a one time freelancer who created LessAccounting for freelancers who need to keep track of money or send invoices.
What if someone could sue your company and then, since your company has no money, take your house or win a judgment that takes you fifteen years to pay? The Corporate Veil provides protection against this happening to you.
What is it?
The Corporate Veil is the legal shield that protects an individual from being personally liable for the actions of his/her company. This only applies to owners, partners, board members, not employees or share holders. In this country a person, or a company may sue any other person or company for anything, at any time. But there is only one reason to sue, and that is to be awarded money. So if a person or company doesn’t have any money, then there isn’t really anything to sue for. Continue Reading
One of the key pieces of advice you’ll hear from any marketing guru is this:
Understand your target market.
It’s short, it’s simple and it’s effective. And yet I suspect that very few of us really ever follow the advice and do this.
I sound like a parrot when I talk to clients about how to improve their marketing, “You’ve got to understand your target market, if you don’t understand them, you won’t know where to find them, what they’re looking for and what they respond to” – it’s one of the most common phrases you’ll hear me say to clients who wonder why people aren’t beating down their doors to work with them.
The problem is however, that unless you know who your market is and how/where to find out more about them, it can feel like a guessing game and a big fat waste of time.
Here are some of the places you can turn to, to help you find out more about your target market and what really gets them going…
I’ve noticed that when it comes to marketing, freelancers are firmly split into two camps:
- The first are freelancers who realise the absolute importance of marketing their freelancing services in a strategic, well-planned manner.
- The second are freelancers who only think about marketing themselves when they’re running low on clients and money.
Which camp do you belong to?
One of the biggest brand management companies in the world is quite clearly a master of branding and marketing; it is the force behind billion dollar brands such as Duracell, Gillette, Max Factor, Pampers, Lacoste, Pringles, Tampax. Seriously, if they can sell a vile, disgusting liquid like Sunny Delight and convince parents that it’s healthy and kids that it’s cool to drink, they know what they’re doing!
Here are three of the most important things they do when it comes to marketing: Continue Reading
Is taking care of your customers and clients something that just happens in your freelancing business? Or do you actively set about making sure you keep your clients as happy as possible?
One of the buzz concepts of the management consulting world a few years ago was the “client lifecycle”.
The concept of a client lifecycle is something that any freelancer can apply to their business and benefit from. In a nutshell, it comprises of the phases that each of your clients go through whilst they work with you, starting from the moment they first become aware of you and what you do.
The benefit of understanding this for your freelance business is that you can design and control what happens in each of those phases. This means that not only are you proactively determining what happens in your business and managing it, you are also focusing on and building your business around one the most important components of your business: your clients.
Here is what a client lifecycle looks like…
With the start of the New Year upon us, the likelihood of you deciding to head off into Freelancing full-time may be tickling your senses. We understand your passion to make it on your own, and present our Top 10 Freelance Resolutions for this coming year. Already freelancing? Hopefully some of these concepts will help you recommit to your endeavor, and subsequently bring you success in the years to come. Continue Reading