how do I get started as a freelancer?
Im new to freelancing and wondered if I could have some friendly advise.
About a year ago I left my fulltime-IT-rat-race-world which I had been in for about 6 years and decided to embark in a new direction and one which is much more creative and rewarding. I have always been into design and the arts and so it seemed the right thing to combine my nerdy skills with my creative ones and freelance as a web designer.
I saw a market packed with designers and so I chose to specialise in Flash it allows me to be creative whilst challenging me.
So the first thing I did was to offer my services for free and quickly produced a portfolio of flash sites. I think here I made my first mistake; building sites for musicians and artists, neither of which ever have any money. In hinghsight I should have targeted restraunts and clubs maybe. Since christmas I have stopped doing freebies and have started looking for paid commissions. The situation has become more urgent because my girlfriend who had been supporting me all this time has just finished her contract too so we both find ourselves without work with a morgage to pay.
What I have since found is that if I apply for commissions/contracts with established companies, they always love my work, but due to my lack of experience, I am always turned away. If I hunt the internet, I seem to find myself competing with people in the US or India or even teenagers (living with their parents) and the strong pound, I cant compete. Generally people in the US are asking in Dollars what I would like in to be paid Pounds!
I have posted adverts in gumtree and I usually get 1 enquiry a week, but I rarely get beyond this. They send me an enquiry, I reply, I hear nothing. I dont know if its me doing something wrong or if this is just the norm.
Have I just replaced one rat-race for another? I am in my element designing and building websites, but no longer have time for it traulling through job ads. Its begining to get me down. Does anyone have any suggestions on how I can get my feet of the ground?
Thanks in advance,
- I'm afraid there is no simple solution, like any other business, you have to 'slog away' at it and eventually you will get leads.
You mention before Christmas you was developing free sites for people, are those people aware that you now do this as a full time occupation? If not, let them know, if they was pleased with the work you produced they might be happy to recommend you to others..?
Building up a decent client base really is quite a slow process and can only grow through your reputation. If you are in need of an income in a hurry then have you thought about working as a contractor? This can also lead to clients for you business..
Talk to as many people as you can, go to seminars, leave you business card everywhere!
On a final note, I found that your website wasn't particularly 'user friendly' as there was nothing to tell me I had to click on the dot to open the main Flash page 😉 Although the site is beautifully designed and has some nice effects, you don't want to turn people away at your door.
I am a Flash developer but the majority of my flash work is e-learning based, usually building websites with css/xhtml for a more accessible website.
- I may have spoken to soon as ive just managed to secure 2 day's flash work which may turn into 20 depending on how I do.
Thanks for the feedback about my portfolio site. When I designed the site I gave this issue much thought and eventually decided to leave like this. If the viewer does not find the enterance, then they still get the 3d effect thing happening and my contact details. If they where to click anywhere on the screen, they would get clues as to what to do next.
I have tried to create something simple and beautiful. The whole site is full of subtle effects which the viewer may or maynot notice... but as i said, after much thourght i decided i would rather keep everything subtle and than bombard people with flashy effects etc.
That said, you are not the first person to point this out and I am currently producing a new and improved version.
- Join forums like sitepoint.com,digitalpoint.com, post few good threads in programming forums, and then jump to getting assignment from fellow webmasters.
Potential employers/businesses don't want to have to second guess and spend time trying to access your showcase, it will just irritate them and they won't be back. You need to make it as accessible and idiot proof as possible, they don't want to see "the 3d effect thing", they want to see what work you've produced.When I designed the site I gave this issue much thought and eventually decided to leave like this. If the viewer does not find the enterance, then they still get the 3d effect thing happening and my contact details. If they where to click anywhere on the screen, they would get clues as to what to do next.