Foundations of Customer Service for Freelance Designers

by Steven Snell
on January 7, 2010

in Business/Freelance

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There are a lot of factors that play a role in determining the success of a freelance web designer. Obviously, design ability and technical skills are needed, but other factors like customer service, marketing, networking, and work ethic will have a significant influence. In this article we’ll take a look at customer service as it applies to freelance designers.

Providing high-quality customer service can at times be frustrating for freelancers, but taking good care of your clients is critical for client retention and for encouraging word-of-mouth referrals. Here we will look at 10 aspects that should be considered by freelancers who aspire to provide a high level of customer service.

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10 Keys to Growth as a Designer

by Steven Snell
on December 30, 2009

in Business/Freelance

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One of the most significant challenges that designers face is the need for continual improvement and development. The industry and technology can change very quickly and staying on top of things and working to improve your skills is necessary in order to have a successful career in web design. Fortunately, learning and improving will naturally occur to some degree as you continue to work on different projects and in different scenarios, but there will be times when you will have to make an effort to work on your own development.

In this post we’ll look at 10 keys to growth as a designer. This list and discussion should serve as a reference or guide for any designer that wants to improve. Focus on these areas and you will become a better designer. Please share your own thoughts and experiences in the comments.

1. Solid Foundation of Knowledge

There are plenty of different things for aspiring and improving designers to learn, and more than enough resources and tutorials to make it happen. One of the temptations is to jump ahead and try to learn too many specifics before having a firm grasp on the essential fundamentals of web design. Some tools, such as Adobe Dreamweaver, can lead designers to think that they don’t need to be proficient in HTML and CSS. However, having a solid knowledge of HTML and CSS, plus basic design principles, is necessary and trying to learn too many other things at once can lead to confusion. If you have not already reached this point, make it a priority to attain the foundational knowledge first before you try to build on it.

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Tips for Dealing with Competition as a Designer

by Steven Snell
on December 17, 2009

in Business/Freelance

Get the FlatPix UI Kit for only $7 - Learn More or Buy Now

Being a web designer or developer offers plenty of opportunities for your career. If working as an employee isn’t for you, starting a freelance business is very inexpensive and there are virtually no barriers to entry into the business. While this presents great opportunities, it also means that your competition is basically unlimited because others can offer services as a freelancer just as easily, plus you’ll also be competing with design agencies for clients.

With the level of competition that exists for designers and developers, being successful as a freelancer or working independently requires a combination of technical and creative skills, as well as business skills. Naturally, most freelancers are more comfortable with the technical and creative aspects and less comfortable with running a business. While you do need to have some capability to run the business, you do not need to be a business guru to be an effective and efficient freelancer.

Part of the struggle from the business aspect involves knowing how to encourage clients to use your services when there are a million other options out there. In this post we’ll take a look at the subject of competition for freelancers, and discuss some things that you can do to thrive in this competitive industry.

1. Embrace the Competition

Although this is an industry that is filled with “competitors,” the nature of the community of designers is completely different than that of most other industries. Designers generally are very approachable and other service providers aren’t usually viewed as competition. Take the time to get to know others who are offering similar services, whether they are freelancers, employees of an agency, or in-house designers.

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How to Determine if You Should Accept a Freelance Project

by Steven Snell
on November 25, 2009

in Business/Freelance

Get the FlatPix UI Kit for only $7 - Learn More or Buy Now

When I first started freelancing I was happy to take any project that came my way. At that time without an established network and even without a portfolio site, most of the clients I picked up came through word-of-mouth referrals from friends and family. When I finally got to the point of getting a significant number of leads and inquiries, one of the most difficult things for me was to determine which projects I should take and which ones I should turn down, or at least delay until another time.

Before long I found out the hard way that just blindly taking projects was causing unnecessary stress (I still had a full-time job at that point and not much time for client projects) and more significantly, it was preventing me from doing my best work and taking the time to learn as much as possible through the experience, which should be a priority for any designer who is just getting started.

One of the best ways to learn is by making mistakes, so I did pick up some valuable knowledge that I have been able to use ever since. However, if you are facing situations where you are unsure about accepting a project or unclear about what factors you should consider, I hope that my mistakes can also be a help to you.

Unfortunately, making decisions on which projects to take (and also on pricing) is not always easy. In this post I’ll cover a number of different factors that I feel should be considered. Keep in mind that each situation is different, so not all of the factors will apply, and in some cases the significance of specific factors will vary greatly.

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