How to Obtain Website Content from Clients: 5 Proven Methods

How to Obtain Website Content from Clients: 5 Proven Methods

In a perfect world, we’d all have all the content we needed before we ever touched a wireframe, on paper or otherwise. The hate for lorem ipsum is real, and I do understand why, but it’s a simple fact that we do not live in a perfect world. Clients are often ready to hand over a down payment, but not actually ready to build the site yet.

If you find yourself in this situation (and it will happen a lot at the beginning of your career), you’ll need to help your client get ready. And if they don’t hire a copy writer, you’ll need to help them write the content themselves.

1. Give Them Constraints

If your client is writing their own content, they may need to be told what to write. Most people are not writers by nature. It’s a skill that can be learned by virtually anyone with varying levels of success, but it takes some persistence and associated time. Most people, when told to write some content for a website, are probably going to stare at the blank screen for a while.

Hesitantly they might begin to pluck out letters on their keyboard, one by one. It’ll probably be a laborious process, but they’ll have that first grand sentence: “Hi! Welcome to the home page of our website.” And then they might write a bunch of stuff that would probably be better suited for another page.

People have long made the argument that total creative freedom doesn’t make for good design; constraints do. Constraints force us to solve problems, but they also give us direction, and purpose. Yes, it means doing some of their website planning and strategy for them, but no one said you had to do it for free.

2. Go Through The Process With Them Before They Write

Even instructions like, “Okay, you need a paragraph of introductory text for the home page.” might be a bit vague for people unfamiliar with writing website copy. Get on Skype, or even meet them in person to take your client through the plan you have for their website (wireframes or other prototypes may come in handy here).

Also be sure to tell them how much content is intended for each page, page section, or UI element. If only a sentence or two will reasonably fit, make sure they know this. If they can go nuts on the “About Us” page, make sure they know that, too.

And yes, giving them a space to go nuts is probably a good idea. Everyone wants unleash their inner Hemingway, and if the “About” page ends up being as long and annoying as The Old Man and the Sea, that’s the price we pay for good relationships with our clients.

As you go through your instructions, write them down, and send them to your client via email for reference. This way, they’ll always know what the plan is.

Charge by the hour for this bit, at least.

3. Go Ahead And Annoy Them A Bit

Ever had a client give you a deadline, then disappear? You have no obligation to take that lying down. Now, they might be busy, and have other legitimate priorities. If they tell you a family member is sick, just work for another client for a while.

But if they just disappear on you, don’t be afraid to remind them once in a while. They might genuinely forget, and need the reminder. Even if they haven’t forgotten, they might need a little motivation. And yes, you might annoy them a bit, but clients should respect your time, too.

If they can’t finish even one project, there probably isn’t a long-term relationship on the table

Now don’t e-mail them every day. That’s excessive. An e-mail per week should be fine to start with, and you can always increase that number as deadlines approach. If they e-mail you back with something like, “Thanks, I’m working on it!”, or, “For god’s sake please stop, I’m working on it!”… you can safely stop sending them e-mails for a while.

Don’t worry too much about annoying them. If they can’t finish even one project, there probably isn’t a long-term relationship on the table.

4. Use Software To Make It All A Bit Easier

Of course, this is all a fair bit of work. You can automate the process of getting content from your clients just a little bit, though. If you’ve got the budget for one more darned SAAS product in your pipeline, you could try out Content Snare.

You literally just set up forms that specifically request the content you need. You can put in character limits, and basically define the information required with various kinds of inputs. You want constraints? They’ve got constraints, and automatic email reminders.

Now the downside to this software is the cost. At the time of this writing, the cheapest plan is $24US per month (billed yearly). It’s affordable, probably, for a designer with plenty of clients already. But when every dollar counts, this is one tool you can probably do without.

For anyone who’s a little cash-strapped, you can replicate the basic functionality for requesting content with a much simpler tool like Google Forms. Just make one for each page, and go. You can embed these forms, too, so if you already have something like a “client area” set up on your website, you could theoretically set each client up with their own set of forms to fill out, all in one place.

Automated reminder emails? Well, there’s no shortage of mass mailing applications out there. If you’re already using one, you could schedule some reminders pretty easily. Just be sure to turn them off once you’ve gotten a response.

Annoying them is one thing. Using robots to do it is another.

5. Provide Some Examples from Relevant Sources

A simple and effective way to get a client to understand fully what you want them to provide is to give them pertinent and specific examples of the needed content. For example if the client’s project is a construction website that specifically needs some text content for the Services page you could send them a url of a well established construction website’s a Service’s page and inform them to create something similar. It really can be that easy. Of course this method could be replicated throughout the site as needed.

For more information on how to deal with clients check out our latest Clients guides.

Feel free to share this info to others who may need some help on how to obtain website content from clients, and to individuals trying to obtain content from clients for non-website projects as well.

references: hubspot, godaddy, webdesignerdepot, ithemes

What to do with a Passive-Aggressive Client

What to do with a Passive-Aggressive Client

Passive-Aggressive Client

A passive-aggressive client is one who is very passive when you ask for initial input, but when you submit the finished product, they aggressively attack it, demanding a lot of detailed changes, both major and minor. They had an idea of what they wanted all along but kept it mostly to themselves.

Even though they showed appreciation of certain ideas and elements throughout the development process, do not expect the passive-aggressive client to keep any of them as they send revisions your way.

Identifying Characteristics

  • Communication is mostly one-sided and unhelpful during project development.
  • Multiple statements can be contradicting and hypocritical.
  • Makes statements such as:
  1. “I’m not really sure what we’re looking for.”
  2. “Just do something that would appeal to us generally.”
  3. “What do you suggest?” followed up by…
  4. “You totally missed the point of what I (we) wanted.”
  5. “For X amount of money, it should be better than this.”
  6. “I have provided everything you needed, and you have produced nothing”.

How to Deal with

Stay multiple steps ahead of the passive-aggressive client.

Expecting the last-minute requests for revisions may soften the blow of the client’s aggressive behavior. For design projects keep your original layered design intact so that you can easily refine and change it later (not that you wouldn’t, but it does happen). Also, make sure your contract specifies a limited number of revisions.

Be willing to say “goodbye” if there behavior is simply not worth your time. Keep in mind there are essentially endless potential clients out there (other fish in the sea). Additionally, a project/task should be construed as a collaboration of multiple individuals. You are doing them a favor, and they are doing you a favor in return. It should not simply be seen as a boss (irrational) and worker (slave) scenario.

Want more Freelance info? Check out our latest Freelance Guides.

references: smashing magazine, hubspot, psychologytoday

10 Quick Attributes and Actions of an Ideal Web Design Client

10 Quick Attributes and Actions of an Ideal Web Design Client

  1. Pays appropriate compensation.
  2. Pays on time.
  3. Reasonable mindset.
  4. Does not waste time.
  5. Respectful.
  6. Professional.
  7. Good person.
  8. Patient.
  9. Has a product or service that is interesting.
  10. Understands and appreciates web design.

15 Quick Tips and Necessities for Freelance Web Design & Development

15 Quick Tips and Necessities for Freelance Web Design & Development

The following list is not necessarily in an order of importance.

  1. Have the fundamental skills and experience.
  2. Have the desire and ability to learn and adapt.
  3. Use contracts (or agreements).
  4. Be professional.
  5. Try to be a genuine, considerate human being.
  6. Have the desire for independence.
  7. Be self disciplined.
  8. Be organized.
  9. Treat freelance as a business.
  10. Make appropriate and timely compensation a priority.
  11. Don’t settle for clients that don’t respect you or pay you.
  12. Apply the “golden rule”.
  13. Be logical and creative.
  14. Continuously try to improve.
  15. Reach out to other like minded individuals.
Know When to Turn Down a Client.

Know When to Turn Down a Client.

It’s simply possible to have too many clients and have clients that require way more time and effort than they are worth. If you have the time, energy, and manpower at your disposal then, by all means, take on new projects and grow your business. However, if you don’t have these limited resources (and they are limited!), don’t place an unneeded burden on yourself or your team to pull an excellent final product out of thin air. If you over-commit yourself then there is the risk of not spending the time and effort needed on existing work, making your current clients unhappy and potentially driving them away. It can be very tempting to obligate yourself to new projects that could be enjoyable or lucrative for you and your team, but if you know that you can’t handle the work at that moment, it can be better to say “no” then to risk your reputation and good name.

Don’t Shy from Promoting Your High Profile Clients

Don’t Shy from Promoting Your High Profile Clients

You could well be a digital guru who has spent years working in the industry and earned the respect of the Web community, but most clients won’t understand what this means. They have never heard of websites such as CSS-Tricks.com and Awwwards.com or magazines such as Net or Wired, and they probably won’t grasp the gravitas that comes with being a speaker at Web conferences such as SXSW.

However, all clients tend to respond when you say you have worked on a high-profile brand website. When clients hear that you’ve been hired by a big name that they’ve heard of and whose products they perhaps use, their eyes double in size and think to themselves that they’ve hit the jackpot.

While some web professionals aren’t always comfortable selling themselves, and while big brand experience is not always proof of ability, it almost always resonates with clients and makes them see you as more credible. This reinforces your position as an expert whose advice should be heeded. After all, if big brand X thought you were good, you must be, right?

Sometimes, of course, no matter how much credibility you demonstrate, a client may choose not to listen to your recommendations. But perhaps they’ll listen to others…

How to Establish Yourself as a Web Expert to Clients

How to Establish Yourself as a Web Expert to Clients

The position of a web expert is not always easy to establish (even if you are already one), because it usually only becomes apparent to a client over time with a few successful decisions or projects. It doesn’t help either that many clients still regard creative digital agencies and freelancers as either kids living in their parents’ basement or shady professionals out to take them for every last penny.

Though a challenge, you can establish your credibility quickly using a few methods, some of which are relatively simple to do.

BE PROFESSIONAL

Before they’re convinced that you’re a digital professional and that they should trust your recommendations, you must first demonstrate your professionalism by doing the basics well:

• Be punctual at meetings and teleconferences.
• Always speak in a professional manner.
• Deliver pre-sales paperwork on time.
• Present all documents and images on professionally branded templates.
• Use correct grammar and punctuation in emails.

You’d be surprised by how quickly clients pick upon deficiencies in these basic business skills. Their perception of you and your recommendations will be immediately affected. Unless you come across as the consummate professional early on, shaking off this reputation will be difficult.

How To Become A Professional Freelance Web Designer

How To Become A Professional Freelance Web Designer

Becoming a freelance web designer is a common dream among many designers, although it takes quite a bit of talent, business savvy, commitment, and time. With all there is to consider when becoming self-employed, one can become overwhelmed — enough to deter themselves from trying at all.

Realizing many readers probably already have a head-start into the world of professional and freelance web design, this post is meant to act as not only a step-by-step guide, but also as a checklist for those who have already started their career. Hopefully this guide can cover all aspects of becoming a professional and freelance web designer, from business aspect and working with clients, to creating an effective portfolio and advertising one’s work.

1. Do the Necessary Research

The absolute first step into any freelancing career is to do the needed research ahead of time. Freelancing is a huge life and career change, and one needs to look into exactly how it will change life before diving in.

RESEARCH THE COSTS

Making money on one’s own terms sounds incredibly appealing, until the realization comes that it’s a lot less money than working at a company (at first, at least). Below is just a short list of expenses to consider. Make sure they are covered when venturing into a freelancing lifestyle.

  • Domain name and hosting services
  • Stationery, Business Cards, and other marketing material
  • Needed software
  • A desk space and supplies
  • Subscriptions to stock photo sites and other forms of resources

On top of that, consider basic living expenses and additional emergency or living money. At this point, a formal budget is not needed, but it’s a very smart idea to go over the basic numbers of starting a freelancing business, and maintaining it.

TAXES & INSURANCE

While most aspiring freelancers will slowly transition into the lifestyle, opposed to quitting their day job cold turkey, it is important to look into taxing information, insurance, and other assets that will be changed with self-employment. Because local laws and personal circumstances can vary so significantly, new designers should research this area on their own.

RESEARCH THE TIME

A more specific schedule can be setup later, but it’s a good idea to look into the time requirement for work each day, per week, and even per month to handle X amount of clients. For some, the time needed to be invested in this type of career path is not currently available.

Consider current social or family happenings, career responsibilities, and for some — even school. If it is not a good time in life to change focus, it may not be a good time to start freelancing full-time. Sometimes it is appropriate to put dreams on hold. With that being said, set a realistic date to begin a true freelancing lifestyle, whether that means just easing into it now, or setting a time in the future to go full-time.

If all consideration is put into place, the idea is well researched, then it can be time to start a freelance web design career! Below are the remaining steps to take.

2. Become a Brand

There are many differences between a young freelance web designer just trying to get by, and a successful freelance web designer with their business and future in mind. One of those differences is that successful freelance designers understand, and pay close attention, to branding.

Branding a business, even if only a one person operation, can do a lot of things in terms of the business’s sucess. A good brand builds credibility, client loyalty, delivers a target message to clients and other businesses, and even aids in marketing strategy.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

The name of a freelancing business can signify a lot, and most designers just choose to use their full name as the brand name. This is fine, but another option is to use a specialized brand name. Depending on the future plans of the business, it is smart to think closer about an official name.

If one plans on turning an individual freelancing business into a firm one day, a name other than the designer’s given name may be more appropriate. Also, a specialized brand name may be more memorable than the designer’s given name, and the posibilities are then endless as far as finding an SEO friendly name, or a name that gives off a portrayal of the business it represents.

On the other end of the spectrum, it’s easy to see the benefits of using a given name as a business name. Using a designer’s given name is always original, and something uniquely personal to the designer. Really, both can be successful decisions, but it is a decision that is often times taken too lightly. The way the brand is further marketed depends largely on this decision.

You should notice that designers who chose a specialized name for their brand often call themselves a studio. This gives the impression that they are a bigger business; a more formal organization. The portfolios with given names, though, provide a more personal appeal — something many clients look for. This often gives them more of the true freelancer feel.

Depending on how a designer wants to operate their business, the clients they want to attract, and based on the future goals of the business, the final decision of the freelancing business name can have many possibilities.

After the official brand name is decided, it’s time to start creating a logo around it. Many beginner designers don’t understand the importance a logo has in a brand, or even how important a brand is in itself. Opposed to creating a quick logo in the process of designing a portfolio template, a logo should be made separately and with the utmost consideration.

Because these designers, and so many more, took the extra time to create a well-branded and effective logo, they have the opportunity to expand the logo design to stationery, business cards, advertisements, and more. Not to mention, these logos serve the origial purpose of logo design — to create a brand, build business loyalty, and create an image that aids in recognition.

A designer will want to create a logo that represents their design style, and that will attract a client that is looking for that type of web design. To create a great logo, read up on logo design principles, tutorials, and logo design processes.

AN ELEVATOR PITCH

There is a lot more to being a successful freelance web designer than just being good at web design. Any sort of freelancer has to be an entrepreneur as well. Rule #1 for entrepreneurship: create an elevator pitch.

For those that don’t know what an elevator pitch it, it is a premeditated, well thought-out introduction to one’s services or a person’s business as a whole. Let’s take a look at a better definition. Excuse the use of Wikipedia for a professional reference, but Wikipedia’s definition of an elevator pitch is just about perfect for the freelance web designer:

An elevator pitch (or elevator speech) is an overview of an idea for a product, service, or project. The name reflects the fact that an elevator pitch can be delivered in the time span of an elevator ride (for example, thirty seconds and 100-150 words).

… A variety of other people, including entrepreneurs, project managers, salespeople, evangelists, policy-makers, job seekers (web designers and freelancers), and speed daters commonly use elevator pitches to get their point across quickly. — Elevator pitch, Wikipedia

Take the time to create an elevator pitch for a freelancing business. For a freelance web designer, it can venture beyond the traditional use of a speech in an elevator, to the introduction to a portfolio, the about page, or as an introduction to an application for a freelancing position.

Many marketing gurus leave the assumption that the creation of an elevator speech for a business will increase the client list dramatically. Usually, this isn’t the case — at least not directly. What it will do though is still quite useful:

  • Save the designer countless hours in coming up with a smart introduction over and over again.
  • Create a professional atmosphere for a portfolio, or whereever it is used.
  • An elevator speech will make sure that any new introductions don’t leave out vital information about the services or freelancing business.

The following is an example of an excellent elevator pitch for a 45royale web design studio.

45royale is an enthusiastic web design studio located in the bustling metropolis of Canton, Georgia. We promote web standards and bring energy and commitment to our work every single day. — 45royale Inc.

The above is a strong example for a small, yet established business. Freelancing can use the same principle, but with a more personal approach:

Hi there, my name’s Brian Wilkins and I am a web designer/front-end developer living outside Boston, Massachusetts. I currently work at Reelpoint, an online design and marketing firm. I build clean and functional interfaces. With a hunger to constantly grow and evolve as a designer, I have a genuine passion for art, typography, design, technology and creative thinking. — BrianWilkins.net

That detailed elevator pitch can be seen on his about page, telling potential clients exactly what he does. On the front page, as part of his portfolio design, he includes a much shorter, but equally effective pitch:

I’m a web designer that creates clean and modern content for the world wide web.

Taking the time to create an elevator pitch can help launch a freelance career through the use of business tactics. Below are some further resources for creating a great elevator pitch.

AN OVERALL STYLE

The last thing to do is create an overall style for the freelancing business. Fortunately, most of this is accomplished by the above several factors. The overall style, colors, textures, and even how a designer presents one’s self should reflect the style of work a designer completes.

To promote consistency throughout the life of the freelancing business, though, designers need to look at branding in a more broad sense when first starting out. Creating a color scheme, design style, and other overall design guidelines based off of the logo design, and information presented in the elevator pitch. Then, stick to the brand as the freelancing business progresses.

3. Create a Portfolio Website

Step number three is an obvious one — create a portfolio website. However, it deserves a decent overview and closer look because we as designers are our own worst clients. Many new freelancers, or anyone just entering the web design world of business, will open Photoshop and start grinding away. Instead, think about what a portfolio can actually do.

A mediocre portfolio will have a great design, and show off a designer’s past works. However, an excellent portfolio will do the following things:

  • Reflect and grow a designer’s brand.
  • Show a client not only what a designer can do, but what the designer can do for them.
  • Show great talent, but also business savvy and professionalism.
  • Intrigue potential clients strongly enough so that they stay on the website long enough to make contact with the designer.
  • Provide a user-friendly interface for the client (who very well may not be so Internet or design savvy).

Keep all of this in mind during the design process of a web design portfolio. Make note that a designer’s portfolio has to be their best work. Furthermore, consider the following items when creating, or even modifying a design portfolio.

CONSIDER A 1-PAGE PORTFOLIO

It’s called direct response marketing, and it’s proven to be one of the most effective forms of marketing to get the most sales. It’s bascially a method that involves making a huge impact in the most direct way possible. In the world of web design, this means an incredibily effective and amazing portfolio — but in only one page.

Of course, this isn’t a great method for everyone, especially those who offer more than just basic web design services. However, without a one-page design, a designer can still take use of this knowledge by applying more direct-response marketing to their portfolio. This may mean simplifying it, puting the contact form on the front page, and merging similar pages together.

USE A CONTACT FORM

Provide a traditional email address and other information, but most importantly, include an email form. It makes things easier for the potential client to get ahold of the designer, even if only to ask for more information. This then provides further opportunity for the designer to sell their work.

The form above (Komodomedia) is a perfect example because it gives the visitor various options for the form, rather than just requesting a quote. This designer has made themselves approachable, which is an excellent way to gain more clients. Also, above the form, there are other ways to contact the designer, which may be suitable for different visitors.

MAKE THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS NOTICEABLE

Make sure the most important components of a portfolio design are out in the open and easy to use and find. For most, this means the contact form and information, the portfolio pieces, and the logo.

A perfect example is Alexandru Cohaniuc’s portfolio. The biggest text on the page is “Portfolio”, “Hi, I’m Alex”, and “Contact.” Right above the word “Portfolio” is the logo, strategically placed in the top left.

To make things really official, a designer has to create some legal documents. These can be reused for each client, but must be made initially to deal with potential problems later.

CONTRACT

A contract is a necessity for a freelancer of any sort. It will help protect the designer and the client, as well as outline some rules and guidelines. For more information on how to create a freelance contract, check out the resources below.

In addition, one can hire a technical writer or other writing professional to do the job.

TERMS & CONDITIONS

Terms and conditions are a more in-depth view of the rules between the web deigner and the client. Again, one can hire someone to write a terms and agreement paper for them, otherwise here is a great template: Terms and Conditions Template.

A third needed agreement is a separate copyright agreement. Designers are always at risk for work being stolen and miscredited. A copyright agreement is a way to protect that work, and a way to set further rules for who can use the work.

Because copyright law can vary among different countries, we won’t get much into it here. It is important, though, to research copyright law, know one’s own rights, and apply it to one’s own circumstances.

5. Find a Starting Wage & Budget

Deciding on a personal starting wage is difficult, because we never truly know how much to pay ourselves. As anyone can guess, someone just starting out in freelancing won’t be making much. A new designer just has to make sure they have basic living expenses paid, and a bit of cusion room for emergency costs or budget mishaps.

PROS AND CONS OF FIXED-PRICED PROJECTS

A fixed-priced project is one where the designer and client agree on an overall cost for a design project ahead of time, and the payment is completely independent of how long it takes the designer to complete. Below are some pros and cons of using this method.

Pros:

  • These types of project can be easier to apply to a monthly budget.
  • Designer’s with efficient methods to save time during a project won’t be unfairly punished with a low cost.
  • It is easy to see how many projects per month need to be completed to determine profits and budget handling.

Cons:

  • It is much more difficult to determine a fixed-price for a project before actually completing it.
  • Sometimes designers are underpaid using this method.
  • Payment doesn’t come at regular intervals, which may not be suitable for all lifestyles.

PROS AND CONS OF HOURLY WAGE WORK

While hourly work may be what we’re all used to, there can be some equal pros and cons to consider when thinking about this payment system as a freelancer.

Pros:

  • Budgeting is easier for those that require a daily or weekly budget.
  • It is harder to become under or over paid for a project.
  • It is much easier to explain to the client the final cost of a project.

Cons:

  • It is hard to determine our own hourly rate based on the judgement of our own skills.
  • It is more difficult to work with a monthly budget.
  • Timesheets need to be filled out and there needs to be an effective way to transfer timesheets back and forth between the designer and client.

A closer look into these two types of payment plans can help a beginner decide. For further reading, look over Effective Strategy To Estimate Time For Your Design Projects.

TOOLS FOR MANAGING MONEY AS A FREELANCER

LessAccounting.com
Less Accounting is an all-in-one money managment application that will let one connect to bank accounts, and even let a freelancer invite a personal accountant login to help watch money. In addition, LessAccounting also features all the other basic money management needs for freelancers.

Mint.com
Mint may not be made for freelancers specifically, but it is one of the best tools out there for taking control of one’s own money. This is perfect for new business owners that may be low on money, and need to pay extra attention to their cash flow.

Tickspot.com
Tick is a time management tool aimed at organizing time so that freelancers can hit their budgets. It’s a great tool that breaks up time so a freelancer can enter hours worked, hourly pay rate, project pay rate, and more.

SlimTimer.com
Slimtimer is similar to tick, in that it is a time and budget management tool. One can create tasks, time their own work, run reports, and manage their money overall more efficiently.

INVOICING TOOLS LINK

SimplyBill.com
SimplyBill is a very simple invoicing tool to help effectively keep track of clients, their invoices, and to send invoices out.

FreshBooks.com
Freshbooks is a great invoicing tool for freelancers with a lot of versatility to meet anyone’s needs. Best of all, it’s free up to three clients, so this gives designers plenty of time to decide if FreshBooks is right for them.

Intuit
By the creators of QuickBooks, Intuit is a free alternative invoicing system that is perfect for designers just starting out that need to save that extra bit of cash.

FreeAgentCentral.com
FreeAgent allows a freelancer to manage all their invoices, and will even tell the freelancer what they owe the tax man.

6. Create a Résume

Without a strong portfolio just yet, new freelance web designers need to rely on a strong résume. This is a designer’s true chance to flaunt their skills in full detail. Most of us learned how to create a résume back in high school, and another good portion of us probably still hold on to our most recent one today. When venturing into a new freelance web design career, though, it’s time to tweak it to meet the needs of this new career path.

Below are some resources for creating the perfect résume for web designers and freelancers.

For a newly created web design freelance portfolio, providing a download link to a designer’s full résume may be just what the client is looking for.

7. Find “Portfolio Building” Clients

Now that just about everything is set up, it’s time to take action. Finding the first few clients is always tough, because nobody wants to hire a nobody. It may be near impossible to find good, well-paying clients yet, so sit tight and take on the first few “portfolio building” clients.

CONSIDER OFFERING FREE SERVICES
Image source: On the Block

Working for free is never fun, but it may be necessary. Do some volunteer work for a church or another non-profit/low budget organization. These services obviously aren’t hard to sell; just put an ad up for yourself up on Craigslist or in freelance and web design forums.

When creating an ad to offer free services, be sure to avoid failure. This means setting limits — no designer wants to spend a month on a complicated job making no money. Offer only PSD templates, 1-page websites, or something of the like.

Of course, this isn’t an option for everybody because we all don’t have the time, nor the patience to do a free job. If that is the case, explore some options below to get paying clients that will gladly deal with a new designer.

Put up fliers or an ad in the local newspaper to gain some local recognition. Not every potential client knows where to look online for web design services, and it may very well be that many are looking locally. Otherwise, they’re only finding top Google-ranked web design businesses that they can’t afford.

If a new designer comes to them offering cheaper services, whether in the form of a newspaper ad, a flier at a grocery store, or through word-of-mouth via friends and family, they’ll be very happy to hire.

OFFER FREEBIES OR SELL TEMPLATES

One more option requires no actual clients at all. Many designers choose to make free templates in their spare time, and use them to advertise their services, show off what they can do, and in some instances, sell them for some residual income.

Over at ThemeForest, Collis has sold a PSD template at $10 — 168 times. This means over a thousand dollars in his pocket, and a great portfolio piece to show off.

Unless one makes spewing out free or cheap templates, WordPress Themes, or scripts their full-time business, this isn’t going to be a great option for making monthly living expenses. It is however, a great alternative to 1) get a designer to create some portfolio pieces, 2) get the designer’s name out in the community, and 3) let the designer make a bit of extra cash.

However, it is important to try a few real clients as well, for the business experience.

THEN WHAT?

After finding a few clients, keep these few things in mind.

  • Create a personal (yet professional) connection between the first few clients. This may welcome great testimonials and word-of-mouth clients.
  • Offer variety in your services when starting out. For example, one may want to try logo design, web design, and basic coding. Later on, when trying to add a new service to the freelancing business, this will make for a much easier transition.
  • Just because new designers have to deal with low (or no) wages, doesn’t mean they should offer low-quality work. Put in the hours and create something great. Keep in mind that there is more to the first few projects than just the money.

TOOLS FOR CLIENT MANAGEMENT

BaseCamp
BaseCamp is a very popular project managment tool for freelancers. With BaseCamp, a freelancer can share files, set deadlines, assign tasks, organize feedback, and more.

Zoho Writer
Essentially, Zoho Writer is an online word processer. In addition to being that though, it is aimed at freelancers, with the ability to share documents and collaborate with clients in various ways.

Big Contacts
Big contacts is an online contacts solution to help share files, email, have meetings, send notes, and more between the freelancer and client.

8. Create (and Stick to) a Schedule

A huge part of freelancing is finding a schedule that fits the designer’s needs, and allows the designer to get the necssary work done on time. It is a step in itself to becoming a professional freelance web designer.

FIND THE HOURS NECESSARY

To find a schedule, a designer needs to find how much time it actually takes them to do the tasks at hand. A freelancer has to ask themselves, “How much time does it take to create a simple PSD template, and then how long does it take to code it?” Depending on the skill sets of individual designers, this length of time can greatly change. However, work from previous clients or the creation of sample templates can give a rough estimate.

After determing how long the workflow takes, decide on a daily hourly input for work — and work only.

A DAILY SCHEDULE

A general daily schedule depends greatly on each designer’s personal lifestyle, and is something that needs to be predetermined in order to be successful. After a designer realizes how much time it takes daily to get the required amount of work done, he or she should create a daily schedule for themsleves.

A daily schedule will help aid the designer to stay on track, instead of constantly checking email, jumping back and forth between projects, or ignoring client work altogether.

A WEEKLY & MONTHLY SCHEDULE

On top of a daily schedule, freelance professionals should also make a weekly and monthly calendar. A broader calendar can be used to keep track of deadlines and plan out longer projects.

Whether it be a calendar hanging on the wall or a web-based calendar like below, make sure to keep track of deadlines, payment schedules, and other checkmarks along the way of a project.

FIND THE MOTIVATION

Anyone can see the benefits of a steady schedule, but the hardest part for most may be staying motivated to keep to it. Below are some things to keep in mind if the urge to break a preset schedule creeps up.

  • Do the same specific thing during work at the same time every day. For example, check email first thing in the morning, then start directly on client work.
  • For those who have already quit their day jobs to pursue this career: Wake up at the same time everyday. If it means sleeping in a few extra hours than the traditional worker, that’s fine. However, having a constantly altering start to the day can mess up a schedule, even if things are done in the same order during wake time.
  • Write a to-do list in the morning of items that need to be addressed that day.
  • Use a calendar and daily planner to keep track of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks.

A FEW TIME MANAGEMENT TOOLS

Dejal Timeout
Quite the opposite of most time managment software, this application actually tells you when to stop working. With timed breaks, this tool can help a freelancer have an overall more relaxing career.

Google Calendar
Google Calendar is a great option for those that use Google’s other tools a lot, in that it will be all in the same place. Like many of Google’s other tools, it is free, versatile, and very useful.

Ta-da List
Ta-da List is an easy to-do list tool hosted online for convenience. It is easy to create lists for one’s own use, or for others.

9. Create a Business Plan

One of the most boring and tedious tasks one can do is create a business plan. Most might feel free to skip this step, but wait a moment and consider the benefits (and assurances) of taking the time to create one.

Benefits of a Professional Business Plan:

  • Creates a real business in the designer’s eyes, and in the client’s eye.
  • A business plan can be used in tricky legal situations, to differ the business from just a hobby.
  • Identifies future plans, direction, and goals for the business.
  • Keeps the designer, as a business owner, on track with the development of the business.
  • Upgrades the simple monthly budget to a long-term financial structure.

Anyone can see the benefits range from business growth, to financial growth, and credibility. To learn more about creating a business plan, view the helpful article on About.com, Back to Business Planning: Developing a 4-Part Business Plan for Freelance Designers.

10. Know How to Gain Recognition

Not all designers are marketing experts, but a bit of knowledge about how to gain recognition in the freelance web design world is necessary to be successful. Designers should do research on marketing, and create a long-term plan for the growth of their portfolio and their reputation as a freelance designer.

EXPAND WITH SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES

Use social networking sites to not only promote a portfolio, but also to promote new designs and projects. In addition, one can use Twitter, or something similar to get valuable feedback on current projects. For more ideas on how to get the most out of Twitter as a web designer, take a look at Ramsay’s post: 5 Simple Ways Twitter Can Make You a Better Web Designer.

Also, those who are active within social media communities benefit far more than those who use them for only self-promotion. Create a community, find other designers, and even discover some interesting finds along the way. Take the time to enjoy social media websites, while gaining recognition as a web designer.

GET RECOGNIZED IN A CROWD OF APPLICANTS

Knowing where to look for more work is necessary when depending on that work for a decent income. However, with thousands of freelancers floating around in forums, job boards, and other sources of possible clients, getting noticed can be some hard work — especially when others (who may be doing it for just a hobby) are willing to offer their services extremely cheap.

To get noticed by clients and win a job, follow a few of these simple rules.

  • Don’t apply to jobs that are more than a few days old — chances are they’ve been filled, and it’s really a waste of time.
  • Use multiple job board websites and forums to have a wider range of possibilites.
  • Be a good designer. This sounds like a dumb tip, but often times clients get application for web designers that either 1) aren’t good at design or 2) have designs that show no unique abililty and are very ordinary.
  • Don’t apply for jobs that you don’t qualify. Client’s can’t stand hearing, “I haven’t done a design for the style you’re looking for, but I’ve been creating websites for X years and could probably do it.” The next designer that comes to them with a decent portfolio proving they can meet the client’s needs is going to get the job instead.
  • This shouldn’t even have to be said, but sadly, it does: Capitalize your sentences, use correct grammar, and don’t make spelling mistakes when applying for a freelance job.

As for the best tip of all — don’t sell work cheaper than it needs to be just to gain a client. If a client can’t see why a logo design costs $200 when the kid that applied the day before is offering the same service for $20, then it’s really their own loss. Somtimes it’s worth losing jobs, and that’s a part of the difficulty when just starting out.

11. Blog often, but pay attention to the quality of your posts

Blogs are great for improving search engine rank and gaining popularity in the web design community. Whether designers have a lot of time or barely enough, a blog showcasing interesting finds or discussing anything related to the web design or the freelancing profession can gain an audience fast.

Below are just a few websites that use blogs to promote their general careers as freelance web designers.

WellMedicated.com really doesn’t update that often — only about once every two months — but it’s still a well respected design blog in the community. Andrew Lindstrom is a freelance web designer, and spends most of his focus on that. However, with a great following on his blog, he can easily gain traffic to his web design portfolio through his sidebar and about page.

In a recent interview of Steven Snell of Vandelay Design, Steven discussed how the popular Vandelay Design Blog was indeed intended to bring more traffic and clients to the Vandelay Design portfolio. Well, that mission was very successful, and the blog changed direction to fulfill the wants of a different audience, as a full-time design blog.

Now, it is updated every few days and it’s goal is no longer to bring portfolio traffic. However, with a link to the portfolio and further information about the web design business, there is no doubt it still does.

Chris Spooner’s blogging experience started with just some simple experimentation, and as a place for him to simply explore and share. However, the blog soon gained a lot of popularity, and now does great work in promoting his portfolio as well.

So the lesson to be learned is, no matter what reason a designer has to start a blog, it can be a great source for traffic and a way to gain recognition in the community. Not to mention, the additional income from selling advertising spaces.

12. Get into the Community of Freelance Web Designers

Don’t be a freelancing loner. Getting involved in the community and meet other web designers and freelancing professionals to grow as a designer.

Make contacts within the community by blogging, joining a design network like Envato, and using forums. One could also donate freebies to larger communities, or try to do guest posts.

Below are just a few ways gaining a strong social network in the community can help a freelance web designer.

  • It creates a support group. Guessing that many freelance web designers don’t have many offline friends or family that do the same thing for a living, having an online support group for your field of interest can be very beneficial. Get into the web design community to share, rant, rave, and get feedback as a designer.
  • Learn new things. Following a blog regularly, being active in social networking sites, and participating in forums is a great way to improve your current abilities, and expand horizons. Instead of grinding away at what needs to get done or what needs to be learned for a current project, being a part of a community will help you to explore new things and find inspiration.
  • Become an authority and let the clients come. Being the best designer in the world doesn’t make that designer an authority figure. As skills and wisdom improve, others in the web design community will reference a designer’s work, portfoio, and services for them.

ATTEND CONFERENCES AND OTHER FACE-TO-FACE EVENTS

Attending various web design and other conferences for webmasters is not only a great way to network with other designers, but also a great way to learn new things and keep up with the latest trends. Get to some conferences, and become a real person, rather than just an online presence.

Below are just a few popular conferences within the community.

AnEventApart.com
An Event Apart is an intensely educational two-day conference for passionate practitioners of standards-based web design. If you care about code as well as content, usability as well as design, An Event Apart is the conference you’ve been waiting for.

Carsonified
For Web Designers, Creatives and anyone who cares about web design.

Web Design World
Since 1997, we’ve helped thousands of Web designers learn what they need to know to make better web sites, manage web projects, and get home at a decent hour.

As a freelancer, we have the ultimate schedule for attending these events, and it can be easier than for others to gather the funds. In order to truly succeed, freelance web designers should attend these events to socialize, learn, and grow their freelancing web design career.

13. Reinvest the Income

It takes money to make money, so when starting out, reinvest some of the income made back into the freelancing business. It’s tempting to pay off bills or buy something nice once it can be afforded, but dedicate a certain percentage to the business’s growth.

Among the many things that need to be maintained for a freelancing business are software upgrades, hosting and domain renewals, desk space upgrades, stationery, and more. In addition to maintinence items, though, some of the income may be turned into a luxury web design item — for fun and for work.

Figure how much of the income is actually needed for living expenses, and use either all of the remaining profit, or a strong percentage of the profit to go back into the business.

14. Get a Professional Space

Finding a place to do work may help new freelancers differ play time from work time. On another note, a good workspace is needed to keep organized and create an effective workflow. Below are two great workspaces that are effective and fun, both held as a home office.

The workspace of Ben Mautner provides a lot of worspace to get things done, with plenty of inspiration handing on the walls as well.

Jay Hilgert’s office space is is clean, neat, and trendy — but also has all the necessary equipment.

Beyond a home office’s benefit of staying organized and aiding in getting some work done, it can make anyone finally feel like a true professional freelance web designer. You may want to take a look at the workstations of other designers as well.

15. Keep Learning New Tricks

As the final stage of the transformation comes into completion, there is only one more thing that needs to be done to create and maintain the status of a professional, freelance web design career. That final step is to keep learning. Designers should always be discovering new practices, techniques, standards for client work — and also tweaking their own business along the way.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this walkthrough can help most web designers just starting out in freelancing go down the correct path. Freelancing in the web design niche is an exciting and freedom-filled career path, although it requires a mix between design, development, and entrepreneurship. Finding a good grasp of all three can only mean success as a freelance web designer.

references: carsonified, smashingmagazine

What Do Clients Really Want?

What Do Clients Really Want?

The art of giving freelance clients the right message at the right time, to ensure you have the maximum chance of getting the gig.

If women are from Venus and men are from Mars, where the hell did ‘The client’ come from? From strange silences to broken promises; mis-steps to breakdowns it can be a minefield.

In this post I wanted to open up a fundamental area for you to understand and action; how to communicate effectively with clients who are at different levels of understanding and sophistication to you.

There’s a great quote attributed to Henry Ford which goes something like this.

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”


Henry Ford

Think back to recent conversations you’ve had with clients. You’ll have those who are certain of their pain, are well-researched and have pretty much diagnosed the solution before getting to you.

The other end of the spectrum are those who feel pain but are either early on in their information gathering or need convincing that your services have anything to do with alleviating their pain.

Aiming your wordage (on your website, in your marketing, in your proposal and pitch) at both of those ‘worldviews’ at the same time is a mistake and will result in no one party really connecting with what you have to say.

The more sophisticated client might feel you’re dumbing it down, the beginner may drown in buzzwords and jargon.

So what do clients really want? As with the Henry Ford example they’ll certainly not be able to clearly tell you themselves, so how do we find it out and give it to them without asking?

Note: This is a key trait of successful freelancers; and forms a key part of Freelancelift Pro video modules and is built into a complete workbook with scripts and templates.

In this post we’ll lay it out, to ensure you can strike a balance in everything you do and say to maximize your chances of getting the gig.

The one common denominator

One thing it’s vital to understand is that although all clients are different – with distinct experience and opinions – they share one common denominator… P-a-i-n.

Put simply, pain comes before any action.

You’re not being chosen because you can design, write, market, code… You’re being hired because the client has a business problem (or pain). Your service (in their mind and yours) should be the solution to that problem.

Taking an example of a doctor’s surgery. Do you enter the room knowing you need Ethopeptin ABC2000 or do you explain your symptoms first, for this (totally made up) remedy to be prescribed later?

Staying with that analogy, who would you trust more?

Doctor A
Listens to your symptoms and it’s triggers, explains what is likely happening in a language you can understand, walks you from this pain to explaining the benefit of the solution with a only a passing mention of the chemical compounds.

Doctor B
Makes assumptions as to your issue, goes heavy on the technical aspects and heads straight for the cabinet offering you a choice between prescription remedies you know nothing about.

My guess is you’re trusting the former.

Businesses have pain receptors, too. In most cases, it is this pain that creates the environment for research and action.

Indeed, a nagging pain is generally a signal that something deeper is wrong.

The mistake most freelancers make is to ignore the fact that opportunities to make a sale and win a client are only made possible by a business pain.

Three client buying stages

So with that said, how do your clients go to market for your service and how can you ensure you understand (at any point) what they’re really hoping to see and hear?

Pain > Research > Action

Pain
This is the starting point. Something isn’t achieved, a goal is not met and it hurts. It may be something critical to their livelihood, it may be a fairly minor pain but in any case it’s felt.

Research
At this stage the client will take it upon themselves to try and understand what just happened. During this process – and depending on the voices they listen to – the client will either be well prepared for figuring out the solution or be more confused.

Action
In either case, a client makes the decision that something has to change, that there is a need fix the pain they’ve just experienced, and one way or another they determine that they probably need a designer, or writer, or translator, or coder.

So off they go to source it

The single biggest mistake I see is freelancers positioning their entire message around the action phase, forgetting that there has been a journey of pain and subsequent research.

This leads them to put together an argument like this:

“You’re looking for a writer? Great I write 100 words per minute and can have it back in 3 days”

… when they should really be saying this:

“I guess you’re realizing now that not hiring a qualified copywriter was a mistake, maybe the interaction on your site isn’t what it needs to be. I’d like to show you how to fix that.”

Or they say stuff like this:

“I’m a full stack developer based in [location] helping with rails, building web apps in HTML5 and CSS3”

… instead of telling the story like this:

“How robust is your site? Maybe you’re find the slow speed and shaky structure is hurting your business, or maybe your current developer is now unresponsive. It’s probably why you ended up here.”

Here’s the thing; when your wordage (on your website, in your marketing, in your proposal and pitch) focuses on clearly explaining the pain and a logical solution you begin to resonate clients at any end of the spectrum.

Some questions to ask

The objective of the Pro Modules on this topic are to understand what clients want, so that you can reposition your message to give it to them.

If a client lands with your site, sees your marketing or receives a proposal and is immediately hit with a vague headline, buzzwords and descriptions of the software you’re great at using (which they’ve never heard of), it’s a fundamentally different experience to the one they’ll get if you meet them in a coffee shop.

In that informal setting, you’d cater your language to suit their experience level and simplify your message so that it resonated with them and their issues.

So get into the mindset of your client with a few simple questions:

  1. What drives them to do what they do, what do they care about?
  2. What positive qualities do they carry and how is their pain stopping them from exhibiting that?
  3. How clear is their vision? Do they need to borrow from your imagination & expertise?
  4. What is their financial outlook, is this a big outlay for them?
  5. In real terms, what do they expect working with you to deliver?

By answering these five simple questions, you can begin to build a picture of who the client really is, and what their sensitivities really are.

references: freelancelift

How to Hire a Freelance Web Developer or Web Designer

How to Hire a Freelance Web Developer or Web Designer

As a freelance web developer/web designer and someone who has also hired freelancers, I’ve seen the objective from both sides.

 

1. Determine the project.

A web project may arise from a need to accomplish a specific web related goal and either you do not have the skills and experience or simply the time to create (e.g. new website).

 

2.  Determine the scope.

Every detail does not have to be determined in order to initiate a web project with a freelancer, but a basic outline of completion time, what you want the project to accomplish, and how it should be presented and function should be in place.

With an example of a new website:  you could decide that you would like to finish the site within 1-3 months, have a goal to provide accessible information about your business and perhaps encourage further interaction twards a sale.  Additionally let’s say that you want the site to look professional and easy to use.

 

3.  Determine a budget.

Research both the standard costs for your project and what you can afford.

Continuing with the example of a website:  You may discover that a web design firm can charge a minimum of $5000-10000 for a new website and can easily go beyond that price depending on the desired content and functionality.  Let’s say the website you are trying to create is relatively basic and mostly informative and you can afford approx. $4000.

Typically a freelance web developer is more affordable, but the pricing may be less standardized and can range anywhere from $250-10000 for a basic website.   Usually if a price is quoted low than the completed project will reflect it, and you will get what you pay for.  A professional freelance web developer/designer should have pricing near or the same as web design firms.  However a freelancer may be more flexible and would most likely accept a cost of $4000 for new (basic) website.

 

4.  Setup of the basic necessities.

This involves moving somewhat past the planning stage and initiating the first steps of the project development itself.

For a new website:  You could obtain the fundamental elements of a site which is simply the domain and web hosting.  To make things go smoother you have the necessary authentication (usernames, passwords) readily available to send to the freelancer to begin accessing and editing files.

One step further you could take would be to setup a CMS (such as WordPress) and obtain a theme to help solidify the look and feel.

 

5.  Determine a trial project (in addition to the main project).

A trial project should consist of a small section of the main project (such as one page of a website).  This establishes an understanding of what the freelancer can accomplish and clears up some uncertainties.  It also informs you on the process and ease of communicating a project (albeit a small one).  A capable freelancer should be time efficient and ask an appropriate amount of pertinent questions.

 

6.  Reach out to freelancers.

There are many channels to obtain a freelancer and will be dictated by your budget and desire of engagement.  For example a free and easy way to connect with a freelance would be via craigslist.  Many businesses large and small utilize craigslist because of those factors.  Scouting local freelancers via linkedin may be a viable solution.  You could attempt to procure a freelancer via a freelance portal such as freelancer.com or upwork.com.  Another option could be to contact and associate with an agency.  My personal experience with hiring and trying to be hired via many platforms has mostly been directed to a local connection and cost of procurement.  The two outstanding sources have been craigslist and linkedin for their ease of finding and connecting with local talent at little to no cost.

 

7.  Determine a good, capable fit.

Utilize the trial project determined in step 5.

The freelance developer or designer should not only be capable of completing your project but should be able to “get along” with you.  You do not have to seek out a new best friend, but the individual should be able to collaborate in a positive and professional manner.

 

8.  Create a signed agreement.

Setting out an agreement creates a mutual understanding of essentially two main components:

  • Project (description)
  • Compensation

Additional details such as payment dates, completion time, etc. can be included and the more agreed upon the better.  What this reduces and potentially eliminates is future arguments (about the project).  This should be a signed agreement (by both parties).

 

9.  Initiate the (main) project.

Now that you have “tested” the freelancer via a trial project and have established a signed agreement you should be able to move on to the main project.  This is where the main project assets and possibly authentication (usernames, passwords) can be sent to the freelancer.  Additionally a “to do list” should also be delivered.

 

10. Follow through on the agreement.

The final step is to ensure that not only the freelancer follows through on the agreement but you as the project manager also follow through on providing the copy, sending feedback, delivering compensation, etc. all in a timely manner.

 

Note: If this interests you as someone who needs web design and/or development work done you can contact me directly:

Josh Mayorga
Web Developer, Designer
joshmayorga@icloud.com
952-465-4433
joshmayorga.net

Freelance Contracts: Do’s And Don’ts

In the world of freelancing, the entrepreneur has to take on a number of tasks for themselves that would normally be handled by a separate department at a bigger company. Most of these tasks are not part of the creative processes that freelance workers are used to, but rather are more tedious, left-brain paperwork. Right-brain creatives often shudder at the thought of these forays into linear domains. Such detail-ridden tasks would strain any freelancer who wears multiple hats, but they must be completed.

One such task is contracts. Drafting a contract that covers you, and doesn’t just enumerate information, is more than important: it is a must. Freelancers do not have the benefit of a legal department dedicated to protecting their interests with a watertight contract. Nevertheless, a freelancer’s contract must be comprehensive, concise and clear. It should outline the scope of the job, scheduling demands, the expectations of both parties and more.

Screenshot

In this post, we’ll help you identify the information that should be included in your contract and make sure you have a concrete agreement that leaves little chance of things getting out of hand… as can sometimes happen to those of us in the freelancing crowd.

These do’s and don’ts will hopefully remove a lot of the headache and guesswork that comes with drafting a contract. By understanding the rationale behind various contractual elements, you will be able to better customize your contracts to fit the specific job you have been hired for.

The Basics

Include the basic information, obviously. The “who” and the “what” of the project. Who is contracting you to do what kind of work? This is standard stuff included in every contract that defines the job as a whole. While this information is probably well known by both parties, put it in the contract anyway so that everyone is on the same page about their roles and responsibilities. Because it is such basic information, freelancers often overlook how important this section is for establishing the framework of the project.

DO’S AND DON’TS

K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple, Simon (your name may not be Simon, but it is nicer than the traditional “S” in the phrase.) Do be sure to clarify your role in the project from start to finish and exactly what it entails, so that the client doesn’t try to put a hat on your head that you do not want to wear (for example, trying to make you switch from designing to providing tech support once the project has launched).

You know who you are and what your strengths are; don’t leave room for the client to change your role in the project for their convenience. Be specific about what roles you are and are not willing to play.

Time Frame

Screenshot

This simply establishes the time that the project will take and the duration that the contract covers. Sometimes a freelancer has to leave time open after a project’s completion to help integrate the product into the client’s existing media stream. But not always. Determining that time frame at the beginning and formalizing it in the terms and conditions of the contract will ensure you are not taken advantage of.

DO’S AND DON’TS

Many people do not like deadlines, and some freelancers are no different. Whether you love or hate them, including deadlines in your contracts is important. Don’t overlook this detail simply because of the pressure it may bring. Give yourself enough time to properly complete your tasks, while keeping the client’s timetable in mind.

Being vague about how much time the contract covers will give your client room to find things for you to improve after the project has launched. Also, do be sure to include time frames on when the client needs to respond to your submissions with their questions and concerns, so that you are not endlessly strung along waiting to hear back on how to proceed.

Delivery Details

Putting this in the contract further clarifies expectations at the outset. The client knows up front what the final product will be and how you will be delivering it to them. This frees you from having to guess later on things like what file types they can access, and it gives the client peace of mind knowing that you are both on the same page.

It also gives you an indication of the depth of the client’s knowledge in this area of work and how well they will be able to work with the product once you hand it over. And being able to anticipate the client’s need for assistance in accessing and integrating your product will help you formulate other parts of the contract.

DO’S AND DON’TS

Once again, keep it simple. Once you’ve assessed the client’s needs, don’t send them more files or file types than are needed to satisfy the project’s requirements. Don’t try to impress them with a ZIP file full of extras that show how professional you are. This will overwhelm clients who are not design-savvy and encourages needless pestering. Keeping it simple will move your client happily along their way, not only giving you peace of mind from a job well done but freeing you from future distractions as you move on to your next client.

The Financials

Screenshot

For most design work, billing by the job, rather than by the hour, is easier for everyone. You may have already come to an agreement on financial matters, but include them in the contract anyway for good measure. Just because you have an understanding about payment, the client could always conveniently “forget” the amount or change the terms.

DO’S AND DON’TS

Agree on an initial deposit (whatever seems fair) before doing any work, to protect both parties if either wants to back out. Make sure the client understands that this deposit protects them as well by committing you to the project and keeping you from being sidetracked by other clients. Also include a Cancellation Clause in the financial section of the contract. This isn’t Santa’s less famous brother; it actually protects you, the freelancer, in case your client backs out by stating the financial obligations of both parties should the project terminate before completion.

Revisions And Alterations

You can also protect yourself by including a clause that states how many alterations and revisions to the product are covered by the fee. You can set the pricing for changes requested by the client that go beyond the number specified in the contract, thus preventing the client from abusing their privilege.

Be clear that this is not a commentary on either party; by including this, you are not implying that the client will be hard to please or that you will need multiple attempts to get it right. It simply recognizes that we sometimes need time to fully process something before making a decision and that we should have the freedom to change our minds about whether an idea works or not once we actually see it in action.

DO’S AND DON’TS

Remember that professionalism should win out at all times, so don’t let this part of the contract be any different. Yes, it can be aggravating how some clients come back to you over and over with requests as a result of every whim that moves them, but do be reasonable. Don’t punish all of your clients because of one that burned you in the past. And don’t let pride keep you from accommodating a modest amount of revision by the client, even if they don’t suit your taste. After all, the design may be yours, but they are paying you to create it for them.

The Fine Print And Bottom Line

Screenshot

In the end, make sure the contract is professional and clear throughout, and be as detailed as possible in defining the roles of both parties in the project.

The Comprehensive Legal Guide For Designers (Contracts)

Rule number one for designers of all kinds: use a contract. Sometimes, this is easier said than done. Should I use a service agreement? A retainer? A licensing contract? With the help of Docracy, I collected the experience of many designers to provide a wide range of starting points for less experienced creative professionals, and to start a permanent free legal resource for the community.

What Document Should I Sign With My Client?

If you created an icon set:

icon

If you are building a responsive website:

responsive

If you are starting a graphic design project:

getting_started

If you’re doing a small project with design and code:

small_project

If you’re doing a BIG project with design and code:

big_project

If you’re doing UX work:

interface

If you’re creating an infographic:

infographic

If a third party wants to use your work:

third_party

If you’re redesigning a website:

web_redesign

If you’re hiring a developer/designer to work on a project:

hiring_someone

If you’re hired as a freelance developer:

being_hired

If you’re making a mobile application:

mobile

If things go wrong:

help

Other helpful documents:

other_stuff

 

References: Smashing Magazine, Docracy