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.

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