Working as a Freelancer - Advice Needed!

by AZJ0SH
18 replies
I started making websites as a hobby a few years back and recently started making some for friends/family and finally feel my skills are good enough to start doing freelance work. I am currently researching the best way to go about freelance work and was hoping some of you guys could provide some advice.

My plan is to offer my services and go after local businesses. First thing I need is a portfolio, which is in progress. I bought a domain (myname.com) and plan on using that as my portfolio and business website.

A bit about me: I am 26 and live in Phoenix, Arizona. My wife recently had our first child, I would like to be able to spend more time at home so my goal is to be able to work from home in the next year and get out of my full-time office job.

I have a plan, but need some help.

After doing some research I have a small list of questions I was hoping you guys could help me with, any input/advice is greatly appreciated.

1. What is the going rate on a basic website for a small business (i.e. tire shop) - Wordpress + Logo + Social Media + 5-10 Pages

2. How do you handle hosting? Do you keep everything on your shared hosting? My hosting claims I can have an unlimited # of websites. (HostGator)

3. How much do you charge clients per month after they pay for the websites? Do you offer any services like a set # per hours a month of website maintenance or social media updates?

4. Do I need business insurance? What if I was to cause a websites rank to somehow drop by accident, can I be help accountable?

5. Any tips on finding clients? I have been making a list of clients I want to call but not sure if I should try walk-ins first or just give them a quick call to introduce myself?

6. How hard would it be to make $2500 a month? That's how much I make now working 40+ hours per week and would be the minimum I need to consider quitting my job.

That's all for now. I plan on starting a blog/journey thread as well in the future for those of you who would like to follow me to success.
#advice #freelancer #needed #working
  • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
    Originally Posted by AZJ0SH View Post

    How hard would it be to make $2500 a month? That's how much I make now working 40+ hours per week and would be the minimum I need to consider quitting my job.
    Depends on how you position yourself and your brand.

    If you go after people who understand a website that perfectly resonates with their prospects will make them money for years to come, you could charge more than $2,500 for one gig. And easily do 3 or 4 gigs a month.

    But if you go after people who want to get something up ASAP and don't understand that the design needs to compliment the tonality of their brand, copy and target market, then good luck making $250 per gig.

    Mark
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    • Profile picture of the author Shadowflux
      I can't answer all of your questions but I can offer a suggestion about number 5.

      If you're going for local clients then you have the freedom to do some offline marketing. Do a little research and find some networking events in your area. Where I live we have one called SOHO which is the Small Office Home Office Expo. The companies there will range in size but most are local and relatively small.

      What I've noticed is a lot of them have pretty poor websites. More importantly, their websites are really basic. It's so easy to make a responsive website that will work on most mobile devices that this can be a big selling point. Many of these people have no idea about creating sites or using WordPress.

      I'd suggest attending these events, meeting people, collecting business cards (make sure to bring some of your own), and checking out their website. If you think you can improve it somehow, or offer a complete redesign, these people should go on your list of names to contact.

      Come up with a good sales letter, or a routine for a phone call, and make sure to list all of the benefits you can offer. You won't land every single company but I'm sure you will land some. These people attend networking events so they will help spread the word about your services.
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      • Profile picture of the author AZJ0SH
        Originally Posted by Shadowflux View Post

        I can't answer all of your questions but I can offer a suggestion about number 5.

        If you're going for local clients then you have the freedom to do some offline marketing. Do a little research and find some networking events in your area. Where I live we have one called SOHO which is the Small Office Home Office Expo. The companies there will range in size but most are local and relatively small.

        What I've noticed is a lot of them have pretty poor websites. More importantly, their websites are really basic. It's so easy to make a responsive website that will work on most mobile devices that this can be a big selling point. Many of these people have no idea about creating sites or using WordPress.

        I'd suggest attending these events, meeting people, collecting business cards (make sure to bring some of your own), and checking out their website. If you think you can improve it somehow, or offer a complete redesign, these people should go on your list of names to contact.

        Come up with a good sales letter, or a routine for a phone call, and make sure to list all of the benefits you can offer. You won't land every single company but I'm sure you will land some. These people attend networking events so they will help spread the word about your services.
        Thanks, I am going to start looking into different meetups and events around town. There is one I go to now called AZIMA but it's more for marketing and networking not for finding new clients.

        I think pushing Responsive design is important, but aren't they going to be hearing that from people over and over trying to get their business?
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        • Profile picture of the author Shadowflux
          Originally Posted by AZJ0SH View Post

          I think pushing Responsive design is important, but aren't they going to be hearing that from people over and over trying to get their business?
          It's just one of the main selling points. You should come up with a list of things you can do for them which will add value and increase effectiveness.

          The truth is that sometimes it's about the salesman and not the product. Sure, they may have other people offering the same type of service but if they like you and trust you they'll buy your service over others.

          Don't underestimate how little people know about creating a website. I mentioned responsive designs because you could really just buy a responsive theme and plug it into your WP site in a few minutes. Most people don't know that but they are impressed by a website which seamlessly re-sizes itself and works on all mobile devices.

          I purchased a theme like this and I was showing it to all my friends and family. I'd scale the browser window up and down, access it on mobile devices, and they were all very impressed.

          Since you're dealing with local businesses, it shouldn't be long before you run into a "I got my nephew/son/friend's child to make me a site". Most people are not overjoyed with the result.
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    • Profile picture of the author AZJ0SH
      Originally Posted by Mark Pescetti View Post

      Depends on how you position yourself and your brand.

      If you go after people who understand a website that perfectly resonates with their prospects will make them money for years to come, you could charge more than $2,500 for one gig. And easily do 3 or 4 gigs a month.

      But if you go after people who want to get something up ASAP and don't understand that the design needs to compliment the tonality of their brand, copy and target market, then good luck making $250 per gig.

      Mark
      I don't mind doing quick jobs for $250 but it's not something that can pay the bills I think going after both types of clients might offer a good middleground for income and workload?

      As of right now I can throw together a basic business website in 3-8 hours depending on the type of website, I would need 1 client per day which seems like it would be hard to get. I would rather spend my time getting 1-2 big clients each month and maybe a few of these small ones here and there for quick cash.
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    • Profile picture of the author AZJ0SH
      Originally Posted by Mark Pescetti View Post

      Depends on how you position yourself and your brand.

      If you go after people who understand a website that perfectly resonates with their prospects will make them money for years to come, you could charge more than $2,500 for one gig. And easily do 3 or 4 gigs a month.

      But if you go after people who want to get something up ASAP and don't understand that the design needs to compliment the tonality of their brand, copy and target market, then good luck making $250 per gig.

      Mark
      How do you determine if the client understands what they're buying or not? I was planning on offering more flat-rate services for basic websites.
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      • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
        Originally Posted by AZJ0SH View Post

        How do you determine if the client understands what they're buying or not? I was planning on offering more flat-rate services for basic websites.
        Do you understand the basis of positioning?

        You're entering "the sales conversation" at a predetermined point - to connect with a very specific ideal customer or client (i.e. avatar.)

        If your copy says...

        "Need a website up today - so you can start making money tomorrow? I can help you grab those profits ASAP!"

        That message is obviously directed at someone who is chasing the quick money and has no idea what true value is. So you could sell these hustler-types generic, template-automated websites all day long. There are endless money-chasers out there you can help outta some money.

        Now...

        You could also say something like...

        "The long term success and profitability of your upcoming launch demands a simple, but eloquent website - capturing the look and feel of your brand, perfectly. I only work with marketers who get it. I imagine-into-form sales letters that brings out the emotion in your copy, like magic - dramatically ramping up your conversions for years to come."

        Okay, that's just off the top of my head. But you're positioning yourself to go after marketers in direct response who need a sales letter design that compliments their copy and helps them produce maximum conversions. That means, you're saying you can help them create a design that resonates or connects with their ideal audience and trigger the intended emotion.

        The first example of positioning only allows you to charge a relatively small amount, like say $397... because you're telling the world you're just another commodity.

        But the second example, if executed properly, takes you out of the commodity conversation - by saying that if marketers work with you, they'll generate profits that would have otherwise never existed - without your design expertise.

        Simple, right?

        Mark
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        • Profile picture of the author AZJ0SH
          Originally Posted by Mark Pescetti View Post

          Do you understand the basis of positioning?

          You're entering "the sales conversation" at a predetermined point - to connect with a very specific ideal customer or client (i.e. avatar.)

          If your copy says...

          "Need a website up today - so you can start making money tomorrow? I can help you grab those profits ASAP!"

          That message is obviously directed at someone who is chasing the quick money and has no idea what true value is. So you could sell these hustler-types generic, template-automated websites all day long. There are endless money-chasers out there you can help outta some money.

          Now...

          You could also say something like...

          "The long term success and profitability of your upcoming launch demands a simple, but eloquent website - capturing the look and feel of your brand, perfectly. I only work with marketers who get it. I imagine-into-form sales letters that brings out the emotion in your copy, like magic - dramatically ramping up your conversions for years to come."

          Okay, that's just off the top of my head. But you're positioning yourself to go after marketers in direct response who need a sales letter design that compliments their copy and helps them produce maximum conversions. That means, you're saying you can help them create a design that resonates or connects with their ideal audience and trigger the intended emotion.

          The first example of positioning only allows you to charge a relatively small amount, like say $397... because you're telling the world you're just another commodity.

          But the second example, if executed properly, takes you out of the commodity conversation - by saying that if marketers work with you, they'll generate profits that would have otherwise never existed - without your design expertise.

          Simple, right?

          Mark

          You made some great points, I wish I was better with my words because it would take me a thousand years to come up with what you said in that small quoted portion.

          I am starting to wonder why even waste my time with the smaller clients and if I should put 100% of my focus on the big guys.
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  • Profile picture of the author IMBlest
    Maybe you can also offer mobile websites in addition to regular websites.

    More and more people are doing searches for businesses on their mobile phones instead of doing searches on their desktop or laptop.

    Many business owners who have regular websites still do not have mobile websites.

    Mobile websites are easier & quicker to make than regular websites.

    There are a few mobile website templates from various WSO's that you may want to look into.

    From what I've read in some posts, there are people who have sold mobile websites for $150 - $600 or so and it only took them 1 hr or so using the mobile website templates.
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    • Profile picture of the author AZJ0SH
      Originally Posted by IMBlest View Post

      Maybe you can also offer mobile websites in addition to regular websites.

      More and more people are doing searches for businesses on their mobile phones instead of doing searches on their desktop or laptop.

      Many business owners who have regular websites still do not have mobile websites.

      Mobile websites are easier & quicker to make than regular websites.

      There are a few mobile website templates from various WSO's that you may want to look into.

      From what I've read in some posts, there are people who have sold mobile websites for $150 - $600 or so and it only took them 1 hr or so using the mobile website templates.
      Aren't there simple plugins that convert a website to be mobile ready? Assuming the site is on Wordpress it should be fairly simple.

      Are you talking about creating an entierly new website for an existing company?
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      • Profile picture of the author IMBlest
        Originally Posted by AZJ0SH View Post

        Aren't there simple plugins that convert a website to be mobile ready? Assuming the site is on Wordpress it should be fairly simple.

        Are you talking about creating an entierly new website for an existing company?
        Yes, you can even buy Wordpress Themes that are mobile responsive.

        But that is not the same as having a true mobile website, where you can have tap to call buttons, and simple menu and buttons for directions, map, hours, services & prices.

        There are several WSO's here that offer the mobile website templates.

        You may want to look up ezbiz and WillR for their mobile website templates.
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  • Profile picture of the author +newportone
    To answer your question # 4, you would not be accountable to a client if you has not stipulated a specific ranking as a result of your design work. It is unlikely that it would even occur to a client to take some legal action against you, unless you had given them the expectation. Most business owners do not have a clue about web design and site ranking dynamics. The overwhelming majority of clients do not know necessarily that there is even a ranking system , let alone blame you for poor results. As long as you are not making false promises, you are highly unlikely to face liability.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rendition
    Hey. I've been doing web development and freelancing for quite some time now. Feel free to PM me if you want to chat further.

    1. What is the going rate on a basic website for a small business (i.e. tire shop) - Wordpress + Logo + Social Media + 5-10 Pages
    All across the board. You will find people offering sites for 100$ and others for $15,000. Find a good middle ground where you don't have to do all the work yourself and have some money for sourcing. If you find the client offline, you can often quote around $1500+ and reserve maybe $500 for sourcing to be sure everything gets done properly. Others will say quote at least 3500. Just figure out how much you need to make, and quote accordingly.

    If you find the client through a freelancing site such as odesk/elance, you might need to start lower, build trust, and then work toward a better price. For some odes projects I've quoted 800, but the relationship brings in other clients for 1500+ But if you are finding clients through a freelancing site, don't quote too low (don't try to do a custom site for someone for some chump change like 300$). Much better to charge high than to charge low! (not just for you, but also the client so they get reliable service). For every potential client who thinks your price is too high, there are two others out there who think its perfect because they want a premium service.

    2. How do you handle hosting? Do you keep everything on your shared hosting? My hosting claims I can have an unlimited # of websites. (HostGator)
    Hostgator is fine to start. Once you get a client base and income, consider owning or leasing a dedi

    3. How much do you charge clients per month after they pay for the websites? Do you offer any services like a set # per hours a month of website maintenance or social media updates?
    You will find that many clients do not want a retainer package, and instead want a flat fee for their web design. But if they want any form of content management etc., I would shoot for 200+ per month depending on how much value you are providing them. But again, this is across the board. Depends on the business. Personally, i charge by character count if I am providing content. If they don't have me doing content management or other forms of management, i just charge them for hosting (more than I am paying of course).

    4. Do I need business insurance? What if I was to cause a websites rank to somehow drop by accident, can I be held accountable?
    Just like anything else you can be held accountable for your work. Usually the worst that will happen is you will get a bad review. Unless you are doing something really shady. I wouldn't worry to much about this as long as you do what you are good at. DO NOT try to do stuff you don't know anything about. For example, if you are a coder...dont design. Find a good designer and build a relationship with them. If you are a designer...dont do SEO. Find a good SEO specialist and build a relationship with them. Build a team! Learn to delegate! Don't try to do it yourself. Even if you are capable of doing it all yourself (if you are some sort of web god), its still a bunch of work. Why would you want to spend all that time working when you can just do what you are good at, and have other people spend time on the other stuff?

    5. Any tips on finding clients? I have been making a list of clients I want to call but not sure if I should try walk-ins first or just give them a quick call to introduce myself?
    -Post an ad on craigslist every day that is visually stimulating and makes you stand out as a premium service. I got several 2k clients this way. It may take a month or two of posting daily ads...but trust me its worth it when it only takes 10 seconds to copy paste your ad and put it up. Landing just one client makes it worth it.
    -Use freelancing sites to establish relationships with clients and then you will gain referrals. Don't quote cheaply though, make sure you are offering a premium service at a premium price. Much much harder to go up on price then to go down.
    -Do cold visits. These work way better than cold calling from my experience. Just set a weekend aside and drive from small business to small business explaining what you do.
    People like talking face to face. It builds trust faster. Would you rather have someone walk into your business and introduce themselves? Or would you rather have someone randomly call you? Think about it.
    -I dont do cold calling, but depending on your personality you could try. Its much more of a numbers game, and if you are working in a local market you risk tarnishing your image with a business before you even get the chance to walk in. For that reason i recommend cold visits before you try cold calling.

    6. How hard would it be to make $2500 a month? That's how much I make now working 40+ hours per week and would be the minimum I need to consider quitting my job.

    If you invest time every day its actually not hard at all in my opinion. The key is presentation. If you create a nice site, have a list of your team (coder, designer, social media, SEO, content manager, you can find all these through a freelancing site). Then you can market yourself as a premium web design service. If this is the case, two jobs per month would get you what you are taking about. Or if you are quoting smaller, just increase the job quantity. The client demand is there...trust me. You just have to present yourself in the right way.

    If you invest 40 hours per week into doing web development, and you have an excellent image to present to potential clients, I think you can make 5 times what you just mentioned in a fairly short time. If you really know what you are doing...much much more! But 40 hours per week of working with clients and specialists would probably drive you crazy ; ). I put in maybe 3 hours a week into my web design (I'm in the middle of a few other projects), and I make about 1k a month from it. Granted, I just do project management. I don't do the coding/design work myself so the time investment is a bit different for me.


    Anyway like i said feel free to pm me. Id be happy to talk with you on Skype about it.
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  • Profile picture of the author JRJWrites
    Originally Posted by AZJ0SH View Post

    1. What is the going rate on a basic website for a small business (i.e. tire shop) - Wordpress + Logo + Social Media + 5-10 Pages
    There's no "going rate" as of such - it's really all about the quality you bring to the table and your track record (if you built Amazon.com, then you'll obviously make a lot more money ).

    I would say that around ... $200-$500 for the website, more if you design a custom theme. Just ensure that your hourly rate is pretty good ($75+/hour).

    Originally Posted by AZJ0SH View Post

    2. How do you handle hosting? Do you keep everything on your shared hosting? My hosting claims I can have an unlimited # of websites. (HostGator)
    You can host the website on HG as you create it, but then you push it to your client's hosting plan (they can't freeload off of you!).

    Originally Posted by AZJ0SH View Post

    3. How much do you charge clients per month after they pay for the websites? Do you offer any services like a set # per hours a month of website maintenance or social media updates?
    Woah - hold it.

    Creating a website is a one-time thing. If you're going to be a freelance website creator, be that.

    If you're going to be a freelance social media marketer, then be that.

    Originally Posted by AZJ0SH View Post

    4. Do I need business insurance? What if I was to cause a websites rank to somehow drop by accident, can I be help accountable?
    Sorry, but no idea.

    Originally Posted by AZJ0SH View Post

    5. Any tips on finding clients? I have been making a list of clients I want to call but not sure if I should try walk-ins first or just give them a quick call to introduce myself?
    Cold call -- do all you can to get an appointment, and sell them on why they need a website.

    If you need more businesses to call, pick up the phonebook and flip to the yellow pages.

    Originally Posted by AZJ0SH View Post

    6. How hard would it be to make $2500 a month? That's how much I make now working 40+ hours per week and would be the minimum I need to consider quitting my job.
    It should take a few months, as you build up your reputation, get client testimonials, etc.

    So, as of right now, you are making around $60/hour. Focusing on upping that hourly rate as a freelancer.

    Originally Posted by AZJ0SH View Post

    That's all for now. I plan on starting a blog/journey thread as well in the future for those of you who would like to follow me to success.
    I would love that! Share the link whenever you get started.
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    • Profile picture of the author Weblover50
      Originally Posted by JRJWrites View Post


      So, as of right now, you are making around $60/hour. Focusing on upping that hourly rate as a freelancer.

      He said, he is making $2500 / month, working 40 hours per week. That is 160+ hours per month for $2500, which comes around $15 / hour.

      Considering the time spent on marketing as well, $60 will be extremely difficult to make, unless you are an expert and have a great reputation and marketing skills. $15 is obviously not hard, if you are reasonably good in both technical and marketing side.
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      • Profile picture of the author JRJWrites
        Originally Posted by Weblover50 View Post

        He said, he is making $2500 / month, working 40 hours per week. That is 160+ hours per month for $2500, which comes around $15 / hour.

        Considering the time spent on marketing as well, $60 will be extremely difficult to make, unless you are an expert and have a great reputation and marketing skills. $15 is obviously not hard, if you are reasonably good in both technical and marketing side.
        Shiiit, my mind's failing me.

        Oh well, it's nighttime anyways.

        $60/hour isn't difficult to make. Freelance writing isn't considered half as "hard" as web designing, and I comfortably make $60+ per hour doing that. Website designers usually get paid much more than freelance writers, simply because it's a harder skill to learn.
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  • Profile picture of the author Weblover50
    Originally Posted by AZJ0SH View Post

    2. How do you handle hosting? Do you keep everything on your shared hosting? My hosting claims I can have an unlimited # of websites. (HostGator)

    A shared hosting account can handle good number of sites, if they do not have much traffic. The problem is, there won't be separate control panel logins. If you / your clients want to access their cPanel, you may be better off getting a reseller account and adding each client to a new account. May be, start with a shared hosting account and get a reseller account when a client specifically ask for that.

    Originally Posted by AZJ0SH View Post

    4. Do I need business insurance? What if I was to cause a websites rank to somehow drop by accident, can I be help accountable?
    You have to be very clear about what you offer and make it clear in your TOS / contract. Unless you have specific experience of placing sites at top position, don't commit for SEO. SEO is very tricky, and even though it sounds easy, the fact is just opposite. A new site never ranks well in Google and it will takes months to improve an existing site to a good position - that too if you know what you are doing. Unless you are an expert and you are getting paid separately for that, make it clear that you can only build a site, not bring in traffic.
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  • Profile picture of the author AZJ0SH
    Thanks everyone for you replies, I have sent some of your PM's and I really appreciate all the input and advice. I have a plan of action and will update as I move forward.
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