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Starting a Web Development Freelance Company
In a previous article I had written I talked about Getting into the Web Design World right out of college. Finding a job these days is extremely frustrating with the amount of competition, especially in the New York metro area. In many cases graduates feel the need to immediately find a job, which is always an amazing feeling once you accomplish finding one, but what if you're portfolio lacks what is required to land that dream job? That's when freelancing comes into play. You might have friends, or even family that are looking for a website and often times, you will do the work for cheap, or even free to expand that portfolio that you might not have.
Eventually, you will want to stop working for peanuts once you have an exceptional portfolio. That might be when you decide to create your own web design business as a freelancer. But what is required to do so?
It took years for me to finally come up with a business that was not my personal portfolio. Coming up with a name (that's not already taken by someone else) is one of the biggest challenges of starting a company.
As a funny side story to explain how I came up with the name for mine. I was always a big Spiderman fan and I was just sitting at my desk at work when the word "Thwip!" came into my head. I quickly did a Google search on if there was a company that had that as part of their name. Luckily there wasn't, and I decided to roll with it. The final name for my company was Thwip! Web Services. Awesome play on words right?!
Some fun, and Then Some Not so Fun
Moving on…the next part of starting a freelance business is coming up with the identity for the name you have chosen. This is definitely the most fun part in my opinion, coming up with a logo and web design that matches your identity.
But what about the "not so fun" stuff? I can tell you right now this is one of the worst parts of starting a freelancing company. The business plan will most likely make you want to rip your hair out. I know I did. Sure, you're a freelancer, you can charge whatever you want for your services. But what about the fine print? Verbal contracts are definitely not ideal when a potential client inquired about your services, or is ready to start a project with you. You need to have every detail written out, along with all fees in addition to the fees (such as late fees, multiple drafts of designs, etc.) But before I get into that, chances are your client is going to ask for a proposal that summarizes the scope and costs of the project. This can be a good thing, or a bad thing, because they could be asking around to different companies for proposals to get a price that won't cause a huge dent in their wallet.
Not only is a proposal time consuming, but it can also cause you to lose the client if it's not within the boundaries of what they are looking for. However, don't bring your price down if you know that you are good at what you do. After all, you ARE a web designer/web developer. A client might not think that your price fair, and if they do think that, then chances are they are a client that you wouldn't want to deal with in the first place. There's nothing wrong with declining work for a potential client if you can see the signs of them being difficult. I will cover that in a later article, although you can see examples of these types of clients on this website.
Figure Out a Payment Plan
Coming up with a deposit to begin work might mean the difference between getting paid, and not getting paid. But having a payment timeline is also one of the things that can save you if you run into a client that isn't willing to pay for your work as you're doing it, which comes back to the contract. Personally, I feel that a 50% deposit is fair to start a project, since the beginning involves designing something that the client is more than likely going to want to change, more than once. Others might make the initial payment 25% and then another 25% once a design is approved. Make it clear to them in your proposal/contract how many drafts they get before you start tacking on extra fees. There's nothing more annoying than a project dragging on for months because the client can't figure out what colors they like more. If you're wasting your time, then why not get paid for it? If this isn't stated in the paperwork then they can refuse to pay you, and suing them won't do anything since it wasn't documented.