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  1. #1
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    Student Freelance web design

    Hi,

    Im a student and would really like to make some money due to difficulties at home.

    I can do basic web design using dreamweaver and have worked with CMS , CSS , Html and photoshop and am currently trying to learn more everyday.

    I entered a web design competition for my University and won , It felt really good to make money from something I had worked on and this is what gave me the idea.

    My worry is that I end up with customers who either are too fussy or refuse to pay. I have read about such incidents all over the web. There were also some cases where people would just use the web designer for the design and then go else where for the work without paying. I also read about customers who keep comming back with changes, and refuse to pay more.

    So, is it worth doing or a waste of time?

    Thanks,

  • #2
    Senior Coder twodayslate's Avatar
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    Get 50% upfront and have a contract and you will not have to worry.

    Have a good portfolio and join twitter
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  • #3
    Regular Coder ajhauser's Avatar
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    I like to make sure the client pays a start up fee - usually $200. That way you have them by the proverbial balls. That doesn’t mean you jerk the client around, but you can rest easy knowing that they’re probably going to finish the job with you. Not many people like to dump $200 down the toilet for nothing.

    NEVER give them your work until you are paid in full, or happy with a payment plan arrangement. I’ve been stiffed before – there are some people out there that just don’t understand when you have a bill you pay it.

    Try not to sell yourself (or every other web designer) short by offering ridiculous amounts of work for ridiculous prices. Charge what you’re worth.

    It’s worth it, but like many things, if it were easy everyone would be doing it.
    Good luck.

  • #4
    Senior Coder gnomeontherun's Avatar
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    Mod note: should be Web Projects->Advice forum

    My thoughts are as such. I am no longer a student, but not far removed. I run a freelancing business on the side and will be going full time after my current year abroad.

    Things to do:
    1) Charge by the hour at first - be careful undercharging because those first customers are likely to come back if you did good work and cost next to nothing, but at the same time don't overcharge for time you spend learning things. Its a balance.

    2) Don't start with internet freelance forums. There are a few I've tried that I like, but most are havens for bad clients wanting dirt cheap work (which is often stolen or of low quality). It will drive you nuts to compete price wise, there are just too many 'firms' in some countries who undercut everything (including quality).

    3) A small payment upfront is good, and holding the deliverables until the project is done is good with first time clients. Learn to read a client, but you have to have some first. You will make mistakes, you will learn from them. The best thing you can do is draw up a simple contract and guidelines and be as clear as possible about what the project entails. I've had trouble with clients and learned how to avoid that in the future, you can't avoid it, but you can minimize it. Also try reading some freelance blogs like www.freelanceswitch.com or www.freelancefolder.com, they often come with good tips.

    4) Take a few simple jobs that you are 100% confident in, and start with people you know. Tell them if they don't need something to let other's know that you can do things. You may also consider doing one or two projects for organizations or non-for-profits to get the ball rolling.

    5) Make a portfolio site, make it well, and don't overload it with junk. Don't try to display everything you can do on your site with your site, make separate examples.

    6) And lastly, try to improve your skills before really pushing to add more (at first). It is still relatively easy to say "I make websites" without having the full skill set. This is fine, so long as you keep your sights fixed appropriately. For example, if you are really good with photoshop, then search for things that play that strength. Make yourself a master in a couple skills before grabbing 5 more programming languages or skills.

    Theres always more, but thats good for a start. Good luck!
    jeremy - gnomeontherun
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  • #5
    Senior Coder twodayslate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeremywilken View Post
    1) Charge by the hour at first - be careful undercharging because those first customers are likely to come back if you did good work and cost next to nothing, but at the same time don't overcharge for time you spend learning things. Its a balance.
    I have heard that if you charge a lot more people will go to you because it shows that you have quality work.
    2) Don't start with internet freelance forums. There are a few I've tried that I like, but most are havens for bad clients wanting dirt cheap work (which is often stolen or of low quality). It will drive you nuts to compete price wise, there are just too many 'firms' in some countries who undercut everything (including quality).
    http://jobs.freelanceswitch.com/ is pretty good. Most of the people on there are not looking for dirt cheap.

    4) Take a few simple jobs that you are 100% confident in, and start with people you know. Tell them if they don't need something to let other's know that you can do things. You may also consider doing one or two projects for organizations or non-for-profits to get the ball rolling.
    I would not do this. I hate working for family. They are the ones who want a lot for a little. It gets annoying FAST


    I agreed with everything else
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  • #6
    The fat guy next door VIPStephan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by twodayslate View Post
    I have heard that if you charge a lot more people will go to you because it shows that you have quality work.
    You’re walking on a fine line there. Yes, charging at a high rate implies that you must be good because they assume if you charge much you’d have to be very skilled etc. (and some are willing to pay more for quality work and go to you for exactly that reason) but it also imposes an expectation on you, i. e. they expect you to be as good as you charge. So if you charge much you better be good (and confident about it) and not lie to them about your skills because it’s gonna be a short work relationship if you deliver bad quality for a high price.

  • #7
    Senior Coder gnomeontherun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by twodayslate View Post
    I have heard that if you charge a lot more people will go to you because it shows that you have quality work.
    http://jobs.freelanceswitch.com/ is pretty good. Most of the people on there are not looking for dirt cheap.
    There are a few other really good job boards, like www.authenticjobs.com, and they are screened for only serious clients. However, the level of expectation is usually quite high and I wouldn't waste my time starting at that level, it would only be discouraging. These kinds of boards (the really solid ones) require you to have a solid portfolio and background, know your strengths before searching for work, and chase only those which play your strengths!

    Charging a lot is a bad idea because you'll get a reputation as high cost, and what you need is a reputation for high quality. I started at a lower rate, and after time raised it gradually to a point where I am comfortable with it. Besides, your first few projects and clients will be a lot of trial and error, and charging will be a bit difficult to judge until those are under your belt.

    Quote Originally Posted by twodayslate View Post
    I would not do this. I hate working for family. They are the ones who want a lot for a little. It gets annoying FAST
    I didn't say working for family, but really the important fact is that if you want to understand clients, it can be good to start with people who are somewhat familiar to you. For example I did work for several people in the community who I knew only from random activities, but it was good to start to understand how clients work. Its your call, but it can be good and I learned a lot from it. I think its just a lot harder to land those first projects without much of a profile.
    jeremy - gnomeontherun
    Educated questions often get educated answers, and simple questions often get simple answers.

  • #8
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    Angry

    Believe it or not, I've actually been stiffed by one of my former design school instructors!

    He'd sent a project my way before, and I was paid in full for that one. I also worked with him on a pro bono project. I trusted him, so I took on this particular for-pay project. We had an agreed-upon hourly rate for my work, and I minimized my hours to make him happy. He had some added responsibilities with a new born baby around, which is why he had less time for his work. After I gave him my hours, he gave me a check for barely half of the amount I was owed. He said he'd pay the rest after he received his next paycheck.

    Well, the work was done in July and the partial payment was in September. In December he simply asked me for my address via a text message, which made me think he was finally going to make it right. Instead, what I received was a Christmas picture card of his baby. His baby which was his every excuse for late payment, and to this date I haven't seen the money. He outsourced his entire freelance project, received full payment from the client, and paid me probably only 15-20% of the profits.

    Isn't that nuts? The nerve!
    Last edited by woop; 05-05-2009 at 11:46 PM. Reason: I made it seem like I was talking about a pro bono project. Sorry for the long winded story!

  • #9
    Senior Coder gnomeontherun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by woop View Post
    Believe it or not, I've actually been stiffed by one of my former design school instructors!

    He'd sent a project my way before, and I was paid in full for that one. I also worked with him on a pro bono project. I trusted him, and I took on the project. We had an agreed-upon hourly rate for my work, and I minimized my hours to make him happy. He had some added responsibilities with a new born baby around, which is why he had less time for his work. After I gave him my hours, he gave me a check for barely half of the amount I was owed. He said he'd pay the rest after he received his next paycheck.

    Well, the work was done in July and the partial payment was in September. In December he simply asked me for my address via a text message, which made me think he was finally going to make it right. Instead, what I received was a Christmas picture card of his baby. His baby which was his every excuse for late payment, and to this date I haven't seen the money. He outsourced his entire freelance project, received full payment from the client, and paid me probably only 15-20% of the profits.

    Isn't that nuts? The nerve!
    Pro bono is different from working for charity or something similar. Yes, these are the kinds of lessons you learn and can't avoid learning at some point in your career. Perhaps I should clarify that the people I describe are people who I don't see or work with regularly, but people that I have met before. For example I did work for my village commerce office, because I knew the guy as a friend of my fathers.
    jeremy - gnomeontherun
    Educated questions often get educated answers, and simple questions often get simple answers.

  • #10
    UE Antagonizer Fumigator's Avatar
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    I thought Pro Bono meant "Work For Free"?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pro_bono

  • #11
    The fat guy next door VIPStephan's Avatar
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    “Pro bono” as per the definition in Wikipedia and plain “for free” work are different things. As described there pro bono work is work that primarily serves the public and is done with the intention to contribute something useful to it. Yes, pro bono work is done for free in most cases but it’s a difference whether you work for free voluntarily to help, for example, a non-profit organization or your local school, theater, or library or whatever and working for a commercial company just to fulfill their private interests like you working for free to help them grow their business (at your cost).

  • #12
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    Yeah, the pro bono job was different than the one I was stiffed on. Just be very careful about who you get into business with.


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