1 Year Freelancing
Wow I made it! I survived! It’s bee a full year since I made the scariest decision, or actually, following through with a decision I made, to stop working for another company and starting my own by freelancing as a web designer and developer. See, this is something I dreamed about for so many years while working for companies that didn’t share my ethics and working jobs that had me feeling like I wasn’t reaching my potential. And of course, going into debt while just trying to stay afloat living the crazy LA life. And while driving Uber, I was driving around people that were doing what I wanted to do and making the money I wanted to make. People that weren’t caught in the grips of fear, That took bold steps and did something different from the norm. People that wants for theirs. And I loved talking to them Really, Uber changed my life! That’s where I stared picking brains and most said the same thing to me. You just got too go for it. Well its easy to say, but to take that plunge…
And now it’s been a year. First, the hardest thing I did was not take that step. To let the fear control me. For months, I kept one foot in my dream life and dream job and then had the other in a job that I wanted nothing more than to be free of. I thought fulling leaving the security of the 9 to 5 world was the hardest thing I ever was done. But now in retrospect, staying in that job was far harder and more painful. Knowing that I should be out there going after my dreams but instead stay trapped and miserable. My narcissist supervisor with his God-like ego was not my enemy. It was I. The only person in the way of my freedom was myself.
Once I followed through, it was freedom. And it has been the most amazing feeling. One year. And you know what. My world did not collapse. I did not starve. And I did not go homeless. All of those fears. Lies I tell yah! Now after a year, I am not grossing 6 figures. And I am cool with that. For now. I am cool with paying my dues. Still, there is so much to learn and that brings me to this article and how I hope my experience can help others starting their journey to freedom with their own business. Here are a few mistakes I learned the hard way, the lesson that taught me how to run my own business better.
Learning From Mistakes
My first 3 tough lessons learned
Proposals & Contract
Make detailed proposal and project outline for every project. No matter the size of the project, create one for your client. My first couple projects, I just talked with the clients, listened to what they wanted, and right away came up with a price. In the first meeting! Truth be told, I was just thrilled to get paid for doing what I love to do. And then I got a client for what I thought was going to be a small project and it ended up taking months to complete. WIth out a detailed outline, there are no boundaries. No actual contracts and specifics. Now what I do for all projects, I first listen to my prospective client, get as many details as I can, then let them know I will be putting together a proposal and project outline. Right there, they know they are dealing with a professional. In my proposal, I plan out their website. Every step that it will take. I get detailed with it. What it will take fro every process and task from beginning to end. This also helps me when I give my quote. When someone sees the work that will be done and how many hours will go into it, it makes it harder to lowball.
Keep track of time for all projects. This one is my most recent hard lessons learned. Now I have an hourly rate, but so far most of my clients are either starting off their businesses or on a limited budget and it has been easier giving them an overall rate and a set price for their project. And usually in my proposal that I outline, I calculate all the hours for each individual task and I always go off of the lowest estimate (just about every task I did more than what I estimated) and there have never been questions. Until my last client. Now I pride myself as a person with integrity and honesty and this is what I believe makes me stand out from most developers, not saying developers are a shady bunch, but the horror stories I’ve heard from hiring off of freelancer.com and the messes I’ve had to clean from bad developers. I really care about every one of my clients! And it really matters to me that they are 100% happy with the work I’ve done and I go way above and beyond for each of them. So back to this client. Well, they had the biggest site I have ever done. Over 100 custom pages that needed so much detail. Well long story short, after I was complete and I finished my part of the deal, made all changes asked, site complete, they tried to get me to work more on the site and made accusations that since I was not in their office working by their side, they don’t know how much work I really did. They made remarks and hints that questioned my integrity and honesty. And that is not a good feeling when you pull in overnights and put so much love into a project only to have the people you worked for try to discredit you. And this falls on me. If I were to have kept proper track of my time, I could have presented documentation and maybe they would have respected and appreciated all the hard work I did. Also, keeping track now has improved my workflow. There is something about seeing that timer go into hours while I am tweaking out some CSS to make me stop fiddling around with code. I have been using Harvest and it is well worth the cost and investment of my business.
Accounting – I just want to make cool looking websites, get paid for it and travel! Yah that’s the mentality. But the reality is This Is A Business! My mistake was not treated like one from the very beginning. Because now here I am trying to figure out all of my expenses from the last year. And there is a lot of them! Hosting, domains, themes, plugins, monthly Adobe payments, Sketchapp, new IMac…well you get the picture. And the list goes on and on. Sure would be nice to look at my total expenses and earnings from this last year. Also, would be cool for me to compare it to for my next year. Oh and the taxes…well technically I don’t live in the US anymore as I have been residing in Thailand for the last 18 months, but I have goals to grow my business and truth is, I don’t know all the laws and what I need to do for taxes. So I will be having to hire a professional tax person to handle this for me. And I am sure it would make theirs and mines live easier to have a detailed business accounting. So I never have done this before. I am good at being broke, but not in having money. Luckily, today there are several platforms to help people like me and even those that are experienced with finances, to help keep organized accounting. I could use Excel or Numbers spreadsheets, but personally, I need something easy. Something modern with a good platform and interface. And there are several options. Some free and some with a monthly cost. I’m using Quickbooks now and since I have started this, I feel real like my business is a real business! Not just a freelance, but something more refined, professional and real. And something I am really proud of!
I hope my experience can help others.
I have managed to avoid some bad situations because I learned from others mistakes before making them myself and I hope for others to do the same. For anyone new, these three are big and would benefit greatly to start these immediately. Good luck on your adventures, keep going after your dreams, and enjoy the freedom!