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Aug 29

What I learned from starting my own business

2007 at 08.30 am posted by Veerle Pieters

People are e-mailing me with all kinds of questions. One of the recurring questions is about how I started my own business and if I could spare a few tips. In this article I’ll share my experience and what I’ve learned together with some tips and advice. Hopefully this will give people who are about to start freelancing some guidance in this big step.

Be motivated and be passionate in what you do

The very first question I would ask myself is: Am I motivated to work long days and to go all the way to get jobs done, seek new clients and work? Am I willing to go the extra mile to achieve what I want? If this answer is yes, than this is a start and it also means that you're probably passionate in what you do. This is very important, if not maybe the most important question at all. A doubtful answer is not allowed here, you would make the wrong decision already.

Believe in yourself

The other question is that is related to the one we've just asked is: Do I believe myself? Of course you'll say yes to that, but I mean when things are going though, will I still have the courage to stick it out and fight for it? Will I put all my efforts, energy and courage into this to bridge this period without even considering giving up?

Some healthy stubbornness is needed when things are not going as planned. The very first days when I started freelancing I was so motivated and thought I could conquer the world, but reality told me differently and I needed a lot of courage and energy to put myself over this and not to give up. Financially it was very difficult to survive and you start to wonder if it's worth the effort. In these times friends are very important. I was fortunate to got to know Geert back then. It was my 2nd year I went freelancing and so far it was more of disappointment then the vision I had in my mind of how it would be. He really was my big motivator who believed in me and my work. I was thinking of giving up. All I thought was "what the hell was I thinking? I've must have been dreaming". He gave me the push I need to get going and he was (and still is) very good in giving me the right advice. My approach to get new clients and work was totally wrong, too passive and I didn't address the 'right' clients either. It took me a lot of energy to get over that and even more courage to do it. Geert's idea was to approach and confront potential clients directly with my work. This was something I didn't dare to do, but I had no choice and so I did it and after a while I might have gotten the hang of it even. One morning, I visited about 20 companies, handed over my business card and even had a chance to present my work here and there and landed myself two real jobs.

You could argue that in this day and age why I would want to visit clients when I have the World Wide Web? Right, the internet, that great place of endless possibilities! If I would do it all over again I would use the combination of both. For both worlds you need a portfolio and when you haven't got anything to show for yet build it using a fake brand. Think like Adobe for example and their showcase for the CS3 suite. Let's face it when you don't make it into any of these galleries with your work you could wait a long while until you have your first customer or even visitor via the internet. It's all about finding something what you are really good in and using it to your advantage.

Be eager to learn

If I look back over the past 15 years of my career I'm astonished about what I've learned and how fast things evolve these days. Especially if you are involved in web design it's hard to keep pace and stay on top of the latest techniques and technologies. I learned the basic principles of design and printing at school, but all the rest, expect from an evening course in Photoshop (version 2) and Quark XPress, is self-taught. This learning never stops and is a very important part of the job. This is probably the same for people who are in a full-time job, but I believe the difference is that you have to experience this as a constant hunger for more and you don't have the luxury of the paycheck at the end of the month no matter if you learn or not. In a full time job it's easier to do just your job because the pressure isn't there to find work or be the best in what you do, others do that for you. If you are passionate in what you do, than this will almost feel like a healty addiction and not like an obligation.

Don't rush it, give your decision some serious thought.

After I graduated I did an internship for one month at an ad agency. I really didn't like the job there. In the end after endless revisions, the few things I designed, the few logos, didn't feel like my creations anymore. It just felt like I was drawing on demand and the boss didn't leave any room for my ideas or creativity. This is a receipt for frustration and de-motivation. After looking for a job for months, I decide to give myself a deadline. If I didn't have a job before end of June (1992), I would take the jump. Big mistake to make a decision like that. There were some people pressuring me a bit as well, asking me when I could start. Still, my decision was really too hasty.

Do your research and spot the warning signs

A big part of why it didn't go as I had imagined was to blame on a lack of research I did before I decided to take the jump. My parents knew a few people and I got to know an interior architect who's activities were focussed in shops like bakeries, fish shops, chocolate shops etc. He delivered a full package to his clients which includes logo, house-style, product packaging etc. He could give me a part-time job he said. The thing is, I trusted him on his word. If people start making promises, never take them serious unless you get it in writing and you're absolutely sure. I didn't, lucky for me he meant it and he was serious, he did give me a few nice projects and for a while this was good. However other people who promised me the same and where I was counting on too didn't. So yes, I did check if I would get work, but I took a big risk since I wasn't sure and even if they were all telling the truth it was still far from enough to cover all my costs and earn a living. Another warning sign is clients telling you that they could give you tons of work if you just dance to their tune. For example making endless logos because they can't make up their mind. Put a number on this from the start to avoid this kind of thing. Believe me when I say that you will be surprised to what length some people go to make you do what they want. The guilt trip is something I experienced, the client makes you feel you didn't do enough and hopes you will do more for free.

Make your calculations

Not that I want to go into the financial part of this into detail, but this is about making a living. Make a list of what you'll need as investment : computer, software, printer etc. Calculate the total cost. Make a total of your fixed monthly costs and add what you need to earn to make a living. This total is the minimum you need to earn each month. Then look at the work you would get and try to estimate what you will earn on that. This is of course the hardest part of all. Even today for me every estimate I need to make for a project is like a job on its own. Analyzing the different stages, calculating the revisions on a design, estimating the hours of work etc. it takes time and insight. Also be prepared to play collection agency and don't be afraid to phone clients or even visit them when they are late paying. Always work with pre-payments!

The big question is of course what is my hourly rate? This is very subjective and differs a lot from person to person and from type of job. As for a designer I think the three major parameters to base this rate on are talent, knowledge and experience. Because of my experience I can do certain parts of the job faster then I would a few years ago. Well OK, technology has a very very big part in this also. If there is one advice I would give you, especially for the designers out there, don't set your hourly rate too low, then again don't go astronomical with your rate either. If you are just starting people won't pay huge hourly rates because you haven't proven yourself even though you might be very talented. Just calculate this rationally and try to be reasonable.

So that's about it and I hope you get something out of it so that all goes according to plan. Good luck!


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permalink this comment Brian Coult Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 10.11 am

Really liked this post, im in the middle of this situation at present having worked freelance for 5 years now but slowly but surely progressing it over to my own company, through both some careful planning and sometimes just plain old risk taking. So far things have paid off, but its nice to see that some of the pitfalls i have encountered and in most cases dealt with do happen to other people.

Totally agree with everything you have said, and thanks for giving me the feeling this morning that its not just me this scenario applies to.


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permalink this comment Jacob Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 10.17 am

Wonderful!

Let me say, I was just about to ask you all that questions. :-)  I think this post was very informative to me.


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permalink this comment MichaelD Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 10.44 am

“...don’t set your hourly rate too low, then again don’t go astronomical with your rate either…”

At the moment, I’m struggling with that exact question, but this isn’t helping very much… ;-)

I’ll reverse positions: would you consider 40€ for example too low, too high,... or about right?


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permalink this comment vladyn Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 10.58 am

Thanks!  It is great for me to read such a share of a designer career


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permalink this comment henry Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 11.00 am

Hey veerle, thanks for sharing your experience. I’ve just started to go into freelancing so been trying to find out more about how other designers handle their business.

Two questions to pose to you (if its okay for you to share them):

1) I’ve been working with clients from Europe to USA to Hong Kong and I realized theres a difference in the average rates between these places? How would you reconcile this? Would you fix a single rate and convert accordingly or just adjust the rates according to the local market rates.

2) Currently, most of my projects are from jobs boards. But recently I’m thinking of approaching potential client and pitching to them. Do you think you might be able to share some details on how to approach this?

Anyway seriously thanks alot for all your tutorials and sharing of your work experience!


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permalink this comment Mark Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 11.35 am

Inspiring article Veerle!

I’ve been thinking about starting myself in the future, and I must say it’s not an easy decision. At the moment I have a day-job, and I feel I’m still not quite ready to be a designer. Deciding when to make this “jump” as you call it is probably the most difficult thing to do, as I leave the security of a steady income behind me and what do I gain? Well, freedom, that’s for sure, but next to that?

Maybe I should do some projects in my spare time while I still have a normal job, but it’s very time consuming, and hey, I need spare time as well!

So it’s not an easy task, which makes me respect you for starting for yourself even more.

Love reading your articles by the way, keep up the good work!


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permalink this comment Peter Van Dijck Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 11.50 am

MichaelD said:

I’ll reverse positions: would you consider 40€ for example too low, too high,... or about right?

of course it all *depends*, but 40E/hour is good. 100E/hour is tops, more than that and you’ll have a hard time getting people to pay you. Less than 40E is probably not enough for you to live on (taxes!), so I’d say that’s a good starting point. Depending on experience and stuff, 60 to 80E can work too. At least, that’s my feeling, others might disagree.


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permalink this comment Sergey Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 12.19 pm

Hi. Very interesting post, but let me say one thing. May be I wrong but freelance work doesn’t have anything similar with real business. It is more like self employment. The same work but with a little freedom. Isn’t it?


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permalink this comment Veerle Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 12.52 pm

MichaelD said:

Would you consider 40€ for example too low, too high,… or about right?

For somebody just starting out as a freelance graphic designer with some talent that would be a fair rate I think. I think what Peter Van Dijck says is about right. It depends on experience too.

henry said:

1) I’ve been working with clients from Europe to USA to Hong Kong and I realized theres a difference in the average rates between these places? How would you reconcile this? Would you fix a single rate and convert accordingly or just adjust the rates according to the local market rates.

I don’t adjust my rates to every market, I always charge in Euros. I don’t think this would be a doable situation either. Here is a very drastic example: a client from India asks you for a website design. I’m sure you have to ask like 1/10 of what you would normally charge. So that doesn’t work really.

It only occurred on a rare occasion that I charged in US$ because it was one of the requirements to get the contract. This contract was for a big job spread over 4 years. This is of course a choice you need to make. For me this choice was easy and I was lucky that it was in the time that the US$ had a higher value then the Belgian franc (pre Euro time).

2) Currently, most of my projects are from jobs boards. But recently I’m thinking of approaching potential client and pitching to them. Do you think you might be able to share some details on how to approach this?

My advice would be to make sure your portfolio is top notch so you can impress the client with your work. Also if you’re going to pitch for a job make sure you have all details about the job so you can calculate an accurate estimate otherwise you can make a big miscalculation and you could be in for a surprise :-/

Sergey said:

May be I wrong but freelance work doesn’t have anything similar with real business. It is more like self employment. The same work but with a little freedom. Isn’t it?

Oh you are so wrong, you obviously don’t have a clue of the responsibilities and obligations that come with freelancing. For starters your boss takes care of the health benefits (at least here in Belgium), social security, pension, the 13th month and ... well of course your wages :)  If you are freelancing all that responsibility is on you and you have to make sure you have enough income to pay all that. You need to do your bookkeeping, declare and pay VAT, taxes is also more complicated…You have to make sure your paperwork is all perfectly in order. The administration part that comes with being self employed is a huge burden and it’s certainly not like you are suggesting. After years I changed my status into a legal entity and with that comes new responsibilities etc. It’s not about having a little more freedom.


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permalink this comment Samir Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 01.25 pm

Great article Veerle. I’ve been freelancing since my first year in University and it’s now 4-years since I got into it full time — so all in all, quite a long spell. I was nodding enthusiastically throughout your article because you sum up almost all the thought processes and problems that any freelancer or business owner in this field goes through.

I also agree with your comment to Sergey, freelancing really is just as challenging if not more challenging than running a proper business. Not only are you wearing a million hats and doing everything yourself, but to add to it your clients often take you less seriously as a commercial entity and expect you to work for nothing. 

Also, for some strange reason, the tag of freelancer seems to indicate to anyone and everyone that you have a lot of free time. No we don’t! I probably get 1/3rd the free time that a regularly employed person does. And that brings me to the one point that I can add to your tips for starting a business: Learn how to say NO, to the projects you should avoid, to the clients who don’t really care about your health or your sanity, and to yourself when you try to push too hard or take on too much or try to please too many people.

Once again, excellent article Veerle, and I would highly recommend that anyone thinking of getting into freelancing or an independent practice of any kind, reads and studies this for some golden nuggets of advice.


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permalink this comment Bryan Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 02.26 pm

Great article Veerle. It’s good to hear your story as it gives me perspective on my own unfolding story…

Here’s a question: I’ve been leery of using the term “Freelancer” to describe myself lately because there’s a subtly negative connotation connected to it. Freelancers are sometimes considered flaky and unreliable, where a design firm has a sense of stability and are dependable. It might just be semantics, but if I’m a designer working on my own, am I a Freelancer, or a One man design firm?


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permalink this comment Soroush Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 02.42 pm

Such a good article!
I’ve been thinking on these matters recently and so this was very timely!


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permalink this comment michele Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 02.54 pm

congratulations for the recent recognition!!


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permalink this comment RobertDM Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 03.13 pm

My biggest problem: quitting my current dayjob and start freelancing full-time.
My heart tells me: yesterday please, my mind tells don’t rush it. The financial side of things doesn’t alloaw me to start fulltime yet but on the other hand I’ve realised there’s never gonna be a perfect moment. At first I believed I could just wait till the earnings from freelanging would be enough to allow me to quit my dayjob but I know realise that at some point I’ll just have to take the plunge: I just don’t have the time along side my fulltime dayjob to det in enough work to allow for a sufficient income to switch without a loss of income.


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permalink this comment Daniel Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 03.28 pm

I really enjoyed your post. I, myself, will be heading into the workplace next year. I wish I could do my own little web projects for work but that won’t happen yet. But if I do freelance for the summer, thanks for the tips.


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permalink this comment m Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 04.05 pm

I’ve read the first two paragraphs and I can’t wait to finish.  Thanks for writing this.  I respect your work and willingness to share experiences and knowledge with the rest of us.


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permalink this comment DeaPeaJay Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 04.34 pm

I’m just starting out myself and I’m charging a little less than 40 euros, (In dollars). But mostly because I really need some work, and I haven’t graduated college yet.

But one of the things I’ve started to do when possible is provide a quote for the job based on an estimate of the amount of hours it will require and do the work for a fixed price, rather than hourly. I think it helps the client to be more at ease, they don’t have to worry about paying me to be slow at the job or anything.

The only problem with that is if the requirements change, or the job ends up taking much longer than anticipated. But hey, you win some you lose some.


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permalink this comment e-man Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 05.44 pm

Nice article. Very true the part about constantly learning, it can be a burden to make time for that during busy projects but it also keeps things interesting.
And I also disagree with the poster who says freelancing is not real business - the time I spend weekly on the business aspect of it can be staggering!


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permalink this comment Richard Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 07.41 pm

My wife and I have been doing freelance work on the side for a number of years now. The volume of work seems to be steadily increasing. What would be the tipping point for you to go into business for yourself?


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permalink this comment Kalle Persson Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 10.46 pm

I’ve been running my own business for about a year, and this article was very interesting to read.

Veerle, you rock!


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permalink this comment David Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 11.56 pm

I’m surprised you didn’t expand more on the problem of clients. Other than web hosting failures, clients are the only problem I have ever had. The first job I ever did on my own was when I was 19 and the client ended adding on loads of extras like flyers, application forms for PDF and print and they payment was really late. As you say you can’t be afraid of your clients.

About a year and a half later things are getting a lot better. My recomendations for aspiringing freelancers and budding entrepreneurs are:
* Terms and conditions - To start with you may need to re-work someone elses T&Cs;, while you find out what client problems you have
* Legal contracts - get all you clients to sign contracts so they can’t get you to do extra work that was never agreeded on
* Get your clients to supply all their content before you start doing any work and make sure they know you don’t magically write 10 pages of text on their business you know nothing about.


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permalink this comment Ryan Weinfled Thu Aug 30, 2007 at 02.33 am

Ok that was one great and truly inspirational article. BTW i got here from a a blog of your friend(maybe) who thinks you’re are a great teacher as well. Happy Going~


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permalink this comment Shandy Sawyer Thu Aug 30, 2007 at 03.06 am

As a wanna-be web designer who’s been lurking this blog for quite some time, getting your words of wisdom and experience is very encouraging.  Did you have much experience on the business side of things when you took the plunge?  Did you get help on that side as well?


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permalink this comment henry Thu Aug 30, 2007 at 05.34 am

thanks a lot for sharing :)

i guess for doing work different countries, it would be good to find out the market rate and charge sometime you are comfortable within the range.

it wouldn’t be very good to charge too low and drive down the rates for the local designer.


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permalink this comment Edwin Thu Aug 30, 2007 at 08.52 am

Nice article! It’s good that you share your experiences, so others can learn from it. Thanks, it was interesting to read it!


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permalink this comment Fernanda Scur Thu Aug 30, 2007 at 09.47 am

Amazing!!!! I came today to your website EXACTLY to get in touch with you about this :-) Sincronicity, ah ah. Thanks again!


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permalink this comment Mark Thu Aug 30, 2007 at 01.02 pm

Thanks for this. I really needed to hear this right now as I’ve been limping along on quick gigs and promises most of the summer.


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permalink this comment nomad Thu Aug 30, 2007 at 02.54 pm

Hi Veerle, and thank you so much for this article.
I am considering taking this big step myself for quite some time now, but I knew I needed to be more prepared. I think I am now.
I am a part-time freelancer, having a full-time job as a web developer. I have serious experience with PHP/mySQL and CSS and also have an Adobe certification (don’t know if it could help).
So my question is: do you think all you said also applies to a web developer? I have no idea of the hourly rate I could ask… I know it’s not your job, but I guess you often work with developers, so you should know some things about them ;-)
Thanks again for your encouraging words. You ARE an inspiration for many of us, and not only in webdesign!


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permalink this comment Richard Thu Aug 30, 2007 at 03.52 pm

Thanks, Veerle. Lots of great information.


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permalink this comment cindy@staged4more Thu Aug 30, 2007 at 08.21 pm

I have been in my own business for 1.5 years and these are very sound advices! For people who are thinking about jumping off the cliff to start on your own, usually it is recommended to save up 3-6 months of living expenses to tie you over while in the beginning the jobs could be low. Having your own biz can be grinding and draining and very demanding on your social schedule, so it’s very important that you are doing something you love and passionate about. ;) But it’s really the most rewarding and challenging experience in my life. I am very glad that I did it!

Cheers,
Cindy


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permalink this comment Stefan Fri Aug 31, 2007 at 01.59 am

Let me chip in my 2 cents on the pricing discussion - with the perspective of someone who is active both in the really high end of consultancy, and also has hired a designer or two over the years.

While I agree that you shouldnt adapt your rates to every single market, at times you have to. A nice illustration is the situation between Belgium and the Netherlands. Even though they are so close, prices are so different, that you HAVE to adapt. And I’m not talking about a dutchie wanting to get business in belgium having to reduce his prices, but the other way around - you would have to adapt *upwards* if you’re a belgian wanting to do business in NL, as rates are extremely low in BE.

The problem is that, especially larger, organizations simply dont take you serious if you are priced too low. I could think of prices that would keep you out of business in both countries - because in BE they would be too high, and in NL too low :)

In other words, there are many factors coming into this, and you should make sure not to shortchange yourself by sticking to a too low pricepoint.
(And as for me - I love living in BE, but simply do my business elsewhere :)) )


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permalink this comment MichaelD Fri Aug 31, 2007 at 08.35 am

@Peter: Thanks for your answer…

@Veerle:

...somebody just starting out as a freelance graphic designer with some talent…

How did you find out about that? (LOL)

Anyway: a big “thank you” to you as well - for your answer to my question and all of the interesting articles you keep posting…


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permalink this comment Steven Woods Fri Aug 31, 2007 at 04.25 pm

One thin gi’d add to be successful is ENSURE YOU GET ENOUGH SLEEP.

Once you start to become sleep-deprived, problems seem to increase exponentially and deadlines slip, stress increases and you really start to feel pressure.

So yes - no matter how important the project, it’s not as important as your health!


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permalink this comment Joe Fri Aug 31, 2007 at 08.18 pm

Great article. Thanks for sharing your insight, Veerle!

Does anyone know of a resource or shared library with examples of legal documents for use in our industry?


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permalink this comment Shaymaa Fri Aug 31, 2007 at 09.28 pm

Greetings Veerle, thank you for sharing your experiences. I wish you the best in your business and I look forward to seeing more of your art.


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permalink this comment Travis King Fri Aug 31, 2007 at 09.55 pm

I love what I do and I love learning but my major issue is I have zero initiative to got out and get the business.

Sometimes I wish I could hire a person that goes out and lands the deals while I do the work.


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permalink this comment rashmi Sat Sep 1, 2007 at 09.39 pm

hi Veerle, thank you for sharing your experiences and drive me. I wish you the best in your business and give your tips more that we can learn and am look forward to seeing more of your art.


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permalink this comment Rolando E. Alvarado Sun Sep 2, 2007 at 02.41 am

great great article! it’s good to know that all the fears that crowd my head right now, have been in other people’s heads already…

i’ve just started up my web design and hosting here in Costa Rica.. and im only 21 years old..

even though i am more of a freelancer i’ve had to build up that ‘corporate webdesign firm’ image for people to put their trust in me..

right now i’m just trying to keep the lights on like they say.. and even though i’ve had doubts as if i should continue, i know it’s only a matter of time and of getting things right. articles like yours help us ‘newbies’ keep our heads up!

thanks again!


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permalink this comment Lisa Mon Sep 3, 2007 at 12.47 am

Thanks for this, Veerle!


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permalink this comment prisca Tue Sep 4, 2007 at 12.09 am

Veerle ;)

thanks - great article as always :)
I can imagine a lot of people nodded along here…. great insight for people thinking of starting up - good reminder for the rest of us.
thanks for sharing your experiences and for your advice ;)


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permalink this comment Veerle Tue Sep 4, 2007 at 02.18 pm

Richard said:

My wife and I have been doing freelance work on the side for a number of years now. The volume of work seems to be steadily increasing. What would be the tipping point for you to go into business for yourself?

I think as soon as you reach the bare minimum to live from and if you think you can attract more work if more time comes available since you’ll be giving up your full time job.

David said:

I’m surprised you didn’t expand more on the problem of clients.

Because this is a subject on its own :) There is so much involved and I was approaching it from a personal experience point of view and what I’ve learned. Concerning clients, this is a constant learning process because every client is different and every project is different. There are of course a few rules you can keep in mind, also about payment, about what’s included and not what’s not included in the estimate etc. I do work with fixed estimates mostly. I only charge hourly rates for regular clients that ask recurring small jobs.

Shandy Sawyer said:

Did you have much experience on the business side of things when you took the plunge?  Did you get help on that side as well?

No, no experience at all, no help at all. I think if I have to make the same decision again with what I know now and what is waiting I would surely have waited till I had more experience. I would not have dared to make the plunge so fast. It was my intention to find a full-time job first for a few years and gain some experience. Then I would also be wiser and more knowledgeable, but that didn’t work out for me. I would have something ‘real’ to show as well instead of just school work.

MichaelD said:

...somebody just starting out as a freelance graphic designer with some talent… How did you find out about that? (LOL)

Actually I didn’t really. I only had my diploma and the feedback from school teachers. I know I wasn’t bad and certainly much better then average :) I got a strong sense for color and I was doing very well in layout. I was the best of my class in a few layout projects in my last year at school. My drawing skills grew very fast also, from really bad in the 1st year (lack of art school background, experience in graphical techniques etc.) to better then average. I did find out that I had talent but I was already freelancing for a while. I kept on growing slowly. Even now, if I look back at work from about 3 years ago and compare it with my current work I see progress. I think talent develops over years. Certain things can be taught, like techniques and certain skills etc. However some part of the job is completely up to you alone like the creative part, the part that is hard to define, the talent part. Think about finding the right logo shape, finding inspiration etc. You either have a certain level talent or not, no one can really teach you ‘that’, but it can evolve and it can be triggered. To me it has also a lot to do with the state of mind and how I feel. If I’m very content with myself, feeling relaxed, happy, good in my skin etc. I’ll believe in myself and I’ll bring out the best of me.


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permalink this comment omkar Wed Sep 5, 2007 at 05.02 am

Thanks for all the information. I just started freelancing and this article has given me a good preview of what lies ahead.
I’d however like to ask one question that which is thwe best place to get freelancing jobs?
Thanks:)


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permalink this comment Serge Lescouarnec Wed Sep 5, 2007 at 06.15 pm

I discovered your refreshing site via Jeffrey Zeldman’s announcement that you joined the Deck.

Even though I am not a designer, I am interested in these issues and your thoughts on business as well since I am a small business owner myself.

Have a great day

Serge
‘The French Guy from New Jersey’


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permalink this comment Dustin Refos Sat Sep 8, 2007 at 06.34 am

Hi there Veerle, it’s nice to see you sharing your story with us. It answered many question I had hanging in my head.

I’m still going to school. One time I was working at a company as a web designer during a school break of about 2 months. I used to work there for about 2.80 euros an hour (not sure if it’s too low lol) and had to complete at least 2 designs a day. Well at that time I didn’t really do it for the money, it was mostly just for the fun, it was my first time, I was excited so I took the job.

But then, when vacation was over and it was time for me to stop working, they told me that I already have a career in their company and asked me to keep working for them. To make a long story short, I told them that I would do it if they raised the pay to about 30 euros an hour, I guess they didn’t really agree with that so I stopped and continued with school.

So here my question:
Do you think I should’ve taken the job and hoping for them to raise the pay themselves after a while or was it ok that I declined their offer since the pay was too low?

Thanks :)


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permalink this comment Veerle Sun Sep 9, 2007 at 02.41 pm

omkar said:

I’d however like to ask one question that which is thwe best place to get freelancing jobs?

My partner’s website Authentic Jobs is a good place to look or bulletin boards in general are also good places to look around.

Dustin Refos said:

Do you think I should’ve taken the job and hoping for them to raise the pay themselves after a while or was it ok that I declined their offer since the pay was too low?

Yes, I think you definitely made the right choice. 2.8 Euro is as good as working for free. If you say yes to that then you’re stuck to that fee and you set yourself up to low paid work. Once you travel that road I think it’s hard to get out.


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permalink this comment Antoine Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 07.28 am

Thanks a lot for this article!
As I plan to start my on business too at mid-term, I just bookmarked this page ;-)
Great info!


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permalink this comment Dieter Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 04.33 pm

Dustin Refos said:

Do you think I should’ve taken the job and hoping for them to raise the pay themselves after a while or was it ok that I declined their offer since the pay was too low?

Make it 10 Euro net and I would have taken it :-)


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permalink this comment Laura Mercier Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 09.27 pm

I am in the intermediate stage of my own business and I can tell you it is not easy. The hardest part is believing in yourself. When self-doubt begins to kick in, it makes you wonder if you did the right thing. It is a alot of hard work, but maybe…eventually it pays off



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