What would I do differently if I was starting from scratch?
What a great question! For starters, I would take Break Into Web. =)
In this post I will outline the top 3 things I’d do differently if I was starting over with my freelance business.
1 – Focus on Building Long-Term Client Relationships
In the beginning, I was so focused on just delivering the client’s immediate need. They needed a website, so I would build it for them. I wish I would have been more focused on the strategy of the website instead of just providing them an informational “brochure” style site.
I had an opportunity to present the website as a “tool”. A tool to help my client reach their business goals. Instead, I focused on just getting the job done and moving on to the next client.
This made me miss out on potential other projects the client had for me, and an opportunity to show a strategy-based approach to design.
What are you willing to pay more for? A informational brochure? Or a money-making tool?
2 – Offer Recurring Revenue Services
The first 6’ish years of Artillery I did not offer any type of monthly recurring service. This kind of goes hand-in-hand with #1 above.
Recurring revenue is a game-changer. Having a monthly base of income coming in “automagically” gives you:
- Less stress. You’re not starting every month from 0. You’re starting with a cushion … a big cushion eventually.
- Freedom. As your recurring revenue base grows, you can become pickier in the type of work you take on.
- A sellable business. If/when you’re ready to retire or move on, a business that has guaranteed monthly revenue is very attractive to a buyer.
Do yourself a favor, take advantage of our hosting service with your clients from day 1 and start building your monthly recurring revenue stream.
3 – Build a Team
I’m a true freelancer at heart. The thought of putting on dress slacks and driving to an office immediately makes me tired. I also don’t necessarily want the responsibility of an employee.
I just want to fly free in my freelancer world. =)
However, at first, you’re doing everything. You’re reaching out prospecting for new clients, sending invoices, project managing, designing, building the site, testing the site, etc.
I do think this is great at the beginning. It makes you familiar with all aspects of a web design business.
The ideal situation would be once you had too much work, you would bring on some help. That seems to make sense. Not in my head though … not at that time anyway.
I started turning clients away because I was too busy. Big mistake.
If I would have been offering a monthly recurring revenue service (see #2 above) I would have been turning away guaranteed monthly income.
Eventually a good friend of mine asked me: “John, are you going to be building websites when you’re 60?”
That was the turning point. I trained that friend and our skills complimented each other. The things he is good at, I am not. The things I am good at, he is not. It’s an incredible fit. Now we have a team of 5 all collaborating together as needed on projects and doing what each of us is best at. We’re all still freelancers though with our own businesses.
I should have done that sooner.
By the way, that “friend” is Jake. You can watch his Break Into Web success story here.
Those are my big 3 “do-overs” I wish I had. In the podcast link below, the designers talk about what they would have different during their start. Just click the image…