“First Client” Interview #1 – Matt Geri

This interview is the first in a new series I’m starting to share how web designers and developers got their first client.

mattgeriMatt Geri has been a close friend of mine for quite a few years and I’ve had the privilege of working with him on projects of all shapes and sizes. Matt is a programmer and in addition to his successful career as a freelancer he has developed several relatively popular WordPress plugins, with plans to do more plugin development in the near future. Matt is married to a great woman named Megan and they have a baby girl on the way.

1. How did you get your first client?

I got my very first client by chance as I wasn’t looking for work! I was a teenager at the time and spent most of my time building websites as a hobby. My mother worked for a guy who had a business in the air conditioning industry and he needed a website. He was also interested in setting up some niche content websites. My mom, being the ever concerned parent that she is, jumped at the opportunity to send him my contact details and with that, he become my first proper web development client.

2. What did you learn from that first experience?

I learnt a great deal from that experience. Everything was so new to me, I had never dealt with someone in a professional environment before and I quickly had to get my act together.

The hardest part was figuring out how much to charge him. I had no idea! Luckily for me, he made sure that I got paid what I was worth and wouldn’t accept a quote that was too low. You won’t find many clients like that these days!

I also learnt how to manage clients expectations, it’s always good to over deliver on what the client is expecting from you. You’ll quickly become their go to person as they know that you will always give above and beyond what they need.

Lastly, I quickly learnt how to manage my time. This was an important one for me as it’s something I really struggled with. It’s really not nice being late on a project deadline!

3. What advice do you have for folks trying to get their first client?

Firstly, tap in to your existing network. You’d really be surprised at how many people you know, know someone who needs some web development work done. Also, continue to grow your network. Use tools like twitter to connect with people. I’ve received a lot of web development work from people I interact with on Twitter.

Secondly, release something open source! Whether it is a WordPress plugin, theme or even advice in the form of a tutorial or article. Get your name out there so that people can find you.