This interview is the second in a new series I’m starting to share how web designers and developers got their first client.
Joshua Wold and I go way back. We’ve been playing together since we could crawl (I had about a 15-month head start) and we started our first business together before either of us broke double digits. Today Joshua is an accomplished web designer and, on top of his full-time design work at Sabramedia, he runs his own freelance design business on the side. Joshua is also responsible for the great looking design work you see on my site.
1. How did you get your first client?
I landed my first web design client at the age of 18. Prior to that I’d had experience in graphic design, as well as a few personal web design projects. But I’d never done web design for a client. I found my first project on Craigslist. After going back and forth a few times by email I closed the project at $400. The scope included logo design, website design and setup, and a shopping cart. Yeah, it was a bit more than I could handle.
The funny thing about the project, though, was that I’d recently made a trip from Indiana to Georgia. The client, unaware of my location, insisted that we meet in person, the only problem was that she lived in Chicago. I drove from Georgia to Chicago, and then back again, without telling her I was out-of-state. I really wanted to get the project. As far as I was concerned, the experience I’d gain was more than worth the money spent on gas. While I wouldn’t do it again, it was definitely a big moment in my mind. I met with the client, collected the initial $100 down payment, and set to work.
Due to delays (mostly on the client’s part), I completed the scope of the project within about 4-6 months.
2. What did you learn from that first experience?
A lot. I learned about scope creep, how to close a sale, and how to communicate with a client. I also learned the importance of properly pricing a project. The experience I gained as a whole from the entire project was more than worth it.
3. What advice do you have for folks trying to get their first client?
Be willing to put yourself out there and do something that’s uncomfortable. While I don’t recommend taking on a project that’s too big to handle, it’s ok if the project stretches you. Also, when you’re closing the project, be careful to not oversell yourself. It’s better to promise a few things and over deliver on those, then promise everything and mess up the entire project. There are many unexperienced web design professionals willing to take on projects that are too much for them to handle. These folks lack professionalism, and in some cases, scruples. My biggest advice to new folks starting out is to start small enough that they can handle the projects they take on. Make it your challenge to improve our profession by over delivering and doing your best in every project you undertake.
P.S. This post is also available in the Serbo-Croatian language.