We get some quick business advice for freelancers from Brad in our series, “First, Best & Wish You Knew.”
How did you find your first client?
I get asked this question quite a bit, and honestly I think it was mostly luck—and content. When we relaunched our website in 2008, we relaunched on the WordPress platform. I decided to start writing a lot of content on our website about our services, coding examples, blog posts, technology news, etc. Over time we saw an increase in new contacts coming in the door. Keep in mind, no one knew who WebDevStudios was at the time. We didn’t have much of a history, we weren’t known in any industry—we were just two guys building websites on a coffee table. Content really helped increase our website visibility, which grew our contact requests.
How did you find your best client?
The best clients are the clients looking for a long-term partner. They are also the clients that hire you because you are the experts in your field. They listen to and take your advice more often than not. They understand the strengths you bring to the table and respect you because of that.
Finding these clients takes a bit of vetting when talking to new job leads. Many new leads probably don’t realize, but I’m interviewing them as much as they are interviewing me. I look for various good and bad flags when talking to a new lead. Are they nice or demanding? Do they listen to your responses or just talk over you? Over the years I’ve learned how to spot great clients and how to spot problem clients very early on. It’s a skill that takes time and experience to learn, but a very important one as you grow your business.
What do you know now that you wish you knew before you started?
Starting a business from scratch takes a lot of work and is a huge learning experience. We’ve had many ups and downs over the years, but ultimately everything you do, good or bad, is a learning tool.
Something I learned over the years is not every project is a good fit. Early on we would take any project that walked in the door. It didn’t matter if we knew the tool or system they wanted to use, we would figure it out. This quickly became a problem because we were mediocre at a lot of platforms, but an expert at none. In 2010 we made the decision to go 100% WordPress development and design. From that day forward we focused on being the best at a single platform, which has ultimately helped us refine our message and provide high quality products for our clients.