Our ongoing series of interviews with WordPress freelancers continues with Patrick Neve. Patrick is a freelance web designer and graphic artist, building sites with WordPress. You can follow him on Twitter.
During the first couple of years of my freelancing journey, I had a big problem with saying ‘no.’
We’re going to talk referrals, saying no and find out where Patrick needs to go in the future.
What was your greatest success as a freelancer?
For me, success finally arrived when I began to receive referrals on a regular basis. It’s somewhat easy to sell myself, but it’s an awesome feeling when clients take the time to share their experience they had while working with me.
I make a point to be as personable and proactive as possible—while keeping things simple and fun. I also like to think of myself as a creative risk-taker.
Honoring a client’s vision is important, but I’m not shy about experimenting with different ideas I get along the way. I’m easily inspired and will often invest the extra time necessary in order to create something unique, and clients seem to appreciate this.
[We recently talked with freelancers about the best way to generate referrals.]
What was your greatest failure as a freelancer, and what did you learn from it?
My greatest failure isn’t any one particular incident or experience, but a previous mindset I used to have when I first began freelancing. During the first couple of years of my freelancing journey, I had a big problem with saying “no.” I would often take on too much work, which would cause me to miss deadlines, lose sleep and hurt the quality of my work. I would also reduce my prices way too much to accommodate clients, thinking that it would earn me more business in the long run. I was wrong!
Nowadays, it’s much easier for me to let potential clients know I’m unable to take on their project because I’m overbooked, and I respectfully ask them to wait for a period of time or refer them to a trusted colleague. I also charge enough to keep both parties fully invested while being as fair as possible. Another major adjustment that I’ve recently made is including a “milestone payment” in my contracts. There have been projects that go on for multiple months, and requesting a milestone payment a month or two into a project seems to keep both parties invested and motivated to continue being productive and enthusiastic.
Looking ahead, where do you need to grow as a freelancer?
This is an easy one. I need to “let go” a little and begin reaching out to other professionals for help. It’s easy for freelancers to become overly comfortable in their process. I don’t know of a single freelancer who doesn’t struggle with the idea of handing some control over to someone else, but the most successful ones have mastered it. I have a couple of guys I have been sharing work with over the past few years, but I need to take it to a whole new level if I ever want to build my business into what it truly has the potential to be.
So, to answer your question in simple terms, I need to become much better at delegating parts of projects to trusted, remote freelancers—people who are more specialized in areas where I’m not. This will ultimately free me up more to do the work I love the most: designing.