Freelance WordPress developer Bill Erickson runs a successful business in Texas and is eager give back. He’s created 20 free plugins, contributes to WordPress core, and shares code snippets and tutorials.
We get quick business advice for freelancers from Bill in our ongoing series, “First, Best & Wish You Knew.”
How did you find your first client?
I was interested in graphic design back in high school, so I got an unpaid summer internship working at a print shop, helping design print materials like business cards and brochures. Businesses would come in needing all the marketing material for their business, and this print shop did everything except websites. So I told those businesses I could help, and I ended up with three or four paid web design projects that summer.
How did you find your best client?
Almost all of my best clients have been referrals from other good clients. If you do great work and exceed your clients’ expectations, they will recommend you to their friends and business acquaintances. And when a client comes to you based on a friend’s referral, they tend to treat you with more respect than someone they randomly found online. It’s also selection bias—the friends of your good clients will probably also be good clients for you.
What do you know now that you wish you knew before you started?
Be willing to say “no” and “I don’t know” more often. Don’t take on work that you can’t handle, whether that means the project is too large or there’s too many things you haven’t done before and would need to learn on the job. Your clients will understand that you don’t know and don’t do everything when it comes to the web. If they ask for something you can’t do, tell them “That’s outside my area of expertise, but I can help find a developer who can provide that service”
- Listen to our webinar with Bill Erickson for more insights.
- You can also check out our 4-part interview for even more:
“I could take down my website right now and still have work coming in—that’s how important word of mouth is.”