Freelance web developer Jared Atchison started coding in sixth grade and began building WordPress sites in college. Today he runs a successful freelance business.
Jared shares some quick business advice for freelancers in our series, “First, Best & Wish You Knew.”
How did you find your first client?
My first handful of clients came directly from good friends (such as Bill Erickson) who were “in the game” before I was. When I was first getting started, I did not have an established brand or online presence. I didn’t have a nice looking portfolio, traffic to my site or reputation. This makes things more difficult in the beginning.
So I teamed up with Bill and a few other people I knew and simply had them send me their overflow. It wasn’t big, high paying or glamorous—but it was work and exactly want I wanted. I just needed the experience and you have to start some where. It worked out well.
How did you find your best client?
The best clients are almost always direct referrals from either past clients or friends. The longer I’ve been in business the more this has proved true. It is also a testament to how important good relationships are with your clients. The relationship during the project is only part of it, as what happens after the project is completed can be equally as valuable.
What do you know now that you wish you knew before you started?
I wish I would have known that you can be friendly, professional and firm at the same time. In my early days of operation, I focused much attention on customer support and making sure the client was always happy. However, it was often done at my own expense: doing out of scope work for free/cheap, not being treated professionally or seriously, getting the run around, etc.
Eventually I learned you can’t run a lasting, successful business being a pushover. Instead, be friendly and helpful, but also be able to stand up for yourself and say no.
“You can have all the technical skill in the world, but without a brand to support it, you won’t succeed with your own business.” -Jared Atchison