We often interview veteran freelancers who have the wisdom that comes with experience. But there’s a different perspective to be had from rookie freelancers—they’re still learning, but they’ve got that hungry spirit. There’s a fire and energy that can be inspiring for even the most jaded veteran.
Today we talk with Adam Soucie. He’s a WordPress developer who founded the digital creative agency, Impossibly Creative, in 2015. He also volunteers with WordCamp Orlando and the WordPress Accessibility Team.
“I’ll always choose long-term relationships over short-term gains.” -Adam Soucie
We talked about the power of networking and the importance of building relationships.
How did you get started in freelancing?
Toward the end of my second year working for an agency, I was contacted by a smaller agency that needed some help. The potential billings fell below the threshold where it made sense to make it agency business, so I decided to take on the work at home in my free time. That helped me quickly develop a working relationship.
After doing the math, I realized I’d be able to make as much if not far more on my own. That combined with needing a more flexible schedule due to a family situation at the time, it was the perfect opportunity to branch out on my own and become my own boss.
What’s been the most important contributor to your early success?
I’ve survived because of the networking contacts I made early on. As I shifted into looking for more recurring revenue to offset the feast/famine cycle of project work, my contacts became the basis for that side of my business. Now my monthly maintenance contracts pay the bills and keep a roof over my head. I don’t have to worry about a dry spell in new projects as much anymore.
Where do you think you need to improve as a new freelancer?
Most freelancers I’ve met are terrible sales people. I am too. Like a lot of devs, we’re natural introverts. The idea of talking to people on the phone or in person is legitimately terrifying. I’m actually working with a therapist now to help me overcome those fears so that my business can grow.
Another way to help with those fears is an exclusive networking group in the model of BNI. It puts you in a situation where the other members of the group become an extension of you, become your sales team, while you foster and grow relationships. Those relationships are your biggest asset as a freelancer.
What advice do you have for veteran freelancers? What are veterans overlooking or missing that you notice as a relative newcomer?
I’m constantly told by veteran freelancers that if I want to grow, I need to raise my rates. That kind of advice makes sense in a vacuum, but not in practice. You have to look at your local market conditions because at the end of the day you can only charge what your market can afford.
Building up those recurring revenue streams will allow you to be pickier with your clients, but don’t be afraid to take on a client with smaller billings.
Consider the relationship you can have with those cheaper clients and what outside, long-term benefits they can provide. In the short term, one client that nets you $10,000 for a project is great. But three clients that net you $2,500 each initially, but also become recurring revenue clients and end up referring you to five other clients each is the long-term win. Both are extreme examples, but I’ll always choose long-term relationships over short-term gains.