In a new series of interviews, we’re talking with veteran freelancers to learn from folks who have been around the block in their WordPress freelance careers.
Today we talk with Tracy Apps. She’s a creative problem solver. Tracy designs, she codes, she does user experience (UX). Tracy also does video, photography, strategy, social media, and more. You can see why she calls herself a “big picture do-er”—she comes up with ideas and gets them done.
She’s been doing this kind of work since 2001, so the veteran label definitely applies.
“Technology keeps changing, so as soon as I stop learning, I stop providing the best solutions for my clients.” -Tracy Apps
We talked with Tracy about how her work has changed and how she keeps improving.
How has your work changed over the years? What’s changed in your approach or your business since you started?
It has changed a lot! But not only has my work with WordPress continually improved in quality, so has my mindset in how I approach projects and sell solutions to clients. First off, I no longer think of myself just “making a website,” but instead I spend extra energy to think bigger picture, and develop a much more holistic solution for my clients to achieve their goals both now and in the future.
One big change I made was becoming more confident in my own knowledge and experience. When I started, I relied on the “customer/client is always right” mentality, especially since I wanted to ensure having happy clients. However, I started realizing that clients very regularly ask for things that were not in their best interests, so implementing these solutions for them created a sub-par product or site, and therefore the client suffered.
So as I matured in my career, I have changed to “the client has expertise in their field, and I in mine.” Now instead of listening to what the client asks for, I listen (and question) for why the client asks. Then I pull from my expertise to solve the real issue at hand. The result was much happier clients, even when I had to challenge their requests.
How did you break through and become successful? What strategies or approaches seemed to work the best?
The main breakthrough has been networking, plain and simple. Getting out from behind my computer to attend community events, to learn, teach, and connect with others. Not only does this help build my network, but also continually improves my skill set and my mental health.
What mistakes have you made over the years that you’ve learned from?
The biggest one is lowering my prices or fighting to be the cheapest solution. That just didn’t fit me, and it just would burn me out with too much unfulfilling work.
While you are a veteran, there are always areas where we can learn and grow. Where do you think you need to improve?
In all the ways! Technology keeps changing, so as soon as I stop learning, I stop providing the best solutions for my clients. I cringe anytime someone refers to themselves as an ‘expert’ or a ‘guru’ in technology, because I fear that puts us in a mindset that we know everything there is to know, and prevents us from keeping our ears and eyes open for new and changing knowledge in our field. I will say that I have expertise in something, but that applies to every single one of us. Instead I’m just a constantly fascinated, continually curious, multidisciplinary creative student.