That is a very good question. In fact, I think a lot of people have misconceptions about what a freelancer actually is (designer, developer, writer – it all applies). Obviously every freelancer is going to have a different take on what they consider themselves to be but I’m fairly confident that certain key elements remain constant regardless of the person or work or profession.
I receive a lot of design quote requests from potential clients who have either been burned by another designer (company or individual), received a quote that was out of their budget from third party or are looking for considerably low cost services / sometimes freebies (I’m not talking about reduced costs when compared to a larger design firm). The third especially is common and it all boils down to misconceptions about what I, as a freelancer, am.
What a freelancer is not
When discussing a project with a potential client the natural progression of conversation is usually A) Scope of project B) Is this something I can take on C) Budget / Pricing. Step C is where one of the biggest misconceptions of a freelancer comes into play. It is very common for a potential client to view my services in the same light as they would… say… a college intern (which usually work for extremely reduced prices or sometimes for free). I do not fault anyone for this because it’s a common stigma associated with being a freelancer. The fact of the matter is: the vast majority of freelancers are industry professionals with many years of experience both in and out of larger corporations. We, as a whole, are usually not in a position to work for extremely reduced prices and certainly not for free.
Every freelancer has made a personal decision to separate him / herself from a larger corporation in order to better service their clients. In my case I had experienced working for a larger design house where the average website was in the neighborhood of $10,000.00. I felt this to be too high and have put myself in a position to offer the same services as a larger design firm for substantially less costs (both from an operations perspective and a clients budget). I would not be able to do this without years of experience in the industry and the ability to handle multiple roles within a company. I’m constantly surprised at how many people do not give thought to what it takes to be a successful freelancer.
How does a freelancer do it?
The first thing to note is a freelancer must wear many hats in order to be a success. As a freelancer I am the CEO, CFO, COO, Marketing Director, Consultant, and Employee all at once. As such I am responsible for every aspect of making my business successful.
- I am in charge of ensuring a steady flow of incoming business
- I manage the entire financial aspect of my business
- I am responsible for all operations (sales, customer support, technical support, design, development and delivery, customer retention… etc)
- There is quite a bit more but no need to drone on and on
I’ve seen a lot of requests from people who have previously worked with designers/developers overseas that are able to do the job for much less. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with that, sometimes it’s what needs to be done. My only point of note is that the majority of freelancers aren’t in a position to do that. We have a mortgage, car payment, monthly utility/water/electric bill, we like to have food to eat… just like everyone else.
What a freelancer can offer you
That being said one of my favorite things about what I do is providing a service that is just as good if not better than a large corporation for a lesser price (usually substantially). Freelancers in general have a measure of flexibility in what they must charge for their services. This means we can cater to a larger audience, provide services to those who might otherwise not be able to afford them and work with our clients to ensure they get exactly what they are seeking for a reasonable price. I love that there is absolutely no price gouging in what I do (I detest price gouging).
Freelancers are able to deliver a level of personal service that is unprecedented in the corporate environment. How often to you get to get to know the CEO of a company you are purchasing services from? You can rest assured that your freelancer truly has your businesses best intentions at heart (well I can’t speak for everyone, but that’s generally the consensus). A freelancer takes a personal interest in each of their clients and finds the best solution possible. It is a beautiful thing.
Hopefully this helps clear up some misconceptions about what a freelancer is and is not. We genuinely want to help our clients the best that we can.