Apart from the design and development of your website, you need a domain name and a hosting account to publish your website to the web. The domain (yourname.com) is the address you associate your website with. This is what your visitors will type in to locate your website. The hosting account is the physical web space that your website sits on. Your website consists of files that sit on a computer (just like files on your own computer) that are then served and made viewable online.
Where can I get a domain name and hosting account?
You have many options when it comes to domain names and hosting accounts. You can buy your domain from one company and your hosting from another. I prefer to keep everything in one place so it’s easy to manage. A typical domain costs anywhere from $7 to $15 a year and hosting costs start at around $4.00 a month. I recommend a company called Hostgator. They’re reliable, cheap and very easy to work with. You can get your domain and hosting through them.
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.
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.
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'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.
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.
I've been coming across a lot of older websites using some pretty horrific fonts. Long story short I couldn't sleep and decided to make a T-Shirt idea. Now I just need to figure out how to make T-Shirts.
Even worse than coming across old sites with bad fonts is coming across new websites with bad fonts. In fact, I saw a website yesterday using Papyrus ALL OVER THE PLACE. I'm sorry... are you writing a scroll? Are you from the past?
Here's what it would look like on a shirt. Guess I'll have to sort that out.
GoDark.us a Google Custom Search Engine is a dark (black) version of Google which delivers all of the results of Google with a dark look and feel.
The site was up for a couple of years with a fairly large following but I experience unexpected data loss around October and this is one of my sites that was affected by it. I've finally got an older version up and running and will be getting it back up to it's former glory as soon as I am able.
For now the basic functionality is there. It performs Google queries and returns the results just as Google does only it's dark instead of white.
More updates to come as time permits. Apologies to all the fans of Google Dark. I was also upset by the loss of this site and am happy to at least have some semblance of it's former workings back.
I'm asked by many of my clients as well as by other designers how I do what I do. For those of you who do not know I am a Freelance Website Designer who specializes in HTML, CSS, Graphic Design, PHP, MySQL and everything in between. I love what I do and would be lost without my toolbox of websites, graphic programs, and my favorite IDE (what I write my code in).
I'm speaking only for myself here, all designers, developers, hobbyists etc all have their own ways of doing things. This is what works for me... how I get down if you will.
I rock Linux. I have for years. There are many reasons why but I think the most important to me is that it's free, stable, and I NEVER have problems with it. There are many many distros of Linux... my favorite is Ubuntu. Linux is great stuff but this isn't what we're talking about.
I also use Windows XP in a virtual machine within linux... I use this for Illustrator and Photoshop by Adobe. Yes, that's Windows only use to me.j
Primarily I use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. There's not much to say about them except they get the job done very very well in my opinion. Intuitive, easy to use and fun. I do all of my graphics for myself and my clients with the use of these two applications. Many have asked why I don't use something like Gimp since I run Linux... it's simple, I can't get the hang of Gimp. It's great, you can do a lot with it, but I'm horrible with it. I've tried making the jump and my production slows by 1/2 at least. There is a learning curve that I'm never able to endure due to time constraints. Maybe some day I can ditch Windows completely.
I have tried a million and one different design applications to build the websites after I've made my designs. I've drawn two conclusions... 1.) A lot of them aren't for me... the code is too sloppy and since I don't use design view I don't need the bulk of most of them. 2.) Why spend money on applications when there are free alternatives?
I use Aptana. It's free, works in Linux and allows me to work directly on my servers via ftp. That along speeds up my production more than I can say. It's easy to use, I can customize it how I need, It uses code highlighting which is handy when you've been staring at two thousand lines of PHP for 8 days and it's free. Yeah I know I said that, but it's true. It's free. They have a paid version, but I don't need it.
I use Google Docs. Also free. It's great, does everything I need it to. I can search through my notes to locate things instead of flipping through 400 sheets of paper looking for a color code or ftp username. I can take them with me wherever I go. While I have a home office, it's nice to get out of the house every so often, hit up a coffee shop, visit other designers I know for a day, etc. I love that I can access my notes from my laptop regardless of where I am.
I also have a list of web comics I like to frequent. It's important to take a break every now and then.
Well, that's about it. I'd be happy to answer any questions about what I do or how I do it.
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