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15 lessons learned from 15 years of freelance web design

Observations on business, design, and process.

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1. Freelancing isn’t easy

Successful people are simply those with successful habits.
— Brian Tracy

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2. Professionalism, communication, reliability win every time

Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game. Service wins the game. — Tony Allesandra

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3. Set expectations early and often

Overcommunicate and overcommunicate and then communicate some more.

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4. Know your worth

The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for. — Maureen Dowd

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5. Know your strengths

If you spend your life trying to be good at everything, you will never be great at anything. — Tom Rath

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6. Learn to say “NO”

Every time you say no, it allows you to say one more yes. Every time you say yes, it forces you to say one more no. — Daniel (my osteopath)

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7. Challenge your clients

My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions. — Peter Drucker

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8. Become more valuable

Always deliver more than expected. — Larry Page

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9. Be proactive & never stop marketing

Brand yourself for the career you want, not the job you have.

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10. Look after yourself

Don’t confuse having a career with having a life. — Hillary Clinton

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11. Ignore trends

There is a cool/tool spectrum and we always want to be more tool than cool. Being a tool means you’re useful. Being cool means you’re ephemeral. — Yancey Strickler, Co-founder Kickstarter

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12. Look for inspiration outside of the web

We compare our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.

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13. Use good tools

Efficiency is no longer an option but a necessity imposed on all human activity. — Jacques Ellul

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14. Web design observations

What separates design from art is that design is meant to be… functional. – Cameron Moll

Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration. — Jeffrey Zeldman

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15. Yes, you need to code

Front-end code (just HTML and CSS; let’s forget Javascript for now) is intrinsically linked to the design process. It’s a design tool just as much as Photoshop. — Elliot Jay Stocks

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It’s OK to suck at freelancing

An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail. — Edwin Land

But if it is, it’s magical.

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Tasman + Pacific

Are you freelance branding expert, designer, developer, marketer, strategist, or any other digital professional at the top of your game looking for something a little different?

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Written by

I’m a UX/UI designer from Auckland, New Zealand. Writing about freelancing & business for indie designers & creatives at https://solowork.co

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