15 lessons learned from 15 years of freelance web design

Observations on business, design, and process.

1. Freelancing isn’t easy

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

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

3. Set expectations early and often

Overcommunicate and overcommunicate and then communicate some more.

4. Know your worth

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

5. Know your strengths

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

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)

7. Challenge your clients

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

8. Become more valuable

Always deliver more than expected. — Larry Page

9. Be proactive & never stop marketing

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

10. Look after yourself

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

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

12. Look for inspiration outside of the web

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

13. Use good tools

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

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

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

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.

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?

Thanks for listening.

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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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