More and more B2B (business to business) transactions are currently moving to the web, so it is no surprise that web designers have seen this as their traditional source of business since the beginning. Except for the largest of companies, most companies do not have an internal web design and maintenance department, so most web designers, out of necessity, work as freelancers. Outside of word of mouth, networking, or having a successful website that draws in your assignments, the best way for web designers to find work today is on freelance sites that match clients with providers such as web designers.
There are important tips to follow to make sure yours is the bid that gets accepted on these sites.
1. Have an excellent profile. Take your time to write a carefully thought out and professional profile. If you include your photo, make sure it is a professional looking one, and not you and your dog. Many freelancers post their logo instead of a photo. Include samples, references and the types of work you have done in the past. Keep your profile updated with interesting jobs, any new experience or certifications or education you may have received.
2. Have excellent references. There are two ways to do this. Freelance sites have a rating system whereby customers (satisfied or unsatisfied) can rate a contractor’s performance. Deliver the best quality work and request a rating for each job you have done. If you receive a low or negative score, respond to it, but without whining: professionally explain what caused the problem. If you are new to the freelance site, you will not have any ratings, so create your own by quoting past clients on your profile. Get their permission to use their names and companies.
3. Specialize. Web design is a very wide field, and most designers have probably fallen into a niche, based on what they like to do, what they know the most about, or references from one firm to the next in a certain field. Use this to your advantage by calling yourself a specialist in this area.
4. Look for underserved markets. If you check the number of web designers on each of the freelance sites you bid on, you may be surprised at how large your competition is. It may be difficult to compete against this kind of supply of providers, so look for areas that the others may be overlooking. Some sites, such as Elance.com, carry a section that shows the trends of where business demand is coming from and which jobs get the most bids. Buck the trend and try your hand at narrow niches with not a lot of competition.
5. Always keep looking. Check your sites every day. Most of the jobs on offer sit there for weeks at a time while the hirer decides, but new jobs are being posted every day, and if you are not there every day as well, you will miss out on those rush jobs that are listed and filled quickly. These often pay the best as well.
6. Build a good proposal. Your profile should tell everyone about your strengths and qualifications. Don’t waste precious real estate in your proposal reiterating how wonderful you are. Your customer is looking to get something done, and you can do it. Specifically tell them how you can meet their needs and solve their problems.
7. Quote a fair price. You know what your work is worth, and what the going rate in your field is. In the freelance field, you have to take two other items into consideration. You are not in an office, working full time for an employer, so don’t expect to get the same per hour rate. You have eliminated many of the costs of being an employee, and your rates need to reflect this. Your competitor’s will. In addition, when you are just starting out, you may have to bid a little low in order to get those first jobs, and first top reviews. Consider it a cost of doing business and plan on making it up later.
8. Be responsive. If you have bid on a project, and haven’t heard for a while, follow up (as long as it has not been awarded). Advise them that you are happy to answer any questions, that you are setting your work schedule, or that you read something interesting in their field. If you receive a question from a prospective client, answer immediately (another reason to check every day). Don’t let them wonder if you will be just as unresponsive once you get the job.
If you want to work with different clients than you have to know they are safe and reliable to work with. Check this out to find easy ways to do a background check on any of your clients or employees.
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