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    Where are you getting this from?

    My own experience. I’ve went down that path and it only lead to struggles until I started charging.

    There are loads of professionals who do this sort of thing to get started. It’s just not in web design.

    Please go on. Usually those professionals will already have a salary (low) and work on commission based on bringing clients in.

    There aren’t many costs involved either, other than your time.

    Hosting, domains, design tools. I forgot those are all free.

    Make sure to read my last paragraph. I agree with Allen that word-of-mouth is valuable. But doing it for free in the process will not get you the clients you’re probably seeking.


    Doing work for free because the client is “a friend” is one thing; doing it to “get your foot in the door” is a mistake. If that’s how you get started, then it will always be difficult (if not impossible) to charge a legitimate rate to that customer (and likely, to any customers you get through them). The only way out is to find new customers.


    You know, I’ve done some free work myself. Some of those clients turned into paying customers, but I can say that a few haven’t. I suppose you need really good judgment in this area, and though the general consensus is not to do free work, there are a few cases where you might. I think it also has a lot to do with how you present yourself and the expectations you have.

    @chrisburton It seems that some haven’t had such great luck with charity work either:

    “As for charities, I’ve also done my share of those freebies. Unfortunately, they have never worked out. The one rule I always put forth for charitable work is that I do one version and that’s what they get. They asked me to do the work because I am a professional, so they need to trust my professional ability. The evil part is when someone on the board of directors or one of the elders with time on his/her hands wants to play art director so they can boast to their friends about how they “designed the web site,” is when I have to walk away. I’ve done plenty of walking while the charity finds an art student to design the work for free.” Source

    Oh, and this website cracks me up! Man after finding Jessica Hische on Twitter I literally can’t stop laughing now. Handerpants, really?


    @Dustin Dude, you should watch her talks. She gave a talk about “procrastiworking”. Basically her advice was the whatever you are doing when you should be working is what you should be doing professionally. Someone wrote to her and said something like “so I should play my xbox and masturbate all day?”. I died.

    Found it. Watch this!


    Hi guys, this is all interesting stuff and I can agree with points you’ve all made. Ultimately, it comes down to the individual situation. Actually it’s not entirely free, he pays me a small fee to spend time with him every week going over changes I’ve made and giving him some advice etc… I like what Allen said about over delivering as that is exactly what I’m trying to here.

    I also see this is a kind of education for myself. Once I’m out in the real world as a web designer, I need to be able to meet the needs of my clients with confidence. If I’m still struggling with cms at that point, I’m going to be pretty screwed.

    Anyway, I am currently playing around with CodeIgniter and WordPress. I’m pretty sure I could migrate the site over to WordPress, my concern is whether I can make it function in the way I need to.. my php skills are minimal. Also, can I create unique pages such as an about page with its own styling etc? I’m sure the answer is yes, so in that case, I need some pointers on how to do that..
    Would it be similar to the process of creating archive pages etc?

    Many thanks for all the help :)


    What tool you use to build doesn’t matter. Whether you use CI, RoR, Express, WordPress, Django, etc… doesn’t matter. All client wants is a professional that manages the expectations and delivers on what’s agreed up on.

    Being honest about your skill level is very important to the client. Once money starts exchanging hands it’s no joke anymore. If you promise something you can’t deliver, the interactions become very uncomfortable for both you and the client.

    It becomes a conflict rather than collaboration.

    If you are just starting out, in my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with taking on work for free. Working for free can take many forms.

    Free is not only for asshole businessman.

    Don’t allow people to seek you out for free work, but instead look around you, what kind of problems is your community facing. Maybe your local library needs website maintenance. Volunteer. Learn. Interact.

    It’s a great way to learn about certain nuances when it comes to interacting with people. Which is REALLY important. IMO, coding is just 20% of the pie.

    Problem! We do not know your financial situation and your means of living. So it’s a question of can you live and provide for your self? This is where you need to find the balance.

    It would be silly not to be in control of that decision.

    PS: I’ll throw in Laravel as PHP framework of choice. I have limited experience with others so take that as is. WordPress would be nice in your arsenal. It is the most popular platform out there. And everyone wants a blog… or is it Web App now.

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