freelance

Twenty Years as a Freelance Web Developer: Wisdom Gained and Lessons Learned

In the summer of 1998, when President Clinton fended off allegations of sexual impropriety and Donald Trump filmed a cameo in a Woody Allen movie, I embarked on my career as a freelance web developer. Twenty years and more than 300 websites later, I’m still at it—always working on my own and always from home. Over that time, I’ve had the pleasure of partnering with many prominent advertising agencies and boutique design firms as well as scores of local businesses and individuals.

Those interested in making the switch to freelancing have often asked me for advice, and I’ve been happy to help with whatever words of wisdom I can provide. This article is a distillation of much of that. And it may prove helpful not only to developers and programmers who wish to freelance, but also designers, project managers, copywriters—anyone who desires to work independently from home in our industry. It’s a career path that I have loved, but it’s not for everyone.

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Microsites for Case Studies

A lot of y'all have personal sites. Personal sites with portfolios. Or you work for or own an agency where showing off the work you do is arguably even more important. Often the portfolio area of a site is the most fretted and hard to pull off. Do you link to the live projects? Screenshots? How many? How much do you say? How much of the process do people care about?

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Taking Vacation When No One is Paying You to Take Time Off

We're not going to be looking at CSS in this post but we are going to talk about tricks for taking paid vacations when no one is paying you to take time off. I suspect that there are a number of us in the front-end development community who face similar situations and addressing is one way we can figure it out together and hopefully glean ideas that make our work-life balance much healthier.

Client Email Helper

For all you freelancers out there, Jessica Hische has written some copy to help you articulate saying no to things you should be saying no to.

I’ve created this handy tool to help you say “no” to free and low-budget work and to help ask for more favorable contract terms before the start of a project.

How The Heck Do You Hire a Web Design Agency?

Steven Trwoga wrote to me with a perfectly reasonable question:

I have an idea for a website I would like to have built. I believe it would fall into the category of "large project".

I have spoken with, and been quoted by some web design agencies in the UK. However I am not convinced by what I am being told in terms of what can be built and cost.

I have no experience in web design, but I have spent a lot of time reading to help me grasp what can be done and to get a sense of the scale of the project.

I find it to be a minefield trying to find a web designer (or team) by just using search engines.

What advice could we give Steven?

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