I’ll come right out and say it: I hate making decisions. Whether it involves deciding on the best hard drive to purchase or choosing the itinerary for a day trip – the process makes me feel uncomfortable and anxious.
The origins of my struggle date back to childhood. I believe it’s a combination of worrying about what others will think and wanting to please them. The irony is that indecision can indeed become a source of frustration for those around me.
It’s also not lost on me that I became a freelance web designer. Running a business puts one into a position of making lots of decisions – big and small. How did I end up here?
Personal limitations aside, freelancing requires us to be decisive. And the direction we choose has a direct impact on our success and happiness.
With that in mind, here’s a sampling of some important decisions you’ll need to make. Along the way, I’ll share some tips for making the right choices.
What Technologies to Invest Your Time In
Freelancers wear many hats – but we can only carve a niche in so many areas. As such, the technologies we embrace have to be the right ones for us and our clients.
However, the decision isn’t always easy. Technology encompasses a huge swath of the web design industry. It covers programming languages, frameworks, content management systems (CMS), APIs, and all manner of software.
Determining what makes sense for your business is complicated by a nearly endless array of options. Each has a learning curve, along with benefits and drawbacks.
The choices you make are also personal. Factors such as comfort level, long-term stability, and cost are just the beginning. Plus, depending on the type of technology, switching gears later may not be easy.
Perhaps you’ve established a workflow before going freelance (you’re lucky). For the rest of us, there are a few dozen decisions to make.
Setting Prices and Terms
If you plan on getting paid for your work, pricing is a major decision. It can also be among the most gut-wrenching for freelancers.
First and foremost, you’ll want a pricing structure that ensures you can make a living. Your rates not only have to boost your bottom line during good times – but they’ll also need to sustain you during the bad.
From there, it’s worth considering your place in the market and the type of clients you’re hoping to work with. Most of your competition won’t be publishing their pricing. Thus, you may have to do some sleuthing to determine the going rate.
Plus, how you price your services is as important as how much you charge. For instance, will you charge an hourly rate or set pricing on a per-project basis? A combination of both may even be appropriate in some situations.
All told, the goal is to implement a pricing structure that allows you to thrive while providing value for your ideal clients.
How to Manage Client Relationships
When it comes to working with clients, there are several key choices to make. Each one impacts your business in both the short and long term.
Perhaps the biggest decision is whether to continue a client relationship after a project launches. Do you want to be in the loop for ongoing maintenance? Or would you rather hand off the finished product and move on?
The path you choose has a direct effect on your finances and the type of clients you work with. Long-term relationships are a great way to produce recurring revenue – but it also means more responsibility.
Working on short-term projects, on the other hand, may mean keeping a fully-booked calendar so that you don’t miss out on income. It also limits your potential clientele to those who are comfortable with this type of arrangement.
Then there are decisions regarding how you handle client requests, support, meetings, and project estimates. Together, they’ll determine much of how you spend your time.
Making Business Decisions (Without Too Much Trouble)
Given my aforementioned phobia of decision-making, you might be wondering why I dedicated an article to it. There are a few reasons.
First, it’s an important part of being a freelance web designer. Indecision in some areas can lead to major struggles. Let them go for too long and the choices may be made for you – instead of by you. And there’s no guarantee that you’ll like the result.
In addition, I’ve found that it’s possible to improve decisiveness over time. By thinking about and preparing for these decisions, you can gain more confidence in your ability to make them. This makes the process a bit easier.
And even if things don’t work out, there’s often a chance to revisit your decisions. You can change your pricing structure, adopt a new workflow, or tweak client policies. We all make mistakes. The bright side is that most things aren’t set in stone.
Therefore, if you’ve put off some important decisions for too long – it’s time to think about taking a stand. If I can do it, so can you!