For obvious reasons, most web development resources, including this one, focus on making web pages. But to achieve long-term success, the business of web development – making a portfolio, getting work, writing solid contracts, and managing clients – is equally important.
Goals: Learn the basic skills of running a web development business as a freelance developer / designer; create a promotional portfolio.
Required Skills: none
Total time (core material): 10 hours
Finding & Getting Work
While it’s not a primary focus of getting work, the following articles do address what DRM is, why it fails, and how to promote your work by giving it away:
I’d also suggest reading Janna Haggan’s A Student Guide To Web Design Portfolios and Jeffery Zeldman’s “Help! My Portfolio Sucks”
Time Tracking and Invoicing
Web development work often demands that you juggle several tasks at once, making it difficult to keep track of the time spent in any one project and causing invoicing to be not much better than guesswork. Using reliable time tracking software is essential, at the same time, you may want to consider using a different billing process that takes into account the “scope creep” encountered in every project.
The most important aspect of working with clients is communication, and a big part of that is educating them in how to communicate their needs effectively. My article “How to talk to a developer” can work as a useful guide for clients.
Read Design is a Job, by Mike Monteiro (eBook, US$9), and How To Get The Work You Want, by Daniel Mall (free).
When You’re Done
Putting together a successful web development business takes years of work, and any “practice” in the field absorbs both money and time. Short of gaining a mentor, one of the best ways to succeed is learning from good business studies. The ongoing “Build a Site From Start To Finish” series on this site takes on a ambitious development job from the very start, including client negotiations and initial communication; it could well be worth your time to read it.
Photograph by Steven Connors, licensed under Creative Commons
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