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February 26 2014

14:00

February 21 2014

14:00

February 07 2014

14:00

15 Smartphone Apps You Should Have

With smartphones now enabling more mobile Internet accessibility, you are given limitless opportunities- and smartphone apps you should have on your smartphone. The mobilization of the Internet access has provided people with unlimited opportunities.

Imagine these scenarios: You’re in café and you suddenly wanted to check an e-mail? Pick your iPad or tablet PC, and voila, you could read what the e-mail is. You’re on a bus trip to the other side of the States and your best friend told you to check out his new Facebook photo. You pick your iOS7 phone and start browsing. You want to tweet in a conference, your Android phone is yours for the taking. With a readily available Internet connection, it has become easier to browse the Web.

Live View (iOS) – A great graphic designing and prototyping tool that allows a remote screen view.

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What the Font (iOS)  – Want to know what font your favorite brand is using? Take a picture of it and let this tool do the magic.

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Palletes (iOS)  – Create charming color schemes anywhere, anytime. You can also determine the color of a particular image and use it on your website. Just open the app,  pick a color from a photo or website that you like and add it to your color palettes for future use.

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HTTP Status Codes Free  (iOS) – Troubleshoot your webpages by identifying the HTTP error codes.

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Coffee Script at Once (iOS)  – Develop HTML, CSS and JS languages using your phone or tablet.

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Free WiFi Finder (iOS)  – Use it to locate WiFi hotspots closer to you. Great for outdoor browsing!

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iFreelancer (iOS)– Are you a freelancer? This app will help you search, save and apply for freelancing opportunities out there!

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HTML5 & CSS Quick Look Guide (Android) – This will provide you with the basic training you need in CSS and HTML5!

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920 Text Editor (Android) – Want a text editor that is e-reader enabled, multilingual, particularly easy to use? 920 Text Editor is the one for you. You’ll never know when that coding itch bugs you.

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Sketcher (Android) – Do your page layout or simple graphics anytime, anywhere. With Sketcher now saved on your phone’s memory, you will easily sleep at night and not worry if the computer has a virus or something. And, you can sketch all you want!

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WordPress for Android (Android) – Love WordPress? This is the best app for you. You can blog anytime or anywhere. Perfect for travel bloggers!

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VT View Source  (Android) –  A fully functional app, compatible with all browsers, that allows you to view the underlying HTML code of the website

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Magic Color Picker (Android) – Sometimes we are too engrossed in designing and we find it necessary to look for the color hexes of things. This one is made to do it. So in case you want to know what kind of orange does an orange have, this one is perfect.

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Fontroid (Android) – So, I heard you like fonts? Maybe you’ll want to make one right? Try this!

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Adobe Photoshop Express (Android) – Edit photos wherever you are using your mobile phone. Experience the power of Adobe Photoshop right at your fingertips. Editing your selfies has never been better with this app!

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Conclusion

With all these apps available over the Internet, I’m pretty sure web designers can never be happier. It’s possible that, someday, we’ll even be able to actually design a website using our mobile devices. And that is not a far shot. But for now, let’s indulge ourselves with these. Easy to access, mobile and equally powerful applications that will make our good lives, better.

February 03 2014

14:30

Expert Tips When Creating and Selling Fonts

Fonts are essential for the feel of the website. Font developers, like you, need to be smart when creating and selling fonts. In media, where typefaces are very much used, fonts have changed in the same rate as any other web page elements, adjusting to the need and time of its use. As there are people who are able to read, fonts will continue to evolve in its styles, uses and forms.

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Photo by Juan Joro

With that being said, the growing importance of font designers is also heightened. Because of the need for constant development, typefaces should adapt to the changes that the users demand, ergo, the talent and skill to create aesthetically beautiful and purposely readable fonts.

Actually, creating your own font is pretty rad. Imagine seeing your own handwriting or something you developed being used in designs and even in websites. At the most, if you have been trained well and created awesome designs, you could even sell your fonts! So it’s really a pretty good thing to learn.

This article will help you achieve that goal. 1stWebdesigner will be very much willing to teach you the following:

  • Things you need to know before designing a font
  • Shall I sell it or give it away for free?
  • Tools you might need to use, and some alternatives

With these points, let’s see if you can stand up to the challenge of being great font-designers and developers.

What do I need to know before starting to design my own font?

Sun Tzu once said,

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle”

You’re probably wondering why I wrote that. Well, those words should be the guiding principle in designing your own fonts. Knowing your ‘enemy’ and ‘yourself’ is a sure-shot weapon on making magnificent and potentially sellable typefaces. Once you mastered these principles, you can truly design fonts as sharp as the samurais.

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Photo from Career Girl Network

The first thing to keep in mind is your ‘enemy’. Now, who is your enemy? Let’s just say your enemy is your target. What is your purpose for designing this font? Knowing where to use it and to whom you shall use it for will be the key in making fonts that impact (pun intended) in the world of web design.

Ask yourself:

  • Am I targeting kids for this design? If yes, then, design a comical font.
  • Am I targeting professionals here?  If yes, then, you might want to think of a typeface that would suit them.
  • Do I want to see my handwriting on the computer screen? If yes, then you might want to think of a font that will suit this answer.

You should be careful in targeting your audience because you might fire a stray bullet and hit the ones you’re not targeting. So keep in mind that fonts have their specific uses for specific purposes.

Try reading: Font Police: 20 Fonts to Avoid to Maintain Your Readers’ Sanity

Next, consider if what type of font you will use. There are a few types of fonts out there. What you need to do is to know where to place your font in these categories. Doing this will easily make your font sellable and searchable in case you wanted to make money out of them.

Read Working with Types: Typography Design Tutorial for Beginners for the different types of fonts.

After knowing what font you will use, you will be challenged to know what fonts to suit you. As a designer, you probably have your own niche. Are you comfortable with script fonts? Do you prefer comical fonts rather than formal ones? What will make your design workflow easier, faster and better?

You need to address those cases and try to look at your own designs. Assess your strengths and play with them. If you are good at formal typefaces, then go for it. Learn where are you going to put yourself and also where to have fun doing it. Remember, if you love what you do, your target will  love what you make out of your designs. So choose.

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Shall I sell my fonts or give them away for free?

Now this is a pretty good question. Say, you were able to design a handful of awesome fonts. Your friends are pressuring you to sell them out so that you could take them out for dinner. And now, you come to ask yourself, “Can I really sell these?”

The answer is yes. Though the second question will arise, will they buy it? Now that’s another good question.

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Making people actually buy your fonts could seem very difficult, though, very possible. With the Internet growing more vibrant as each day passes by, you are basically given an unlimited number of people wanting fonts. Now, with a growing number of demands, your fonts will be competing with other designers which, in some ways, could be better than you. Now, how do you win? Try these:

  • Foundry Method – Foundries are font manufacturers. They distribute typefaces to a lot of outlets like web shops and resellers so it’s a pretty big opportunity to sell your font through them. It is an exclusive deal as the foundry will maintain the right to sell the font you designed as dictated by the contract. In return, you will be given royalty.

Good points of this method:

  • It requires minimal to zero business knowledge. The foundry will take everything in. No headaches.
  • They can improve your design and make it more sellable.
  • Foundries protect you from piracy and misuse.
  • You can focus on designing more fonts rather than thinking about how to sell them.

Bad points:

  • Little to no control at all with the method of selling the fonts.
  • You will receive only a portion of the earnings.

Things to consider about your foundries:

  • The niche of the whole foundry.
  • Their assistance to the production of your font.
  • Target market of the foundry.
  • Length and terms of the contract.

Here are some foundries you’ll want to take a look at.

  • Reseller Method – Resellers offer fonts from a lot of different foundries. What they do is they sign contracts with font publishers or foundries and sell the fonts in the latter’s library. They receive a particular percentage from selling the fonts. Each reseller can have different and various customers. It’s up to them how to sell the fonts.

Good points:

  • You could be able to reach more diverse markets, hence, more customers.
  • You could maintain the brand pricing and rights with different resellers.

Bad Points:

  • You need to know a lot about business.
  • You have to share your earnings with the reseller.

Things to consider about your foundries:

  • Who are their clients?
  • Are they pretty respected?
  • What are their methods?
  • What fonts do they actually sell?

Here are some resellers you can visit: Graphic Design Forum

  • Forever Alone Method – if you think you can handle it, you could go by yourself. Though it may be pretty scary to sell fonts on your own, it can give you a very good value boost. But it could be pretty difficult as you have to have great designs that stand out to do this.

Good points:

  • You have full control over your design and selling strategy.
  • You could take home 100% of the profit.
  • You can establish a name for yourself.

Bad Points:

  • You need to know a lot about business.
  • It requires less time on designing, more on selling.
  • It is pretty difficult to go in the system.

Tools you might need to use and some alternatives

As you will be delving into the world of font creation, you will appreciate the following tools, which will make your life easier and your designing experience, more fun.

For Drawing the Fonts

  • Paper and Pen – very rudimentary, yes, but this method is still accepted. If you have a cool handwriting and a pretty decent pen and a clean sheet of paper, you’re on the go. You could just scan it afterwards. (Tips: Draw big to achieve higher resolution and detail)

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Photo by Jeenie Green

  • Pen Tablet Input Tool – this is for serious designers. This will cost you money but will spare you from scanning the fonts. So it’s also a good deal.

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Photo by James

  • For Editing the Drawings

 Adobe Illustrator –Adobe Iillustrator is a very versatile tool to vectorize your fonts. It’s pretty complicated but learnable.

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Photo by Viktor Hertz

GIMP – GIMP is very easy to use, though, lacking the features that Illustrator possesses.

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  • For Rendering the Fonts

Fontographer ($350) – easy to use yet powerful font editor. You can design typefaces, customize existing fonts and it displays them in high resolution!

FontLab Studio ($650) – is a professional font editor used by major computer companies and most font foundries. It is very comprehensive and yet flexible software that targets professionals and amateurs alike.

Fonstruct(free) – is a fully operational web-ran software that allows you to create your own fonts. You can register as a user to be able to render your design.

Other free tools here!

Conclusion

The creation and selling of fonts just proves that the typeface is important in any aspect of design. Creating new typefaces signifies that this notion is still alive and moving. With newer designs emerging almost every day, it’s pretty good to see that it adds a sense of uniqueness in the design, making it more viable for income. Truly, when you learn how to make fonts, you’ll be in places you’ve never been.

January 17 2014

14:00

How to Ace Your Freelancing Career

Has it ever occur to you how to ace your freelancing career? Freelance web designing is not an ordinary job. If you dip in the puddle of the freelance industry, you’ll discover that these people are a lot more creative and productive than those who work at desks and offices. Surely, they don’t earn the way people at desk jobs do but freelancers have the absolute and ultimate liberty on how well they utilize their time, and, in most cases, where they utilize it.

As a freelancer, you can work anywhere, anytime. You can design your website in a desk, an office, a coffee shop, in the bathroom – you name it. Freelancers have the greatest gift of all: Freedom. However, this freedom isn’t really that ‘free’. As a freelance web designer, you need to work with people, deadlines and the greatest enemy of all time, procrastination.

So, what will you do to become a smart freelancer? Let me share with you these simple tips:

Have a Routine

In basketball, the best free-throw shooters follow a routine. It’s not a foolproof solution to bad free-throw shooting but it helps. It allows you, the player, to focus and condition your mind into thinking that you are shooting a free-throw and nothing else.

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Photo by Kate Parker

In freelancing, this is also applicable. Having a daily routine for your tasks is advantageous. It allows you to condition your mind into working. Plus, you are able to manage your time properly. Set goals and arrange them according to urgency and importance. Balance all the things that need to be done and judge what needs to be done first.

Prioritize

Remember when I said that you need to arrange every task according to importance? You need to know what projects should be done first and what are the more important ones and should be given more time. Don’t focus on one project only; try to work on the things you want to get accomplished first.

Have you heard of the Pareto Principle? Maybe you could use this great management tool to your advantage.

The basic premise in this principle is to have an 80-20 rule. According to the rule, the 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Meaning, 80% of your project delays, come from the 20% of doing projects you can’t finish.

So next time you take on a project, think how difficult it is to finish and how long will it take for you to have it done. Then compute how much will you earn over the effort. The result will determine the priority of your project.

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Photo by Amy

Tips

  • If the project is less difficult, put it first. That way, before you spend a big chunk of your time on a difficult and time-consuming project, you’re done with the easy ones.
  • Do the projects that have the earliest deadlines.
  • Focus on the projects that interest you the most.

Choose Between Day or Night

Are you a day or night person? This is a serious and important question to answer. Some people find mornings exciting and invigorating to work. Some find evenings mind-conditioning and could write a thousand lines of code. Either way, you need to find where you belong. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage as a freelancer. Of course, it is a disadvantage because you’ll be dealing with distractions at any point in the day, so you have to resist. But it is more of an advantage because most jobs don’t offer you this flexibility – to work whenever you want.

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Photo by Periwinckle

So choose. By saving time, you take those idle moments when you are not productive as rest hours, giving you time to refresh and recharge.

Give Each Project a Time Limit

Never put your time to waste. Prepare a schedule for your projects. Give each project a time limit, enough for you to actually finish what you’re supposed to do. With that, you will know how much you will be able to do and handle each project with sensitivity and full attention. If you fail to meet the time limit and you feel that extending it will hamper the succeeding items in your schedule, then continue it after everything is done. That way, you will not end up wasting time and finishing nothing.

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Photo by Brice Ambrosiak

Keep Yourself from Distractions

When you work, as much as possible, keep away from distractions: that itching sensation of checking who just sent you a message on Facebook, browsing through the Twitter Feed, or even opening your favorite MMORPG. These things keep you away from what you are supposed to do. Identify what these distractions are and avoid them by all means. This may be difficult at first, but then again, everything is, isn’t’ it?

Invest

Have you felt absolutely flat out? Like, when your imagination cannot produce anything? Or when you cannot work? Well, that’s a very difficult situation. You’re in a ‘block’. So what do you need to do? The secret is simple: outline.

Outlining is an advantageous means of preserving your creativity for more projects. It’s very simple. First, you need to bring your writing materials wherever you go. Bring a pencil or a piece of paper. Next, in your idle time, walk around, have coffee, watch a movie. Do anything. If anything pops up, which I’m sure there will, write it down (or draw it). That way, you’re investing in your own ‘idea bank’ and obtain ideas from it when you need them the most.

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Photo byMarcio Eugenio

Make a Portfolio

As freelancers, you have no character references to offer or any cool and prestigious corporate names to provide. Clients are not be sure how good you are because of this. That is why you need to create a great portfolio. Put your projects, I mean, your best projects in it. This way, when future clients would request a list of what you’ve already done, you can give them your URL and let them see how good you really are.

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Photo by petermailloux.com

Take a Break

Of course, taking a break is important. As websites need to clear caches, or computers need to refresh, you also need to rest. Taking rests before projects allow you to become more passionate and productive! It also keeps you from being sick and tired of what you do. So sit back and refresh – I mean, relax.

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Photo by Steve Beckett

Conclusion

Freelancing sure is difficult and it poses a lot of challenges, but it’s totally worth it. Once you’ve become used to the routine and kept yourself away from distractions, you’ll find yourself enjoying and earning as much as (or even more) than those who have regular jobs! So suit up and become a smarter freelancer.

October 07 2013

06:30

Best Practice: How to Make Your Business Card Work


  

We all love articles that show cool and amazing business cards. They are creative, well-designed, and inspire us to do better with our own cards. The problem is; do they work? Do people keep them, share them with others, but most importantly — do they encourage clients to call you?

September 20 2013

15:28

24+ Reasons Why Blogging Is Good for Freelance Web Designers and Other Freelancers

Should freelancers blog?

In my opinion, this shouldn’t even be a question. There are so many business benefits to blogging that it only makes sense for most web designers and other freelancers to take part. The benefits of blogging far outweigh the disadvantages.

Yet, it seems like every so often someone influential makes the statement that they think blogging is dead. They claim blogging is no longer a good idea for small business. It’s a waste of time, they say. Social media is all the exposure you need, they go on to say.

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Never mind that such well-known blogging experts like Demian Farnworth explain clearly that social media will never replace blogging, as he does in this post on Copyblogger, 8 Reasons You Should Never Quit Your Blog for Google+. There are still those who will proclaim blogging to be a waste of time for freelancers.

In this post, I’ll explore why blogging has fallen out of favor with some freelancing. I’ll also list over 24 ways that your design business can still benefit from blogging.

Why (Some) Freelancers Hate Blogging

For those freelancers who are griping about blogging, I have one thing to say–stop trying to be Pete Cashmore. You’re not (at least probably not) going to found the next Mashable. You don’t have to post every single day. Your posts don’t even have to be words–images and videos will work as well.

And that’s perfectly okay. You can still derive a lot of business benefits from blogging.

Comparing your blog to non-freelance blogs is one of the main reasons I think that many freelancers are tempted to give up blogging. (The other reason being that blogging takes time and work.) But such comparisons are unfair. Most big blogs and news sites were never created to help promote a business. Plus, they almost always have investors on board and a professional staff.

Just because you can’t be Mashable (or any big name blog) doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from having a freelance blog for your design business.

24+ Ways Your Freelance Design Business Can Benefit from Your Blog

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Here are over 24 ways that your freelancing business can benefit from your freelancing blog:

  1. Relatively Low Cost. Yes, blogging costs a little money and takes a little time. However, it’s still a relatively low cost way to promote your design business–especially when you compare it to paying for advertisements.
  2. Controlled by you. It’s true that social media is a free way to promote your business. But don’t rely too heavily on social media. You don’t own the social media sites. Plus, social media sites fail. Does anyone remember Yahoo! Buzz or MyBlogLog?
  3. Builds authority. You can use your freelance blog to show off your knowledge in your area. To do this, create and share hiqh-quality content that is relevant to your specialty.
  4. Grows relationships. The best, most authoritative, blogs tend to have communities that grow up around them. These communities consist of regular commentators who interact frequently with the blog’s authors and readers.
  5. Provides fresh content for search engines. It’s well-known that the search engines tend to favor sites that frequently publish new content. What better way to add new content that with a well-written blog post?
  6. Source of work samples for writers and web designers. Your blog can serve as a sample of your work. What better way to show them what you can do than with your own blog?
  7. Shows off your skills. Your skills aren’t always evident in your portfolio, which only shows the end result. In your blog, you can connect the dots and tell prospects how you worked behind the scene to make that project a success.
  8. A place for your unique voice. No one approaches the design business quite like you. No matter who you are, you have a unique slant on the industry. With your blog, that uniqueness gets a voice.
  9. Gives you an online home. Your freelance business blog is a place where clients, prospects, and colleagues know that they can find you online.
  10. Something of your own to share on social media. If you don’t blog, you will have to share other people’s content on social media. Now, there’s nothing wrong with doing that. You should do that. But it’s also a good idea to have something of your own to share.
  11. More interesting than a static site. If you’ve seen one freelancer website, you’ve seen them all. At least that’s how many of your prospects feel. Add thought-provoking blog posts, and you give your prospects a reason to come back to your site.
  12. Generates leads. Many studies show that business websites with blogs get more traffic. Here’s one of those studies. This one is from Lily Zhu writing on HubSpot, Active Business Blogging Draws in 6.9 Times More Organic Search Traffic.
  13. Competitive advantage. If you don’t have a freelancing design blog, I believe that you are at a competitive disadvantage. Your prospects learn more about you through your blog. If you don’t have a blog and your competitor does, guess who they’ll be learning more about?
  14. Sometimes a source of additional income. Some design blogs do become popular and do provide their owners with an additional income. It doesn’t always happen, but it’s nice when it does.
  15. Branding tool. A blog is a great way to convey your vision for your design business. Ultimately, your blog becomes part of your brand.
  16. Announce new products and services. Are you expanding your business? Did you learn a new skill? Maybe you have a new side gig. Use your blog to help promote these announcements.
  17. Shows you are comfortable with new media. Many clients are looking for someone who is knowledgeable about social media and blogging. Having a blog shows that you understand just how important new media is and also that you know how it works.
  18. Share more than just words. Use your blog to showcase your design work, record a video about web design, or even share some of your favorite photographs.
  19. Inspire people to action. Blogs can be a great source of inspiration. If a prospect is sitting on the fence, uncertain about whether to hire you, a blog can be the difference that gets you the business.
  20. Give clients an extra way to connect. The best business blogs also showcase client success. Interview a satisfied client and share how your services helped them.
  21. Improves your communication skills. Communication is an important skill for freelancers. We communicate through proposals, email, phone calls, and in many other ways. Blogging is a great way to hone your communication skills.
  22. Can provide the core for a book. Many bloggers have turned the topic of their blog into a book. Some freelancers have gotten book deals through a traditional publisher, others have published an eBook. Authoring a book only enhances your reputation.
  23. Prequalifies client inquiries. Prospects who contact you because they’ve read your blog tend to be more interested in your services than other clients. Often they already know what type of work you do and what your vision is.
  24. Opportunity to help others. By posting to your business blog, you are giving back to the web design community. If you’re doing it right, you are sharing valuable information that will be useful to your prospects, clients, and colleagues.
  25. Your post won’t be rejected. Guest posting is a popular way for some to promote their products and services. If you’ve ever tried it, though, you know that there’s no guarantee when or if your post will be published. With your own blog, you publish what you want when you want.

With all of these advantages, it makes me wonder why every freelancer isn’t taking advantage of blogging.

My Experience

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My own blog is small. It’s definitely not the next Mashable, nor was it meant to be. However, if I had never started it, I doubt I would be sharing this post with you today.

Sure, I had writing experience. I had years of experience writing technical manuals and creating help systems for software. But it’s my blog that opened the door to writing online content.

Blogging made a difference for my freelancing business and it can make a difference for yours.

Takeaways

The most important point I’m trying to make here is that your design business blog doesn’t have to have hundreds of thousands of page views to be a success. If your blog gets your message out and attracts the interest of potential clients, that is enough.

If you’re struggling to make your design blog work, we have some posts here on Vandelay Design Blog that can help.

Do you have a blog for your design business? Why, or why not?

September 18 2013

06:30

Freelancers Rejoice: Billbooks Helps You Run Your Business Successfully


  

Invoicing is a task that does not appeal to a lot of people. Yet, if it is not done properly, you’ll never get paid for all the great work you’ve done. There is no getting round it. Whether it is Google Sheets or Excel or any other kind of solution, you need an easy and reliable way to administer your bills and expenses. Billbooks is a fairly new service that wants to help you get these things done. We here at Noupe have taken a deeper look at what you can expect…

September 09 2013

06:25

September 06 2013

06:30

Value for Free: What to Give to Get Peoples’ Email Addresses


  

Your blog’s email subscribers are the life and blood of your online business. Your blog is, quite rightfully, judged by the number of subscribers it has. There are many ways to get more email subscribers. One of the most important one of them is giving away something in exchange of peoples’ email IDs. But the question is – what should you be giving?

September 01 2013

13:00

20 Hot Female Web Designers That Will Take Your Breath Away

Sizzling hot designs from hot female web designers will prove that, though web design industry has always been viewed as a world fully packed with men, the best stuff doesn’t always come from them!

Female web designers constantly battle to acquire the top spot in web design industry. Though we cannot speak in numbers, recent blog listing posts is clear evidence of the huge difference in the head count of males and females in this industry. The great thing about knowing this statistic is that, though females are considered extinct in web designing, still most of them are reputable.

Female web designers put their heart and soul on their designs. They even reflect themselves on their works. If there is a saying that you are what you eat; in web designing, we can translate that as “You are what you design!” Having said that, what should we expect from these hot female web designers??

But first let me ask you to hold your breath. To escape from the wrath of the male hot web designers and being accused of being a sexist, let me remind you that this article is made to uplift the spirits of young female web designers. This is to show the little girls out there that web designing is not just a man’s world. To prove that 1stwebdesigner is equal in promoting both sexes in web design, feel free to read this post: 15 Most Influential People in Web Design.

Hot Female Web Designers

1. Rina Miele – @honeydesign

A full-time freelance creative director, designer, providing: web, UI, logo + identity, and typography design.

A lady with a humorous thought. Stalking her Twitter account and an excerpt from one of her interview proved she really is a fun gal, “I make designs and it’s fun and I’ve been doing it practically my entire life and I like colors and when I grow up I wanna be a supermodel and music is awesome and I love watching anything in HD and I love video games, vinyl toys and Lego™ and this sentence is ridiculous” (Rina Miele Interview).

More than ever, her being part of the small population of female web designers made her sizzling hot! Savor sweet designs Honey Designs.

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2. Meagan Fisher – @owltastic

This part of the article will leave you wishing you were an owl! Can we state the obvious? Well, she is the Owl Lover. Imagine what would you feel if you were an owl and this charming lady will stick with you forever!

Meagan is a nocturnal web designer who’s obsessed with typography and textures. You can view her latest works at her dribble account Owltastic.

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3. Kate Hatchett – @katerbca

A young talented designer at hedgehog lab.

More than anything else a female’s intelligence outshines all! Still a student, Kate was invited to join hedgehog lab because of her amazing design talent. Watch Kate Hatchett change the world through her designs.

Hot female designer 11

4. Rita DeRaedt – @ritaderaedt

A pixel enthusiast,  her first copy of Photoshop during her freshman high school year had lead her way to web designing. Why a pixel enthusiast, you say? She has keen eye for details! She is always at her best when designing; that made her a finalist in the .net Awards. Check out Rita’s works.

Hot female designer 18

5. Janna Hagan – @_jannalynn

The worthy winner of .net young designer of the year 2011. She is the creator of A Student’s Guide to Web design. She believes that real-life skills are the most important abilities to acquire if one wants to a web designer. Her stand and action for what she believes in makes her more desirable.

Hot female designer 07

6. Siska Flaurensia – @SiskaFlaurensia

The Pixel Princess. Founder of the Squeeze of Lime Studio. She originally came from the marketing and sales industry. Her solid experience in that field made her more viable in branding, digital design, E-commerce and SEO, web development and hosting. Getting personal, she’s a pretty girl who loves to travel, sing in the car and eat red velvet cupcakes. Siska’s lovely works.

Hot female designer 20

7. Milica Sekulic

The CSS Princess. I salute Milica for believing in girl power. She launched the website CSSPrincess to support women who wish to pursue a web designing career. Let’s know more about Milica.

Hot female designer 14

8. Janelle Hitz – @silkychicken

If we had an owl lover, this one is a unique chicken lover! I didn’t have time to contact her and ask if she loves eating chicken or having them as pets. This is an honest curiosity of mine.

And yes, even her website has a chicken on its name; ChickenPaper.com. Check out her cool stuffs!

Hot female designer 09

9. Hillary Hopper – @HillaryHopper

Hillary was one of the nominees of Top 50 designers on Design Shack. She is a user interface designer for mobile games and applications. View Hillary’s portfolio to be inspired.

Hot female designer 04

10. Renee Rist – @RibbonsofRed

Renee Rist is a recipient of an American design award; “Killed Ideas” People Choice Award and Ohio Country Park Website award.Visit her website and learn the deep meaning of Ribbons of Red – her portfolio and blog in one.

Hot female designer 17

11. Irene Demetri – @youandigraphics

Winner of CSS Design Awards December 2010 and on 2012, the tables were turned and she became one of the jury of the said design awards body. She now run Youand I Graphics and also travels across the globe; it is evident on her website that she loves to travel.

Hot female designer 06

12. Hannah Donovan – @han

A music lover! For five years she led Last.fm and now she is a part of This is my Jam. She continues her league to improve music on the Web. We can say that her designs are rocking, literally!

Hot female designer 03

13. Jessica Hische – @jessicahische

A little girl from Pennsylvania raised by two noncreative people and pursued her dreams of becoming an artist. Jessica proved that we make our own destiny. What we are right now might have been a result of 10% influence and 90% firm decision. Also she is an over-sharer who thought that more than cons, sharing online has more pros.

If you are starting web design career, I would suggest you contact Jessica Hische for sure she will share her professional views.

Hot female designer 10

14. Antonea Nabors – @antonea

For her, a good design will be great if it has a functional aesthetics; we cannot agree more with this! Antonea is a typography lover, iPhone fantatic and a surfer!

Check out her colony at VelvetAnt.com.

Hot female designer 16

15. Liz Andrade – @lizandrade

The Internet nerd and crazy cat lady! And to put two obsession into one she named her cat, Computer!She manages CMDShift Design – a one woman studio specializing in creating complete design solutions.

Hot female designer 13

So far we have an owl lover, a chicken liker and a cat obsessed female web designer. I suggest you start thinking of involving a pet into your web designing career. Studies shows that pets can improve your health – and for web designers who always seat in front of a computer, some might have stress that pets can help relieve.

16. Mindy Wagner – @graphicsgirl

Mindy is really holding her top seat on the male dominated web design industry. On one of her interviews,  she gave advice to our young designers: “You want to find someone who will tell you what’s wrong with your design and encourage you to dig deeper” This is the product of practicing what she preached – Mindy Wagner works.

Hot female designer 15

17. Eva-Lotta Lamm – @evalottchen

I frequently hear someone dreaming of working on Google! Imagine their extremely awesooommmee office and the fame you will get from becoming a part of the most famous search engine! Well, at some point we envy designers like Eva for experiencing that.Hey young girl, you can also experience sliding at Google’s office! View her works and be inspired!

Hot female designer 01

18. Jan Cavan – @jancavan

Oh my glab! She is being followed by Britney Spears on Twitter! How cool is that???

According to what her About page says, she seemed more busy when not designing. Away from design, she spends her time reading, playing arcade basketball, and hiking, volunteering, working on personal projects or random road trips. She also love performing arts, the movies, music, dance, singing, musicals, collecting Happy Meal Toys, DIY furniture and trying to be a badass ukelele player.

Are you surprise on what she does? Not your ordinary girl right? Well, this one will blow your mind. She’s also a break dancer wanna be! Before we can see her successfully break dancing on the floor, we can indulge to Jan’s successful web designs for now.

Hot female designer 08

19. Sarah Parmenter

If you are a young lady aspiring to be a hot female web designer someday, you should know and learn from Sarah Parmenter!

Sarah Parmenter keeps on raising the female’s flag of female web designers. She is the founder of YouKnowWhoDesign.com – a design studio based in Europe since 2003, which specializesin attractive and intuitive interfaces for iOS and the Web. Also, she had been a speaker of many web design seminars and learning sessions.

Hot female designer 19

20. Larissa Meek – @larissameek

An artist, a web designer, host and bikini.com supermodel!!!

More than a beautiful physique and face, her being an outstanding web designer made her more attractive. Not to mention her care for newbies in this industry. Larissa passionately answers queries from seasoned web designers to beginners as we can read on her website.

Please tell me again why these web designers are hot!

Hot female designer 12

Bonus: Interview with Lea Alcantara

lea-alcantara-web-designer

Lea Alcantara is a web designer who runs her own business at  Lealea Design. She was listed as one of the 50 best female web designers in the world. Her article series on The Art of Self-Branding  got a lot of recognition from web designers world-wide.  She also gives occasional talks on branding.

To Conclude

I dug the Internet to find these hot female web designers. I know there are more out there that are waiting to be discovered or were already discovered but I missed, I apologize in advance. If you think you are one of these hot female web designers and you deserve to be mentioned, please comment and let us know how hot you are! We surely will create part two or even three of this article should there be more to include!

August 28 2013

10:00

Finding the Middle Ground: How to Compromise with Clients

No one is right 100% of the time, not even the most experienced and battle-tested professional designers among us. If you’re doing work for a client and they shoot down what you feel is a strong design concept, don’t take it personally.

It’s perfectly normal for clients and designers to have many meetings, going back and forth on design concepts and ideas until they are both are satisfied. Unfortunately, in the process, a few of us who are very passionate about our craft sometimes forget about the client’s opinions.

Here’s the bottom line: Your client needs a website that looks as good as it works, while you need a successfully completed project that’s portfolio-worthy.

Clients might not know what they want out of a design specifically, but they likely know more than you about their industry.

No matter how outrageous their suggestions seem to you, it’s important to maintain an open mind.

The key to a successful collaboration is your attentiveness to the client’s needs, and your ability to design a website that satisfies those needs. The good news is that both are in your control.

Walk a Mile in Your Client’s Shoes

Right from the start, make it a priority to truly understand where the client is coming from. Get to know them and their company, and understand why they are coming to you for the project.

When trying to understand your client and his/her needs, keep the following things in mind.

What is your client’s level of involvement in the project?

How inclined the client is in overseeing the design project will be a major factor in what you will be producing for them.

If they’re very attached to the project, then they will be more particular about the details.

If they are simply overseeing the project, then they will probably be involved more indirectly, at a macro level.

Who has the final say?

Identify the role of the person you will be pitching your design concepts to if you want your strongest design to make it to the end of the negotiation.

Find a way to solve their problems. Appeal to their needs.  If you truly believe in a design idea, find out more about the decision-makers and how you can sell your concept to them, heeding their preferences and concerns in mind.

What is their level of web design knowledge?

Gauge early on the type of diction or amount of jargon your client understands. Use this to your advantage when explaining the reason behind your concepts in order to minimize misunderstanding.

Less tech-savvy clients might not know what they need or how to communicate their needs. Instead of bombarding them with web design jargon — conversion rates, responsive web design, adaptive layouts, font stack, analytics, open source frameworks, UI, UX, bounce rate, CSS, and other conventional terms we use to communicate with other web designers — translate what you want to say in a language they will understand.

You will have much better chemistry during the negotiation, too. Everyone appreciates a smooth operator.

Two Harmful Mindsets You Should Avoid When Working with Clients

Your opinion and expectations on what design would be best for the website you’re tasked in developing might not be the same as your client’s.

During negotiations, the amount that you compromise could very well determine the success of the site. You might have a strong grasp of what’s going on in the web design world, but your client will know more about their industry and target demographic.

There are two very harmful mindsets when working with clients, and every designer can fall victim to them.

"I know what’s right for my client, and they should use my ideas.  No exceptions."

While passion and confidence in the effectiveness of a design are great strengths for a designer to have, step back and look at it from your client’s point of view. The design concept you’ve submitted might be good, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it fulfills the purpose and goals of the site.

Don’t be too attached to your designs.  Step back from what you’re doing once in a while and ask yourself if this is really the best thing for the client’s project.

More importantly, don’t take anything personally. One of the most unprofessional things you can do is get emotionally involved and take rejection the wrong way.

"Whatever the client says goes. I’m just here to do what they say for the money."

This is the other extreme. Actually, this can be more harmful than the previous mindset.

To be frank, if you think of design work like this, then you should review what motivated you to become a designer.

Not only is this mindset harmful to your overall body of work and the success of your website design projects, but it also shows that you do not care.

Every time you submit a design, it should be your strongest possible, while fulfilling the client’s requirements.

Achieving Balance

Finding and harnessing just the right amount of passion for your work is imperative.

Too little passion signals that you are apathetic, and too much can make you take things personally or get too attached to your designs and to being right.

Find a middle ground, where your passion is balanced and your understanding of the client’s needs is clear. A client’s needs will dictate the flow of your work, even if you think they are shooting themselves in the foot by accepting anything other than your ideas.

Disagreements will undoubtedly arise during negotiations, so keep your cool and focus on the goal.

"Do the right thing." When you disagree with an idea that the client insists on implementing, politely suggest an alternative. Be absolutely sure that your claims are 100% accurate, and back them up with quantitative data, such as focus groups and A/B tests. You might also be able to convince them by showing work you have done that turned out to be a huge success.

Necessary Compromise: You Win Some, You Lose Some

Pick your battles, and know when to give in and when to negotiate for something you think would really benefit the client. Something as trivial as the size of a button is not as important when you compare it to the site’s information architecture. Give in on the size of the button, but make sure to get your point across for the site’s structure.

It’s impossible to know everything the client will need without asking the right questions, and it is difficult to handle rejection when you’ve put your heart into doing exactly what you think the client has told you to do. Of course, don’t rub it in if they’re wrong.  A feeling that you’re not on their side will decrease a client’s trust in you.

Be graceful when receiving criticism. The best response is to return with something that satisfies all of the client’s needs, both aesthetic and functional.

With this conceptual approach to negotiations I have discussed, a web designer will appear more desirable to work with and, thus, gain more clients, resulting in a stronger portfolio and more clients — a virtuous cycle of positive outcomes for all parties involved.

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About the Author

Rick Debus is the founder and CEO of Signazon.com, a national e-commerce printing company based in Dallas, Texas. With over 15 years of web design and development experience, he’s passionate about bringing unique and innovative solutions to the Internet. Connect with him on Google+.

The post Finding the Middle Ground: How to Compromise with Clients appeared first on Six Revisions.

Tags: Freelance

August 21 2013

10:00

The Perfect Client is Not So Perfect After All

The Perfect Client is Not So Perfect After All

We all want to work with the "perfect client".

While the word perfect is highly subjective, I can state with some degree of confidence that the "perfect client" for us web designers would be a client that:

  • Gives us complete creative control
  • Tells us what they want
  • Leaves us alone to get the job done (i.e., they aren’t a micro-manager)

However, I can tell you from my experience that having a client that goes overboard on those three things is far from perfect.

My "Perfect Client" Experience

Not long after I started this journey as a freelancer, I was able to secure an ongoing contract with a local church as their media guy.

I create all of their print and digital media, as well as take care of their websites, social media, and online marketing needs.

It’s a really sweet deal. What can be better than working with some nice, polite, church-going folks?

When I first met with the client, I was told what the job would entail and how the day-to-day operation would work.

There were 3 things the client told me (I’m paraphrasing here):

  • "We will not be looking over your shoulder. If we needed to do that, then we might as well just create the stuff ourselves."
  • "We trust your judgment and experience."
  • "We will give you the basic idea and let you run with it."

So, I’m hearing this and I’m thinking, "Can it be? Have I just seen my unicorn? Spotted my white whale? Discover how to turn lead into gold? Have a just found… the perfect client?"

Well, for the first month or so, I really thought I had, but let me tell you why having the perfect client isn’t so perfect after all.

The Issue with Complete Creative Control

Remember the first thing they told me? "We will not be looking over your shoulder."

Well, they really meant it.

And while it’s great that I don’t need to submit several design concepts, or worry about dealing with client requests like "make the logo bigger" and other things web designers don’t like hearing, it’s also nice to know that what you’re doing is in line with what the client really wants.

Feedback is important, especially for freelancers.

Without any sort of feedback from the client — the person who knows the message, mission, and vision for the project the most — it’s hard to make sure you’re keeping true to the project’s objectives.

Every once in while, it’s really nice to feel that shadow falling over your shoulder and hear a throat clearing behind your workspace.

The Issue with No Supervision

One of the biggest reasons why being a freelancer is awesome is that you’re your own supervisor.

You don’t need to quickly minimize your web browser when your boss is about to walk by so she doesn’t see you’re on Reddit. You don’t have to wear headphones so that you don’t disturb anyone (and so they don’t disturb you) as you listen to your favorite music while you work.

Most of the work I do for the church contract is done remotely from the comforts of wherever I want to work at.

There are times where I will work in their office, and they have graciously provided a workspace for me to work at. The times when I do work there, I will see no one else unless I walk by their offices.

It isn’t that they aren’t friendly or talkative or nice, far from it. It’s that I get to work with very little/no supervision.

And you know what happens?

My mind wanders.

I procrastinate.

I pull all-nighters.

Unless I’m asked to create something that they need to have in hand for a meeting in an hour from now, I’m doing anything and everything — rearranging bobble heads, reading blogs, watching YouTube videos. And you know what? Sometimes none of those things have anything to do with the project I’m supposed to be working on. (I have never, and will never, charge a client for idle time. That’s just wrong.)

Just knowing that there is supervision, knowing that someone will hold you accountable for what you did for the day, helps you with productivity.

You work, you create, and you make something that needs to be made faster when there’s some form of accountability external to yourself.

Whether it’s a colleague or a client, it helps to know someone’s there giving you some form of supervision.

I’m a kid at heart. I never say it out loud but, yes, I do need supervision sometimes.

"I Need [This]. Good Luck. Have a Nice Day!"

Usually I’ll be approached by the assistant or one of the department heads in order to be told what is needed for a specific project.

Every once in while, I’ll be called on by the head person-in-charge and be asked to create something.

Usually what happens is that I’m called into the person’s office, they tell me what they’re thinking of doing, and then I’m left alone to make it.

At first, this was awesome.

But after a little bit, not so much.

When you’re given the vaguest of instructions, you’re left wondering all the way up to when the client sees it if you’re indeed producing something even close to what they’re expecting.

If you aren’t given the intended objectives and message a project is supposed to deliver to its users, it can be difficult to produce something good.

It’s like the telephone game (Chinese whispers) but there’s no one else there to play with you and you still lose the game.

A lot of times, when you sync back with the client about the project, you wind up having conversations that start with, "I like it, but I don’t love it" or "Oh, I was thinking you would do something else."

Or my favorite: "No."

Just "No" and nothing else. No new direction, ideas, or feedback that you can work with. Just "No."

The problem is there wasn’t an ongoing conversation while the project was still a work-in-progress. There’s no back-and-forth. There’s no back-story to reference.

It can be nice and liberating to get the minimum of input, do pretty much what you want, and guide the entire public persona of an organization all by yourself.

But that isn’t how it’s supposed to be.

How to Create the Perfect Client

If you’re fortunate to find yourself in a similar situation, make sure you take care of things from the beginning.

When the client offers you complete creative control, thank them for their trust in you and your experience, but also state that you will still need to approach them from time to time to get their input.

Guide them in what you need in order to be able to give them what they need.

Here are some articles to read to help you solicit feedback from your clients:

When the client gives you no supervision, you need to set your own deadlines and milestones. Tell your client when you will have something ready for them to see.

If you need to, motivate yourself to complete projects days or weeks before they are needed so that you have ample time for some back-and-forth.

Here are some articles that will help you plan your projects more effectively:

When the client tells you what they want with the barest of details, you need to ask questions.

Make a checklist or questionnaire that lists all of the details you would need. I guarantee that after the first couple of times, they will start giving you the information you need upfront without you even having to ask.

Some articles to read to help you ask the right questions:

In short, communicate with your clients effectively. In doing so, you’ll create the real perfect client.

Related Content

Source of thumbnail: Meeting at which all participants sit on fatboy Bean bags by Jacob Bøtter.

About the Author

Roy Condrey is the owner of Cajun Pygmy Designs, a full-service web design and web development company in Texas. When not writing, he enjoys spending time with his kids, reading, listening to music, watching movies, designing, coding, and of course, eating. Connect with Roy on Twitter @cajunpygmy, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

The post The Perfect Client is Not So Perfect After All appeared first on Six Revisions.

Tags: Freelance

August 16 2013

14:00

Leaving The Treadmill: The Five Biggest Advantages of Freelance Writing


  

Writers are needed everywhere. It is one of the most ubiquitous professions of the world. Be it newspapers, magazines, comic books, websites, blogs – they all require writers.
You can become a writer in two ways. One – Take up a full-time job in an office of your town that is recruiting writers. Yes, this will be a day job. Two – Offer your writing services to different clients and charge on per project basis. This is known as freelance writing.

July 12 2013

13:00

Ways to Earn Money Online for Web Designers and Web Developers

As of late we’ve been receiving emails from people asking us for tips on how to earn money online as a web designer or web developer. As a response, I’ve written a quick list of things that web designers and web developers can start doing RIGHT NOW to earn sweet money. This post is for designers and developers of any skill level.

If you’re entirely new to web design and web development and you’re looking for resources to help you learn and become a web designer, here are some great starting points that I personally recommend:

Learn for Free

Learn for a Fee

  • TeamTreeHouse – hundreds of video tutorials about business, web design, and web development for the absolute beginner.
  • Tuts+ Premium – several courses and video tutorials about web design and web development, this is one of the most popular learning website available today.
  • Udemy – Udemy has in-depth courses for everyone, from marketing to web designing and game development. Thousands of people enroll on these classes, and many leave great reviews on the courses.

Quick Definition

Over the years the tasks between a web designer and web developer have changed, from worlds apart to just a thin veil. A web designer purely designs templates in Adobe Photoshop (or another editor) and that’s the end of it, while web developers are solely responsible for the code that is written. Right now, it is a requirement that every web designer knows how to code their web templates, this means knowing how to use HTML and CSS fluently.

Earn Money Online as a Web Designer/Graphic Designer

color-palette

I am assuming that you can already create decent web designs and you already have a good understanding of HTML and CSS and Adobe Photoshop. Those three tools are crucial to becoming a successful web designer. Know how to properly use the three together and you will never find yourself unoccupied.

Before proceeding, realize that creativity can be learned, although there are people who have practiced it naturally since a young age. Do not be disheartened. If you know you can do it, you can do it. Web design gets easier if you are persistent and if you have passion..

Another important thing to understand is that, given you have a good eye for design, the only thing limiting you from becoming a web designer are the tools that you haven’t learned yet. There is no shortcut, you really need to learn how to use Adobe Photoshop, HTML, CSS, and other tools that professionals use.

What follows is a list of things beginning web designers, web developers, graphic designers, and other tech savvy people can do to earn money online.

1. Write Tutorials for Web Design Blogs (active income)

write-tutorials

Yes, you read that right. Quite a lot of web designers and web developers are into blogging — either for their own blogs or for others. It is a lucrative sideline, writing what you know about web design and web development and getting paid for it from $50 to $150, depending on the web design blog you are writing for.

To give you an idea, 1stwebdesigner.com pays $150 per tutorial.

Note: sorry, ladies and germs, we’re not accepting guest posts at the moment!

Basic requirements:

  • Have a good knowledge of every aspect of web design, since you will be writing about it. You can write articles or tutorials, depending on the needs of the website, and depending on your expertise.
  • Great English writing skills, since you will write a lot.

How it works:

  • You either start your own blog and share your tips and techniques there and earn from advertising (which takes months before you actually earn).
  • Write for already established web design and web development blogs like 1stwebdesigner.com.

Difficulty: it’s difficult at first, since you will most likely be subject to lots of revisions (normal for first timers), but as time moves forward it will be easy enough to make thousands of dollars monthly.

I know several people who have been doing this for years now, even if they’re just students or professionals working full-time. Just take a look at 1stwebdesigner.com and you’ll realize that every published article and tutorial we have there are from web designers, web developers or enthusiasts, who are either working full-time for a company or students wishing to increase their income.

Related links:

2. Print Designer (active income)

print-design-job

If you are confident enough with your design skills, you can find print design jobs on online job boards or even find work offline. Once you have familiarized yourself with how print design works, you will never have problems accomplishing tasks given to you. The only challenge you’ll find is the competition. There are thousands of print designers out there and you really need to make your mark, be unique, and get noticed.

Skills required:

  • Excellent creativity and unique style.
  • Excellent command of Adobe Photoshop or other image editing tool.

How it works:

  • Clients will send their specifications to you.
  • You design, send a couple of versions.
  • Revise chosen design until client is satisfied.

Difficulty: as long as you can design great business cards, flyers, posters, and the like, you will not find it difficult at all, although a little daunting task.

3. Sell Stock Web Templates (passive income)

sell-stock-templates

While beginners may find it hard to land a web design project, there are a lot of ways you can leverage your skills, even without prior real-life experience. I am talking about designing web templates and selling them online. I personally know three people who are yet to be commissioned for a web design project, yet they are already earning money online by selling their products on ThemeForest. The good thing about this is that they get to see if they really have what it takes to be a web designer. It is also a great way to build up a portfolio.

Skills required:

  • Excellent command of Adobe Photoshop or other image editing tool.
  • Great understanding of design principles, how to use colors, and other necessary stuff for a great design.

How it works:

  • You design a web template or web elements.
  • List your products in marketplaces like Themeforest.
  • If they get accepted, then all you need to do is sit back and wait for people to buy your products.
  • Or you can market yourself and your products to increase the chances of people buying your stuff.

Difficulty: if you believe that you’re a great designer, then this career path will be easy for you. If you’re a beginner, but is great with designing/conceptualizing, all you need to do is learn how to use web design tools and things will flow naturally for you.

Web and graphic design is not easy, it takes a lot of skill and experience to pull off a great design. When I say experience, I mean hours upon hours spent practicing and refining your designs. Just like driving, you don’t get to drive like a professional in just one day, or play basketball after reading a book about it. You need to practice, practice, and practice.

4. Sell Stock Graphics (passive income)

sell-stock-graphics

Similar to selling web templates, only you’ll mostly design logos, icons, and web elements. Icons that can be used for web and mobile interfaces, web elements that other designers can use for their designs, and logos that other designers can manipulate for their own.

Skills required:

  • Knowledge of icon and logo design.
  • Must be proficient with Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop or similar software.

How it works:

  • You design a set of icons or other stock graphics for websites and mobile applications.
  • Profit.

Difficulty: similar to selling web templates.

The thing about focusing on selling stock graphics is that you need to have hundreds of them to actually see your profit increase. It’s not enough that you have only 50 icons or 100 elements, it’s an ongoing process of creating sets that can help other designers, more specifically UI designers, to expedite their design process. Mind you, you will mostly design small and minimal things, which is not always simple to do.

5. Bundle Web Design and Web Hosting (passive income)

reseller-hosting

Looking for a web hosting service? We recommend Bluehost!

You can start your own web hosting services, where you rent servers from an already existing and credible company, host your clients’ websites on your servers for a monthly fee and bundle it with free maintenance.

This is called reseller hosting, and it’s one of the best forms of passive income for web designers and web developers. Of course, this is more advanced stuff, just one of the paths you can take if you start with website maintenance.

Basic requirements:

  • You will need to have a good understanding of how web hosting services work, how to set up a website, how to navigate through the control panel. Most reseller packages have free tutorials that can get your web hosting service running in just a couple of hours.
  • Great web design skills, enough to design an entire website from scratch and make it work.

How it works:

  • First set up your web hosting service, which can take some time if you’ve never done it before.
  • Once your web hosting is properly configured, you will need to find clients.
  • Once you have clients, you will then design for them and host their websites on your own hosting company for a monthly fee.

Difficulty: intermediate. Setting up your web hosting service takes a lot of time and learning, but once you’ve set it all up, everything will run smoothly. The only thing you need to do then is to actively find clients that you can design for.

Alternatively, if you are a web developer and you don’t have enough time to design, you can find a web designer to partner with. If you’re a web designer, but you’re only confident with your design skills but not your coding skills, you can partner with a web developer as well. Two heads are better than one!

In fact, I highly recommend doing this. Not only do you open yourself to the wonders of web design, you are also safeguarding your income. Hosting your clients’ websites means receiving monthly payments. It’s one of those rare instances that allow you to turn paying clients into a source of passive income.

Earn Money Online as a Web Developer

With the following items, I am assuming that you are already familiar with how web developers work, what tools they use, and that you can already consider yourself as a beginner in the field of web development.

If you’re totally new to web development but you want to be one, here are some resources and tutorials that you can read in order to start becoming a web developer.

1. Website Handyman (active income)

website-handyman

An on-call web developer to fix a website’s problem, upgrade or develop extra features, and just be a website’s resident web developer. This can be a lucrative job if you have the skills already.

Skills required:

  • You should have a good knowledge of how web hosting works.
  • PHP, HTML, CSS, JavaScript – seriously, if you want to become a web developer you should know these four at least on a basic level.

How it works:

It depends on the employer, but most likely it’s either of the two:

  1. Resident web developer – you will be responsible for adding features, upgrades, and maintaining the entire website, or network of websites.
  2. Per-project developer – you will most likely be involved in projects that take days or weeks to accomplish, and you will solely focus on one task at a time.

Difficulty: if you have a good understanding of the skills above, and if you can couple it with some programming languages, it will be easy. Problems only occur once in a while, and mostly clients will seek for your help when they need to update something on the website’s content or design.

Website maintenance is, ironically, very low maintenance once you have settled everything. Most likely, your clients will only ask for updates once in a while, and one of your tasks will be to make sure that every plugin or module running the site is up to date.

The skills required for this job depend on your target clients. For beginners, it is much easier if you focus on websites that are mostly static, where you will only be asked to update content, update the design, and fix some smaller issues without having to use JavaScript and PHP.

This is a very good career path, it has a lot of branches that you can tap into as you gain skill and experience.

2. PSD to HTML/CSS Coder (active income)

psd-to-html

This may fall under web design, but I’m placing it here, since there are more web developers who are knowledgeable enough with advanced HTML/CSS and other relevant stuff. Basically, you will convert PSD templates into working websites.

Skills required:

  • Good knowledge of Adobe Photoshop
  • Good working knowledge of HTML and CSS

How it works:

  • Basically, you will accept orders from web designers and convert their PSD templates into a working website.

Difficulty: a single-page template, with moderate design and elements, will probably take six hours to convert, given that you know HTML and CSS and that you’re a beginner. It’s time consuming, especially if you’re new to it, but it’s a fun job and the pay is great.

This can be a precursor to becoming a WordPress theme developer if you want to be a one-man-army.

3. WordPress Theme Developer (passive income)

wordpress-developer

WordPress is everywhere, in fact themes have been one of the most profitable markets for the past several years now and won’t be stopping anytime soon.

Can a beginning web developer do it? Sure, as long as you’re persistent enough to learn new things!

Skills required:

  • HTML and CSS
  • PHP – you will need to know PHP in order to develop your own WordPress themes. This will also prove important once you start studying WordPress.
  • WordPress – if you’re already familiar with HTML, CSS, and PHP then it will only take around a week to get yourself familiar with WordPress.
  • Good design skills

How it works:

  • Design a great web template.
  • Convert it into a working HTML and CSS website.
  • Convert it into a WordPress theme.
  • Sell your theme online.

Difficulty: not really for beginners, but I highly suggest following this path in the future. If you have your eyes already set upon web development, and have a basic understanding of PHP, then I believe it will only take about two weeks of learning WordPress to finally create your very own theme.

What did you expect? You’ll need to design the theme that you will convert into a WordPress theme.

There’s a workaround here, though, and I’ve mentioned it before. You can partner up with a web designer and have him/her do the designing and you can focus on the development.

4. Sell Code Scripts and Snippets (passive income)

sell-code-snippets

If you’re fond of writing codes for calendars, image sliders, polls, and other add-ons for a website, you’ll have a lot of fun selling code scripts and snippets.

Take CodeCanyon user corsonr as an example. He has a total of 13 items for sale on CodeCanyon and over 500 sales since he started. Today he has earned around $6,500 just from those codes he has written.

It might not be that much for our readers in North America, but it sure is a lot on other nations. Besides, it’s a great source of passive income.

Skills required:

  • Knowledgeable in at least two languages: JavaScript or PHP
  • HTML and CSS

How it works:

  • You will code specific functionalities for either WordPress (and another CMS’s) or one that can easily be use on any website.
  • It can be a calendar, a simple search function, a slider, a responsive pricing table, almost anything.

Difficulty: you will need to be proficient in coding, enough to code a whole new function.

Tell Us What You Think!

What do you think about this post? I hope you learned something new!

What will you do next? Start a freelancing career or start your own business?

Don’t forget to share your tips on how to earn money online as a web designer or web developer!

July 01 2013

10:00

Why Getting Feedback is Vital for Freelance Web Designers

Why Getting Feedback is Vital for Freelance Web Designers

Freelance designers often have to take on more types of responsibilities than those of us who work as part of a larger design agency or design team. Freelance designers don’t always get the benefits of being able to delegate a portion of their design projects to another, or to lean on other individuals when it comes to administrative and managerial duties like invoicing/billing, project planning, taxes, sales, etc.

Because freelancers have so much on our plates, we need all the help we can get, regardless of where this help comes from, or what part of our creative process we can get it on.

Which is why, while generally helpful to all web professionals, feedback is very crucial to freelance workers in the web design industry.

One need not even be a freelance web designer to see and understand how much weight feedback carries in our work.

In this article, I’ll discuss my main reasons for why I think feedback matters so much to freelancers.

Feedback Makes You a Better Designer

Feedback gives us an avenue for sharpening our skills and honing our craft. When engage with the users we are building our designs for, we gain insights and viewpoints that help us improve our current and future products and services.

Many of us in the industry hand off a design, and then move on to our next contract without giving the previous one much of a second thought.

Out of sight and out of touch with the client, then certainly out of mind. However, is that really helping us move forward with our creative and professional abilities?

I can understand the view that once we have handed off our deliverables, technically and legally, our work is done.

But, to me, until a web design has real people using it, our duties aren’t complete yet. That final step of having real users interacting with our product is very important in allowing us to develop our skills further.

Once the design is actually in use, we can then garner important insights as to what we did well in the project. And what we didn’t.

We can harvest this valuable resource of information through the implementation of feedback-gathering tools, by reading comments on social media with the use of social media monitoring tools, teasing out trends indirectly via website analytics, and so on.

In addition to getting feedback from our users, we can also get feedback from our peers. Doing so also helps us improve our design work too.

Getting feedback from other designers in the industry isn’t difficult these days. There are many places to turn to, to get that to happen. From community sites like Dribbble to dedicated online critiquing sites and forums such as Please Critique Me and Reddit’s r/design_critiques subreddit (which has over 9,700 readers), we have a lot of opportunities in our grasps for obtaining peer-feedback on our work.

Feedback Keeps You Humble

Receiving feedback from our clients, our users, and our peers can be humbling. That’s a good thing.

Staying humble helps keep us on a dedicated and continual path towards improving and learning our craft with unending drive and passion.

If we become complacent with our creative processes, or if we start to believe that we have pretty much advanced to the top of the game, then we grow stagnant in our abilities and we stop pushing ourselves to innovate.

Idleness and passivity, being fine with the status quo, is dangerous ground to tread on for anyone in any professional field; but this is even more true in a competitive and fast-moving profession like the web design industry.

Feedback from our users does not pull any punches whatsoever. None at all. There is no sugar coating. Or any attempt at gently and politely giving feedback from a constructive place.

You will often get feedback from a user who is already frustrated about something in your web design that’s broken or that’s preventing them from getting the thing they want done.

That type of user feedback can brutal and raw, but what it is also, is that it is honest. It will contain things you need to hear about your work that other people in other situations will be too polite or too unconcerned to tell you.

True, this type of feedback I’m talking about will more than likely contain some things that you probably don’t need to hear too, but that’s where our work lies: In deconstructing feedback to draw out that which we need to take away from it.

Feedback Can Help with Your Business Process

Let me share a story with you, about how user-contributed feedback has helped my freelance design business.

After learning (in a particularly frustrating way) from a client of mine that trying to handle the domain registration and hosting setup for my clients can become a major headache, I ended up deciding to drop that service as part of my web design packages.

Dropping the service of registering my clients’ domain names and setting up their website’s hosting for them didn’t seem like a big deal at first.

However, you should also know that many of my clients are small businesses who have no employees or resources to route towards website administration and management.

So, initially, after this decision was made, we had a lot of problems because our clients were having a tough time with web hosting.

What would happen was they would be overwhelmed with how to find the right web hosting solution for their specific needs.

Or worse.

They would bargain basement shop on web hosting services — thinking that hosting companies were all equal and that the price was the most important distinguishing factor between them — without having a look at what people were saying about the web hosting service they would get. Which, as almost anyone with even basic experience in website administration can tell you, doesn’t always produce the best results.

Oftentimes, my clients would end up with a bad hosting solution on an oversold shared hosting service because all they could see was the price of the service, without knowing to consider the other factors that also matter in choosing web hosts, such as reliability, reputation, features like disk space and bandwidth, and so forth.

So I started directing my clients to helpful online resources like Web Hosting Geeks (a web hosting review site) to help them pick their web hosts.

Reading user-contributed feedback and reviews from other people gave my clients true, unbiased insights about the web hosting solutions they were considering.

Feedback in the form of reviews from actual people or third-party organizations is more reliable and impartial compared to reading about a web hosting company through the company’s own website and marketing team.

Think of how often we turn to user-contributed reviews these days for making purchasing decisions (e.g. via social commerce or our social networks). How many times have you ordered a product off Amazon or downloaded an app on your smartphone without first reading through what some of the existing customers have had to say about it?

I now have fewer clients having trouble with their web hosting because of user-contributed feedback.

User-generated feedback and reviews can relieve freelancers from some burdens in our business processes, and all we have to do is take advantage of them when we can.

Feedback Gives You a Different Perspective

The value in receiving feedback lies in its fundamental nature, which is that feedback comes through a different set of lenses.

Trying to see a design of ours without the tinted lens we lovingly tend to view them through is not easy to do.

Users, clients, friends, colleagues, and other people come to look at our designs with a unique set of lenses, and it’s those lenses that will expose the things we may be overlooking in our work.

Let me share another story with you. I once had a user contact me about a navigability issue he was having with a web design I created.

The feedback completely floored me.

Having developed the design, I couldn’t imagine anyone being unclear about how the site’s navigation worked.

But that was because I had put the whole design together, and I knew exactly what to expect and do to move around it. I made the design, and I made it in a way that made sense to me.

I forgot that other people would not be viewing the design through the same lens as I was.

That was a wake-up call.

I had failed to consider another person’s perspective, and it cost me more time to go back in and make the correction.

And that will happen. We will make those sorts of mistakes, and we will fail to consider other people’s perspectives at some point in our design process.

Listening to feedback from others effectively helps us avoid or remedy these types of situations.

What About You?

Have you ever had moments where getting feedback made all the difference in your web design career? Share it with us in the comments below!

Related Content

Rob Bowen is half of the dynamic duo behind Arbenting and Dead Wings Designs. He is a freelance designer, writer, and videographer with a focus on the Web. Rob’s new Twitter account is @ArbentMedia.

The post Why Getting Feedback is Vital for Freelance Web Designers appeared first on Six Revisions.

Tags: Freelance

June 29 2013

13:00

Why Learn HTML Alone When You Can Do it with Our Recommend Tool?

Want to learn HTML and CSS in order to become a great Web Designer or Web Developer?

Nah, that’s a very boring, ineffective AND time-consuming learning method! We have a better tool for you, something that will make you learn HTML, CSS, and even PHP at the same time, slash your learning time!

This article will answer two questions:

  1. What can you do with your current web design or web development skills?
  2. What is the best way to succeed as a web designer or web developer?

Table of Contents

  1. What Tool is right for You?
  2. Qualities that will Help You with your Career
  3. Solid Evidence that Our Recommended Tool will Help You as:
    • a learner
    • a web designer
    • a web developer
  4. Why we Recommend this Tool
  5. Common Misconceptions
  6. Things that You will soon Create
  7. Learn Web Design for Free and become an Expert!

Imagine this scenario: you’ve just arrived in a country you’ve never been to and everything’s a mess to you. You don’t know where the nearest coffee shop is, where the nearest train is or what schedule they have, heck, you don’t even have friends yet!

You have an advantage. You speak their language.

And that’s a great thing because you’ll soon find your way around by just asking people.

The question now is: are you asking the right people?

Knowing who to ask will speed things up. That is where we enter. Consider us, 1WD, the locals of that new country you are in. We’ve been here for some time now and we know the places you can go, shortcuts to take, safe and dangerous areas and a great deal of things that will be beneficial to you.

I’ll end the analogy at that, since I’m pretty sure that you’ve made the connection already.

So, what can you do with your current skill set?

Ever wondered how freelance web designers (including smart beginners) manage to take on large projects all the time, or never run out of projects to work on? Even the average web designer or web developer earns hundreds of dollars per project or several thousands of dollars a month. How about you?

If you are thinking, “well, how do I do the same?” then you are asking the right question!

Well, you see, we’ve worked with wonderful people whose focus is on WordPress – and mind you, they did not become successful without a reason!

So, if you’ll ask us how can you do the same, the answer is: WordPress!

Learn HTML with what, exactly?

WordPress.

Remember, always remember, that it’s not about you, but your client. Everything should revolve around your client. Even during your first pitch, ask, or tell, them about the benefit they’ll gain from using your service, be honest and be precise. You are the Moon and them, the Earth.

Before answering why you should focus on WordPress, let us first lay out the points that make potential clients go for your service, what are they looking for:

  1. Speedy service - why would anyone want a slow turnaround time? Everyone wants to get the job done as soon as possible…without sacrificing.
  2. Quality solutions – clients will pay good money to fix their problems, or for their needs to be addressed, and they will always go for the quality solution. True, there are easy fixes like add-ons and free plugins or scripts or themes that can be found online, but having a solid foundation of design and codes created by someone – a real person – is much better.
  3. Future proof - technology is changing rapidly, but your future clients don’t need to change their site every three or six months, that is impractical. This is where WordPress comes in, it has become too big to fall – supported and used by everyone, from hobbyists to large corporations, because they know it is future proof. And here you are, someone who knows how to design and develop for WordPress.
  4. Solution flexibility – clients will not keep you for as long as their website is running, harsh but that is reality and it’s practical. Now, do not be surprised if clients ask you to make it easier for them to make adjustments on their websites, in fact you should offer this as an extended service.
  5. Technical support – in case the above point can no longer accommodate your clients growing needs, needs that are complex enough that they will need to touch the entirety of the design or code, then you should always be there to help and provide your service once more. After-sales is very important, you need to work on that, on keeping your connections open even after they paid you for your services. This opens new paths to more projects, it’s proven and tested.

For the unordained, WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS). A CMS is software that makes it easy for people that are non-technical to manage content such as text, images, videos, music, social media, and almost every aspect of a website without touching a single line of code. While there are CMS’s that are specifically crafted for web developers, WordPress is one of the most user-friendly CMS’s and was made primarily for blogging.

With WordPress you can easily create blogposts. Over ten years ago people blogged by editing their website’s HTML – or even adding more HTML files. With WordPress those hassles are eliminated because they are automatically done for you, all you need to do is provide your content.

Qualities of WordPress

  1. Speedy service - WordPress is an open source software that you can develop from straight out of the box. It’s basically a pre-made website, no need to reinvent the wheel. You can straight out jump to designing and coding extra elements and features that your clients will ask from you.
  2. Quality solutions – there are thousands of plugins and themes freely available at WordPress.org and anyone can improve them anytime they want. There are also big groups whose focus is to create quality plugins and themes with support.
  3. Future proof - there are thousands of developers constantly improving WordPress. You will learn how future proof WordPress is just after this section.
  4. Solution flexibility – WordPress is easy to use, I even taught my cats how to use it! On a serious note, minor changes on a WordPress website can easily be done with just a few clicks by your clients, whether it’s a change on the navigation menu or even colors and font size. Which means your clients won’t be bothering you every other hour.
  5. Technical support – there is a wide selection of WordPress support groups out there, one of which is WordPress.org’s support forums. Whether you’re new to WordPress or have been using it for several years now there will always be people to ask and help.

WordPress and Numbers

It’s easy to learn, it’s continuously growing, and repeat the numbers above – present in a different way. Then include the benefits of using WordPress, like many serious news websites are using it now, many websites have made the shift to WordPress, etc.

There is an estimate of 70,000,000 (yes, millions) of WordPress blogs out there, which is equivalent to 20% of all the websites on the internet.

Since May of 2012 there have been 123,510 WordPress jobs posted under WordPress Designers on Elance.com and the trend shows a continuous demand.

At WordPress.org’s forums, there are 385,000 topics so far and thousands are being added to it daily – and it’s worth noting that this is just under one category. That is the number of people actively looking for help with their WordPress websites.

How Can WordPress Benefit You

As a Learner

If you’re new to everything web design related, do not fret. We’re here to help you get started! All we ask from you is that you actually set aside time for yourself and go through our materials. Give it a week and you will be rocking your world with Photoshop, HTML and CSS. Add another three days and you’ll be rocking it with PHP and soon you’ll be on your way to becoming either a web designer or web developer. This works, we know, because we’ve had readers and members tell us of how well the program worked for them!

Ok…couldn’t wait to get home and post this. I got my first $600 check today (installment 1 of 2) for a site and it was from using the SIMPLE steps in the bootcamp!!!! BOOYAH. I think this is going to be a simple project with a nice turn around time and I can’t wait to have the client tell her friends and customers how easy it is to work with me. Keep you all posted. Thanks again.

- Leon Clinch

As a Web Designer

Just take a look at the numbers above and think, “how many of those will want a redesign? Or how many of the new people are coming in looking for new WordPress themes to use? Everyday thousands of people both old and new to WordPress blogging are looking for themes that they can use, be it free or premium. And daily there are hundreds, if not thousands, of new designs..and unfortunately not all of them are great ones!

So, there you go, millions of bloggers looking for WordPress themes that would fit their websites perfectly; millions of people looking for a custom design that is built just for their own brand – need I say more?

As a Web Developer

Web developers are notorious. They bite at every opportunity and they have discovered WordPress very early. Many of them have partnered with web designers (designer designs, developer develops design) and are earning several thousands of dollars monthly, some even daily. But there are those who simply do “patch up” works, fixing small problems here and there or adding new features for WordPress users.

Why Do We Recommend WordPress?

Imagine this: there are over 70 million WordPress websites in existence (fact), which makes up 20% of all the websites on the internet (another fact), and then there’s you – a web designer or web developer looking for extra money. And yet many people still think and say that WordPress is just for blogs and it’s a cheap market to hop on to.

I’m telling you right now, WordPress can drive you to riches. Whether you’re designing or developing an e-commerce, corporate, personal, or just a simple landing website, WordPress can handle all of those.

WordPress has long stopped being just a blogging platform. WordPress has evolved to take on just about anything you want to throw at it. It has become a framework that you can design and develop for.

Joomla? Are we still in the 90s?

Common Misconceptions

WordPress is often related to blogging, and rightly so because it was made for blogging. But it only took a few months before people discovered that it can do more than what it was originally intended for. Right now, WordPress can be used to create e-commerce sites and other forms of websites, not just for blogging. And it’s much easier to manage.

Again, WordPress isn’t just for blogging anymore.

But perhaps I was wrong, maybe it’s not confusion at all but people just don’t know it yet. And my goal for this article is to make people udnerstand the beauty of WordPress, what it really is and what it can do.

True, the use of WordPress right now is mainly for blogging, news and entertainment websites, but over the years many big corporations have converted to WordPress as a solution to their online presence.

What WordPress Can Create

Blog

Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? There are many blogs in different niche, web design, entertainment, news, and personal blogs. Millions of people choose WordPress over other CMS because of it’s flexibility, scalability, and simplicity.

NFL Blog

NFL-Blog

Social networking site

Crazy, right? How can you even do that? Well, as I’ve mentioned earlier, you can transform WordPress sites the way you want to depending on the themes and plugins you use. You can either create an entire forum site where people of same interests just huddle around and spent countless hours discussing stuff, or

OOiZit

social-networking-site-wordpress

Photo gallery

With WordPress, you can even create a photo gallery for photographers and artists.

The perfect theme for this is Photocrati. It’s a specialized theme solely for displaying work of arts. Of course you can customize your own theme with plugins and little hacks.

wordpress-photography-theme

Membership site

With the right plugins and theme you can build your own membership website, either for selling premium content or just for a closed group website. See? It’s not just for blogs!

Here’s an example:

GigaOM Pro

membership-website-wordpress

There are service providers for this kind of WordPress website, and one thing we can recommend is LabVidz. In just a few minutes you can create your own membership website, complete from the theme up to bills management.

Job board

New York Jewish Jobs

wordpress-job-board

Online store

You can even turn WordPress into a fully functional online store like eBay or Amazon.

Best Buy Mobile

best-buy-wordpress-store

Landing Page

A landing page is a single web page that aims to capture a visitor’s attention and and ultimately lead them to action. It’s a marketing tool that many people with products and services to sell use.

Launch Effect App

A perfect pre-built and 100% customizable WordPress theme is Launch Effect, made specifically for landing pages. Check out their demo page to give yourself an idea of what WordPress can do.

wordpress-landing-page

Learn WordPress for Free and be an Expert!

When it comes to coding WordPress probably is the easiest CMS that you can develop on. Design-wise you won’t have a problem at all since it will mostly be just HTML/CSS conversion from a PSD template. That being said, if you have a good working knowledge of HTML and CSS you can easily apply changes through the WordPress dashboard without accessing any FTP clients or your web server. It’s all in one place. If you want to add more features, you’ll just need to learn JavaScript (which is quite easy to learn) and PHP (if you want to add major functionalities to your website.

All in all, you can start learning HTML/CSS within one week and head straight on with WordPress.

But don’t jump straight to WordPress especially when you still don’t know how to fiddle HTML and CSS, but basics will do!

Here are some important tutorials that you need to study hard.

Step 1: Photoshop, HTML, and CSS

Step 2: WordPress

Check out these videos once you’re ready to jump into WordPress.

But the truth is, you can just spend 10 minutes reading about HTML codes and not learn HTML to mastery at all, then jump on to WordPress to expose yourself to what it can do. Sounds challenging? Yep!

In fact, James Richman and I learned HTML, CSS, and PHP this way! We just familiarized ourselves to the usual HTML tags and jumped straight to editing WordPress themes, making them bend to our will!

Can you do that?

I bet you can! Below are two video tutorials that deals exactly with that!

So, learn HTML with WordPress!

1WDnotes.com Site Design Process Part 1

1WDnotes.com Site Design Process Part 2

To End

So, that’s about it!

We are in a mission to help people realize that the road to riches – for web designers and web developers – is WordPress.

It is fairly easy to learn, it has a massive userbase, stable, and there’s no signs of it stopping soon.

Obviously, prospect clients don’t care about this. But if you will build something from the ground up, this is the best way to go. We highly recommend WordPress!

So, do you have any stories that you want to share regarding this tool?

June 27 2013

06:30

Sit Down And Shut Up: How To Rescue Your Clients From Their Own Bad Taste


  
brooms-57256_640-w550 We've all been there before: a client hires you to design something, let's say a website, for them. Work is good, right? But then as you start working on the spec with them, red flags start to crop up. Does your client proactively push you in directions you would never want to go? Does your client demand for the most aweful color palette that has ever been used in the history of web design? Let's stop him. I'll show you how..

June 19 2013

13:00

Living a Full Life as a Freelance Web Designer with Brian Hoff

There are many people out there who want to become freelance web designers. However, freelancing is not all rainbows and unicorns, since you have to promote yourself, get clients, manage those clients, and, of course, get things done.

That’s not even mentioning more subtle issues, such as finding the right life/work balance, which can be very tough when you work from home.

In this interview, Brian Hoff, an experienced freelance designer, will share his thoughts on the topic.

In this interview:

  • Why did Brian quit his job at Apple to start his own business?
  • How did he build a popular web design blog that brought him loads of clients?
  • How does Brian makes sure that he is getting things done as well as spending enough time with his family?
  • How does he handle the lack of financial stability that is an inevitable part of being a freelance web designer?
  • What is his advice one piece of advice for those who of you who want to become freelance web designers?

Please introduce yourself to our readers.

brian-hoff

My name is Brian Hoff. I’m a professional web and interaction designer. Over the years, my work transitioned from logo design to web design to interaction design. I’ve always enjoyed various elements of design, not to mention I get bored easily, so this transition comes as no surprise to me. These days I mostly work on interaction design (iOS, web apps) though.

I also write for my blog, The Design Cubicle and work on my own products (I have two ideas in the works at the moment) when I can find the time.


IxD: what interaction design is all about?

Here’s how the Interaction Design Association(IxDA) describes it:

Interaction designers strive to create useful and usable products and services. Following the fundamental tenets of user-centered design, the practice of interaction design is grounded in an understanding of real users—their goals, tasks, experiences, needs, and wants. Approaching design from a user-centered perspective, while endeavoring to balance users’ needs with business goals and technological capabilities, interaction designers provide solutions to complex design challenges, and define new and evolving interactive products and services.

Here are few of the key concepts that drive IxD:

  • Goal-oriented design. User usually have a specific goal in mind when using an application. This means that an application should be able to do that one thing really well. Conducting an extensive user research helps interaction designers to create the right balance between form and function.
  • Usability of the design. Applications must be easy to use in order for people to want to use them. Interaction designers aim to create interfaces that makes the underlying systems easy to understand.
  • Affordances. Many things are designed in a way that they are easy to understand even for someone who has never encountered them before. Say, you would probably be able to figure out how to use scissors, even if you would be seeing them for the first time in your life. Interaction designers aim for this same effect in their work.

Interaction designers stay involved throughout the whole development process: they form a design strategy, identify and wireframe key interactions, and then prototype interactions.

According to Andrew Maier, on whose article this short summary of interaction design is based on, one of the hardest part of being a practicing interaction designer is the speed at which the industry change.

You can read more about interaction design here:

You can also check out these books on Amazon:

  • “About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design”
  • “Designing Interactions” by Bill Moggridge
  • Paper Prototyping: The Fast and Easy Way To Design And Refine User Experience” by Carolyn Snyder.

Still aren’t sure that you understood what it’s all about?

Take a look at interaction design section at Behance!


How did you get into design in the first place?

I took the traditional route. I went to school. Majored in Graphics and Interactive Design. Got my BFA. I’ve always been very intrigued and lured into design, though. While I did go to school for it, I consider myself self-taught for a large majority of it.

Starting my own business was another story though. I initially never planned on doing my own thing. At the time of graduation, the economy in the States was on a steady decline and there weren’t many jobs available, since companies were being more cautious I guess. The places I wanted to work weren’t hiring. There were opportunities for me in the big industries that were still doing well (pharmaceutical, etc.), but that wasn’t my thing. Pharmaceuticals? Me? I just couldn’t do it, so I slowly built up my business and reputation and jumped ship to a world of independence. Haven’t looked back since.

What is your professional experience prior to becoming a freelance designer?

I worked at Apple as a software and hardware trainer. I didn’t know it at the time, but the knowledge of how users interact with websites made me a better designer. It helped me approach situations differently. After a few years at Apple I found myself increasingly unhappy. After a year and some odd months of tinkering with the idea of starting my own business I put in my two weeks notice. It was at a time when my blog, The Design Cubicle, really took off and was gaining a lot of exposure. This made the transition much easier.

At one point, you were working 9-5 at Apple, freelancing on the side, and blogging on The Design Cubicle. How did you find time and energy to juggle a full-time job, client work, and a blog? What would you advise to people who would like to start freelancing on the side, but struggle to find time, energy, and motivation to do it?

Yeah, it was tough, but honestly, I just love design. And that’s all I needed. I mean, the people who I was working with at Apple were great, but I just wasn’t happy, because I wasn’t doing what I love to do. That’s why I was really excited to come home and work on a design project that I scooped up through my blog. That was what kept me going. Love brings out the best of people [laughing].

You had a stable job at Apple as software/hardware trainer, yet you decided to quit in order to become a full-time freelance designer. What were the reasons behind this decision? Wasn’t it scary to take a leap from a secure job at a big company to uncertainty of freelancing? How did you prepare for this transition? What would you advise to those who are thinking about becoming full-time freelancers?

The main reason was that I needed to design. It wasn’t even that I wanted to design, I needed it. I know, sounds like a typical artist’s statement, but it’s true. It’s my outlet. The itch that needs scratching.

Also, at that time, I wasn’t married, I didn’t have kids, so the risk for me was relatively low. Obviously, there was the risk of not making any money and being kicked out of my apartment, but I knew that in the worst case I could always go do something else. Plus, I made sure that I have enough money for a couple of months in case things are slow.

Keep in mind that it takes a lot of discipline to run your own business. Some folks are people who need to be managed, and some people are the ones who can do the managing. Everyone likes to think “Oh, I can do this by myself, I can be a freelancer!”, but you really have to think what kind of person you are. Are you able to juggle all these different tasks? Are you good at talking to clients? Are you good at managing clients and managing your own time? There’s a lot somebody needs to think about besides “I’m a good designer. There’s much more to freelancing than design.

One of the biggest challenges that freelance designers have to face is that constant need to get clients. What do you do to ensure that you have enough work every month? What would you advise to freelancers who would like to get more clients, but aren’t quite sure how to go about it?

I’m in a fortunate spot where clients come to me because of the popularity of my blog and other outlets (Behance, Dribbble).

Also, do good work. Always try to do your best at each project and then some. Goes without saying but doing good work and putting it out there gets more good work.

However, context is important, and a simple online portfolio doesn’t have enough context. I once had a portfolio that was basically a bunch of screen-shots and didn’t show who I was as a person. That’s why I started documenting the process of creating a particular design on my blog. This way, clients can see how I run my business, how I work, and so on.

That comes over time, I promise.

Nowadays I can tell how the client is going to react throughout the entire process. For example, there are clients that need to have their hand held, meanwhile other clients are very hands off. You can really get a feel for that just from talking to them.

Before I start working with any new client, I have them fill out a worksheet. It’s amazing how simply reading responses to the worksheet tells me. One example would be clients that give a one word answer to every question. Basically they are telling me ‘I don’t care about the project’. That’s just not the type of person that I want to work with. If they want me to care about the project, I feel that they should care at least as much, if not more.

There are still times when I find myself working with “bad” clients. However, I mostly find it’s the designers fault. I’m the one that needs to be managing the clients, managing their expectations, so it’s usually the result of me not doing something correctly. They choose to work with me not only based on my portfolio, but also my creative process and business process.

That’s why it’s important to be vocal. I’m not afraid to tell a client “Your idea won’t work and here’s why..”. The aesthetics of design can often be subjective so I don’t tell people “it’s crap because it’s crap”, but if I truly believe that it’s a terrible idea, the client is going to hear it in a way that has value.

And in regards to them being stingy with money.. Well, the way I see it, I have my price and I’m upfront about it. I base it on a set of deliverables. I don’t do hourly rates. I quote a project for deliverables over a time frame (like, you need these 6 pages over 6 weeks, here’s the price). Design is an investment of time and end value. My price is my price.

I feel like you have to have your minimum rate and a rate that you want, so if a client can’t afford the rate that you want, you can knock it down to your minimum rate if you really need the job. However, when you go below your minimum rate you are only hurting yourself, because in my experience, working on crap projects just brings more crap projects. It’s weird how it works like that, but it just does: bad clients breed more bad clients, bad works breed more bad work.

Also, hiring a designer for a very low rate is a bad investment for a client, which they need to understand. I’ve knocked down a price significantly few times, and I’ve realized that it just ruins my motivation, because I don’t feel that I’m being fairly compensated for my work. It kills the momentum and enthusiasm from the start. Good results don’t come from lack of enthusiasm.

People often don’t realize how hard it can be to have a right work-life balance when you are self-employed. Maybe you can tell us how does your day look like? What do you do in order to stay productive while still having a life? What would you advise to freelancers who struggle with getting things done?

work-life-balance

by Werkplay

  1. Well, to get work done, you just need to be a good manager, you have to say “These are my work hours” and stick to it.
  2. That’s exactly what I did when I started working as a full-time freelancer. My day starts around 6AM. I don’t work past 6PM (technically, my day ends at 4PM, but if I really need to I can extend it until 6PM). I also don’t work weekends. This leaves me plenty of time to go outside and do something outside (which I really enjoy). It’s good because it allows me to get my work done and then take a break by spending the rest of the day with my family. Breaks are good for creativity.
  3. It’s hard though. I have an almost two-year-old, and my wife is home with our son, so if I don’t have my headphones on I can hear them downstairs, and it’s hard not to go downstairs and spend time with them. I do that sometimes, but I make sure that if I go downstairs to see what’s up, I spend no more than 10 minutes on that. I see it as basically an equivalent of chatting with a co-worker next to a water cooler in the office [laughing].
  4. It takes discipline. You need to set your work hours at the very beginnings. I know some guys who work at night, who work weekends, and so on. I don’t know how they do it, especially if they have families. That’s just a way to burn out in my opinion.

One of the main disadvantages of being a freelancer is lack of financial security, you never know how much you’re going to earn, clients disappear, then your car breaks. What do you do in order to make yourself as financially secure as possible? What would you advise to people who want to become full-time freelancers, but are worried that it might lead to a financial disaster?

Many people think that when they have a job at some company they are financially stable, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. They can get fired at any time. Longevity is not in your hands. There’s nothing more or less financially stable in working for yourself vs. working for somebody else if you have a dependable business plan.

Also, when you work for a company, you get the same salary every month. It’s true that as a freelancer, you can end up making very little money on some months, but you can also make double or triple your usually monthly income on others. I think that’s what’s fun about running your own business. It pushes you to work little bit harder to make that extra money.

I’m a small corporation. That’s why, as weird as it’s sounds, I pay myself a salary. Me and my wife sit down together and see how much we need to cover our bills and have a little bit extra money left every month. That’s what I take out as a salary.

I also take out additional bonuses which is our savings. When you need only 10 000$ a year to survive, and you end up making 50 000$ instead of 10 000$, it’s easy to want to go party and spend it [laughing]. However, you need to be smart about it. We always make sure that we have money put aside for those rainy months.

You have experience of being employed by a big company and being self-employed. What are the advantages and disadvantages of both? Why did you decide to stay self-employed? What would you advise to our readers who are not quite sure which way they want to go?

Working on your own, and doing it successfully, brings a quality of life that’s difficult to comprehend. And I don’t mean that from a money profit standpoint. When I need a day off, I don’t have to go to my boss and ask for a day off, I just take it. Sure, it means that I will have to work harder the next day, but that’s okay. There’s nobody managing me.

Working for myself also gives me an opportunity to choose which clients I want to work with. I enjoy working with digitally focused people, with online, forward thinking goals. I get to pick and choose the people I want to work with.

Disadvantages.. I have many friends who work for respectable agencies. Every time I talk to them, they tell me how much they are learning at their jobs. I feel like I miss out on that experience by being self-employed. There’s that part of me that is always curious about that, but that’s what having friend is for, since our community is so helpful. Everyone is very open in our industry.

You run a popular blog, The Design Cubicle. Why did you decide to start a design blog in the first place? How did you get your blog to where it is now? What role did The Design Cubicle’s success play in your design career? Would you advise other designers to start their own blogs? Why or why not?

the-design-cubible

I started The Design Cubicle few months before I left Apple. I started it as a means to interact. I read a lot of design blogs and I felt like I could add something to the greater story. My blog was my creative outlet in written form and my way to share ideas.

Then, two articles of mine “hit the front page of Digg”, which got brought me a ton of traffic. I remember after that my traffic went up to 6000 visitors/day. It gained a lot of momentum for my work. I just kept on writing and sharing.

Today, I wish I would have more time to write, I really do. I have so much less time for it now than I had when I started a blog: my days are filled with client work, I work on more complicated projects, and so on. I need to write more, though.

And yes, my blog played a significant role in my design career. It was at the time the best marketing for me.

Okay, so you have a successful design career, a popular design blog, what are the future plans of Brian Hoff? Are there any interesting new projects that are you planning to take on? What is the next step in your career?

I want to build my own services and my own products. There are two ideas that I’m in the process of executing. I’d say that you can expect something new from me in the next 12 months.

Last, but not least, if you could only one piece of advice to someone who wants to become a freelance web designer, what would it be?

This is my one advice to anyone wanting to start anything (whether it’s to be a designer, a chef, or a construction worker): love what you do.

There’s no way that you can be as successful as you want to be unless you absolutely love what you do.

You can only get so far in life without this. It’s all about love.

Thank you for the interview!

In a nutshell:

  • Keep in mind that freelancing isn’t easy. You have to consider whether you are good at getting things done, managing your clients, promoting yourself, and so on. Many people are much better employees than freelancers.
  • Showcase your work online. Make sure that you have a decent looking portfolio which you can show to your clients. It’s even better if you include case studies that showcase your work process.
  • Always focus on doing the best work that you can. This will help you get new clients through word of mouth. It will also keep your current clients coming back.
  • Avoid working with low paying clients as much as possible. They are the hardest to deal with. Plus, doing low paid jobs will only get you more low paid jobs.
  • Set your work schedule and stick to it. Overworking yourself is very counter-productive. Make sure that you get enough rest.
  • Always make sure that you have money set aside for rainy days. There are times when you have a lot of clients, and there are times when you have none, and this is inevitable part of freelancer’s life. Don’t stress about it, prepare for it!
  • Having a blog can accelerate your freelancing career. Providing value to other web designers helps you to become a recognized expert in the community. Keep in mind that running a blog is a long term project, though. You won’t get quick results.
  • You have to love what you do if you want to really get ahead.

Interested in Brian’s blog? Start here!

Here are three great articles from Brian’s blog:

You can read more great articles at The Design Cubicle.

June 14 2013

13:00

How to Charge More as a Freelancer From a Developing Country [An Interview With Janet Brent]

How can freelancers from developing nations charge more for their services that can be on par with their counterparts from developed nations?

In the world of entrepreneurship, it’s becoming more and more trendy to outsource to developing countries, since this way you can hire skilled people for a fraction of the cost. I always had mixed feelings about this: is it really okay to pay someone a slave-wage only because they are living in the Philippines or India? It seems that most entrepreneurs think that it’s justifiable, therefore I was pleasantly surprised to stumble on an article by Janet, a Filpina web designer from USA, who called BS on this whole thing.

I know that many of you guys are from developing countries, therefore I decided to interview Janet, and ask her to explain her take on this outsourcing trend and share how she went from working for low paying clients to working for high paying ones.

In this interview:

  • What was the difference between working as a web designer in the USA and working as a web designer in the Philippines.
  • Why Janet presents herself as a location-independent web designer instead of a Filipina web designer.
  • Why Janet thinks that web designers from developing countries should increase rates for their services.

How much web designers around the world are getting paid

When you hire web designers from developed countries, a good web design can cost thousands of dollars, especially if they are already established in the industry.

  • Stephanie Hobbs charges $1,200 for a 4-page website. She charges more depending on the size and complexity of the project.
  • Noel Green charges between $2,500 and $5,000 for a complete website.
  • Artisan Pros offer different packages with prices ranging from $1,495 to $3,595.

Wondering what web designers from developed countries charge per hour? Many people start out with a low rate, for example $15/hour. However, over time they gradually increase their rates from to $60-70/hour.

Web designers who are really established and well-known often charge $100/hour or more. Now, when it comes to web designers from developing countries, that’s a completely different story. Sure, there are some who managed to establish themselves and therefore can charge the same rates as web designers from the US or UK. However, the majority of them earn significantly less money for the same amount of work.

I don’t want to point out anyone in particular who is charging low rates since that might make them feel uncomfortable, therefore I suggest you to take a look at popular freelance boards like Freelancer and oDesk to get an idea about the differences in rates. Pay attention to average bids. Sure, there are some projects where average bids go over $1,000, but on many others they are in $50 -$250 range. There are also many jobs that offer $4-$7/hour rate. Why clients offer low rates like that? They know that there are people in developing countries who are willing to do the job for a that amount of money.

Here’s a real screenshot from a real ad on one of the freelance boards:

bad-job-boards-posting

Yes, you read it right, they want a high quality homepage and logo, with three different versions for a website and six different versions for a homepage, and, of course, unlimited revisions in their selected version, all for $70.

Sure, there will always be a big difference between the rates of those who just started freelancing and those who are more established, which is perfectly fine. However, we all know that there’s something else going on. People who pay extremely low wages don’t target inexperienced people who are just out of college. They look for decent web designers from developing countries that are willing to work for a very small payment.

Now, here’s the question: is it okay to pay someone from India $70 when you would pay $2,500 to someone from USA for that same job? Is it about bringing more opportunities to developed countries or is it about exploiting people who are vulnerable due to their financial situation? Let’s see what Janet has to say about this.


Janet Brent is an intuitive graphic/web designer for holistic, creative and heart-based small businesses. She blogs at Purple Panda and tweets @janetbrent.

janet-brent

Please introduce yourself to our readers.

I’m Janet, an intuitive graphic/web designer for conscious creatives and heart-based small businesses. I’m interested in passionate people making positive change. I guess that’s my “elevator pitch” but like attracts like and I’m finding there’s no shortage of amazing people I make connections with.

Why did you get into design in the first place?

I knew I wanted to be a graphic designer since sophomore year in highschool when I job shadowed one who worked for a sewerage agency. Not a glamorous design job at all, but he talked with so much passion that really attracted me and made a big enough impact that I chose to make that my career path! Before then, I had no idea that “graphic design” existed but I was always interested in art since the moment I could hold a crayon at age 2.

What is your professional design-related experience?

I taught myself html when I was 13. So I became a “professional” web designer when I got on the WordPress bandwagon and slowly got into paid gigs. I now spend most my time designing e-books, opt-ins, logos and websites for solopreneurs. My first professional design job straight out of art school was a graphic designer for a souvenir company.

What is the difference between working as a designer in USA and working as a designer in Philippines? What about the difference between presenting yourself an American designer or as a Filipina designer? Do clients treat you differently depending on where they think you live or what nationality they think you are?

I have experienced day jobs both in the US and Philippines and I have to say that people in the US have it easy. In general, there is a lack of organization in Philippine companies and less worker protection. Working overtime is a norm, so it’s not just 40 hours a week, it’s also 50+ for less than you’d earn in the states. I definitely think there’s some influence as to presenting yourself as a US based or Philippine designer. It takes some branding skills to avoid getting taken advantage of. Since its often assumed that you outsource to Filipinos, I struggled with this early on.

You’ve mentioned on your blog that this month you will be breaking your personal record for income while self-employed. However, in the past you’ve had a full-time job that pays only $400/month, as well as your share of low-paying clients. How did you get out of this and started earning decent money?

It’s a mindset shift. As simple AND hard as that. I think I had collective cultural baggage of being a Filipina. I had never felt like a minority in the states because it never affected me until now. The poverty consciousness was something I had to work through emotionally. I trained myself to be in an abundant mindset. I’m big on personal and self-development so I’m grateful for this path because it’s been a big learning curve.

It’s also important to brand yourself in an empowering way. Rather than promote myself as someone who lives in the Philippines, I say I’m location independent and a digital nomad, and I work with clients from around the world. I reject the outsourcing business model. That’s not what I do. Slowly but surely, I’m learning how to stand in my power.

There are a lot of designers from the developing countries that feel that they are being massively underpaid. However, they feel stuck because they don’t know how to raise their rates, get better clients, and earn more. What would be your advice to people who are in this situation?

overworked-and-underpaid

It’s tough because I’m fortunate to have the Western background of being raised in the US, which does help. There’s a sort of colonial attitude that we’re somehow ‘under’ Westerners and with outsourcing, it’s viewed as helping developing countries because it provides jobs. I don’t think its that black and white.

More designers should stand up to low rates and not accept them. The more you accept low rates, the more that you will continue to receive low rates so why not help the industry out and raise the standards rather than be part of the problem? Thinking outside the box is also good.

The time = money model isn’t very scalable so thinking more entrepreneurial in regards to solving problems and offering a product could be more rewarding in the long run.

Technology is empowering and it’s also the greatest equalizer. Most people in developing countries don’t see that because they’ve also been taught that they’re not equal, so you have to empower yourself and despite external circumstances, it starts from within.

Keeping in mind that there are low-paying clients who are tight with their budget and high-paying clients who are after quality. But high-paying clients are suspicious when hiring people, especially from developing countries. How can designers from developing countries present themselves in a way that would dispel doubts of high-paying clients?

That’s a great question because it addresses the fact that low-paying clients tend to hang out in this cesspool. People in developing countries tend to get this low hanging fruit. My advice would be to reject the outsourcing business model. It’s tricky, and I’m not even sure what that would entail. But “outsourcing” just has that connotation that attracts low-paying clients so it’s not the right brand to pursue if you want higher paying clients.

Many designers from developing countries feel uncomfortable with charging the same rates as their counterparts from developed nations because it seems “unfair” to them since the cost of living is higher for developed nations. How can designers from developing countries overcome this mental barrier that keeps them from charging more?

Yes, there’s some truth towards having a lower cost of living, so charging a US price seems counter-intuitive. But there are still ways to earn more and increase your livelihood because you DO deserve to live more than paycheck to paycheck. I’m not saying you should be making $100/hr. but you shouldn’t be making $2/hr either.

Ask yourself what’s a fair price to work towards. There’s this cultural emotional baggage that’s a collective experience, and you’ve got to break through the scarcity mindset. I’ve really benefited from personal development techniques like EFT.

If you are hiring someone for a minimum wage job, aren’t you justified in paying a person living in the USA $1,160/month and a person living in Lithuania $360/month for the exact same job. Many employers justify this by saying that they’re paying them the equivalent amount of what they’d make on their own country. What’s your take on this?

As I said, it’s not so black and white and I believe there needs to be more education on both ends; entrepreneurs and workers in developing countries. On one end, you shouldn’t be a “slave master” and I’ve talked to Western entrepreneurs who have outsourced and secretly feel guilty about that issue. And on the other end, you shouldn’t happily accept $300/mo. especially if you’ve got a full family to take care of. I don’t know how locals do it! I also love the phrase my VA friend said: “If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys!”

Outsourcing to developing countries is becoming more and more popular among entrepreneurs. However, the ethical side of it is quite a complex topic, since on one hand, it provides a lot of opportunities to people from developing countries, while on the other hand, paying someone from Philippines way less than you would pay someone from USA seems like outright racism+nationalism when you think about it. What is your take on the whole thing?

I see it as a kind of colonialized attitude. It’s a slippery slope and I think there’s a lot of room for improvement and education on both sides. And it’s not just Caucasians who are outsourcing. I know Filipino-Americans who are taking on this model and starting businesses to provide for Filipinos. The upside is they want to help raise the livelihood of Filipinos and create a stronger middle class. I don’t have all the answers and outsourcing is neither good or bad. But we are a globalized world and outsourcing is here to stay. There are still many opportunities for better solutions.

You’ve said on your blog that if you pay peanuts you end up hiring monkeys. Honestly, I never understood the obsession with hiring people who are willing to work for ridiculously low amounts of money, because it seems to be counterproductive in the long run. Would you agree that it’s penny wise and pound foolish?

If you pay "peanuts" you might end up hiring a soda-loving monkey.

Bob, why aren’t you working?

I agree that it’s counterproductive in the long run. It might end up costing you more money in the end, because it’s the difference of hiring a professional from the start, vs. outsourcing and then having to backtrack and hire people to fix it. The quality of work IS usually less because outsourcing businesses tend to hire people straight from college and train on the job just so they can pay their employees even less. You’re not hiring professionals. You’re hiring people who are still learning and who knows how organized their internal systems are!

What would be your advice to young people from developing countries who want to become professional designers (and get paid as such!), but are at the very beginning of this path?

On the job training can work if you’ve got good mentors, so look at the team before you decide to take on a job. Job interviews should be as much interviewing the company as they are interviewing you. Look for internships or apprenticeships. Don’t underestimate the internet beyond Facebook. As I said, it’s the greatest equalizer. You can find the latest Western-based design trends and learn from example. Read and learn as much as you can through design blogs. Find a niche that interests you so you can stand out. If you love outdoor sports for example, you could design specifically for outdoor sport companies and start to brand yourself within that niche. Don’t just be a designer. Be a designer for a particular passion. You’ll stand out & be less generic.

Last, but not least (and slightly off-topic), you have this crazy experiment going on right now, your “Live on $2/day” challenge. That sounds quite extreme! Can you tell us more about it?

I’ve been quite lenient about it. I’m living on $2/day but relying also on “gift economy” which also just means my boyfriend gets to pay for me. The idea behind it isn’t to limit myself with a poverty consciousness but see exactly how abundant we are if money weren’t a consequence. There’s a lot of options when you choose to simplify. It doesn’t become limiting, but very freeing! I’m also selling stationery for $2 and donating 30% to my favorite non-profit, Her Star Scholars.

Thank you, Janet!

In a nutshell:

  • As a web designer from a developing country, you have to understand your worth and drop the limiting beliefs regarding your nationality, because only when you do that you will be able to successfully charge reasonable rates.
  • You don’t want to be dealing with low-paying clients for the rest of your career. It’s okay to take on questionable jobs when you are only starting out, but it shouldn’t become a habit, and you should move on from that as soon as you can. Keep in mind that clients who pay the lowest fees are also the ones that are the hardest do deal with.
  • There’s nothing wrong in charging your clients western rates even when you live in developing country. Think about it: if a web designer from USA would move to your country, would they start working for $2/hour, or would they keep charging the same rates as they did when they were living in the states (assuming they work with international, not local clients)? You are under no obligation to adjust your rates based on the country you are living in.
  • Take time to figure out how you can present in a way that would allow you to attract high-paying clients. Good branding will help you to avoid being taken advantage of. What can you do in order to distance yourself from the “cheap labor from the third world” image?
  • As an entrepreneur, it’s important to understand that when you pay someone low rates, you will not get the same quality as if you would pay someone a decent amount of money. People from developing countries are not living under a rock, they know what the international industry rates are, and therefore understand that you are being a stingy douche when you try to hire someone for $2/hour. People who know that they are being exploited simply won’t give you their best.

Recommended reading

Here three articles that are really valuable to web designers who want to increase their rates:

Pay attention how important your positioning is. Charging lower rates doesn’t necessarily lead to more clients. Would you rather position yourself as someone who is willing to work for peanuts or as someone who knows their work and has their price that is non-negotiable? Think about which person you would like to work with if you would be a client with a decent budget.

Guys, what are your thoughts on this whole issue?

Have you ever struggled with being underpaid because you are from a developing country? Have you ever hired someone from a developing country for an extremely low rate?

Is outsourcing an ethical thing to do?

Let me know in the comments!

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