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Freelancing is Pretty Gangster...

Robert Williams

Tuesday, July 2, 13

But freelancing isnt for everyone...

You may have a dierent worldview - experiences, or opinions.

You might know youre better in a oce job.

You might not be interested starting your own business.

Tuesday, July 2, 13

However, EVERYONE can start earning money freelancing today even if...

You have a full-time job

You have no portfolio

You have no prior experience

You just got laid o or fired

You just want to make money on the side

Youre still learning or polishing your skills.

Tuesday, July 2, 13

Youre going to learn...

The mistakes and successes Ive had in the design industry.

What you need (and dont need) to start a freelance business.

Exactly how I write emails that earn me over 5k per month.

How much you should charge for dierent projects.

Additional resources for freelancing like templates, tricks, etc.

Tuesday, July 2, 13

My story

Tuesday, July 2, 13

After Graduation

I had the same 3 options every designer has:

1. Work at an Design or Advertising Agency

2. Work at a Company outside of the design industry

3. Freelance for myself

Tuesday, July 2, 13

I chose to work for an agency...

I wanted to work with an agency because:

They had fun clients.

They were more experienced and could teach me how to get better.

I liked the agency atmosphere.

Tuesday, July 2, 13

Magnetic Creative (design agency)

Ocially an independent contractor

But basically treated as an intern (worked full-time)

Hourly rate $12/hr

Tuesday, July 2, 13

My time with an agency


Great atmosphere

Great clients

Great direction


Slow to advance professionally

Became dependent on direction

Oce politics / egos etc.

Tuesday, July 2, 13

After 5 months I decided to look for an in-house position with a business...

Tuesday, July 2, 13

Altman Plants

Ocially a Graphic Designer

Only person in the entire marketing department

Salary $42k / year (about 21/hr)

Tuesday, July 2, 13

My time with a non-design company


Got a raise after 6 months

Given responsibility and control

Good benefits


Poor creative direction

Boring work (freelancing on the side)

Oce politics / egos etc.

Tuesday, July 2, 13

After 7 months, new management was brought in, and I was let go...

Tuesday, July 2, 13

Why this time I decided I would freelance full-time:

Huge demand for design

Hated the 9-5 hour workday

Hated the 40 hour workweek

Didnt like the hand-holding of managers

Didnt like not having control over my own career

Didnt like my work performance not reflecting my pay

I wanted to be able to work anywhere I wanted

I wanted to learn dierent things, like business, marketing, development.

Felt like I could do things better or more eciently then my employers

Didnt like that I could be terminated.

Tuesday, July 2, 13

I made 30k my first 6 months of freelancing full-time...

Although I was also looking for a full-time job,

Tuesday, July 2, 13

Was that people don't want websites, applications, designs, or whatever.

They want a problem solved, and usually that problem is costing them money.

The main things that I came to realize once I began freelancing

Tuesday, July 2, 13

Without making this realization, many designers focus on the wrong things.

Tuesday, July 2, 13

Not necessary to getting started as a freelancer:


Registering a DBA


Incorporation or LLC

A perfect portfolio


Networking Events

Their Website

Business Cards




Tuesday, July 2, 13

Reading blogs

A website, hosting, domain

Oce supplies

Designed materials (reports, stationary, mail)

Printer, fax machine

An email byline

A brand/mission statement

A business email


Business bank account

About biography

press kit



Business phone number

Tuesday, July 2, 13

All a potential client wants is their problem fixed, so you should focus on

showing them you can fix their problem.

Tuesday, July 2, 13

What most freelance designers showcase:

Their skills

Their work

Their website / portfolio

Their blog

Not being too salesy

Their network

Their dribbble/linkedin/twitter account

Tuesday, July 2, 13


Tuesday, July 2, 13

Great work is expected. Other factors matter just as much if not more when freelancing:







Tuesday, July 2, 13

Results from my Freelancers Survey

(I interviewed over 100 freelancers)

Tuesday, July 2, 13

What I asked:

How much do you make per month?

How many leads do you get from your website per month?

What percentage of your work comes from referrals?

What do you do when you dont have any work?

Tuesday, July 2, 13

The average freelancer:

$3,430 per month ($41,160 per year)

2.46 leads come to them each month from their website / portfolio

61% of projects come from referrals

Tuesday, July 2, 13

When they run out of work

38% said network on social media

23% said they do nothing or wait

15% look on dribbble, or industry an job board

12% write emails directly to this prospects

12% said something else or didnt specify

Tuesday, July 2, 13

When they run out of work

40% said network on social media

24% said they do nothing or wait

15% look on dribbble, or industry an job board

12% write emails directly to this prospects

9% said something else or didnt specify

$2,920/m $2,316/m $3,275/m

$5,515/m $5,831/m

Tuesday, July 2, 13

So what works?

Getting referrals!

Sending Emails!

Tuesday, July 2, 13

What most freelancers SUCK at?


Writing down their thoughts clearly

Writing quality sales emails to prospective clients

Presenting the value of their work

Managing projects, clients

Doing it for them

Getting referrals

Tuesday, July 2, 13

Thats great for you... because you just have to be a little bit better,

and clients will love you.

Tuesday, July 2, 13

Start with emails.

Tuesday, July 2, 13

What an average freelancers email looks like

Hi, Robert.

Im not sure if youre still looking for any extra help on your site, but in case, some my skills include:


Web design


Tuesday, July 2, 13

Again, Im not sure if any of these skills would be useful to you. However, if you find yourself in need, Id be happy to also send you my resume and references.

What do you think?

Thanks,Random Guy

Tuesday, July 2, 13

Why this approach is bad?


Too general.

Unsure of his value.

Gives me unspecific call to action.

Tuesday, July 2, 13

What a good email looks like:

Subject line: John, Id like to help you edit your videos.

Hi John,

I read your article about X and I noticed that youve recently started using video on your website.

Ive been doing video editing for 3 years and Id like to oer to help you edit your videos and get them optimized for the web.

That would make them would look more professional and load faster (which is important for readers), and youd free up time that you could use to create new content.

We can discuss the details, of course, but first I wanted to see if this is something you might be interested in.

If so, would it be okay if I sent you a few ideas on how I could help?

Tuesday, July 2, 13

Why is this email good?

Specifically mentions an article or something in common that introduces what you want to talk about - and lets them know this isnt a blanket email you send to everyone.

Focused on what the benefit of your services will provide and why its valuable to your potential client.

Ends with a yes or no answer. Increases the chances of someone saying yes by oering an attractive freebie ideas about how you can help

Ive made over 50k dollars with this email.

Tuesday, July 2, 13

Out of 50 emails I send like this

15 will reply

8 will want to talk in-depth

1 will become a client

Tuesday, July 2, 13

If you do end up getting the client and starting a project...

Continue this same approach when writing emails:

Only look for yes or no answers at the end of an email

Be clear and concise - so that it doesnt take half an hour to read your email

Talk about the value and benefits of what youre presenting not the features

Make it so that youve thoroughly thou