Once upon a time, being a web professional meant you designed websites. Then along came CSS, PHP, the iPhone, and Facebook. Today, being a “web professional” can mean being a designer, coder, developer, search engine optimization specialist, copywriter, or even a social media guru.

So what makes one a successful freelance web professional? I’ll skip the “cost of entry” qualities such as good design skills, HTML, or programming languages. Last week, I took you through the 7 Qualities of a Good Client. Here are 5 Qualities of a Successful Freelance Web Professional:

A Successful Freelance Web Professional has a Pricing Strategy

A pricing strategy means knowing the value your work will create and what a client is willing to pay for that value. The ability to uncover and communicate the economic value of a successful outcome is a crucial skill you must develop.

Remember, your value doesn’t lie in the amount of time it takes you to complete the work. Nor in how much training, education, or expertise you have. You value lies solely in how well your services will put more money into the company’s pocket.

A Successful Freelance Web Professional has a Sales Process

Whenever you meet with a potential client, your primary purpose is to take that prospect through the process of deciding whether or not to hire you.

This requires that you determine need (by asking the right questions), demonstrate the economic value of your solution, make a recommendation (including quoting a price), and have a strong call-to-action that brings your prospect to a decision point. All of these “steps” are what make up your sales process.

And, yes—this can happen both seamlessly and painlessly.

A Successful Freelance Web Professional has a Development Process

Just like selling ought to have a process to reach a successful conclusion, so should your development.

Clients will be clueless regarding the next step or what’s required from them to complete the project. That’s where having established steps and milestones can make the development process as smooth and painless as your sales process was.

The best web designer in the world can look like a bumbling idiot when he’s as clueless as the client about each step in the process. If there’s a single quality that demonstrates your professionalism, it’s this one.

A Successful Freelance Web Professional has Business Savvy

A good web professional doesn’t necessarily need to be an expert in a particular industry; but he or she ought to have good business sense. Business owners or corporate decision-makers do not think like web designers or programmers (sadly, many business owners don’t think like business owners). But, financially speaking, most business owners and decision-makers will be concerned about three things:

  1. Where are we now?
  2. Where do we want to be x months from now?
  3. What’s holding us back?

Your prospect may or may not have any business acumen. But in order to either keep up or give advice—you ought to have.

A Successful Freelance Web Professional Doesn’t Always Have the Client’s Best Interest in Mind

Ideally, it’s in the client’s best interest to have you work for free; but I assume you’re interested in being paid. Always having the client’s best interest in mind is the fastest route to being taken advantage of. In reality, a successful freelance web professional knows how to strike a proper balance between his interests and the client’s, so that both get what they want. That’s what a contract is all about.

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments.

Former owner and partner of web firm Jenesis Technologies, John is currently Director of Digital Strategy at Haines Local Search, a company providing local search marketing solutions to SMBs, including print and Internet Yellow Pages, web design, and local SEO. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks.

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  • KA

    (1) Some of the links are broken.
    (2) Point 5 is toooooo true. Unfortunately, it took me years to learn that sometimes when you scratch people’s back, they just leave you with an itchy back. =P

    • Anonymous

      Hi KA — it looks like all the links are correct now, but let me know if you’re still seeing broken links!


    thanks for the advice!!

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