Marketing Myself To Get Small Paying Freelance Jobs

For me, creating websites is a hobby. I have made some money from my hobby by putting advertisements on my sites. However, with Google crashing my traffic (again) and the dour economy, I’m really not making anything anymore from my sites.

So, I figured I would put my skills to use making money making simple websites for others. My graphic design skills are not good. I don’t have the skills, the tools, nor the patience to create any flashy graphics. I can, however, make simple logos, take existing photos and manipulate them using GIMP and Paint.NET, make gradients, shadows, and other simple web design elements. And I am an intermediate level PHP coder and can do stuff with MySQL.

I figure my skill set, while no where near that of a professional who does this stuff 40+ hours a week, is sufficient enough to create simple websites for small businesses. But how do I get these clients?

I do not want to do business with people over the internet thousands of miles away. I have read other threads here about rent-a-coder websites where people have complained they are competing with coders in undeveloped countries charging only $3 an hour or less. I would like to do this in my free time and make at least $10 an hour and preferably target people close enough to worry about getting sued if they don’t pay me.

I would like to make anywhere from $200 - $300 a month. This would be basically extra money that I would make in my free time, extra spending cash. So, I’m not looking for a career in this area. I would like to develop simple websites and make at least $50 off each one, spending no more than 5 - 8 hours on each one, possibly longer if it pays a little more.

So, where do I begin? Placing a Yellow Pages ad? Craigslist? Cold calling small businesses like realtors?

I think that marketing is one of the hardest parts of starting any business, especially if you have no existing industry contacts. So if anyone can point me in the direction I need to go to get started, I would appreciate it. :slight_smile:

Thanks.

Just adding to the above, have you considered something like software development, writing a web app, doing an iPhone app or something concrete like writing articles or posts for other blogs (etc). I wouldn’t advise anyone trying to snatch up web design contracts on a whim as Shyflower has pointed out - if you have clients, you need to be able to dedicate the time to serve them. If you produced a product rather than a service (like software, ebooks, etc) you have the benefit that it can be done at your own leisure and you’re less likely to be bound by a particular client and their requirements. You say you have some skill with PHP and mySQL which is why I’ve suggested the web app route (or perhaps something similar), you can make a decent side living if you produce something that’ll get customers (either on a one off or subscription payment model). Perhaps not what you were thinking about, but I wouldn’t say web design is the best “part time” role to undertake as it can quite easily absorb or overrun into your “non-free” time. And I’m saying this from experience (ex-software developer to web designer, part time to full time). :slight_smile:

shadowbox has given you great advice as regards spreading the word about your services through word of mouth and I’d also recommend that you start that way.

Having a website of your own that shows your portfolio and the type of work you can do, would also be an important step. It always annoys me when I see people offering web design services, when they don’t have a website of their own.

I’m seeking advice. No need to worry about offending. :slight_smile:

Well, I do have a “day job”, so going full-time on web development really isn’t an option unless I want to work 80 - 90 hours a week.

I was thinking about the independent real estate agents and maybe dentists who would like patients to be able to schedule appointments over the internet. You know, small stuff that I could basically create a template to reuse changing only graphics and colors and text and stuff.

There are a lot of cheapskate small business owners out there. :wink:

You and I and most people here know the global nature of developing websites. I am hesitant to believe that a dentist or a real estate agent is going to spend several hours researching web designers from around the world. I don’t think they are going to be as aware of the global nature of web development as those of us around here are.

Everybody wants stuff done yesterday. :lol: However, if you take a dentist or someone without a website now, and for the right price, would they be willing to wait two weeks?

OK, that is a good idea.

Yeah, I will create a portfolio of “dummy” websites to show what I am capable of doing.

Another good idea. :slight_smile:

Will do.

Working only in your spare time creating $50 web sites, with no pressure and a ‘its a hobby’ outlook sounds most suitable to doing web sites for friends and associates who don’t really ‘need’ a web site. No business actively looking for a web site is going to consider working with someone who isn’t able to work to a timetable of their choosing, so there’s no point in trying to target them in a marketing campaign.

I suggest you approach friends and associates and casually ask them if they’d like a cheap and simple web site building. I know plenty of people who’d probably say yes - my local coffee shop just had one done by one of their customers (it was the customer’s idea). Took the guy about six months to create a 4 page site ‘in his spare time’, and now they have a simple brochure site that cost them a few cups of coffee.

I really don’t think your ‘marketing campaign’ needs to be anything more complicated than popping round and having a chat with people you know.

And if things start to pick up, you can look at dedicating more time and maybe creating a more serious business out of it.

First of all, I’m not trying to offend because I really respect most of your posts that I see here, but this one brings up so many questions.

Whether part time or full time, web design is a business and if you want to succeed in it you have to treat it as such.

I don’t believe you will find any good clients at such a low rate. Most good clients aren’t looking for cheap; they’re looking for value. I don’t think you can provide decent value in a website with only five to eight hours work.

Additionally, as you noted, web design is very competitive. No matter where you find clients, you will be competing against skilled, full time designers from every corner of the world whether or not you choose to do business in only your own country or globally.

In over ten years of working as a web provider, I have only been stiffed once for a bill. I believe that is first of all because of my business policies and second because I am as choosy about taking on new customers as they are in choosing a provider.

Finally another red flag I see is your mention of ‘spare time’. It’s going to be hard to find clients that are willing to accept your work when you feel you have the time to do it. Most of them want their projects completed yesterday!

All in all, before you begin, get your head straight. Plan your business. Know exactly what it is you want to accomplish, what skills you will use to accomplish it, and who your market will be. Also create a list of good business practices and follow it in setting up your part-time business.

Now about finding clients. If you are set on working your locality, there are many ways to find business.

I believe that one good way for you to get your feet wet is to contact local web developers and see if they have outsource work you can do. Get a resume together and a small portfolio of work. I think samples are probably just fine to show them. Be truthful about your experience and about the time you have available to work on their projects.

You might also contact your local Chamber of Commerce or other business associations to see if they will provide you with a list of members you can research and contact.

Be a joiner. Just like you have done at SitePoint, join something that interests you and become an active contributor. Let people know that you do web work, but don’t dwell on it.