Topic: Freelance, should I go there?

I've been looking for a job in Baltimore for a little while now, and I really want to work with standards-based web design (honestly there doesn't seem to be too much of that going on around here).

I'm confident in my abilities and I've been considering freelancing for a bit, I have a site or two that I could start with, but before I really do anything I would love to hear from someone with a bit more experience in freelancing.

-The first question I have is the one that everyone much hates to answer, and it's about the current market-rate for web design services, does anyone possibly know of an accurate online freelance cost-calculator?

-My other question is:  From your experience, do you think I should get a job designing with a company first to get the experience and see how they do things before I start it on my own?

Re: Freelance, should I go there?

Everyone's situation is different. I've never designed for a company...I'm self-taught, and freelance full-time. I have no art education, no design education, and no computer education. I've just been using computers for 20 years, and have somewhat of an eye for layout, colors, etc. If I were asking myself for advice on whether I should become a freelance web designer, I'd say

NO WAY!

...but, here I am. Whether you can do it as well depends on a lot of factors. The ones I'd worry about first are:

1. Customers
If you don't have any, you can't make it full-time.

2. Debt
If you have a lot of it, you might not make it full-time.

3. Business Experience
It's a long, uphill battle for those who don't already know a few things about running a business. Taxes, business cards, advertising, pricing, calendar management, self-discipline, and decent organizational skills are just a few of the things that can make or break your attempts at freelancing.

4. God
Ultimately, I feel that the only reason I'm able to freelance is that God is making it possible. My business is thriving, but it's not (as far as I can tell) due to me being amazing. As I've written here before, every single one of my clients has been a personal referral. I've never advertised, and I'm not dealing with mom-and-pop video stores (not that that would be bad, mind you). My current client list includes no less than 7 national and international ministries...and I'm a one-man company. I can't see any reason for it other than divine providence. If God doesn't think it's best for you (or me) to freelance, I'm convinced that we won't be able to make it work. We Christians, after all, are not our own...we're His.

If there's ever anything I can do to help, or if you just want to chat, please let me know. Just use the Godbit email system and I'll respond quickly.

We're all looking forward to the future...but none of us more than the giant, evil robots.

Re: Freelance, should I go there?

Hi there rmspangler

As far as your question about market rate, I think it would be very hard to get an answer on this from anyone since so many factors can influence the rate -- location, demand within that location, experience, etc. Maybe you can talk to some freelancers in Baltimore that can help you with defining what your rate should be?

Now, you asked about working with a design co. or going on your own. In my experience, working with an agency has been invaluable. I say pray, listen to HIM and you will know what to do smile

I'll pray for you.

Lisa

Re: Freelance, should I go there?

Robert -

rmspangler wrote:

I've been looking for a job in Baltimore for a little while now, and I really want to work with standards-based web design (honestly there doesn't seem to be too much of that going on around here).

I'm confident in my abilities and I've been considering freelancing for a bit, I have a site or two that I could start with, but before I really do anything I would love to hear from someone with a bit more experience in freelancing.

Based on your website, it would appear you're not without talent. wink  Do you have much in the way of business contacts in your community?  Although we, like Anthony, don't advertise and rely on referrals, some of those have come from connecting with the local business community.  Ultimately, as Anthony and Lisa have indicated, it's up to God.  If you ask Him for direction, He will give it to you.

-The first question I have is the one that everyone much hates to answer, and it's about the current market-rate for web design services, does anyone possibly know of an accurate online freelance cost-calculator?

To discover your market, find the other designers in your area and search out what they charge.  You don't want to price your services too low or you'll be overlooked as inexperienced.

-My other question is:  From your experience, do you think I should get a job designing with a company first to get the experience and see how they do things before I start it on my own?

Experience is very important.  Getting paid while you get it is a bonus. wink  if you can land such a position, pay attention to how the company handles their clients and how the clients respond to that.  Key to you viability as a designer, especially at the beginning, will be how you interact with your customers.  All the skill in the world won't land you the project if the potential customer thinks you don't get them or that you can't communicate what's unique about them with a website.  That's all about the face-to-face communication.

That's my 2¢.  smile

Honored to Serve for Him - Tom ('Mas) Pickering <)><

Re: Freelance, should I go there?

I'm new to this forum, but I wanted to post because I live very close to you and am currently freelancing. I moved to Maryland a little over a year ago and left a full time job behind. I have young children and am freelancing mostly because I have one daughter who is not in school full time yet and I don't want to do daycare. So I work part time when she is in school. In any case, freelancing is tough for several reasons.

First, you don't get a regular paycheck.
Second, you have to pay your own taxes (including self-employment taxes, which can eat quite a big chunk out of your checks).
Third, you have to wear A LOT of hats -- sales, account mgmt, project mgmt, art director, general problem solver... oh and don't forget bill collector. (Over the winter, it took 90 days for me to receive payment form a HUGE company that should have known better.)

Obviously there are benefits. It does allow me to stay home and work part time. You have freedom to turn down work you don't agree with, and so on.

Now, I don't know you very well but since you asked for advice, here goes... there are several freelance placement agencies in town that actually do have a fair amount of work for freelancers. The key is that most of their work is ON-SITE freelance. So if you have the ability to go onsite (as opposed to working from home) than you can get a lot of work in Baltimore. The nice part of this type of work is that the agency takes out your taxes AND you get a paycheck every week! (Plus you don't have to track down the payment.) The downside is that you are paid a bit less than if you had gotten the work yourself (and didn't have to go through a middle man). But I think it's a great way to get started and build up your portfolio without having to take a full-time job for someone else. Plus, there's always the chance someone will really like you and offer you full-time (if that's what you want).

If you want to try one of these agencies, my first choice is Engine Performance. They're on Charles Street in Baltimore. Ask for Kelley Satterthwaite (she's great). Their number is 410.234.0600 or www.engineperformance.com. I also tried Career Profiles (www.careerprofiles.com) and BOSS Staffing (www.bossstaffing.com), although neither has had work for me since I primarily need off-site work. I've gotten the most work from Engine. Each of these companies focuses primarily on creative staffing. You can expect to receive $25-35/hr, but at least it's regular work and lets you do what you do best without worrying about the business side.

Good luck! Drop me a line sometime and let me know how it goes!

:-) Wendy

Re: Freelance, should I go there?

generalhavok, lisa, and maspick, thank you for the amazing feedback. I'm going to continue looking into local market-rate, and pray about everything. I am also going to keep my eyes open for a full-time career, maybe starting freelance part-time would be a good second step for me (the first being, getting a job!) .

Thanks again.

Edit 10:30AM:
Wendy: It's great to hear from someone in the area; thank you so much for the links, it definitely sounds like something I would be interested in doing. I will keep you updated.

Last edited by rmspangler (2006-09-18 06:29:30)

Re: Freelance, should I go there?

getting a job and freelancing on the side sounds like a wise choice. whatever you do, you will be great smile