Freelance tips, two years in

[Edit: I was interviewed by The Freelance Web about these tips – hear me talk about this stuff over here]

So we’re just signing off our accounts for the second year of Thirty8 Digital (crazy business: two years? Where the hell did that go?). Things have been brilliant so far ~clutches hard at large piece of wood~ and I wouldn’t now do anything apart from work for myself.

I just got an email from my friend and ex-colleague Frankie Roberto, telling me he’s going freelance and asking for some tips. I have much to say about this stuff, and stopped myself writing him a thesis, but thought it might be interesting to throw the things I said into a quick blog post.

So here it is, the things I’ve taken away from the first two years of business:

> Get an accountant, it’s worth every single penny

> Don’t bother with stuff like FreeAgent, at least until things get much more complicated. Use Google Docs instead and save yourself the monthly fee.

> Find a blinding host if you’re going to be doing that stuff (ours is Vidahost, who are bloody brilliant: disclaimer, here’s an affiliate link… http://my.vidahost.com/aff.php?aff=1450).

> Try to avoid really low budget stuff, even though you’ll probably have to do that shit when you first get started just to get rolling – but in my experience the people who have £500 to spend on a website almost always want a £5000 website, whereas those who have £5000 to spend probably want a £5000 one…

> Genuinely under-promise and over-deliver. It’ll hurt a bit now, but later on people will come back because of it.

> Run your entire business life out of Google Docs. There really isn’t a viable alternative, which might hurt from a privacy perspective but you’re going to have to live with that right now.

> It’s hackneyed, but *everything* takes twice as long as you think. Make sure your estimates reflect this.

> Back every bastard thing up in at least three different places. This includes files, images, code, websites, everything. You probably knew that already, but worth making sure 🙂

> Introduce lots of people to lots of other people. I’m pretty sure there’s a karma thing going on here somewhere..

> Fix a single rate for everything you do, and then apply a discount if you want to do things cheaper for, say, a specific sector or client. It’ll make them feel good that you’re cutting prices for them and it won’t force you to do something over-complicated with your pricing.

That’s mine. What are yours?

Going freelance

I’m delighted and terrified (in pretty much equal measures) to announce that at the end of June 2011 I’ll be leaving my current employer Eduserv, and heading out into the wilderness of the freelancer.

As with any move, I’ll be very sad to leave the fine people I’ve been working so closely with but I’m also totally over-excited about starting something up. I fooled around with my own company when I left university in 1995 but it all went horribly wrong and it’s always felt like an itch I wanted to scratch properly.

This time, I won’t be alone in my endeavours. My excellent and massively talented wife – ex Science Museum, ex-Natural History Museum, ex-Colston Hall, mum – will be joining me as co-director of our new company thirty8 *. We’ll be focusing on web consulting, web and mobile strategy, training, content development and also some WordPress-based site builds. Naturally with our backgrounds we’ll be looking for museumy work, but we aren’t going to be limited by sector in any way.

So that’s it. Obviously if you’re looking for people to work with or just want to say hello, please do get in touch by dropping a comment on this post or via Twitter.

See you in July 🙂

{ * And why “thirty8”? Well, that’d be telling.. }