In order to gain some insight into setting up to practice freelance graphic/web design I went to visit Iain Row at Prominent Media who gave me a week’s work experience with him in 2006 when his business was still running out of his garage.
I was interested to know how his business had developed, which I instantly saw when I entered the new office, which is home to 3 full time developers.
How did you start your business?
Iain started his business as a sideline to his job at the Open University. He set himself up as a sole trader (all that is required to do this is to let the tax office know and keep track of income/outgoings for an end of year tax submission. Also, setting up a separate bank account is a good idea).
After 3 years he was able to move work solely on Prominent Media as a full time job.
How do you work out how much to charge?
Iain suggested working out how much you would be earning in a regular, full-time job (for example £20,000 per year) and working out the the hypothetical hourly wage from that job (roughly £10 per hour) and tripling it (£30 per hour).
The reason for tripling it is to cover expenses such as travel, equipment, taxes etc. as well as accommodating for the fact you won’t have as regular work as in a regular 9-5 job.
If a client doesn’t have enough money for the job but you still want to do it he suggested finding another way to benefit from the job rather than purely financially so you retain the value associated with your work. For example, having them link back to you or sharing their positive experience with other businesses to help promote you.
How do you quote for jobs?
Worked to a fixed price. Quote for how long you think the job will take times your decided hourly rate. For example, 40 hours x £30 = £1,200. This means you are motivated to finish it within the time you planned but also get a better deal if you are able to finish it sooner.
Do you have a form you fill in for briefs?
Iain uses a 2 page questionnaire to make sure he remembers to get all the information he needs when discussing a job with clients.
How do you acquire new clients?
Prominent Media sub-contract out the designs for their sites so they have a bit of a deal with the design company that they pass on work for each other. Iain also suggested looking into business networking groups where a similar deal of passing on work is used. Otherwise they rely on word of mouth/recommendations and repeat clients.
How do you host your client’s websites?
Iain is able to host his client’s websites on his own servers, which makes up a third of their annual income.
There’s no reason not to start practicing professionally, following these basic guidelines and continue to build up knowledge and experience as I go. It was really useful to confirm ideas I had on freelance work as well as learn a lot more that I had no idea about.
Iain said he may be able to pass on some design work in the future and is happy for me to contact him with any queries in future too.
All together it was a very useful trip.