In my last year as a freelancer I’ve worked on a wide range of projects for a wide range of clients.
I’ve always been a bit of a self-taught jack-of-all-trades (doctor of one) and since moving full-time to web design in 2006 I’ve split my time pretty equally across front-end development, design work and CMS-wrangling. However as a freelancer I’ve invariably struggled being able to work on all three at once.
The one kind of job that I’d say I’ve found the hardest to deliver in the last year is offering a ‘package’ of work – that is a design and build for someone who wants a content-managed website. This was our bread and butter at the agency I previously worked for and something had previously enjoyed. However I’ve really found it hard to deliver this as a one-man team, at least in a way that is profitable.
So as a freelancer can package work be profitable? I’d be interested to hear how other freelancers make packages work for them?
Personally, in 2012 I really want to concentrate on doing more focussed work and working in colaboration with others more.
I’ve got some great projects lined up already that am really excited about. However, if you’re looking for someone to make great things with this year and in need of an interface designer, front-end developer or someone to whip ExpressionEngine into shape then do get in touch. I’d love to hear from you.
Update – to clarify, by ‘package’ I mean being the exclusive deliverer on a project requiring a range of different skills towards delivery. I do not mean offering set-priced products.
I think packages are a great idea because they offer more options to the client at reasonable rates. For instance, I would ask the client right off the bat what their budget is (0-$500, $500-$1000) and so on and offer maybe just designing a header or a header and color scheme or an entire build. I think they break-down lets the client understand what costs what and motivates them to choose appropriately.
I have some packaged products in place (although their profile is not raised enough on my website). These packages are based on typical requirements for the majority of the small business clients I’ve seen over the years. I do this not because I like the idea of delivering ‘packages’ 24×7 (I don’t – i’d much prefer to work on bespoke apps but those don’t come along every month). No, I offer the packages because they help potential clients (who may have very little technical knowledge) get to grips with the costs & give them something tangible they can review when they immediately ask the impossible question (“how much does a website cost?”..saying “it depends” worries them).
I can then talk them thru packages of increasing complexity and also raise the route of completely bespoke and discuss what happens there.
Anyway, that’s what is working for me – not sure if that helps
I do kind of have a ‘package’ but don’t really shout about it. I don’t have set prices for them either. Some clients require and prefer to use one person/agency for all their needs in which I can supply either by my self or in a team I will put together – That will on depend on budget, times scales and speciality.
Then I have a mixture of clients (normally agencies) that use me for different specialities, some just for CMS/Front end work, Consultation, Design etc.
Im enjoying this at the moment as its breaks things up from time to time and more varied work to keep me stimulated and on my toes.
Back to one of your questions, is it profitable? I probably spend more time overall on full brand/dev/cms, so probably not all of the time, but its nice to take control of the project.
There’s a lot to be said for specialising – some good advice i was given many years ago along the lines of ‘find what you’re good at, and stick to it’.
That said – it seems that the higher up the ‘food chain’ I’ve been, in full time roles – the less specialist I’ve been able/required to be. That changes as a freelancer, as I’ve had to be specific about what i do… or else I’m competing with agencies who have the full range of skills and much greater capacity/flexibility than i can on my own.
However – not wanting to turn down good opportunities makes it a good idea to have a pool of trustworthy, flexible resources that can fill in those blanks when I need them – offering skills that enable them to do something that would take me many times longer.
As such, I guess a to of it comes down to how you present yourself – I think it’s best to be open, and highlight the skills that are available (including your own project management skillz) as ‘packages’, if you like, while making the most of those you specialise in.