Successful web design business

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web designer's Success Guide: how to profit from freelance web design / kevin airgid www.airgid.com  / This book is supported by FITC, the design and technology events company. Check our website for a current list of our events. Dedication I dedicate this book to my wife Crona, without her patience and positive support this book and my successful career would not be possible. “Marriage is our last, best chance to grow up.” Joseph Barth Credits Brian Reindel Copy Editor Crona Airgid Editor Special Thanx John Read Kathleen Hickey Carole Guevin Jonathan Clark Kirill Brusilovsky Scott Allen Jennifer Stuart Copyright 2006 Airgid Media Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book shall be reproduced or used anywhere. You can share and copy this PDF book with anyone you like. But do not copy the contents and try to make money from it. OK While every effort was made to ensure the accuracy of this book, errors do happen. This book is provided “as is” and the author makes no warranties on the content or procedures con- tained herein. The author shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damages arising from the information contained in this book.  / This book is supported by FITC, the design and technology events company. Check our website for a current list of our events. TOC the stuff / FORWARD By Jonathan Clark 4 CHAPTER 1 Starting up 6 CHAPTER 2 Tooting your own horn 6  CHAPTER 3 Office on the cheap 7 CHAPTER 4 When projects go wrong  CHAPTER 5 How to share your knowledge and make money 4 CHAPTER 6 Project management and pricing 49 CHAPTER 7 Teach your clients to make bread 68 RESOURCES Things you can use 80 Get this book in Printed Form Why buy a printed version? It lasts longer and stays together better with a cover. It’s easier to read. You can give it as a gift to someone after you are done reading. It’s easier to follow the tutorials with a printed version. It’s cheap Get the printed book, with a shinny color cover : http://book.airgid.com/  / This book is supported by FITC, the design and technology events company. Check our website for a current list of our events. Forward by Jonathan Clark / Have you ever stood at the beginning of a path and following your eye along it.... up, up and up – there, way out in the distance, a vast mountain lies with its peak hovering above the clouds. And you, the intrepid adventurer, have to climb this mountain. This same thing can be said for many things in life, freelance being one of them. Everybody needs a hand they can hold along this journey, someone they can look up to and say, ‘help’, when the going gets tough. Sometimes that hand is there, and very often it is not. What Kevin aims to offer you with this guidebook is a helping hand – some reassurance or even a kick start along this journey. Kevin points out crevasses where he or other people have fallen into, but he also provides good pointers for short cuts on the path and things you can do on those quiet days where not much is happening… and very importantly, he teaches you to ration your food (money) wisely. An indispensable book for the first timer and a good read also for somebody with a bit of expe - rience already on those paths, as everybody can learn from other peoples experiences. Let your journey to the top of that mountain be a challenging and fruitful one and don’t forget to take your camera with you Jonathan Clark www.jonathan-clark.com 4 / This book is supported by FITC, the design and technology events company. Check our website for a current list of our events. “The Rejects” Below are some logos that didn’t cut it for the book cover, but I thought they where pretty good and so they see the light of day as “The Rejects” page. WEBDESIGNER'S SURVIVALGUIDE WEBDESIGNER'S SURVIVALGUIDE WEBDESIGNER'S SURVIVALGUIDE WEBDESIGNER'S WEBDESIGNER'S SURVIVALGUIDE WEBDESIGNER'S SURVIVALGUIDE WEBDESIGNER'S SURVIVALGUIDE  / This book is supported by FITC, the design and technology events company. Check our website for a current list of our events. WEBDESIGNER'S KEVINAIRGID SURVIVALGUIDECHAPTER ONE starting up 6 / This book is supported by FITC, the design and technology events company. Check our website for a current list of our events. Introduction First and foremost, thank you for buying my book The money you spent will go to a good cause – most notably my daughter’s education fund. In turn, I hope to repay your kindness and interest in freelance Web design with fruitful chapters, chock-full of useful tidbits and practi- cal advice. This will enable you to amass an empire fit for taking over the world, to strike out on your own or to at least work in the evenings to make some extra cash. I have tried as much as possible to make this book “fat free”. We have all purchased books where there were large amounts of filler just to make the book look thicker on the shelf. So no fat here, just what y ou need to know to build your freelance Web design business. After doing a little market research, it became very apparent that there were no books that really taught people the ins-and-outs of running a successful freelance Web design business. Yes, there are other small-business books that try to cover everything from creating a business plan to do- ing your taxes, but these are rarely industry specific. They are nifty if you want to be a jack-of- all-trades and master of none. This book is aimed specifically at creativ e individuals, and it will teach you how to maximize your creative talent in order to make money. Nonetheless, there are some books that offer valuable insights on how to run the accounting and legal side of your new business venture. I list a few I highly recommend at the end of this book To keep you focused and on task, I decided it was better if we did not cover those subjects in depth. I love designing interactive Web sites, and it is fantastic that people pay me to do something I love. I have been working freelance since 1993. There is nothing more rewarding than managing your own creative process and producing creative that has not been tampered with by an overly opinionated supervisor. Being the master of your own domain is truly a pleasure, especially when it comes to producing a flawlessly designed Web site. Of course, freelance is not without its headaches, and I hope to help you avoid some of them in the following chapters. Learn from my mistakes and successes, and you will find building your freelance Web design business to be a very rewarding endeavor, both for your ego and your pocket book. Why designer’s freelance – fun or fear? It has been my experience that designers freelance for one of two reasons: for fun or out of fear. You need to decide what “f” word is motivating you. It was the fear factor that drove me into freelance. I was employed at a small interactive firm that laid me off due to an economic down turn. I tried to find a full-time position that paid as well as my last one, but there where no job opportunities in my area. For fear of loosing my house, my car and the shirt of my back, I had to find paying freelance clients and fast. Fortunately, I had been freelancing on the side for sev - eral years and I was able to convert some of my part-time clients into full-time revenue streams. For any Web designer wishing to freelance in the future, that is what I recommend. If you are working full-time right now, either inside the interactive field or in another discipline com - pletely, I highly recommend you start to build up a small base of freelance clients. This makes the jump into full-time freelance less difficult and not as overwhelming. That way you can be as motivated by the fun factor as you are by the fear factor. The problem with starting freelance full-time or “cold turkey”, is that you do not have enough business to sustain even a modest income. There is nothing more stressful than trying to find new clients simply because y ou have too many bills to pay. It is much better both for your mental health and your bank account if you 7 / This book is supported by FITC, the design and technology events company. Check our website for a current list of our events. build up a small base of clients first. By acquiring a list of clients and potential clients before y ou go freelance full-time, you can achieve the following: w Build your project management and creative management skills. w Give yourself the confidence and experience necessary to be successful. w Build a network of client connections. w Decide if you can handle the headaches of freelancing full-time. w Learn how to better manage your finances. By doing a little freelance on the side you can learn a lot about what being a full-time freelancer is really like. I think it is crazy when I read get-rich-quick advertisements claiming to give people everything they need to open their own profitable business in thirty days or less. It’s never that easy. Being self-employed is not for everyone. If you can not manage your own time or your part-time freelance clientele, or you have trouble with self-motivation, then start- SUCCESS TIP ing a freelance Web design business may not Freelance is a family affair. be for you. When I decided to freelance full-time, I had a A line of credit: a lifeline or long talk with my spouse. The decision to move a rope to hang you? from a bi-weekly pay check to the roller coaster A few years before I began freelancing full- income of a freelancer was a decision we needed to make as a couple. It is important that you time, I had the good luck to become friends consult your significant other before you begin with a financial planner. At the moment I was this risky adventure. You will need the emotional working full-time for a world-renowned ad- and possibly the financial support as you grow vertising agency and I was pulling in a good your business. Without my wife’s consistent in- salary. Financial problems were the furthest come, I would have been unable to help pay the thing from my mind, but my friend insisted I mortgage in the first few months of starting my freelance business. apply for a line of credit for a rainy day emer- gency. His advice paid off because a few years later I used that line of credit to help jump- start my full-time freelance business. The best time to apply for a line of credit is when you are already employed full-time. This way the bank is more likely to give you an amount of credit sufficient to meet all your emerg - ing needs. Think of the line of credit as your insurance policy and not another bank account or credit card. You will need to suppress the impulse to shop until you drop. I will talk more about that later when you consider updating your software and purchasing the 2500 PDA with built- in digital camera and electric toothbrush. Like my friend said, the line of credit is more like a rainy day fund to help get your new business through the rough spots. I recommend anyone who is going to jump into the freelance business full-time to either save enough money to cover your expenses for at least three months, or to obtain this line of credit. I do not claim to be a business or financial expert (keep in mind I hav e a visual art’s degree), but my own experience has taught me that running your own business can have numerous ups- and-downs. You need to be prepared for when you experience the down times. 8 / This book is supported by FITC, the design and technology events company. Check our website for a current list of our events. Designing your freelance Web site One of the most important parts of your advertising arsenal is your Web site. Your Web site is the place where you display your product to potential customers. Your product is design and interactive media, and it is important that these potential customers can view a wide range of projects. Often interactive designers will post what they feel is their best work to their Web site. While this is a good idea, I have learned that it is better to have a wide range of styles and types of projects posted online. Even if some of the work is not your best, it is better to post projects that represent a wide range of work. For instance, I have work posted in my portfolio from when I helped design the 1999 refresh of the Chevrolet.com Web site. The designs look old SUCCESS TIP and dated, but the brand name recognition Danger, Will Robinson, danger helps build my credibility with new clients. As designers we are often very critical of our Being a creative person does not always mix well own work. I have been pleasantly surprised with starting your own business, and running your own freelance Web design business can be by how much a new client likes a past project big business, even if it is just little old you Secur- of mine that I consider old and inferior to my ing a line of credit can be the best way to ensure more modern work. security for some bumps in the road as you start out. However, individuals with loads of debt may When you design your freelance Web site you think twice before taking on more credit. It is need to think about your target audience. Ev- better to pay off or down the debt you have first before attempting to go freelance full-time. ery designer has their own style and market niche. You need to decide if you want to do work for any or all of the following: advertis- ing agencies, B2B organizations, B2C organi- zations, non-profits and mom-and-pop shops. It is a good idea to do a little research before you begin sketching out the design. Try to learn about what your target audience looks for when they select a freelance Web site designer. In the case of my site, Airgid.com, I have gone through many iterations over the years. One of those iterations consisted of a heavy Flash interface that infused aliens and robots throughout the Web site. The theme was a 1950’s horror movie. “The Attack of the Killer Web site” (Fig. 1.1) generated a tremendous amount of attention in the online design community. When I launched the Web site it was featured in several design por- tals around the world. My Web site usage statistics skyrocketed and I even had to move up to a new hosting plan to keep up with the bandwidth the site used. Although it was receiving a lot of attention from the Web design community, it did not generate new work. I did a little digging and talked to some of my clients. Most of them did not really understand why I had a slew of aliens and robots dominating my site. They could not see the “business logic” behind it. Another big problem with this version of my Web site, was that access to the most important in- formation was four clicks deep. An analysis of my server logs revealed that users went straight for the portfolio section, they viewed a few projects and then they left. The time spent searching for this area and the hindrance of not being able to view brief highlights of my work became a major concern. Users where forced to follow this path to look at my portfolio pieces: Splash page home page portfolio page portfolio piece 9 / This book is supported by FITC, the design and technology events company. Check our website for a current list of our events. Figure .  “The Attack of the Killer Web site” gained a lot of attention in the design community. It even won a few awards, but I lost business because it did not communicate the right message about my entire skill set. You can view an archived version at http://www.airgid.com/flash Another issue with this Web site was the fact that the home page was extremely overweight. It required a download of a little over one megabyte, and secondary pages where not much better. So even with a fast DSL connection, the Web site took a good deal of time to load. All of these mistakes coupled together made for a bad user experience. My target audience is full of busy marketing managers, creative directors and CEOs of fast-paced companies. They do not have the time to click, click, click, to find valuable information. They want it now and often they need to make a decision fast… should I hire Kevin Airgid to do my work, or should I look elsewhere? I have since created a leaner, meaner Web site (Fig. 1.2). Even though it is much more business- oriented, it has just the right touch of creative flare and professionalism. I have gained both highly creative and engaging projects, as well as steady corporate design assignments. The port- folio now follows the popular Amazon.com one-click methodology. When the user arrives, my portfolio is the first thing they see. The home page is cleverly disguised as the portfolio page, and my product is served for consumption by the masses. Keep the following lessons in mind as you design your next freelance Web site. w Your work should sell itself. Do not worry about lengthy explanations or marketing jargon for each project. A short, punchy paragraph emphasizing the skills utilized is sufficient. Most users only skim text online. w Make your portfolio easy to access and fast to download. Keep in mind even speedy corpo- rate T1 connections partition bandwidth and can slow down. w Even though your clients may want to hire you for your Flash animation skills, do not make them wait to see your portfolio. Resist the temptation to use your portfolio interface to flex 0 / This book is supported by FITC, the design and technology events company. Check our website for a current list of our events. Figure 1.2 My new Web site is only 41Kb in size, and the portfolio is one-click access. your animation muscles. If you need to SUCCESS TIP show this off, create a separate “demo When NOT to send an e-mail. reel” that users have an option to select. w Corporate design may feel boring to Never send cold e-mails on Friday or Monday. Web designers, but in my experience it I have found that most marketing managers, creative directors (and the like) are fried by the helps keep a Web site grounded in real- time Friday rolls around. A cold e-mail sent on a ity, especially when you have a lot going Friday will probably be ignored or deleted. If you on in your portfolio. If we do our job, the send an e-mail on the weekend and it is viewed information architecture and interface de- on Monday, it will most likely get lost in the rest sign should compliment one another and of the SPAM and internal company memos that provide a pleasant user experience. get sent out. I have found sending e-mail the rest of the week to achieve better success. This is also true with cold calling. Finding work – the cold e-mail campaign So how do you go about getting a small base of paying clients? The way I started was by simply using my network of friends and associates. I heard it once said that philosophy is com- mon sense dressed up in a 3-piece suite. And it is true even for a one-man-show freelance busi- ness. E-mail your friends, family, associates and acquaintances and tell them you are looking for freelance work. You will be surprised how fast e-mails can get passed around. Before you know it, you may have your first freelance project. For instance, I e-mailed a friend of mine who was looking for work. She interviewed at a large advertising agency in Detroit, Michigan. While on the interview she learned they needed to hire some interactive designers. Her e-mail gave me the scoop that this particular agency needed help. The lead got me a 3-month contract that I would have never learned about if I did not e-mail her.  / This book is supported by FITC, the design and technology events company. Check our website for a current list of our events. One of the things I learned early on when I started doing freelance is how powerful e-mail can be as a tool to gain new business. We all use e-mail to communicate with friends, family and co- workers, but we really do not think of it as an advertising medium. E-mail is one of the best SUCCESS TIP ways to find hot leads for new business. If SPAM is bad for business. someone is not interested in your e-mail they Want to kiss your freelance business good-bye? just delete it, and if they are interested they Keep sending e-mail to people who have not can reply to you within seconds. It is the best replied to you. The Internet is a small place and way to reach out to potential clients without if you constantly send e-mail to people who are bothering them on the phone or knocking on not interested, you will cause your self more their door. harm than good. People have a long memory when it comes to annoying e-mails. You do not want to tick off the head of an interactive group When I e-mail someone looking for work I for a major agency – one day it will come back keep my e-mails very short and to the point. to haunt you My rule is one cold e-mail does the Think about who your target audience is for job. If they are interested they will respond, or your e-mail and what they would be most even keep the e-mail for future reference. Keep a interested in knowing about what you have list of everyone you have e-mailed and make sure to offer. E-mails with long-winded “market - you do not cold e-mail them twice. ing” speak really do not work. Most of my clients have one thing in common – lack of time They are grazers when it comes to information, and they typically skim e-mails from people they do not know or delete them without reading them. You only have a few milliseconds to catch their attention before your e- mail ends up in the trash. I have found a method that works extremely well for gathering qualified candidates for my e- mail campaigns. This method takes more work than just sending e-mails to the arbitrary info company.com, but you will achieve better results and your efforts will be rewarded. For this example I will demonstrate how I would go about finding the name and e-mail address of a creative director at a large advertising agency. You could also use this method for the marketing manager of a B2B company or any other related field. Step 1: Finding the name The fastest way for me to find the name of a creative director for an ad agency is to look at trade publication Web sites. For instance, in Detroit (near where I live), there is a magazine called Big Idea. This magazine helps represent the local communication arts community. Many creative directors’ names are published here when they win awards or land new projects. It is an excel- lent resource for finding potential leads. You can also find the names of these people by reading company press releases. Often they will mention the names of those individuals inv olved with generating new business. Sometimes a Google search on a company name (or the agency’s cli- ents) will yield key contact names. Okay, we have followed these steps and found our name. For illustration purposes we will call our lead “John Smith”.  / This book is supported by FITC, the design and technology events company. Check our website for a current list of our events. Step 2: Finding the e-mail Most companies have a strict naming convention for staff e-mail addresses. You can crack this naming convention by looking for clues on their Web site. Start by searching for a sales contact. You can use this to decipher the naming convention. For instance, the sales manager is listed as Jim Doe, and his e-mail is jdoecompany.com. So the naming convention is “letter of first name, then full last name”. Step 3: Writing the effective e-mail Here are some examples of effective e-mails that have landed me work in the past. Target Client: Contact at medium-size company. Comments: This e-mail landed me several medium-size company Web site redesigns. Ever thought of a Web site redesign? Something to make your site stand out above your com- petition online? I have done work for clients such as Ford, Marriott Hotel and Lexus to name a few, and I can offer a range of freelance prices. To learn more, please view my Web site: http://www.airgid.com/ Why hire airgid.com? http://www.airgid.com/why_hire/ Target Client: Creative Director Comments: This is the standard e-mail I send to any large ad agency. This e-mail includes a resume as well. Your work history can sell you just as much as your portfolio of work. Ever need a freelance Web/Flash designer? Please consider my services: Portfolio Web site: http://www.airgid.com/ Why hire Kevin Airgid? http://www.airgid.com/why_hire/ Resume: http://www.airgid.com/resume/  / This book is supported by FITC, the design and technology events company. Check our website for a current list of our events. Amnesty 40th Time line (Copyright Amnesty International) Target Client: Office Furniture suppliers - UK Comments: I sent this to probably 100 different companies. It gained me one qualified lead, which is actually a good ratio considering the number of companies I e-mailed. I have recently completed a Web site for a company similar to yours: http://www.russellofficecenter.com/ Ever thought of doing a Web site redesign to make your site more interactive, and easier to update? My client, Russell Office Supply, can now update their Web site themselves. It is easy to do. Let me know if you are interested in a cost estimate. You can learn more here: http://www.airgid.com/ Why hire airgid.com? http://www.airgid.com/why_hire/ P.S. - I am based in Canada, and the exchange rate from British Pound to Canadian dollar is an added benefit to you. 4 /  This book is supported by FITC, the design and technology events company. Check our website for a current list of our events. Other places to find work? Another excellent way to get your feet wet with freelance is to volunteer your skills for a charity. If you are working full-time and do not know where to start looking for work, a recommenda- tion is to start off with charity work. Volunteering to do a Web site for a charity will enable you to test out your project management skills, and more importantly your ability to deal with a client directly. The other excellent benefit to doing a project for free is you can typically dictate the design. This means you can add a really nice project to your portfolio, which can help you sell your services later. There are many charities out there who would benefit greatly from your talents. My first big freelance project was a pro-bono interactive Flash timeline I did for Amnesty Inter - national. This piece landed me paying gigs with clients such as CBC News and General Motors. More importantly, Amnesty International enjoyed working with me, and actually hired me to do more interactive pieces.. However, doing freelance work for charities is not without its frus- trations. Often charities have an intense bureaucratic structure, and you will need to be patient with committees and several layers of approval. Yet, working with charities can give you a great sense of accomplishment as you help build something for a worthwhile cause. Chapter Summary Typically publishers force authors like me to write these blasted summaries for every chapter I never read them, do you? They are a waste of time - who needs a summary of what they just read After all, this is not a schoolbook. So, from this point on, no more summaries at the end of chapters Like I said, no fat in this book  / This book is supported by FITC, the design and technology events company. Check our website for a current list of our events. CHAPTER TWO tooting your own horn 6 / This book is supported by FITC, the design and technology events company. Check our website for a current list of our events. Finding free advertising online Your mother always told you not to brag, well that is not going to get you anywhere in the freelance world. You need to shout from the hilltops your successes, so that you can turn past projects into future projects. The best way to do this is to broadcast it to all your past clients, and to as many news boards and Web designer portals as you can. By having Web design portals such as Pixelsurgeon.com, Surfstation.lu and Creativebehavior.com “news” your latest creation, you start to build link credit online. The more places that post links to your work, the more reputable your credentials become. The more link credit you have, the more likely people are going to find you when they type “Kick Ass Web site Designer” into Google. Google will rank your site as important if more people are linking to you. Thus, your search engine ranking will go up, and people will be more likely to find your site. About Us AirGid Media Inc. is a design studio that builds dynamic media solutions. Services include: Flash media, web site design, content management systems, 3D animation, presentations, illustration, branding and kiosks. For instance, in this layout you can see the description of what my company does on the first part of the page, which loads after the title. Research shows that adv anced search engines do not just read the top of the page, but they also scan down the page to the bottom to find other keywords. If you were to repeat the paragraph at the top, and use some of the same words, you would help increase your search engine placement. Search engines such as Google use sophisticated mathematical formulas to pick up how many times a particular word is used on a page. It then indexes the page according to this word count and several other factors. I also recommend posting to as many forums online as you can. More popular forums, such as Ultrashock.com and Macromedia.com, will let you “market” your latest creation for free. Even if you are working full-time for a company you should still “news” your projects online. Your cli- ent will not mind the additional exposure for their company. Having your name associated with a full-time project also helps build your link credit for your part-time freelance. 7 / This book is supported by FITC, the design and technology events company. Check our website for a current list of our events. Google Yourself by Scott Allen http://thevirtualhandshake.com/ (Reprint by Permission) In December 2002, Randy Cohen of the New York Times answered a reader’s ethical question regarding a friend who had used Google to do some background checking on a man she had been on a date with. When she learned that the man, a doctor, had been involved in several malpractice suits, she had a much lower opinion of the man, which presumably affected the relationship. The ready availability of information on the Internet makes it easy for people to do free basic background checks on people before entering into business relationships with them. This is something you should definitely do yourself before hiring anybody as an employee, consultant, or contractor. So what does Google have to say about you? If you don’t know, you’d better find out. Those skeletons in your closet may not be as hidden as you think. Or worse yet, you may have some- one else’s skeletons First of all, you want to make sure that you’re one of the top people in a search for your name, or preferably the top person. This is not so difficult when you have a distinctive name, such as David Teten. A moderate amount of online activity and publishing will ensure that you rise above the handful of other people with the same name. On the other hand, if you have a very common name, like Scott Allen, with numerous other people with that name being active on - line, you have to work especially hard to even be on the first page of listings (at last check, I had finally gotten to the 1 spot). In the case of a personal name, the strategies for improving your search engine placement are simple. Make sure your name is included in the TITLE tag on your page, and prominently used throughout the page. The other thing to work on is getting inbound links to your site, pref - erably containing your name. Two excellent ways to do this are: w Develop an HTML signature to use in Web-based discussion forums that has your name as a hyper link to your Web site. Every message you post then becomes a link to your site for the search engines to add to their index. w Publish articles anywhere and everywhere you can, making sure that they always include an extended byline that links to your Web site, preferably with your name as the text for the link. These strategies will improve your link popularity significantly - one of the major factors in most search engine ranking algorithms. Now, what about those skeletons? Don’t just go through the first three pages—look through everything. You might want to put your name in quotes, i.e., “ (around 5,000 results) vs. Donna Fisher (over 250,000 results), to reduce the number of results. So what do you do if you find some dirt on yourself? If it’s downright inaccurate or slanderous, you can, of course, try to contact the site and have them remove it. If, on the other hand, it’s a matter of public record, like the malpractice suits above, then you need some damage control. You may just want to provide an ample supply of good information about you well positioned 8 / This book is supported by FITC, the design and technology events company. Check our website for a current list of our events. in the search engines, and the other can just languish in obscurity. Or, you may want to make sure people hear it from you first, or that you at least have an answer about it on your site to “set the record straight”. If the issue is major enough, you may want to hire a professional PR person to handle it, but it is something you can take care of yourself, as well, if you’re on a lim- ited budget. But the first step is awareness. Make sure you know what “the virtual you” looks like to the rest of the world—Google yourself. Note: You can read more from Scott Allen online at his site http://thevirtualhandshake.com/ Keeping in Contact One of the biggest struggles I have found being a freelancer is keeping in contact with my clients. Sometimes my clients will go five months before they do another project with me. Over time I have learned I need to keep my name and e-mail address in front of them constantly, so they think of me first when they have a new project they are considering. But how do you do this without bugging the hell out of them? These are busy people, so sending them jokes and ‘hi how are you doing?’ e-mails will only annoy them and damage your reputation. You need to make sure you are a valuable asset to these individuals. Approximately once a month I send a link to all my clients (both current and past), regarding new technology that is directly related to a past project I completed. For example, I do a lot of Flash development for my clients. Many times they ask me if they can convert MS Office documents such as Word and PowerPoint to other formats such as Flash and HTML. So as I am surfing the Web, I am always on the lookout for software or technology that will help solve their problems. Then, once a month I send an e-mail broadcast to my client network with a short paragraph pointing them to new software or a Web site. My clients love these e-mails because it is information they can use. SUCCESS TIP Google Tips and Tricks I also send out e-mails whenever I create Google can now search .SWF files on your server. a really innovative and successful project. As you send out your project URLs into the world, Often old clients will see the new Flash piece you can rest assured that Google will attempt to I have created, they will like it and want to do spider your .SWF files as well. I have done a little something similar. Showing past clients your research on this topic and it appears that while current work on a regular basis is an excel- Google will index .SWF files, it seems to favor HTML files first in search queries. If you plan to lent way to generate new work. The best way launch a full Flash site, you might consider creat- to stay in touch with clients is via e-mail, but ing an HTML version for search engines to crawl. I have found a better solution than just us - On my site I place an “HTML” link under my main ing your e-mail client to send out these mass Flash movie. This link will take search engine mailings. I use a small server PHP application spiders, and users without Flash to a site that called “PHPMailList”. I use PHPMailList to contains all the needed information in HTML. Creating this HTML site will also help build your store all the e-mails of potential, current and keyword index. A good idea is to place a highly past clients. When I am cold e-mailing and a descriptive paragraph at the top of your HTML client e-mails me back saying they are inter- home page, which should contain appropriate ested in my work, but do not have a budget buzzwords relative to the design services you for the project, I add them to my client mail- offer. ing list. This way I am certain that this poten- tial lead will at least see an e-mail from me 9 / This book is supported by FITC, the design and technology events company. Check our website for a current list of our events. every month or so. By keeping my name in front of the lead I have a greater chance of obtaining a project. The nice thing about using software like PHPMailList is you can enable your users to automatically unsubscribe from the list if they do not want to receive your e-mails. I have yet to have a client unsubscribe. The rule is to not send more than one e-mail a month, and keep them short and useful. Mailing List Software: The free and the excellent. Like with all things in life you get what you pay for. I understand that budgets can be tight when you start your own business. This is the reason I offer two tools to achieve the same ends. The following tutorial is how to install a free PHPMailList softw are. It works well but it lacks many of the features other professional tools offer. If you are looking for a cost effective tool I highly recommend 12all by ActiveCampagin. (http://www.activecampaign.com/). The sofware costs around 100 USD (you host the script so there are no monthly fees) and comes with a whole host of professional features. You can time delay an email blast so it will be sent on a future date. It can track how many times a user reads an email, how many times users click a link in an email… all sorts of goodies that help make each email I send out more effective. The best part about the system is the fact that users can unsubscribe to the email newsletter. So if one of my clients doesn’t want to recieve the emails anymore they simply unsubscribe us- ing the handy link at the bottom of every email. By default 12All adds this to each email that is sent out. This is a really friendly tool both for the sender and the reciepent of the email. The ability to add custom HTML templates gives users the ability to send professional emails ev- ery time. Finally 12all offers a free install service, so you don’t have to monkey with CMOD, or other install issues. If you don’t have any money, and want a bare bones mail list software then read on, other wise I recommend 12all. Installing PHPMailList Installing PHP software can be a daunting task for creative individuals like myself. I have a de - gree in visual arts and I am not a programmer by trade. However, over the years I have learned it is not a bad thing to dabble in this dark and mysterious craft. If y ou can learn PhotoShop and Flash ActionScript, then you will have no problem installing a simple PHP script. I like PHP- MailList for several reasons. 1.) It is easy to install. 2.) It is easy to install. 3.) It is easy to use. The following tutorial assumes you are using a Linux based hosting environment (although you could get this script to work on a Windows based host). Your hosting environment will also need to be able to execute PHP scripts on the server. You can contact your system admin to find this out. Most hosting companies allow server side scripts by default. This script requires PHP Version 4.0.2 to be installed on the server. Do not worry if you do not have this information handy. Most good Web hosting companies update their PHP version regularly, so most likely 0 / This book is supported by FITC, the design and technology events company. Check our website for a current list of our events.