My experience with being a freelance web developer/desginer here in Glasgow has been interesting to say the least.
It's been just under a year since I began my own business and I can't lie, it's been a bit of a rollercoaster.
I'll go over my experience of trying to make it in Glasgow and give some tips for those of you that are looking to do the same as me and dive into the world of freelancing.
I moved to Glasgow just over a year ago now. I grew up in a small town called Dunkeld up north. I'd always admired Glasgow, it was fast-moving, vibrant, welcoming and terrifying all at the same time. Choosing to move here over all the other cities in Scotland was an easy decision as far as I'm concerned.
In my younger years, I was a chef, working in high-profile restaurants and hotels. I went through all of my teenage years working so much that I couldn't find the time to see my friends and family. It was only about a year ago in my early twenties that I decided to change that and leave my career as a chef behind to pursue something that offered a more reasonable work/life balance. I now know that starting my own business was probably not the right way to achieve that, but hey ... we live and learn right? I have to admit though, even though I still work a hell of a lot, I have a lot more time off than I used to.
Starting in Glasgow was essential to any form of success. The small towns I grew up in, while quaint, beautiful and welcoming to small businesses, there simply wasn't enough clients there for me to be able to put food on the table. So I got to work, I built my own website, played around with names and logos, bought a new laptop and dove right into looking for clients. My first one came as soon as I'd began looking. Result!
This is where I learned my first lesson. If you're going to start your own business, make sure you're happy to sit for days at a time, creating contracts, invoices, terms and conditions etc. Most of my time in those first few weeks was spent writing the legal documents that would protect me and my business from any shady characters. So far ("touch wood") that hasn't been an issue in the slightest. All my clients have truly been great to work with but you can never be too careful.
I remember how nervous I was meeting my first client and walking in with a price list. That was lesson number 2. When you begin, it's always difficult to tell someone, "That'll cost X amount" as you can feel like you're not worth that amount at all. I know I did. I ended up giving my first few clients a massively reduced price which I still feel was the right decision. I was inexperienced with business practices and client relations so I made sure that the price reflected that. If you're starting your own business and you feel confident enough to charge full price right from the word "go" then you absolutely should. But if you're less confident then you shouldn't feel hard done by if you reduce your initial prices just don't make a habit out of it! That part is very important. Charging higher prices can make you seem more exclusive to clients. But you must make sure that you can justify the price with the work you deliver to them.
All my clients since day one have been very different. Some unbelievably friendly, and some colder business types. So far, each of them has been pleased with the websites I've built and I fully intend to continue that trend.
So what do I do day to day? Most days you'll find me at the computer. I hand code all my websites which is becoming rarer with an array of content management systems and "website builders". This means the sites I build are real websites - none of this Wix or Wordpress nonsense. This means they have little to no limitations compared to using pre-made themes on a website builder. This does however mean that the workload is a lot bigger than the workload of developers using those kinds of software.
This is fine by me as I genuinely love to write code.
Lots of code ...
So much code in my life these days.
If I'm not coding a client's website, I'm usually out and about in the town handing out business cards. I've walked across the entire city looking to find some new clients. Unfortunately, doing this has little to no success. Not just for me but for most small business owners I've talked to. In order to get business, word of mouth is your best friend until you have a recognisable brand.
There's been times where I haven't had any clients at all and that's when it starts to get worrying. I've come to enjoy being able to eat everyday and it's not something I'd like to give up. I've been lucky enough to have had enough clients to sustain myself so far but that worry is always there.
All in all, it's not been easy but it has definitely been enjoyable. I've met people whom I would never have met if I hadn't have become a freelance web developer. I've enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would and if you're thinking of going it alone too then I'd absolutely recommend it!
Thanks for reading and remember to leave a comment, like and share if you enjoyed it!