Hi! I’m John Fonte, a software engineer for Learning A-Z. I build custom websites and hack on apps and circuits.

PERSONAL
PROFESSIONAL

They’re Not Just Your Income

A typical mistake I see in the freelancing world is that sometimes clients are treated like the next means to a check. This is especially true in the realm of designing websites for small businesses. I currently have a client that felt ignored by their previous design studio. When design studios build websites, it’s easy to ignore the client because, well, you’re the expert! Even a small firm may have time or financial pressures that cause prices to be high and quality to be misguided.

“Misguided Quality”

What I mean by this is, any website you build should look “good” if you’re a decent designer. But what’s really important is how the client’s vision shines through in the project. Many times, I’ve over-engineered and over-designed because I’m experimenting with new technology, or I’m excited about what the website will look like. None of that matters, though, if the client is unhappy with the work you’ve delivered. So take a step back, try to empathize with your clients. In my opinion, true experts can extract the client’s vision without discounting it completely.

Each client you have is a significant opportunity. If the client is reasonable about their expectations, you can count on the opportunity for them to grow your brand for you. Provided you do a good job, and are attentive to their needs, any client will gladly view their experience with you as a highlight, not a strikethrough. Think of each client like a new tree branch. Each branch starts small. But if you don’t take care of the branch, there won’t be any new branches forthcoming. And a dead branch takes up space and shows that you’re not a nurturing tree.

Balancing Personal Treatment and Professional Work

This should sound like a simple concept, but putting it in to practice can be challenging. Here are a few tips to help you, the freelancer.

First off, remember that your time is valuable. You should be confident that any time the client spends with you, they will value. Take ownership of getting the most you can out of that time. Figure out the client’s needs effectively, and make sure they’re getting what they actually want.

Next, if the client doesn’t value your time, make sure you say something. Don’t be afraid to ask for the same human treatment in return. Don’t suffer through a tough client for a payout - your mental health doesn’t have a price tag. Treating your clients well means you should expect the same in return.

Finally, don’t forget to relax! Your work should never be a burden. If you’re too overwhelmed, you can give yourself a break. Obviously this doesn’t mean stop working, but if you need some time to recharge, schedule it in and come back to work strong. I’m relatively new to this, but I’ve already taken on too much work at times. It’s not healthy, believe me.



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