There’s No “I” In “We”

In today’s freelance-driven online world, many web designers and developers find themselves caught in a trap of their own making when starting out. In a field that is absolutely rich with inspirational talent, it can feel impossible to stand out as an individual person, but also present your work in a way that informs potential clients that you do, in fact, know what you’re doing when having a project tossed in your general direction. The freelance title itself demands not only a creative designer but also some serious business savvy.

One of the many challenges upcoming freelance designers face on the creation and presentation of their newly drafted portfolio websites is the sense of identity for one’s own branded image of themselves. Freelancers will often come into the game thinking they know exactly what needs to be done to get new clients interested in them—a shiny portfolio site, right? Then they start actually creating something and a new foe appears; the business side of things…

“Will people take a lone wolf web developer seriously or do they want a company with a catchy name and an entire team dedicated to solving their problems?” “How am I supposed to sell myself as an individual and make a compelling argument that I’m the best choice (other than, say, their low budget?)”

Freelancers often come in thinking they know exactly what needs to be done to get clients interested in them.

The logical solution to this issue is often people turning away from presenting their work as that of an individual, but instead under a business name. While a name for a venture can certainly be a helpful thing in many respects, it starts to get confusing when a potential client is reading a website that repeatedly says “We build dynamic and compelling websites”, or “We were founded in 2009…”, etc. I think we all can see the problem here.

But no self-respecting “web warrior” should be taking the backseat on something as critical as the talent and skillset being offered to a client for pay under the guise of a team effort. Don’t look at the situation backward! To be a freelancer is to be a bit of a salesman, and a salesman will find a way to seal the deal, show a client why they need what you’ve got, and get a contract signed. And really, while it will certainly feel like you’re two or three people given the workload—designer, developer, salesman—and the ever dreaded but occasional, debt collector—I am under the belief that freelancers should feel compelled to sell themselves as themselves and nothing less.

One of the hallmarks of a creative and evolving web “ninja”—those curious enough to see a problem and say “so now how do I fix it?”—is the dedication they bring to the table. These people rely only upon themselves and their craft. There’s a certain sense of pride in one’s own work, knowing you put every piece of the puzzle together to deliver a great product. These are the ones who solve the issue after a botched website tweak by a client. These are the ones who will answer an after-hours call. These are the people that clients should have no problem trusting with their time and money… regardless of which moniker they decide to go by.

So I guess you could just go ahead and say that we here are just full of malarkey, aren’t we? It definitely feels appealing to sound bigger than a one-man game, but in the end, IMO the “little guy” wins in most everyday situations.

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