Earlier this week Luke interviewed me for his website so I thought I’d return the favour and ask him a few questions for our readers to learn more about him and his work!
Can you tell us a little bit about how you first got into freelancing?
Before I started freelancing, I was at uni, and paying my bills from playing online poker. I had already run an online shop for a couple of years, and I thought I had plenty of knowledge about websites, so I decided to try and diversify my income and sell some websites.
I got my first clients through an ad on ebay (which proved to be hugely successful when I was starting out), and through direct mail + a follow up call.
Do you consider yourself to be mainly a designer or developer (or a bit of both?)
I’d say a little bit of both. My uni course was in business, so I don’t have any formal education in either.
Looking back at my work from 2007, it was pretty bad from a design perspective, and I’ve improved a lot since then. I still wouldn’t say I’m a good designer though, especially compared to the amount of really talented designers that are out there.
My development skills are kind of the same. I’m good at what I need to be good at, but there are loads of developers that are much better than me.
My strength really comes from being really good at figuring out what a client wants, and putting a plan together to achieve it, and using whatever resources I can get to make it happen.
What is your normal workflow for creating a website from start to finish?
I think my workflow is pretty standard
• Project definition
• Visual design
• PSD -> html/css
• Develop any features
• Flesh out content
Of those, I’d say project definition is the most important step.
I like to spend a lot of time with clients before doing any work. In some instances up to 3 meetings before getting started. It gets the client in the right mind, and I find it speeds up the rest of the process. Good planning prevents annoying changes.
Where do you find inspiration on the web?
For design stuff mostly DeviantArt. I am a bit embarrassed to admit it but sometimes I check out some of the expensive design contests on 99designs to see what’s happening there. I also have a few web designers that I absolutely love.
Since I outsource a fair chunk of design work, I find myself keeping up with trends from hiring designers that are better than me.
Are there any other designers in the industry producing work that you really admire?
Yeah I really love some of the work from http://www.pixel-house.com.au/. That style really appeals to me. Something about the way they use images and still keep everything so pristinely clean really attracts me.
Even though he isn’t a designer, I also really admire Brendon Sinclair (http://www.tailored.com.au). While not the most politically correct guy, his writing and books have helped me out a lot.
Can you tell us about your blog 6 Figure Freelancing?
Yeah sure. It’s a blog I’ve very recently started. I like to think of it as an analytical, theoretical and sometimes a practical blog, and the idea behind it is to examine freelancing from a business perspective.
I feel a lot of freelancers are creative types first, and business people second. While that’s probably a good thing in a lot of cases, my guess is that most of the time, being a business person first makes more money.
A lot of creative types don’t care so much about the money, and that’s a fair point. But I do. It’s funner for me to make a big sale than an awesome design.
My hope is that through my short, frequent, and usually analytical posts on the blog, my way of thinking about things can help other people think about making more money from freelancing.
At the same time, I’m gradually building up some templates, documents and other very practical things for freelancers starting out. Like one post I wrote about the wording of my emails where I follow up payment, and another I wrote about some of the terms in my proposals. These practical things are for freelancers who are just starting out and haven’t yet organised their business systems.
From your experience of running 6 Figure Freelancing can you tell us what you think makes a good blog article?
I don’t think I’m really qualified to answer that question. My blog is really new and still quite small. Maybe you can ask me in a year 😉
From a readers perspective, I like reading articles that open my eyes to new ideas, or new perspectives.
How did you get involved with the Freelance Total app?
Sure. For those that aren’t aware, Freelance Total is a business management application for (as the name suggests), freelancers.
Freelance Total, I think like a lot of apps of this type, started off as a stick to scratch my own itch. At the time, I was getting someone else to send out invoices and do follow ups for me. It was a complete mess. The average time it took to get paid was woeful. I was missing leads because I was forgetting to follow up, and I was using some project management software that made projects take longer to manage than actually do.
I realised that if I wanted to grow as a freelancer, I had to sort out the basics first. A strong and stable base for my business would free up more time to focus on growth.
I founded Freelance Total and built the first version myself, and have since partnered with a couple of others so we can bring out more features.
The idea behind it is to make it as flexible as possible, while still creating strong systems.
What advantages does you app offer to freelancers?
The mindset I talked about earlier – coming at freelancing from a business perspective with the goal of maximising profits, is something that I think is unique to Freelance Total.
Many apps focus so features like time tracking and invoicing. While freelance total has those things, it focuses on things that appeal to a more profit oriented individual. For example, recurring invoices, a sales pipeline, and streamlining the freelancing process from initial contact to final payment.
It mimics some of the freedoms you get in apps like Basecamp and Backpack, and brings them into a more structured system like you would find in Freshbooks. I think that’s a very unique thing for an application like this. And our feature plan for the future drives the application further in both those directions at once.
Freelance Total is not about any one individual function. It’s not just about projects like Basecamp is. It’s not just about sales like Salesforce is. It’s not just about invoicing like Freshbooks is. It’s about including the features that freelancers use, and presenting them in a flexible and fun way.