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5 Mistakes to Avoid When Becoming a Freelance Web Developer


Becoming a freelance web developer is an enticing career for many with a background in web development because it allows for freedom and variety in work. While working for a firm provides steady work, it also provides a schedule and rules. Even though many web developers are successful in firm environments, not every city or town has one available for web developers to work in. If you've got an educational background in web design and development (and are looking to start freelancing), here are 5 mistakes to avoid.

1. Misunderstanding the Client's Needs


It's very hard to communicate specific needs about a website (and what exactly it needs to do), especially when limited to email communication. Clients don't always know what can be done and what it takes to get a particular feature accomplished, so their descriptions (especially on freelance bidding sites) are generally vague. Work with them via phone and web conferencing to make sure you understand what they want. Ask questions, and plenty of them. If the client becomes frustrated, explain that asking these questions is necessary to ensure the project meets their exceptions, and it will save time, money and potential frustration in the long run.


2. Testing the Project Alone


Testing a project for bugs is not something the web developer can do alone. Enlist the client's help, along with friends and family. View the site in various browsers, and on PCs and Mac computers, for the best possible results. Make sure the client knows he or she will have to help with testing, and explain why.


3. Rushing through Planning Stages


Too often, clients are excited about the project, and they push web developers to get started right away with little information. To keep clients happy, web developers often find themselves rushing through the planning stages. This is a setup for disaster. Have detailed planning documents ready to present to the client, and ask them to return them filled out with the necessary information. Then ask questions for clarification.


4. Underestimating Project Size


Clients can sometimes have a hard time figuring out how large the project really is. Through vague descriptions of the project, web developers may also be under the impression the project is smaller than it really is, and this could create problems for both the web developer and the client. Be prepared to make frequent estimates, and let the client know if features change, the budget will have to change as well. Worst case scenario, compromise with the client to achieve a feature/time balance meeting the original financial aspect of the project.


5. Attempting to Manage the Project


The ultimate product is not the web developer's project to manage. While the web developer may need to manage his or her portion of the project for time purposes, ultimately it is the client's responsibility to manage the project and ensure it is coming together in a timely manner. Work out status report methods and frequencies with the client, and have them ready as determined (leave the project management to the client).


As a freelance web developer, you'll be one step ahead if you can pay attention to these 5 mistakes and make sure you avoid them. Each new workday will present a new challenge, but do your best and you'll succeed in no time.

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