Like any freelancer, a freelance architect must possess business skills as well as design skills to succeed. When you first start out, winning clients is your primary goal and the following 6 tips can help you win clients, as well as run a smart home architect business.
1. Prepare Your Portfolio
Whether you are new to architecture or have been employed with a company elsewhere, create a portfolio of your best design projects to show potential clients. Every client will want to see previous work before they hire you. An up-do-date portfolio will help clients determine if your design style is a good fit for their project.
2. Build an Impressive Website
As a freelance architect, your website is the hub of your business. Incorporate into your business plan the cost to have a professional website built and maintained. Then, decide on the most important elements like a portfolio of previous work, fee schedules, services offered and contact information. You may want to include a form for your customers to fill out and obtain a custom project quote from you.
3. Identify Your Skill Set
While finding your niche as a freelance architect is necessary, if you are too specialized, you may minimize the types of clients and industries you can serve. Without stretching yourself too thin, develop your skill set to serve several different markets. This accomplishes the goal of creating more potential business, as well as sustaining your business if economic factors cause one target market, like home remodeling, to take a downturn.
4. Pursue Referrals and Job Leads
Until you establish a solid client base and acquire a job performance record, use all of your connections to generate work. These can include friends and colleagues in the field, college professors and companies you interned with to name just a few. A referral from another architect, professor or employer is often enough to get your foot in the door with a new client.
5. Network with Other Architects
Some of the best ideas for a freelancing architect will come from other architects. Participate in an online forum for architecture like www.designcommunity.com to get ideas and ask questions pertaining to your trade.
6. Determine Your Client's Needs
When you do land your first client, listen carefully to your client's needs and ask leading questions that will provide you with important details about the project. Listening is the most important component to your initial communications with a prospective client. It is also how you'll determine the best way to complete the project.
A freelance architect must have a stunning portfolio and a highly professional, polished website to show clients. Be clear about which markets you intend to serve, but avoid over-specializing. Use all of your connections to generate job leads and keep abreast of industry trends in architecture by networking with other architects. Finally, be a good listener for those first clients and you'll not only do the project right, but you'll have a great reference for the next project!