What I’ve been up to
Being self-employed is hard work!
Naive person that I am, I thought it would be easy enough – I get to work on my own ideas all day long, occasionally selling something to customers who are happy every time.
Of course, that’s not true.
I spend a lot of my time working on jobs for my previous employer, and some other clients that have known me for years. The large pool of new clients that I expected would magically appear, never magically appeared.
Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom.
Being out on my own has taught me quite a lot, and in a very short time.
- Cash is king – there’s no point having a huge job which may potentially pay you thousands of euro in two months, when you need the money right now to go buy food for the house.
- Advertising is not easy! I hate to pester, so advertising is not a natural thing for me, but it’s tricky to get new people to come in and buy from me if they don’t know where I am. Especially if they don’t know whether to trust my work! Conveying trust in ads is not a very easy thing to do.
- Word-of-mouth is a brilliant thing. It is much easier to sell to someone if they’ve already been half-sold by their friends.
- Low prices don’t always pull people in. Even though I charge about a fifth of other local web designers, I think I must also be getting only a fifth of the customers 😉
- Salary is a wonderful thing, when it’s someone else’s job to make sure it gets paid.
Of course, there are also the upsides.
I get to work on my own projects without worrying that they my conflict with the company’s plans. Basically, I am the company, so anything I want to work on is the company plan.
To that end, I’ve created 20eurowebsites.com, a site-creator which is built on my kvWebME CMS (open source, PHP – download it yourself if you’re techie!). €20 to buy a website (including the domain name), and €10 per month hosting after that.
I have other plans in the works as well, such as a local odd-jobs finder which has a pretty good twist, and a free face-book-like chat application which people will be able to add to their own websites with just a few keystrokes.
I couldn’t agree more about the word of mouth. In the years that I was running my business I don’t think I got a single contract from any other source.
Regarding pricing – I once tendered for a contract with a large organisation. I got a swift mail from my contact there telling me that my price was too low. I was told in no uncertain terms that if I stuck with that price I would be rejected as they wouldn’t deal with ‘Mickey Mouse organisations’. I quadrupled my price, resubmitted and got the contract. There’s a lesson there!
That amazes me – but I also know it’s true.
People look at something cheap (or “affordable” – I’ve been told never to use the word “cheap”) and automatically think there’s something wrong with it.
The human mind boggles. You try to do something for what you believe is an honest price, and people would prefer to be ripped-off!