When I first started my company in 2011, the money in my bank account could cover one month of rent and enough brown rice and canned beans to stay fed. I didn’t have more than a year of experience and even more troublesome, the small bit of design work I had wasn’t great. Grim as it was, I took the plunge and got to work.
Working out of my bedroom on a Gateway desktop and a tiny, particle-board desk from IKEA, it was obvious that if I wanted to make a living designing websites I would need to control what I could control and find advantages in places others hadn’t. Many of those advantages sprang from one of my strengths: communication. Others were born from my deep understanding of business and entrepreneurship. Before I could hold my own as a designer, I relied on honest, transparent communication and a caring for people and projects that I believe is second to none.
As my client base and business has grown, I’ve graduated to brown rice and kale and I haven’t forgotten what got me here. When you work with a freelancer, you lose many of the assurances of working with an agency, even though you may be saving money. A freelancer is, by definition, a riskier bet. Understanding this, I do my best to work in a predictable, professional manner, focused on providing as much transparency into the working process as I possibly can.
Effective communication is fundamental to everything I do. As with every conversation, there are two currents, equally important: the expression of ideas outward and the reception and understanding of ideas inward. I understand how to articulate ideas clearly in terms that are both simple and meaningful. In conversation and meetings, I work to be an engaged and open listener. I try not to impose an agenda or hold communication to any standard.
While it’s certainly not unusual to say this, I love and appreciate the involvement of clients in projects. Their feedback and enthusiasm power what I do. Design work, in and of itself, rarely brings me much joy. It’s the impact that work can have on the trajectory of a business that’s rewarding. Probably because it’s real.
Different clients have different working styles that they prefer which I am happy to accommodate. All things being equal, I like to put work up for review and feedback as early as possible, even when it’s rough and incomplete. The more ideas that are carefully considered, the more likely that one of those ideas will ultimately be successful.
I want the working process to be as open to the client as I can make it. To accomplish this, all my projects, no matter how small, are managed through a combination of project management systems that give you a snapshot at any given time of where the project is, how it’s progressed, and what’s next.
I am consistently available by email and instant message as well. While I do travel regularly, I try to answer any emails within 24 hours. For urgent issues, I can usually be available immediately. If I am travelling, I am transparent about my schedule and whether I’ll be in any areas with unreliable service.