Since I began my career as a self-employed web designer/developer, my main struggle has been with demonstrating to clients my technical ability and level of talent. I have a portfolio website that showcases my latest work, and it does elicit a positive response from prospective clients. However, the portfolio alone doesn't convey to them why I should be paid more than any other designer, or even why they should pick me over a cheaper templating solution.
So I did some research, looking at the personal websites of some of the most successful freelance designers and developers. I tried to determine what the common thread was that made them so successful, and the answer was actually quite simple.
From an outsiders perspective, all these freelancers appear to be experts in their respective fields.
When you visit their site, you get the impression that they are who other designers/developers go to for their expertise.
These freelancers don't give this impression by simply showcasing websites they have built. In fact, for most of them, their actual work is not the focus of their website. So how do they give this impression? They teach others. Whether this be by giving talks at developer conferences, hosting a podcast, or simply writing a blog. They become an 'expert' by constantly growing their knowledge and sharing it with others.
Am I an expert?
As I have mentioned before, I tend to be a hard on myself about my skill set. For the longest time, I would imagine those successful developers as having knowledge that was completely unattainable by me. I imagined that only they could share their knowledge through blogs/podcasts/talks because their knowledge was complete. It was only through the advice of various people that this fog was gradually lifted.
An expert isn't someone with perfect, unimpaired knowledge. No such person exists.
It took me a while to realise that people in all stages of their learning could still share their knowledge and teach others. Whenever I look back at work I have done, even 3 months ago, I'm always surprised at how much I can improve due to what I have learned. This means that the knowledge I have right now could still be valuable to people at the stage I was 3 months ago. Although there is a lot that I am still learning, I have gained a lot of 'expertise' over the years, which I could and should share.
Learning how to blog
This brings me to the reason for this post. I have been participating in an email course on blogging for your career by the Simple Programmer, John Sonmez. The free 3 week course takes you through the steps of creating a successful blog, from coming up with your theme and registering your domain name to generating consistent traffic.
John has clearly put a lot of work into the course, and it has been so valuable to me starting up this blog. If you are a self-employed web designer like myself, I cannot recommend this course enough!
The most valuable takeaway from the course I have received is to just start blogging, and consistently. The more you do it, the better you will get at it, and more you will reap from it.
My usual Bits of Code post will come out as scheduled tomorrow.