I could really do with some help!


I am very nervous about doing this! As some of you are aware, Penguin told me off about it! LOL I've been going freelance for about 2 months or so now. I live in a very rural/small town but business wise it's great for tourism so it's not been bitten by the bad financial climate too much. It's Whitby, we're inundated with tourists here! I have several web developer friends who seem to be doing ok and for some reason as per mentioned on the Thread of Rage, I'm not doing so well! I have a few leads and a couple of pants jobs that I'm charging pittance for as their people who sort of know me. I'm having loads of hits on my web page and loads of follows too! I've had no bad feedback at all in fact quite the opposite so far! Can you please please tell me what I'm doing wrong!? I haven't pushed the boat out regards to advertisng as to be honest I'm advert blind as I get calls all the time and have no idea who to go with as they all seem like sharks! Is it my page? Prices? Crap work? I don't know....HELLLLLP! Is 2 months early days to be writing it off? Not sure. Never freelanced before so....

Anyhoo, please have a look! Thoughts/crits welcome! :icon_confused:

I think we've been here before but are you doing anything other than watching your inbox and waiting for the phone to ring? If you have leads, what are you doing to convert them into jobs? (and keep in mind that doing them for the aforementioned pittance doesn't really count - anyone can pull that one off and working as a freelance shouldn't ever mean working for free: get out of that mindset as a matter of urgency).
Without trying to dishearten you there are lots of things that you could improve:

weirdwilf.prosite.com ? It looks and sounds really bad, almost like weirdwilf.geocities.com or weirdwilf.freewebs.com I know Behance is renowned for it's quality design presence etc etc, but to be honest, the domain with .prosite.com looks horrendous and sounds horrendous.

First thing I would do, would be to go out, and get your domain Weirdwilf.com and .co.uk are both available and they're about £25 in total for 2 years through 123 Reg (who I wouldn't actually recommend for anything except checking availability.) So, go out, get them domains and make them your own. Get your hosting through someone who comes recommended on here. There are a few threads down in the Web Forums about good hosts. Personally, I use Vidahost and can't fault them, but everyone else will have their own opinions too.

Then you'll probably say "what do I do about creating a website though? Prosite has it all and it's easy to use". There are a million options to that.

You could design and build your own. You could pay someone to design and build one. You could use Wordpress, Cargo, Drupal, Joomla. They all come with templates that you could download, change and build, or use as is. Alternatively, you could download an HTML theme and use that (if you're up on your HTML and things like that). There are some great ways to have really professional looking websites, and, what I've seen on ProSites, I wouldn't class that as one of them.

The next thing I'm confused about is the page that says Weird Wilf. At the top of that, you have an image of lots of design work, so when I click through into your portfolio, it's not there? I see some other design work, but no evidence of the designs from the top of the Weird Wilf page. I'd look into changing that.

Lastly, like Dave L has said, freelance doesn't mean FREElance. Don't work for free, the people that expect free work, tend to be the worst customers and make the worst clients. Avoid it like the plague. Value your own services or nobody else will.

I'm sorry if all of this comes off as overly harsh and critical, but I'm only trying to help.
Hiya (again) guys! Indeed we have been here before Dave but I have been thrashing the arse off myself with the advice of various places. I've posted profiles on just about every pro employment site, freeads, done a leaflet drop (albeit not a blanket drop just yet!) I've made myself a twitter whore and and all the others you can get, I'm always on there selecting people worldwide to be 'friends' just so they look at my page. I do this for about 2 hours every single day! I'm building up some interesting pro contacts and I've had a great response on my work, even had a few people seek me out and follow me before I touched base which boosted my confidence a little which I could do with at the moment! Boss has made me some lovely flyer cards made BUT NAFF ALL YET! Ok.....so could it really be the website!? I have been wondering about it! You have not been at all harsh either of you! To be fair I was expecting much worse! LOL

Right thinking cap on at the ready! Thanks guys, appreciate it! :)
Oh and the montage on the Home page is just an example of some print work from Boss Hogs samples (he's my chosen printer ;o) just to clarify.
Oh and the montage on the Home page is just an example of some print work from Boss Hogs samples (he's my chosen printer ;o) just to clarify.

As per Tony's comments, I would scrap that as it can be misleading. It certainly comes across as your design work and, without wanting to seem harsh, I think those samples are perhaps better than the ones in your portfolio.

I'm not a fan of the website. I don't think it looks professional, the images used for the links on the left look poor and the way your name is above it is poor too. I appreciate you're not a web designer and that this isn't a bespoke site as such (presumably it's been modified from a Behance template? Though I'm not too sure how all of that works), but I do think the design of the site isn't good which wouldn't fill me with as much optimism in hiring you as a designer; I don't think it would complement your eye for design too brilliantly.

A problem with your flyer drop could be that people don't need the service just yet. It's a nuisance but one of those things to deal with. Perhaps people may have an interest or need for it in the future but, for the moment, they don't. If so, they'll keep your details to hand though so it could prove useful even if not currently. That said, the conversion rate of leaflet drops is minimal so you do need to hit a lot of people to see some returns generally.

Again, without wanting to come across as critical or unfair, I'm also not really a big fan of a bit of your work. I think it always feels harsh to be critical, particularly with designs and art where it can come down to tastes and be a lot more subjective and personal but, for me, I'm not sure it does it. I notice that you say you began as an illustrator and I think that shows; the illustrated bird in the Freebird Cosmetics poster is really good, but then I think it is ruined slightly by the text. Again, the ink illustration for Whitby is good too, but I'm not too convinced by the text.

From that I'd say maybe it's your illustration to focus on and use as your specialist area. There are so many brilliant things you can do with illustrations with today's software that I think there's great potential for you in that area if you can hone your skills in adapting your illustrations digitally. But for the moment, I'm not convinced by the design elements in your portfolio or of the site as a whole. Again, I really don't want to be disheartening or critical as I see no reason why it won't work in time with development, but right now I'm not sure going onto your website is the best selling tool.
Oh....ok, well the only reason I've never bothered to hone my illustration skills is I was under the impression that was even harder to glean any work from! I managed to get a GD job years ago with my portfolio, I did the odd bit of illustration here and there, Amex like them and always used them in their recruitment ad campaigns which was always a nice job! I've never had alot of interest in my Illy stuff but I guess I kept it a bit quiet as when I was at Uni they were always banging on about illustrators are a dime a dozen and I shouldn't even bother! Bit difficult to get out of that mindset! I have had a good feedback about my work, though I must admit I'm no high flying high fa looting designer but my prices certainly reflect that! Surely I can't be all that bad as I have had people from out of the blue following me, mainly from the States (should that worry me? lol) They have given me some nice compliments about diversity, blah blah. If you're bang on the money Dedward I'll give up. :icon_frown:
As I say, I don't want to come across as being too critical or as though I'm just stamping all over your work, I'm really not. I just think that, currently, your website isn't doing you all that many favours either in terms of the appearance of the site itself or with some of the work on display.

Like you've mentioned, clearly there is something there to receive the compliments and to have had the work previously, so it's not something to just pack up, particularly if you enjoy it or know you would enjoy doing it as the work comes in, it just takes a bit more development I think. Everyone continues to learn every day - I remember someone telling me that every day they try and learn one or two new techniques or methods and, in time, it soon builds up.

I do think that the illustrations could become a strong point to focus on, but I'm sure these can also be mixed up with other pieces as well. Rather than give up, I would just look at overhauling the website. As Tony said, there are a lot of good, flexible and cost-effective options out there these days. Hosting can come cheap and even just sticking to a smart-looking free template will give you a nicer platform to showcase your work. The website is important - I know you've said in the past that you didn't feel it was necessary as Whitby is a small place and so on, but don't think of it as though Whitby is your target market, geography becomes almost irrelevant with the internet. A lot of my work comes from Dumfries, along with work from Southport, Hull, Berkshire etc - there really is no need to restrict yourself to your local area any more.

All I would say is to keep learning and try to immerse yourself in really nice design work. Look through sites like Creattica, Behance, Pinterest and so on to start finding new styles that you like and then go about seeing how you would replicate them yourself - this has always been a good way of developing technique and getting a feel for things you like. We're all always learning and changing how we do our work and every now and then you'll look back at work from the past and probably find things you dislike about it, but I guess that's progress.

None of us are perfect and, as I say, it's all very subjective and down to taste so one person will love my work and another will hate it but that's life, don't take it personally. Certainly don't just throw in the towel though, you have a few clients already and as you keep working and developing more will come with it. It will take a bit of work but then that's to be expected.

As I say though, the first place to start for me would be to look at the actual website and how best you can showcase your work and to find collections of design and styles that you really like; something to try and emulate.
I'd definitely be taking a look at your website. At the end of the day, so far, you're using your local contacts in Whitby etc, but, your website is your portal to the rest of the world, and, you don't want to be turning people off.

I'd definitely be removing the shot of the printed stuff from Boss Hog, as that really is misleading.
Done....not sure about the wordpress thingy, tried to do it last night. Found a great template, went to the hosting site (Bluehost) got caned for £213 for the whole 18 month contract! Thank GOD they refunded it straight away but it did not make it at all clear when you were signing up to it! SHAT myself completely as I have less than that in the bank, which is the whole reason for doing this in the first place. We are surviving financially but only just. My fiancés working 3 jobs and I need to start contributing. Unfortunatley everyone in Whitby only employs local people (honestly this is unbelievable but true!) If you don't have a local accent they pretend they cannot understand you and that's the end of the process, before getting an application! My other half was buying some chips yesterday and the guy behind the counter pretending not to understand what he wanted (as he has a London accent) and the boss said "it's ok he's local" suddenly the guy understood fine! I hasten to add we want to move away from here. Great holiday resort but nothing else! I will change my website! But it's going to have to be Behance as I have no way of doing anything else until things look up! :(
On your website you mention you have over a decade of experience in designing for print, advertising, corporate branding, the media sector and marketing.

Therefore you surely must have more commercially viable work from your 10 years in the industry that you can use to attract clients.
Two months is too short. Get out and talk to people - the work won't come in off the website. People buy from people.
Two months is too short. Get out and talk to people - the work won't come in off the website. People buy from people.

Agreed, literally get in front of people and you've got much more chance of getting work.

Also, have you considered trying to sell prints as a form of passive income? Look at some of the crap they sell in department stores and home furnishing stores (endless "Keep Calm and..." prints) that people pay good money for. You mentioned tourism is booming too, try and cash in on that a bit? Surely you could knock out some simple black and white prints, stick in a simple frame like this one and sell them for £20-25 (just a guess)? You could even do this via ebay or etsy or zazzle some other similar site and target people further afield.
I love Whitby! I was going to say I would love to be based there, but you've put me off a bit now! "This is a local shop for local people!"

Just to put my two-penneth in, I agree with all the above.

Keep the prosite as your personal site, but it just will not stand as a professional-looking website. What on earth is weird wilf anyway?
As others have said, it shouldn't cost anything to get a very standard but businesslike site, but you will have to spend a bit to get it hosted.

Two months is nothing. Leaflet drops are fine, but don't expect anything back straight away. In two years time the phone will start ringing
and you'll be too busy to fit it all in! Advertising is tricky because it can be difficult to know where to target. I've found Google adwords to be good,
but only when you have a decent website to link to.

Get some more professional-looking work in your portfolio. If I was you, I would use the two hours a day you spend on social network sites on a few tutorials
or make up some design/illustration briefs. Build up your skills a bit.
Thanks for your advice, Clark, the reason why my portfolio is actually crap is the agency I was working for went bust I gleaned some of the work before it went under but he got rid of the lot! Disks, work everything! He came to see me at my house and very politely told me what had happened. He'd basically drank the company dry. It was a HR, design recruitment agency. It did well in it's day but hay that's life. I have some pieces but their pretty old now. I haven't worked in several years and yes it shows I know! It's been really tough but I have to do something to help. We're really scraping by, well existing really! I AM DESPERATE! My work if you can call it work is just the odd scraps that's been thrown my way.

Paul I love your thoughts that is a possibility but everyone does that here so it is sooo hard! Bit thanks for the thought!
Why not take on some self initiated projects to boost your portfolio, take the local corner shop you have mentioned before and re-design the shop logo or any other local business in the Whitby area.

When i mentioned commercially viable i don't mean crap, as Paul has mentioned your illustrations are good but i feel they are not commercially viable, where would these illustrations be used aside from the selling of prints etc...

In order to bring in potential clients you need to demonstrate the necessary skills they are after to make THEIR business a success, which in-turn will make your business a success.

I'm afraid that at the moment its a little catch 22?

Chin up!
Right, website's been re-jiggled! I know it's still Behance but hay, hopefully one day! Thanks for all your help, I'm working on all your suggestions!
I don't understand how you nearly got stung for £213?

It's literally cost me £20 for my website for 2 years, plus a £30 template. So £50 all in with Wordpress for 2 years? Howcome you were getting asked for £213?

Kate's right in what she says about getting in front of people too, but, if those people then want left a business card, or want to contact you at some other time, you'll find them visiting your website in time.
It was for an 18 month contract that they don't tell you if paid up front! So as soon as I put my details in off it came out of my account!!! It said in bold 4.35 or something per month but they neglect to mention that it's up front! If that or I'm blind and didn't see it. But it was late last night so I could have missed it!

Incidentally, who are you hosted with? I'd like to look at that! :O)
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