8 Best Freelance Websites To Find Web Design & Graphic Design Jobs

You can’t run a freelance business without creating a system to get more clients. Job search websites are a popular tool in that system, but if you’ve used one, you’ve probably had a bad experience.

Before we started building our freelance job site, AwesomeWeb, we researched the big players. Their pros. Their cons. What people loved. What people hated.

We created accounts, combed forums, and read reviews all so we could bring you the last client-getting tool you’ll ever need.

Freelance Job Sites Pricing and Philosophy

CompareFreelancerFreelancer CompareElanceElance CompareoDeskoDesk ComparePeoplePerHourPeoplePerHour Compare99designs99designs CompareEnvatoStudioEnvato Studio CompareCodeableCodeable CompareAwesomeWebAwesomeWeb
Cost for earning $1K $121 $98 $114 $85 $300 $300 $150 $17
Cost for earning $4K $483 $360 $454 $245 $1200 $1200 $600 $17
No percentage fees
# of freelancers 14.1m 4.0m 4.0m 0.5m 0.9m 2,000 100+ 350
Portfolio accessible
Project pages
Personal support
Quality control
No bidding wars
No barriers
Open communication
Minimal ongoing effort

*Data based on information published as of January 1, 2015.

What’s Important to Web Professionals?

  1. No percentage of project fees.
    When the marketplace charges a percentage of the project, the freelancer pulls clients away. Plus, when you charge $3K-20K per project, there’s no way you’re going to give up 10-40%.
  2. Not competing with millions.
    The big marketplaces offer free starter accounts which compromises quality and leads to bidding wars. No way to win unless you slash your rate.
  3. Personal support.
    The most common complaint was a lack of support, especially when a freelancer’s money was tied up or stolen from their accounts. When your livelihood is involved, support is important.
  4. No barriers between you and clients.
    Most marketplaces require clients to register before they can look through freelancers. This makes it hard for clients to find and hire you.
  5. Open communication with your clients.
    Once you have a client, every other marketplace requires you to communicate solely on their platform. Do you think talking with your client would help? Not so fast unless you violate their terms.
  6. Focus on projects, not tasks.
    Professionals don’t do design and development errands. They prefer working on projects from beginning to end. No work is worse than earning pennies for performing trivial tasks.

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Major Takeaways from Our Research

After researching Freelancer, Elance, oDesk, PeoplePerHour, 99designs and others, there were several big takeaways:

  • They are great for beginners who want to build their portfolios. But not so great for professionals who want to make a healthy living. Clients are tempted to accept lower bids from India, Pakistan, Philippines, instead of picking a more expensive and higher quality designer. Quality control is poor, so people end up faking their accounts, making their profiles and portfolios appear to be as good as yours, but asking for much lower rates.
  • They focus on quick Fiverr-type jobs. This is good if you’re looking to make part-time extra income, but it also means you will need to work for quantity not quality.
  • They are the middle-man for your payment, which can be good or bad. Everything is great until your client decides to disappear, not pay, or ask for extra work. If you don’t deliver, they can threaten to leave a bad review and mess up your rating. When you’re competing with millions, a pristine rating is the only thing that keeps you in business. When that’s the case, you’ll do anything to get a good rating. There are many stories from freelancers and clients about their accounts being deactivated and losing the money they had on their account. Anytime there’s a middle-man, you run a greater risk of not getting paid.
  • They struggle with support. When you have an issue – you want to talk to a real person and resolve the issue, right? But when they offer free accounts, it’s impossible to keep up with support. When you email them, you’ll get automated replies and a low-level support person will reach out to you. But it may take weeks to get anywhere. It’s frustrating when your account is suddenly deactivated (with money inside) or you have an issue with your client. Freelancers always run into issues working with clients, but it’s so much more challenging and slower to resolve these issues when you need to deal with the third person (marketplace).

How To Succeed With Biggest and Best Freelance Websites?

While doing research I found a few success stories from freelance web designers and freelance developers. What did they do differently when most people tend to have a bad experience?:

  • They read the terms of freelance site carefully to ensure they know EXACTLY what to expect. They learn the rules of the game, they spend time to do the research before they get started. For example, if you find out there is a big chance your account can be deactivated without explanation, never keep money on that account. Always withdraw it as soon as you receive it. Big freelancing site support is unreliable. Make sure you do everything you can on your end to prevent bad things from happening. Many bad experiences were caused because people didn’t know the terms!
  • They treat these marketplaces as an extra income source. They don’t focus on it, which means they don’t need to accept every job. They can be picky with clients. They can pick projects they are excited about. They can pick clients who want quality results, not just a cheap fix.
  • They make sure they get referrals from existing clients and slowly build up a client base outside these marketplaces. When you provide an exceptional service for a client, they start working with the client directly. Marketplaces are greedy and take 10-15% from each project you complete. It’s in yours and your clients best interest to work directly.
  • They build their online presence away from marketplace. They have their own portfolio website, making it easy for clients to find them. Having quality portfolio website helps to build trust and shows you are professional.

Using these top job websites to earn extra income is good…

But how can you support yourself full-time?

I have always been big believer in quality not quantity. If you are working with 10 clients at the same time, you will not do your best work. You’ll be in a rush to finish jobs quickly. You want to earn more money after all. But by always rushing your work, you won’t be able to create something you’re proud of.

What Is The Alternative?

Find 2-3 high-paying clients you work with regularly. You need to build trust, provide exceptional service, and by doing so you’ll be able to charge more. Finding high-paying clients will give you peace of mind financially and you will be able to focus on the work you enjoy.

alternative-rush-web-designer

I have always been big believer in quality not quantity

Did you know the biggest challenge for business owners (clients) is finding reliable people who do what they promise? If you can deliver and build trust, you will always be in demand! It is as simple as that!

Here is the proof from Quora where somebody asked: “How does a business person hire a good developer/programmer/engineer on Elance or Odesk?”

Many answers were similar, but here is the best response from Yishan Wong, CEO of Reddit:

“You shouldn’t do this; it will probably result in failure.

I have a friend who is a designer (so, closer to technology and implementation than a business guy; about as close as you can be without being outright technical yourself), and he was hiring developers via eLance. Even with consultation from friends of his (e.g. me) who were real engineers, it was extremely difficult to find decent engineers who could do the things he needed, deliver reliably, and iterate according to ongoing testing/customer feedback. The end product was merely “okay” – kind of slow, with little glitches here and there.

If you have total technical ignorance and no local (friend) resources to help you, hiring from eLance or oDesk is almost impossible to do correctly. I would recommend trying another route.”

You Just Need to Get Out There

Never lower your standards and after a while clients will start looking for you themselves! There is no magic bullet, it takes time. But as an expert of your craft, big marketplaces are not a reliable place to make your living and enjoy your work. You will always be burdened by lower bidders and clients who don’t appreciate your expertise.

Professionals are smart enough to work with clients directly.

Professionals are smart enough to work with clients directly. They know they need to ask for 30-50% payment upfront. They know which client proposals sound too good to be true. Pros don’t want to work on quantity – hourly projects, they want to create websites they are proud of. But they still need to look new clients sometimes. But where?

Big freelancing sites are a bad choice for professionals. The biggest freelance websites are also bad for clients who are are looking for high quality results. We saw this as a problem, we can solve. That’s why we created AwesomeWeb, a quality job search website where only professionals can get listed.

People, who go to oDesk and Elance generally aren’t looking to pay for quality work. They are looking for bargain deals, forcing you to undersell yourself. Don’t get me wrong, top freelancing sites are great places to get started and build a portfolio. But professionals get lost in the ocean of freelancers, who are looking for programming jobs from home, graphic design jobs.

Let’s Dive In and Take a Look

At the best freelance websites pros and cons!

 Table of contents (jump to interesting review for you):

These are the marketplaces reviewed in this article

Note: Codeable.io and Studio.Envato are new players, who we admire because of their focus on quality. They are not big (by choice), but we still included them here. We must give you alternative solutions after all, not just show how dire the situation is out there, right?

Many angry people in reviews were throwing words like
“odesk is scam!! elance is scam!!”

So let me set it straight.

None of these companies are scams. They are well-known and credible companies. And yes, they have their challenges and downsides that people don’t like. It’s a tough and important business helping people worldwide to earn their living online.

As with politics, when your well-being is involved, people get emotional and throw bad reviews all over the Internet when something doesn’t work as they expected. I tried to look past anger and notice real issues. Most bad experiences could’ve been avoided if job seekers would be more careful and would learn how to play the game before they start playing.

Freelancer.com Review

freelancer-freelance-marketplace-profesionals

Freelancer has really made their financial model work for them.

Freelancer is one of the biggest job search websites in the market. If you compare oDesk vs freelancer, you will find they are very similar in size and functionality.

You can register and submit 8 bids per month for free.

As with all big freelancing sites, their biggest trouble is with support and high fees. Freelancer has the lowest ratings of all marketplaces, at SiteJabber review site they have got 374 1-star ratings and 26 5-star ratings.

This review about Freelancer from client’s perspective illustrate very well how Freelancer is different from oDesk and Elance:

“Freelancer: Horrible, Punishing Up-sells

The reason why Freelancer has been able to acquire many competitors is because of their profitability. And that profit comes from fleecing their users as hard as possible. The moment you register on the site they try to make you pay for everything and anything. From paying so that your project is available straight away without a review (even though they go live in a few minutes anyway) to prompting you at every step to become a paying member to get crappy ‘perks’. At the moment, they’re even trying to flog Freelancer baseball caps.

If you want to delete a project that you’ve posted, PAY for it. If you want to hide it from search engines, PAY for it! The list in endless, exhausting and overwhelmingly frustrating.”

While almost every marketplace has upsells, Freelancer has really made their financial model work for them. Freelancer is built around membership model and they are asking money for everything. Freelancer pricing strategy is really complicated and gets expensive. Read all about Freelancer fees and charges here.

freelancer-fees-membership-freelance-marketplace

Very tough place for freelancers and clients to be in.

Usually as freelancer you will pay 10% service fee + $0.30 USD + 2.3% (withdrawal fee). Fee on earning 4k/month is $400 + $83 + $0.30 (if you withdraw just once) = $483.30. Freelancer is the most expensive job search website comparing to oDesk, Elance and PeoplePerHour.

Want to have:

  • express withdrawal? – pay.
  • want to be listed higher, highlighted? – pay.
  • want to bid more than 8 bids per month? – pay.

If you don’t close your account and leave it active, after 6 months you will be automatically paying a $10/month maintenance fee.

The same is happening on the business owner’s (client) side. You can buy so many little things here. It is a great financial model for Freelancer, but very tough place for freelancers and clients to be in.

Pros:

  • Huge job seeker and business owner user base with fourteen million users and almost seven million projects posted.
  • Very usable, easy to use and modern website design.
  • Free to get started.
  • Escrow protection for payments.

Cons:

  • Lots of upsells, you need to pay for features, that should have been part of the service.
  • Bad support, in case of disputes you cannot rely on quick and fair resolve.
  • High fees: 10% fee + $0.30 + 2.3% (withdrawal fee).

Here you can read more Freelancer reviews, if you want to dig deeper yourself:

Elance.com Review

elance-freelance-marketplace-professionals

Registration is free and you receive 40 connect points/month.

On Elance listings you will find a good mix of hourly and fixed price work. Registration is free and you receive 40 connect points/month. You use these points to send proposals, promote them, but it all costs points. For example it costs 2 points to send proposal, 4 points to get your proposal to appear on top of the list.

While Elance registration is free, if you want to use Elance actively, you should get $10/month plan, otherwise you are using a limited version of Elance. It’s sad you can pay to appear higher in search. You need to pay to view competitor pricing or feature samples in proposals.

elance-pricing

There is Escrow Security and your hourly rate is guaranteed.

 

Keep in mind Elance charges 8.75% service fee for every project you complete. There is Escrow Security and your hourly rate is guaranteed because of Tracker with Work view, which takes screenshots of your screen as you work.

Elance has helpful applications for an enhanced experience of communication for both job seekers and clients such as live chat, video conferencing and file sharing with version control.

How can you increase likelihood of being hired?

First of all, you need to become a paying member to appear higher in the search results (or ignore that and just be active in client proposals). Then you need to build up your profile by featuring your best work, earning good reviews and ratings from clients. Here is a helpful guide by Elance outlining how to setup profile for best results.

Trouble starts when clients who submitted projects sees many low price bids from seemingly great people usually from Pakistan, India, or Philippines (Elance India sub-site is very popular). Seeing how everybody charges so little, they think that professionals who charge 3-4x times more are simply overcharging. It’s hard to be appreciated for your skill when there are so many temptations for clients (often inexperienced) for paying less.

This is bad for everybody, because freelancers need to bid lower and then they rush to complete more work to earn living. Clients get just “good enough” result and are not satisfied with results.

elance-profile-setup-ratings

Clients who go there in general expect to pay little for your services.

Pros:

  • Free registration, send 20 proposals for free per month (2 points per proposal). You should view buyers history before submitting your proposal. If a client always chooses cheaper options, you shouldn’t reach out to him. Save your precious time and points.
  • Anybody can find work on Elance because of it’s broad variety. You can apply for work on programming, WordPress theme development, product design, branding, writing, marketing, administrative, consulting, legal and engineering jobs.
  • More secure as Elance takes part in money exchange, by asking client to put money on Escrow before project has started.

Cons:

  • Site takes 8.75% fee for every project you complete. Elance fees have been raised last year from 6.75%. Fee’s on earning $4k/month = $350. Plus $10/month if you want to use Elance actively and appear higher in search results.
  • Elance support is quite corporate and oftentimes can be unreasonable and unreliable. Not a good thing, when they are the middle-man for money process.
  • Not totally free – if you don’t join paid membership, you will keep feeling like you are using limited version of Elance.
  • Tough place for creative jobs seekers – it is a very competitive place and since important factor for many clients is pricing, you’ll always find people underbidding you. Clients who go there in general expect to pay little for your services. It’s great for beginners and amateurs living in cheaper countries, but much tougher for experts from USA for example.

You can read more Elance reviews from design job and coding job seekers, if you want to dig deeper yourself:

Oh, before I start oDesk review, keep in mind oDesk, Elance is owned by the same company. They are more similar than you might think.

oDesk.com Review

odesk-freelance-marketplace-professionals

oDesk registers both freelancer and client profiles.

On oDesk listings you will find hourly and fixed priced projects. Be careful when accepting fixed priced projects however, because there contracts aren’t covered by oDesk Guarantee and payment is at client’s discretion. Clients can abuse this.

oDesk registers both job seeker and client profiles, registration is free and it is very easy for you to get started immediately. To increase likelihood of getting hired, check oDesk contractor manual about how to setup great profile.

oDesk fee is 10% from any money you make on their website. Unfortunately when reading reviews about oDesk, I found people are most upset about how hard it is to earn decent wages there. They even encourage you to bid lower.

Every client tries to find the best option, where he can pay smallest amount and get highest quality. This leads to only “good enough” or “bad” results.

Good difference between oDesk and Elance is that oDesk doesnt have a paid membership option. But oDesk fees are 10% compared to Elance 8.75% fee. When you register you can submit 2 job applications at a time.

But you can increase this number by taking oDesk tests and receiving positive feedback ratings from clients after project has been completed. You can read more about job application quota here.

I found it tough to compare Elance vs oDesk, because they are owned by the same company and in overall oDesk or Elance – there is no big difference. The biggest oDesk competitor basically is Freelancer with PeoplePerHour being new disruptor in market.

Pros:

  • Free registration, no paid membership ensuring you don’t have to use limited version of website.
  • Anybody can find work on Elance because of big user base.
  • Secure place to get paid as Odesk takes part in money exchange, by asking client to put money on Escrow before project is started.

Cons:

  • oDesk charges is 10% for every completed project. Fee on 4k/per month = $400 + 1.5% fee for withdrawal.
  • Unreliable corporate support – reviews indicate people had very bad experience with support. People were suggesting not to waste time with support and that you will be better off by trying to solve issue on your own.
  • Tough place for creative professionals, web developers and WordPress experts – usually lower bidders get the project and quality is not being appreciated. (Ok, quality is always appreciated, but price doesnt indicate that).

Here you can read more oDesk reviews, if you want to dig deeper yourself:

  • SiteJabber reviews (84 reviews) – overall rating 2 of 5.
  • TrustPilot reviews (21 reviews) – overall rating 2 of 5.
  • Yelp reviews (24 reviews) – overall rating 2 of 5.

PeoplePerHour Review

people-per-hour-freelance-marketplace-professionals

PPH don’t ask to pay anything upfront to start bidding.

PeoplePerHour was founded in 2003 and quickly became one of the best places right now to find web designer jobs, web developer jobs, WordPress jobs, graphic designer jobs. PPH is pretty good place to get started, get part-time gigs with it’s pros and cons.

They are more focused on hourlies (term used there for quick jobs that take less than hour) and smaller projects. As with all big job websites they have challenges with clients expecting to pay minimal wages and having many low qualified freelancers.

A friend of mine succeeded here a year ago by getting well-paying creative jobs within the UK, but lately it is getting more and more competitive, where low bidders start to take over.

From reviews I read PPH seems to be very good place to get started. PPH don’t ask to pay anything upfront to start bidding for jobs. You can bid on 15 projects per month for free.

If you need more, you can buy 5 credits for $6.50, 10 credits for $9.50 and more. As for the fees, here is the breakdown of what you will be paying to PPH when you start working:

For buyers there are basically no fees unless promoted posting, freelancers are billed % on every project.

  • 15% (excl. VAT) on the first £175 (or €210 or $280 USD) billed and paid by the Buyer in the month
  • 3.5% (excl. VAT) on all work billed and paid for after that in the month.
  • Fee’s on earning $1k/month: 42$ for first 280$, 25$ for the 720$ = $67 (excl VAT) + 1.9% fee to withdraw money to Paypal (takes 3-5 days to receive and 3 days to release money on PPH)
  • Fee’s on earning $4k/month – 42$ + 130$ = 172$ (excl VAT) + 1.9% withdrawal (72$).

Here is complete breakdown on PayPerPeople fees in case you want to explore yourself.

If you are a professional however, you will struggle with low quality clients, PPH getting in your way to ensure you cannot work with the client directly.

There’s no way to get on the phone with your client. Once they get you in the system, they intend to keep you there to ensure they take a piece from all exchanges that happen on their website.

From all job search websites, this could be the best place for pros to earn extra income with hourlies.

people-per-hour-hourlies-freelance-marketplace

PPH does everything to lock you in the system.

Pros:

  • Free to start using both for buyers and sellers.
  • Easy registration – you can sign up very quickly with Facebook or LinkedIn.
  • Great way to build up your portfolio as beginner as there are loads of “Hourly” part time jobs. You won’t earn much, but you’ll get your experience.
  • Has hundreds of thousands of members.
  • Site is middle-man taking part in payment process using an Escrow system so that you only start working when the client places a “deposit” normally around 30% of the project. The deposit is then kept in PeoplePerHour’s Escrow account.
  • Has iPhone app where you can keep in touch with your clients, bid on projects making process easy while you are on the road

Cons:

  • High service fees – If you are not making more than $280 per month, PPH will keep 15% of your earnings + VAT + 1.9% withdrawal fee.
  • Poor customer support – the most complaints about this website is about their support. If something goes wrong, you can expect to receive generic replies, call support is unreachable and it will take long time to resolve disputes. Several clients and freelancers complained about PPH just shutting their accounts down without warning, while they had money on PPH wallet. They received very little support to resolve this issue and were asked to submit many documents before doing anything – passport, driving license, national identification card (photographic), citizenship certificate, tax bill, copy of bank statement, credit or debit card bank statement.
  • Once PPH get your email, expect to receive many emails – while PPH don’t charge for signing up, their main marketing happens in email. Even before you can search for anything, you need to give your email address. People complain how once they give their email address they find it impossible to completely unsubscribe from them.
  • More sellers than work, making it very competitive place and ensuring that often clients pick lower paying offers.
  • Not good option for finding full-time work – this website focuses more on hourlies and low-paid quick projects, making it very hard for professional to take it as reliable place to constantly find work. One successful guy actually uses PPH to get first clients, then ask for referrals and gets these referrals outside PPH.
  • PPH does everything to lock you in the system and never let out.

Here you can read more PeoplePerHour.com reviews, if you want to dig deeper yourself:

  • Reviewopedia reviews (38 reviews) – overall rating 2 of 5.
  • TrustPilot reviews (119 reviews) – overall rating 3 of 5.
  • ReviewCentre reviews (72 reviews) – overall rating 2 of 5.

99designs Review

99designs-crowdsourcing-professional-freelance-marketplace

It’s a great place for beginners to build up their portfolio

99designs is the most popular so called crowd-sourcing platform. It is based on contests, which means that you get paid only if your design is picked as a winner. Still it’s a great place for beginners to start their web design career, gain experience and some professionals have found ways to constantly win the contests.  You will find lots of creative jobs like graphic design, logo design, product design jobs and web design jobs on 99Designs. But there are no guarantees.

There have been lots of negative emotions in the designer community about this kind of work, where clients expect to receive many different design variations, but only pay for one. However there are ways to make money here.

Now 99Designs offers you a chance to keep working with your client using 1-to-1 projects with much more reasonable fees. For 1-to-1 projects 99designs charges 5% support fee + 2.5% payment processing fee = 7.5%.

Designers are the most disappointed about 30-50% fee, 99designs keeps when they win a contest. This isn’t clearly translated in their fees, in fact I couldn’t even find in their terms specific percentage they are taking.

I was only able to find something in their forums, where 1,600 votes have been gathered and 82 comments to lower the fees. 99designs reply was – “If you believe that our fees are not aligned with the value we provide, then we certainly encourage you to find an alternative that is more in line with your perceived value.” Fair enough I guess, if you don’t like something, nobody can force you to use it.

But in terms of fees this means that if you complete $4,000 project you would only keep $2000-3000. Good news is that 99Designs doesn’t charge for withdrawals, except Western Union transfer which is $25.

If you are really good, you will find ways to make money here. Your whole focus should be on winning the contest and getting to work with the client 1-on-1. Costly 99designs fees and no guarantee’s to be paid really discourage participating on this site though.

99designs-crowdsourcing-contests-freelance-marketplace

99Designs doesn’t charge for withdrawals.

Pros:

  • Great place to build portfolio and test your skills.
  • Lots of activity, clients, creative jobs contents to join.
  • After you win the first contest, you can work with client on next project 1-on-1 for reasonable rates.

Cons:

  • Super high charges. You only earn 50-60% from the project, in case you win.
  • Based on contests, meaning if you don’t win – you do work for free.

Microlancer, Studio.Envato Review

envato-studio-microlancer-marketplace

They focus on one-time, short-term projects.

MicroLancer, which is now renamed as Envato studio, is the newest marketplace to find freelance jobs online specifically focusing on artists, but they are a closed community. They handpick designers who can post their jobs there. This allows Envato to maintain quality and a good supply/demand ratio. If you want to apply, read more about it here.

They focus on one-time, short-term projects, which can be done in few hours or up to 7 days. Pricing is fixed ranging between $50-500. Envato Studios keep 30% of your income.

What they promise in exchange:

  • Marketing – they have a trusted platform.
  • Protection – they take payment upfront from buyers and ensure both parties are satisfied.
  • Less admin work – they promise to help with invoicing, customer service and looking after disputes.

Since Envato Studio is still small and new I couldn’t find many reviews or feedback about them. I know Envato is a trusted company and their intention to stay small is a good way to ensure quality.

themeforest-envato-trusted-resource

Envato Studios keep 30% of your income.

Overall, it seems like a good place to get creative jobs and freelance projects, and earn some extra part-time income. However right now they have more service providers than clients, so you might have a tough time getting in.

Pros:

  • Quality and experience is highly valued
  • Earn extra income with quick graphic and web design projects.
  • Established, trusted company. Envato is highly recognized brand in design community.

Cons:

  • 30% fee for each project you complete
  • You cannot rely on Envato Studio for full-time, reliable income source.
  • Hard to get in and get accepted.

Codeable Review

codeable-wordpres-expert-freelance-marketplace

Codeable maintains quality by hand-picking experts.

This is a small community, where clients can get their small WordPress tasks done quickly. You will find quick front end developer jobs, php developer jobs around WordPress. This is not a place to look for full-time work.

Codeable maintains quality by hand-picking WordPress experts they accept on their website. They take a 15% fee from every freelance project you complete. In exchange they do marketing and hold money on Escrow to protect both contractor and client.

Codeable takes care of their community, but they also protect themselves preventing contractors from communicating directly with clients to lure them away from Codeable.

If you are WordPress expert you should apply there. I didn’t find any bad feedback, seems like they are doing the right thing by staying small and staying agile. You can learn more about their mindset in 2013-2014 recap article by founder of Codeable.

codeable-wordpres-expert-how-marketplace

Codeable takes care of their community.

Pros:

  • Quality service, great support.
  • Earn extra income and be valued as professional.
  • No corporate setup – Codeable is small and agile company. Every interaction is personal and human.

Cons:

  • 15% fee for each project you complete.
  • Harder to find bigger freelance projects, site is more for quick fixes.
  • Hard to get in.

AwesomeWeb Review

AwesomeWeb Professional Designer Marketplace

AwesomeWeb is focused on attracting professional.

After conducting our research, we noticed all of these problems with existing marketplaces. Freelance designers and developers aren’t treated well because they all seem to cater to clients.

So we spent a year building our job search website before we opened the doors in September 2014.

AwesomeWeb is focused on attracting professional graphic designers, web designers, and programers. We manually review each freelancer before allowing them to be shown in the search listing.

By collaborating with Michael Dunlop from IncomeDiary, a site which is read by business owners and entrepreneurs, we attract high level clients who need quality help. They’re not looking for cheap outsourcers, they are looking for experts who do what they promise.

Turns out, not only are freelancers frustrated, entrepreneurs are too. It’s hard to find reliable help in the ocean of low-level freelancers.

We want to fix this issue. I feel like Envato studio and Codeable are doing a good job of solving this problem for quick tasks. We want to expand upon that and let freelancers find regular clients, who want to work with you full-time, part-time, or on a retainer basis.

Huge marketplaces like Freelancer, Elance, oDesk, PeoplePerHour, have challenges with maintaining quality, because they let everybody in. Their support cannot handle issues, they try to create good search algorithms, but it’s not working, because there are too many people.

There is too much competition, too many people offer to work for low wages resulting in bad quality results. Nobody is happy – neither job seekers, nor business owners.

awesomeweb-profile-designer-marketplace

We hand review each application ourselves.

AwesomeWeb has stayed small and expanded slowly. We aren’t greedy. We only ask for a $17 per month subscription and let you work with clients directly. No hidden costs, pure quality – that’s it.

Pros:

  • Fees. We ask only for fixed monthly payment, $17. It’s not 30% like 99designs or Envato Studio, it’s not 15% or even 10% like in most places. You keep what you earn.
  • Customer support. We are personal. We are a small company consisting of 4 people, but we are all around the world, ensuring we can reply to you at any time.
  • No scripts. We’ve never written a support script. When you submit a support ticket, we help you personally and don’t give you canned email replies.
  • Quality control. We maintain quality by hand-reviewing accounts. We want competitors to do all the crappy websites and you do projects you are proud of. We don’t want you to undersell yourself.
  • No barriers. We don’t get in the way with the clients. You deal with clients directly. You get paid by clients directly. As professional you know how to handle yourself working with clients, you don’t need protection.
  • Good clients. We connect you with clients who want to work with professionals.
  • For Web Designers and Developers. AwesomeWeb focuses on providing expert jobs starting from graphic design jobs to web designer jobs and web developer jobs. Quality is our priority.

Cons:

  • We are small. We listen to how we can improve, but we don’t have a big development team that can make quick improvements. Every dollar we’ve made so far has gone back into development.
  • We don’t protect you from clients. We don’t place money on Escrow to be the middle-man. You deal with the client directly.
  • You pay upfront. We considered offering free accounts and free trials but ultimately decided on $17 per month with a 90-day money back guarantee. This ensures high quality freelancers. Once you’re in, we support you. It’s impossible to support free users.
  • You can’t reach out to clients yet. Clients contact you. They don’t submit job proposals on that you can bid on. In a way it’s nice that clients choose to work with you, but you can feel helpless if you’re not constantly reaching out to clients. We’re building this feature now.

If you’re a web design professional in need for more clients…

Learn More and Sign Up Today!

Only 150 spots left at $17/month.

That’s why we created AwesomeWeb job search website, to provide another, better way for you to find clients and work on projects you can be proud of. We’ll be increasing our prices as we hit our member quotas. The next price increase is at 500 members. Lock in $17/month today.

What is your experience using different job websites?

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From Printing Business to Web Design & Marketing Agency [Podcast]

The Podcast Episode with Jeff Dykema

Success Story from Jeff Dykema

Earth is already a congested place inhabited by billions of people. The web design industry is not far behind with hundreds of thousands web designers and developers all over the world.

Just in 2012 alone, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a total number of 259,500 designers. The number is continually growing as new and young designers hop into the bandwagon filled with exciting and new ideas enough to make you insecure.

Looking at the numbers, you might be wondering how you are able to have a breakthrough as a web designer/developer in this huge industry. Much better, how can you make yourself become the ‘Go To” person whom clients will seek out?

Again, this is an impossibility faced by almost anyone, not only web designers, who wants to make an impact and be successful.

Meet Jeff Dykema

Jeff Dykema is like every typical web designer. He loves coding, designing, and all the things that seem interesting to a web designer. He established his company, JD Design in 2009. Like everyone else in this industry, he has been struggling with the same question or desire: How to become an “influence” or a “Go-To” person in this vast industry.

Like all other 10K alumni, Jeff was able to get past that dilemma and establish himself as the “Go-To” person in the niche he is in by bringing value to his clients. For him, bringing value means making things happen for his clients.

Making Things Happen

The first thing that comes to mind when you want to make things happen is a flurry of activities, cluttered workspace, and sleepless nights. This old-school mindset is actually very wrong because these things are exactly what’s making you less productive and more tired. In fact, you will just end up spreading yourself thinly as you balance multiple projects but not getting enough for your efforts.

So, how do you make things happen? By having a clear VISION where your clients are headed. Jeff mentioned in the interview that in order to bring value to your clients, you need to GUIDE their efforts by providing solutions that work. However, you cannot become a guide if you yourself do not know where you are going.

Remember Alice when she asked about the Cheshire Cat about the way? The Cheshire Cat asked her where she was going and she said she didn’t care much where. The Cat, then, replied that it didn’t matter which way she should go.

You simply can’t be like Alice in Wonderland who didn’t care which way to go because your clients expect results – RESULTS that WORK. And for you to be able to bring them to the place of success, you must already have a clear picture of the way where you’re taking them or you’ll end up getting lost, tired, and frustrated.

Jeff Offers Clear Vision at JD Design

Jeff Offers Clear Vision at JD Design

A clear vision, of course, is impossible if you don’t understand your clients and their needs. Thus, before you map out your game plan, you sit with them and understand where they are coming from. Then and only then will you be able to tailor solutions for your clients that actually work.

Giving Value Means Losing Clients

Providing solutions that actually work requires focus. Providing solutions that actually work adds value to your work. Providing solutions that actually work makes your clients happy. All that is accomplished with a strong and clear vision.

The other side of the coin, however, is that there are some clients that only want the benefit of the value you give but are not willing to pay more for the high value you are giving. Thus, you have a choice to let go and lose clients or retain them and risk being not equally rewarded for what you are giving.

The second choice seems to be the easiest one to make. If you are in a dilemma about the pricing issue, remember this nugget of truth:

A very good example of this is Apple. They most probably are the highest in the market but that doesn’t them. They know that people who are really after quality will never scrimp on paying for high quality.

The same goes for you. You should not struggle with the dilemma of bumping up your rates if you know your value. In fact, you need to let go of those kinds of client in order to make room for those who are willing to pay for high value.

The Big Divide

Another golden nugget Jeff said he learned from the $10K Boot Camp is to begin thinking of himself as a professional web designer rather than a freelance web designer. Well, you might say, aren’t these two one and the same?

This is the problem – professionalism is one of the most difficult words to define in terms of its essence. Not because you have a profession or have a degree does one become a professional. However, this has been the prevalent definition of the word and accepted by many.

That is why you see a lot of talented people who, until now, do not see their value and the work they give. They become underrated and because of frustration, they cease to live up to what they can deliver.

One of the mindset changes presented at the 10K Boot Camp is to view yourself as a professional web designer and not just a freelance web designer. What is the difference? What does it mean?

A professional web designer sees web design as a business rather than a job. When you think about yourself as a professional, then you cease to do the job but you begin to consider HOW to do the job. Because you think of web design as your business, you begin to perform at a consistently higher level than other people. You also cease to think of just getting paid for the job.

Why? Because there is a sense of ownership.

Eric Lippert couldn’t have said it better. He said, that professionalism is about having the integrity, honesty, and sincere regard for the personhood of the customer, in the context of always doing what is best for the business. Those two things do not need to be in conflict.

When you begin to see yourself in this light, you begin to add value to your clients as well. This is what happened to Jeff Dykema and this could happen to you as well.

The Value of Community and Accountability

Learning new thing, especially things that open your eyes to new and exciting possibilities, is exciting. However, there is also that enemy called procrastination. Most of the time, this enemy lives inside its host unnoticed and unchallenged. If you don’t agree, how many times have you let a good idea sit and tell yourself you have plenty of time to do it?

Procrastination is a powerful enemy. However, it can be defeated by accountability – a big word among the $10K Boot Camp community. That is because mentors from the $10K program know that anyone left alone fending for himself will resort to procrastination letting a great discovery go to waste.

On the other hand, if you know that you have to answer to someone else, you force yourself to act in order to accomplish the goals you have for yourself.

This is the truth – human beings need a little push and accountability is that one thing that ensures actions and decisions. Accountability motivates you to keep reaching for the top. It keeps you moving. It encourages you knowing you can keep your own business while running your own business.

$10K Bootcamp's Accountability Board

$10K Bootcamp’s Accountability Board

And here’s the beauty of accountability – when you get used to become accountable, it becomes natural. You become mindful of yourself to become excellent. What more – it also rubs off on other people. That means, you have become an influence – the “go-to” person you want to become.

Accountability does not only come from mentors but also within the community. A community where you can have an honest dialog with other web designers encouraging and pushing each other towards excellence. The real beauty of community is that it does not just provide accountability, but also fresh and new insight to make your craft better.

Conclusion

Becoming a web design professional, a “Go-To” person, in this industry is always achievable if you have a clear vision of where you are going and the accountability to do what you have purposed to do. Vision guides you where you’re taking your client while accountability keeps pushing you.

These are the principles that turned Jeff Dykema around as professional web designer These are also principles that can turn your life and your business around because what worked for Jeff can also work for you.

 

Free $10K Summit Live Event

What You Will Learn at The $10K Summit

  1. Your Roadmap to Reach Your First $10,000 Project
    No holding back. We’re going to tell you exactly how we teach web designers, developers, and marketers how to sell and deliver high value projects for high value fees.
  2. Unfiltered Golden Nuggets from Mentors and Grads
    Previous program Mentors and Graduates have been asked to share at least one gold nugget (high value takeaway from program) that you can use in your business right now. Even if what they want to say is word for word from our premium program, we will encourage each guest to spill the secrets they used to land their first $10K project.
  3. How to Overcome Isolation; You’re Not Alone
    Join our community of thousands of web professionals just like you. Become a part of a fun and exciting new tribe that enjoys growing and building successful businesses together. We can’t do it for you, but we can hold your hand and make the process as fun as possible.
  4. Get Your Questions Answered
    There will be plenty of time to get your critical questions answered. Curious how you can join this movement? We’ll answer that. Want to know how to overcome a paralyzing business challenge? Yeah, we’ll get to that too. Need confidence? Got that too.

Brent Host

CoHosts

Click Here To Register Now

 

P.s. As a thank you for registering­ you will receive instant access to
$10K Accelerate Training Series, where you will learn:

  • The way to increase your rates by 50% or more;
  • Exact proposal pitch to get a high value project to a lead;
  • The secret of what your clients really needs.

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From Coding to Starting Business and Hiring a Team [Podcast]

The Podcast Episode with Ouida Mac

Ouida Mac’s Success Story

You have a lot of projects going for you and more are waiting in queue. You even have a business. The frustrating thing, however, is that it is not moving into the direction you want and growing into the scale you desire.

It’s not that you lack the talent or the technology. In fact, you’ve continuously allow yourself to learn new systems and technologies but why is everything on a standstill?

This was the same frustration Ouida Mac faced not a long time ago. Like all average web designers, she was charging $15 – $20/hour for her services. Ouida doesn’t lack talent nor knowledge.

Describing herself as your typical nerd/geek, Ouida has written her own CMS and she is constantly learning new technologies to make her craft better. Even her resources and support are abundant.

That story was a long time ago. Ouida was able to transform herself from someone else’s contractor to becoming her own manager hiring other designers to do the work while she focuses on the more important aspect of her business. From $15 – $20 an hour, Ouida now charges $75/hour, an amazing 200% increase from what she used to charge.

What happened?

Mindset Change… When Ouida was asked what brought the 180-degree change in her life and her business, she would always stress mindset change when she entered the $10K Boot Camp. According to her, she had self-esteem issues where she acted like a Xerox machine doing what her clients require of her but not getting paid according to the efforts she exerts.

All that changed when she realized that being a web designer is not just about coding, mastering new technologies, or solving the client’s problems. It is also about viewing web design as a business and not just a job – and therein lies the difference.

When you think of your profession as a job, you will feel no sense of ownership. After all, you are just another face in the workforce – someone who has to finish a task because it is an obligation.

On the other hand, when you view of your profession as a business, you begin to own it. You begin to develop a vision how to make it grow.You begin to innovate. Most of all you begin to look at the big picture and start to ask the right questions.

Asking the Right Questions

How much are you worth? Any successful person or business does not become successful because they are offering a great product or service. How many great products and services are out there? How many great products and services have established themselves as a brand to be reckoned with?

Only when you begin to understand your worth and your value will you be able to bring your business and your service to a bigger scale you want it to be. You are the only person who can tell you how much you’re worth, not the clients who use your services, not the consumers who buy your product. When you treat what you offer as something of great value, people will just follow suit.

As Po’s father in the movie, Kungfu Panda, had said, “There is no secret ingredient.” Po began to act to his full potential when he realized his value. This same strategy has been used by con artists throughout history.

People bought something of no value at a very valuable price because they’ve been told so. Furthermore, those con artists acted and spoke with much conviction how valuable their product is.

Great Expectations

You have an edge – You really are offering something valuable. The greatest challenge, however, is how to make your clients see your value. The Confucian principle of doing unto others what you want others to do unto you provides the clue.

Ouida Mac and the other $10K Boot Camp graduates might have reworded it differently but it resonated throughout her interview. This same mindset can also be seen and heard from $10K Boot Camp graduates.

Her Brent Teaching About Price Increase

The principle? It is not about you or your talent but about your clients. It is placing them at the forefront before you even start to think of design. It is thinking about their breakthrough first before you think of your own.

If you are able to bring a breakthrough to your client, they will know that you are worth the money. If you bring value to your customers, you can ask for more money. If your clients earn more money, they will have no difficulty paying the high value work you bring into the table.

That is why Ouida had no difficulty charging a 200% increase to her clients because they cannot replace the value she is bringing.

Accountability & Collaboration

Like all the rest of humanity, web designers should understand that success can’t be achieved single-handedly. Even those who call themselves self-made millionaires did not reach the place they are in without any form of support. Ouida has mentioned this in her interview. She said that the support and accountability she gets from her 10K mentors and fellow graduates are priceless.

In terms of accountability,she emphasized the importance of choosing the right counsel. You can have mentors but you can’t always have the right mentors. What do they look like?

They are the mentors who will keep pushing you to move forward. They are mentors who will keep pushing you to have new discoveries in every project you undertake.

Support-wise, the 10K Drive and the constant communication she has with fellow $10K alumni keeps her in touch with new trends and strategies. She further emphasized that web designers should never feel threatened to share their knowledge and experiences with fellow designers because there is always plenty of work for everybody.

On the other hand, sharing is what makes the community and the industry dynamic because of the new knowledge. Besides, no one has really become successful by hiding what he has discovered from others.

Conclusion

Knowing your value is the lesson Ouida Mac wants to impart. When you know your worth, it will be easier for you to place your client’s value first. When you know your worth, you will never feel threatened by others talents nor be gripped by fear that someone can steal your projects. Instead, you will be generous enough to share your knowledge and experiences to fellow designers and rejoice as they grow and expand as well.

 

Free $10K Summit Live Event

What You Will Learn at The $10K Summit

  1. Your Roadmap to Reach Your First $10,000 Project
    No holding back. We’re going to tell you exactly how we teach web designers, developers, and marketers how to sell and deliver high value projects for high value fees.
  2. Unfiltered Golden Nuggets from Mentors and Grads
    Previous program Mentors and Graduates have been asked to share at least one gold nugget (high value takeaway from program) that you can use in your business right now. Even if what they want to say is word for word from our premium program, we will encourage each guest to spill the secrets they used to land their first $10K project.
  3. How to Overcome Isolation; You’re Not Alone
    Join our community of thousands of web professionals just like you. Become a part of a fun and exciting new tribe that enjoys growing and building successful businesses together. We can’t do it for you, but we can hold your hand and make the process as fun as possible.
  4. Get Your Questions Answered
    There will be plenty of time to get your critical questions answered. Curious how you can join this movement? We’ll answer that. Want to know how to overcome a paralyzing business challenge? Yeah, we’ll get to that too. Need confidence? Got that too.

Brent Host

CoHosts

Click Here To Register Now

 

P.s. As a thank you for registering­ you will receive instant access to
$10K Accelerate Training Series, where you will learn:

  • The way to increase your rates by 50% or more;
  • Exact proposal pitch to get a high value project to a lead;
  • The secret of what your clients really needs.

Powered by WPeMatico

How to Grow From Freelancer to Web Design Professional [Podcast]

The Podcast Episode with Lauren Gray

Success Story From Lauren Gray

Freelancing is a dream-come-true for those who have been part of the rat race for a long time. The idea of controlling your own time and not answering to a manager or supervisor seems to charm a lot of people.

Only those who have been in the freelancing business long enough have seen its dark side – cheapskate clients who give little value to your talent and work. Such was the case of Lauren Gray, who used to charge just around $300 for a web project but is now charging 10 times the amount of what she used to charge.

From being one of the freelance web designers in the sea of the web design industry, Lauren Gray has successfully transitioned herself to become a market leader who found her own niche and go on to establish her own company called OnceCoupled.

Lauren’s story is not an isolated case where she got lucky one day. She is just one of the success stories you will hear and read about in this series. How was she able to do it? What formula for success did she use? You will be surprised that Lauren did not stumble upon a new discovery. Rather, they are a product of time-proven methods and principles she learned from the 10K Boot Camp. These methods and principles are, in fact, all too familiar ones, but often overlooked.

Finding Your Niche

Life always presents us with different opportunities. There are those who are able to see and grab it while others did not even see it pass before their eyes. The same goes in the web design industry, especially when it comes to finding your niche. How difficult can it get, really? You might get varying answers for this one but for Lauren, the answer is easy and that is to focus on where you already are.

Establishing yourself where you already are makes sense. For one, you already have inside knowledge of the place or the industry and have already built a network around it. Because of the knowledge, you are spared further stress of finding your way around a new industry or new client base.

Another benefit of starting where you already are is you save more time. Because you already know your way around, you are able to avoid certain pitfalls that can be hazardous to your practice and business. All you need to do is enhance and develop what you already have to keep you ahead of the rest.

Adding Value to Your Work

The web design industry is a very competitive one. It is never lacking in talent nor in the drive to succeed. However, some are able to rise, some are pushed into oblivion, while some are hanging by a thread. So how do you make it into the first category – the ones who are successful.

Lauren Gray’s story clearly tells you how – and that is to add more value to your clients. According to her, she does not just offer her services, but she also gives valuable advice, suggestions, and insights to her clients on how to improve their businesses.

The reality is web design is not just about design. It is also about public relations – how you establish a relationship with your clients and how you help them gain success as well. It has a domino effect because once your clients become successful, you also become successful. In order to do this, Lauren mentioned two important factors – only work with clients you love working with and focus on what you are passionate about.

If you are passionate about something, you will only see opportunities rather than difficulties. Secondly, if you only focus on people you love working with, you become more inspired and productive.

Breaking the Myth

One fear that often plague web designers is the idea that if you only focus on a certain niche, your client becomes limited. Worse, you can even lose precious projects that are in a different niche.

On the contrary, Lauren says that picking your own niche opens more opportunities for you because you’ll be able to establish a connection to your client base. Being able to connect and really speak to people is difficult if your interests are scattered in various places.

Lauren Has Become an Expert

Lauren Targets Food Bloggers

Picking a specific niche and focusing on it also allows you to explore it resulting in a deeper knowledge of strategies, methods, new trends, and other things that are happening inside that niche. As you acquire knowledge, you transform yourself as an expert in that niche. As an expert, more people listen and look up to you making you more established and secure.

The Value of Your Time

One of the most important principles the 10K Boot Camp teaches is the value of your time to your business. Realizing how much your time is worth helps you identify which client or project will you accept or reject. According to Lauren, a certain client might give you a little bit of money now but if you cannot see yourself working with that client in the future, you might as well turn the project down now and focus on something that is long-term and will give more value to you.

Realizing the value of your time also means learning how to delegate work. You simply cannot do everything and you clearly are not an expert of everything. Someone else can do a better job to a certain task than what you are doing.

Delegation does not just make your job easier, but it also makes you more productive. It makes each person on the team focus on what they are good at which results in the job getting finished earlier.

Client Satisfaction

A web designer is not just a designer. He is also an entrepreneur. The designer and the entrepreneur have one goal in mind, though – client satisfaction. There is, however, a big difference between just being a designer and a designer-entrepreneur. The first focus only on the aesthetics but the second one also focuses on the solution.

The 10K Boot Camp teaches that website development isn’t just about building a nice and beautiful website. Rather, it is more about solving your client’s pain points. Your job does not end after the website is done, it extends towards helping your client achieve the goals he has and the outcomes he wants. In order to do this, you need to add more value to your client’s existing value.

How?

To solve your client’s pain points, you also need to help him solve their audience’s pain points. The best way to do this is to create a buyer’s persona, a visualization of what the perfect audience of that website looks like. You do this by asking what kind of audience should visit or read the website. As you paint a picture of the type of audience you want to attract, it becomes easier to put in the content. It is also easier to address their problems. Furthermore, it is much easier to suggest what changes and steps your client needs that will bring them closer to their goals.

Communication and Accountability

Good communication, not just communication, is necessary to achieve productivity and maintain a strong working relationship with your team and your client. Furthermore, constant face-to-face communication builds trust and confidence between you and your clients. It also reduces misunderstanding and if there are problems brewing, you can easily cut them early on.

With the different advance communication tools available nowadays, it is not a problem to get constantly in touch with your clients or teammates. You can talk to anyone wherever they are in the comforts of your living room.

Constant communication also encourages accountability, another principle taught at the 10K Boot Camp. According to Lauren, accountability is very important if you want to grow because it allows check and balance, something which does not happen if you are alone.

Accountability provides the right push you need to grow more as well as the feedback you need to make yourself better. It also allows you to see what others in your team are doing and gain new strategies for your business to keep on moving forward.

Conclusion

Success does not happen overnight nor it is a lucky streak because your stars become perfectly aligned. As Lauren Gray’s success has demonstrated, it comes from acquiring the right knowledge and applying that knowledge. By doing so, you’re able to gain a complete return of investment.

Free $10K Summit Live Event

What You Will Learn at The $10K Summit

  1. Your Roadmap to Reach Your First $10,000 Project
    No holding back. We’re going to tell you exactly how we teach web designers, developers, and marketers how to sell and deliver high value projects for high value fees.
  2. Unfiltered Golden Nuggets from Mentors and Grads
    Previous program Mentors and Graduates have been asked to share at least one gold nugget (high value takeaway from program) that you can use in your business right now. Even if what they want to say is word for word from our premium program, we will encourage each guest to spill the secrets they used to land their first $10K project.
  3. How to Overcome Isolation; You’re Not Alone
    Join our community of thousands of web professionals just like you. Become a part of a fun and exciting new tribe that enjoys growing and building successful businesses together. We can’t do it for you, but we can hold your hand and make the process as fun as possible.
  4. Get Your Questions Answered
    There will be plenty of time to get your critical questions answered. Curious how you can join this movement? We’ll answer that. Want to know how to overcome a paralyzing business challenge? Yeah, we’ll get to that too. Need confidence? Got that too.

Brent Host

CoHosts

Click Here To Register Now

 

P.s. As a thank you for registering­ you will receive instant access to
$10K Accelerate Training Series, where you will learn:

  • The way to increase your rates 50% or more without losing a single customer. ­
  • The exact pitch to use while proposing a high value project to a lead.
  • The secret of what your clients really needs (and it’s not a website).

Powered by WPeMatico

2015 Is For Web Design Professionals

2015

“Here’s to becoming even better this year.” James Richman

Year 2015 Will Be Fun

Some are full of excitement after receiving their new gym membership.
While some committed to quit unhealthy habits, and others have made a promise to themselves to spend more time with their loved ones.

All in all, it’s that time of the year again when everyone is full of enthusiasm to welcome change in their lives. I hope that you too are full of enthusiasm to really #deliver big time in 2015. We at 1stWebDesigner, are certainly enthusiastic but most of all we want to do it together with you.

In 2014, we had many set backs, failures and falls. It did hurt, but have brought learned lessons, new ideas and enthusiasm. So that you will benefit from the best possible value our community has to offer.

1. The Power of Community

Our team’s biggest commitment and determination this year is to earn your trust and respect as well as establish our credibility as The Community of Web Design Professionals.

I’ve noticed how most of our every day human interactions are based on vertical management hierarchy structure which is sometimes called as “tall organization”.

To be blunt, I hate it because it’s always about having someone “higher” or “lower” than you – someone is always looked up to and someone is always looked down to. I’m afraid however, that this is the reality of our society today.

Vertical management hierarchy structure. © IAD

Vertical management hierarchy structure. © IAD

When charted out on paper, a vertical management hierarchy structure looks exactly like a pyramid where the head of the company occupies the top level followed by a series of middle managers and supervisors who are responsible for various departments. Finally, at the bottom level of the pyramid so called “regular” employees.

Enough of this since you most probably got the idea already.
I’d rather focus on the idea that within our society today exist communities.

Communities which are mainly based on the horizontal management hierarchy structure, sometimes called as “flat organization”.

The flat organizational model encourages employees to become more intimate in conversations with each other and customers. It also promotes employee involvement through a decentralized decision-making process.

By getting rid of the idea of someone being “higher” or “lower” all personnel involved are informed no matter what type of communication is used. This is what exactly describes community the best: Intimate, rapid, informal and social. To keep it more simple.

Horizontal (community) management structure. © Verve

Horizontal (community) management structure. © Verve

Community is a group of people, who hold the same interests, hobbies, passion, beliefs, and values. It is really not about who is better or higher than the other because each of us has his own areas of expertise and experience.

It means that there are certain topics I have been more exposed to, hence know more about it than you do and the same way goes for you. Therefore, there is no inequality.

Now, you understand why it wasn’t a hard decision to become the community for you.
We love web design and you love web design. Just like you, we also are web design professionals who want to level up our business to become faster, more efficient, more productive, more cost effective and more credible.

2. Web Design Professionals

As my partner Dainis already mentioned in his article, “2015 will be focused on crafting articles of a much higher quality”. I will be writing articles myself, based on our every day growing web design experience.

Let’s slow down and dive into every part of improvement you will experience this year.

Aside from our new video project, #EspressoMonday, we will have a more personalized and individual communication, new partners, new content direction, and all the way to the most minor details of our community this year.

2.1 Personalized Communication

We all like authentic communications and genuine intentions. We trust humans.  We want to talk to humans. We want to engage with humans. After all, we can only give any kind of credibility, respect, or authority only to a human being.

If you love WordPress, are totally committed to reading every CSS-Tricks article, are eager to buy the next Smashing Magazine’s book, or have read nearly every one of Spoon Graphic’s tutorials, you most probably know the truth by now.

WordPress without Matt just wouldn’t be the same. CSS-Tricks without Chris just wouldn’t do the tricks. No Vitaly means no Smashing Magazine, and of course, there would be Graphics, but no spoon without Chris.

Here are few more real-life hustlers who take personalization seriously.
And remember – face over logo, always.

Real life personalized brands.

Because of this, I too decided to step forward and use a picture of myself every time we connect and communicate with you. This also includes the insights of what anyone from our team is up to.

2.2 #EspressoMonday Video Project

As we decided how to implement a more individualized engagement in our commitment to the community this year, we opted for Question and Answer video sessions we call #EspressoMonday. Here’s the reason why…

This weekly Q&A show will be published every Monday and as the title of the show suggests, it is indeed powered by a good doze of caffeine.

Just that, no BS but the basics – coffee, web design and community. Before watching the show, however, please get a cup of coffee for yourself, too. In our very first episode I talk about WordPress frameworks, price increase for your services and starting an agency.

Watch the episode #1 of our Q&A show #EspressoMonday

Watch the episode #1 of our Q&A show #EspressoMonday

All you have to do is just ask your web design question to me followed by the hashtag #EspressoMonday. You can also ask your question on our YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram accounts or anywhere else you can find us. You can even feel free to shoot me an email to james@1stwebdesigner.com

2.3 Web Design Links

Linklog is a blog which is a collection of URLs (hyperlinks) that the blog’s maintainer considers interesting enough to collect. That’s how Wikipedia would describe our new section (look top menu).

We just call it Web Design Links, though. These publicly curated lists of useful resources and links, a format first popularized by John’s Daring Fireball list, have again gained a good amount of popularity in recent months.

Example of our last web design links.

Example of our last web design links.

Now web design professionals too, are creating some great linklogs: like Sacha’s Sidebar and WPClipboard. Since I read a lot on web design every day, I decided I’ll share my very best findings every single day with no promotional, sponsored, or advertisement links – just my hand-picked golden nuggets.

2.4 New Content Direction

Now, we’re finally returning to the topic of changing the direction of the content we will be putting out there for you. On a daily basis, we create different complexity web design projects because clients and requirements vary. In turn so does the output of our efforts.

This has led us to an understanding – the importance of making development to these projects to make them efficient, cost effective, and impactful as we possibly can. I’m glad that this has been one of the best decisions we’ve made.

Once again, we have decided to share all of these learnings, experiences, solutions and ideas with you. In short, our main content categories from now on will be based around Design, Business, and WordPress.

a) Design

Do not expect to find yet another list post of inspirational wallpapers, top minimalistic logo collections or Photoshop brush freebies in this content category because there are plenty of great web resources out there who offer just that.

Instead, this section will be filled with analytical materials where design will be analyzed from different types of angles and, concepts. It’s time to pay more attention to the cruciality of design being functional and, not just pleasant to one’s eye.

HSBC Design Methodology. © HSBC

HSBC Design Methodology. © HSBC

Our mission is for our community to begin thinking of design as an individual discipline when developing web design projects. With these publications, we do not intend to fill you in with the latest web design trends. The reason for this again is that, there are enough brilliant quality resources which, exactly serve this purpose.

On the other hand, we want you to have a clear understanding of design standards and, awareness of usability fundamentals as well as, be up to date with web accessibility guidelines.

b) Business

We are exposed to so much information about how to become a freelancer and maintain a freelancing career. Unfortunately, there is not nowhere near as much resources that would help web design professionals understand the business side of this industry.

This category is dedicated to help our community of web design professionals understand the best industry practices of creating, planning, and handling all web design project in all levels of development.

Agile methodology process overview © DWV

Agile methodology process overview © DWV

As well as the entire deployment case studies of our own web design projects. That being said, our main mission with this type of content is for you to thoroughly understand the ins and outs of how to establish best partnerships with clients and, creatives by getting any project from A to Z.

You can also expect analytical materials about such web development methodologies as Waterfall, Prince 2, Agile, Scrum, Lean, PMI and others.

c) WordPress

Lastly, it would be unforgivable to leave out WordPress because over the past years of being professionally involved in the web design industry, WordPress has become our “top gun”. In the eyes of many other professionals this is the tool that has become the backbone, the spine and the whole core of web design industry.

We are so in love with it, that it has earned its own content category and that says it all.
If you are still one of the rare industry representatives who are not aware of the endless benefits of using WordPress just check out this crazy social proof.

80 Million websites powered by WordPress.

80 Million websites powered by WordPress.

2.5 Premium Products

Everyone who is professionally involved in this industry or for that matter any other industry must have the business growth mindset which basically translates into: “In order to earn I have to spend.” Every successful person will tell you that in order to grow their business and earn, they also had to spend money. They had to invest either in their education, tools, solutions, contacts or assets.

We are very upfront about the fact that we, just like you, are here to run a business. We are not a charitable organization. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we promote and will keep on promoting premium products for web design professionals.

To get this whole thing right, we have partnered with the best authorities in the niche they represent so we can fully focus on being here with you and become better web design professionals together.

Our partners include business product creators, top rated WordPress development brands, award winning designers, and others.

3. Join Our New Community

Lastly, let me finish this article by telling you that our previous ways of communicating with you via email has changed, too. We no longer use MailChimp nor are we going to send out newsletters, which a lot of you in the  past have called spammy (I don’t blame you).

From now on, I’ll be sending you a very personal email letter only once a week.
However, in order to join our new list and be a part of this community, you have to say “YES” to it by entering your email  below.

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