7 Keys to become a successful freelance web designer

I have been working from my home now for over 7 months. I am still learning how to run my own business, but I am getting the hang of it.  During this time working for myself, by myself, I have learned what I need to be a successful freelance web designer and marketer.

My 7 Key Factors to a Successful Freelance Web Marketer

    It goes without saying, doing something alone is much more difficult that getting guidance from someone who has been there and done it themselves. Find a friend or family member that has gone through something similar and ask them to help mentor you. For me that person was James Jacoby, owner of Moby. Through James I was able to get advice that got me off the ground. Although what he does and what I do are not exactly the same, there was more than enough common ground and universal advice to lay a strong foundation for my new freelance business.
    What is Harvest? This is a wonderful piece of software and a website that helps manage invoices, track time spent, and manage client contacts as well. I am not a book keeper, I am a designer and marketer. Having Harvest has helped me concentrate not on the books, invoices, and hours, but on my work.
    I am by nature a little bit unorganized, working for a company you don’t have to manage scheduling and finances. I found the best way to keep track of my upcoming meetings and due dates was to use Google Calendar. I use Gmail as my primary email client; Google Calendar is fully integrated with Gmail and makes it easy for me to not lose track of upcoming deadlines, meetings, and events.
    It goes without saying getting leads can be very hard especially for someone just starting out as a freelancer. I have tried a few different avenues for getting leads: website content marketing, sortfolio.com, Google AdWords, and Thumbtack.
    What works?
    Website Content Marketing: 
    I have found that getting people to my website is easy as long as I create informative and useful content in my blog, and then promote it in forums and social media. Turning this traffic into leads can be difficult, but there is a lot of potential here. You can create a lead funnel on your website from your content.
    Sortfolio: I have found that sortfolio.com was a ripoff being $100 per month, I thought I would get at least 1-3 leads a month from them, but instead I used them for 3 month and recieved only one lead.
    Google AdWords: I have been using Google AdWords for sometime now and the leads can be expensive. I primarily use AdWords for remarketing now. It can cost anywhere from $0.50 to $10 to get a motivated visitor to go to your website, and there is no guarantee that those visitors will fill out a form or create a lead.
    Thumbtack: this is by far the best solution I have found for getting leads that I can handle as a freelancer. The leads are relatively inexpensive and can put you in front of many potential customers.Eventually after a few hard months at the beginning, I am now not even trying to get leads, they just happen on their own.
    Writing a professional Statement of Work (SOW) is the key from turning a lead into a new, or even a repeat customer. There are many guides online on how to write a SOW, but my advice is simple, have nice formating, be very clear in your language, and include a legal agreement, list project costs, a project schedule, project deliverables,and a place for the customer to sign. My first SOW took a long time to create, but not I can use past SOWs as templates for future SOWs.
    Doing web design or marketing for a large company you may not interact very much with clients and customers. There are simple things you can do to create great customer relationships: be prepared, be clear, be concise, and be friendly. If you are not prepared for a meeting or you don’t meet a deadline, that can cause customers to leave bad reviews and you may lose out on potential repeat business. You need to be clear on everything you say and do with your customers, they will take everything you say to heart; don’t make promises you can’t deliver on.  Be concise; don’t over inflate what your saying, keep it simple only say what you need to say.
    I work from home, I have a wife, and two young children. That being said, there is a lot of potential for distraction while I am working. To overcome this, have a area in your home that is only for work; my house has an extra bedroom, my office is where I work. I close the door and my wife and children know I am at work.
    Setting your hours of work
    I know being a freelancer means you make your own hours and you live by your own rules. That is a lie. A business needs stable hours, if you can not do that, your clients won’t know when to contact you and your client relationships will suffer.

If you can do these 5 simple things, being a freelance web designer, or web marketer will be much simpler.

Does anyone have any other advice that might help a new freelancer? Please leave a comment below. Thanks.