Archive for the 'freelance' Category

by mkeefe on Aug 24th, 2015

5 Fixable Reasons You Fail to Convert Clients

I’ve been thinking of different fun projects, one that stuck is a blog and possible video program that focuses on running a creative studio. This will cover business, clients, technology and all focus on our category of work. While i’m still learning everyday, I want to give back to the community i’m fortunate to be a part of. Please comment, share and provide overall feedback on the topics you’d like to see.

Without further delay, let’s start with the top reasons you’re likely losing out on jobs.

Over the last 10 years of pitching to clients as small as a 1 man shop and as large as fortune 50 companies i’ve learned what works and what most certainly shoots you in the foot. Before we dive in, I just want to mention there are some instances where 1 or even all of these may be okay, but mainly.. they are not!

1. The “instant business card”

You know the scene, you’re at an event or bump into a business owner and immediately think “they need my business card in order to really think of working with me”. Problem is, you immediately come off as pushy and instant sales mode. Rather than push your card, why not talk to them a bit, get to know their current struggles and propose some solutions. Then if the conversation goes well, hand them your card and ask for theirs to follow up. You wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) give every girl your number at the bar, don’t throw your business card around hoping it sticks.

2. Immediately trying to sell

When talking with a prospect your first order of business should not be to sell them (crazy I know, but stay with me). Instead you should listen to what they say, what works, what doesn’t, basically just get a read of the conversation. Then once you have enough information you can propose a plan (practice this) and almost always, you’ll land the sale. If you immediately come in trying to sell, you’ll alienate the prospect, they’ll go on the defensive and its a lose/lose.

3. No work to back up your words

The best salesman in the world will come to a point when they have to show what can be done for a prospect. In web/mobile work this is achieved by showing your portfolio of prior work. However when starting out you likely do not have one. Rather than get frustrated, work to build your portfolio. Start with small projects, use those to get slightly bigger projects and with hard work you’ll have a portfolio that speaks louder than you ever can.

4. The “I’m the best in the world” mentality

Being an expert in your field is awesome, throwing that at prospects however is not always great. The overall goal of an initial sales opportunity is to speak less and listen more. If you plan to ram your ideas and process down the clients throat, then maybe you should sell goods instead of services. While the sales tactics are pretty much identical (we solve a problem), the message needs to be delivered in a non-bragging way.

5. Leaving customers with a “bad taste” in their mouth

This one is a bit different than the other 4, simply because it is very hard to overcome. A reputation is built over years of hard work but can be ruined in one instant. Your goal should be to protect your reputation at all costs, however sometimes a client relationship goes sour. The problem is especially in small business communities, owners know each other and word can spread quick.

There you go, work on your delivery, get that portfolio packed (with quality work), listen more and you’ll most certainly land more jobs.

 

by mkeefe on Nov 20th, 2012

This week 10 years ago

The Beginning

Its amazing to think that 10 years ago in the comfort of my room while still in high school was the beginning of mkeefeDESIGN. It started as a free time hobby before the logos, website and advertising. It mostly happened during time at the computer lab. I will never forget helping the teachers with graphic design questions, getting access to thousands of dollars in software and in some cases skipping classes to stay there. Not to mention developing an amazing dynamic website on lycos.co.uk. Anyone remember that host? They offered PHP/MySQL servers FOR FREE!

Making it a Career

The Fall after I graduated was when I really started looking at this career path and it was that November Thanksgiving that I was excited to tell my family all about my new “company”. Of course some thought I was insane for working with computers, not going to college and “wasting my time”. Though to my pleasant surprise my dad was excited for me and I really do owe ALOT of my success and experience to him.

Soon after creating mkeefeDESIGN I learned that graphic design was not my preference (great, picked a name with design in it…) and started to learn coding. I picked up some web design books and started created websites. First it was gaming sites, personal weblogs and small business sites for local clients. Then as I began to grow my skill level so did the caliber of clients I had the opportunity to work with. Over the next 8 years I would have the immense pleasure of working with amazing brands, some of which included Adobe, XM Radio, Delphi, Microsoft and Warner Brothers.

Thanks for all the Support

To think if I had been too busy partying and “being a teenager” I wouldn’t have my dream job at my own company still working with some amazing people. Thanks to all my supporters both professional and from my family. I owe much of my success to that constant stream of support.

Now I have my wife supporting my dreams (and I support hers) and putting up with long and tireless hours. I also have my own son who i’m already seeing his dreams be formed and excited for the opportunity to help him achieve them.

Never give up on or let the doubts of others stop your pursuit of your dreams.

 

All too often the world casts a negative light on making mistakes, but the truth is the most successful people make mistakes better than anyone. While this may seem counter-productive it actually builds better products, people and companies. Over the last year and a half while growing PixelBit from all sides i’ve experienced my share of mistakes and learned from them. Here is the top 5.

5 – Gathering the Right Tools on Day 1

It would seem that a new business needs to be very cautious of spending (unless you’re funded) but sometimes you can take that to extremes. Early on I didn’t see a need for legal counsel until a well known client of mine decided to change that perception overnight. Now anytime I start another venture my lawyer will be the 2nd call I make. Now he and my accountant are in my favorites.

4 – Make Bookkeeping and Record-keeping a Weekly Task

As you start to build and grow a company you want your focus to be on growth and money making aspects. However what I did was originally left working in Quickbooks for later and then when it was needed spent 2 days reconciling, reporting and filing (not tax related) everything. This year i’ve made it a point to set aside time and on average spend 20 minutes a week.

3 – Stretch the Funds

If you’ve freelanced you know all about highs and lows in payments. Sometimes you have a record month and other times you can actually see the dust collecting on your mailbox. Well in running a company with others relying on money this becomes a major issue. Having learned and survived the down months (usually in the Summer) I now make it a point to set aside a good chunk of money not allocated to payroll and bills for those dips. The amount you need to set aside will vary based on company but you’ll quickly learn.

2 – Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Don’t let your ego or desire to “go it on your own” actually hurt you. About 4 months in I wanted to source more local work while maintaining our existing client obligations. I spent money on advertising and quickly learned I should have bet on dog races as I knew nothing about marketing a company. I mean in freelance you market yourself, but its really not the same! Well after a few meetings and help from some great friends I was able to re-run the campaign and had an amazing response.

1 – Create a Website and Keep It Updated

When I started PixelBit my intention was to take the first 2 months and create the brand, website, mobile presence and market it in hopes of capturing work for the team. To our great surprise we had our first project in our hands 2 weeks after announcing the companies existence. Then it was day in and day out of work for clients. Which was awesome, but finally this Summer I had to take a step back and properly build the brand, once and for all. The website is now in its final development stage but next time i’ll be sure to create all that before announcing the company. Its not only awkward for a web company to not have an active website its borderline painful to not be able to show live examples of work with our words and brand attached.

Hopefully this post will help others and don’t be afraid to fail and make mistakes, be afraid not to. If you only take one thing away from these 5 points its to plan ahead, draw out everything and expect things to be rocky as you get started, however as you grow you’ll be thankful you created a firm foundation.

by mkeefe on Dec 21st, 2011

Why SOPA will kill the internet

Its been written many times across the web before but it needs to continue as long as the SOPA bill is still alive.

The internet will NOT exist as we know it.
Sites like (YouTube, Redditt, Digg, Facebook, Google, etc…). These sites will come under fire to the point where people will lose their access and ultimately companies like the RIAA will force their hand and big websites will cave. We’ve seen it in small form with the RIAA/MPAA and online piracy of content. You know, when ICE comes in and seizes a domain name? Well now that will be on a global scale.

How about when Viacom went after YouTube under the DMCA? It can/will happen.

Still don’t see the issue?
Okay, think Chinese-style censorship across the entire WWW (World Wide Web aka “Internet”).

The recent “hold” on voting until the New Year should not be seen as a victory because they are likely trying to remove exposure and then secretly pass it while everyone is busy with a new topic. Also keep in mind thanks in part to “line item veto” not existing the government can and probably will attach the bill to a much more favorable bill. Say maybe a two month delay of federal taxes?

We need change across the entire system but for now lets work on keeping the internet because if SOPA passed its possible a blog post like this could cause the agencies to come and force my and anyone elses blog offline for “infringing”.

What can you do?
Voice your concern, post about it, call your political office and write to Congress. Thats physically write a letter to your senator or governor. An email is nice but will likely get caught in a spam filter and/or be seen by some intern who will delete it. A letter is harder to “lose”.

Why should you care?
At this point if you still don’t get it but work or play on the internet I feel sorry for you. This SOPA bill has the potential to not only kill the internet but could harm potential web developers/designers, such as myself!

by mkeefe on Nov 22nd, 2011

Time to Set the Record Straight

Originally I wasn’t going to post a response to the outcry of posts/comments about “government spending” on an app of which I was a developer on. However the more I sat back this evening I figured I have nothing to hide, but wanted to set the record straight.

It all started with a simple tweet from a follower of mine and thought it was a critique on the code which i’m sure could be enhanced (it was modified 20 times across 4 rounds). Yet it was a bit more involved than that.. lets begin…

Okay, so first off I was accused of developing an app for OSHA and was paid anywhere from $50,000 – $200,000 to do. Both figures and the range in between is far from the truth. I was hired by a development company in Boston to port an Android app to iPhone which was simple enough. However as the gov continued to make changes, updates and modifications it began to add up. (my personal favorite was the myth that a custom UI is against the iOS TOS). Yet in the end I made a minuscule fraction of what others are claiming. In fact I worked over a weekend just to get “another build” to the team.

Of course to my “luck” I never even was the last developer on the project yet my name was shipped with the source code when it really should have been the company I was working with. Well actually my companies name was included, even worse.. but whatever, the damage or lack of damage is done at this point. I just wanted to set the record straight, not even including the fact I do not label myself a ninja iOS developer and never have. I work on apps, learn in my free time and extend my overall programming knowledge to Objective-C.

I guess the takeaway from this post is don’t always assume what you read is the whole picture and more importantly developers that work with teams get paid a fraction of what the end client is billed.

As an aside my personal favorite comment on some pro-FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) website was my company must be somehow connected to a political arm and in turn won this amazing contract. Well if thats the case than someone owes me a bunch more money!

Update: Without getting into specifics on programming a few people asked me about old code and extending NSLocalisedString. The latter was done in an effort to mimic language switching in-app before the client decided we could use the devices language setting (my preference on the matter). The old code is because the app was never cleaned before being released, not sure why.. but there you have it.

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