Freelancing

What I learned from the hardest site I’ve ever tried to build

I know I’m not the most experienced developer in the world, but by golly I’ve built stuff. From marketplace apps to learning portals to an iOS building management app backed with a Rails backend. I’ve even built an image recognition app!

All this isn’t to brag, no sir. Just to show that I’ve actually built things, some of which were even mildly complex. All of the above though, paled in comparison to The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Tried To Build™.

Ok enough dramatics, I was actually just trying to build my own personal site. Something simple to display my portfolio of work, maybe a contact form so people can get in touch. How hard could it be?

Very hard as it turns out.

After getting a neat coupon code from the The Guardian Football Weekly Podcast, I decided to try using Squarespace. It is the all-in-one solution for anyone looking to create a beautiful website (as per their own website). They were kind enough to give me a 14 day trial and their documentation is in video form!

Note to self : When I finally build my SAAS product, use videos for documentation, it makes things so much easier.

 You don’t really have to write any code in Squarespace. Its all drag and drop. They also give you a theme to get started, this is actually pretty good UX. Nothing makes people disappear faster then a blank canvas.

So Squarespace is pretty blameless in this, they actually provided everything I needed to build my site. The biggest barrier to building my site was in fact, myself.

I had no idea what content to put in my site, I’ve heard of copywriting, but I never though it would be this hard. Apparently just writing :

“Here’s my site, this is what I do. Hire Me!!!!”

Is nowhere near enough.

I read a few copywriting books to see if I can get better. I recommend CopyHackers, their books were really good. I applied their advice and I guess I created some half-way decent copy.That was then I realised my main enemy was’t bad copywriting.

It was fear.

I was worried, scared even. I was worried about what people will think of my site, will people spam my contact form with insults about my design, writing and my mother? Will people in the street point and laugh at me? Will children heckle me in the street and throw stones at my car?

That was when it hit me.

THIS IS THE REASON CLIENTS SEEM SO ‘PICKY’

This is the reason they ask for little changes all the time. This is the reason they seem so needy. This is the reason they never seem satisfied.

To me, this is just another app. But to the client, this is their creation, their baby. To some clients, the app I’m building is a useful add on to their business, to others it IS their business. Is it any wonder they act like helicopter parents? Hovering over you to make sure you don’t screw up?

This is one thing that separates good freelancers and bad freelancers, its important that the client trusts you before, during and even after a project. I can verify from experience that once your client has doubts about you, they go into Pointy Haired Boss in Micromanaging mode.

I probably lack this skill as of right now, its probably something I should work on for 2017.

P.S So what happened to the Squarespace site you ask? Is it live? Well….after my trial expired I was all ready to upgrade to the Basic Plan. Sadly, Squarespace rejected my card, so its back to WordPress for me!
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