3 Most Easily-Avoided Mistakes of Rookie Freelance Designers

Written by

Robert Tonnies


Number 1 – Don’t pretend that you are a hot-shot design studio

If your potential client is looking for a large, hip, long-running, corporate-style design studio, they will go find one. And, as such, they won’t be looking for you. If by chance they do find you, sooner or later (and hopefully sooner for your sake and for theirs) they will uncover your big secret; which, sadly, was that you were a freelance designer to begin with.

Believe it or not, a lot of people that may find their way to you are doing so because they’ve given up on the corporate design option. It’s too expensive, or maybe there’s too much legal red tape, or maybe they just want something more personal… whatever the reason, many people who will find you, the freelance designer, are doing so because they want just that: a freelance designer.

You will always have a much easier time selling yourself for what you are than you will for what you clearly are not. And, when you are honest about all of this up front, you are less likely to upset your client (and more likely to serve them to the best of your ability) as the process unfolds.

Number 2 – If you are just starting out, don’t fickle with price tags

Look, you’ve just started freelancing. You hardly have a portfolio (and don’t fake a portfolio either!). If your first potential client thinks that they should only have to pay $400 for a job that you know is worth $2,000 dollars, take them at $400!

This entire business is going to be built off of a) yes, your eventual portfolio, — but believe it or not, — b) the references you get from customers you have served — is going to bring you more success than you ever imagined.

You don’t need to get big-bucks for your bang on your first few (or even your first few dozen jobs). What you need is to build a reputation.

Number 3 – Use your two new favorite styles of communication: face-to-face and the the old telephone!

I know, it’s the 21st century. And I know you, you are a little techie, and you just want to sit behind your screen in bed with some coffee, shoot some emails, send some texts, fill out some PHP forms, and your business will be up and running.

This will be the literal difference between total failure and surprising success — call your potential customers (again, CALL them, do not email them) — and (uh oh he’s going to say it!): when you get them on the phone, find a time and a place to meet with them in person.

Trust me, they aren’t interested in a 42-string long email thread. And trust me again, they want to know and meet the person that will oversee the product of their great investment.

About the Author

Robert Tonnies Greenmark Studios

Robert is the founder and chief front-end designer at Greenmark Studios. He's been building things on the web since there was a web, and has recently hit the Silicon Prairie in Kansas City, providing top-notch, honest, and personal web design & development to local businesses. Find him on or drop a line on Greenmark's Facebook.


  1. roberttonnies says:

    Feel free to comment below. We will check when possible to get back with any follow-up questions on any blog posts. Thanks!

  2. Frank says:

    Great insights! And true for any business starting up. An individual’s ability to interact with other’s is a true mark of their character, and personal phone calls and meetings can make all the difference in landing that big client. Greenmark Studio’s does a great job living out this philosophy and makes website creation a wonderfully pleasant experience!

    • rctonnie says:

      Thank you for the great review! We very much enjoyed working with your law firm on And we agree, although it is an entirely web-based industry, the need for personal communication, interaction, and consultation is as valuable as it would be in any other industry out there.