Obviousness in 3…2…1… Tell people what you do. And wear it if you have to. Instead of sportin’ free ads for Nike or The Yankees, put your profession on a cap or t-shirt. Cafepress.com prints on-demand, so all you have to do is upload an image, and you got clothes that can make you money. And of course that isn’t an original idea. Go to Home Depot one morning and look at all the local workers that wear shirts advertising their construction, plumbing, painting, electrical work, etc. Web developers haven’t jumped on the shirt ad bandwagon though. At least not that I’ve seen.
Even with the economy not so great, I still think web developers are in demand. To test this though I should go back to telling people I do web design when they ask what I do for a living. I used to tell people that because it was easier than explaining the whole training video thing, but I don’t anymore because I was getting too many followup questions. It is amazing how many people need a web developer, or their brother-in-law is starting a business and needs one, or their company just fired their past webmaster. And its not that I don’t appreciate offers for work, but when you aren’t looking for a job, it can be uncomfortable being asked to do one and then have to explain “well I’m not really doing for-hire work anymore” (unless your company name begins with a “P” and rhymes with “ixar”)
Point is, these people had no idea if I was even a good at web design. Without even seeing a portfolio they were asking hiring questions. “How much do you charge?”, “Can you make a site that does this?”….So if you are looking for work, be ready for those questions. “Oh I dunno”, isn’t the right response. Neither is “just go to my website for prices”. Watch a movie like Glengarry Glen Ross, or Boiler Room. They talk a lot about “leads” in those movies. If someone is interested in what you do as a web developer, thats probably a very good lead. And some folks might not come right out and say they need a developer, but will ask questions that sound as if they are just being curious, because they are testing you for the right answers. As in, if you can’t talk about what you do, then you can’t do it. That’s an old-school attitude you might run into, but you have to prepared to sell to all types of people.
And I said this in a previous post (which I think got me the comment about sounding negative), but I’ll risk it again… non-artistic people love having someone listen to their ideas. If they can grab someone’s ear about bringing their ideas to life, they will. And then they’ll hire the person that listened to them, because hiring someone else is all they can do to create what they need. And thats not a negative comment, its just true. If you ever watch behind the scenes stuff with George Lucas at the Ranch, all he does is talk to the artists and try to explain what’s in his thought bubbles (and artistically all 6 movies rock)…. Anyway, so part of your “sell” as a web developer or artist is just knowing when to listen, or to get the conversation on that path where the client is explaining what they want.
More tips later.