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Many WordPress developers start out in the same way; dreaming of self-employment, freedom from the 9-5, and the opportunity to build a business from scratch exactly the way they want it. From the outside, it can seem like it’s all fun and games; working out of trendy coffee shops, starting at 2 in the afternoon, wearing your pyjama pants a little longer than is normally deemed acceptable.
But there’s also the other side… demanding clients, challenging technical problems, complex feature requests, service outages, malicious attacks, scope-creep… the list goes on. Working as a WordPress developer in a freelance environment can truly be tough in a variety of ways, and many people will ultimately find that it’s just not for them.
If you want to stick it out, it’s critical to ensure you have a support system in place as a WordPress developer, both in a technical sense in having others to draw ideas and solutions from, but also in an emotional sense, when you just need to vent your frustrations and tackle obstacles with a clearer head.
We recently learned about WP&UP, a not-for-profit specialising in offering support to professionals in the WordPress community that they might not otherwise have.
WP&UP offers a range of valuable content and resources centred around 4 main areas; business health, skills health, physical health and mental health. Each of these areas are designed to help WordPress professionals with building partnerships and connections, honing skills and finding mentors, offering tips for good personal health and nutrition, and finally, offering support for the mental health concerns commonly faced in the freelance community. You can also sign up for their blog or podcast, which offers a range of useful interviews and discussions around dealing with rapid business growth, coping with having so much of your work and life “online”, overcoming work overload/burnout and more.
And should you wish to further the cause, you can also donate to show your support for fellow developers in the WordPress community.
One Size Never Fits All
When it comes to coping with being a freelancer, or self-employed WordPress developer, there’s no real right or wrong way to do it. Everyone has their unique set of preferences on how to structure their business processes, service offerings, time and resources.
However, we’ve collected a few tips that other developers say have helped them to manage their day-to-day process, while staying happy and healthy:
Set work hours for yourself and try to stick to them.
While freedom from a rigid structure can sound terribly appealing, it can be tough for everyone to keep up with their workload this way, and invites procrastination in the door a little too much. Setting specific hours of work can help you to manage your workload more consistently, and set boundaries on when you can or can’t say yes to all of those brunch dates.
Don’t undercut yourself on how much time it will take to finish a project.
It can be tempting to tell clients you can get work done extra quickly for them, but ultimately, this can lead to unrealistic time-frames and mounting pressure that does far more bad than good. It can be a good idea to allow some buffer when quoting timeframes for clients, to ensure you have breathing room when anything unexpected crops up!
Set clear and consistent boundaries with clients.
This one is especially important to ensure you maintain healthy client relationships, and not let any resentment creep into the fray. Set clear boundaries with clients from the beginning, such as exactly how and when they can contact you. Make sure you set time aside where you can “turn off” – at least a little bit! If you don’t want clients calling you at 10pm for a chat about which shade of yellow best compliments their latest logo redesign idea, make sure your support hours are outlined clearly on your website and any contracts you draw up.
Have terms and conditions.
Spend the money and have a reputable lawyer who specialises in IT services draw up a set of terms and conditions for you, to ensure you are legally protected from any losses your clients may incur as a result of outages or website errors.
That’s it from us for this week. As always, if you have any questions about this post or our shared hosting, VPS, reseller or dedicated server plans, simply call us on 1300 MY HOST (694 678) during business hours, or submit a ticket through our Support Portal and one of the crew will be in touch!