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Design for the guild site WoW Legion

Detailed rpg-design for the guild site on the platform MyBB in the style of World of Warcraft: Legion.
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Light design in fantasy style with anime graphics

Layout for light design in fantasy style with anime graphics.
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Detailed rpg-design for the Guild Forum in Exodar style.
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You are here » ForumD.ru - Design for forums and technical support » Rules & FAQ » The ForumD.ru project's Blog


The ForumD.ru project's Blog

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This topic contains useful information for customers and performers. :flag:

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HOW TO BECOME A DEMANDED SPECIALIST?
Path of the beginner freelance web-developer

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Many guys who want to earn extra money by working in orders for design and technical support ask themselves, where to begin, where to find clients and how to promote themselves in web-development area. There are many disturbing things for beginners at the start. Freelance exchanges are full of specialists, and each order has its auction. It seems like "super-mega-designer" can't deal with competition without a diploma, and his skills are not enough. Top experts attract all the attention in specific areas, and it may seem like the segment is completely employed.
Actually, all of the above is true, but there is no obstacles for your promotion. In this article we'll describe some ways to run your own "word of mouth" and become a wanted specialist in your sphere of activity.

Step 1. Do charity
How do people know you're a good specialist? Visiting pro communities. But it's important for you to be a specialist not to the more experienced pros' eyes, but simple users' (your potential clients). "Gurus" are able to make a site/design/script on their own - why should you lay yourself out to get their respect? You'll get it eventually, but now you need to work with simple users: explain them the ways to do things, repair things if necessary - in short, solve their problems and do it FOR FREE. The more you perform tasks like these, the higher reputation you'll earn among users. You'll become a "Guru" for them, not just a guy who read something somewhere and can do things now.
All the more, helping users for free you can challenge yourself like never before. Despite the fact that many problems can be solved via google, it may be useful for you to get these skills.
The beginner specialist's path at freelance exchanges starts from free or almost free working: there are no good orders till you get a bunch of positive reviews and ratings, and the client is ready to work with a beginner or an unknown specialist only for free.

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Top specialists should not avoid working for free too: where an opening in the schedule is, there is also a great possibility to make something new for the portfolio or practice in the inexperienced areas. And the main advantage of working for free - no strict responsibilities! As the saying goes, beggars can't be choosers, so there are no severe consequences if you fail the task or disagree with a client. A job like this could be taken on your own terms - for example, notifying the client about the long time for working or disallowing to intervene in the creative process with comments like "I want green background with pink dots".

Step 2. Build up a positive reputation in communities
First thing that could help a beginner specialist in it - tolerance to clients and those who "are not in the loop".
"TELL ME HOW TO MAKE A HAND FLYING OUT OF THE SCREEN WITH TITLE WELCOME" - such requests are often found on thematic forums and sites. Oldfags avoid them, sometimes even scoff.
Your task - to find a way to solve even problems like these. If you feel like you want to strangle such a user, imagine this is just a training for communicability in hardcore mode: saying no bad word or joke, catch what he wants and solve his problem within your specialty.
Why should you deal with such orders and requests? Let's face the truth: most of demanded specialists got swelled heads. :) They can choose among a lot of orders, so they may put on airs with some clients or study articles like "how to make the client sure that I am king and he is shit".
A skill of communication with ANY client can help you to win against them. Don't send people with stupid questions away, answer them, talk to them - this will attract may be not so big audience, but build a good reputation for you among ANY users of the community.
When you'll have so many orders that you'll be able to choose, of course you'll say "no" to problem clients, but now you should train. It will help you to understand people, take clients' whims easy and do work better.
Your authority rises greatly in community's eyes. After that you'll become not just a person that may know the solution, but a person that people should ask for help.

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Avoid conflicts, disputes and don't try to defend something in community.
It's important to remember that every discussion on the Internet is based not on the authority of truth, but on the truth of authority. Till you are not popular, even logical observations can be perceived with hostility. Unfortunately, most of people listen not to WHAT is said, but WHO said.
For example, if the beginner or unknown specialist tells a client that it's not worth making red background with blue dots, the client perceives it as a critique of his own taste or as an unwillingness to do the job as it supposed to be done. But if the same observation is received from a popular designer - the client thinks it's worth listening to a cool "Guru" that is praised by everyone.
Here is a case study of the audience's behavior. During the year of 2010 at the MyBB tech support forum the newbie Deff appears and offers to change the view of search results. And how did oldfags react? Vilified a good proposal. Now Deff is an author of a billion great scripts for MyBB, his profile at the support forum has >10k respect points, his scripts are realized globally on the service - in short, he's known and respected. And you know what? Since some time his ideas have been realized at the ENGINE level. It shows us that no one takes the "naked" profile seriously, but well accepts the offers of those who has positive reputation and popularity in community. In a word, it's necessary to work under the scheme "achieve at first" to be accepted.
That's why at the beginning you should not criticize or get into conflicts and argues, but build up a reputation of "a good guy" and only then deal with such things.
First of all, do not criticize.
Everyone who can do something also tries to criticize. Don't. For example, if someone in a free pro community asks you to make background in red - do it with no critique. If this guy wants his site to be that eyesore, let it be. You're asked to criticize some design? Don't! Turn critique to help: if you want to write "what the heck is that?", google the alternate and write: "i'd rather use this picture instead of that element".
Never let yourself to get a swelled head and don't argue - there is NO TRUTH on the Internet. If someone does, just step back, don't stand up for "honor and dignity": be sure, they won't fade, if you'll give up. It's enough to say: "well, IMHO, it seems to me like this, maybe I'm wrong" - in this way you can help observant people to find a correct answer. But if you defend your beliefs with passion, people see just a fight of two (or more) rams, not your authoritative opinion. What is more insulting - the community may accept the other ram's opinion as the more authoritative one, so the dispute can be lost as well as won.
In total. Joining any community, where you would like to have your own "fan-base", try to take the most popular position avoiding any argues and flames and paying the biggest attention for collecting positive feedback from simple users.

Step 3. Uniqueness and promotion strategy.
Analyze your rivals' skills and working conditions and guess what you can do BETTER than they. Promote yourself by contradiction and produce your distinctive features.
For example, you can make no strict demands at the first stage of working as specialist. Even popular in specific areas designers make not so convenient requirements, and some of them are well-grounded (for example, fees for corrections or prepayment), but others are kind of insolent (like "I'm an artist, I see it so"). Against the background of such quirks it's easy to get audience love by some softer methods. Don't make demands like "no corrections", "no sharing RAWs and PSDs", "no additional services", etc. For a start you even could request for no prepayment.
Nevertheless, when you become a demanded specialist, your approach to clients also changes, so I'd like to note some more universal features which could help you to stand out among other specialists, and you should note these features at the very beginning to become popular as soon as possible.
For example, the first thing I see in MyBB-designers - they make designs via templates (equal codes, just images changed), and their templates are not perfect (there are many pages and places where the design's creator didn't change anything in codes, that's why there could be a lot of small mistakes). Based on this I can introduce myself with mottoes like "custom design from scratch", "non-standard forum styling", "detailed paginal coding", etc.
The scheme is simple - open a popular offering, find a flaw and advertise yourself by contradiction. Many users might not notice this flaw before, but when you say "I can do like this", they understand that the other specialist can not. And this scheme can be applied to working conditions.
For example, when this forum had started, it literally flew up in a couple of months. In the meantime there was a forum called "official forum of design support". I was not handy in Photoshop and CSS. How did I win through? First of all, my main rival also wasn't so handy and had a bunch of flaws in working conditions. We had proclaimed ourselves an alternative design support and advertised very attractive working terms. Our main rival in MyBB sphere was "killed".

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Modesty and self-criticism also matter in introducing yourself.
I'd advise this point to true specialists too. It's better to "conserve" yourself as an unskillful noob then introduce yourself as a "Guru" with heightened self-esteem. There is a strange stereotype of the clients reaching for professionals, but in fact you can find a good place introducing yourself as a humble amateur.
For example now, having 10 years working experience in IT sphere, I'm trying to stay in the state I was when I opened my first forum with motto "hello, world, I just downloaded photoshop, let me make some custom stuff for you". That's because I know HOW MUCH I can learn and don't know how many things I could've missed. This position lets me keep my reputation high when I screw up (for example, having no skills enough, working too long, missing bugs, etc.) - everyone makes mistakes, but in case with professionals mistakes could cost a lot.
Also, in my personal opinion, designers who publish their portfolios as "laudatory odes" to themselves lose in the competition. When you talk about yourself and your work, it's better to tell the facts. For example, not advertising like "look at these adorable vignettes", it's everyone's personal business to decide if they're adorable or not. Be modest.

Step 4. Self-development.
It's not about only beginners, but about advanced specialists too. It's very important to do your best in your area - and no way you can without loving your business.
Look at the specialists in your sphere. Firstly, half of these people were forced by parents to go to college, and they are still not sure why they need this. Some others are gradually turning to "dinosaurs", because there is always something new in IT, and if you don't study and experiment, then you become unclaimed even despite having diploma. Third type of people just take their places and stay there doing the same job, not noticing that their methods are already outdated and not popular.
For example, here above is a story about the other design support forum with the mention of the poor quality of its services which was those days. :) But what happened after years, why the competing project "died"? Because, I think, my progress and the progress of any interested specialist was higher. When I look at the current works of that competitor, I only see the same type of design, stolen templates (with only header changed) and avatars with gif-borders from the Internet (which for no reason are called "exclusive" and "hand-made"). For the same pay specialists can do much more technically complicated job, while "template" designers work basically with graphics, offering you the result you can nowadays get all for free. What does this mean? You need to keep growing, otherwise your rivals will move you from the segment of demanded designers to the segment of UNclaimed ones.

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It's also necessary to "be in the loop", to be an advanced expert in your sphere - to read about new methods and find new ways to use them. If you're a beginner or have no profile education, then you should absorb maximum of the information, try new things, ask "how can I do this", etc. If you practice only in your "comfort zone", then your progress is slowed down, and the inability to overcome laziness leads to the conservation in the niche segment. For example, if you create a design template and use it only for style development, then you eventually face its outdating and becoming unclaimed, and creating another one is difficult for you because of lack of practicing in coding. The same applies to photoshop, scipts and any other directions. For example, I had the hell of a problem with graphics editors because I used to work with templates and cliparts - and I'm fighting it hard.
In short, try to become the best in your business. You (probably) never will, but it's worth to try, and that's why you'll become BETTER. And the better you are, the more you're demanded.

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