As most of you know, I have been preparing to officially launch my web design business for the past few weeks.
Anyway, I've been trying to plan my expenses - since I don't have any money to use as initial equity, I'll need to do some contracts to get the initial equipment.
First thing is a digital camera - obvious choice.
Anyway, what else would be a good investment? I hand code all my websites using Notepad2, so no need for a fancy editor. I use Photoshop 6 for graphics, and it does what I need fairly well.
I'd eventually like to get into doing basic work with flash, but that is a low priority right now.
A new laptop would defintaely be a bonus, as well.. But seeing as how I have a degree (or will have one in one more semester :P) in Computer Information Systems and ran my own custom PC business, I don't really need much help figuring out what I need in that respect.
So, for those of you who have been doing this a while - what software and gear has made your life easier, and increased the quality of your work?
Your software and hardware is trivial compared to your ability to sell yourself and your business to potential clients. You need to research the market, advertise, finetune your businessman skills, etc. All this costs alot of money.
Not to mention legal advise, domain name, reliable hosting, softwared licenses, Business Name and relevant documents.
I would not officially launch your business until you atleast had enough money to keep you going. Do some under-the-table work first.
I'm a college student doing freelance work, and am still supported by my mother. Right now this is moreso a means to get cash for when I move out, but after I do it will support my main job (graphic designer for another company). Having to worry about whether or not I'll be able to afford to live isn't exactly a factor.
As far as my education goes towards business stuff, well, I've taken a number of business courses - Productions and Operations management, Fundamentals of Management, and am currently taking Accounting online. As well, I have the help of my mother, who has been running her own accounting business for years upon years now. She will be assisting me in ensuring I get all the legal aspects of everything in check, so that isn't what I'm worried about right now.
My main focus is finding software and equipment that will enhance my productivity/efficiency, and increase my viability to my customers. For instance, what flash software should I look into? Should I upgrade to the latest Photoshop? Are there any editors that are a little more suited for web design (I'm not talking about stuff like dreamweaver, or a WYSIWYG editor - I still hand code everything)? That sorta thing.
Because hand-coding HTML/CSS and then hand-writing all your server-side requirements is very slow. I can't be sure, but I'm guessing Notepad2 does not provide functionality such as intellisense, syntax-highlighting for a wide array of technologies, an inbuilt FTP client, etc.
Most (if not all) larger companies use a WYSIWYG editor to get the layout done and then fix up the bung HTML by hand. And all code is stored and reused as much as possible.
When entering the industry as a business, you need to forget about alot of your freelance quims. Because, in the long run, business is the name of the game.
Though, you will really just be freelancing under a business name. There is nothing wrong with that, I would infact recommend it for someone in your position, but its a bit different to actually runnng a full-fledged business, which in and of itself is a fulltime job.
I definately recommend Dreamweaver for Web design. Actually now that I think of it, I recommend the trio of Macromedia's software: Dreamweaver for coding/designing, Fireworks for graphics, and Flash for Flash (of course)
If your going to work for yourself time is money. Consider using a program like DW or another like it. I couldn't conceive of living without the hotkeys DW offers or any number of the other tools.
One thing to expand on getting clients... one thing I have found is DO NOT get tied up in Overselling yourself. Tell them enough to get the job done and never lie to a client.
Dumb down your presentation once you create one... You would not believe how many people your going to run into that will not understand what you’re talking about! Most people do not understand the difference between Domain hosting and Registration.
I just don't see how Dreamweaver can speed things up. It takes me little to no time to code a site - I just do the stylesheet and throw in the divs, and copy the content in from text files. If I'm not trying a new technique, I can usually get a stylesheet done in 20-30 minutes, and the rest of the layout takes me little to no time. The longest part for me has always been coming up with the design and figuring out how to code it from the photoshop file.
hmm, dw offers things like code hints, which can speed up coding
its asset library allows fast reuse of elements from other sites
shortcut keys like f12 allows u to quickly view ur page
ability to see the page as u type in the "split-view"
these are some of the things it offers
wat u can do in notepad, u can in dw, but not vice versa...
also, if you r opening ur options to work as a web developer in a larger firm, it would probably be an essential knowledge before you'll be shortlisted... as dw also has collaborative features for multi-developers...
Do I sound like i'm getting commissions from Macromedia?
For a few examples
The find replace feature allows you to edit en masse much better than note pad cos you can edit for example all instances of Comapny Name and replace it with <a>Company Name</a> the source code, selected text, a selected directory, or the entire site.
You can manage all ftp fucntions through it, no need to type in passwords or use another program
Having you html color coded allows you to scan through code quicker be couse your brain never needs to read anything your eyes skims over to find say the orange <form> tag you're looking for.
This is just the tip of the iceberg but it really amounts to a ton of little things that add up to make a huge difference. Do you need it? Absolutely not, and it's best that you learned the way you did. Will it increase productivity? Once you get past the first week or two of learning, absolutely. On lengthy jobs it could save you days.
At the very least, get a better editor than notepad, before you mess up your eyes. There are a lot of freeware editors for handcoding. Some pretty good ones I had used before DW.
I use notepad2, not regular notepad. Notepad2 has codehighlighting and a bunch of other features. In Linux I use either vim for quick edits, or nedit for when I'm actually doing some involved work. As well, if I ever need to do code replacement en masse I can do it through a linux command line or cygwin without too much difficulty (since I quite often switch between linux and windows platforms when just doing programming). Plus, the memory footprint is a big bonus - Usually I have photoshop open with a few high-res images, along with Winamp, and occasionally recording software (I'm an indie recording artist). I like to multitask :P
As for FTP, it isn't difficult to upload files using either CuteFTP in windows, or just plain old sftp (once again, cygwin or linux). I use sftp more often than anything. I usually tar the directory structure, upload it, tar the old dir structure for backups, and untar the new dir structure over the old. SFTP is a necessity for me, since while I'm at college I'm on an ordinary network. The only thing keeping people from reading my traffic in our dorm is a switch - and those aren't exactly hard to get around (arp cache poisoning has been around for a long while now - I demonstrated the process to my networking class a year or two ago).
I dunno, maybe I'm just old fashioned. I like hand coding. I like command line interfaces. Eh.
as much as my mentors advocate editors like vim and emacs for coding, touting things like fast text find, replacement etc etc, deep down I really think that they just want to look cool using a difficult way to solve a simple problem.
Oh yah, dw and regular expression support as well...
lol, tools aside, it would be a good idea to tie down with some hosting company to be their reseller, as that would be better in terms of rates.
Most of your initial time, and money would probably be spent on advertising. Newspapers, magazines, online portals, business directories... cos that's where I would search if i'm looking for someone to do the job.
I don't mean for you to take this as a personal attack, but if you ask for advice, you need to atleast accept it. What people are telling you comes from experience -- but you are rebutting peoples comments as though they are arguing with you.
It's good that you are an "old-style" programmer -- I think almost all of us are. But, as Pete mentioned, time is money. A primitive editor like Notepad2 will slow you down; regardless of the quality of your work. If you really want to use it, go ahead. But remember that people are here to help you out rather than presuade into doing something you do not want to do.