100 Freelance WordPress designer rules

By 13th July 2018Blog

Dare to break any one of the rules at your own peril.

1. Follow the rules geek – be chique
2. Doing everything a client asks you to will destroy the WordPress website your building – be careful
3. The client doesn’t know what they are doing that’s why they are working with you – be nice
4. Tell the client if their brand is weak – be polite
5. Tell the client if their brand is good – be honest
6. Don’t ever customise wp core files and utilise child themes – be smart
7. Always try and use a premium theme above a free theme – be time efficient
8. Pay for any assets you use – give the gift of WordPress love – be kind
9. Always leave work before 6pm on Friday for a beer – be you
10. You need to aim to take 1 holiday every 3 months – be rich
11. If you don’t own a brand new apple laptop don’t take your linux laptop to a client meeting – don’t be non apple even if apple sucks :p
12. Always say yes to client requests, the optimum is 3 X yes’es to 1 X no – be responsive
13. Never tell the client they’re wrong, just say you’ll see what you can do – see rule #2
14. Time is money, educate the client if they misunderstand the laws of business with this simple rule. They can only have 2 things NEVER ALL 3 AT THE SAME TIME!
See rule #10
15. Share demo links with clients to potential plugins and themes – be open
16. Give clients wireframes or digital mockup proofs as part of the decision making process – be guided
17. Answer your phone – be contactable
18. Tell the client if you’ve made a mistake – See rule #3
19. Make sure you use font awesome, it’s called font awesome for a reason – Be awesome
20. Write things down especially when a client is talking – Be memorable
21. Keep it simple, especially if your client isn’t tech savy – they need to be capable of running this thing – Be tech savy
22. Deliver what’s asked of you – Be thorough
23. Add value to the client – Be valuable
24. Stay on schedule – Be well timed
25. Never send emails out of hours – Be professional
26. Never send emails at the weekend (draft them if necessary) – See rule #25
27. Never use watsapp – See rule #25
28. Never use snapchat – See rule #25
29. Texting a client is OK but don’t use X’s and emoji’s – See rule #25
30. Never sleep with a client regardless of how smoking hot they are – Be controlled
31. Always ask for feedback from a client – Be receptive
32. If you can’t build it, tell the client to build it themselves – Be truthful
33. Pay for licenses – Be Spending Money
34. As a rule of thumb, things take 3 times longer than you think – Be realistic
35. Charge your client based on time – Be making money
36. Work on a fixed project cost – Be safe
37. Always send your client a proposal to sign with terms – Be water tight
38. Find one someone has made earlier – Be intelligent
39. Do your research properly – Be reading stackoverflow like its the best book you’ve ever read
40. If the client can’t afford you, that’s their problem, not yours – Be it their problem
41. If you don’t deliver what the client asked for, that’s your problem, not theirs – Be this your BIG problem
42. WP devs aren’t conversational masters, if you ask for opinions on forums don’t be put off by blunt responses – Be aware
43. Be creative – you’re using the best technology platform ever invents – Be innovative
44. Never send links to a client webpage that isn’t “proof-able” – Be wise
45. Interact with the WordPress community and contribute to it – Be friendly
46. Open source is paying your rent, so don’t be a c.u.n one t. – Be lovely
47. Accept every client project is different – Be risk adverse
48. The troublesome clients will immediately talk about money – See rule #64
49. Accept every client will be difficult to manage in some way – Be a manager
50. Understand if you were the client you wouldn’t be a WP dev – so it’s better this way around – Be proud
51. Never lie remember digital products have a digital footprint – be right
52. Train your client to be managed and treat them well – See rule #48
53. Familiarise yourself with the apple hard refresh keyword shortcut keys, there will come a time when you need it and when you use it press the buttons like you know what you’re doing – See rule #11
54. Stackoverflow is now your favourite website – See rule #39
55. Themeforest is now your second favourite website – Be talented and resourceful
56. Pingdom is now your third favourite website – Be fast
57. Remember if it’s impossible for you to do and you haven’t worked past midnight, it’s not yet impossible – Be working until 12.00 but only in extreme emergencies
58. If web hosting technical support are unhelpful ask to speak to the CTO because you’re a CEO and need to get Sh*t done – Be CEO
59. Always work with a decision maker within the company you’re working for – Be get things done
60. Avoid getting group feedback mid project – See rule #58
61. The client doesn’t choose you, you choose the client – Be picky
62. Choose your clients carefully – Be careful
63. Have a back up plan for the websites you host and have an efficient recovery process that you can operate drunk (you may have to talk a client through doing it) – Be paranoid (occasionally)
64. Never tell a client how many WP sites you are currently working on, just say you’re busy – Be busy
65. Busy developers are like busy plumbers, they’re expensive and good (polite reminder: if you aint busy you aint good) – Be expensive and busy at all times
66. Don’t high five on the first meeting – Be doing hand shakes
67. Make eye contact in meetings – Be looking at people
68. Don’t talk about your gamer channel even if it’s got a ping speed of 12ms – Be gamer black ops during working hours
69. Take ½ of the project total upfront in case the client does a runner – Be never chasing money
70. The best clients aren’t the biggest brands – Be humble
71. Never work drunk, unless it’s an absolute emergency – Be sober
72. Emergencies ONLY: If you do work drunk, don’t drink coffee, it only makes drunk people quicker – Be coffee free but ONLY when drunk
73. Develop a taste for rare and extraordinarily tasty and expensive coffee – Be a coffee drinker
74. Don’t work with agencies – you’re better than that ;) – Be your own agency
75. Work with end clients (the ultimate decision makers) – See rule #58
76. You don’t need an agent because no one can sell you better than yourself – See rule #35
77. If you’re struggling to explain what you do, say “I build the internet” – Be proud
78. If you’re unsure why you do it, say “I enjoy changing the landscape of the internet for everyone” – Be bold
79. If anyone asks you anything else, ask them what they do – Be inquisitive
80. Your 2nd favourite drink is served in a cold pint glass – Be hipster
81. Your favourite alcoholic drink is pale and ale it’s called pale ale AKA hipster beer – Be 50% hipster if you can’t be 100% hipster
82. Drinking anything else alcoholic is kind of OK, just don’t let anyone else see – Be covert
83. Mix in photographer and designer circles – developers don’t have 100% good hispter chat – Be mingling
84. Your hourly rate is calculate by what you think it should be + 33% – Be expensive per hour
85. You no longer have a day rate and let the client do the math if asked – Be charging per hour
86. If you have to explain something to a client in more than 3 emails, phone them – Be fast to respond
87. Speak to your clients – they pay the bills – Be talkative
88. Invoice regularly – you need to be paid – See rule #87
89. Watch pirates of silicon valley – Be educated
90. Sign up for a wpengine account and give up on reading hosting performance affiliate blog posts – Be a speed builder
91. Have a studio don’t work at home – Be a business
92. Remember the bigger your screen the bigger your… don’t work off an ipad mini?! – Be big
93. WP developers are front end and back end developers – you got game all over the court – Be MVP
94. Come up with ways to meet new potential clients (you may have to go outside) – Be networking
95. Enjoy what you do or find a way to enjoy doing it – Be enjoying it
96. Tell everyone that you enjoy what you do – Be happy
97. Go off the grid once in a while – Be offline (occasionally)
98. Visual composer is what your clients need and accept it would take you a year to build something better – be grateful
99. Learn how to use ACF properly – Be a genius
100. Always remember, you’re using open source technology building websites using WordPress and whether or not you like it – you’re an ambassador for open source. The WordPress technology was created by people much more clever than you and me and far more experienced. That’s why you and I didn’t invent it. If someone asks for your help, give them help, charge them a fair price, deliver exactly what you promise and be professional throughout the project – Be a good human being

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Author Ben

Senior WordPress developer (London) and founder of SlibDesign.com. I've been using WordPress for over 12 years. Feel free to get in touch with me if you need WordPress help or tips.

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