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Ognjen Regoje
But you can call me Oggy

I make things that run on the web (mostly).
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Answer HN: Mistakes working with small local clients?


A lot of good advice on how to protect yourself but I’d like to offer some advice on how to do it well.

Understand that besides the actual development you are also providing training. This means teaching your clients instead of just doing things for them.

It also means that you should over-inform them rather than keep things to yourself to keep them on the hook. So if they ask you to do something in WordPress, do it and then tell them how you did it.

Similarly, when they ask about something besides answering the question as it is written, try to address the reasons behind them asking the question. For instance, if they asked why they have only a few visitors to their site, you can explain SEO etc. but at the same time explain what can be done to improve their reach.

You should also try to really understand what it is that they’re trying to accomplish by hiring you and then be able to convincingly suggest better ways to do things. A simple example: if you are working with a restaurant you should suggest that they take better pictures of their food, that they should add the full menu to their site, that they should open an account on a reservation platform, etc. And then you can help them do all of these things.

Furthermore, by understanding the direction in which the business moves you can suggest future improvements. Keep a list of ideas you have and when a change request comes in check to see if you have anything related to it that you can suggest.

Create a continuously updated FAQ. That way they have something to refer to and you have something to send them when they ask for the same thing for the tenth time.

Similarly, immediately start automating requests. In many cases, writing a script for a request takes about the same time as doing it manually. This is particularly true for maintenance tasks. You’ll want to make sure thay as many as possible happen automatically.

Understand the different severities of issues and respond in an appropriate timeframe. If the site is down you should be all over it. If the image isn’t loading it can wait till tomorrow.

Don’t charge for things that you messed up. For example if you spent an hour diagnosing why the site is slow and it turns out you didn’t enable WPCache, don’t charge for that.

Enable some kind of alert system that notifies you when an error happens.