Any freelancer can overcome the fear of “I Don’t Know Enough”. Here are 5 things to do when you don’t know and yet want clients to hire you
You can overcome the fear of “I don’t know enough” with a willingness to learn something new and extensive use of Google.
In the past, I have often told clients I know things where, in reality, I knew very little about it. I still do the same.
The most recent example is for a client where one of his sites is in the Phalcon framework. I had little idea about it. I also knew the basics of the rapid application development framework in PHP. So I was confident I could figure out Phalcon as well.
So I I told the client yes, I could work for him in the Phalcon framework. Once the client wanted me to work on it, I dedicated a lot of time to understand the working of the Phalcon framework and use the client’s software to learn a lot more about Phalcon. I didn’t charge the client for the time spent on Phalcon perse.
I not only managed to fix bugs for the client, but he was so happy with my work that we developed a new module for his site in the Phalcon framework.
Not knowing isn’t the issue for freelancers. It is the fear of the unknown. What if the client asks me something I may not know or may not be able to answer.
If you are committed to learning and are open to spending time learning, you should be fine. So here are five things to consider when trying something new before working for the client:
1. Never be on a Tight Schedule
When you are trying to add something more to your expertise, you will need time. You can’t learn and then deliver in a short time.
If something is going to take time, it will take time. Remember the quote from Warren Buffet.
No matter how great the talent or efforts, some things just take time. You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant. – Warren Buffett.
Being on a tight schedule won’t help. You will need the time to be able to figure things out. If a client is on a tight schedule, skip the project, and say no to the client.
2. Never Miss the Deadline
No matter what you do, there can never be an excuse to miss the deadline. Missing deadlines is one of the biggest mistakes among new freelancers.
If you start and find that you will need more time to learn than you initially thought, let the client know well in advance.
The rule I follow is, if I am to miss a deadline, I let my clients know so much in advance that they can hire someone else and get things done for them within the deadline.
3. Always Open to Learning
In my decade-long experience as a freelancer, the only thing I associate with my success is the openness to learning something new.
I have moved from vBulletin to XenForo or WordPress for that matter. I have also worked in amember, CakePHP, Phalcon, CodeIgnitor, Opencart as well as in Woocommerce. The list is long.
PHP as a programming language was neither part of my education curriculum nor took any training for it.
As a developer, one should be open to learning new and upcoming technologies, but as a freelancer, one needs to be right on edge to learn something new. You will deal with things that aren’t so successful, but that shouldn’t stop you.
4. “Hello World” is The Best Way to Start
Do you remember days when you wrote your first program as “Hello World”?
When I started learning PHP, I remember how important it was to write echo “Hello World”; and echo phpinfo();. I managed to install PHP on my Windows laptop back then and configured Apache to run the PHP. Not sure if WAMPP was an option then, but I didn’t know about it.
Similarly, the “Hello World” in Phalcon was as exciting as it was when writing the “Hello World” for the first time in C programming in my college days.
It builds confidence and makes sure we have everything prerequisite to get rolling.
5. Google is on your side
Someone somewhere may have had the same problem. If he managed to solve it, he may have used some online resources to ask the question and may have found an answer. It is still online, and Google is smart enough to rank the answer for you to find it quickly.
Google is your best friend to get an answer to all the issues any developer may have.
Apart from Google, there are sites like StackOverflow and official forums and communities of the technology you wish to learn. So don’t hesitate to get help.
So if you don’t know enough about anything, see it as positive – Now you know what you should be learning.