Today, twago presents you Clément Guillemain, who became self-entrepreneur at the age of 21 with the creation of French Pixel in 2012. He has been leader of his independent web agency, specialized in the creation of Internet websites, for 2 years.
How did you start?
I started as a Freelancer right after my professional degree, I was an intern for an online service provider. Soon after, I launched my activity, I worked in my room at my parents’ place because I had very little – if not, no – money. I directly met my clients at their business – I actually still do because I need to know the entirety of their business to sell it well on their websites.
Why did you choose to be a freelancer?
First of all, because I’m passionate: I began to create websites when I was still a boy. I learned it during my free time at school! And I always wanted to use my knowledge to help people. But I need to be interested in the projects I work on. Being freelancer allows me to filter through the demand and choose only the ones that I would really enjoy to develop. I enjoy being my own boss, even if my work depends on my clients. I also like the fact that I can schedule my time as I please and not being subdued to the daily routine of an employee. And in the end – I have to admit it – I’m freelancer for the recognition I get!
How did you develop your business?
At first there was a word-of-mouth process: I spread the word among my own network (former schoolmates, ex-colleagues, friends and former clients, etc.). After that, I used a bit of advertisement (link optimization for my website, partnerships, etc.).This way, I started to work on small (better than little) projects for agencies at a later time. We now work very closely together. Outsourcing gave me the opportunity to earn stable money and provided me with regular work.
Months passed and I began to work with clients without any intermediate (no outsourcing), which allowed me to widen my portfolio and evolve from a simple “freelance” status to a – in my opinion – more flattering “web agency” status.
I then had to find my own signature: I established a brand with its logo – French Pixel – to be used on my website, my flyers and any means of communication.
I had settled and always favored quality over quantity. I progressively raised my prices to stick to the marketing reality; always giving the best value for my clients’ money.
What difficulties did you face?
Starting off from scratch was hard. I felt a bit like Tom Hanks in “Cast Away”, I was completely on my own. You ought to build yourself a reputation, start with your own circles: family, friends and acquaintances. Money is tight and you have to run away from isolation. When prospecting, I often had to wait for months for clients to come back to me after our first meeting…
I lived some serious off-peak seasons and had to deal with uneven income from month to month.
How did you manage to overcome these?
I am lucky that I work in a field that is constantly growing and gets undiminished demands. Nowadays, there are many companies that need a website to help them get popular.
People I meet usually know someone who needs a website – or needs redesigning of an old one – when they don’t need one themselves! I won multiple projects pretty naturally and widened my network. The off-peak seasons are long gone and have been replaced by busy planning.
What are your future plans?
I think I reached the limits of my self-entrepreneur status: I have lots of demand, many ongoing projects and I even have to deal with a lot of steadily growing commercial aspect (numerous phone calls, appointments, emails, etc.). It takes so much time I sometimes have no time to actually work!
I am currently in a negotiating process with a communication agency considering a merge, maybe even as soon as next January. We are to create prints (flyers, business cards, posters, etc.) along with web services, two fields that usually match perfectly. To be continued!
I’m also starting up a web application (secret!), initiated a year ago or so and still pending. This is a project I really want to see finished!