South by Southwest: From Freelance to Agency

All of a sudden, two months have gone by since South by Southwest 2009, and my grand plans for a series of posts about what we learned there have gone poof. That being said, I’d like to share the one session I attended that’s stuck with me the most: From Freelance to Agency: Start Small, Stay Small, which featured a group of top-notch freelancers talking about their lessons learned as they grew their businesses, whether they ended up hiring employees or stayed solo. If you listen to the podcast all the way to the Q & A, you’ll hear yours truly asking a question. Here’s the panel description to give you a taste:

The web has always attracted mavericks and entrepreneurs, and a rocky economy makes the freelance life more desirable (or at least more inevitable) than ever. So what happens when your freelance business starts to grow? How big can you get without getting bad? How can freelancers and small teams compete with traditional agencies? Hip freelancers and cool agency heads will answer questions, compare experiences, and tell their stories.

So what stuck with me? Be yourself. Whether your website speaks in a “we’re a company” voice or an “it’s just me” voice, be honest about the scale of your business, who you are, and what you do. You can have it both ways, as Jeffrey Zeldman pointed out: present yourself as a business on the Home page, introduce yourself as a person on your About page.