Matt Keefe (@MKeefe) is a multitalented designer & developer, and the co-founder of PixelBit, a design and development agency. PixelBit has no particular home base, with staff spread out all over the world. Managing this requires systems and good communication, which Matt discusses in this conversation.

We also cover tools and methodologies that change over time, sometimes very quickly, balancing client needs with constraints of deadlines and technology, and leaving life as a freelancer for one of a business owner.

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Show Notes & Links

  • Matt and Prescott met via the Photoshop Cafe forum c.2001
  • Prescott bemoans the end of forums in general
  • Colin Smith, founder of Photoshop Cafe
  • Facebook groups are nearly impossible to search
  • Matt helps “clients create products and expand on their brands”
  • PixelBit was founded in 2011 by Matt Keefe and Philip Neal as a mobile and app development team
  • Matt was a freelancer for ten years
  • PixelBit will partner with larger agencies when they’re at capacity

“We're like an outside force inside their business.”

—Matt Keefe

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  • Apple Watch, less of a consumer product and more of a new brand platform
  • Those guys who grow enormous pumpkins, and how they prune
  • Blackberry and Flash, once prominent now all-but-abandoned
  • Developing for Android is often overlooked, but it can be a powerful boost to your brand
  • The balance between intuitive apps that look like the OS, and user discovery from innovative new UI

“Being a freelancer is like being Batman; one day you're called on to save the world, but the next you're an orphan.”

—Prescott Perez-Fox

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“Freelancing is all about the journey because there is no freelance destination.”

—Prescott Perez-Fox

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“As a small business owner, you have to wear 57 different hats.”

—Matt Keefe

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  • Matt is [still] a programmer, but has moved away from design

“You don't have the money not to market your company.”

—Matt Keefe

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“There's never too much communication ... unless it's by email.”

—Matt Keefe

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Tools

Techniques

  • Use Slack to maintain a group community (instead of Facebook)
  • Reconnect with previous clients to introduce your new capabilities or team
  • Acknowledge where your skills are best utilized — design vs. development
  • Post work and engage on Facebook, but don’t expect an ROI and real project works
  • Create a Trello board for design and development ideas
  • Implement a “ground game” at local Chambers of Commerce and other groups
  • Include the client on ideation
  • Never be in a position where the client asks “what’s the status?”
  • Write-off the square footage of your home office, but only if there’s a door!

Habits

  • Always have a staging server so the client can see the project status
  • Use milestones and formal meetings, because some clients prefer it
  • Wake up at 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning, especially to chat with team members in different timezones
  • Keep a structured eating schedule, especially when you’re deep in a project
  • Maintain hobbies that are entirely separate from computers and technology

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About the author: Prescott Perez-Fox

Prescott Perez-Fox is a New York-based graphic designer and brand developer with 17+ years experience in branding, packaging, graphic design, and web design. He runs The Busy Creator.

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