Yugene Lee, freelance web designer and founder of Singapore-based UI & UX Studio JINDesign, has a successful career in digital marketing. After working as a freelance web designer for two years, Lee returned to freelancing and found his calling in UI & UX design. His clients include Mediacorp and AIA Singapore. Lee’s journey began with side projects like Deals89 and DealsChrome, and later co-founded a digital firm offering SEO, SMM, and web design services.
Lead designer and founder of Singapore-based UI & UX Studio JINDesign is Yugene Lee. He created a full-service digital marketing firm in Singapore after working as a freelance web designer there for two years. Soon after, he went back to freelancing, and more recently, he realized that UI & UX design was truly his calling. His customers now include Mediacorp and AIA Singapore.
We eagerly await Yugene’s insights into our situation based on his spectacular path to date.
What were you doing before you made the decision to start your company?
I did site design on the side. At the end of my second year of university study for my degree, I started creating websites. Following that, two “deals” businesses — Deals89 and DealsChrome — were established with a small group of partners. Unfortunately, we stopped using it since it was failing.
With the same set of partners, I then co-founded a digital firm that provided a wide variety of services, such as SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SMM (Social Media Management), and Web Design and Development.
Before I became too obsessed with project management to concentrate on my core abilities in website design, everything was going swimmingly. At that time, I understood I had to move on, so I briefly resumed my freelance career.
If you want to call it serendipity, I met a charming woman on the street who requested a contribution a year later. She also mentioned that she wanted to change careers. To make a long story short, we got to know each other, started a small team, and are now coworkers at JIN Design.
How did you enter your current field of employment?
I considered myself to be an introvert, and I’ve always wanted to find a way to make money online. I invested time in mastering programming languages like CSS and HTML when I was in college. Additionally, I offered to help a few student groups with the creation and maintenance of their websites; these experiences eventually turned out to be really helpful.
I was able to broaden my understanding of web design techniques while working as an apprentice at a music label and start my first personal website for a portfolio, Yugenelee.com. Inquiries started flooding in after a few months, and the rest is history.
WHAT DO YOU THINK WAS YOUR BIGGEST HARDSHIP GETTING INTO IT?
It’s possible that you have to make some sacrifices.
I could have missed out on the “complete university experience,” as some might put it. Most students would either continue to hang out after school or devote more time to their studies. I was trying to balance my balance between my client work and my homework. I would create webpages in class instead of paying attention.
When I initially started working for myself, I had no idea what a website should cost. In exchange for many hours—sometimes weeks—of my time, I charged several hundred dollars for a website.
I had to forgot my social life with my classmates, of course, since I was too busy working and trying to get better.
One of my biggest challenges was getting clients when I first started. Most freelancers probably run through the same problem. Once more, I had no desire to go out and actively pursue business, so I used SEO to garner attention. I started optimizing websites for search engines when I started creating them. The transactions started coming in automatically as soon as I started to rank for a few profitable keywords.
HOW DO YOU GET CLIENTS FOR YOUR COMPANY? OR MARKET YOUR BUSINESS?
a) SEO helps me get a lot of new customers.
They find me through searches, which usually means they are warm, qualified leads. I keep investing effort in improving my websites as a result.
I knew I needed to spend more effort on this area to grow my business after a client informed me he found me through a Google search. If you haven’t already, you should publish articles with plenty of content to raise your domain authority, optimize your page titles for the keywords you want to rank for, and start building links.
Write articles on topics that interest your potential readers after giving those topics some thought.
b) In addition, I occasionally get referrals or return business from prior customers.
The purchase can only be completed with a warm recommendation, which makes it much easier to convert them. Working with good clientele again is enjoyable. I work hard to continue providing services after a project is over in order to keep a working connection with the customer and allow my team to keep adding value.
(c) My website
It goes without saying that I will need to walk the walk when it comes to building websites that convert as a web designer. My website has brought in more than $500,000 since I started it. I can think of a couple ideas right now:
Keep your website basic and make sure visitors understand what you do as soon as they get on the first page.
Make sure the language is personal to them; nobody wants to work for a company; they want to work with kind, helpful people.
Since starting your business as a freelance web designer, what has been the most important lesson you have learned?
The two factors to take into consideration are price and legal protection.
When it comes to service work, particularly design work, quality is more important than quantity. I had to accept more engagements when I first started since my rates were far lower than the going rate, which made it difficult to pay for living expenses.
When things became too bad, a problem developed. I couldn’t provide the same level of service to ten clients as I could to two or three. You’ll come to understand that everything is a game of numbers. The decision then becomes whether you want to charge high costs while providing high-quality service to a limited number of clients or cheap prices while providing service to an unmanageable number of people.
There weren’t many options because it was a one-person business.
Legal protection is also of utmost significance. I’ve discovered the hard way that you need to get insurance before anything goes wrong. Make sure your conditions are clear and attempt to be as detailed as you can about the extent of your service; otherwise, certain clients may take advantage of you and scope extension will happen. You won’t start any professional employment, if you’re savvy, without a written contract.
Which piece of advice has been the most helpful to you?
Know your value and don’t be hesitant to demand more money.
Early in my independent business, I lacked the self-assurance to demand rates comparable to those of other agencies. As I’ve already mentioned, it actually made me feel worn out and discouraged. Over time, I came to understand that I could produce high-quality work on par with most firms, and that if I charged too little, some clients could start to mistrust my abilities. Crazy, huh?
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO HAS NO BUSINESS EXPERIENCE OR CONNECTIONS?
When determining your fees, focus on the value you are delivering rather than your knowledge or experience.
Your clients do not pay for your skill level; they pay for value. Your capacity to demand greater fees quickly rises if you can support and prove the added value clients obtain from working with you. The only requirement is that you must ask.
What actions have you taken this year that have been profitable for your company?
I’ve started giving all of our tasks fixed due dates in order to better manage deadlines. We now have greater flexibility in how we fill up our calendars, but only if everyone meets their deadlines.
It’s a little change, but I’ve found that when you change how you manage your time, everything else becomes better.
WHICH BOOK SHOULD ALL NEW BUSINESS OWNERS AND FREELANCERS READ?
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is definitely worth reading. You will understand why 42 is the answer to every issue.
WHAT HAS RECENTLY COME TO YOUR KNOWLEDGE ABSOLUTELY STUNNED YOU?
Actually, I’m studying Facebook marketing right now, and I was shocked to understand its power. You can really focus in on the demographic of people you want to target, for example, if you want to target women between the ages of 40 and 55 who are interested in marketing, ux design, and food and who recently used a credit card.
Instagram recently expanded its toolkit to include hyper-targeting options.
Name three to four online or offline resources that you think everyone should be familiar with.
Facebook marketing is one of the least expensive ways to get new leads when used effectively. I implore everyone to learn how to utilize it well.
Although technically not a tool, SEO may significantly increase business growth, as I’ve already indicated.
WordPress – I nearly always use WordPress when building a new website. It enables the quick building of appealing websites and is easy to use for those without coding skills.
Here are all of my notes from Evernote. My team use it as a collaboration hub as well.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Email Yugene at email@example.com.
URL of website: jin-design.com
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