Laura Kalbag

Mentoring a project: the idea

A couple of days ago, a potential project turned up in my inbox. An old school friend wants a website, needs it soon and doesn’t have a huge budget.

Me and freelancing

I’m lucky, I get offered a lot of projects, and usually I don’t have any availability for a few months. Little projects like this generally can’t pay the bills for me. It’s a lot of time (particularly admin) for a fairly small return.

I have a very small list of trusted designers that I’ll happily pass these projects. The thing is, when I do this, it’s a risk for me too. If I recommend someone who turns out to be unreliable, it makes me look bad too.

The inspiration

After listening to Unfinished Business with Anna Debenham and Andy Clarke, I’ve been inspired to be more open about how I work. I’ve never been one to keep secrets, I’m always happy to discuss my rates and how I work with anyone, but I’ve never actively shared this information. And after talking to loads of students recently, I’ve realised that one of the hardest things, after landing a project in the first place, is knowing how to run a project and talk to clients.

The idea

These thoughts and this project collided in my mind.

I want to help “de-mystify” these elements of freelancing. I wouldn’t call myself an expert, I’m not sure many people could. But after around four years of freelancing, I feel like I am successful; I make enough money to support myself, living and working by myself.

It strikes me that the transition from student to freelancer is particularly hard, and so I’m looking for students/graduates/new freelancers to work on this project. Here’s the tweet that I sent out:

Tweet I’ve already had more than twenty replies, my next goal is to make sure I find one or two people who can gain as much as possible from this project. If you’re interested, please email me. I’ll hopefully be sending out an email to everyone who’s interested later on today.

I’m hoping to blog the process as much as possible, so other people can share in our experience. My next post will cover how I’m going to try to find a good match to work on the project.


  1. Oliver

    Great idea!

    Best of luck to all the other candidates :)

  2. Laura :)

    just wanted to repeat that I think this is such a brilliant idea, one which all parties will benefit from for sure :)

    Working with real clients is something that teaches so much, having a mentor / expert at hand to run to for help and advise is invaluable. As a student or newcomer to the field, it is often scary—though it does not need to be.

    This is one of the reasons why I get my students to work with a [ real client project ](" rel=“nofollow) during my course. Tends to be quite time-consuming for me, to manage it all (number of students = number of clients)—but… it is really worth it: happy, grateful clients & happy, more informed newbies & one happy tutor :-)

    Your idea of doing this is fabulous –; hope you will find a good match :) and really hope this will inspire more web peeps to follow suit :)

  3. This is fantastic, Laura. If only more folks in more fields applied this kind of attitude. Imagine how awesome we would all be?
  4. This is a great idea Laura. I’ve had a couple of “those” kind of job requests recently and this seems a much more constructive approach than taking on the job directly and potentially spoiling a friendship :)

    I tend to forget how hard-won my 10 years of accumulated web knowledge has been and how valuable it could be to new designers & developers.

  5. This is such a great idea, don’t know of many others who’ve done something like this but it sounds like it’d be really helpful to someone trying to get experience.