Your manifesto sets out the values in which you do your work. It includes things you don’t stand for as much as things you do. It’s important because people like to buy from people with similar values. When you make your values clear, it’s easier to find customers that agree with you, and that you’ll have a good working relationship with.
Writing a manifesto gives you the chance to think about why you are a freelancer and what kind of difference you want to make. It can all get a bit cliche, but it’s important to have an external reason to stay motivated to do what you do. Setting out your values also sets you apart from people that don’t take their vocation as seriously. That’s a good thing.
What do you value?
So how do you start to write a manifesto? Think about the successful agencies and freelancers that exist today. They each have a particular angle, that gets them a specific type of client. Sometimes that’s by design and sometimes it’s luck. Getting lucky is great, but I’d prefer to think about and plan the type of work I want to do, rather than getting lucky. Here’s some questions you can think about to get you started…
Do you strive for awards and publicity or stay private and exclusive?
Do you try to help as many people as possible or focus on one single project at a time?
Are you an enterprise supplier or an entrepreneur’s best friend?
Do you use and give back to open source or prefer custom written software?Do you donate some percentage of profits to a specific charity?
Is your focus on a particular industry? Why?
Are you a minimalist or creatively vibrant?
The best way to think about what you value is to identify problems you see in how other companies conduct their business. The best kind of businesses start because they find a problem with how something is currently done.
A manifesto can be a living document that you change and update as your business grows and your experience increases. Even if you have very little experience, there’s no excuse not to think about the type of work you want to do in the future.
One the best examples I’ve found of a business manifesto is 37Signals (now Basecamp) which you can read here: http://37signals.com/00.html