6 Tips To Help You Become a Better Self Employed Computer Technician

Self Employed Computer Technician

I have read a few guides on the internet that have tips on how to become a computer technician. Most of these articles tell you to work for free, get your certifications and accept any job offer. While these tips are good advice for those who want to work for someone else, they don’t really apply to someone who wants to freelance. So, I have written my own tips on how to become a better self-employed computer technician.

Always Advertise. Always Test

There are many technicians out there who believe that if they register a business name, buy a few tools and put an ad in the paper they will have a successful business. This is obviously not the case otherwise there would be a lot more successful businesses.
The secret to advertising is to try different methods and test the results. I have personally spent lots of money on advertising that didn’t work but if I didn’t try things I wouldn’t have found what works for me. If you get it right the first time you are very lucky. Don’t let your first advertising failure turn you off, success is a series of failures.

Keep Advertising

Once you figure out what works for you, don’t stop advertising even if you are busy. The problem with advertising is that it can take time for it to convert into work. The advertising that you placed 2 weeks ago could be the work that is making you busy today. If you stop your advertising today you may not have any work to do in 2 weeks time. Keep advertising.

Don’t Work for Cheap

When you are first starting out, find out the cheapest and the most expensive price in your area and put your price somewhere in between. Too many new businesses make the mistake of pricing too low in hopes of building up their client base. While it can help, two things generally happen.

1. You get cheap clients who are not willing to spend much.
2. Its unsustainable because you don’t have enough money to reinvest in advertising.

I covered alot of this in our article “Are you charging enough?”.

Don’t Try To Do It All

It is in a technicians nature to figure out how certain things work and to do it themselves. However, its usually a better idea to get a professional to do a job. Its like the difference between your customer getting their cousin who “knows computers” to fix their computer over your professional work. Its just not the same.

It’ll take hours for you to learn how to a job correctly and you could have put that time to earning money by doing what you know best, building and fixing computers.

If you are just setting up your business, get an accountant to do it for you. If you are setting up a website, get a web developer to do it for you. Don’t waste time in areas you don’t know.

Turn Down Unprofitable Work

Just today I had to turn down some work that I believe would have been unprofitable. I got a call from client of my mothers business and they were having intermittent internet connectivity issues even after they had it looked at by a computer shop (who said it was fine) and replacing the modem.

Although I have fixed many problems like this before, the client lived more than an hour away and being intermittent, they are hard to fix because its hard to diagnose something that isn’t happening while you are there. Also, being that this client is one of my mothers clients, I will have to treat them extra special if something goes wrong in order to protect both my reputation, and my mothers.

I have a few computers on my bench that need to be worked on and I would rather spend my time fixing those machines than driving an hour each way to a problem I may not be able to fix. Don’t be afraid to turn jobs away don’t think you can fix or are likely to keep occurring after your visit.

Certifications Are Not That Important as a Freelancer

Other than the human resource department of a large company, nobody cares whether you have an A+ certification. In my 7 years of business I have been asked a total of 6 times.

Your biggest selling point is your reputation and a promise of friendly and prompt service.

If you are feeling that having another certification will help you gain more clients, you should spend it on your advertising instead because that is what really matters.

Bryce Whitty

About the Author

Bryce Whitty
More articles by me...
Bryce is an Australian computer technician and the founder of Technibble. He started his computer repair business when he was 17 years old and is still running it 9 years later. He is an avid traveller and spends at least a month of the year in another country.

Comments (11)

  • Where were you when I first started!!!

    Absolutely validate all 6 points AND would add to the point about turning down business that it is better to be VERY good at 5 things than mediocre at 10.

    Fewer customers does not necessarily mean less money.

  • Phishie says:

    Great advice on not working cheap and turning down unprofitable business. Yes you need to provide professional and friendly service, but you also need to make money while you’re at it. Don’t let the nice guy inside of you get stepped on. Don’t work if it isn’t going to pay off some how.

  • In my line of work (web design and SEO) I’ve never once been asked about qualifications or even references – if they like your portfolio they’ll hire you. Clearly a similar approach holds true for computer technicians

  • I wouldn’t be so quick to discount the certifications thing. I have a BSc in Computer Science and state this in my adverts. I have gained quite a few very high-quality clients from this alone. When the customer has six other similar ads to chose from, little details like that make all the difference.

  • FlexTech says:

    Nice tips bryce but I think you jumped the gun a little bit by nearly decrediting certifications, since they do bring a sense of comfort and professionalism to the table whether you’re applying for a job or working freelance.

    If you’re A+ certified does that guarantee that you’re a great techie, of course not !

    But still it shows at least on the books that you have a moderate knowledge of fixing and repairing computers over the next guy that has the same business but no certifications which could turn some customers away.

    Think about it this way, when you go into a nice sit down restaurant you love the food but you see a excellent sanitary certification from the health inspector for the restaurant.

    You can’t tell me that doesn’t make the meal taste that much better :)

  • Rick says:

    I’m a single tech working out of my house. Like alot of you I started doing this as a side business and then finally full-time. I try to stay away from home users and instead focus on just managing a few business clients. I also try to “screen” my clients to see if our personalities will mesh. I stay away from lawyers, and narscissistic Type A personalities.

    I would highly recommend anyone getting into this business to get at a minimum their A+ Cert. It at least seperates you from the “friend” down the block.

  • One tip you left out is that as you grow and need more help, think about taking on an Intern and show them the ropes. One, you don’t have to pay them because you are spending your time teaching them technical know how in the real world and they are earning the credits they need to graduate. And two, the other great thing is that if you find that you like this individual, you may very well end up hiring them at a later date without the risk of hiring strangers. Just my thoughts…

    BTW, all the points are accurate and the owner of the biz need not worry about certs for himself, but I do recommend that your employees have them. In two years I have only been asked for a cert one time from a company, and they eventually ended up using me anyways after going through three other techs from other businesses that had certs and just couldn’t get the job done. Certs are a waste of money when you are already proficient in the field and YES, you need to be spending that money on advertising instead or you won’t have a business to show off any certs you’ve earned.

  • I agree with Master Technician on hiring interns. Anyone wanna be my intern?

  • Erich says:

    Very nice tips. This is also an older one but good as well http://www.entrepreneur.com/startingabusiness/businessideas/article170050.html

    I am the guy everyone goes to and have even fixed machines our “I.T.” guys had no clue about. I have taken MANY courses but hold no certifications. I am military and work with I.T. people all the time and try to get all the experience I can.

    My biggest issue is being the “nice guy” and usually don’t charge anything for “quick fixes”. Also, other businesses in my area will actually try to scam or even threaten you when you advertise. You would not believe the threats I got from a local company when I advertised on a web based free advertisement service. I have a shop out of my home and am able charge less because I do not have the over head the store front owner would. Not trying to be “big business” just trying to give quality work. If I take in one issue a month or 20, the job will be done right the first time and that is REALLY hard to find in my area.

  • Meltd0wn says:

    I’m the “guy down the street” that does PC repairs and builds on the side. Everything I know has been taught to me by various systems administrators, gamers and multimedia enthusiasts. I’ve not had to bring a single PC to a shop in over 11 years. Advertising is all done by word of mouth. It travels far and wide. I live in central/western New York state and have computers strewn all over the continent from Cornwall, Ontario, Canada to the west coast and places in between. I’ve remotely (VNC) performed cleanup/repair work on Computers as far away as Adelaide, South Australia. This is a great field to be in and the work never ends. Nobody ever asks for qualifications. The minute you explain to them how to set up a VNC server and then see you moving around the cursor on their screen from 8000 miles away, all doubts fly out the window. It doesn’t even matter if you accomplish anything at that point. Computers are a mystery to most people and it’s easy to impress them with the slightest bit of know-how. Like Erich says, many I.T. guys are book smart but just can’t apply tried and true methods to build and keep a rig running. There are really only about 8 parts to a computer but making them compatible is the trick. NEVER WORK FOR CHEAP! If you work cheap one time, they expect you to do it every time. You’re the one that took the time to learn your craft and it has value so don’t cheat yourself out of your hard earned knowledge.