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I'm an independent web developer and graphic designer who mainly prospects small local businesses and independent artists found online. When I'm out doing cold calls in person, I look for buildings that fit this profile, but notice that I pass up a lot of business opportunities by not pitching to large commercial establishments like: McDonalds, Starbucks, Firestone, etc.

How does a freelancer get into doing huge sites for huge corporations and are there any mandatory prerequisites required, like being incorporated or having other specific documentation?

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    Billion dollar corporations have their own departments or they work with agencies/studios. They aren't hiring freelancers. – Scott May 24 '15 at 6:05
  • A good rule of thumb for this is: if you don't know the channels to get in touch with a megacorporation to offer yourself as a freelancer, you probably aren't qualified to be working at that level. Would you jump straight from writing a local play to pitching scripts to Spielberg? Would you jump straight from the local athletics club to applying to the biggest teams in the NFL? What do you have to offer that makes you a better choice than enterprise-level teams with huge corporate experience? "I'm cheaper" isn't going to cut it at that level – user45623 May 26 '15 at 2:36
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Working as an individual, you won't have the resources to build a website for a major corporation. No matter how good you are, you can only work so fast by yourself, and they don't want to wait years for you to deliver a website that takes 10,000 man-hours or more. Additionally, you are trying to climb a mile-high cliff with a stepstool. You can't jump straight from local indie freelancer to serving McDonalds.

If you want to some day be self-employed and working for the big boys, you'll need to be running your own team. You have two paths to choose from:

The "slow, always work for myself" path

  1. Assemble a local team
  2. Start from the bottom and work your way up. Approach local businesses and get contracts to build their websites. Every few jobs, go a little bigger and a little further. If you can show each potential client that you just did a project for a slightly smaller company, they'll feel more confident in you
  3. Start branding your team. Offer to shave a few percent off of a contract if you can stick your company logo at the bottom of each page, with a link to your website. Spread the word about your services and build a reputation
  4. Start landing large contracts with businesses that aren't local. Keep looking for bigger projects, but never tackle more than your team can handle - one major failure can undo all of the work you've done and leave your reputation in the gutter
  5. One day, you'll notice you no longer have to look for work, because big businesses are coming to you. Pick and choose who you work for
  6. Maybe, one day after many years of excellence, you'll get that email from McD's.

The "faster, temporarily work for others" path

  1. Send out job applications and get hired at a team that is at step 4 of the above list
  2. Work with that team until they hit step 5 of the first path, or get enough experience and then join another team that's already at step 5
  3. When ready, leave and form your own team. If you have enough experience and build a suitable team, you can skip straight to step 3 or 4 of the first path for your own team

You can get there faster by joining a team that already has the momentum, but either approach is going to take years. As I commented above, you don't go straight from the bottom to the top.

  • This makes sense to me. Freelancers or small startups typically work on small sites, and teams who work at companies with great momentum get to work on vaster, and more cutting edge projects. Thanks. – Gunn May 26 '15 at 6:38
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When it comes to those huge companies you mentioned they usually approach big web design/web dev companies, not individual developers.

It is very difficult for a freelancer to land a job from one of these gigants, ex. McDonalds, but that doesnt't mean it's impossible.

Apart from all the standard stuff (awesome portfolio, skillset etc.) it's probably helpful to have a record of past projects with big companies (yeah, it's not easy to get into this tier of business), a trusted brand (maybe some referrals) and own/be part of a not necessarily big, but serious web design/web dev company.

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