This is my first time on this site. Here’s the problem.
I’ve been designing since I graduated from college and have been for 4 years. After I graduated, I had my first client, who I grossly undercharge on top of doing many unbillable hours where money was based on promises. I designed the website. Later, the partners dissolved along with the website. I didn’t do a backup of it, so it no longer exists.
My second client, again, undercharged, and started down the wrong road of doing unbillable hours. The client didn’t have knowledge of WordPress and I wasn’t training without pay. She decided to change the website from WordPress to WIX (which now it looks absolutely terrible. It’s complete junk, but that’s her business). Again, I didn’t back it up so I have nothing. I honestly didn’t think that anything would ever happen to these website, therefore, I didn’t think to back them up. In hindsight, many issues occurred with their website where things were almost lost, but it still didn’t hit me to do a full back up.
The problem. After all of those hours of work, I now have nothing to show for it. I have a client who want me to do a website (a family member no less). I quoted almost 4 figures. I’m at that point where I’m tired of undercharging, working for pennies, and disgracing the design industry. He of course is reluctant. Why wouldn’t he be? I have nothing to show that I can do work worth that much.
I feel like I have two choices. Start from the bottom again or throw in the towel and just forget it. I’m that discouraged. What should I do? Any advice?
These are more questions than answers, but asked in the spirit of answering your question.
Do you still have visuals elements of the websites you created? Do yo have mock-ups, visualizations, screenshots, etc? If so, you could use them to create a portfolio, even if the site is not live anymore. You could even animate them to convey the mood of the sites, although it is not necessary.
Sites go offline, or get updated or change hands, so it is always a good idea to keep those visuals for future references. Mind you, if you only have those 2 sites to backup your experience, it is going to be difficult building a portfolio that looks convincing.
Do you have any other design work you could add to your portfolio? It does not need to be web design necessarily. Most designers nowadays design for many different media.