Are you a creative and highly motivated person who has decided that you’d like to shake up your career and forge a new path for yourself as a freelancer? If the answer to that query is a hearty ‘yes’, then you may want to consider the prospect of freelance web design.
A relatively easy field to enter, particularly since there is such high demand, as the owner of your own web design business you could find yourself working on a stimulating variety of projects. These can range from advertising briefs to designing work for print publications.
Of course, there will be obstacles to face, not least potentially fierce competition for projects. But if you have enough drive, determination, and technical skill, you could find freelance web design to be a highly rewarding and endlessly fascinating line of work.
If you’re keen to find out more, let’s take a deep dive into what it takes to become a freelance web designer so you can see if you’d be cut out for the role and if it would be the right fit for your lifestyle.
What You Will Need To Work In Web Design
While the notion of becoming a freelance designer may be appealing to you, you may also be wondering if it will require a lot of expensive specialist equipment and complicated qualifications.
The good news is that, as with other freelance roles like copywriting, you don’t need to have taken a series of costly courses in order to get started. Instead, it’s more about the skills and experience that you’ve amassed, and your willingness to learn, adapt, and provide a high-quality service for your clients.
That being said, what kind of skills and qualities will prove most handy for a freelance web designer to have?
Creativity is an obvious one, but if you’re considering this line of work you probably already have that in spades. You will, of course, need a sound working knowledge of the various types of software needed for design, which includes programs like InVision Studio, Adobe Dreamweaver, WordPress, Figma, and Photoshop. While there is some free software available that you can use when you’re first starting out, clients will probably prefer you to use the most popular and widespread formats for your work.
When it comes to equipment, you will probably work best if you can set up a dedicated home office space complete with a laptop, printer, and a high-speed Internet connection. No bulky or expensive equipment will be necessary; it’s all about the software!
The Nuts And Bolts Of Earning A Living
As well as the design work you will be doing as a freelance web designer, you’ll also need to hone your customer service skills. After all, you’ll be solely responsible for finding jobs and dealing with your clients, not to mention all of the essential admin such as compiling and sending accurate invoices on time.
Not only that, but you’ll have to make sure that you keep up with the latest trends in your industry so you can match up against your competition. You may also have some more unpleasant tasks to complete now and then, such as chasing up clients who have been late with their payments; not to mention keeping all of your records in good order for HMRC.
With so many documents to securely store, you should probably make the most of helpful free tools such as a PDF compressor to ensure your laptop’s hard drive has enough space to store all of your work and admin-related documents. Fortunately, Smallpdf offers a quick, efficient, and highly convenient PDF compress service so you can easily free up more space on your work laptop.
The good news is that, although it will require some hustling and plenty of hard graft, becoming a freelance web designer has the potential to help you build up a solid income – potentially of £27,000 per year, or even more.
Of course, your exact earnings will depend on several factors, such as what kind of rates you choose to offer, and how many projects you can take on each month. However, there will also be other opportunities to boost your income, as once you’ve amassed enough knowledge and experience, you could opt to run a few training courses for other would-be web designers. You could even write a book on the subject and self-publish online for some extra funds.
Building Up Your Client Base From Scratch
One of the biggest challenges you will face if you do decide to plunge into the world of freelance web design is building up your clients and developing your portfolio.
Because having a portfolio is so essential in this line of work, you should probably dedicate some time to creating some pieces of ‘mock work’ that you can show to potential employers. Alternatively, you might want to offer your services for free, or for a discount, to family friends, and contacts, or perhaps to a charity with a cause close to your heart. Doing this kind of low-priced work may seem onerous but it will help you to build up your portfolio, which is absolutely vital if you want to find more jobs (and higher-paying ones, at that). With so much competition out there, you need to have a ready-made portfolio to hand to demonstrate your skills.
Once you’ve got some pieces of work in your portfolio, you can then begin applying for jobs and solidifying your place in the job market. At this point, you may want to create your own website advertising your services, demonstrating your portfolio, and setting out your rates.
Not sure how to go about finding work? You can, of course, browse all of the major online job sites for listings of projects, and you can also join some industry-focused groups on social media which can help to bring clients and developers together.
It will also help if you take a particularly proactive role in finding work, by offering to help out different companies with their websites and maybe even volunteering to write guest posts on design blogs, to get your name out into the world and draw attention to your expertise. Once you’ve built up a client base and amassed a more impressive portfolio, it will should then become easier to find work as you can start to rely on word-of-mouth and on the strength of the work you’ve already completed.
The hardest part of starting any new career (freelance web design included) is simply getting your foot in the door, building up those all-important contacts, and honing your skills. After all, you’ll not only have to develop as a designer, but you’ll also need to perfect the art of handling clients and dealing with all of the behind-the-scenes administration work required to earn a living.
Once you’ve mastered this, however, you will hopefully find that things become much easier. Best of all, you will have a firm foundation to stand on that should help you slowly but surely widen your client base and become an increasingly well-known and sought-after freelance web designer.