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How to Start Your Freelance Web Design Career?

How to Start Your Freelance Web Design Career?

According to a research report by the Hook Agency, there are currently 1.5 billion active websites and 48 percent of people claim that the design of a website is the main factor determining a business’s credibility. If you have been contemplating kickstarting your career in web design then now is the right time. Also, if the idea of working a steady 9-to-5 sounds scary, then freelancing could be right up your street. We understand that starting on this journey can be a little daunting, but this blog will provide you with everything you need to know to get started as a freelance web designer. 


7 Steps to kickstart your career as a freelance web designer


It is always appealing to live a life where you make your own rules. A freelance web designer is one of the most in-demand careers in 2021, and the growth in demand is set to continue. Your skills will be a great help to businesses, organisations, groups, and anyone who needs an online presence. It is scary and challenging to start something new, but we have got you covered. Before you jump into the brave new world of freelance web design, here’s what you need to know:


Do your research ahead of time


The obvious first step is to do the necessary research about the costs, time, and effort you need to put into establishing your freelance career. Before jumping onto a career opportunity that holds as many perks as uncertainties, it’s sensible to do some research and understand how the industry works. 


Costs 


Making money on your own terms sounds like a great opportunity but it’s not just the income that matters in a freelance career but your expenses are crucial too. Here is a list of a few expenses that you need to consider before you start your freelancing journey. 

  1. Domain name registration and web hosting services 
  2. Design software and applications 
  3. Stationery and other marketing materials
  4. A home office with furniture and necessary office supplies
  5. Other resources — stock photo site subscriptions and more


Insurance and taxes


Most aspiring freelancers make the mistake of not considering the financial implications - tax, investments, and other costs that could be impacted when they shift to a freelance work model. If you are working from home, you may be able to claim some tax allowances, etc but local laws are significantly different across the globe so designers should do their research before making the jump. 


Time


Being able to set your own hours sounds great but if you think you can just work from anywhere at any time you may need to think again. Certainly, you can choose the location and time that you work but you should be prepared for disruptions - it is difficult to follow a strict time schedule when you are out establishing your freelance design career. 


2. Establish your brand 


There is a ton of difference between a freelance designer who is just starting out and a successful designer who has already worked out a business plan to advance their freelance design career. One of the major factors you should consider is how to create a unique brand identity. Branding a business is extremely important whether you are a one-person business or a larger company.


Give a name to your business 


Some designers chose to use their name as their brand name but it is always advisable to go with a specialised name. An official name always helps in the long run when a one-person brand decides to grow its business and hire individuals to work with them. 


Logo 


Next comes the logo. If you are pushed for time it might be tempting to create a quick logo from any ready-made template available on the web. In fact, your brand logo should be given utmost consideration and it should represent your design style so it helps attract clients who are looking for something similar.


Elevator pitch


A freelance web designer needs to be more of an entrepreneur than a designer. The number one requirement for a web entrepreneur is to be able to create a great pitch. A well-thought-out elevator pitch will significantly help to attract work. Take the time to create a pitch that ventures beyond the traditional pitch. Consider including an introduction to the portfolio, an about me page, or a simple application to a freelance contract web design position. 


3. Design your portfolio 


This is the most obvious next step. Your website is a reflection of the quality you will deliver to your clients. Do not be in a rush to complete it; instead, take your time and learn everything you can in the process. Your website showcases your talent and capabilities and serves as the interface between you and your clients. It needs to be as good as it can be. 


4. Gather the necessary tools for your design work


Before you begin working on your designs, you should thoroughly research any software that may be useful. Here is a list of widely used applications that web designers should be familiar with:



There will be other software apps that you will want to become familiar with but if you have a handle on most of these, you will be in a good starting position. 


5. Use a web design contract


This tends to be the most ignored part. As a freelance web designer, it is a must for you to have an established process for working with clients. A web design contract is an integral part of a freelancing project. It is a document which details the legally agreed work terms between a designer and a client. 


Here are a few things you should consider including in your web design contract:

  • The scope of work is clearly defined
  • Anticipate areas of potential scope creep
  • Provision to manage out-of-scope requests
  • Defined review and feedback windows 
  • The number of revisions the client is entitled to
  • Established terms for contract breaches


6. Look for opportunities in the right place


You might find you have everything you need, but you just don’t have the clients yet. There are many platforms out there specifically for freelancers to find the job that is the right fit for them. The following are the most popular and helpful places to find your perfect projects:


  • Upwork: a freelance marketplace that is a good place to find entry-level jobs 
  • Design news: it narrows down the search
  • Dribble: upload your portfolio designs and project samples. This site also serves as a major source of inspiration
  • Design crowd: One of the highest paying platforms for designers


The next step is to identify the jobs that work best for you. This is an important process. You will come across jobs that pay very little and do not respect your efforts, but you’ll also find clients who will really appreciate your efforts and will reward you fairly. Over time, you will get better and better at working out which is what before you take the job.


7. Decide on your rates


Being paid the right amount for your time is very important. You have to wear many hats as a freelance web designer - you are not just a designer - and you should be paid fairly for all the various roles you have to perform. You should ensure your rates and payment terms are clearly laid out in the contract. 


There will probably be times where you underestimate your abilities due to a lack of experience. Try to stay informed about current trends as well as industry standards and charge your clients accordingly. It is important to be flexible with your rates when you are trying to gain experience in the field but after a while, you will know what you should be charging. There are a few things you need to consider when determining the rates of your services:


  1. Length of the project 
  2. The complexity of the project
  3. Count of pages 
  4. Level of commitment 
  5. New or repeat client 


Conclusion


The steps mentioned above will make your journey to becoming an efficient freelance web designer a lot easier. Undoubtedly, a freelance web design career path is filled with freedom and excitement, but it requires you to have a healthy mix of design, development, and entrepreneurial skills. Finding a perfect balance between all three will help you achieve your goal of becoming a successful freelance web designer. We would love to hear from you about your struggles and triumphs on the road to becoming a freelance web designer. Let us know in the Comments section below. 


by Atreyee Chowdhury | 03 Nov 21

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