Choosing to become a freelancer is a career decision many web designers consider. There are many benefits to going freelance, but it isn’t always easy to know how to get started or whether you can make it work. Below is some information to help you decide if it’s the right move for you and how to get your new freelance career off the ground.
The Pro and Cons of Freelancing
The biggest benefit of becoming a freelancer is independence. As a freelancer, you get to decide where you work, when you work, and who you work with. You don’t have to show up at an office every day if you don’t want to and you get to be your own boss. For many people, especially those who have been working full-time for many years, increased freedom is a major selling point of becoming a freelancer.
Of course, there are some drawbacks. When you become a freelance designer, you have to do more than just design. You are now an entire business, which means marketing yourself, producing invoices, and maybe hiring others, all while getting your design work done. If you want to focus solely on designing, then freelancing may not be the best option for you.
Building a Portfolio
To get started as a freelance designer, the first thing you’ll need to do is build a portfolio. You need a collection of the best work that you can showcase to interested prospective clients. There are some great services you can use to build a portfolio online or you can simply build your own website.
When assembling your portfolio, try to show a wide range of your skills. For example, you could showcase one eCommerce website you designed, a blog, and a large corporate website. The more variety you can show, the more clients you can attract.
If you’re just starting off your career, you may not have anything to put into your portfolio yet. In that case, you’ll want to focus on building sites for it. Talk to your friends and family, along with local businesses, and see if they would like a website. Offer your services at a discounted price in order to attract more initial clients and build up your portfolio. Once you have a few sites you can showcase, you can then begin to raise your rates.
There may come a time during your freelance career when you need some help with a project. For example, maybe you need someone to develop a specific plugin for your website or do some video production. Rather than doing something that isn’t in your wheelhouse, you can hire your own freelancers to help you with the project. You should spend some time now thinking about who you might turn to for things you may need in the future.
Start by considering your own personal connections. Do you know any other web designers? Developers? Content writers? Reach out to them and ask if they would be interested in working with you down the road. If you don’t have any personal connections you can use, there are freelancing websites you can join. Create accounts on sites like Upwork, OnlineJobs, and Freelancer. That way when the time comes to hire someone, you won’t have to waste it creating an account and profile.
Getting Your First Clients
With a solid foundation for your freelancing career in place, now you can start to look for some clients. As before, you can begin with people in your personal circle. Let your friends and family know you are offering freelance web design services and ask that they get the word out for you as well. You’d be surprised at how many clients you can get just from your own social circle and word of mouth.
After that, you can use those same freelancing websites as before to promote your own services. Sites like Upwork and Freelancer take a fee out of the jobs you do through them, but they can also save you a lot of time when it comes to finding clients.
Finally, make sure you are active on social media. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are great ways to promote your new business and bring in clients. Use your social media channels to share your most recent work, talk about trends in web design, and to interact with others in your niche. The more you do this, the sooner you’ll build up a reputation within your niche.
Improving Your Skills
Finally, as you continue your freelancing career, you will need to improve your skills along the way. This means not only keeping up with the latest web design trends but also developing those other skills necessary to be an effective freelancer.
For example, as a freelancer, you need to be able to market yourself. To further your career, you’ll want to improve your marketing skills by studying email marketing, social media marketing, PPC campaigns, and inbound marketing.
Another skill to improve, which also helps your marketing efforts, is your writing. As a freelancer, you’ll do a lot of communication via writing. You’ll be sending out emails, submitting proposals, writing blog posts, and posting on social media. You need to be able to effectively get your point across and draw in clients through the strength of your writing. If you’re not a strong writer yet, don’t worry – there are plenty of online courses that can help you out.
Finally, you’ll want to work on your time management skills. When you’re a freelancer, there isn’t anyone there to keep you sitting at your desk all day. It’s easy to get distracted when you’re working from home, and many freelancers find the transition difficult. Find some time management strategies that work for you, then really focus on developing good habits.
There are many skills that you need to be a good freelance designer besides just designing. Look at yourself critically and identify your weakest areas, then develop a plan for improving them as time goes by.
Achieve Your Dream of Becoming a Freelance Designer
Beginning your journey into freelance designing isn’t always easy, but it’s often rewarding. If you desire more responsibility and freedom and want to leave the 9-5 office world behind, then there’s no better time to start your journey than now. Use the steps above and do plenty of research on your own, and before you know it you’ll be well on your way towards a successful freelance career. Good luck!