So you think being a freelance web designer is easy?
Well, it isn’t! I speak to so many young people looking to forge a career as a freelance web designer or developer and they underestimate just how much time and effort goes into making a solid business.
Sure, anyone can build a website with enough time and patience, but not anyone can build a website that actually delivers a return on investment, and manage client expectations all at the same time.
The key to becoming a freelance web designer who actually delivers great work, is first of all, to be great at what you do. That usually means not splitting your focus. What I see so many young developers do is to try to be everything for their clients. Whilst clients need a well rounded person to help them hit their objectives, it is imperative you don’t oversell and under deliver. You can’t do it all.
Have a small team around you who specialise in certain things. For instance, you may be a great designer and even a fantastic developer (those two do go hand in hand a lot of the time), but you may not have the strongest copywriting skills, or you may struggle with conceptualising logos for instance. So the important thing is to not lie to your clients. Never promise something that you know you can’t do very well unless you know you have the resources to call upon.
On top of the design and development, you’re also running a business. Don’t forget that. You have to say no to jobs sometimes (one of my personal downfalls). You can’t take on every job. You’re better off taking one job for £1,000 than 5 jobs for £200 each. You have to value your own time and you own skill. Do not undersell yourself. That cheapens the industry and ruins it for everyone – you start to hear the familiar phrase of “Oh, well I’ve been told I can get it done for £250”, which quite frankly pisses me off. Sure, you can get it done at that price, but what’s the quality going to be like?
Get yourself a good accountant. That’s the first port of call. A good accountant means everything when running a business. Secondly, get yourself some good time management software. A freelance web designer cannot exist on their own brain alone. You need a way to manage your time efficiently, and also to keep track of what hours you’ve spent on which client. That way you can bill accurately and fairly.
Being a freelance web designer isn’t easy. Building a website can be easy, but doing it the right way rarely is. The one thing people forget is the strategy. You aren’t just creating a cookie cutter template website for a faceless company (or you shouldn’t be anyway, otherwise… get out!), you are crafting the online face of a business you believe in. You should be thinking about every pixel. What does it mean to a user if I put that there? Or should I change that to red? Have a marketing thought behind everything you do.
If you want to become a great freelance web designer, then you have to think about the end result. What is the objective of this site? Is it to sell stuff? Raise the profile of the company? Engage with customers and illicit more calls? Whatever the objective, it is your responsibility to ensure you deliver a return on investment.
Good luck and don’t let the industry down!