How to Become a Freelance Web Designer in 2021 With 6 Easy Steps
Do you want to make money from home?
If you’re looking for a way to make money from your computer, freelancing is the perfect opportunity. Freelancers are in high demand, and there’s never been a better time than now to start making money online. This article will give you some helpful tips on how!
You’ll learn everything you need to know about becoming a freelance web designer in 2021, including what skills are required, where to find work, and what pricing model you can follow. Plus, I’ve got some great insights that can help get you started today! So if this sounds like something that could be right for you, then keep reading.
Table of Contents
- What is a freelance web designer?
- Why should you become a freelance web designer?
- Cons of freelancing
- Pros of freelancing
- How to start working as a freelance web designer
- Step 1: Learn the basics of web designing
- Step 2: Find a mentor to help you learn more about web design
- Step 3: Develop your own web design portfolio and start building connections in the industry
- Step 4: Start designing websites for small businesses or local companies
- Step 5: Price your web design services
- Step 6: Find Work
- Final Thoughts
What is a freelance web designer?
A freelance web designer is someone who designs websites on their own without the support of an employer. They are often creative, detail-oriented and self-motivated but may lack some basics in marketing themselves to potential clients.
A person might become a freelancer for many reasons: they want more time with family or friends; they prefer working from home rather than commuting every day; their company has laid them off because of lockdowns & COVID, etc. – all these things can lead to unemployment which offers new opportunities if you’re willing to seize them!
Why should you become a freelance web designer?
You do not like being tied to your office desk
As a freelancer, you can work from anywhere, but the best place to do it is where you feel most comfortable. While some people prefer working at home with their cat on their lap and a strong cup of coffee close by, others enjoy going to cafes or co-working spaces where they can meet new friends who share similar passions.
All you need to start working as a freelance web designer is your computer, a stable internet connection, and creativity.
You enjoy flexible working hours
You know that feeling when you’re sitting in a meeting, and suddenly it hits 3 PM? You start to think about all the things you could be doing instead of this, but then your phone buzzes with an email reminder from work. Frustrating, isn’t it.
You hate being stuck at a desk for hours on end, so why not take control? As a freelancer, you can set your own work schedule as long as deadlines are met; maybe mornings or evenings suit you best? It doesn’t matter what time zone clients operate because they can still contact their favourite freelance worker – even if it’s late evening or early morning!
For instance, my working hours are flexible. I usually work 6 AM-10 AM then from 4 PM – 8 PM in a day. My creative juices are flowing within these time zones, and I can get a lot more done than I would have done if I kept working 9-5.
For my time management, I use a POMODORO technique. Based on it, I work 30 mins take a break of 5 min. This keeps me focused, along with not getting visually and mentally fatigued. You might want to adopt this technique if you are having time management issues.
You enjoy bringing innovation and creativity to your projects
You’ll never get bored with the work you do when working as a freelancer. You can choose to take on projects that interest you, and your creative license is greatly expanded because of it!
This will allow for more diverse professional experience and provide an opportunity for building up your portfolio—making these benefits all too good not to consider in taking on freelance work full time.
You like working for a specific niche
When it comes to freelancing, choosing a niche is often the way to go. You’ll find that working in your area of expertise will lead you toward more work and greater income potential!
Once you’ve honed in on an industry or field, remember that as boss-lady extraordinaire, there’s no rule saying you can’t also take outside projects occasionally for some variety.
You like learning new things and implementing them
Web designing and development is an ever-changing industry where there is a new trend or a new tool every other month. Working as a freelancer presents this excellent opportunity to dabble with all these new trends, tools, skills and see which ones you can adopt in your work style.
When I started web designing back in 2014, I was in grade 11, and I was using HTTracks to copy other websites and then learn their HTML, CSS and JS structure. After a while, I started using WordPress to design basic blog websites for my friends and family. Fast forward to this year, and now I use storyboards for web design, Adobe XD for prototyping and WordPress to produce a website.
Related Article: How to design website in adobe XD
You like being your boss
Freeing yourself from the office doesn’t have to mean you’ll be alone. Instead, it can allow for a much more fulfilling career as an independent web designer. Being your own boss is not easy, and there will inevitably come times where difficult decisions need to be made, which may seem unsettling at first – but ultimately, being in charge of one’s destiny makes it all worthwhile!
Controlling what time you work, whom you work with and when you work is the best benefit of freelancing. Truthfully, this is the exact reason I started freelance web designing.
Cons of freelancing
Responsibilities: You might think a freelancer’s work is all fun and games. But it isn’t! freelancing means you’re running your own business, which entails getting clients, managing them as they need to be managed (especially billing!), paying taxes on time, etc.
Not everyone is prepared or ready for these tasks. Please don’t get discouraged because it is a process that every freelancer has to go through. But once you understand the process, it becomes like second nature.
No Employee Benefits: You would think that freelancers who are self-employed and work on their own time without a designated space or office to go to every day like traditional employees might have it easier when it comes down to insurance. But no! Freelancers rarely receive benefits because they don’t get the same security as an employee.
Income Consistency: A freelancer’s monthly income is often a feast or famine situation. They may make $5,000 in one month and then only have enough money for gas the next.
Pros of Freelancing
While I have discussed most of the pros above in why you should start freelancing, I’ll add two more pros here that may hit the mark on why you should become a freelance web designer.
Demand: Now is the perfect time to get into this growing industry, as business owners are looking for ways to cut back on their website expenses and outsource them.
Money: Since you are freelancing, you can set your own price. You decide whether to charge hourly or by project and if it’s something that needs a lot of attention, be sure not to undercut yourself. Make sure you don’t undersell yourself on projects that require dedicated time for completion.
While we are talking about numbers, you can potentially sell a well designed WordPress website for $5,000.
How to start working as a freelance web designer
It’s hard to get noticed these days, with so many people claiming they are web designers. Anyone who can learn HTML and CSS is a designer, right? Wrong! You need an edge in this industry because it’s difficult for one person to stand out among the crowd.
So, I recommend you focus on finding your micro-niche instead of trying to compete against everyone else out there by designing everything from logos all the way down to their website branding elements like social media graphics or banners.
Now let’s expand even further and break it down into simpler and more actionable steps.
Step 1: Learn the basics of web design
The first thing you should do is learn the basics of web design. There are plenty of free resources online where you can find tutorials and courses to help teach yourself how to create a website from scratch or one that has already been designed.
Learn HTML, CSS and JS: If you are experienced in basic coding, you can skip ahead to the 2nd step. However, if you are just starting out, it will be beneficial in the long run to learn these programming languages.
Learn basic UI and UX design: Web design is a profession that requires more than basic coding skills. While some people think that learning code is what it takes to be successful, this often turns out not the case in freelancing web design careers. To create a web design that converts and attract visitors, you need to know what User Interface and User Experience design are.
Related Article: How to Make Website Designs More Engaging Using Storyboards
Step 2: Find a mentor to help you learn more about web design
There are many resources available on Google that you can find and follow in your freelance web design career. However, every resource will have different tips and steps, so you must stick to one or two sources for the most reliable information.
One of my favourite places to get more detailed instructions about what technology professionals use these days and how they work together with designers is by finding mentors who share their knowledge openly online through blogs, forums, Instagram accounts and even Facebook groups!
I was fortunate enough to also enrol in a mentorship program offered by my university. The program allowed me to meet with a CTO of one of Australia’s largest tech companies. From our meetings, I learned what qualifications they look for when hiring people, how much outsourcing is done within their company, and which tools designers use.
Moreover, having a mentor will get you 1 step ahead of other freelancers. They can introduce you to their network, and from there, you can make networking connections that will help you land your first clients. Now that you know how mentors can help you let’s move onto step 3.
Step 3: Develop your own web design portfolio and start building connections in the industry
Now that you are venturing into the freelance world, it’s essential to start developing a portfolio. Why not start designing your own portfolio website? You can practise your web design skills while creating something of your very own!
When clients approach you for their web design needs, the first thing they’re going to want is proof of your past work. And what better way than with an interactive portfolio site.
A portfolio is an essential aspect of any design career, as it can show your past work in various industries and platforms. A benefit to having this online space on the web or through social media sites like LinkedIn is that you are easily accessible from anywhere; clients go there when they need to see your past work but don’t have time for meetings or phone calls.
What I love about showing off my portfolio is that it helps other clients see how talented and creative I am and gives them the ability to send referrals my way. When they look at all of the work I have done in my portfolio, they will remember something from it, and when a friend or family member needs web design services in future, they will refer me.
I find it extremely useful to attend web design and developer conferences that are happening near me. Going to these events can help you create more networks which can lead you down the road of gaining clients as a freelancer.
Step 4: Start designing websites for small businesses or local companies
Web design is a competitive industry, but starting with local businesses can give you an edge. Offer to make their websites for free (do it when you’re just starting), and then keep your eyes peeled for new opportunities!
It’s important to have various work in your portfolio when you’re reaching out to new clients. To achieve this, it is best if you at least try and create 4-6 web design pieces before starting the hunt. This would increase your work’s credibility.
How to look for local business
The best way to find local businesses in need of a website is by taking a stroll in your neighbourhood. Look for the ones that are newly established. Once you’ve found some, take out your phone and google them. If they don’t show up, then it’s apparent that you should offer web design services!
But if they already have a website, you could take some notes on the design flaws and pitch those to the business owner.
If the business owners are happy to take your web design, great! Good job. If they are on the fence, then offer your service for free but make sure they are paying for a domain name, hosting or any plugins used on their website.
Step 5: Price your web design services
This is the hardest part of freelancing because there’s no standard price for a website. Let’s say you’re working on a one-page website, and it takes 10 hours to make; then later, you get offered another project that requires five pages but can be completed in 3 hours. Should you increase your price if the project requires less work?
This dilemma has many schooled professionals scratching their heads when they try to set prices – so I have an easy answer! If clients are looking for companies with experience doing similar projects (i.e., web design), find out what other designers charge before quoting them something offhand.
While pricing your web design services depends totally on you and what you feel is right. According to Shopify, there are three pricing models that you can follow:
- Time-based pricing method
Creative professionals can use time-based pricing to charge clients for their services. This type of strategy is popular because it’s straightforward and easy to understand, especially when estimating the total cost upfront. A simple way to calculate is by determining how many hours are needed and multiplying that by your hourly rate to come up with a final price which you’ll share with clients while negotiating budgets.
- Fixed pricing method
“Fixed pricing – also known as project-based pricing” – shopify.com. Rather than calculating every task that goes into completing a project for your client, you can charge them for all of it at once with one flat fee! This pricing method allows you to understand your clients budget. It also gives your client peace of mind by letting them know how much time and money will be required upfront.
- Value-based pricing method
Value-based pricing centers around the benefits your client receives from your services, not just what is delivered. This way of thinking about how to charge for your web design services will help both parties understand their needs better and make a more informed decision.
If you’re looking to understand which pricing methods would be helpful for your freelance web design career, look at this article written by Shopify. It discusses all the pricing methods in details along with their pros and cons.
Step 6: Find Work
The internet is full of opportunities and freelancing websites that give you the opportunity to apply for various projects. Then there are always personal connections or your network who can help get your name out there.
Use freelancing websites like fiverr.com, freelancer.com.au, upwork.com or toptal.com. However, be aware that finding web design work on these websites is very competitive. Many creators, even with little knowledge of web design, are offering these services.
Furthermore, people looking to hire a freelance web designer on these websites look for designers who had done similar work before and earned a higher rating. This may prove to be a hindrance for you as it’s challenging to start with no ratings. What should you do in that case?
Cold calling and emailing businesses is the next logical step.
So you’re telling me that if I want to find a job, the best way is knocking on doors and speaking with strangers?
Yes, let me explain. I’ve never been one for cold-calling, but I had an excellent experience when I was in the marketing department for my previous job. We were getting some fantastic leads from our door-to-door campaign.
That made me realise that many people might need a website, but they’re not hiring someone because of their busy schedule or lack of knowledge of how the process works. That’s why you mustn’t wait for these clients but present them with an opportunity before they even know what hit ’em!
And that’s it folks! If you follow these six steps, your freelance web design career will surely take off.
It is not easy to break into the world of web design, but it can be done. I’ve put together a list of steps that you can follow to become an accomplished freelance web designer and start making money on your terms.
If you are interested in exploring these steps further or would like help getting started with the freelancing process, let me know! I would love to hear from you so we can get started building your future success today.
Did any of my information resonate with you? I would appreciate it if you can share these steps with your friends or family looking for guidance as they pursue their dreams too!
Now I know that this blog might not cover all freelancing topics, so I encourage you to let me know what topics I should cover next in freelancing and web designing in the comments below.