If you have made the conscious decision to become a freelance web designer, you’re either a beginner that is looking to pick up some experience or an experienced designer that believes you could earn more money by going it alone than working for another company.
Freelancing gives you more control over your work schedule, allows you to work from home, or even travel the world as a digital nomad. However, in order to properly start your new life as a freelance web designer, there are some tips that you will have to heed if you want to get started on the right foot.
1. Create a Portfolio
Any aspiring web designer needs somewhere to show off their previous work. A client will want to see examples of your work before deciding whether to hire you for their own project. The best and easiest way to do this is to learn how to create a portfolio website. Even if you’re yet to complete many projects, you will need a portfolio once you do.
You can add pictures of websites you have designed and even link to them. Potential clients can then check out your work before deciding if you’re the best fit for what they need. You can even add an About Me page that tells visitors a little about yourself. Make sure you add contact forms so that anyone that came across your website by chance is able to contact you.
2. Understand the Upfront Costs
It is likely you already own a computer and some of the other things you need to become a freelance web designer, however, if not, you need to factor in the costs involved to get started. Aside from a computer, you will need to buy a domain name, pay for website hosting, purchase specialist software, and have enough money to see yourself through the first few months of trying to source work. You also need to research what taxes you might have to pay and any insurance that you might need.
Once you know the costs, think long and hard about whether this is the right career choice at the right time.
3. Brand Yourself
Successful freelance web designers must know how to market themselves. Considering you will be involved in the marketing of clients’ websites, how you market yourself not only brings awareness to your brand but also shows how good you are at it. Branding starts with your name and logo but goes so much deeper. You should share your background, personality, and use a unique style and colours for your business.
4. Set Your Schedule and Stick to It
One of the biggest advantages of going freelance is that you can work your own hours. However, while it is great to pick and choose when you want to work, you should still try to stick to a routine. Clients may get disappointed if they do not know when you’re working from one day to the next. Set a schedule and let your clients know your working hours. Stick to that schedule as much as possible.
Also, prepare to work long hours when you first start out. Many freelance web designers work 60 hours per week in the beginning. This is to help keep them afloat and to help build their portfolio quicker.
5. Rank Your Website
You will source most of your early work via freelancing platforms, such as Upwork and Freelancer. Long-term, however, your goal should be to attract work organically rather than spending time applying for new gigs. If your website ranks well for popular search terms, clients will find you rather than the other way around.
Fill your website with regular content, optimise it for search terms, start a blog, and create valuable content for your visitors. Not only will this impress visitors, but it will also increase your website’s authority and allow it to rank higher. Just do not fall for some of the most common SEO mistakes.
6. Learn How to Write Cover Letters
When applying for work on sites such as Upwork, you have to sell yourself to clients. This is not just about offering a competitive rate or showcasing your previous work, but also knowing how to write convincing cover letters that will appeal to potential clients. Anything too long could bore prospective clients, while anything too short will give the opinion that you’re not putting in too much effort.
Keep the letter brief, but make sure to include anything relevant. Detail your experience and the qualities that you believe you have. Be personable too, as this shows clients that you have a good personality.
If you can heed the tips above, you will be on the right path towards a successful freelance web design career. Just do not expect to become successful overnight. It is always tough in the beginning as you have to build up experience, collect feedback, and make connections. After a few projects, you will find it much easier to attract clients on Upwork and other leading freelancing sites.