So you want to be a freelance web designer, ay? Good choice! Freelancing can be very fulfilling, especially if you’ve worked for a big company before. When you freelance, you can control your own work schedule and you get to do the projects that you love doing. Today, I’m going to share a few tips that will jump-start your freelance web design career.
First you want to have a solid portfolio. This is the most important thing because it showcases what you are capable of doing. You can have a physical portfolio or a portfolio online. Although I would recommend both, if I had to choose I would prefer to have one online. There’s plenty of benefits to having an online portfolio. When your portfolio is online, it will be accessible to the general public and you can get feedback and critiques on your work so you know how other people perceive it. This can help a lot by letting you know what you should work on and improve. There’s sites out there that you can host your portfolio on for free like Dribble and Behance; you can even upload your portfolio to LinkedIn. But I would suggest that the best way to do it is to get a domain and create your own portfolio website. That way you are able to brand yourself, have a custom “About Me” page so people can get to know you, and have an easy way to contact you which can also include links to your social media pages.
When you do put your portfolio out there, make sure that the pieces in your portfolio represent your key skills. You wouldn’t want someone to hire you for something that you’ve only done once or twice and you aren’t really good at. Your portfolio is a representation of what people are going to hire you for, so make sure that your portfolio represents your best skills.
Having a business strategy is very necessary and it’s going to save you in a lot of situations down the road. When you have a set way that you know you’re going to do business, you aren’t going to run into near as many problems as you would if you weren’t organized. Make sure you have a plan as to how you’re going to handle clients when they hire you to do a project. Have a contract written up that explains what you are going to provide for them and what they are agreeing to and have them sign it. It by no means has to be long and drawn out, but you want to make sure you both have a mutual agreement so nothing gets misconstrued.
Not that you have to have an exact price, but you do want to have a price range meaning you have a price that you won’t go below. Especially when your just starting out, it’s easy to try to do work for way less than what it’s worth just to get something in your portfolio. You don’t want to under price yourself, so setting a minimum price is going to help you hold yourself to a certain standard. At the same time, you want to make sure that you’re not over pricing yourself either. Charging too much can scare away some potential clients so you want to make sure that your prices are aligned with your skill level.
Getting clients is a big part of freelancing, so you want to make sure you promote yourself whenever possible. Start from within, contact people you already know. For example, send out a mass email letting your contacts know that you’ve just started your freelance business and you want to let them know about it. Ask them to spread the word if they know anyone who may need a web design. This can bring in a lot of business without even having a lot to show in your portfolio. Whatever clients you do get, you can ask them to spread the word as well.
You also want to get some business cards made to promote yourself when you’re out and about. You’d be surprised how much business you can bring in just by striking up conversations and mentioning what it is that you do. You never know who may be looking for someone just like you to help them with their business or project.
Last but not least, you always want to continue learning and practicing your skills. The web is always evolving and you want to make sure you keep up with the latest. Chances are, your clients are going to want what’s new and hot in the web design industry and you should be able to provide that for them. A good way to do this is to go on learning sites like Lynda.com. They are always coming out with new tutorials so you can learn and stay up to date. Also if you are having some down time and aren’t getting a lot of clients at the moment, still practice your skills. You can practice by making website and WordPress templates that you can sell later on and make money from. This way you won’t feel like you’re working for free.
So I hope these few tips helped you on your journey to becoming a freelance web designer. If it did, leave your feedback and let me know in the comments!
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