As a freelancer, it can be tough to balance your need to pay the bills with your desire to do work that you love. This is especially true in web design, where there are so many opportunities for great freelance work, but just as many opportunities for soul-crushing client expectations.
In order to make sure that you’re not only maintaining a steady income stream but also getting paid well and doing work that makes you proud of yourself and what you’ve created,
here are 22 expert tips to help you improve your web design freelancing career:
1. Maintain A Meaningful Portfolio Site
It’s not enough to just have a portfolio site anymore—you’ve got to make sure it’s really worth visiting. Make sure your samples are up-to-date, and that they display an array of skills and techniques. Plus, include all relevant links so that prospective clients can easily see who you’ve worked within the past.
2. Ask For Testimonials From Satisfied Clients
There’s no better way to show off the kind of work you do than by solid testimonials from people who were thrilled with what you did for them. It’s best to ask for them, rather than expecting your clients to think of it themselves.
3. Always Make Sure Your Code Is Clean
It’ll save you time later if you have to go back in and make changes or fix bugs—it’ll also allow others to more easily read your code if they need to take over the project at some point in the future.
4. Use CSS As Much As Possible
It’ll keep your web pages visually consistent across all browsers, which means less work for you later down the line when users are trying to access your website using different browsers or even different devices.
5. Don’t Be Afraid To Experiment!
You never know what might just work for your project until you try it out yourself first-hand. So if you’re feeling stuck, try a few different approaches—and don’t be afraid to ask your friends and colleagues for their thoughts!
6. Understand The Importance Of Color Theory
To make sure that your design works, it needs to be both visually appealing and functional. Color plays a key role in both of these aspects, so learning how to use color effectively is an essential part of web design.
Check out this article if you want to learn more about how colors are used in different contexts and what types of colors work well together.
7. Try Out Different Types Of Design, Like 3d And Motion Graphics
It’s always a good idea to push yourself out of your comfort zone. One great way to do that is by trying out different types of design work, like motion graphics or 3D.
Even if you don’t end up liking it, it’s worth experimenting with different things to see what you could get better at and what might open up new career opportunities for you in the future.
8. Network With Other Freelance Designers
it’s a great way to find jobs! If you don’t know any other designers, try going onto some job boards, like Upwork or People Per Hour. You can also try posting flyers around town that offer people free designs in exchange for referrals.
9. Keep Track Of All Expenses Related To Your Freelance Business
Start tracking all expenses related to your freelance business right away. Not only will this help you stay on top of your finances, but it will also allow you to use those expenses as tax deductions.
10. Don’t Reinvent The Wheel
Don’t make things more complicated than they need to be. Instead of starting from scratch every time, use frameworks and code libraries that other people have already created so you can focus on building something unique and creative.
11. Take The Time To Learn To Code
12. Use White Space To Your Advantage
Not only does white space make the text easier to read, but it also allows you to highlight important content and establish a visual hierarchy. For example, if you have multiple sections of text on a page, you can add white space between them to separate them and make the content easier for visitors to scan.
13. Learn To Be A Quick Typography Whiz
Typography is an essential part of any good web design, so get comfortable with it fast (or hire someone who is!). Write out all your copy first, then go back through and add headlines for each paragraph or section.
This makes it easier for people who are reading on mobile devices or don’t have time to read everything at once by giving them a quick glance at what they’ll find inside each section without having to scroll down too far into the page itself.
14. Use A Grid System For Your Layouts
The goal of the grid is to establish a visual language and create a sense of order within the design. The grid is used as a guide to position content on the page. This allows for a stronger overall composition and a better user experience.
15. Consider Usability And Accessibility Early On In The Design Process
Make sure that your designs are easy-to-use and accessible to people with disabilities. Usability testing should be done early on in the project before any major design decisions have been made, so that you can make sure that usability issues are addressed from the beginning of the project instead of at the end.
16. Test Your Designs On Multiple Browsers And Devices
If you use the same browser all the time (we get it: Chrome is awesome), you might not even realize that what looks good on your machine could look completely different on someone else’s. So make sure you’re checking your design in multiple browsers because every browser renders pages a little differently.
And definitely check how it looks on mobile devices! Most people use their phones more than their desktop computers these days, so it’s important to make sure everything looks great on mobile as well as on desktop.
17. Learn To Work With Modern Tools And Programs
Like Sass, Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketch, etc. These are the tools that you’ll be using day in and day out as a web designer. You can find tons of tutorials online.
18. Keep Up With Current Web Trends
Web design is an industry that’s constantly changing, so it’s important to stay on top of the latest trends. Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s good for your brand or your end-user, so choose wisely before you adopt any new ideas or techniques.
19. Think About How Your Designs Will Scale
One of the biggest mistakes I see designers make is not designing their products to scale. This could be a file size that doesn’t scale up and down, such as when you’re using a small graphic that scales up to 200 percent or more on a mobile device — you can end up with a giant fuzzy image.
Another example is designing for a specific use case instead of designing for the long haul. For example, when building out an app, say it’s only for use on an iPad, but what happens if the client wants to add Android support later? This could lead to redesigning and rewriting code instead of just adapting what you already built.
20. Find A Niche And Master It If You Can’t Do It All
You can’t be an expert at everything, but you can always find your niche and focus on that. You don’t have to be able to do it all. Just be very good at a few things. In other words: Find your niche and learn it well.
21. Boost Your Creativity With Mind Maps
A mind map is a diagram used to visually organize information. It helps you brainstorm, take notes, or work through complex problems—all while making connections and seeing the big picture.
The best way to understand what a mind map is and how they work is to see one in action. Check out this video from MindMeister, which explains the basics:
What’s great about mind maps is that they’re easy to create and can be created through a variety of tools—from pen and paper to apps on your computer or smartphone.
In fact, there are several apps available that allow you to create mind maps online, such as Bubbl.us and MindMeister. And if you want more than just the basic tools, there are paid options like XMind and MindNode Pro for Mac that can help you create even more detailed mind maps.
22. Remember That Design Is A Collaboration
When discussing your designs with a client, emphasize that the success of a project is a collaboration between the designer and the client. Since your client is the expert in their business, it’s important for them to get involved in the design process by providing feedback and contributing ideas.
This will help you avoid misunderstandings and ensure that everyone is on the same page from the beginning. It will also help you build trust with your clients, which will be extremely valuable down the road!
Hopefully, this guide has helped elevate your web design career to the next level. We would love to hear your thoughts and experiences freelancing in the front-end development field. Put them in the comments section below!
People Also Ask
What Is The Best Way To Get More Clients?
The best way to get more clients is through referrals and word of mouth. Ask your existing clients to refer you to other businesses that might need your services.
How Do I Price My Services?
You want to price your services in a way that reflects your experience, but also allows your business to run profitably. Start by looking at what other freelancers are charging for similar services and adjust accordingly.
How Do I Market Myself As A Freelancer?
Start with a website or online portfolio that showcases your work and highlights your experience. Then, use social media and networking events to connect with potential clients and share information about your business.
What Should I Include In My Portfolio?
This will depend on the types of projects you’ve done most often, but generally, you should include samples of projects that demonstrate the breadth of what you can do as well as particularly impressive or innovative samples of work you’ve done.
How Can I Make My Clients Happy?
Make sure to keep the client informed of your progress, set expectations for the schedule, and make sure you’re meeting those expectations. Check-in with them regularly about what they like about what you’ve done so far, and also ask if there’s anything they’d like to change or have added.
How Do I Know How Much To Charge For A Project?
The key here is finding a balance between charging enough to pay yourself and not charging too much that will scare away potential clients. It helps to research the local market and see what other freelancers are charging for similar work. Don’t be afraid to ask other freelancers how they price their work as well!
What Should I Do If I Feel Like I’m In Over My Head?
If a project seems too complicated or if it starts to look like you’ll be missing deadlines, talk with your client right away. Be honest with them about what is causing the delay and see if there’s anything that can be done together to find solutions. If a project is going over budget, it’s better to bring this up early rather than wait until the end of the project.
How Do I Find Good Clients?
Good clients are out there. You just need to know what to look for. The biggest thing is this: don’t work with people who don’t respect your time or want to lowball you. It’s not worth it, and it won’t get you anywhere.
How Can I Get Clients To Pay Me On Time?
We’ve got a whole section of this article on how to do this, but the two big takeaways are not to start working until you’ve been paid and to invoice as soon as you finish.
Can I Work With Multiple Clients At Once?
Of course! Just be sure that they’re all paying you what you’re worth and that they know their place in line.
Do I Have To Use Social Media?
No, but it’s highly recommended that you use at least one platform. And if you can get the hang of Twitter, even better! It’s a great place for freelance web designers to network.
How Do I Make Myself Look Professional On My Website?
Make sure your website is clean, simple, and professional. Try to keep it to a single page, with a clean layout that’s easy to navigate. Make sure the typeface is readable and the colors are attractive. Ask a friend for the feedback!
What Should I Include On My Website?
Your website should include a portfolio of your work, testimonials from past clients, a list of your skills, and contact information.
How Do I Get Started?
The first thing you have to do is decide what service you want to provide. Once you’ve decided that, figure out how much time you can dedicate to freelancing. This may mean you have to cut back on the number of hours you work at your day job. If necessary, find a second job to subsidize your freelancing efforts.
What Are The Best Ways To Improve My Web Design Freelancing Career?
There are a few things that you can do right now to make sure you’re on the right track. The first is to follow our 21 expert tips, which cover everything from setting up a great portfolio to learning how to charge what you deserve.
You should also make sure that you have the right gear and set up for success—our guide to the best tools for web designers has all the info you need to get started on that front.
How Do I Find The Right Web Designer?
Look for designers with strong portfolios that show a good range of experience, then schedule interviews with several candidates to see which one seems like the best fit for your project.
What Is This Going To Cost For Web Design?
A website redesign will cost between $5,000 and $10,000—and that’s a pretty small project! Bigger projects take more time and money, so expect to pay between $20,000 and $100,000+.