Top 17 Things To Consider When Starting A Web Design Freelance Business

Are you thinking about starting a web design freelance business? 

If so, you are about to realize that there are hundreds and thousands of hurdles to overcome. It’s an extremely competitive industry, and even if you have a ton of experience under your belt and are ready to leverage, the market is saturated with competition.

There are many successful entrepreneurs who have launched an online venture and have gone on to be successful. However, it takes hard work, dedication, and a lot more than just being able to design well.

1. Make A Decision

Committing to freelancing is a big step. If you’ve been thinking about it for a while, the time is now to make a decision.

There are many factors you should consider before pursuing this life-altering decision. You need to think about your lifestyle, your tolerance for risk and uncertainty, your goals and objectives, the type of work you want to do, what kind of freelancer you plan on being (one who always works alone or with partners), how much extra work it will take to be successful as a freelancer, and how much time and money you have to devote toward establishing yourself.

You’ll also have to decide if freelancing will fit into your lifestyle whether that’s commuting from home or traveling across the world with only a laptop and a camera at hand.

2. Do Your Research

Whether you want to start your own business or work for someone else, it’s important to do your research before you begin. When you’re just starting, you don’t necessarily need to know everything there is to know about web design. But when you’re deep into a project and have some of the basics down, it’s time to start putting the pieces together.

Read this guide and consider each of these topics:

  • Researching the Market
  • Researching the Competition
  • Researching Clients
  • Researching Your Skills and Strengths
  • Researching Your Weaknesses

3. Focus On One Skill Via Specialization Or Subspecialization

If you’re a designer, you might specialize in either web design or print design and then subspecialize in one or two of the following:

  • Web design
  • Print design
  • Logo design

If you’re a developer, your specialization options are more varied. You might consider choosing to specialize in web development and then subspecialize in either front-end or back-end development.

If you’d rather focus on mobile application development, then you might choose to specialize in app design; if that appeals to you, be sure to find out as much as possible about the different programming languages that are currently being used for apps (here are just some of them: Swift, Objective C, Java).

Since user interaction with apps is often critical to their success, you may also want to consider specializing in UI/UX (user interface/user experience) design.

4. Create A Strong Personal Brand

Nearly every freelancer who has ever told me that they need to create a personal brand has also admitted that they don’t know exactly how to do it. The world of personal branding is so new—and in such high demand—that there are no clear rules or guidelines for creating one. When I asked them, they would tell me things like “I want my name and face on the cover of magazines” or “I want to be more approachable” (or something like those).

However, there are some basic principles of building a stellar personal brand:

  • Build your reputation. Just as you wouldn’t walk into a job interview without a resume, you can’t jump into the freelance business without establishing yourself first. Developing your reputation starts with strong social media profiles that can connect you with people who need what you have to offer. Then it’s about moving towards diversifying your portfolio and getting recognition for different types of work so that potential clients can see whether you have experience in everything or nothing at all.
  • Be authentic. Your personal brand needs to be built from the inside out, not from other people’s perceptions of who you are or what you’re trying to sell them. So don’t write emails to prospects saying things like “Hi! Thanks for taking the time to check out my website!” Rather, start talking about your own experiences and sharing examples of how good leads have been converted into relationships over time by working with other startups and businesses that share similar goals as yours—whether it’s finding more clients or learning more about technology so you can better serve them in the future.

5. Determine Fair Rates And Set Them Properly

When working out your fair pricing, you need to consider a few things.

First of all, you need to determine what your location is worth. If you are in the United Kingdom and a client from the United States chooses to hire you, this can be very beneficial for a number of reasons. First, they may not understand that one pound is more than one dollar (they would expect it to be).

Secondly, they may misunderstand how much tax they may have to pay if they were based in the UK (they would not know how much tax they were being charged).

Thirdly, when quoting work for US clients, you should take into account that the dollar is worth less than the pound so your prices will appear cheaper – even though they really aren’t!

However, if both yourself and your client are based in either country then this can become more complicated as there are many different factors that need considering such as: What skills do I possess? How much experience do I have? How good am I at delivering quality work promptly? Can my client afford me or not? Do my clients have specific needs which require extra attention from me resulting in higher costs overall?

6. Set Your Daily Targets Carefully

When you are working on a project, make sure you set your daily targets carefully. You cannot set something and then get distracted by side things like social media (but don’t avoid it completely).

Also, it is important that you focus on the easiest tasks first. This will give you some satisfaction, and also help with focusing more on the harder tasks later in the day. It is important to have time for breaks every once in a while and at least a few minutes for administrative tasks and communication with clients. Lastly, make sure there is enough time left for learning new things or improving your skills if possible. This way you can become even better at what you do.

Once all these things are done, make sure to keep a daily log of what you did during the day and how much time you spent doing it. This will help with planning in advance as well as estimating new projects based on past experiences so they can be completed faster, more efficiently, and more profitably.

7. Keep Your Clients Close

It can be difficult to manage the expectations of a client, but it’s important to keep your promises and avoid overpromising. If you promise that you’ll deliver something by the end of the day, make sure it gets done. If something goes wrong or there is an obstacle that prevents you from delivering on time, let them know immediately! It’s much better, to be honest, and admit your mistake than to let it drop.

Clients want to know that they’re in good hands and will often forget about a small mistake if they believe you are being honest with them.

You should also try to be helpful when possible. Offer to set up meetings between their other vendors or contractors if needed, for example. This will go a long way towards building trust with clients and keeping them happy with your service.

8. Learn To Negotiate Effectively

In the beginning, you may find yourself negotiating both your rate and terms with a client. This is normal, even if it can be uncomfortable at times. Don’t shy away from getting what you need to do your best work for a client. It can often be beneficial to negotiate for more than just money though, here are some other things that you might want to consider asking for:

  • A higher rate. Even if this is your first gig as an independent designer or developer make sure that you negotiate something close to the amount of money that you would like to get paid each hour. Often times clients will low-ball their initial offer and won’t take it personally if they receive a counteroffer from you.
  • A better contract. Contracts will become one of the most important tools in your business as time goes by and you have worked with several different clients on many projects since this will help protect both them and yourself from any miscommunication or misunderstandings going forward in future projects together.
  • Better terms (e-payment versus check). You should also try to negotiate the terms of payment with a new client before starting a project (i.e., how much they will owe upfront, whether they are paying by e-payment or check, etc.). You want them to be fully aware of when their payments are due so there are no miscommunications later on down the road as well as make sure that any deposits or final payments align with how frequently they would like progress reports during the course of a project completion process.

9. Be An Expert On Contracts And Agreements

You should always, always have a contract. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. No matter how much you trust your client or the agreement that you have with them, it’s crucial to have everything in writing. This will protect everyone involved and avoid problems down the road.

As a freelancer, you don’t need to sign every contract that comes your way. You also shouldn’t be afraid to ask for a contract when one is not offered. When there’s no contract, you may want to consider simply requesting one from your client. If the company refuses and insists on having an oral agreement only (that means just talking about things), then walk away!

You can negotiate the terms of contracts before signing them and seek legal advice if needed. You can also get help from organizations like AIGA or Dribbble Pro for these kinds of issues.

10. Establish The Means To Acquire Clients Locally And Internationally

It’s important to know how to find clients, as well as how to attract, retain and get repeat business from them. Having a good reputation and receiving referrals and recommendations from satisfied customers will also help you reach a wider audience.

There are plenty of ways of getting in touch with prospective clients, such as approaching companies directly, advertising your services on freelance sites, or even setting up an online shop.

A great way to get started is by connecting with friends who may be able to spread the word about your services and perhaps even recommend you for web design work for their own employers or other contacts.

11. Join Events, Contests, And Conferences

As the old saying goes, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know!” This is especially true when it comes to web design. Joining events, contests and conferences is one of the top things to consider when starting a web design freelance business. Aside from helping you build exposure for your freelance business, events and contests can help you win clients.

Events can also help you network with people in the field (you never know who knows someone who needs a website!) and conferences can help you learn from experts in the field. Attending events can also help build your personal brand as well as meet potential clients, mentors, and advisors.

12. Collaborate With Other Freelancers Or Agencies

When you’re first starting out, it can be hard to find clients and get exposure for your business. One way to build up a portfolio, establish your reputation, and give yourself a competitive edge is to collaborate with other freelancers or agencies.

Depending on how far along you are in your career, collaborating can mean different things:

  • When you’re just getting started (and even after that), you might want to consider teaming up with other freelancers who have complementary skill sets. For example, if you specialize in front-end web development, you might partner with someone who has expertise in database architecture or user experience design. Together, you could put together compelling proposals for potential clients and complete projects as a team.
  • If your goal is to run an agency of sorts (i.e., hire contractors or employees and manage multiple projects at once), collaborating with existing agencies can be a smart option. This allows you to learn from their established processes while they benefit from the work of your team members at no extra cost or hassle when they’re overloaded.

13. Update Yourself On Web Design Trends And Tools Of The Trade

The web design industry is very competitive, and even the best designers have to keep improving themselves. You need to stay updated on the latest trends, tools, techniques, and resources. You can do this by:

  • Spending time researching online
  • Reading different articles, blogs, and ebooks
  • Watching webinars
  • Attending conferences (like An Event Apart)
  • Asking questions from other web designers

14. Build Your Portfolio And A Website That Represents You Well Professionally

Before you can start your freelance business journey, you will need to provide a way for potential clients to see your work. This is essential as it enables you to build trust and helps potential customers understand the quality of work that you can produce for them.

Your portfolio should reflect your best work, so select projects that show how talented you are and that highlight the skills and experience that you have acquired throughout the years. When adding projects to your portfolio, don’t be afraid to add more personal information about each project. The more details the better! You want to make sure that clients know what they are getting when they hire you. Don’t forget to include examples of challenges you’ve faced with these projects and how you overcame these problems!

You have many options when it comes to showing off your work online: Behance, Cargo or even hosting your own website using WordPress. Personally, I recommend using an established platform like Behance because there are millions of people browsing their portfolios every day who might see yours in one of those collections.

15. Build And Nurture Your Social Media Presence

The idea is to start a Facebook page or Twitter profile for your freelance business in tandem with your personal profiles/pages. Then connect with clients, other web designers, freelancers, and developers through social media. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are the three that I would consider a “must-have” for any web design freelance business.

16. Get A Good Team Of Advisors And Mentors

As you move forward with your venture, it will be important to have a good team of advisers and mentors to back you up. Consider the following questions when choosing yours:

  • What is their experience?
  • Have they helped other businesses like yours?
  • Do they have a good reputation in their field?
  • Are they easily accessible?

It’s also worth considering how well they can handle difficult situations and how much trouble they’ll take to make themselves available when needed. Some people are simply better at helping out than others, so make sure to ask plenty of questions before you commit yourself.

In addition, paid consultants should be separated from professional advisers who work for free (like family members or friends) because the latter may give advice that doesn’t reflect your best interests. If you don’t have anyone who fits this description in your personal life, consider seeking a professional online service that connects freelancers with mentors such as MentorCruise.

17. It’s All About The Proper Planning Stage

If you’re looking to start your freelancing business, it’s important that you have a solid plan and research the industry. If you’re looking to build a successful online presence for your business but don’t know where to start, consider the following points:

  • Choose one skill as the core of your business. Selecting just one skill helps you become an expert in that field. By specializing in one service (such as design), you will find yourself naturally able to deal with any issues that arise in that area of expertise.
  • Establish your prices properly so clients are happy with what they pay for. You need to be real about what it will take to deliver the quality service and product needed by your customers. This means reading up on pricing strategies and setting prices accordingly—even before starting a freelance business!
  • Research industry trends and demand so you can predict future revenue streams. Once you establish a firm grip on what people want from their websites, this knowledge puts you at an advantage when it comes to long-term planning for growth for your web design freelance business.

Final Thought

Hopefully, you’ve found our list of ideas and tips helpful. While there is truly a lot to consider when starting and growing a freelance web design business, don’t let that intimidate you. The reality of the situation is that, as long as you are willing to put in the time and effort (and I mean a lot), your success is bound to follow.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Land My First Client? 

By making your services available online and reaching out to people in your network who may be interested in working with you, or by joining an online marketplace like Upwork.

What Kinds Of Web Design Will You Specialize In?

There are many different kinds of web design, and each requires a different set of skills and expertise. Some types of web design include graphic or visual design, user interface/user experience (UI/UX) design, copywriting and content strategy, coding, search engine optimization (SEO), accessibility, and more. Make sure you understand which areas you want to specialize in before you begin using your new freelance business as a means of finding work

How Much Money Can I Expect To Make?

Projects range in price depending on the size and scope of the work, but it’s not uncommon to see projects anywhere between $1,000 and $10,000. There are many possible ways to structure how you charge for your services; one common way is to charge an hourly rate based on your level of experience (younger freelancers often start at around $50 per hour). 

Some freelancers also choose to set their hourly rate based on the company they’re working with (for example, charging more for larger companies that have bigger budgets). 

How Many Hours Should I Be Working Each Week?

It depends on how much work you have, but ideally, no more than 40 hours per week. This gives you plenty of time to work on projects, communicate with clients, and still have some room in your schedule for sleep!

What Other Types Of Clients Should I Take On?

Many web designers choose to also take on clients who need print design work done. This can be a great way to expand your skillset and portfolio without having to start from scratch with a new set of clients!

Do I Need Any Special Software Or Equipment?

No–you can use basic programs like Word or Pages for writing up contracts and invoices, and Google Drive or Dropbox for storing files remotely so they’re always backed up safely.

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