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Tips for Excelling as a Freelance Web Designer

July 9, 2011 · 3 comments

in Freelancing

With Internet use across every business, household and community constantly on the rise, the need for web designers is ever expansive. While there will always be the “plug and play” do-it-yourself website templates and WordPress themes, the need for actual artistically minded web designers will never go out of style. Cookie cutter designs are often mundane and aren’t always designed with other key Internet marketing elements in mind.

For someone with a background in design, who wants to pursue a career outside of the 9-5 agency office job setting, freelance web design can be a great way to make a living and avoid the office scene. Of course, it’s not quite as easy as just that. Before getting into any career, there are a few important things to consider.


Networking, Finding Clients and Presenting Great Work

Freelancing is a great opportunity to establish self employment. It does however take time and a lot of work to achieve recognition and trust from clients without first hearing word-of-mouth praise or being referred by another client. Of course this leads to the important question, how do you get exposure? This of course can be done through online marketing. Additionally a more localized marketing can be done in newspapers and tech magazines and through local networking. If you have samples from client work of personal websites you’ve designed in the past, showcase these on your own site or blog. You only get a few seconds to get a potential client’s approval and as a designer, appearances on your own sites are everything.

Networking is a great business tool and is mostly done through joining business networks, such as the local chamber of commerce or other business organizations. This allows the community at large to get to know their business. In today’s Internet driven world however, getting traffic to your own site and joining forums which allow freelancers to network and find clients is likely your best bet. If you don’t have a lot of work to show, try taking on a few pro-bono projects. While it may leave you temporarily short of funds, it can help you build up your references and design portfolio and both those things will prove essential to the success of your business long-term.


Setting up a Reliable System for Payment

When it comes to the issue of payments, the answer is actually easier than you might think. The last thing any self employed person wants to do is complete work for a client only to deal with the hassle of constant invoices and late payments. Web Designers can set up an easy PayPal account, this is probably the safest and best client-friendly way to get paid and know that the funds are paid before any work is done. Customers can pay via any number of ways including most major credit cards and checking accounts. A PayPal account is an easy way to transfer and monitor incoming account cash flows as well and can be monitored online. Another way is of course to set up a web page that would allow customers to pay online through a multitude of avenues. Both of these options would prove to be good viable ways for monetary payments to be made.


The Fine Print of Being Self Employed

One of the other issues of this type of work is that this qualifies as being self employed. This can create an issue of time management. People starting out with this may find some difficulty creating a schedule that works. Finding the right time to complete work will vary on client needs and personal needs. However, the great part of freelancing is that it can be scheduled based on personal needs and business needs. There can be a set schedule or it can be more flexible, the options are totally in the hands of the web designer and the client base. This can be quite helpful for people who have many things going on in their lives and flexibility is important.

It is also important to remember that even though you are not receiving a conventional paycheck, you will still be accountable for state and federal taxes. Before setting up the business, it’s a good idea to meet with a tax professional to discuss the best way to go about putting taxes aside. Generally, they can provide you with the appropriate forms and also the correct percentage you should be withholding each pay period. Since we have a pay-as-you-go tax system, you can simply write a check each time you are paid and send it to the IRS so that you will not be hit with a large tax payment at the end of the year.


Becoming an Expert in the Field

As with any field of expertise if you want to pursue web design on a freelance basis, you need to find a target group and know what areas are projects that are within your expertise. Certainly people can start out as a basic web designer and expand their range of expertise over time and thus offer expanded services to clients accordingly. If you find that landing page design is something you are particularly good at, then start there and build out your experience as you go. In business this is qualified as “knowing your field of expertise and capitalizing on it”. Self employment for a web designer can be an exciting opportunity that can provide much success if planned and marketed properly.


Authored by Elizabeth Murphy

Elizabeth Murphy is a contributing writer for Invesp, a company which helps clients with conversion optimization and other Internet marketing techniques.

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