A Brief Guide to Ditching Your Job and Becoming a Freelance Web Designer
So you’ve decided you want to be a freelance web designer. Congratulations! The world of freelance web design offers flexibility, job satisfaction, and a good wage to those who can master the field. However, it’s always difficult to leave a day job and a steady paycheck. Job security is a very tempting reason to stay. Here’s how you can take the leap, quit the day job, and start freelancing full time.
Decide Why You Want to Freelance
This one simple step could be the deciding factor in whether you succeed or fail as a freelancer. Even if you already know how to create a website, you need to know why you want to design websites on a freelance basis. Freelance web design is a competitive industry. Aside from competing with other designers, you will face challenges like clients who won’t pay and the fact that you no longer have sick days. It is not enough to know that you want to freelance—you need to know why you want to freelance. Your reason is what will keep you going when things get tough.
Organize Your Work Environment
When you work a day job, you usually have an office or dedicated workspace to keep your business life and your personal life separate. When you freelance, however, such luxuries are usually financially unfeasible. In order to ensure that you stay productive, you will need to create an environment for yourself that is conducive to work. This can take a variety of forms. Some freelancers have virtual offices or co-working spaces, which are great for those who have such a budget. Other freelancers have a home office, a dedicated office attached to their home where they do their work. Finally, a number of freelancers choose to do their work at coffee shops. Whatever work environment you choose, make sure that it gives you the tools you need to be productive.
Create a Personal Brand
When you decide to become a freelance web designer, you must realize that there are thousands of other people doing the exact same thing you are doing. They all know how to create a website, and they all have the skills necessary to get the job done. Having a unique brand is how you will stand out from the competition. Identify past projects where you did an exceptionally good job, or where you were more enthusiastic than usual. Maybe you’re quite skilled at designing websites for photographers, or you have a penchant for creating websites for non-profit organizations. Find your niche and define your brand around it.
Create a Portfolio You Can Be Proud Of
When you strike out on your own as a freelancer, it is vital that you have a strong portfolio that is relevant to your niche. Your portfolio is how your potential clients will decide whether or not to contract with you. If your portfolio contains mediocre designs or you haven’t updated it in a while, figure out what isn’t working and adjust accordingly.
This last point may seem rather obvious, but it is also something that a number of web designers struggle with. It can be intimidating, at first, to pitch yourself and your work to potential clients. However, your clients will not come to you—at least not in the beginning. When approaching clients, make a personal connection. Be warm and polite. Listen more than you talk. Even if you don’t get a contract right away, you could gain a valuable industry connection. Becoming a freelance web designer takes a lot more than just knowing how to create a website. It takes dedication and ambition. If you believe in yourself and do your absolute best work, though, you can earn a decent living—on your terms.