Become a Freelance Web Designer

In order to become a freelance web designer, you will need not only excellent computer skills but also extensive business knowledge and good people skills.

Education/Training

While you are less likely to need a college degree to be successful freelance web designer, it is still nice to be able to show potential clients that you have some education in this field. Any courses you have taken in computer science, graphic design or digital media can impress your prospective customers. In addition, you could benefit from classes in marketing and advertising as well as doing any training that will help you stay on top of the latest developments in technology.

By showing you have taken specific courses or have a relevant certification, you are much more likely to gain a potential customer’s trust and business. As a result, you want to try to learn as much as you can about what makes successful web sites. In order to do so, you can try reading books, articles, newsletters, RSS feeds and frequently asked questions on the subject. You might also find online classes and tutorials helpful.

Knowledge and Experience

Perhaps more important than your education as a web designer is your experience. Once you have created enough web sites to create an impressive portfolio of your work, less people will be interested in how much education you have. Basically knowledge and experience trumps education because in this particular field, people want to hire someone who they can count on to get the job done in a professional manner.

Some of the crucial components of web design your customers will want include:

  • an extensive knowledge e-commerce
  • online ordering with credit cards
  • capturing customer information for mailing lists
  • maintaining forums for customer input
  • advertising search engine optimization
  • visual design
  • strategic layout

Also, in order to be effective, you will have to have a working knowledge of HTML code, CSS, and basic JavaScript.

Job Options

You can either choose to be a generalist who can handle all aspects of web page design or you can specialize in things like database integration, flash animation, HTML or CSS design and search engine optimization. Early on in your business you might want to be more of a generalist in order to attract more customers and get your business going. However, in the long run, you may find that you can make more money by specializing in one particular area. 

Typical Day & Pay

A typical day for a freelance web designer would include working on current clients’ web pages and keeping the relevant people updated on your progress. Your day would also include marketing in order to try to find new clients, fielding inquires about your services, creating budgets and handling accounting documentation.

For your time, you can either charge by the hour or per project. Typical hourly rates can vary anywhere from $25 to $75 per hour, with web designers earning anywhere from $35,000 to $95,000 per year.

However, most of your clients will prefer that you charge them a flat fee rather than an hourly rate for your work, so they don’t end up with any unexpected charges when the job is done. As a result, you need to determine what you want to be paid for your time and then multiply that times how many hours you anticipate the job will take. To that total you should add about 20% for changes and revisions that the client will want you to make. You also need to put everything in writing, especially when you will get paid – maybe 50% up front and 50% when the job is completed.

People Skills

If you want to attract and retain customers as a freelance designer, you need to be able to explain technical issues in simple terms that your clients can understand. You will also have to be able to understand what your clients want from their website and make sure you deliver it to them.

In order to be a successful freelance web designer, you must not only be creative and have an aptitude for designing web pages but you must also have a great deal of technical knowledge as well as excellent interpersonal skills.