How To Become a Freelance Web Designer (With 7 Steps)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated September 28, 2022

Published August 17, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Freelance web designers build and design websites on a self-employed basis. They help clients create beautiful, customized sites that are suitable for their intended purposes. Understanding how to become a freelance web designer can help you decide if it's a viable career path for you and identify what you require to excel in this field. In this article, we provide steps on how to become a freelance web designer, identify the difference between a web designer and a web developer, and provide tips on locating new clients in this role.

How to become a freelance web designer

If you are interested in becoming a freelance web designer, follow these steps:

1. Research the profession

Freelancing can be lucrative, and it's important to research what it involves so you're familiar with all aspects of the role. The first step is to ensure freelance web designing is what you want to do. You can use various career sites to find out more about the duties of a freelance web designer.

It's also important to research the costs of starting as a freelance web designer, including software, domain name, and subscription expenses, so you can determine if this career path is within your budget. Researching the profession helps you prepare for its rigours and ensures you're a more effective professional.

Related: The Best Work From Home Jobs

2. Create a business plan

As a freelance designer, you're your own employer, and you may be responsible for growing and directing the affairs of your business. Your business plan is a document that details your business goals and strategy for achieving them. Typically, it serves as a guide for all your business decisions. A business plan also helps you set clear goals, which can be beneficial for your productivity. Pick the best approach for you, and research the different ways to formulate a business plan.

Related: A Beginner's Guide To Freelance Jobs

3. Develop your skills

A freelance web designer requires several hard and soft skills to perform their duties effectively. You can develop relevant skills through training programs or practical experience. Here are some examples of relevant skills for a web designer:

UX and UI design

UX design stands for user experience design. It involves analyzing websites and determining how you can design or modify them to give visitors a high-quality experience. UX design requires a good understanding of potential users and the product or service a company is selling. UI, or user interface design, is the visual aspect of web design. Web designers use knowledge of UI design to ensure sites are accessible and easy for users to understand.

Knowledge of UX and UI is essential to create effective websites for your clients. It ensures that websites are attractive to users and convenient to use. Making attractive and functional websites can increase your customer satisfaction rates, and make you competitive in the market, which is crucial for freelance web designers.

SEO and digital marketing

SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it's essential for acquiring new clients of your own and optimizing the sites of clients. Many freelance web designers have their own websites to advertise their services. To increase traffic to their sites so they can gain more customers, research your client's target audience and implement SEO on their webpages. Knowing SEO and digital marketing best practices can make designers more attractive to prospective clients.

Related: SEO Beginner's Guide (Including Approaches and Benefits)

Business management

Learning how to manage a business is crucial for freelance web designers. Covering all legalities of business ownership, which includes managing your finances, executing customer retention and growth strategies, and setting goals, is important to ensure success. While it's optional for freelance web designers to have an extensive understanding of business, knowing basic details about sustaining a business can ensure you have a long and successful career.

Technical skills

Other technical skills you may benefit from include:

  • Photo editing and branding: There are programs that can provide you with a means to create and edit almost any kind of photo for your site. You can also usually use these programs to develop logos and branding for businesses.

  • Content management: Understanding popular content management systems helps you carry out essential functions like editing, reorganizing, and optimizing web pages.

  • Coding: Explore simple programs that can help you code your design. Many programs offer advanced features for editing HTML and programming.

  • Computer languages: General knowledge of common computer languages like HTML and CSS can help you design more functional websites. Also, understanding them means you likely rely less on third-party software.

4. Find a niche

Freelance web designers cater to various industries, each with different needs for a website. For example, clients from the wedding or event planning industry typically require websites that use many pictures and have features for invitations and album photos. Selecting a niche can help you become more effective at creating websites for clients within a particular industry. This can improve your industry relevance and also increase your earnings. Ensure you research your niche before deciding on one. Pick a niche that's large enough to allow you access to sufficient customers and narrow enough so you're providing a specialized service.

5. Build your brand

Your freelance business brand encompasses what you want clients to feel about your business. Good branding can make you unique among the competition and increase your client engagement rates. Your brand includes your business name, logo, slogan, website appearance, and the quality of your interaction with clients.

Related: How to Establish a Personal Brand

6. Create a portfolio website

Clients almost always ask to see samples of your past work to judge your level of competence. A great way to organize your portfolio is to build and design a site with a compilation of your best work. If you have little experience, you can start by offering some free web design services to your friends or family, volunteer your skills, or engage in extracurricular activities to develop your experience.

Related:

  • How To Make a Portfolio

  • Online Portfolio (With Benefits and Steps To Create One)

7. Determine your service charge

Determining how much to charge clients is a task that can be a challenge for beginners. Research how much freelance web designers at your level charge their clients. You can charge a higher or lower rate for yourself, depending on your market strategy and confidence about the quality of your work. It helps to have different price categories for different tasks because it can show clients the value of the work. A good price schedule can help you appear more professional and competent.

What is a freelance web designer?

A freelance web designer is a self-employed individual who plans, designs, and creates websites for their clients. They often identify and contact clients from various industries, as their skills are relevant across multiple fields. The key feature of freelance web designers is that they only report to their clients, rather than to a supervisor, since they work for themselves. Many freelance web designers choose to work remotely, and they are able to determine their own schedules depending on the volume of work they have and any personal responsibilities.

Difference between a web designer and a web developer

While web developers and designers seem alike, there are differences between these professions, specifically regarding the part of the website they work on. Web design is mostly about the front end, or what the customer or user sees and interacts with on their computer screen or mobile device. This skill uses the understanding of colour theory, text and typography, and images for an enhanced visual experience.

In contrast, web development involves working in the backend or the aspects that build the site, using resources like coding and programming languages. It involves the deep code of the website that makes the website work. For example, when web visitors make clicks, data is sent to a server, and another set of data comes back. Web developers undertake the more technical aspects of creating a website.

Related: What Is JavaScript?

Finding clients as a freelance web designer

There are various job websites for freelance and remote web designers to get their first clients. Online workplaces attract thousands of clients looking to hire the services of a freelance web designer. While these platforms are great, they can be very competitive for beginners. You usually need to complete some entry-level jobs and build a portfolio before applying for these jobs.

Another effective method of finding clients is to approach businesses directly. You can do that in person, via cold email, or through social media platforms. To use this approach, research which businesses have a great service or product but are without a website. Study the business, what they offer, and its target audience. Prepare a proposal for the business owner detailing the benefits of a website to their business. Include your price schedule, contact information, and strategy for building their website. Attach your portfolio to show them your level of expertise and so they can understand more about your abilities.

Related: Web Developer Skills: Definitions and Examples

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