Becoming a successful freelance web designer: 5 essentials

27.04.2016

Web design is a lucrative field that has been riding the top of the hype wave for years now. Websites and web applications have grown out of the bubble of related fields like tech and communication. Now, they are an essential element of virtually every company’s strategy. Successful web designers need a mix of various different skill sets - this article covers most of them. We’ll delve into specific tools and hard skills, the mindset of being a good web designer and how that relates to the field of freelancing.



1. Mastering the tools of the trade
First and foremost, you’re going to need the basics. That mainly includes Photoshop, Illustrator and their competitors. You can either chose to delve into a specific program and master it or spread yourself across different platforms. Most design software is similar in how it operates, so it can be worth it to go out of your safety zone now and then. Of course, this will depend on your clients and how much you’re willing to spend on that software, if at all. Check out our article right here to find out more about good alternatives to the rather expensive Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator products.

2. Programming basics
Learning how to code is increasingly becoming a more important skill for web designers. A lot of clients will expect you to be able to guide them through the complete process of creating a website, which also means knowing some programming basics. HTML is an excellent place to start. Once you’ve got that down, adding some knowledge of CSS and JavaScript will help you understand and, in part, take over some of the work that is typically associated with front end developers.

3. Constant learning
Now that you’ve learned some things, I’ve got some good and some bad news. Let’s start with the positive - web design is very dynamic and will never get boring. Things change pretty rapidly, so there is plenty of excitement to be had. However, that also goes hand in hand with learning without pause. And this is not just because some of the tools change now and again, although that certainly plays a role.
Basic design philosophies and popular concept change all the time as well. Right now material design is all the hype – simple shapes, which use color, elevation and shadows to convey their meaning. But that seems to change every couple of years. As a web designer, you’ll have to keep your eyes on the market and be ready for what’s coming next.

4. Adapting to your clients
You don’t only need certain tools and work discipline. As a freelance web designer, you’ll have to learn to effectively communicate with your clients. The number one rookie mistake is not listening to what they have to say. Many web designers have certain preferences when it comes down to doing things – and that’s not a bad thing, it’s their passion after all. However, you absolutely must adapt your style to a client’s needs. If you only follow your vision you might be happy with the end result, but the person paying you likely won’t be.

5. Having a plan going forward
Last but not least, running a business requires planning. When you start, make sure you have at least three to six months’ worth of saving, because clients aren’t going to come running straight away. Calculate precisely if the price you’re asking can really keep you financially afloat. Don’t forget to account for the so-called feast and famine cycle – some months will typically be busier while others will give you a lot of spare time. And, most importantly, always know where you’re headed!

You’re welcome to discuss the article or ask the freelancermap team any questions you might have on the topic in the comments section below.

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Pic: © FirmBee_Pixabay
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