Reasons not to Become a Freelance Web Designer
Every web designer at some point in their career has thought about becoming a full time freelance web designer. And with good reason – there seems to be an endless list of advantages, especially if you are stuck in a job that you hate. But unfortunately you will very rarely hear the other side of the story… those all important reasons as to why you shouldn’t consider becoming a freelance web designer.
To help you to decide whether you are cut out for the freelancing world, I have compiled a list of 10 questions. If you answer YES to any of them then maybe you should rethink the freelancing route. But if you can honestly answer NO to every question then you could just become an excellent freelance web designer!
1. Do you think freelancing is easy money?
Being a freelance web designer is not easy money, in fact it is even harder than your current job! It is as straight forward as that. Freelancing is not just about designing and developing a project, it’s also about marketing yourself, managing your finances and competing with the vast number of other freelancers out there.
When you are designing for a company you do not have to actively search for clients, you do not have to worry about paying staff or taxes and you don’t have to work 50-70 hours a week just to keep the projects coming in.
So if you are considering being a freelance web designer with that thought in mind, I’m afraid there is a good chance you’ll be caught unawares and you could find things very difficult indeed.
2. Are you indecisive most of the time?
When freelance web designers work with clients, it’s all about working with smooth and effective communication. This impacts every aspect of freelancing, from proposing the design, signing of contracts or closing the deal. A single moment of hesitation can make or break your credibility with the client, as clients will want designers who are professional and confident in their own abilities.
If you know that you have difficulty making a decision instantly, always say you’ll think about it but don’t pause or stare blankly at the person you’re talking to. This will only serve to undermine your ability regardless of how good a designer you may be.
When freelancing you will find that you have to make a lot of decisions rather quickly when designing because time is of the essence and time does equal money. If it takes you several minutes to think of a solution, or solutions, you may well find that you will have a hard time keeping hold of your clients.
3. Are you quick to decide on things?
In stark contrast to the previous point, making decisions too quickly without considering the consequences can also potentially hurt your freelance web designer career. The biggest culprit of this is answering yes to every request a client makes. You are there to make the client happy but you are not there to be the client’s slave.
You should learn to say no to requests that you know are impractical or beyond your remit. Agreeing to things that you know you cannot do will be of no benefit whatsoever to you and your career. I recommend taking a moment to think about whether it is realistically possible and whether you can outsource anything that is beyond your own abilities. This will keep both you and your clients happy!
4. Do you have less than 5 projects you are proud of?
Starting out as a freelance web designer is hard but you can’t really expect to be successful if you don’t have at least 5 pieces of work in your portfolio that you can honestly say you are proud of. It doesn’t particularly matter if they are from your previous job but you just need to have work that will capture people’s attention and interest in your skills.
Your work serves as a testament to your abilities and without that, you will struggle to find clients willing to take chance on you. Clients will look for people who they can see are capable of producing the goods. If possible you should try to have a wide range of work in your portfolio. A client will be more inclined to work with you if they see you have produced something similar before.
So if you have delayed developing your portfolio for some time now then perhaps you should think about delaying your aspirations of becoming a freelance web designer.
5. Do you think web design just involves Photoshop?
If you define being a freelance web designer as simply designing a web template in Photoshop, then you should consider changing your title to graphic designer.
Nowadays web design involves so much more. Apart from converting concepts into reality with Photoshop, you will also be expected to convert those Photoshop files into functional HTML and CSS. The distinction between web design and development is blurring and if you’re thinking of entering the world of freelance web design, then you should also have decent development skills.
A lot of freelance web designers are limiting themselves because they only focus on Photoshop or Illustrator and are neglecting the core principles of HTML, and CSS. I cannot stress enough that it is essential to be able to demonstrate working functionality to a client because the moment you show them a design, their next question will be to see it working. If you are capable of doing this then you are increasing your chances of having a bright future ahead of you.
6. Do you have little savings?
Jumping into the world of a freelance web designer is risky business. Without the proper skills, tools, and guidance you will struggle to get clients. For this reason you shouldn’t even think about freelancing if you still have financial responsibilities and you’re exhausting your monthly paycheck because of those.
However if you are properly connected with the right people that can supply you with a constant flow of clients then you may be able to manage. If not then it won’t matter whether or not you have the relevant skills, experience and portfolio in place.
As a general rule of thumb I would recommend leaving freelancing until you have enough saving to live on for 3 months without an income. Three months may seem like a long time but in the world of freelancing, this is not an uncommon period of time to go between projects.
7. Do you hate multiple revisions?
You may think being a freelance web designer means you are your own boss but unfortunately it is the person paying you that is the boss! Your goal is to keep them happy but sadly this is never an easy process. It is very rare that your very first design concept will be accepted and used. Even if the client loves the first design, they will want to feel like they have contributed and will therefore make sometimes unnecessary requests for amendments. Simply put, there will always be revisions and several of them!
8. Are you bad at communicating with people?
Being a freelance web designer requires constant communication with your clients. It is not just a process of doing the design and handing it over. You will be required to sit down with the client and establish their requirements for the project. If you can’t do this effectively then the whole project will be wrong.
In addition you will also need to tease out important feedback from the client and discuss revisions or amendments to designs. However it doesn’t stop here, you will also need to negotiate contracts and discuss payment schedules. The reality is that if you are not a good communicator then it will make life as a freelancer extremely difficult for you.
9. You’re not committed to excellence?
I mentioned earlier the importance of a great portfolio and this can only be achieved if you give every piece of work your all. You need to be able to stand by your work and let it act as a glowing testimonial for you and your abilities. Committing yourself to excellence is the best way of achieving this.
Your work says so much about you, so if your work is excellent and you have fantastic testimonials, new clients will assume that you’re worth working with. Alternatively if your work is sloppy or just average then clients will be hesitant to work with you. Web design is an art form and ultimately everything you do should be treated as your masterpiece.
10. Did you skip any of the questions on my list?
If you didn’t read every single word of this post then you are not willing to learn, not committed to excellence and you must think that freelancing is easy. This doesn’t bode well for a successful career as a freelance web designer.
If you are seriously thinking about becoming a full-time freelance web designer then I definitely recommend re-reading this content, making notes and doing some further research yourself. This is the perfect attitude that you will need to succeed in the world of freelancing.