Becoming a freelance web designer – where do you start?

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Freelancing could change your life, with the promise of working fewer hours, creating your schedule however you see fit, and choosing your own rate of pay, amongst other benefits. But it’s also nowhere near as easy as it may seem, as is often the case with freelance work in the digital age. 

If you’re a business owner, knowing what to look for when hiring a freelance web designer is especially important.

If this is something that has interested you in the past, read on to learn where to start.

Why would you want to become a freelance web designer?

There are plenty of benefits to becoming a freelance web designer – you can work when you want, planning your day accordingly. You could work a night shift or just a few hours in the morning, depending on what you wanted your day to look like. 

You can charge your own rates, too, so you can pretty much control how much you earn. You’ll be your own boss, with nobody looking over your shoulder or dictating what you do. 

There is a lot of demand for skilled freelance web designers, too, so you shouldn’t struggle to find work if you’re willing to work hard and keep on improving yourself to stay ahead of your competition! 

Plus, there’s freedom when it comes to where you work. Work in your local library, coffee shop, or even the park. It doesn’t matter as long as your clients are happy. 

Of course, you need to make sure you’re the right kind of person for the job if you’re going to enjoy the benefits. A good freelance web designer will exude creativity, with an eye for detail to boot. You’ll also need an understanding of brands and the clients you work with, as well as good listening and communication skills. 

It goes without saying that excellent computer literacy is required, and you need to be able to accept constructive criticism, especially when just starting out. 

Keeping your clients happy to get word of mouth recommendations is a must in the beginning of any freelancer’s career, and this can often mean making more edits than you would like. 

Why being a web designer is a specialist skill

  • Web design doesn’t just encompass custom design, branding, and UX implications. It requires a strong knowledge of coding, scripting, and programming. An effective designer must be learned in programmes like HTML, CSS, Dreamweaver, and Photoshop. It takes a lot of time to master each of these skills, and while it’s fine to still learn on the job when starting out, it will still take a substantial amount of time and effort to complete a job. 
  • Skills in search engine optimisation are commonly required to ensure that a website is ready for Google and other search engines before it is launched. This means that not only does a web designer need to know everything there is to know about web design, but online marketing, too. SEO must be performed onsite to ensure that the pages have the best chance of reaching the top of the search results for specific terms. If a designer neglects to do this, a site may look great but not be of much use, as things will need to be changed later on. 
  • On top of a knowledge of layout, design, color theory, typography, graphic design, coding, and SEO, a freelance web designer must also be a skilled photo editor. Images can be used all over a site to enhance the design and tell a better story, but they need to be carefully chosen, with contrast, saturation, and other elements switched up to make it more suitable. 
  • Understanding how copy and design work together will make you a better designer, so you need a knowledge of copywriting. Great writing and design used in harmony can have a much bigger impact on viewers. Knowing what makes good copy doesn’t come naturally to everybody, so a willingness to learn and keep on educating yourself in your spare time is key. 
  • A freelance web designer doesn’t need to be an expert on every business they work with, but understanding business strategies will go a long way to helping design better sites and creating happier customers. Being able to look at solutions and changes with an analytical mind can make a huge difference to your success as a web designer – especially one who is freelance and needs to have the knowledge to manage their own business and brand, too!

Freelancing is not without its challenges – especially when attempting to make it as something as complex as a freelance web designer. 

You need specialist knowledge and many special skills when on the journey to becoming a web designer – it’s not as simple as throwing any old theme onto a WordPress site and charging a fee. 

You need to understand every aspect of web design so that you can not only create attractive websites, but websites that actually perform for the client and help them to achieve their goals.

Hiring a freelance web designer

Hiring a freelance web designer is something to take your time with – not all are created equal. Investing in one with a proven track record of modern designs that you like will ensure that you’re going to be happy with the finished results. Taking a look at client testimonials will also put your mind at ease. 

Remember, a freelance web designer needs to be skilled and knowledgeable in numerous subjects, not just web design. 

You’re going to want a designer that understands business strategy, photo editing, copywriting, SEO, coding, and has all of the appropriate software knowledge to go with it. It’s about so much more than layering a few shapes, picking a few colors off the color wheel and picking a cool font. 

A great freelance web designer will be more than worth the expense! And, speaking of freelance web designers, why not get in touch with The Northern Web today? Drop our team a message or call on 0161 532 5166.

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