How to Become a Web Designer: Your First Step
If you want to become a web designer, chances are you’ve already explored some of what you need to learn to get freelance Web designer employment or full time work. If you haven’t, the first thing you will need to learn are the basic skills. How do you design a new Website? What does it take to become a freelance web designer? These questions can be answered at least in part by taking one simple step–design your own personal site and use it as your laboratory.
Try starting out simple; get a free WordPress site and explore the art of modifying and customizing the PHP code and CSS to make the site do what you want it to do. These are baby steps, but you’ll be surprised at how many freelance Web design jobs are available for those who know how to do these little things. Once you start to master one content management system such as WordPress, you can move on to Joomla or another system and try your hand at that. The beauty of starting this way is that it costs you nothing except any research manuals you need to purchase to grow your skills even more.
Freelance Web Design: Building Your Portfolio
If you want a career as a Web designer, one of the most important things you need to promote yourself is a good portfolio of your past work. If you are currently studying how to prepare yourself for freelance Web design jobs, you can still build up a portfolio in your spare time. If you are confident enough in your skills to take on a paying job, try doing some low-paying work for non-profit organizations. You can also donate your skills to a worthy cause. This is especially helpful if the organization is a recognized name in your community; having work for that organization in your portfolio will look impressive to any future employer.
You can also volunteer to do Web design jobs for your friends. Do you know of anyone who needs good design but doesn’t have the money to hire an established pro? Try giving your friends some freelance Web design improvements to their pages and watch your portfolio grow over time. By the time you complete your training or feel ready to take on a paying freelance Web design job, you’ll have plenty of examples of what you can do for your first paying clients. And should you need help in finding a great new employer, you’ve come to the right place. Artisan can help connect you with the right employer who can best utilize your talents.
Your First Paying Client
When learning how to become a professional Web designer, you’ll get plenty of technical knowledge. Those who want to score the best freelance Web design jobs have to learn the other half of being a professional Web designer–the business aspect. When you take your first paying client, you may have no idea what to charge, how long the job should take, or how to manage your client’s expectations. These are all critical parts of working as a professional Web designer, and it’s best to study the field and learn what your more experienced peers have done.
Study the resume sites of more established freelance Web designers
and you’ll learn a great deal; what their rates are, how much they charge for overtime, how to handle clients when they get confused or unhappy about the work you’re doing. There is a wealth of information about how to proceed in difficult situations and you should scour the Internet to learn as much as you can before submitting that first invoice for the work completed. Even with all your research, you may find yourself unsure of what to charge; try asking the client what they have budgeted and set your fee based on what are willing to pay for your work.
Setting Your Fees for Freelance Web Design
One of the most basic questions all new Web designers ask is “how much should I charge for my services?” The answer varies greatly depending on what you can bring to the negotiations. Are you still learning the ins and outs of HTML, CSS, or PHP? You may have a grasp of the basics, but in the early stages you should be charging less to clients you use to learn or refine your skills while doing the freelance Web design work you’ve been hired to do.
As your skills become second nature, and you can confidently do most of the typical tasks required in a freelance Web design job, you can charge more per hour or per project. This is due in part to the confidence you have to do the job right the first time, but also the ability to spot potential problems and fix them before the client takes delivery of your work. You are paid in part for your expertise and in part because the skills you have are uncommon and require specialized study. As your training and experience become second nature, charging more for that freelance Web design job makes sense; you will perform your work faster and deliver a solid product you are confident is a good return on the client’s investment.
If you need help finding a great new job, whether you seek full or part-time work, Artisan can help you. Contact us today to get on track with great employers.
Your Personal Website
Many ask, “How do you become a Web designer?” For those just getting started, the personal Website is a good way to show off your current skills to those considering hiring you for freelance Web design jobs. There’s just one problem with using a personal site as part of your portfolio; you need to make sure the contents of that site are suitable for viewing in a professional environment. This goes far beyond keeping your personal site suitable for all audiences. If you plan to use your personal Website design to attract paying clients, your site should be free of unprofessional material including trash-talk about people in the industry, former or current clients, or other material that would be frowned upon by someone in a position to write you a check.
Those who use personal sites for their portfolio work do best to present those sites when trying to get work on Web pages similar to what you’re presenting on that page. Don’t expect the style and tone of a gamer site to translate well if your client owns a small business. If you want to showcase your personal site to any potential client, try to keep your content neutral or start a new website that can demonstrate your skills without the content distracting from the design.
Contact Artisan now for help in finding the best places to work in your field and to help guide you in creating a portfolio site. The talent representatives at Artisan know what hiring managers want to see and they can help you prepare to navigate the job market for web jobs!
When Should I Go Fulltime Freelance?
If you aren’t experienced in looking for freelance Web design jobs, it’s important to take on some work in addition to your established day job in the early stages. It’s not realistic to expect steady income from freelance Web design until you’ve learned how to do business as a freelance designer. Freelance Web design jobs require a number of business skills a newcomer to freelancing needs to learn over time; how to sell your skills, how to deal with clients, how to deliver what you promised and how to follow up with a new client once the job is done and the paycheck has been delivered.
What’s the rule of thumb for all freelance work, whether you’re a freelance Web designer, editor, or other self-employed Web designer career path? When you make at least 50% of your income from freelance work, it’s time to give serious consideration to going full time. If you’re inclined to try your hand at freelancing for a living, you can test the waters while still working your day job until you feel confident that you’ve built up a network of contacts and a reputation for doing good work. Until you get that network and the portfolio that goes with it, view your day job as your safety net. The steady income can help you develop your skills with little to no risk to your future.
Freelancers can use all of the help they can get finding great employers and businesses in need of their talents. Contact Artisan today to find those great employers.
Freelance Web Design: Legal Issues
If you are already working in some capacity as a Web designer, it is very important to review your terms of employment before seeking a side career as a freelance Web designer. Even if you don’t work for a company as a Web designer, if you signed an agreement when you accepted the job you should carefully review the terms of that agreement before looking for freelance Web designer jobs.
Some employers include broad language in their contracts or terms of employment. Did you sign a contract with a no-compete clause? This may not apply to jobs that have nothing to do with Web design, but if you work in IT or for an Internet service provider, the terms of your work agreement may preclude you working in any field that could be considered related to your current job. Freelance Web design gigs may not technically violate your terms of employment, but if there’s a chance that the terms of your day job could restrict you in any way it’s best to know those restrictions before you begin searching for freelance Web designer employment.
What is an NDA?
When you start looking for work as a freelance Web designer, one thing your employers may require as a term of your employment is your signature on an non-disclosure agreement or NDA. These agreements are designed to protect your employers from corporate espionage or from accidental release of proprietary data to a competing agency. The NDA typically requires you as a freelance Web designer to promise not to release any information about the company to third parties. This includes passwords, files or filenames, mailing lists, proprietary information about source codes or company practices.
It is very important to understand that NDAs are legally binding and can be actionable should you be in violation of the agreement. This includes inadvertent violations such as reproducing the source code you wrote for a company on a separate project. The specific terms of an NDA vary from company to company; before you sign anything in connection to your new freelance Web design gig be certain you understand exactly what is required and what constraints you may be under when you sign that NDA.
How to Become a Freelance Web Designer: Setting Fees Part Two
One dilemma first time freelance Web designers face when trying to set their rates is trying to decide whether to charge by the project or per hour. Opinions on which way to go may vary, but if you are looking for freelance Web design employment there are some guidelines you can follow to come to a decision. Try to determine how much time you need to invest in a project on a case-by-case basis until you feel ready to assign an hourly estimate for how long a particular type of freelance Web design job will take. In the early stages you may not know how long it should take you to complete a set of tasks until after you’ve gotten a couple under your belt.
Another thing you can do to help yourself is find out what others have charged both hourly and per-project when they were at your experience level. How much you charge could be greatly influenced by what more established freelance Web designers did in the early days of their careers. You can also try calling a few pros and asking for rate quotes for the job you’re contemplating to see what you could charge and ask their advice about scaling down those rates for your experience level. As you get more confident in your own abilities you’ll decide what your time is worth regardless of whether you choose hourly or per-project rates.
Learning Freelance Web Design
If you want to learn how to take your freelance Web design skills to the next level, consider offering your services to a more established freelancer as a sub-contract position. Sub-contracting is where a freelance Web designer accepts a job and outsources some of the work to a fellow freelance designer. This kind of freelance Web design employment is more “anonymous” in that you can’t claim the entire project in your portfolio, and sometimes may be unable to claim any of the work depending on the nature of your work as a sub-contractor.
The advantage of working as a sub-contractor is that you can get more experience in projects that require your skills, but without requiring you to make the rounds to sell your services to potential employers. Sub-contracting can give you more confidence in your abilities and the opportunity to get some constructive criticism on your work from a fellow freelancer.