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How to Become a Freelance Web Designer

An alternative route for making a career in the web design industry is building a name for yourself as a freelance Web Designer. These self-employed Web Designers account for over 10% of the overall total of professional Web Designers. Freelancing will require more upfront administrative work on the part of a designer but will pay dividends later on by giving designers more control over the kinds of work they are asked to do.

While freelance design can be difficult, it can also be a deeply rewarding career path to follow. Read on to learn more about how to become a freelance Web Designer.

What is a Web Designer?

Web Designers are creative professionals who are tasked with designing the layout and assets for web pages and mobile applications. They are creative professionals who are responsible for designing evocative and visually appealing web designs for their clients, and they will work on a diverse range of different projects. They tend to be well-rounded creatives who use both creative software applications and programming knowledge to design and build web applications. Using software applications such as Figma or Adobe XD, web designers will construct the appearance and feel of both the visual and functional elements of a webpage before handing that design off to web developers who will make the design a reality. At smaller firms, a Web Designer may also be expected to work on the programming side of a web design project, so most Web Designers learn the basics of HTML/CSS and JavaScript.

Web designers are most commonly employed by design firms that contract their service to clients, though many work as self-employed freelancers or work in-house for large businesses that are regularly building or updating web applications. They will most frequently work as part of large teams of designers and developers when working on large projects, but they may also find themselves working on individual smaller assignments, particularly if they are working as freelancers. Web Designers may specialize in working on specific elements or aspects of webpages or digital applications, such as building user interfaces or working on the tactile elements of a webpage to build a positive user experience.

What is Web Design Freelancing Like?

Freelance Web Designers will have to balance two important aspects of their job in order to succeed. On one hand, they will need to be skilled designers who can handle all phases of the design process. For most designers, this will mean needing to learn slightly more complex computer programming skills and learning how to build all of the aspects of a user interface. However, freelance designers will have significantly greater control over the kinds of design projects that they work on and will have much greater creative freedom and control over the finished product they deliver to clients.

On the other side of the equation, Freelance Web Designers will need to handle all of the administrative and outreach aspects of working on design projects. Most notably, freelance designers will need to locate their own clients, negotiate contracts and rates, and handle the administrative processes of collecting payment, managing logs, and recording financials. This can be daunting for new designers, especially those without a deep pool of professional contacts to draw from. These aspects of the job will eventually fade into the background as you become more used to them, but they can be burdensome at the start of your career. 

Is Web Design Freelancing Right for Me?

Whether or not to work as a freelance Web Designer is a big decision, and there isn’t really a correct answer for aspiring Web Designers.

Freelancing is great for anyone who wants to have a significant amount of control over what kinds of work they take on and when they work. One of the stresses of entry-level designer jobs is that you don’t really have control over the kinds of assignments you receive, and you’ll have to work on a design assignment regardless of whether you can muster the creative energy. Freelancers will have more power to turn down contracts and commissions (to a degree), freeing them up to work on projects that they want to work on. In addition, freelance designers will have more freedom to work on their own schedule since there is less of a direct obligation to get work done during the business day. 

Freelancing does place a lot of extra responsibilities on the designer, particularly during the start-up phase. While a studio designer may not enjoy all of the assignments they are working on, those assignments are handled by someone else. Freelance designers will need to build their own clientele, which can be a challenge for new designers. In addition to this, there are a number of other minor administrative tasks, particularly related to personal finances, that freelancers will need to either take care of themselves or outsource. Finally, freelance designers are far more likely to run up against deadlines since there is only one point of failure that can cause delays. This will be a larger problem early on since new freelancers won’t have the experience to anticipate these kinds of issues.

A good freelance Web Designer needs to be a versatile designer who can handle all the stages of a project. In addition, they need to be personable enough to work with clients, and they need to be patient enough to wait for their careers to start to take off.

Steps to Become a Freelance Web Designer

Students interested in becoming Web Designers may want to understand the processes that they need to go through in order to find a career in the industry. While this is going to vary from individual to individual, there are a few common hurdles that every aspiring designer will have to jump over in order to find a high-paying job. These include everything from starting off your education to building your job materials to mastering the interview process.

Determine your path

The first step of the process won’t simply be deciding whether or not web design is the right fit for your needs but also determining what kind of web design you want to specialize in. While new Web Designers may want to become well-rounded designers and developers, some students may decide early on that specialization is the route they want to take. These students will then want to build their training path around ensuring that they prioritize the skills that they plan to specialize in.

A few examples of specializations include those that emphasize graphic design, web development specializations, and UX design specializations. Graphic design specialists will need further training in visual art and composition, particularly programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, and Figma. Designers specializing in development will want to learn more complex coding languages and more versatile programming frameworks. Anyone hoping to specialize in user experience design will need to learn research skills and methodologies of testing human behavior.

Students who are unsure whether or not they want to specialize in any given aspect of the field may want to consider taking advantage of a free online training program. These programs, such as the free seminars offered through Noble, won’t provide you with the depth of knowledge necessary for professional web design work, but they will give you a taste of the kinds of work you’ll be expected to do if you enter into these career fields.

Get Trained

The next and most important step is to receive the technical and skills training that you will need to work as a professional Web Designer. While most students receive this training in a four-year bachelor’s degree program, many talented developers find alternative ways of achieving this training. One excellent place to receive this training is through a professional skills development course, such as Noble’s Desktop’s Web Design Certificate program. In these training programs, students will learn the skills they need to become professional Web Designers, and they will be setting themselves up for future success.

Noble also offers training courses, in the form of short bootcamps and career-certificate programs, that teach students more specialized skill sets. These include Noble’s Web Development, Graphic Design, and User Experience Design courses. Some of these classes have requirements and prerequisites, while others are open to the public. Regardless of your course selection, however, these classes will help build your skill set to make you attractive to potential employers.

Learn Business Skills

Beyond learning the technical design skills required of a Web Designer, freelancers will need to learn business skills. This includes the significant legal skills that will keep your business on the up and up (like contract law and tax law), as well as marketing skills necessary to draw customers who will contact you for freelance work. It can be rocky at first, getting the hang of running a business, even if you are working through a third-party firm or consultant to help find contract work.

While the legal explainers are plentiful, students interested in learning how to market themselves may want to consider enrolling in one of Noble’s Digital Marketing Courses or Social Media Marketing Courses. These classes are a good way to learn the basics of digital marketing to help you build your own web presence as a freelance designer. Importantly, these classes will also help you learn how to make and design websites built with advertising or SEO in mind, which can help improve your desirability in the design marketplace.

Learn more in these courses

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