In the past few years I’ve had quite a few people ask me what its like to be a freelance web designer and if they should follow suit and try it for themselves.
Its an interesting question and I feel that a lot of people think being freelance is a ‘scary’ notion, however being your own boss is something more and more people want to embrace.
Below I’ve outlined some points that I think are really important to understand before delving into the world of working from home.
Freelancing takes a lot of hard work
Firstly I think the most important thing to note is that to be a success at anything requires a lot of hard work and dedication.
Freelancing is no different.
If you want to make a living off working from home and having your own clients, be prepared to put in a ton of effort including working countless hours to get your name out there and to build a solid reputation.
I always use the analogy of a book in a library. If you don’t tell anyone about the book, will anyone take it out to read? Maybe one or two by pure luck but on the whole you’re not going to get many readers. Its the same for freelancing – If you don’t build a reputation, you can’t expect to get a lot of customers. It takes time and patients to build a network of clients that can support you, so be prepared to put the time and work in.
Freelancing can take you to all kinds of fantastic places if you allow yourself to be flexible. There are a number of ways you can make money from freelancing and a few examples include:
- Building websites for people from home
- Working with local agencies
- Contract work
The list goes on…
You need to be open minded and aware that there are many ways to generate income, not just sitting at home building websites for people. When that dries up you need options to generate income, so think about the bigger picture. Get friendly with local agencies and other freelancers. Build a network which will help keep cash rolling in. Which leads me nicely on to my next point…
Be prepared for the worst
The freelance industry is not personal nor does it care about you. This is one of the most important things I’ve learned, I’m not owed a living from freelancing!
Even when you are trying as hard as you can, work can dry up for no reason and it is your responsibility to prepare for this.
Please trust me on this! it has happened to me in the past and I was at the very bottom of my savings when by pure chance, a client asked me to go back contracting for them because an opportunity came up. It was a year of desperately looking around for work to survive, and I ended up eating up a lot of my savings.
Before jumping into the trade I strongly recommend saving at least 3 months worth of living to ensure that you can make it through dry spells. It happens to everyone and the worst position you can get yourself into is where you have no work and no money. Be secure, keep your personal overheads as low as possible and dedicate yourself to a long term plan. You don’t need that BMW on finance yet!
Play the long game / have a long term goal
I think another huge factor in becoming a successful freelance web designer is having a long term plan, whist at the same time setting small achievable goals along the way. My plan has always been to build up my client base until I have enough revenue to fund my own agency. Think about how to scale up your services, or how to keep them at the manageable level that you enjoy. Don’t go for quick wins, think about the future and slowly build and build what you have. Nurture your business and let it grow.
If you combine all the points above you are well on your way to becoming a successful freelance web designer. Never give up the hustle and always be open minded and you will succeed.
Enjoy the ride