Discipline, hard work and dedication. These three attributes are essential if you want to become a successful freelance web designer. It’s not that easy to work on your own, and maintain discipline and keep deadlines without getting distracted or de-motivated for some reason or the other. Freelancers don’t have anyone else to fall back on; they are the worker and the boss too. On the other hand, the fruits of freelancing are many. If you can build up a solid image and reputation, it can be a very profitable career and an envious one too. But to dodge the pitfalls that come with freelancing, it will be beneficial to go through these freelancing tips I am providing to vastly improve your chances of succeeding in this field of employment.
Maintain a balance:
A freelancer will naturally be confronted with a personal vs. professional life situation where he will have to give priority to one. Thus it is absolutely essential that you keep a strict balance between your work and personal life. There are many factors to be considered here: since freelancers generally work more hours than those who are employed by companies, they will face particular issues which they will need to solve individually.
Keep working hours:
To begin with, do your freelance job as if you were an employee of another firm; that keeps a strict work schedule, duty timings, lunch/tea/coffee breaks and so on, even when you working at home or in your garage or spare room. Don’t get tempted to deviate from this schedule. If you have fixed working hours you will instill confidence in your clients – which is a most important aspect of freelancing jobs. They will know that you are serious about your work and that you satisfy their requirements in a professional way.
The very nature of freelancing makes it imperative that you market yourself. You must have a flow of clients to succeed in your occupation and they must trust you and then you can translate your achievements by getting more customers. But first you will have to invest your own money and time to market yourself. For that you have to: Do banner/pay-per-click advertising; get your work shown in design galleries; blog/write articles; attend networking events in your area; use visiting cards; get yourself on social media networks; purchase leads etc.
Maintain local profile:
As a freelancer who’s just starting off, it’s unlikely that your reach will be widespread. Unlike large companies you will not be known all over the state/country/world. So focus on your local area and establish yourself there. Your portfolio must be optimized for local clients, even though a freelancer can pick and choose the work that comes his way. In this world of job outsourcing, you may get clients from across the globe but it’s vital that you build your local reputation and then spread your wings.
Prioritize your work:
A difficulty that all freelancers face is multi-tasking. You have to cope with different kinds of jobs pertaining to your work for you have no partners/fellow employees that you can hand over the job to. You are a one-man show. Thus you have to prioritize your work in such a way that the most important things are done first. Bills, invoices, e-mails, work-in-progress, telephone calls etc. sometimes there’s so much to do at one time! How do you cope with it? The answer lies in your hand. The important thing is to be cool and calm and methodical. Remember there’s a time and place for everything and if you prioritize properly, you won’t have many problems.
Provide best service:
Nothing but the best performance is needed when freelancers land a client. While a happy customer will be a repeat customer for designers across the board, the work of freelancers will be scrutinized even more thoroughly by clients; and if they are satisfied, they will spread the word. This publicity by word-of-mouth is the best possible for anyone and so a freelancer must strive to acquire this at the earliest. He will get more work, which will also be more varied and will firmly establish him in the business of web designing.
Be active on social media:
As a freelancer among the first things you must do is get on to the major social media networks and establish yourself there as soon as possible. Connecting with a lot of people will get you more work opportunities, apart from making people know who and what you are. Networking is necessary to make valuable connections. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are the most important sites for designers.
Make it your business, not hobby:
A freelance designer must not view his work as a part-time hobby. Make it your business and take it very seriously. Successful freelancers abound in this field of work, so emulate their efforts to earn more money and fame. Get in touch with them and learn how they got to the top.
Need to communicate:
Freelancers have to be in almost constant communication with their clients. From the start, when they have to bag a contract, throughout the designing process and after it; in money and payment matters and any kind of changes that clients may want, a freelancer is the whole and soul of his business and so he has to do everything himself. Thus communication is a big part of his job.
Big companies, and even small ones, have special departments that look after the financial aspects of the business and so web designers have to do nothing in this matter, except, sometimes, give their finance department cost estimates and similar information. Terms of payment for a job, advances if any, follow-up, invoices and so on, it’s all done by the specialized department. But a freelancer has to do everything himself and so he must expect to be on his toes to successfully carry out a contract to its logical end. This may not be that easy all the time. Sometimes you may have to literally chase customers to get your payment!
Ensure that all your invoices have the payment terms listed on them. Don’t take anything for granted. You are in the profession to earn the money, it is your livelihood and to receive payment for a job is your right. Make your terms clear and precise so that after the work is executed no misunderstanding arises with your client. Being a freelancer, you will not have the time and resources for a legal battle for payment.
All work and no play …Don’t go overboard with your freelance work. If you focus only on your job and neglect your personal life you’ll be missing out on some big things – and if you are married or living with a partner, it will cause friction in your relationship. Keep in mind the saying: “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.”
Make your own benefits:
People generally stay off freelancing because it does not provide the benefits that being employed by a big company does. So check out incentives that self-employed people get – and make some incentives for yourself. Check out the tax benefits that you can avail of; keep some money by for a rainy day for you cannot go to anyone (except relatives/friends, of course) if your financial situation gets strained or if a payment by a client does not come in time or if you need cash for some sudden, unexpected expense.
Tools of the trade:
Freelancers are not on their own. In the fast-moving technological world of ours, there are many tools available that can be used by freelancers to ease their work. Below are some tools and their functions:
Slim Timer — a simple app to track time for all sizes projects.
Todoist — a calendar/todo app has many keyboard shortcuts and can classify your tasks datewise.
Remember the Milk — Very good for accessing the web; a cross-platform solution which can be accessed from any computer. Has vibrant to-do list options and continuing innovation. Has close integration with Google and CalendarGmail, and support for offline work with Google Gears.
OmniFocus — captures your ideas quickly and allows you to stock/manage/and process them into to-do items.
Thus we can see in a nutshell what needs to be done to get success as a freelance web designer. It won’t’ come fast and it won’t come easy. But if you gain a great reputation as a freelancer, then the sky’s the limit for you will be able to lay down your own terms – for work as well as payment. You will be much sought after and will stand out among the crowd of web designers that throng this vast field of work. However, if you feel that you are not really making it and are not getting either contracts or leads, you must think twice about making freelance web designing your career.