There are literally hundreds of reasons why you should become a freelance web designer, and three of the best reasons are financial freedom, creative freedom, and you can work just about anywhere you want to.
But let me tell you why it’s a bad idea.
You probably have hundreds of reasons to hate your current job.
Maybe you call in sick occasionally because you just need that extra day off more than you need the money they pay you.
Or perhaps you’ve been delaying that request from a friend from two weeks ago?
Simple reasons, big consequences.
10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Become a Freelance Web Designer
I can cite 100 reasons why you shouldn’t become a freelance web designer, but no one would actually read that list, right? So, here are the top reasons why you shouldn’t be a freelance web designer. For now, at least!
Your goal is to answer NO!
1. You are indecisive most of the time.
An office mate once asked you to take the lead on the company party, set it all up and bring it to life, and you managed to pause for over a minute without talking, when you should have simply said “Let me think about it”, “Yes” or “No” depending on how you felt at that moment. Or maybe there was a time when you didn’t ask for a colleague’s help simply because you were shy?
Remember, if you can’t decide instantly, always say you’ll think about it and don’t pause or stare blankly at the person you’re talking to.
Now, why is this grounds for you not to become a freelance web designer?
When web designers work with clients, it’s all about how smooth communication goes for every aspect of the business. From proposing a design, down to signing of contracts or wrapping things up. A moment of hesitation can make or break your credibility, because clients want service providers who are very sure about what they’re doing.
There are a lot of “what should we do here” and “what do you think is best” questions when it comes to web design, and often you’ll need to answer almost instantly because time is of the essence. If it takes you several minutes to think of a solution, or solutions, you’ll have a hard time keeping your clients.
2. You are quick to decide on things.
Contrary to the point above, being too quick to make decision can hurt your career as well. I’m talking mostly about saying yes to every request, accepting every revision request, and basically being a slave to your client’s wishes.
You should learn to say no, or at least hold off on your decision and ask for some time to think about it.
If you are quick to agree or disagree on things, you’ll find yourself either flooded with tasks to do or with clients that leave you after one project.
Solution to 1 and 2
The best move? Think ahead. Learn from your past conversations with clients or employer, read online about what questions to expect, try to peek into the future as much as possible so that you will not be as surprised.
And when it’s totally something new to you, you can always ask for time to think about it. Much safer that way, right?
3. You think it’s easy money.
No, just no. Freelancing is not easy money, nor is it as advertised, “be your own boss”. You know what makes it harder for freelance web designers? It’s not just about satisfying prospective clients with their designs, it’s also about how they market themselves, how they manage their financials, how they outplay several thousands of active competitors, and how they make people want to get them to design for them no matter what the cost.
It’s not easy money, it’s even harder than your current job.
With your current office job you’re not actively searching for clients. Your employer also makes sure you pay enough taxes, and most likely you don’t work over 50-70 hours a week with just one full-time job.
That is totally different from freelancing, especially for freelance web designers who have to always be in the “mood” to be creative or even more challenging, putting out client fires.
To give you an idea, this is the whole process of a friend of mine when it comes to his clients:
- Talk about the requirements, colors, width, and other stuff.
- Send several wireframes/sketches (in my experience with him he sent me five different designs) and ask client to choose.
- Once client chooses, he starts designing in Photoshop based on the wireframe chosen.
- If client says he has the freedom to choose his own colors, he presents his design in different colors.
- Once every aspect of the design has been agreed on, that’s when the HTML/CSS conversion happens.
Mind you, this conversation happens between two people, no supervisor or manager in between. And the conversation and delivery happens in a matter of hours or less than a week from start to finish depending on how big the project is.
And that is just one aspect of it. Discussions about pricing, contract, and other non-design related stuff comes as well.
Decide, is it easy money? If you enter freelancing with that thought, you’ll be caught unawares and you’ll fail miserably hard.
4. You don’t have at least 5 web design projects you can be proud of.
I know that starting out as a web designer is already hard, but you can’t really hope to be successful if you don’t have at least five great web designs in your portfolio. It doesn’t matter if they are made from your previous job or just for the sole purpose of populating your portfolio, what matters is they can get people’s attention.
They will also serve as a testament that you’re great with what you do. You don’t buy from an online seller without good reviews, right? It works pretty much the same with web design. Clients look for people who can handle their web projects, not people who can promise great designs.
Show them what you can do!
If you have been delaying on building that dream portfolio of yours, you should altogether quit the idea of becoming a freelance web designer.
Take your time, build your portfolio right now and start populating it with your great designs. Do it now and you won’t regret it!
5. You have lots of bills and no savings.
Dipping yourself into the world of freelancing is a great risk. Without the proper skills, tools, and guidance you won’t probably get any client at all for months. That is why you shouldn’t even think about freelancing if you still have financial responsibilities and you’re exhausting your monthly paycheck because of those.
If you are properly connected with the right people, you can maybe pull it off. But it’s a great risk as well, since the flow of clients isn’t always on.
Let’s say you already have the skills, the portfolio, and everything is basically in place, except for clients. Do you have a plan to find people who are looking for a web designer? It’s not everyday that people want to have a website designed, and that’s the problem.
Good thing there are many ways web designers can combat this dead end, and one of the best is by converting clients into passive income sources. We will this on 1WD in detail at a later date, so be sure to sign up to our newsletter or follow us on Facebook or Twitter for updates.
Anyway, entering the world of freelancing is a great risk. Trust me when I say don’t do it if you don’t have enough cash in your bank to live at least three months without any income.
6. You think web design means only Photoshop.
If you define web design as simply designing a web template using Photoshop, then you should reconsider your title, that’s just called graphic design (to stretch the term).
Being a web designer means three things:
- You are good at converting concepts to reality through Photoshop (or other image editing tools).
- You are good with converting the image file to a working HTML/CSS website.
- You will most likely think of becoming a web developer as well.
Okay, let’s talk about 2 and 3.
If you’re thinking of entering the world of freelance web design, you should have decent skills with HTML and CSS because this is the current standard. If you are new to this as well, I highly suggest that you start mastering them now.
A lot of web designers are limiting themselves because they only focus on Photoshop, HTML, and CSS, and can’t add functionality because they can’t code, something that will make their careers in freelancing a better experience. This is optional, of course, but if you are thinking of becoming a web developer as well, you have a bright future ahead of you.
7. You hate revisions.
You thought that being a freelancer means no boss, right? Unfortunately, that’s totally off the mark. Someone pays you to do work for them, and they’re the boss. In every web design job no one ever satisfies any client on the first design. There will always be revisions, several of them.
Let me tell you this: clients love revisions. They feel like they’re in control, like they know what they are doing. Do you have to comply? Well, if it’s against your better judgement then talk them out of it, but if you can’t, well, they’re paying!
8. You don’t like talking to people.
Being a freelance web designer is different than being a freelance writer and web developer in many senses. Freelance web developers and writers operate in a more systematic manner, while freelance web designers don’t, they operate 50% objectively and 50% subjectively.
It doesn’t go this way:
- Client sends his requirements
- You work on it
- You submit it
- Client approves or ask for revision
Reality is harder:
- Client sends his requirements
- You discuss it with said client
- You work on it
- You submit it
- Client asks for revision
- You work on it
- Client asks for another revision
- You work on it
- Client decides on a different route
- You get tired of his farce
- But you still work on it because you have already started
- You suck it up and finish the project until your client is satisfied.
This is reality. It’s full of talking, negotiating, and contemplating suicide at every revision.
9. You’re not committed to excellence.
If you can’t blow your clients away with your design, they probably won’t leave great testimonials for your service. Big clients actually look for testimonials from previous clients. Without them, you probably won’t land a big project.
Committing yourself to excellence is one way of defining yourself as a web designer. Your work should reflect your personality, so if your work is excellent and you have fantastic testimonials, new clients will assume that you’re worth working with.
If you are used to saying, “I guess it’s already okay” or “that’s good enough” then freelance web design is not for you.
Web design is art, and everything you do is a masterpiece. If you have just-okay pieces, what can people expect from you?
10. You didn’t read everything on my list.
If you didn’t read every single word of this post, you are:
- indecisive – you opened this page to read, not to just scan and go.
- not willing to learn – well, duh?
- not committed to excellence – reading this post will only take 10 minutes of your time, tops.
- thinking that freelancing is easy – you think you know everything about freelancing?
If you are seriously thinking about becoming a freelance web designer, and if you are here to learn just that, then why did you skip to the end?
If you’re one of the few who actually read and pondered these points, great! That’s the perfect attitude!
Question: Do you still want to be a freelance web designer?
If your answer to every item here is NO then by all means start freelancing ASAP!
But if you answered YES at least once then you should fix that problem before doing anything else!
Rean concurrently served as the Head of Operations and Editor-in-Chief of 1stwebdesigner from 2011 up until Aug 2014. He regularly writes about freelancing, technology, web design, and web development with a little touch of internet marketing here and there.