The Top 5 Tips for Freelance Web Designers

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Freelancing and web design go hand in hand, when a customer is satisfied with the web site that has been built, they often have no more use for a full time designer on site. Business savvy customers go to freelancers for design help.

I’ve talked with many freelance web designers, and while some of them are successful, many choose to ignore these 5 simple tips that will greatly increase their productivity, their time to complete a project and greatly reduce the risks that often come with freelancing.

Use your Portfolio Site as Part of your Portfolio!

This is my biggest pet peeve with web designers, they put a lot of creative effort into other people’s work, but when it comes to their own website they do the bare minimum. Your portfolio site is your greatest investment. It speaks for your talent, more than any proposal will speak for you.

Submit Incomplete Work

This is a painful one. It goes against every designer’s instinct. “Why not give them the finished product so they can see the whole picture?” you’re wondering.

Waiting until the design is complete to get feedback from someone you haven’t worked with plenty of times in the past – which is true for 80% of all freelancing jobs according to one freelance writer and my own personal experience confirms that – means that you may be heading in a direction that is not what your client had envisioned. If you put in the full 40 hours effort that you planned to, only to have to go back and edit your work, you end up either charging the client for more time or absorbing the extra time into your own costs. Neither scenario is ideal.

Instead, set checkpoints to send your client your progress every day, and ask for feedback. Their feedback will allow you to adjust on the fly, making your total lost time hours instead of weeks.

Educate Your Clients

Begin your education right at the first contact. Not only will you impress the client with your industry knowledge, but they will see you for who you are a creative professional. Between the number of times clients confuse the roles of designers and developers and the number of times they confuse the roles of designers and content writers, you will quickly find yourself frustrated and jaded as a freelance designer. Frustration will rear its ugly head towards other, less confused clients, preventing what could have been a long standing, repeat contract relationship.

Education doesn’t stop there; many clients have what they want pictured in their head. Of those clients, very few of them have any idea how to achieve their goals technically. Your client depends on you to provide them with their site’s design, but you need them to be able to relay the site’s design to their developer clearly. Rarely will you be directly working with the freelance developer, and without clear guidance the developer will get a mangled message, building an incomplete or not “working-as-intended” website. Of course, you will get the blame for it. Save yourself the headache, and educate the client every step of the way.

Offer a Bonus

Value added services could be the difference between gaining the contact and the contract being given to someone else. Many services you offer may not even be used by the majority of clients, but just having the option available to them is comforting.

As I said, value added services don’t need to be huge like “Hire me to design your site and I’ll develop it absolutely free!” Obviously, that’s ridiculous. Play to your strengths, if you are a good artist, perhaps through in a logo redesign, offer lifelong backups, or if you’re more of a writer than a drawer, offer to guest post on their brand new blog! The last one is especially useful to you, as you build your websites connections, get your name seen by others not necessarily looking where you can be found regularly, and again improves your contribution of value that you’ve given to their site.

Bonus offer

Offer some kind of big bonus – Image Source

Make Every Job Focus on Gaining Experience

The last thing that designers need to remember is that web design is a learning experience. Never let yourself get stuck in a rut. Templates are good to save time, but they don’t teach you anything. Advancing your knowledge is the primary goal, even above advancing your bankroll. With better experience, you can learn the shortcuts, the difficult lessons and how to give more accurate quotes.

Limit the cookie cutter websites, and maximize your own advancement.

These 5 tips aren’t the only lessons to learn while freelancing, what would be your number one tip for freelance web designers?

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