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How do I become a freelance web designer

How do I become a freelance web designer?

Wondering about how to become a freelance web designer? Before going freelance, you’ll need to posses two essential skills: the technical ability to make websites functional as well as beautiful.

These days websites play a very big part in the first impression of the entity behind the website. A website can be as simple as a one page sum up of a small business or personality. On the other end of the spectrum sits a multi faceted online shop offering services as well as products.

These days websites play a very big part in the first impression of the entity behind the website. A website can be as simple as a one page sum up of a small business or personality. On the other end of the spectrum sits a multi faceted online shop offering services as well as products.

The role of a freelance web designer

Freelance web designer services are diverse, and being self-employed means you’ll need to have the skill and expertise to offer what your clients expect. The primary responsibilities of a freelance web designer include:

Technical ability:

Even if you intend to use online web-building tools such as Wix or Webflow, you’ll still need to have a certain amount of technical knowledge to make the website functional and, where needed, integrate websites with third-party providers.


While there are plenty of web templates to choose from, it might be hard to be a web designer if you completely lack in any artistic sense. Websites have to be functional but they also need to appeal to the target audience. 

User experience:

Each client will required a website for a different purpose. You’ll need to understand your client’s target audience and have good foundations of what works from the user experience point of view.

Search Engine Optimisation:

SEO partially overlaps with the technical knowledge area but it goes further than that. You’ll need to posses a good and up to date understanding of search engines. Search engines constantly evolve how they display results and your web design will have to keep up.

A guide to becoming a self employed web designer

This guide goes through the all essential steps that every partially or fully qualified desginer will need to consider in order to go freelance. 

1. Do you have the right skills?

While there is no specific requirements for web desginers when it comes to formal qualifications, you are likely to need some to posses the essential skills to build websites. Clients are unlikely to engage in your services if you can’t demonstrate relevant experience and education.

Therefore before going freelance, consider whether you have an opportunity to up your qualifications before leaving full employment. Studying while running a business is often very difficult and you’ll have to fund it yourself.

2. Establish your own online presence

Your own website must inspire and act as your showcase. You’ll need to stand out among the many other freelance web designers. Don’t forget a section that says something about you, your expertise, location/contact details and values. Your business story needs to support your personal brand ethos and show that you're a trustworthy and reliable choice for your prospective clients.

The choice of social media profile will depend on your targeted niches. For example, if you are targeting tradesmen, there is little point in being on LinkedIn. Facebook might be a better choice.

If you intended to repurpose your persona social media accounts, make sure you clean up. Delete any irrelevant, too personal posts and think of each account as your professional profile.

3. Pick a niche

Showing knowledge of an industry or client type goes a long way in a marketplace where you need to stand out. 

A specific client or industry focus will also help you plan your business more precisely, create the right messaging and give a clear direction to your marketing plan and online presence. 

Your niches could be based on:

  • Your location. For example, “best web designer in Birmingham”
  • Your industry focus. For example, “web design for coffee shops”
  • Your client type. For example, “web design for small and medium-sized businesses”

4. Make use of web design technology

The use of web design building software can be a great help and dramatically speed up the service to your clients. Your skills may be good enough to carry out web design services without third party technology but you’ll soon find how time consuming it is and restrictive in terms of growing your own business. 

In your job, you have probably encountered names such as Webflow, Wix, and many more. Research the market, select the best of the lot, and make sure you master these tools. Many allow a free trial, so play around to see which one might work for your business.

5. Outline your marketing plan

As a freelance web designer, you will need to build a steady portfolio of clients. That will take a little while to achieve, and you’ll need to engage with your prospective clients via a number of different channels:

  • Social media groups
  • A website that is well-optimised
  • Job platforms, e.g. Bark, Upwork
  • Local chamber of commerce
  • Local business groups

There are many other options. The best will depend on your niche, specialty and location. This is an important step that many aspiring freelancers skip and it tends to cost them money later in the journey.

6. Form your company

Now that you have the right skills, know which clients you are after and understand how you’ll target them, you’re ready to move on to your business set-up. 

Starting out as a sole trader is usually quick, simple and can always be changed to a limited company as and when your freelance web design business grows. 

7. Open a bank account

Once you form a business, you’ll be able to set up a business bank account. It’s important to keep your personal and business financial affairs separate. 

Be aware that the wait times to open a bank, especially for a business offering financial services, can take a while so put in your application early. 

8. Structure your contract and fees clearly

Research the market to understand what your competition charges. You don’t need to be the cheapest, but being too expensive won’t help, especially when you are starting out in your freelance web design business.

Be clear and upfront about your charges. Many clients will start by looking at your website to get an idea of your web design services and charges.

Not showing your prices or being unclear can prevent prospective clients from picking up the phone or sending an email enquiry. 

The same goes for your legal contracts. Don’t start your first project without one. Web design is a very subjective area, and without a clear project brief accompanied by a contract, you might find yourself unpaid or in a difficult-to-settle dispute.

How much does a freelance web designer make?

The earnings of a freelance web designer in the UK can vary based on several factors, including experience, qualifications and the complexity of services offered.

On average, freelance web designers in the UK may charge hourly rates starting from £15 or more, depending on their expertise.

Some experienced freelance web designers or those offering specialised services may command higher hourly rates. Some web designers with regular clients prefer to charge a monthly fee if their services include regular web maintenance and content updates.

When determining your pricing strategy, it's essential that you research the market rates in your area, consider the level of your expertise and factor in the specific requirements of your prospective clients. 

Is freelance web design profitable?

It’s all about planning and sticking to your plan. It’s often tempting to drop your price to win a contract, but you can’t keep doing that forever. Even as a freelance web designer, you will have business costs. And what you charge will need to cover those and your earnings.

Your profitability will also be determined by your clientele. For example, if you’re targeting small businesses, they don’t tend to have deep pockets. In order to make money in these cash-strapped sectors, you will need to offer a very lean systemised service and any trimmings at an extra charge.

It’s important to ask all the hard questions before freelancing and be honest, if not pessimistic, with the answers. Glossing over the finer details or ignoring warning signs - such as high competition in your industry or location - always catches up with you.

Freelance web design insurance

Whatever the range of services you intend to offer as a freelance web designer, make sure you don’t start a client project without proper insurance for web designers. It’s there to protect you during contract disputes, unpaid invoice situations and legal accusations of wrongdoing resulting in a financial loss for your client.

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