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iRock 08-29-2006 07:23 AM

Setting up as a freelance web designer?
Im pretty much just looking for as much advice as possible for starting up as a freelance Web Designer?

Anyone got important info/tips?


D3v1L80Y 08-29-2006 10:54 AM

First thing I would do is get together a solid portfolio. Make sure it includes your finished works as well as your conceptual work that you made during the process... sketches, mock pages, other design work, etc.

Make sure that you get some sort of contract templates ready, as you will need them when you take on a job.

If you haven't so already, study up on design theories and work on learning why some designs work and others don't. Don't just make something because you think it looks "cool". Pay attention to what the client wants and meet with them and/or keep in touch with them as often as possible. What the client ends up wanting may not be "cool" by your personal standards, but they are the ones paying you so you do what they want, not what you want. Before you actually get out there, post some work and designs on a public exposure site like deviantART and the like so you can get some unbiased, real constructive criticism on your work.

Don't expect to make much money at first and you might want to even offer your services for free in some cases. What is important is that you get your work out there and people see it. Once people can see it and if they like it, they will spread the word to their friends/peers/colleagues and you will get more work.

surfwax95 08-29-2006 11:32 AM


Originally Posted by D3v1L80Y
What the client ends up wanting may not be "cool" by your personal standards, but they are the ones paying you so you do what they want, not what you want.

Excellent advice from the newly appointed Moderator.

The quote above is definitely the biggest thing, though. When I came on a as a graphic designer for a high-end bath (Jacuzzi) company, I was having to cater to 40-50 year old women with the ads I was designing. A lot of the stuff I was asked to do was horrible in a design sense, but that's what they wanted, so I had to do it.

Swallow your pride, follow directions to the T, and do what they ask.

gort 08-29-2006 11:33 AM

Expect to be lowballed and outbid by cheap people in India. :D

Seriously the market is extremely saturated. It's a pain finding working freelancing unless you're really, really good. I am glad I work for a company doing web dev now so they do the legwork finding the business and I only code and do CSS. Design isn't my strongpoint so none of the design falls on my lap.

deus_ex_machina 08-29-2006 11:57 AM


Originally Posted by D3v1L80Y
Make sure that you get some sort of contract templates ready, as you will need them when you take on a job.

For professional rates check the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook. We have the 11th edition and it lists all the current rates :)

iRock 08-29-2006 12:38 PM

Cheers for the advice guys! Any recommended reading? Books or Sites maybe?

Sample work?

gort 08-29-2006 03:54 PM

A List Apart.

slyseeker 08-29-2006 04:17 PM

Your business manners and communication skills must be top notch, it's always a good practice to make your clients feel secure in your skills and business practices.

I believe that it's poor practice, not to mention bad for our industry to offer freelance or contracted work at pro-bono. It devalues our work that some businesses or orgs believe they can get stellar designs for free (that's what internships are for right?). While it's difficult when designers are starting out, and need to make money, they NEED to make a living to support themselves as well as place confidence in their work by making their products worth something.

It's good to be able to cater to your clients' needs without sacrificing the integrity of your work. Part of the business means building a business portfolio. You don't want poor work you've done in the past to bite you in the ***. Work with your clients to cater to their needs, but also be willing to push your training and experience by constructively helping your clients to understand what makes effective design.

Lastly, study up; as a freelancer you'll likely be designing AND producing your work. Know your software and scripting (Javacript, CSS, DHTML, XML). Keep up with industry trends. If possible, and if you can afford it, join AIGA or a local design association and get your work out there. One of the best things about the business is marketing your clients because you're also marketing yourself.

billy_d_goat 08-30-2006 11:16 AM

I was just talking about this today. True, the market is saturated which is why it helps to be distinctive in your web design. This isn't just with the design itself, but also as a business owner. Try focusing on word of mouth. Find people who need help (aka have bad web sites or need one) and talk to them. If you do a good job, word gets around!

iRock 08-30-2006 03:04 PM

Cheers for all the advice guys!

eric06 05-05-2007 10:19 PM

These books have really helped me with my freelance design studio.

rcronin 05-05-2007 10:34 PM

Good advice everyone. Stuff I need to keep in mind. I appreciate it. :)

MartinS 05-06-2007 06:58 AM

Tips for being a freelance ANYTHING:

Build a portfolio, such as tear sheets, sites, images, etc.
Go to conventions and such like, not only directly related to your industry, but for industries that might use your services.
Be professional.

Thyamine 05-06-2007 09:08 AM

Always listen to your client, and make suggestions based on what they want ('Hey, you know, blinking red text really isn't a good thing'), not what you want. I worked with one developer who argued with a client about a design choice because it made his job easier if they went with his suggestion.

eric06 05-06-2007 11:24 AM

As a beginner in the freelance world you may not have many clients but once current clients gain your trust, word of mouth spreads like a wild fire. You also don't work regular hours and you are there for your client(s) 24/7 pretty much.

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