How I Became A Web Designer and Why I’m Successful Now

It’s 2012 and the technological age is in full swing. Every person and his dog wants to take advantage of the Internet and the glorious opportunities that it presents us with. Unfortunately, what this means is that far too many people are branding themselves as “web designers”. Because there are no barriers to entry into the web design industry, this has resulted in a saturated market.

This is the story of how I entered the web design industry and, despite it being so overcrowded, how I made a success of my small design studio. Without trying to sound like a pompous primate, I would like to help further the web design industry by letting you in on, or reminding you of, three of the lessons that have kept me afloat in this competitive industry – lessons I had to learn the hard way.

Starting Out As a Web Design Wannabe

Picture this: A 15-year-old pale-skinned, pimple-faced teenager who believes he can accomplish anything. Through family connections, our brace-faced young hero gets the opportunity to design a website for a local school. He has no prior web design experience but is confident that his supreme skill in Space Invaders could translate into a great looking website!

Terrible Web Design

The result?

As you have probably guessed by now, that naive young boy was, I’m ashamed to say, me. And that exemplary piece of art you see above was our first ever website.

Now you’re probably wondering how I went from that monstrosity to running an even remotely successful design studio. The truth is we didn’t. At least not immediately. It took a number of years and one sudden realisation before we could ever hope to succeed in an industry where practically everybody was better and more established than us.

Our sudden Realisation

Sudden Realisation

After embarrassingly having decided that our first website was pretty darn awesome, and quite a bit of fun to create, my business partner – another spotty teenager – and I, decided we could totally start our own web design business. We were going to be millionaires!

For a few years after starting said web design business, we picked up the odd client (“relative” would probably me more apt) who was on a low budget and we thought we were doing rather well. We had discovered the magic of Content Management Systems and started creating terrific template-based websites. We didn’t care that they looked exactly like 431 other websites on the Internet. Nobody would ever know!

It wasn’t until a few years ago that we sat back and it dawned on us that we really weren’t making any impact on the market whatsoever. Our websites were mediocre. We had no real purpose. We were yet another boring “web design business” trying to take advantage of the technological age and consumer naivety.

Fortunately I tend to be a rather stubborn person. If I hadn’t given up after our first attempt at a website, I definitely wasn’t going to throw in the towel now. This prompted me to take a long hard look at what we were doing and why we weren’t doing well at all.

3 Key Lessons Learned

What followed was a period of intense self-examination. We closed up shop for around 6 months while we analysed everything we had done until that point and compared it with what the designers who were better than us were doing. We also did some research into other web designers who weren’t doing as well as they had hoped for.

Over time, we realised that we had made some critical errors in our initial endeavours into the web design world. We needed to adjust or we were going to have to shut down shop for good.

These are the things that we found successful web design agencies were doing around the world that we weren’t:

1. Stay Up To Date With Technologies and Trends

Trends and Technologies

This is something I cannot stress enough. The number of self-acclaimed web designers (including ourselves) who were still designing websites using old coding techniques and technologies was astonishing.

It is vital that you keep abreast of the latest trends and technologies which are emerging in your industry. If not out of passion for your work, surely out of a need to survive? Mostly you will find that the news in your industry can really be quite exciting. I’m known by my friends to be able to rattle on for hours about the latest design and marketing trends. Do they care about what I have to say? Probably not. But your clients will.

With web design, the generally accepted practices change frequently. Browser architecture and support is updated almost daily. (Yes Mozilla, thank you for the 17th new version of Firefox this month.) You need to be adapting to this change.

HTML5 and CSS3 are fantastic developments and are being supported by an increasing number of browsers and devices. Mobile development and responsive design are some of the most talked about design trends in the last 6 months. If everybody else is talking and learning about these developments in your industry, shouldn’t you be too?

2. Differentiate Yourself from the Crowd

Unique Selling Point

This is perhaps the most important thing I have learned about being in a competitive industry and marketing in general.

You need to make sure you stand out from the crowd. If you are doing the same thing as everybody else, the chance of a potential customer picking you out of the crowd is slim to none. If, however, you are doing at least one thing better than your competitors then you are giving clients a reason to choose you!

This one thing you do differently/better than other web designers is called your Unique Selling Proposition – a term you will likely hear marketers spray around generously. You could create your own USP by doing one of the following:

  • Having the lowest price
  • Having the highest quality product
  • Excelling in areas where others fail (e.g. customer service)
  • Targeting a specific niche exclusively
  • Offering anything unique

In our case, we decided there were far too many general web designers and that we weren’t going to succeed by targeting anybody and everybody who needed a website. We decided that the way forward was to specialize in creating websites and branding for a specific target market/group of people.

Because my passion lies in small business and entrepreneurship, I decided that I wanted to target the small business/entrepreneurial niche. While every other designer was offering web design to every person who needed a website, we focused on making sure that our entire business model was crafted in order to make sure that we were the best web designers when it came to creating websites for a new startup or small business.

The results were astounding. We have become known over time as the go-to guys for new business branding and websites and that is exactly what you want to achieve in order be memorable and successful in a competitive market. If potential clients remember you as a solution to a specific problem of theirs, you are going to bring in a whole lot more business than you would have, had you not decided to be different.

To sum up: Establish your business’ USP. Make sure your clients know what that USP is. Profit.

3. Under-Promise and Over-Deliver

Under-promise. Over-deliver.

This is something I have learned more over time since we reinvented our design studio and business model. Once we were actually bringing in clients, the concept of under-promise, over-deliver became a lesson that has served me well each and every day when dealing with those clients.

Advertising in the web design niche is expensive. If you’ve run an Adwords campaign targeting keywords in the web design field, you will know this all too well. It stands to reason, then, that you would want as much word of mouth advertising as possible. Right?

How did we begin generating an enormous amount of word of mouth referrals? By exceeding customer expectations, each and every time.

It is human nature to want to tell your friends and relatives about something truly great. If you are over-delivering on your clients’ expectations, you can be sure that somebody is going to hear about the amazing customer service they received or the top quality product they got for a really low price, or the free logos you designed for them along with their websites.

I’m sure you can understand why this concept is so effective, so why not put it into practice? I’m sure you will see great results, just as I have.

Ending Up as a Successful Web Designer

Successful Web Designer

After months of self examination, research and brainstorming, we reinvented our business completely. We adopted an all new image, work ethic and philosophy as we set out on our mission to become the small business branding and web design authority in our industry.

It would be amiss of me to say that we have achieved this goal, or that we are even close to achieving it. We have, however, transformed our web design business from something mediocre into a quality service that people are willing to pay good money for. The 15-year-old web design wannabe progressed into a successful web designer by incorporating, inter alia, three important lessons into his web design service:

  1. Always keep learning. Don’t rest on your laurels!
  2. Establish a USP. Be different from your competitors.
  3. Under-Promise. Over-deliver. Always exceed expectations!

These are all things that can be done without spending a single additional cent. There is no reason why you shouldn’t begin doing all three of the things I’ve spoken about above and absolutely no reason why you can’t be a successful web designer as a result.

Sometimes all it takes to be successful is for a person to swallow his pride and improve what he has to offer.

Thumbs up image via Shutterstock

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  • Martin

    I started webdesign in 2004 as a hobby. Going through the Frontpage and Dreamweaver era (started with MS Word 2000 LOL). Running a full time business with it at present (other IT included). I have a small client base of around 130 (but growing monthly) and prefer to keep it that way as me and my clients are “friends”. I see a client as a friend buying also from my other IT services. Support are given face to face or via Teamviewer or Skype. I do use CMS (Joomla and WordPress) but my previous experience of HTML and CSS just gives me some edge on my competitors. I design my own templates based on my client’s specifications. Using “make-shift” templates just does not work for me. Sometimes I feel I under price myself.

    • http://redgiantdesign.co.za Mark Atkinson

      Thanks for reading and commenting Martin.

      The fact that you say your clients are friends is something that really hits home for me. Maintaining close personal contact with my clients is something that I make sure I constantly do. I want my clients to succeed. They like the fact that I’m helping them succeed. It’s win-win. :)

      Personally, I feel that coding a website from scratch using HTML/CSS is too time consuming. Clients also can’t really edit the site then unless they have some knowledge of how websites are coded. In my experience, there’s been no limitation on what I can do with Joomla. The site can look however we want it to look and do whatever we need it to do. Our clients can also then make content changes without our involvement, too.

      I agree that generic templates are a no-go when it comes to professional web design. I’ve learned that lesson. I still see web designers who are using stock-standard Joomla/Wordpress templates from Yootheme/Rocket theme for their own websites! It’s honestly not difficult to code a template for a CMS – so I see that as just plain lazy.

      Under-pricing is something that many web designers (including myself) battle with. I believe it’s a result of being in an extremely saturated industry – we feel we have to lower our prices in order to compete well enough. As I mentioned in my comment to John above, I’ve found that the trick is to work at improving your business/service until you are bringing in more business than you can handle. Then raise your prices until the demand matches what you can supply. If you want to expand, this would also be the time to do that.

  • Denny

    #3 on your list is a motto I always live by. With my customers for work, my clients on the side, anyone. Always surprise them with what and when you deliver. Great article.

    • http://redgiantdesign.co.za Mark Atkinson

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Denny.

      It’s become my motto over the last year or so, too. The #1 best method for generating word of mouth referrals, in my opinion anyway.

  • http://www.webzplus.com.au John Robinson

    Great article, I’m still a ‘Jack of all trades’ Web Developer, this could all change since reading your advice, I’ve been the go to guy for so many close friends and still struggle to charge what I’m worth, I had decided to make some changes in 2012 and taking a break to decide what’s important and how to move forward is an excellent idea – Thanks

    • http://redgiantdesign.co.za Mark Atkinson

      Thanks, John.

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a Jack of all trades. I actually believe that’s it’s extremely useful to have knowledge in many areas. You should, however, maintain focus in one major area, though. I’m a great believer in getting other people to do things that can be done better than I would do them.

      Charging friends is something that’s not easy to do. If you are doing work for no/little compensation, make sure that the client understands that the work will only be done when you have breaks from the higher paying clients. We also fall into the trap of charging too little sometimes. The trick is to build your business until you have more demand for your services than you can handle. Then you raise your prices to match your demand.

      As long as you’re focused on the right things – I’m confident that you will be moving in the right direction with your 2012 changes. :)

  • http://digitaloverflow.net Jeremy

    Good tips Mark. I think the key is to find your niche to market yourself towards then apply #1 to keep learning about how best to serve that niche, trends, etc.

    I always struggle with the under promise/over deliver thing, b/c you always want to sell yourself as best you can, so do you “sell” yourself short to make sure you can over deliver? I have decided to just sell as much as necessary then work my butt off to impress the customer as best as I can.

    When I left the corporate world to start on my own, I was surprised to see how many people where out there building websites for people using 10 y/o techniques, ugly designs and ineffective UX/UI.

    At the same time, it is great how someone with a little skill, humility and a lot of persistance you can become a self made man in this business.

    • http://redgiantdesign.co.za Mark A

      Thanks for taking they time to read and comment, Jeremy.

      With regards to under-promising and over-delivering, I like to concentrate on the little things. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a major thing. For example, if you can get a project done in 3 days, tell the client you can do it in a week or even two weeks. If you actually get the work to the client in 3 days, you’ll have one really happy client! The other good thing about doing something like this is that if it does actually take a week or two, you won’t have under-delivered.

      Something we do when we design a logo is we do the initial mock ups and if the client is truly not happy, we will design another concept free of charge, despite stating earlier that we charge for additional concepts. If they’re not interested, we will refund the client’s deposit and let them walk away with no hard feelings. This works because we are focused on helping our clients rather than making money. It also generates a lot of goodwill with clients that we may otherwise have lost.

      I also think you’ve hit the nail on the head. As long as you’re focusing on impressing the client, you’re probably headed in the right direction.

      It is very sad to see web designers not evolving with the times. It is particularly bad in South Africa (where I’m from) – there are so many who market themselves as web designers yet so few who do it well.

      Thanks again, Jeremy.

      • http://digitaloverflow.net Jeremy

        good points about giving them more than they expect/ask for. I think for us as the designer/developer, if we just have a mentality of going above and beyond whenever we get a chance, the opportunities for win/win will come up.

        I’ve also seen evidence that the “costs” of such acts pay high dividends, much higher than any advertising campaigns, it is no question why the best designers/developers are always busy, positive word of mouth spreads

        Thanks for the reply Mark

  • http://www.pricklypearmedia.com/ Angelos

    What an amazing read Mark, you’ve truly inspired me.

    Anyhow, I want to ask you something, feel free to give an honest opinion.

    I too have a business model, which like yours continually changed as I learn new things from experiences. I follow this simple model “By exceeding customer expectations, each and every time.” also, which seams to work great!

    What baffles me is what if the client becomes too demanding and demands free work, similar to John. Tabitas previously articles. What would you do then? It’s not all roses and progressive evolution. Sometimes this process comes at the cost of disappointed clients, and there are times when this evolution would loose you clients, because you did not say something in the beginning. Things change all the time, but clients demand the same service for the same price, overlooking the evolution and progressive part.

    My business model has now been founded on two aspects, customers service or after care as I like to call it and security. These are the two main aspects of my business I focus on. In terms of designs we create custom designs, but with the recent recession here (2012) we’ve been forced to go down a template path which is also fine in my opinion, as this too required security and after care support.

    In terms of the pricing, I don’t compete on price, but I let the clients know that those two aspects, security and aftercare cost money, and without it they will be disappointed even if they have the best design in the world. :

    • http://redgiantdesign.co.za Mark Atkinson

      Thanks for your kind words, Angelos.

      The issue you’ve described is certainly not a unique problem. Many designers (myself included) have struggled with difficult customers. Why? Because design is subjective in nature.

      My advice to you, something I learned from Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid, is to cut those clients loose. You are fully within your rights to fire those clients. At the end of the day, a designer’s work is based on inspiration. If you are constantly struggling with a client, there is no way you are inspired to create great designs for him/her.

      We had a bad experience with a client recently – one where we charged far too little to do a logo design. We did 3 concepts for the client based on their very specific requirements, none of which they were satisfied with. We offered them an extra 2 concepts and hours of labour to revise those concepts subsequently. Every revised concept was met with a “yeah I thought I wanted that but I don’t like it anymore”. I decided that it wasn’t worth my time anymore, I refunded their money and referred them to another designer.

      Guess what? Today that client outsources a large number of web design projects and other design functions to us. Oh, the irony. They have a horrible logo but they like it and that’s all that matters.

      I learned over time that it does happen that a particular client may not be a good fit for your business, regardless of how good your designs may be. Again, design is subjective.

      The trick is to turn your customer away NICELY. Just because you won’t tackle this project, doesn’t mean you don’t want them to refer other work to you. Take the time to explain why you don’t feel you and the client are a good fit, and refer them to somebody who you think would work well with them.

      In the end, you still want that customer to be happy. We run on the philosophy that we don’t want to charge our clients if they aren’t happy with our work. I often state that I’m in the business of helping entrepreneurs grow their small businesses – rather than just a web designer/branding guy. I try to make sure I live by that statement day in and day out.

      My suggestion, Angelos, is to focus on the clients that make you happy – the ones that you love working with! By doing this you will see positive results in your work, your client satisfaction and your overall job satisfaction.

      I highly recommend you read Book Yourself Solid if you haven’t already. It gives a bit more insight into what I’ve said above.

      Just a note on templates – As long as you go to some measure to differentiate the template from other similar sites, that’s probably okay. I wouldn’t just use a stock-standard template for any client site, though. I just think that if I hired somebody to design a website for me and they produced a template off of itheme.com I wouldn’t be impressed. So I don’t do that to my clients either. :)

      Angelos if you have any questions, I’d like to encourage you to like our Facebook page or follow me on Twitter (links above) or you can feel free to email me at mark[at]redgiantdesign.co.za – I’ll try and help as best I can. :)

  • Anonymous

    I dont like your idea.

    • http://redgiantdesign.co.za Mark Atkinson

      Would you care to elaborate on that statement, Anonymous?

      • http://darklit.net Darklit Design

        LOL @anonymous … wait, isn’t he like a famous hacker or something?

  • http://www.darklit.net Darklit Design

    Good article. It sounds way too much like my own story. USP … yeah, under promise / over deliver… sure, that’s just good customer service. But showing clearly how you are different – that’s really key and often overlooked.
    Looking at my site you probably see I have a hard time of it myself, but (myself included) it is one of THE MOST important things you can do in business. If you are on Amazon looking at two Identical products from different brands – same price, same color, same product, why would you pick one over the other?

    Answer that question as the product being selected and you will find success.

    Thanks!

    • http://redgiantdesign.co.za Mark Atkinson

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. :)

      I wouldn’t be surprised if many web designers around the world had a similar story. That’s part of the reason I wrote the article in this format – a lot of people like you and I can relate to my story.

      As you may have noticed from some of the other comments, different people seem to take different bits of valuable information from the post – for you, that bit of information was the part about differentiating yourself from the competition.

      Your analogy is 100% correct and is the type of example that I use frequently when helping my clients.

      Thanks again.

  • kristina

    @Mark,

    Can you help me. I am doing web-programming in asp.net MVC from a long time but last days I am moving to web-design. I have made all application are useless or most of them have no-sense.

    I have not good hand in ASP.NET and because a developer spent very less time for caring about mockup so that’s my condition.

    Let me know how I can made better progress.

    Thanks

    • http://redgiantdesign.co.za Mark Atkinson

      Hi Kristina, thank you for commenting.

      Unfortunately I must admit that my knowledge of ASP.NET is almost non-existent. We work mainly with PHP on Apache servers.

      If you need help with DESIGN, however, you’re welcome to drop me an email and I’ll see where I can help. My email addy is mark [at] redgiantdesign.co.za

  • http://www.thatsgraphic.com.au Annette

    Hi Mark,
    I really enjoyed your article…we have very similar stories. The majority of sites I develop are for small business and like yourself love to see them succeed with their online presence. I don’t spend any money on advertising it all comes from word of mouth and from my website. Keeping ontop of technology is always a challenge and sometimes I wish it would all just stop!! I haven’t implemented responsive web design yet but learning the best way forward. Thanks for your article.

    • http://redgiantdesign.co.za Mark Atkinson

      I’m really glad you enjoyed the article, Annette. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

      Our stories do seem similar indeed! Keeping abreast of technology is certainly not a small task. You say you wish you wish it would all stop – I come from South Africa, where it seems the majority of the web design industry (and other industries) believe that it HAS all stopped! I’m ashamed to say that the majority of the web and graphic designers in SA don’t even seem to have a Facebook page or Twitter account! (Not an active one at least)

      Talk about late adoption. I shouldn’t complain, it makes it easier for me to take advantage of their shortcomings. :)

      Responsive web design is something that I’m spending a lot of time learning about and implementing. It’s odd, then, that our own website isn’t even responsive yet. That’s the one issue with getting in so much client work. There’s no time to work on your own website! :)

      Thanks again, Annette.

  • http://choctaw.co.uk Chris Price

    Thanks Mark. Great article.

    The single thing I picked out was over delivering. Being up-to-date is no guarantee you’ll wow customers because they just want a website that looks the way they want and does what they want. In such a crowded market its also quite difficult to be unique. But the one thing we are all capable of is customer satisfaction especially if the customer is led to believe we can achieve a certain result and are then pleasantly surprised.

    • http://redgiantdesign.co.za Mark Atkinson

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Chris.

      I agree with your comment on being up-to-date, but only to a certain degree. Our clients are initially interested in the look and feel of the site, yes, but what happens when a site doesn’t perform well over the next year? Or when our client happens to find a friend who is a web developer and this friend sees the website and starts asking why the website is created using old practices if it’s only 6 months old? You won’t wow customers by being up-to-date – quite correct – but you WILL keep them satisfied, and that’s never a bad thing.

      It is difficult to be unique, but you will inevitably find that the ones who figure out how to be unique in some way or another will be the successful ones.

      Thanks again, Chris.

  • http://susanne.tamir.com Susanne Tamir

    Hi marc,
    Congratulations ! I really like your concept. We are just now founding a little design company and this concept will make us jump some steps . learned a lot and also the tipps you even mentioned in answers to people are full of wisdom and experience.
    First thing reading this that comes to my mind is a sentence i read once and its going with me a long time , even if i forgot who said it ….Its: all great things in the world become possible in doing more then you need to do! ( the original sentence is in german)
    Godd luck Susanne

    • http://redgiantdesign.co.za Mark Atkinson

      Thanks for your kind words, Susanne.

      I really hope that my advice will help you. Good luck with your design company!

      The German person who said that was a very wise man. ;)

  • http://www.digiwurx.com Matt

    Hey thanks for the post Mark. This is encouraging for someone like me who has been thumbing his way through web development for a number of years and has yet to take real flight. I haven’t given up yet, but it does get tough at times. Do you have any insight to share in the area of building your own CMS? Have you ever thought about doing so?

    • http://redgiantdesign.co.za Mark Atkinson

      Hi Matt, thanks! I’m glad it’s provided some sort of encouragement for you. It’s a difficult profession to be in, but it’s very rewarding when you get it right. :)

      Unfortunately I don’t have any experience in the area of building a CMS.

      I will say this, however: Building a CMS is a project that should not be tackled without 110% commitment and dedication – and probably a team of developers. Remember that if you have your own CMS and you build sites for clients, you’re going to have to debug problems with both the site content and the CMS itself.

      I just can’t see the benefit in using a custom CMS instead of using something like Joomla or WordPress, where there are tons of extensions and people supporting the projects.

      Having said that, I am probably going to be collaborating with someone who HAS built their own CMS soon. We will be designing the sites and he will be building them on his CMS. He sees success because he has a decent business model and a pretty good product, but I think the key is that he is able to support the system himself and has a few developers working with him.

      It’s very difficult to convince people to go with a CMS that isn’t one of the big open source ones.

      I hope that provides some food for thought.

      Thanks again, Matt. :)

  • Isaiah

    Thanks, you have really inspired me.

  • http://www.ethicalseoconsulting.com/ Aurora SEO Services

    This is a great little write-up you did. I am all too familiar with what you’ve described about starting a small business and the dreams that curate when you’re young, thinking about how you’re going to be rich over doing stuff that you love. The biggest point that you’ve mentioned that is really important with any small business is under-promising and over-delivering! I provide search engine optimization services for several different business niches and our company has over a 99% retention rate with our clientele! I believe that statistic is completely reliant on the fact that we do under-promise and over-deliver. Our clients are always more surprised by the results they get with us. Your post has been inspirational, and I enjoyed reading. Thanks!

    • http://redgiantdesign.co.za Mark Atkinson

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m glad you managed to find some inspiration from my post.

      That is a great retention rate. Keep it up! :)

  • http://sagie.es cesar

    really inspiring, thanks :D

  • http://www.the3dpalette.com Heather Salamone

    Thank you for this excellent article. I somehow was lucky enough to start in a very niche market(local Tennessee Horse businesses), so I have a large, horse loving and no time having, client base. As a life long horse person, and with a degree from Ringling, I have made it work. However, I really like your three things to live by, I need to update myself more with technology also(I think that is my weakest point). Thank you for talking about the niche market, I have branched out a little, but I still have been staying with other local Tn small businesses. I also really like your points about underpricing, as far as a road map to bringing in more business than you can handle and making the price create an amount that you can handle. -Heather the3dpalette.com

    • http://redgiantdesign.co.za Mark Atkinson

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Heather. I’m thrilled that I’ve managed to add some value for you.

      I don’t know much about horses, but it sounds like you’ve got something great going which is aligned with your passions. That’s always the best place to start.

      You’ve also hit the nail on the head in terms of targeting a narrow niche to begin with. Remember it’s a lot easier to start small and grow gradually than to start big and try to sustain/survive.

      Regarding pricing – that’s something I’ve learned through experience. If you price yourself to highly when entering the market, you will have no market penetration. We designed phenomenal websites and branding for very low prices for quite some time just so we could establish ourselves. Now we have lots of people who know what we can do and we are able to raise our prices to fit that level of demand.

      Thanks again for taking the time to interact with me, Heather.

  • Tay

    Hi Mark,

    I was wondering if you could pass on some advice.
    I have finished a cert III in web design (because I cant afford to go to get a degree) and I have been trying to get some work experience and applying for internships, but no luck.
    I have spent countless hours to make my resume stand out from the crowd and have been told my cover letters are high standard.
    I have applied for junior roles to get my foot in the door but it seems to me if you don’t have any industry experience, they won’t even consider you.
    I have tried visiting agencies in person, calling and emailing… I’m running out of ideas and motivation due to the volume of rejection.

    Can you please advise how to go about getting some volunteer work?

    Thank you, your article was aspiring!
    Tay

    • http://redgiantdesign.co.za Mark Atkinson

      Hi Tay,

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my article.

      Regarding qualifications in web design – In my opinion they are a waste of time and I believe that a person can learn far more relevant information and greater volumes of information in the same time it would take to obtain a degree in web design, simply by doing online tutorials and learning as you go. The key, as you’ve read in my post, is to keep learning all the time! There is no shortage of information on the Internet. :)

      As we say, the proof is in the pudding. A good portfolio and testimonials are always going to weigh more than a qualification in web design – simply because having a qualification doesn’t technically make you a good web designer.

      Have you tried doing some freelancing to create a portfolio and get some experience? Even if you do some work for next to nothing, you’re going to be creating a portfolio of work and THAT is invaluable. Design agencies are going to be much more willing to take you on if they can see great results that you’ve already achieved.

      My advice is to contact everyone you know and offer to do some work for them, sign up on freelancing sites and do some work there, even find local charities/sports clubs and do some work for them. Get to know people in your area, let them know what you do and how you can solve their problems and eventually you will find opportunities start rolling in.

      The sad truth is that there are more people looking for web design jobs than there are web design jobs available. This is why agencies will only take the best and everybody else needs to turn to freelancing/starting their own businesses, while improving their trade to become the best.

      If you like, you can send me your resume and I will take a quick look to see if I can give you any pointers for future reference. My email is mark [at] redgiantdesign.co.za

      Don’t give up, Tay! Just keep improving your skills, keep learning and persevere! Eventually you will get a great job in a digital agency that realizes that you have a great deal to offer.

      Focus on trying to build a portfolio of some sorts. I’m confident that that will help you.

      Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment, Tay.

      – Mark