I’ve been working as a freelance web designer for several years now. This is a job full of joy, some sorrow, satisfaction and hard work. During these years I’ve had the opportunity to test my capabilities and meet many different people. Learning from each project has ensured that my career continues to flourish and has helped me to grow both as a professional freelancer and as a person.
In this article, I’ll share with you some of things that I have learned through working as a freelance web designer. I hope that what I’ve learned can help you — you may have other things that you’ve found useful and I welcome you to share them in the comments.
Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
As freelancers we need to understand the great power that real passion has in our work and our lives. Whilst the fact that you love your work doesn’t necessarily mean that you will never grow frustrated with a project, it will help you to persist and strive to overcome roadblocks.
Show your passion and present yourself as an expert. Show your clients that you’re the right person for the job, the professional they were searching for.
Be a Friend
Don’t view your client as someone who simply commissioned you to complete their project. Consider your client a friend, a teammate that you want to collaborate with to achieve the best result possible. You shouldn’t underestimate the effects that empathy and friendliness can have on a professional relationship.
View your professional relationships as long term partnerships and you will gain more returning and referring clients.
Try to avoid saying no to your clients, at least in so few words. Educating them on why don’t want to do something and providing a reasonable alternative is a much better way to move forward than simply saying no.
Give your clients a sense of freedom. Allow them to share their hopes and doubts about a project. This will allow you to gain a picture of your client’s expectations and can prove helpful in scoping and completing a project.
Take It One Step at a Time
I’ve learned that when you work for yourself you usually find that you work harder and for longer. The moment that you choose to become your own boss, you become a person who is hard to please.
As your own boss you must focus solely on your work during your self-assigned work hours and save anything else for your personal time.
Take it one step at a time, organize yourself and your projects as you would if you were managing a team. Break down your projects into tasks, prioritize them and assign yourself realistic due dates. If you ensure that that you take it one task at a time you won’t become overloaded and you may end up accomplishing more than you had expected.
Embrace Different Perspectives
In your career you are likely to come across projects where you are required to work in an existing team or to build your own team.
Over the years I’ve had the chance to work on projects where a strong collaboration between various teams was required. Often you will be working in a team in which the members have varying experiences and opinions. I have been fortunate enough to see the effect of a team whose members combined their experience and knowledge to reach a common goal. Embracing the perspectives of your colleagues is imperative to help you to view your ideas from a different angle, to think outside the box.
Plan and Find Your Balance
Never begin working without a plan. Even if you’re not usually a methodical person, if you want to be a successful freelancer, you’ll have to start writing to-do lists at the very least.
Planning and holding yourself accountable to reaching your goals will ensure that you don’t become overloaded or leave things to the last minute. We’ve all experienced the horrible feeling of sending off something that we know could have been be better.
Don’t forget to take breaks. Your brain needs some rest during the day — your work will thank you for it.
Try to change your environment from time to time. Whether you do some work outdoors for a while or simply rearrange your workspace, you’ll find that your creativity and passion will be rejuvenated.
We’ve covered a few important things that I’ve learned while working as a web designer. I hope that my lessons will help you to reinvigorate your freelancing career, improve your work-flow and find your balance.
If you have anything else that you have learned in your career then you’re more than welcome to share them in the comments below.
I have a Bachelor's degree in European languages, cultures, and literature from the University of Naples. I'm passionate about graphics and web design, and for several years I've been working on projects and designs for many companies. I'm a writer for the Audero User Group; my specialties are HTML, CSS, Web Design, and Adobe Photoshop.