Many web designers opt to work in the freelance world instead of landing a full-time job. They enjoy the flexibility when it comes to hours, prefer to work from home, and appreciate the diversity of different clients. Companies also prefer freelance work over hiring in-house employees when they have major short-term projects instead of consistent work. They can also save money in the long run.
While the freelance life might seem glamorous, it comes with more job responsibilities than in-house employees have. Keep reading for tips to launch your freelance career.
Make Sure Your Resume and Portfolio Are Updated
The first thing that any potential client is going to look for is your portfolio. If you’re a visual graphic designer or an interactive developer, they want to see what you have designed in the past and what industries you have worked for. As long as you’re landing clients, you need to keep your portfolio and resume updated with your latest work experience.
Whenever you start a new project, ask about options for highlighting your work. Some companies have strict confidentiality agreements, and you might not be able to include your work in a portfolio — even if it’s just on your personal WordPress site. Try to balance your clients between brands that you can include in your portfolio and those that are off-limits.
Always Look Out for New Clients
The challenge with freelance work is that you never know when clients will have to drop you or major projects will fall through. As a result, you should constantly be on the lookout for new design opportunities and people to work with.
For UX designers, this might mean getting involved in developer communities locally or online to find opportunities to network. By immersing yourself with people within your industry, you can get your name out there and learn the right jargon that someone in the business community wouldn’t understand.
Constant networking can actually benefit freelance designers. Once they reach bandwidth, they can decide who to work for — which often comes down to who is paying the most.
Set Regular Work Hours
Many freelance web designers enter the field so they can choose their own hours, but some struggle with the freedom. If they don’t have an office to go to every day, then they get distracted and end up falling behind. To prevent this, freelancers should choose hours — whenever they work best — and stick to them to develop a routine.
This also helps freelancers learn to turn off for the day. Working from home means you’re always technically “at the office,” and some freelancers work 16-hour days because they never stop taking calls and fixing bugs. Once you set your hours, stick to them — no matter how tempting it is to keep pushing.
The first year as a freelance web designer is fraught with excitement and nerves. However, once you get into a routine, establish a client base, and notice your portfolio growing, you can start to enjoy the freedom that comes with being self-employed. Just don’t enjoy too much freedom, or you could pick up some bad habits.
This was originally published on Career Builder on 10/25/2016.”