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How To Independent Part Time Freelance Web Design

Discussion in 'General' started by unifyzero, Mar 20, 2013.

  1. unifyzero

    unifyzero New Member

    I'm interested in doing some part time freelance web design. What are your insights/experiences with freelancing? Any resources and/or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Everything I can find about getting into it relates to starting a business, but is it acceptable to do without creating a business? I don't have the means to support a server, so what would be your suggestion for hosting clients sites if I were to run into a client that wasn't willing to host their own site (a server and reseller account from HostGator look promising).
  2. Ruthe

    Ruthe Community Manager

    Hi unifyzero,

    A warm welcome to FWT :)

    I used to work freelance as a layout designer, and while it is different from web design, I think the freelance part works out the same. I'd say that it is difficult to work freelance without considering it as a business, since once you work freelance, you have to manage everything on your own. You no longer merely design jobs handed down to you—now you've got to work on finding your own clients, writing proposals, invoicing clients, handle relations with clients, manage your own rates so you don't overcharge or more commonly, get paid less than the amount of work you've done.
    Plus, if you intend to work freelance full-time (i.e. it's your only job) one day, you've got to consider things like how you need to increase your rates so as to pay for your own medical coverage and stuff like that.
    I doubt the "business" part is as much an issue of hosting clients' sites (you can find web hosting options for them) as it is one of having to handle all aspects of the work itself. Anything from PR to legal issues to accounting. That's why freelancers aren't purely designers or writers—they own their own business.
  3. unifyzero

    unifyzero New Member

    Ruthe thank you for the welcome, and for the thorough response.

    What you say makes a lot of sense. I really think I may have to begin reevaluating my idea. I was really hoping I could just proposition a few small business for opportunities, and go from there, but just reading your post made me think how useful creating a business could be. Obviously it would require quite a bit of new research and thinking on my part, but it may be the right way to go. Just a basic question, before I start this new line of research... If one starts a free lance web design business, what happens in the case that the business is not profitable? I'm assuming there are inherent costs (startup and recurring) with starting a business even one so small. With my current job I could have months (possibly even years) in which working on the freelance business would be impossible, at that point would I just be hemorrhageing money or are there systems in place to stop that from happening?
  4. Ruthe

    Ruthe Community Manager

    Since web design is largely a web-based business, your costs of operation are quite low. All you need is your Adobe Creative Suite, electricity, computer and Internet—stuff you probably already have.

    The question then, is whether you make profits, how fast you make profits, and how regular those profits come in. Obviously, the more time you can put into freelancing, the more you can get out of it. But we all know that there are only 24 hours a day. Which means your limiting factor is now time.

    Now, how much can you sacrifice so as to make time to work freelance?

    It really depends on what your opportunity cost is. For example, if you have children, the risk of quitting a full-time job to pursue freelance work entirely will of course be higher compared to, say, a bachelor/ette with obligations to him/herself.

    Then again, some choose to work freelance after office hours, but this is of course dependent on your company policy and your willingness to abide to it. I for one won't recommend working on freelance projects after hours since they take up a lot of your time (you probably won't have time for anything else).

    So I said all that to get to this: there's really no system in place that can prevent you from "haemorrhaging" money. Freelance sounds like a good idea to many people because of the freedom of time it offers and the joy of working in bed, but it's not until you're in it yourself that you begin to realise freelancing has its own set of problems. It is only after you begin that you work things out and find out what works best for you. For example, I had to be taken advantage of by clients (because I didn't know better) before I learnt how to protect myself by means of a project agreement and 30% deposit before I start work. Things like that you only learn as you progress in the business.

    I'm not saying don't do it, but be prepared to invest time and energy into it before you begin to see the fruits.