How to Become a Freelance Web Designer

Becoming a web designer or web developer can be a lucrative decision. According to Statista, retail sales from worldwide electronic commerce are forecast to grow from 3.53 trillion U.S. dollars in 2019 to over 6.54 trillion in 2023. This means that freelance developers will be in high demand since everyone will be looking to stay competitive in an increasingly online world. 

If you are looking to join the freelancing industry by becoming a freelance web developer, then here is everything you need to know. 

What is a Freelance Web Developer and Designer?

A freelance developer and web designer is someone who is self-employed and gets hired by clients to create and/or design websites. This means adhering to visual elements that are in line with the client’s brand, as well as optimizing the site for search engines and users. 

The responsibilities covering freelance web design work include: 

  • Design page layouts and templates. 
  • Maintain consistent branding 
  • Select and prepare imagery 
  • Demonstrating and receiving feedback about draft sites
  • Creating products that are user-friendly, effective and appealing
  • Keeping up to date with recent technological and software developments
  • Communicating design ideas using user flows, process flows, site maps, and wireframes.


The responsibilities of a freelance web developer are as follows: 

  • Understanding of UI, cross-browser compatibility, general web functions and standards.
  • Working with Web Applications and programming languages such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, JQuery and API’s.
  • Coding and modifying websites, from layout to function
  • Create sites that have user-friendly design and navigation
  • Solid knowledge of security principles and how they apply to E-Commerce applications.
  • Developing or validating test routines

Benefits of Working as Freelance Web Designers

High demand

Everybody and their uncle has a website, whether it’s for work, a project, a hobby, or even for events. The need for online businesses is only growing, and people want to make sure their site stays competitive. This means they need to hire IT businesses or freelance web development professionals so they can keep up with the latest trends and demands. 

Be your own boss

You can put as little or as much time into becoming a successful freelance web developer as you choose. You can make your own schedule and choose which projects to work on, you can also make it your side hustle or your main full-time job! Owning and operating your own business means you make your own hours and decide who you want to work with and which jobs you’ll take on. 

Write-off your expenses

As a freelancer, depending on how you file your taxes, you can write-off your expenses, like your computer, your office furniture, and any software you buy to do your job. Check with your tax specialist for specifics.

It’s never mundane

Unless you want it to be, this job is never boring. Once you start, you’ll get a constant flow of new and interesting projects to work on and you’ll often have more than one project going at once. You’ll also meet lots of interesting clients, some with crazy ideas, and some with more humdrum or practical tasks. 

The projects you can choose from are as diverse as people in the world. As you build your portfolio, you can decide exactly what kinds of projects you want to specialize in and the type of prospective clients you’d want to work with.

Work remotely

You don’t need to work in a specific location to do this job. You can work from home dressed in your pyjamas all day if you choose. Most freelance web developers work from a home office setup, but you could also work in a coffee shop or anywhere that has internet. 

Certification, Education and Skills You’ll Need

The typical education needed to become an expert web developer would be a Bachelor’s Degree. You could also opt for a Master’s, but it is not a requirement. Typically the majors one would take if they were planning on becoming a web developer are, computer science, graphic design, or business. 

If you really don’t like the idea of completing a full Bachelor’s Degree, Udemy offers a certificate for their Web Development Bootcamp. 

A great skill to have as a web developer is coding. You can start by learning HTML, CSS, and Javascript. You can also use a CMS like WordPress or WebFlow if you’re not interested in coding too much. Many successful freelancers go this route and it’s perfectly fine.

Working as a freelance designer is just like owning a business and therefore, you will need to have business skills. This includes knowing how to market yourself, building your brand, setting the right price, negotiating, networking, and more. Project management is also an important aspect of this type of work, as you will be juggling multiple contracts at a time. So developing project management skills is always a good idea. 

Becoming a Freelance Web Designer in 6 Steps

1. Choose your niche

Specializing can seem counter-intuitive. You want to expand your client base, and narrowing your scope might appear to go against that. However, focusing on one niche can have several advantages, like increasing productivity and profitability. 

Choosing one niche will make you an excerpt in that specific industry, while also helping to cultivate your personal brand. This will encourage potential clients to trust you more, rather than someone who only knows the industry on a surface level. 

Some examples of niches include: 

  • Real Estate 
  • Financial Advisors 
  • Hair and beauty services
  • Online course creators 
  • Authors
  • E-commerce sites 

2. Create a portfolio website of your work

A portfolio is a freelance web designer’s opportunity to make a first impression – introducing themselves and showcasing their best and most promising work. This is a crucial step in obtaining clients because it shows them your style of work and in turn, they can judge if it fits their needs. 

Web design portfolios can include anything from live websites that the designer built, sample projects, case studies, web design templates, or even smaller-scale assets such as typography design, illustrations, logos, etc. The greater your professional portfolio website, the more likely you will secure paying clients. 

3. Get registered

When operating as a freelance business, it’s a good idea to register your business. Doing so can have tax advantages as well as offer legal protection. Therefore, as part of the business planning process, you should determine what kind of registration you will need to operate successfully. 

If an individual is not happy with the client’s site you’ve built, declaring it’s ineffective, your business could face a lawsuit. Regardless of how long you have been designing websites, mistakes can happen, and these mistakes can lead to personal injury and damage for your clients.

The good news is there are protections that can help reduce the impact of lawsuits and negligence claims. These protections are known as insurance coverage. As a web design business in Canada, you may not be required to obtain and carry professional liability insurance, but it would definitely be in your best interest to obtain it before any accidents happen.

4. Ensure you have a strong contract in place

A web design contract is a document that details the legally enforceable agreement between a designer and their client. It establishes the professional relationship between the two parties and details the project scope, pricing, deliverables, timelines, and other pre-agreed items relevant to the project.

In addition, the contract should outline what happens in case of problems or disagreements that may arise between the designer and their client. Overall, having a comprehensive contract in place for your freelance work can protect you should any issues arise. 

5. Procure clients

Online marketplaces like Fiverr and 99 Design are great because the client will come to you for the website design needs, instead of you needing to look for them. Try signing up for a few different platforms and create a profile to your contracts underway. 

At the same time, you can optimize your site for search engines to help improve your search visibility so potential customers can find you easier. Also, consider professional networking events where you can meet other freelancers (who will potentially need web design services for their startups).  

6. Streamline the client payment process

Creating an IT service invoice specialized to each project’s specific requirements is an important aspect in streamlining the client payment process. Implementing your invoice process alongside accounting software can help take your freelance career to the next level. 

Using QuickBooks Self-Employed will allow you to track business expenses, as the software automatically categorizes expenses and revenue to help you save money come tax time. With payment processing and invoice tracking, you will always be able to tell how much clients owe you and can easily track project profitability to ensure you’re on budget for each contract. 

As a business owner, why not try QuickBooks Self-Employed software free today so you can implement financial features that will make your business run efficiently.

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