Being a freelance web designer can be fun and rewarding, but it also has some challenges. In fact, if you can deal with the five biggest obstacles web designers face, I’d say you are in one of the most recession-proof industries – at just the right time.
So what are the 5 biggest challenges?
1. Having the RIGHT tools.
With the plethora of tools, software, themes, plugins, etc. available, it can be a bit overwhelming to find the right combination that work for you and the clients you serve. You want usable, practical tools that can get the job done. (Hence the reason we recommend WordPress as the starting framework.)
You also want your tools to be from reputable companies or developers so you know you can rely on professional work and consistent updates. Unless you are going to be handling every day to day detail of your client’s WordPress site, you also want to use tools that make sense to the client, and ideally tools where you can control how much the clients can do (such as the role assignment option in the DisplayBuddy suite of plugins).
Having the right tools, and knowing how to use them, saves you hours of time, which in turn saves you money and allows you to make more money by creating more sites.
2. Having the right skills.
Our goal at the iThemes family of companies is to help people deploy sites quickly. The right tools are a piece of that, of course, but also having the right skillset is essential. The goal is “less code – more sites”, so web designers who can identify what skills they’ll need, as well as distinguish what skills they don’t need to bother with, will have an advantage over less skilled designers, or designers who spend all their time learning and never creating.
Learning from qualified instructors and resources, will be miles ahead of the average designer. The best programs incorporate live trainings, live webinars, and recorded replays so you can learn in a way that matches your personal learning style, and can learn at your convenience.
p.s. The solution to these first two obstacles is the Web Designer’s ToolKit. It’s our full package, including a license to every single product we have – the right tools and the right training to give you the right skills you need.
Duh. To have a successful web design business you need to find the right clients. Creating sites for family and friends can support you for awhile, assuming you are comfortable charging them for your services, but eventually you’ll need to get into the business development side of business.
Do you know where to find clients? What to do in an initial meeting with them? How to determine if they are prospective clients or just looky-loos? What sort of contract do you need to have? How to determine in advance if they’ll be great to work with, or just a pain?
All of these questions are answered in the business development courses offered at WebDesign.com (which is included as part of the Web Designer’s ToolKit). Reviewing these courses gives you a short cut to the learning curve, but you can always learn by trial and error as well. It can be a powerful teacher.
Most business programs and web designer trainings leave this essential piece out. Not having confidence is the kiss of death in business. You can have skills and all the right tools, but if you don’t have the confidence to go out and market yourself, confidence about your ability to deliver, or confidence to handle challenging situations, you’ll either struggle in business, or have a very expensive hobby.
Confidence comes with experience, but it also comes from learning from others, building sites as you’re learning – right alongside the instructor – and having a place to go for answers. Confidence is really a state of mind that is built upon working with the right tools to gain the right skills so you can have little wins along the way to developing your thriving business.
Community is another aspect that most freelance web designers don’t think about – at least not at first. Part of the beauty of being a freelancer is that you get to set your own hours, work from home, etc. But that can also be isolating.
A community of supportive (and hopefully skilled) web designers is a tremendous asset to the freelancer. The best communities are supportive, with members jumping in to help where they can with advice, suggestions, or even a bit of code. It’s also a great place to develop collaborations, which can expand the business capacity of all the parties involved.
Where can you find a community like this?
hint: take a look at WebDesign.com.
Working on and overcoming these 5 critical obstacles for web designers will position you as a leader in your field, and possibly make worrying about the recession a thing of the past.