June 2, 2010 6

5 Tips to Having a Steadier Freelance Web Design Career

By in Design, Web Design

The thrill of not knowing what you’ll be doing tomorrow can be exhilarating, and a huge rush for your creativity — except when that unknowing feeling comes to your finances, work, and where you’re going to find your next client.

Being a freelancer puts a lot of unknowns into play, and the first several months of freelancing can be hectic. All freelancers desire stability, but how do we get there? In this post we’ll cover 5 quick tips to developing a more steady workflow and lifestyle as a freelance designer.

1. Carry 2-3 Clients at a Time

Note that clients can come in many forms. For example, I do development, design, and even blogging. I consider those that I write for my clients, even if they are not a client as much in the traditional sense. Even though I’m a designer, I’m part freelance writer as well. So let’s define a client as anyone that pays you for your services, however close or far it may be from your desired niche.

In my experience, having 2-3 clients at a time is the magic number. Often times at least two of those three are steady gigs, or at least long-term gigs. When they eventually run out, I usually have plenty of time to find a new replacement source of income. The third is usually a small, more contract-based job; one-time design jobs, consultations, etc.

2. Stop Slacking!

When I first started freelancing, I worked hard. Really hard. Then, as I started to make more money doing less (because I could charge more), I began to get a bit lazy. Some days I hardly worked at all, and I rarely worked the hours I had worked originally.

This ended up haunting me, because I eventually wanted growth for my business and had additional expenses to pay. I was just in an emotionally lazy rut by this time.

For a steady career, work steadily — not to hard (12hr work days), and not too lazy (1-2hr work days). If you’re having a slow day, keep busy with other tasks like personal projects or marketing.

3. Always Be Networking

Always keep in touch with those you network with, and always be making new connections with those in the industry. Many designers do this at first and find great success, but slowly stop putting in the effort with their online relationships. That will eventually catch up to them, and work will dwindle.

Keep commenting on blog posts, stay in touch with forums, and even get previous connections involved in some of your personal projects. This can lead to more work down the road, and greater opportunities.

4. Keep in Touch with Past Clients

Send small holiday packages, quick emails, or even newsletters. It doesn’t matter how business related or not it is, the point is to make sure past clients don’t forget about you. Past clients who liked your work in the past may hit you up with another project in the future (as long as they remember who you are), or refer you to another client.

5. Always Grow Your Portfolio

Slow day, week, or even month? Try out a new technology or design style, and put it in your portfolio. This will not only increase your skill set, but also expand your portfolio for when a potential client does stop by. This way, even when you’re slow on clients, you can still grow as a designer and expand your business for future clients.

About 1/3 of the designs I place in my portfolio are ‘mockups.’ They are web designs for imaginary clients, or web apps/scripts that I thought seemed like a smart idea. I also often let other designers/developers in the community have a piece of the pie by serving out the free scripts, designs, or themes. (Passive marketing, anyone?)

About: Kayla Knight:
Hello, my name is Kayla Knight, and I am a web designer and developer based in Iowa, Usa. I focus on user-centric, beautiful, simple, and functional web design. You can check out my portfolio here: KaylaKnight.com.

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6 Responses to “5 Tips to Having a Steadier Freelance Web Design Career”

  1. Managing my clients is a great job for me. I am doing freelancing for about three years. Now I am getting more projects in designing. I am now planning to start my own design company.

  2. It’s posts like this that keep me coming back and checking this site regularly, thanks for the info!

  3. i am self-studying web design coz building websites is my passion.;~

  4. A topic close to my heart thanks. Please consider a follow up post.

  5. Cheap Music says:

    Pretty impressive article. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.

  6. web design is also a good hobby and a great job too. web design jobs pays very well:;.