Web design is more than just a niche skill these days. It is a fundamental ability that pioneers the face of the entire web. No modern business can be successful without a strong web presence, and that starts with a well-designed site. If you’re interested in web design, you might want to start your own business and manage all your own clients. There’s an incredible freedom to be found when you go the independent route, but entrepreneurial ambitions aside, it’s a lot of tough work, too.
Web designers come from all sorts of backgrounds, and their unique experiences and approach to the field give them a unique edge. It can be hard to get hired at a web design agency if you don’t have a strong portfolio or prior experience backing you up, but that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to work unpaid internships for years, either. Before you decide to build your own business, let’s talk about what makes web design a profitable career and whether it’s the right path for you.
Do I Need a Degree to Become a Web Designer?
You may already have worked with clients and are confident in your work. That’s amazing. But there are many other burgeoning designers who don’t have a lot of experience, and they may be getting in over their heads if they decide to immediately become a business founder. There’s an incredible amount of work that goes into getting a company off the ground, even if it’s a simple one-person operation. For that reason, you need to be 100-percent confident and fully capable in your abilities as a designer before you decide to become a professional entity.
While you don’t absolutely need a degree to get hired, it will help set you apart from the masses of self-taught and self-proclaimed designers floating around on freelance platforms like Fiverr and Upwork. If you’re interested in improving your professional credentials and authority, having a bachelor’s to support your skills won’t hurt. You’ll also gain a lot of opportunities through your program. Learning from experienced pros, collaborating with other students, and learning all the latest software and techniques will position you to thrive as an independent designer.
How Much Does It Cost to Start a Web Design Business?
Degree cost aside, you will need some funding capital as well to establish your business. The biggest expense will probably be marketing because you’ll be designing your website yourself. Marketing, on the other hand, is an entirely different ballpark that you may be familiar with but have no idea how to fully tap into. Working with an SEO or Facebook ads professional could do wonders, but you’ll need several hundred to $1,000 to really get started.
In addition to marketing, you’ll also want to invest in high-quality equipment and decent office space to make sure you have the perfect environment to do your best work. This can get costly, and it may be too much to pay out of your pocket right now. You may consider using credit cards or taking out a loan from a private lender. These have flexible repayment schedules and low-interest loans that can make funding your business a manageable expense.
Web Design Business – Tips for Finding Clients and Getting Noticed
It is intimidating to enter any industry these days as an entrepreneur. We’re no longer living in the early days of the internet where you were likely one of a handful of professionals showing up in a Google search. There are literally thousands of web designers for hire, not to mention professional agencies that also offer marketing services. How do you make yourself stand out?
Find a Niche First
Do not settle for designing websites for just anyone who’s willing to pay. This is tempting when you really need to earn cash, but it’s ideal only while you’re building a portfolio. At some point, you can only grow by definitively choosing a path to move in. This means you need to decide exactly what type of sites you’re good at building and which ones you could see yourself designing for the foreseeable future. Maybe you want to help female entrepreneurs build their websites, or you’re passionate about healthcare and design responsive mobile themes for doctors and dentists.
This may take some cold calling at first if you don’t have enough experience with multiple industries. Don’t be afraid to reach out and offer your services. You’d be surprised how many people actually respond. Who knows, the next cold call you send out could become your best client yet.
Share Your Knowledge
Use social media and a blog to share your web design smarts with others. The secret? Avoid sharing to an audience of fellow designers. Instead, do some audience research and frame your content to address the biggest questions your ideal customers have. This approach serves two purposes. First, it demonstrates your professionalism and knowledge, which establishes trust and a sense of connection that can extend into a conversion. Second, it offers free value that people will use to gauge how good your paid services probably are. It’s free marketing and publicity in one.
Follow Other Designers
No, you do not need to befriend the competition. Also, all the other pros out there aren’t your enemy. People aren’t choosing them over you just to spite you. Follow them, support their journeys and, most importantly, learn by example. What are they posting on a regular basis? What did their satisfied clients say about them in positive reviews online? Research as if you’re a potential customer and ask yourself what you like and dislike about their buyer’s experience. Then, make yours better.
Success in Web Design Business – Do Not Stop Learning
It can be so easy to develop tunnel vision as an aspiring small business owner. But don’t let yourself get lost chasing an idealized dream. Stay grounded and build confidence by learning all there is to know about running your own business. Set SMART goals, and work your way toward financial success in baby steps. You probably won’t be overrun by new clients as soon as you start, but that’s okay. With enough persistence and a commitment to always offering the highest quality service, you’ll get there.