Jul 25

5 step guide to becoming a freelance web designer

Finding Work Opportunities, Getting Hired Online


Your guide to become a freelance web designer

In today's time and age everyone who has a business needs a website. So these skills are in high demand. Freelance web designers are able to create functional and beautiful websites for their clients. 

Let's start with understanding: What is a freelance web designer?

A freelance web designer is a professional who creates websites for independent clients. Typically you will generate a page's layout, select visual elements and incorporate a client's brand specifications.

You may choose to focus on working for certain industries or building a wide portfolio of work across many different sectors. 

As a freelancers you will manage your own clients through using your administrative resources and then marketing your freelance services using a wide variety of networking techniques.

The benefits of becoming a freelance web designer

Going solo as a freelance web designer or web developer has some major perks which can include:

1.  A better work-life balance

2. The freedom to choose your working hours

3. Your rate of pay, who you work for

4. The ability to choose which projects you want to be a part of

5.  Freeing you from your morning commute 

In addition to the perks of the lifestyle associated with freelance work, the demand for web developers is high and still growing! This means the potential to find clients and to have a lucrative career is strongly in your favour.

So, know that we know what a freelance web designer does let's look at how exactly should one go about becoming one. 

Here are 5 steps to help jumpstart your freelance web design career:

web designer

1) Learn web design theory and web design skills 

Working as a freelance web designer requires a variety of important skills. It may be helpful to make a list of capabilities you already have so you can determine some strategies for expanding your repertoire.

However if you are just starting, the first step in this journey is learning web design theory. There are really important foundational skills that will set you up for creating good websites. 

A great way to start learning is by taking a good reputable web designer course or a coding bootcamp. These could take around 12 weeks to complete and should teach you the basics of the theory as well as practical coding skills.  You are going to need HTML, CSS or javascript capabilities. 

Your training will need to cover design theory, website design, responsive design, and user research, as well as the technical side of a Web Designer’s job, including the specific programs and tools.

Do research on the most sought-after languages and skills and make sure to stay on top of current development trends in order to market yourself as, for example, the best in Node.js!

2) Hone in on specific skills that will make you stand out

Use your skill sets and overall interests to determine which type of website content you prefer to design. It may be helpful to select a certain category, like professional entertainer portfolios, wedding itinerary pages or websites for finance firms.


Consider studying current design trends on popular websites to see if certain content inspires you more than others.


You can also focus on a particular website design tool or CMS you prefer, like WordPress or Squarespace, which are content management programs that allow you to build templates for web pages.

Being known as the solution to a particular set of problems is essential as a freelance developer.

3) Build your brand as a Freelancer Developer

Whether you have many projects to show from your full-time job or are just starting out, you should begin collecting exciting and relevant projects.

A good way to do this without an existing job is to assist local charities, a friend, small businesses, or schools that may not be able to afford your skills.

If you are based in South Africa a great place to start is For Good - this is a website fill of NGOs who need specific skills, especially web designers. 

This is great for building your portfolio, getting references for your CV, as well as learning how to deal with people (which might be a new business skill if you are going solo for the first time).

3. 1) Build your brand through building your own website

This is such an important point it deserved its own paragraph. We highly recommend you consider building a website to display your skills to potential employers.

Choose to create something that will highlight examples of your skills and provide your background information. This website will often be a client's first impression of your professional work and image.

Remember to update it, edit, and continually develop your website throughout your career.

4) Be Visible to Hirers

Now that you’ve narrowed down your skills and services as a freelance developer,  as well as built up your brand - you want to be visible to searching Employers.

You have created a portfolio of your work.  Remember the goal of your portfolio should be:

  • Easy to find
  • Easy to remember
  • Good to know

Now you can Sign up as a freelancer on online recruitment platforms such as Nomad Now where hundreds of searching Hirers can easily find your profile, CV, and portfolio and reach out to you directly about their job requirements.

Here are a few other ways to get your name known online:

The best way to build a reputation is by talking to people – online and offline.

  • Twitter — Build up a following by tweeting about current news about your chosen skills. Twitter is great for networking and having conversations with people in your field from around the world.
  • Quora — Answer questions for people interested in your niche. This fosters relationships with other professionals, as well as gets your name in Development circles.
  • YouTube — Create and upload online tutorials with “easy-to-Google” titles. Tip: make them personal and funny (the more watchable they are, the more people will return to your profile).
  • LinkedIn – connect with other freelancers (inside and outside of your industry) as well as with professionals from companies for whom you’d like to work
5 step guide to becoming a freelance web designer 1

Get out there offline! Try:

  • Attending meetups – There are tons of events in the development community. Use these opportunities to put your name out there as a freelance developer. You’d be surprised how willing others are to help out a fellow developer.
  • Take part in hackathons – This is a great way to get to know professionals from different industries in a hands-on, “same team” way. The more people you know, the higher your chances are of being introduced to potential Hirers!

5) Stay Motivated as you begin your freelance journey

Even with more than 10 years’ experience as a developer, being a freelancer is tough. At first you might not “hit the ground running” and find you are only approached for under-paid and less than exciting tasks.

Try not let a few bad initial experiences ruin your confidence. Remember – you are your own boss now and every project helps develop your skills and portfolio as a freelance developer!

Here are a few parting guidelines to keep you on track:

Are you ready to look for freelance web designer jobs? 

Sign up now with Nomad Now

About the author 

Julia Paton

Julia studied a Bachelor of Arts degree with majors in Film, English and Psychology followed by a Post-Graduate Diploma in Marketing, both at the University of Cape Town.
Whilst at university, she co-founded “Shots Fired Productions” a photography & videography micro-business. In addition to her entrepreneurial spirit, Julia brings to the team international experience gained from working at an advertising agency in Hamburg (Germany) and managing the marketing portfolio at an AI & Data Science Company in Sydney (Australia).

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