I admire your entrepreneurialism.
Really, I do.
After all, you’re launching a freelance web design business, regardless of the plethora of available code-free themes and content management platforms.
And the estimated 30,253 plus freelance web design developers already working in the USA!
So, I’m guessing you’ve done your homework, found a lucrative gap in the market, built out your strategy, and are ready to exploit it.
You have, right?
There are a lot of CMS platforms out there, but cookie cutter sites don’t cut it for most, customization is the king. And with an estimated 252,000 websites created every day, there’s a real need for developers like you.
But only if you know how to launch a freelance web design business that targets and converts a specific audience.
In the following guide, we’ll cover everything you need to do to it.
1. Pick a Web Design Niche
If you’re a seasoned web developer within a specific niche, then you’ll already know your target market; if not, now’s when you pick your niche.
You might be thinking, why should I commit myself to only one niche when I could design websites for everyone? Wouldn’t that reduce my audience??
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way because if you try to sell to everyone, chances are you’ll sell to no one!
Here’s what you should do:
- Define your service
Defining your service improves your chances of successfully selling to your target audience. For Example, advertising yourself as “I’m a web designer” doesn’t say much about your service, nor does it fulfill the searcher’s intent. Meaning people won’t understand precisely what you offer.
However, if you market yourself by saying, “I create highly optimized e-commerce stores that are proven to convert,” people will know what to expect.
- Everyone isn’t your audience:
The more defined your niche, the quicker you’ll identify leads that want your service. And it’s important you do because that’s how you’ll save time, costs and create a regular revenue stream.
- How to pick your web design niche:
There’s a well-known business saying, “choose one thing and make it happen.” So, what’s your one thing?
You can find it by asking yourself the following questions:
- What do I excel in, what are my skills?
- Which industry do I enjoy working in most?
- What’s my specialty?
- What do I want to spend most of my time doing?
Listen, don’t skip this part; find your niche, dig even dipper, find a sub-niche, then make it your own.
2. Calculate Start-Up Costs
Did you know that most business start-up professionals advise you to have at least one year’s worth of income saved and available before launching your own business?
Because going freelance ultimately means one thing, not having a guaranteed wage.
Few freelancers have that kind of spare cash when starting. That’s why you’ve got to know your start-up costs, and more importantly, what it’ll cost to stay in business until you’re turning a profit.
Consider the following when estimating your costs, then add 10% to be sure:
- Essential equipment, like a computer/phone.
- Domain name registration and website hosting.
- Stationery supplies.
- Marketing costs.
- Additional software?
- Health insurance.
- Personal liability insurance (If clients visit your office)
- Any other insurance!
- Business registration costs.
- State licenses and permits.
- Accountancy fees.
Fortunately, if you start a Sole-proprietorship, you don’t need to register, and you won’t need an accountant to begin with.
Another cost-reducing tactic is to hop from one free software trial to another, upgrading when your budget allows.
3. Decide Which Design Services You’ll Offer
Another advantage of choosing your niche is identifying what services and solutions your competitors are offering.
Why’s this helpful?
Because then you can provide extra value to your target audience, giving you a competitive advantage.
But there’s a problem!
Website builders such as Wix and Weebly make it easy for business owners to build websites for a small monthly fee. And they don’t need to worry about hosting, themes, and plugins.
For many people, this is a big win.
So, why use a freelance web design business?
WordPress doesn’t make any of the above easy, which is why you’re starting your business. However, you’ll need to create value for your target audience to make choosing WordPress and web design a viable option. And for many new companies, design agencies that provide a baked service are immensely helpful, as they can use one business for all their needs.
If you’re thinking, “Hey, that’s a contradiction, he said to find your niche!”
But then add what comes naturally. For you, it could be any of the following.
What value can you offer to clients?
- Provide WordPress maintenance services.
- Focus on a specific website design: Like e-commerce, affiliate, or membership sites, etc.
- Convert websites from Weebly, Squarespace to WordPress.
- Provide redesigns.
- Work in specific industries: small business start-ups, B2C, government, etc.
- Managed hosting or consulting?
- Photography and videography.
4. Choose Your Freelance Business Name
Using your name is a common choice amongst freelancers.
And it has its benefits.
It provides a personal touch; clients know they’re working with an individual, not a faceless corporation. Allowing for a higher level of flexibility, and perhaps at a cheaper rate.
However, if you plan on expanding and employing staff in the future, you might want to consider choosing a brand name that’ll support your vision, not hinder it. If you choose a brand name, it must suit your niche, personality, target market and be usable in your visual marketing designs.
Also, consider audience perception.
Do you want to be seen as a new innovative company or as an individual?
Before you choose, consider your niche and potential clients, as it’s those that your name has to relate to.
5. Design your logo
Being a web designer, you probably already know what’s involved when creating a logo. And you definitely know the power of a logo – it can be the difference between a client thinking you’re a pro or one running away because they think you’re an amateur.
Your logo design should have the following attributes: Although, you probably won’t be designing your own logo (you shouldn’t unless you are a pro) it’s still important to understand what makes a good logo.
- It should speak to your niche audience
- It should be easy to understand at a glance
- It should be simple but not basic
- It should be timeless (don’t jump the latest logo trend)
- It should work well on different mediums
Many freelancers that I know don’t have hundreds of dollars to spend on a logo, however, those that do have amazing logos. Still, if money is an issue creating one with a logo creator will keep the costs down you will get a professional quality design but don’t expect much more than that – there won’t be a wow factor.
6. Set Your Rates
Figuring out how much to charge often leaves new freelancing a bit lost. Charge too much, you won’t land a client, charge too little, and you won’t be in business for long.
Here’s what to do:
Charge a competitive rate while ensuring it covers your outgoings and provides enough of a profit to grow your business. Do it by researching what others charge, then discovering how and where you can charge a little more for that extra value service you’re offering.
How much do freelance web designers charge?
- Web Designer – The average hourly rate in the US is around $75.
- Web developer – Rising to $100 – $150 for development.
According to Salary.com, the average annual income for a web designer is between $50,000 and $100,000.
Hourly rate formula:
If you take $75,000 as your average and divide it by 52, you’ll have a weekly rate ($1,442), then by the hours you can realistically work (say 40 hours per week = $36 per hour), you’ll have your hourly rate.
Now subtract your running costs and savings/profit. Can you live on what’s left? Or will you have to work or charge more?
7. Start Building Your Online Profile
Where do you think the first place most clients go to check out a freelancer?
OK, yes, it’s often their website, but clients often make their final decision on whether to hire you or not when viewing your profile. And sometimes it’s your profile they first see, like on LinkedIn or Facebook.
And while all profiles are different, there’s a sure way to write one, so it’s similar on all your platforms.
How to write your profile:
- Who you are — name, location, and experience.
- What you do — which service you offer.
- How do you do it — what’s your process?
- Why you’re the right choice — All the benefits of hiring you.
- Samples — Add links to previous work.
And remember, every profile you set up requires regular management and monitoring. It’s always best to focus on your website first and one or two social media channels when starting.