Transitioning from full-time work for someone else to freelance web designers has its perks. You can be your boss and have a more flexible schedule. You’ll be responsible for all aspects of your business, including making tough decisions that can affect the growth and success of your company.
After you have decided to open a web design business, you will need to learn a variety of skills that will help you manage your time and sell more clients.
1. Create a Lean Business Plan
A solid plan is the first step in starting your own business. This is where your ideas are put to the test. However, it doesn’t need to be a 50-page document you only read once.
You can instead create a Lean Business Plan that you can adapt to your business’s needs throughout its life. This plan should be flexible enough to allow for frequent reviews and updates based on performance and goals that may change over time. It should not be static.
The Lean Plan should contain a summary of your strategy and tactics, your business model (including target markets and competition), as well as a schedule of what you are doing and when. You must also include essential financials like a sales forecast and expense budget as well as a cash flow forecast. You should also outline your milestones so that you can see early on if your strategies are effective.
You should also set up a timetable to review your plan and make adjustments on a regular basis in order to stay on track towards your goals.
2. Calculate startup costs
Although you might dream of running an agency with many web design services in singapore in the future you will likely start your career as an independent (solo freelancer).
The good news about startup costs is that they are low. However, you will still need some things so spend some time thinking about your startup costs.
- The basics. You will need basic equipment like a desk, phone, and computer. Also, consider the cost of building your website and registering a domain. A business card, stationery, and software specific to your work will be required. You can get 30-day free software trials if you are just starting out. To make a great first impression, ensure that your business cards and promotional materials highlight your best work.
- Software, taxes, insurance. Consider the cost of your health insurance, personal insurance, and taxes. Also, consider any software tools you might need. Many accounting software services are targeted at small businesses. However, it is possible to do your own bookkeeping for a lower price.QuickBooks?XeroAndFreshBooksAll of these is popular options. Finding a great accountant early can save you a lot in the long-term. It will also help you to understand your tax situation and other liabilities.
Your branding is an important decision that can have a significant impact on how your clients perceive you. A lot of freelance web designers prefer to use their own name as their brand. This gives your business a more personal touch.
Clients will feel that they are working with an individual and not a full-fledged agency. This usually means more flexibility, a personal approach, lower rates, and greater flexibility.
If your top-level goals are to grow your business and possibly turn it into a studio or hire more people, you might want to start with a formal name.
As you create your business plan, think about how potential customers will perceive you. Also, consider how it fits with your vision as a freelancer and your future goals. Do you prefer to be seen as a young startup or build your personal brand?
3. Establish your freelance rates
It’s easy to work for very little money if you don’t have a plan for setting your rates. It is much more difficult to raise your rates later and this can impact the time frame for your new venture.
- Calculating your rates
- It can be difficult to know where you should start. So, calculate your monthly expenses. Include everything, including your rent, utility bills, and travel costs.
- Multiply this amount by twelve to get your ideal annual salary.
- Divide this number by 48 to find your weekly costs (allowing you to take four weeks off).
- To determine your hourly rate, divide your weekly cost and the hours you plan to work in a week. Many freelancers start with 20-hour weeks.
- You must be paid
As a freelancer, managing cash flow can be stressful. Once you have established your rates, it is important to do all you can to make sure you get paid on time. Before you start work, make sure you have a contract that outlines the scope and payment terms.
It’s a standard practice to request milestone payments for longer projects so you are guaranteed compensation.
Freelancers may prefer to get paid upfront. However, this requires you to be able to estimate how long a project will take, and then add a percentage to cover the overage.
Your portfolio website is undoubtedly your most valuable asset when it comes down to marketing your services. Your website should contain information about your services and provide a way to reach you. However, to show off your skills, it should also showcase previous work.
It can be difficult to do this when you are just starting out, and your portfolio may seem small. But there are solutions. Reach out to your local schools and churches and offer your services free of charge or at a very low price.
This is a great way to expand your portfolio, practice your skills, and help out your local community. It doesn’t have to be all your work. Three to four quality pieces will suffice to show others what you can do.
4. Promote your services
No matter how good your web design skills maybe, they won’t make any difference if you don’t know how to market and sell your services.
A sales process should include the following:
- Find new opportunities
- Develop relationships
- Information to potential clients about your services
- Offer your services to the right people
- Fulfilling your expectations
- Establishing relationships with clients
Your target market is your ideal client. To find them, think about their personality, interests, and places they go online and off. Try to find the same places they frequent and engage them in conversation.
This is the best time to impress potential clients with your elevator pitch. It is what you use for showing them how you can help their company and why they should hire you.
Freelancing sites such as Upwork or Freelancer can also be a good place to look for potential clients. There is intense competition among freelancers all over the globe, so many employers choose to pay the lowest rates. It is important to choose the right jobs and to find serious clients willing to pay for quality work.
Your target market should see how you address their concerns. Give concrete examples of past successes in solving those problems. This makes it easier to find new clients.
5. Get involved in networking
Connect online. It is a great place to get support from others in similar situations, such as those in the industry’s communities. Follow other developers and designers on Twitter and reach out via LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media channels.
Participate in your local community. It is a great way to network, ask and answer questions, establish your expertise, and help others who might be in need of your services.
Keep your ears open to the ground you can. Start by following blogs with a lot of comments and contributors. You can also sign up for RSS updates on web development boards. It’s all about interfacing with other web designers, connecting to potential clients, and getting referrals.
6. Time management
Being organized and productive as a freelancer means that you get the most out of your day without being stuck at your desk for hours. This will allow you to scale your business. You can organize your tasks around the times that you are most likely to complete them.
Establish a routine. It is possible to group similar tasks together, and then consistently complete them at a specific time each day. You could answer emails as soon as you wake up and take care of your phone calls after you have had your first cup of coffee. Or code/design when you feel the most energetic.
Make use of these tools. Software is available that can simplify and automate many daily tasks. Make use of these tools to track time, manage projects, manage finances, and more.
The bottom line
Multitasking is a key skill for successful freelancers. A plan is essential to manage the uncertainty of owning a business and the stress that comes with irregular income. A plan will make it easier to build a business and move your company in the right direction.
Callum is Warble Media’s head of marketing. They are a small website design and digital marketing agency located in Dubbo (NSW), Australia.