Many students and college graduates are now joining the freelancing industry hoping to do freelance work and make some money in their free time.

This article is dedicated to all those teens, grownups, and everyone else who’s looking for a solid actionable plan to get into freelancing as a web designer.

In this article, I will show you a simple, easy-to-follow, step-by-step plan to get started as a freelance web designer with helpful tips on landing clients and making some real money.

In fact, it’s the same strategy I used to make my own web design agency. Keep reading to find out how I did it.

Step 1: There Are No Shortcuts To Freelancing Success
First and foremost, accept that freelancing takes lots of hard work and a considerable amount of time before you start generating money.

It will take some time, probably a couple of months, for you to understand the ways of freelancing and start making money. So prepare yourself and your freelance mindset.

If you’re trying to become a freelancer for the sole purpose of making quick money, you won’t last for long.

You need to have patience and be passionate about what you do to become a freelancer and survive the long journey.

Step 2: Web Designer or Web Developer?
People confuse themselves with these two terms all the time.

designer-vs-developer

Web Designer – Is the person who’s in charge of the front-end side or the look and design of a Website or a web application. A web designer arranges all the website elements in the right order, code the style sheets, and make the face of the website.

Web Developer – Is the person who does the heavy work of composing the back-end side of a website, like developing the algorithms for website functions such as checkout systems and user interactions.

Web design is a creative medium of its own. You can’t just look at other websites and design new websites that look just like them.

According to research done by Fast Print, 72% of the participants believed that most websites look the same. You need to learn user experience design and have a creative mindset to become a successful web designer.

Becoming a web developer is the complete opposite. You need to have an analytical mindset to create accurate algorithms and have the ability to make systems according to user workflows.

Step 3: Assume You Know Nothing
After visiting all those “learn to code” websites and going through plenty of HTML/CSS courses, you must be feeling pretty confident about your coding skills.

But, how well do you know about User Experience Design (UXD) and Web Usability?

Thanks to all the great free online resources available today, anyone could easily become a coder. But, that doesn’t necessarily make them qualified to become a freelancer.

Unlike web development, website design involves a lot of creativity and proper knowledge of how the web works.

User Experience Design and Web Usability are two of the skills that you must master in order to become a professional web designer. These two skills will allow you to design websites with better engagement and help you understand the psychology behind web design.

For example, have you ever wondered why all websites have the main menu on the top of the page? Why do most landing pages have their Call-to-Action (CTA) on top half of the page?

If you’re interested in learning this subject, I’d suggest you start with Joe Natoli’s User Experience Design Master Course.

Step 4: Learn About Domains, Web Hosting, and Servers
When taking on a project to design a website for a business, most of your clients will expect you to buy a domain, a hosting plan, and completely setup their website.

Learn about how to buy and configure a domain name. How to maintain web hosting and work with FTP clients. Learn to manage and maintain servers. Go here to get started on some of the basics.

Something to think about: I bought a reseller hosting plan and offered my clients to host their sites on my own server at a reasonable price and manage to make some money with hosting.

Step 5: Learn A Little Bit Of Graphic Design
Including graphics and illustrations, such as logos and animated characters, is a must-have for websites these days. Clients will ask you to take care of these too.

You can team up with another freelancer to get those designed.

However, you’ll make more money if you could learn how to do those things yourself. Find a Photoshop tutorial and learn to design logos.

Step 6: Build Your Portfolio
When a client approaches you to get their website designed, the first thing they’re going to ask is to see some examples of your previous work.

This is where you show your kickass designs. If you don’t have anything to show your clients, get to work and design some great sites. Do some free work if you have to.

Design a great theme and release it online for free. Or reach out to businesses and offer to design them a website for free.

Here’s how I did it:

  1. I browsed Google Play and Steam store looking for game and app developers who don’t have a website.
  2. I sent them an email explaining why they need a website and offering to do it for free.
  3. A few companies responded back and I made them awesome websites.

Step 7: Best Freelance Sites To Find Work
Avoid online freelance platforms if you can. These sites are too competitive and winning a client will be extremely difficult.

But if you have no other choice, choose a freelance site with less competition to offer your services. People Per Hour and To ptal are two of the most suitable sites for web designers and developers.