If you are just starting out as a web designer, or even simply considering it, there are some pretty big misconceptions out there, about what you need to know and do, that may be holding you back, or even scaring you away from the whole idea. I want to clear the air right now, so you can get started on your dreams of becoming a web designer right away.
#1. I need to learn how to code to be a web designer
Short answer, no, you don’t need to know how to code! While it is an amazing skill to have, it is not necessary to become a fully booked web designer.
Why is that? Because there are more than enough clients out there wanting a website designed that will not require coding. Sure, there are businesses requiring a completely custom, never-seen-before website, but this also comes with a long-term price: every update or change will require a coder. And for many people, this is just not a long-term solution that they can commit to. One of the main benefits of having a website designed without coding is that the web designer can hand over the site to the client with clear instructions on how to manage the site themselves going forward. This is a big plus in the eyes of a client looking to manage their costs.
And yes, it is still absolutely possible to create stunning, high-converting websites on WordPress without any coding knowledge.
#2. I need to hustle hard and use every outlet to market myself
It can be super tempting to jump into utilising every marketing tool out there, especially when you see it working so well for other web designers.
But I can tell you right now – that is a one-way ticket to overwhelm and burnout. Imagine your to-do list every day, if you were attempting to market yourself via Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, blogging, Youtube channel, a podcast, the list goes on.
Pick one or two avenues that you genuinely enjoy using, and you will see the results because you won’t procrastinate (not as much) and you will show up as a genuine, authentic person.
#3. To build a portfolio I have to do lots of free work
I get it – when you are starting out in your freelance web design business, you need to have proof of your skills, in order to land those dream clients and convince them to work with you.
The solution here is free or pro bono work, and a lot of it, right?
Yes and no.
You just need to be careful with how you go about this. Firstly, don’t broadcast your offer of free work to everyone, for instance, across social media. Be specific with who you offer your pro bono work to. Do you dream of designing websites for kid’s fashion? Research these ideal clients and offer your services to them specifically, instead of casting a wide net and designing a bunch of websites that are in an industry that just doesn’t resonate with you.
If you are having trouble finding businesses that fit with your idea for your future ideal client, then sometimes it can make more sense to do the free work for yourself, and create imaginary mockup portfolio pieces instead! This is an excellent way to create a super curated portfolio that will attract your dream clients.
Final tip here: set yourself a specific number of pro bono projects you take on. Why do 15 random free web designs, when you can showcase 3 high-quality, niched websites?
#4. I need to be knowledgeable across every web platform
First point here – having a specific niche is only going to help you. For one, you will become an expert in that one particular platform and become known for that, and two, there is an endless supply of clients out there looking for website design, that you will not be missing out on work. So don’t be afraid to niche down into one specific platform. Whether that be WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify, etc…
Secondly, a client comes to you looking to have this massive weight of a website design lifted from their shoulders – they want you to take the reins and confidently give them a decision on what platform to use. Giving your client too many options and decisions will only cause them to hesitate, and perhaps even lose interest. By assertively offering one type of platform to a specific type of client, who you have attracted with your curated portfolio, you get the project started much faster and with a lot more confidence, on both sides!
#5. I need a degree or lots of design experience to be successful
Absolutely not true. So many freelancers, in many creative industries, come by their skills and experience in a roundabout way, and have been working in a completely different field prior to starting out in web design!
Web design technology has evolved so much over the years it’s now easier than ever to learn the ins and outs of a platform. As long as you have the creative drive and the initiative and passion to learn, the technology can be learned!