Starting out as a Freelance Web Designer?
Congratulations! So now, where to start.
As the owner and primary designer at HostMamas, I have run across many tips, tools, and inspiration through my years of freelancing and networking. Some good, some not so good. Here are some of my favorite if you are just getting your feet wet in this fun world.
- Slow down. Don't start with a design: take a scenario-based approach to firmly establish the client's goals, map out a user's journey and then build the design around this. Listen first, design later.
- Get Your Client Involved in the Design Process. Create a shared vision board on Pinterest. They're a great way to collect elements together quickly and clue your client in and get them involved in the initial design process. Also, utliziing a tool like Unveil offers real time feedback with the client.
- Image Size Reduction. A basic is knowing that sites with highly optimized images load faster and work better on more devices. SmushIt is a great option to reduce image file sizes, quick and easy. They also have a Wordpress plugin, if you are utilizing that CMS.
- Find color inspiration. Join a creative community where members share color schemes, designs and ideas like the Colour Lovers site.
- Typography is the Word. Monotype recently teamed up with Google to release a new, free public version of Typecast which can be accessed through Google Fonts. It enables you to select any font on the Google Fonts website and then follow the link to the Typecast app.
- You can't be an expert at everything. If a job calls for an advanced skill you don't yet have, don't be afraid to ask for help. By joining a co-op to work through, you can create a great network to lean on and vice versa. Check out ShareDesk to find one by you.
- S-E-O is your Best Friend. You don't need to be an expert at it, but at least be very familiar on the basics. In 2015, it is a must- especially if you are freelancing. The web has lots of tips, tricks, and tutorials (A great starter is here). If you utilize certain CMS' they have awesome plugins you can easily integrate into your sites (Wordpress favorite is SEO by Yoast).
- Design Sites to be Responsive. If you don't know what that means, you should probably hold off on designing until you do. In 2015, sites are being viewed on a plethora of devices and your client will want theirs to be looking good on all of them. If you want to utilize the CMS Wordpress, you might want to check out Ultimatum. Some others out there include Muse by Adobe and WebFlow.
- Say Yes. Say yes to work even if it's outside your comfort zone. By taking a paying job that challenges your current skill set it will allow you to develop more than any course or tutorial. Deadlines, money, and clients are powerful motivators.
- You are a Salesperson as much as you are a Designer.I saved the best for last. Many designers or developers do not want to hear this, but as a freelancer it is true. You need to create a pitch and be able to explain why you are different from Susie Designer down the road. If you want to be successful in the word of freelance, you need to continually be able to sell yourself.
So remember: Be tenacious, be curious, be social, and oh yeah- having your own awesome website to showcase doesn't hurt. Best of luck!
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