Six Secrets of Web Design Freelancers!

Web designers are a particular (and often seen as a peculiar) breed of human being. It takes something special to work effectively in this field, that's for sure. But even more so to be a freelancer in the web design field. That's an entirely different subspecies altogether. For anyone who has ever tried their hand at freelancing, they know this to be the case. It is not for everyone. But it can be.

Like with most things, being a freelancer can be learned. This beast can be somewhat tamed to work for those who have perhaps failed at it in the past.

Perhaps the reason you have been unable to take that step, or that you were unable to make a go of it when you did, was because you weren't privy to some of the secrets. Less tricks of the trade, and more ways to make this lifestyle fit more comfortably.

Six Secrets of Web Design Freelancers!
Image credit: Bigstockphoto

What this Post Isn't

If you have come to this post expecting to find the secret to banking the big bucks as a freelancer and retiring at the age of 25, then I am afraid you have come to the wrong place. This post is not going to be any sort of automatic recipe for successful freelancing. Because such a recipe does not exist.

Sorry if I burst any bubbles with that statement, but freelancing is not some sort of magical field where millionaires are made around every corner. It's a field of long days and waiting games.

This post is also not going to spell out how you can become a rockstar in the field and suddenly be designing the site for the next Avenger's film.

Becoming a rockstar is up to you. You have to have the passion and talent to shape the game in that manner as you work in the web. It is more about giving you the stepping stones you will need to have in place if you are going to rise to that level, sure. But knowing the path, and being able to see it through are two completely different things.

So below you will find six secrets that all successful, and sustained, freelancers know and work by. Day in and day out.

#1 - Community Connection is Key

First and foremost, if you are hoping to be a successful web design freelancer, then you have to understand that the community connection is key. Web design freelancers know the benefit of the online community and how being connected to said community is beneficial to them and their brands. So they engage. They become an active part of the community and contribute. This is not only good for growing your business through referrals by others whom you have connected with, but it allows you to grow as a web designer too.

Community Connection is Key
Image credit: Bigstockphoto

Being an active part of the community keeps you up to date and plugged in to the latest developments in the field without having to make any sort of costly investments. While it might be a fantastic thing to do for your business, you might not always have the openings in your schedule or the funds available to attend every web design conference that is held. But the community will respond and actively share what was learned and discussed at these conferences. So you have the learning potential.

And just like with any community you are a part of, they can offer useful advice and reviews of products or services that you are considering, but haven't the means to risk spending funds on them that might just end up being wasted. Like if you are trying to find a good, reliable host, you are going to trust what those who have used them have to say about their service. Same applies elsewhere in the web design community.

So there are many ways that being part of online web design community is beneficial to freelancers. We are not always backed by big corporate budgets that we can play somewhat loosely and riskily with. So we have to do a little more research and planning before we spend. Nor do we have the budgets to continue educating ourselves in the field without tapping our free community knowledge pool from time-to-time to assist us. So the community can be and often is a freelancer's savior.

#2 - Rome Wasn't Built in a Day

...and neither will your projects be. This is not something that applies strictly to web design freelancers, and we know this. But it is something that many of us forget when we start diving in and taking on projects. We forget to pace ourselves and allow for said pacing when we set up a timeline with the client. There are not enough hours in the day, we hear this all the time, so we have to learn to effectively manage them. We must also learn how to balance the work hours and the non-work hours to keep us refreshed and productive.

Rome Wasn't Built in a Day
Image credit: Bigstockphoto

This is an area where a lot of freelancers fall down and lose themselves. They let the work completely consume them and their schedules until they are consistently putting in 16 hour days, and not giving themselves any time to decompress and unwind. To have their mind unplugged from their projects and offering their creative energies a chance to recharge. This can spell disaster for anyone, but for a freelancer, it could be the end of our very brands.

Once we lose the confidence of our clients because we have been unable to deliver on their expectations and our promises, we begin to lose the credibility we as freelancers rely on to keep clients coming in. So we need to be sure that we are managing our time effectively, but also responsibly. An overwhelmed and overworked web designer is good to no one. If our creativity is faltering, then so too is our freelance business.

#3 - Inspiration is a Hydra

Freelance web designers also understand that inspiration is a hydra. It is like that mythic beast of legend in a couple of ways. And treating it as such, is a game changer that can really take your work to the proverbial next level we all should be striving for. Now this is not saying inspiration is a deadly beast to be feared, but more that is has many heads. You cannot get your inspiration from just a single source.

Inspiration is a Hydra
Image credit: Bigstockphoto

Doing so is a recipe for stagnating and having your creative drive and output slow. We need to be influenced by other fields and inspired by other formats in order to be taking our work to exciting new places. It is simply not enough to find our inspiration from the wealth of web design offerings that are out there and filling the portfolios and collections of works. We have to reach outside of our own field to find new ways to approach our work within it.

Also, just like with a hydra, cutting off one head (or excluding one source of inspiration) simply means replacing it with another. The more perspectives we allow to shape and ourselves to hone our creative voices through, often the more potent it will prove to be. Our creative experiences will be that much deeper and richer, and so too will be that which is wrought from it.

#4 - It's Feast AND Famine, Not OR

You often hear when people are talking about freelancing the whole feast or famine comparison. That this mode of operation is what you can expect while working within the freelancing machine.

It's Feast and Famine
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You will either be enveloped in times of feast or times of famine. And when many people hear this, especially those considering getting into the field, they mistake that it is kind of an either/or situation. This is what will often lead to a freelancer over-committing themselves and booking too many projects at a time. To stave off any chance of famine.

But that is unfortunately, not often how it actually plays out. You will have periods of both. For most freelancers, there are times when you will be feasting and riding high upon a successful wave of projects that have come your way. But there will also be times when you will be in the grips of famine as the waters are still and no waves are present. You need to prepare for it. Being caught off guard in this respect is not something that tends to produce favorable results.

Being unprepared for the times of inactivity on the work front will also hopefully keep you out of that desperate place that has you accepting work from a client who comes with all sorts of red flags and warning signs. The fewer of these jobs we find ourselves forced to take, the more enjoyment we reap from our work. This helps feed our longevity and stamina for staying in the field. Even when times are tough.

#5 - Good is the Enemy of Great

This is something that I was taught a long time ago in another job, but that seemed to resonate with me more once I got into freelancing and started working for myself. This gem was handed down from a manager I worked under over a decade ago, and it holds true still. Good is the enemy of great. And even if they do not realize it themselves, the most successful freelance web designers live by this old adage. If we become too satisfied with being good at what we do, then we will never be great at what we do.

Good is the Enemy of Great
Image credit: Bigstockphoto

Freelancers cannot afford to fall into this trap. Especially in such an innovative and changing field as web design is. Instead, if we view every opportunity that we take on, as a new chance to prove ourselves to the client and the web design community at large, then we will always be striving for greatness. We will never be satisfied with our current level of skill and design prowess and we will constantly be seeking out new learning opportunities and challenges.

This is a recipe for keeping us at the very top of our games, and should be considered a priority for us all. You always hear that you should never stop learning, and this just furthers that idea and drive. For if we allow ourselves to stop growing, then we in turn prevent ourselves from moving forward on a path of upward mobility. We instead wander along a plateau until we reach the end and start declining. That's not a route we should ever be satisfied with taking.

#6 - Not Every Innovation Will be Welcome

As we work with various client types and brands, we have to remember that not everyone is on the same page as we are with this push for constant upward mobility and growth. So while we may be wanting to always broach new areas and break new ground, that's not necessarily where the work will be. And while we know trying daring new things can provide amazing and unique break-throughs in the field, we understand that we are ultimately working for the client.

Not Every Innovation Will be Welcome
Image credit: Bigstockphoto

They get to decide the full trajectory of the project and where it ends up. So not every innovative thing we suggest will be welcomed and be able to be implemented into every project. This is just the way the game is played. Some clients just aren't willing to take chances in that way, and we have to be willing to let those things go and not push the client into being our guinea pig.

Learning to work within the constraints of the client's wishes is just as important as being able to convince the client to trust in your judgement and expertise.

No More Secrets to Tell

But that doesn't mean that the conversation is over. There are bound to be more secrets that you are holding on to waiting to share. Or at least some thoughts on those we have.

Now is your turn. Take a few moments to drop us a line or two in the comments.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of Onextrapixel.