Freelance web designer and how we work
What is involved in full time freelancing?
I haven’t come across the ever popular misconception that freelance design is free. I think the clients that approach me appreciate good design and are willing to pay for it. I know other freelancer most certainly don’t think design comes for free!! However, there are a few things which seem to be associated with freelance web design which aren’t quite true.
1. Freelance web designers can work from anywhere
I have also tried working from a coffee shop. I find it distracting. You cannot take direction from a client or offer advice with that level of noise. It also sounds unprofessional.
A lot of work can be done independently of a client. Most of the time though I find face to face meetings essential, and prefer to be able to meet my clients, at the very least on Skype, to discuss ideas and solutions.
I find I produce my best work in my studio where I am not distracted and have the peace and quiet to answer the phone and concentrate on my projects. I also like my large screen and comfortable chair which are not easy to carry around! I find being in London helps, with most of my clients, so we can have more face to face meetings.
2. Freelance web designers are often unavailable
Perhaps because we either work alone or in small teams, there are times where the phone is unattended when we are in meetings or busy coding. Aside from this, I think most full time freelancer web designers always have their phone on and are picking up emails. We offer a service and are often working to deadlines and dealing with client requests. We cannot run successful businesses if we return calls and emails after a few days rather than instantly.
3. Freelance designers can work any hours
Granted we may not have to clock into an office every day at 9am but most of us have started work by then. We can, and I think we do work long hours, sometimes well into the evening, but we have to available when our clients are too. Which means that between 9 and 5.30 we are available. I think we can be flexible but ‘working any hours’ is a bit of a myth!
4. 90% of freelance work is design
Freelance web designers have to go beyond design. We have to pitch for new business, meet with clients and manage projects, market ourselves, keep our accounts in order and learn new skills. This is all time consuming. I would say 50% of my work is design and the other 50% is all the tasks I just mentioned.
5. Freelance web designers get to pick and choose who they work with
Sometimes. I would say though however ‘slow’ work is I wouldn’t work with a company if I felt it was unethical, or something I inherently disagree with. I wouldn’t produce a website selling arms for example. I also wouldn’t continue working with clients I found unreasonable or who refuse to pay. I think this is about more saying no to people rather than having free reign of exactly who you work with.
6. Freelance designers can take lots of holidays
I would say some can, most can’t. It is true that we can pick up a few website changes, text updates and simple tasks whilst on holiday. But usually we don’t want to to. Like most people who work long hours when we are on holiday we are on holiday. I personally give plenty of warning before I go on my annual holiday, and usually would prefer not to be disturbed unless it is urgent. I definitely wouldn’t take on a large project. I think we can definitely take a lot of holiday more but risk loosing out on work and annoying our regular clients.
7. Freelance designers are their own boss
Yes you are. You are not tied to one company but are generally tied to quite a few. When I’m working on a few projects I have formed partnerships with companies, but essentially I have quite a few people t answer to and impress. Although these are not my bosses I have to perform well, and sometimes this can be harder than having one boss.
8. Freelance web designers love the freedom
I think for anyone starting out in freelance design you have to get used to be being flexible and having as degree of uncertainty in your life. You are not receiving a monthly wage and you probably cannot plan what you will be doing in three months time. For some people this can be more stressful than enjoyable.
Overall freelancing is rewarding, diverse and brings a lot of opportunity and enjoyment. It just needs some dedication, planning and hardwork to get started.