In recent months I have been setting myself up as a Freelance Web designer/Developer, if I told you it was a rocky road I wouldn’t be exaggerating . If I had followed the check-list I have compiled below it would have made my life that little bit easier and stress free. But, like most things, entering into a new chapter can make you feel blindfolded and you stumble about trying to find the answers. Hopefully this list will help you.
But the truth of the matter is I have completed my transition, I am a Freelance Web Designer and couldn’t be happier.
53 Steps to becoming a Freelancer Web Designer/Developer
1. Set a realistic date for starting officially as a Freelance Designer.
(When I say realistic, I mean six months+, and not weeks). Stick to this date.
2. Write out a plan-of action for your new business.
(Always remember it is a business you are building).
Further Reading: Creating a Plan of Action.
3. Save as much money as you can in that six months.
(You’ll need money for stationery, lawyers, accountants, hardware, software…).
4. Make an appointment at your local bank to discuss a business account..
(If you can try to avoid asking for an overdraft, do that. Same with a Credit Card).
5. Familiarize yourself with what your and your clients legal obligations are, then speak to a lawyer about a Contract Draft.
(When it comes to legalities you can’t afford any mistakes,the expense is worth it).
Further Reading: Legalese for Freelancers: Creating a Contract.
6. Design a logo that can be easily identified.
(This is who you are from now on).
Further Reading: Top 50 Logo Design Tutorials.
7. Design letterheads for your stationery, have them professionally printed.
(Order about 200).
Further Reading: Create Letterhead Templates in MS Word.
8. Design a business card, again, have them professionally printed.
(Something memorable that reflects your logo).
Further Reading: Art of the Business Card.
9. Build contacts with other designers in your local area.
(They may pass you work, and vice-versa).
10. Build contacts online with other designers.
11. Register your new Domain Name.
(Be quick with this, don’t allow the pirates to buy it first!).
Further Reading: Register Domain Name.
12. Get an excellent Web Host.
(Try to get a host with the best reputation and the most features. This is an expense that you should not spare.).
Further Reading: http://www.besthostratings.com/.
13. Plan your Online Presence, and plan the Marketing for it.
(Were will I feature my work? Will I have my portfolio on my own site or will I have it on a Social Site).
Further Reading: 3 Freelance Marketing Tips From The Company Behind Billion Dollar Brands.
14. Get a Gmail Account using your new domain name.
(Don’t you already have one?).
Visit: Google Mail.
15. Open a Pownce account.
(This to me is better than most Instant Messengers).
16. Open a Tumblr account.
(Its all about exposure).
17. Make sure you have an Instant Message account.
(Some clients will like this).
18. If working from home, designate an area specifically for work.
(Attempt to keep your working life separate from everything else).
19. Check your hardware, do you need a new computer, printer…
(A laptop is a must).
20. Invest in a copy of Adobe Creative Studio.
(Having the best software won’t make you the best, it will just make you prepared).
Visit: Adobe Creative Studio Homepage.
21. Invest in a copy of the latest Microsoft Office. Build your contact list with Outlook.
(Expensive but worth it).
Visit: Microsoft Office Homepage.
22. Check your desk / workstation.
(Is it big enough? Is it adequate? Is it clutter free?).
Further Reading: 12 Ways to Pimp your Office.
23. Invest in a filing cabinet.
(Keep all the paperwork, from your clients, lawyers, banks and accountants).
Further Reading: Five Things To Do To(Or For) Your Accountant At Tax Time.
24. Is your chair comfortable?(Lazy-boy Ecliner would be perfect, wouldn’t it?).
Further Reading: 12 Ways to Pimp your Office.
25. Get a new phone line installed purely for business.
(You don’t want the kids answering the phone to potential clients, would you?).
26. Speak to an accountant, and familiarize yourself with tax laws.
(Anything to do with taxes, I would rather leave to someone else).
Further Reading: Out-Law Part 2.
27. Give at least a months leaving notice at work.
(And make sure you complete and leave no unfinished business at work.).
Further Reading: Leaving Notice Template.
28. Leave your job on good terms.
(You might need to go back).
29. Write a thank you letter to your previous employer and thank them for the experience and knowledge they have given you.
(They may pass you work).
Further Reading: Thank You Letter Help.
30. Type out your contracts with Word, and print on your new letter headed paper.
(Reread it, and reread it again. Ensure you haven’t made any mistakes from your lawyers original).
31. Write out a proposal template for your potential clients.
(It will save you a lot of time later).
Further Reading: Design Proposal Template.
32. If your target is local business, have a look at the standard of web design in your area.
(Make sure you can match or super seed these standards).
Further Reading: The Monster List of Freelancing Job Sites.
33. If your target is Worldwide, register with as many Designer Listing sites as you can.
(Its all about exposure, making yourself available).
Further Reading: “>http://webdesignfinders.net/.
34. Design your portfolio/homepage and launch.
(Nothing to complicated, just appealing and accessible).
Further Reading:5 Tasks You Should Stop Putting Off.
35. List all the services that you offer on your portfolio/homepage.
36. On your contact page insert a simple form, and all other means of contact( instant messenger, tumblr, Pownce…)(Better than an just an email link.).
37. Email all your contacts and let them know that you are intending launching in X amount of weeks.
38. Post a letter(stating who you are and your services), with your business card, to some prominent businesses in your area.
(Get your name out).
39. Speak to some local Newspapers, and inquire about the price of advertising.
(Cheaper isn’t always better).
40. Try advertising online.
(If you have the money, you could try this route).
41. Any inquiries you receive, be prompt with your replies.
Further Reading: Building Credibility: 11 Ways to Show You’re a Professional(Mason Hipp).
42. Decide whether you will charge hourly or by project.
Further Reading: Nine Factors to Consider When Determining Your Price.
43. Work out how much money you need to make in a year to make ends meet.
(Taking into account business expenses as well as living expenses).
44. Don’t set your prices too high nor too low.
(Too low makes you look desperate).
Further Reading: Top Ten Signs You May Be Charging Too Little(Jack Knight).
45. Speak to your accountant about your yearly plans, and monthly funds you hope to have at your disposal.
(Its all about planning).
46. Speak to friends and family and warn them that you maybe going to work long hours.
(Make sure you always allocate time for them, all the same).
Further Reading: Balancing Work & Family(Allan Branch).
(This is the beginning).
48. Don’t take on too much work, too soon.
(You may rush projects, lowering the quality, thus your reputation).
Further Reading: Top 5 Freelancing Mistakes.
49. Take regular breaks.
(A breathe of fresh air and a coffee will do wonders for the mind).
10 Productivity Tips are Better Than 101 .
50. Remember your customer services skills.
(Clients are always good for referrals and repeat business).
Further Reading: How to Deal With Upset Clients.
51. Most of your new work may not be a full Site Design.
(It maybe some small tweaking or developing for another design agency).
52. Don’t design too adventurously with conservative companies…
(They will probably just want something simple for there users).
53. …On the other hand try to enjoy your work and be CREATIVE.(You will still have to work hard).
Further Reading:8 Web Design Mistakes That Developers Make.
Essential Further Reading
Legalese for Freelancers: Creating a Contract
Top Ten Signs You May Be Charging Too Little
13 Breeds Of Freelancer And How To Up Your Game
101 Essential Freelancing Resources
Five Things To Do To(Or For) Your Accountant At Tax Time
5 Tasks You Should Stop Putting Off
8 Web Design Mistakes That Developers Make
10 Absolute “Nos!” for Freelancers
8 Common Misconceptions About Freelancers
Nine Factors to Consider When Determining Your Price
Balancing Work & Family
How to Deal With Upset Clients