In web design, change is the only certainty. New tools, trends, and techniques mean that we always have to be on our toes. Indeed, it seems there’s never a dull moment.
But moving your career forward isn’t so easy. Things often get in the way of the linear ascension we hope for. Sometimes it’s the result of outdated skills. Or perhaps your business just isn’t allowing you to grow at the desired pace.
Whatever the cause, these obstacles can leave you feeling stuck in neutral. Personal and professional growth is stunted. All the while, you watch from the sidelines as others seemingly move ahead.
However, all is not lost. There is plenty you can do to jumpstart your career. It’s all about identifying the obstacles in your way and taking action.
Not sure where to start? We’re here to help! Join us as we look at common obstacles and how to get past them.
Web design is constantly being pushed forward by new technologies. Yet it’s still rooted in some foundational methods for putting a website together.
In practice, this means that it’s still possible to design and build a website using an “outdated” workflow. That’s not to say it isn’t functional (hence the quotes around “outdated”). At the same time, it might not provide many growth opportunities.
If you find that you’re still using techniques or technologies that are in decline, that’s a sign of stagnation. For example, think about a content management system (CMS) that is no longer receiving updates. Or a CSS layout method that has long since been supplanted by something more efficient.
There are plenty of other examples. But the idea is that it’s possible to hold onto a workflow a little too long.
This provides a great opportunity to learn something new. You don’t have to jump on the bandwagon of every buzzworthy technology that comes along. Rather, look for skills that make sense for your particular niche.
Projects That Don’t Offer a Challenge
When you’re managing multiple projects, efficiency means a lot. And if your projects tend to have a certain sameness to them, it can be difficult to break out and try something new.
That leaves little room to experiment and grow. The daily grind becomes more about crossing items off of your to-do list, as opposed to breaking new ground. It’s a common trap for web designers – particularly established freelancers.
Going with what pays the bills is fine. But, how can you level up when you’re stuck in survival mode?
There are a few possible avenues to explore. The first is to look for projects outside of your comfort zone. Something that goes against the grain in terms of your typical clientele or technology.
At first, it may sound a bit scary. But there’s a certain energy that comes along with being uncomfortable. It can be a great motivator and forces you to look at a project from a different perspective. Plus, you might have the opportunity to learn something new.
If hunting for new clients isn’t a good fit, then it never hurts to try the trusty side project. The benefit here is that you get to choose what you want to do. Find something you’re passionate about and start building!
Lack of Revenue
Survival mode is more than just working on “boring” projects. It also encompasses projects that simply don’t pay enough. Try as you might, it’s hard to get your career on track when caught up in a web of cheap clients.
There’s a school of thought that says you can rake in the revenue by working on a larger volume of little projects. That may be fine if you’re willing to work seven days a week. But not so great if you’d prefer to have a life outside of your job.
Prior commitments aside, this is a situation that can be resolved. Take a look at your revenue and determine what areas are hurting your bottom line. If they can be salvaged, don’t be afraid to raise prices. Otherwise, they can be trashed.
In a broader sense, raising your prices for new projects may also be in order. This could be a turn-off for some prospective clients. However, those that see the value in your expertise won’t think twice about the cost.
Suddenly, you’ll find yourself with the ability to make more money while working on fewer projects. That’s how you get ahead.
Sometimes, the biggest obstacle in our way is mental. It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing you’re not good enough to find success. Impostor syndrome, as they call it, is all too real.
Being a part of a large, diverse industry that features a variety of ways to build websites leaves so much open to interpretation. That can be both a good and bad thing. If you’re not following the trends, you might wonder if you’ll be able to learn the latest technology – or if you’re doing the wrong thing altogether.
Many of us can feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of knowledge out there. And there’s often a fear that any change we need to make must happen all at once. It’s no wonder we can feel like imposters.
Defeating imposter syndrome takes time. But it starts with a belief in yourself.
Think about everything you’ve already accomplished. The skills you have mastered and the projects completed. The happy clients and colleagues. Those are signs that you are indeed good enough to keep moving onward and upward.
Moving Past the Obstacles in Your Way
Every web designer will face peaks and valleys in their career. Whether it’s a lackluster client roster, projects that don’t challenge your limits, or self-doubt – we’ve all been there. Thankfully, you don’t have to stay in a rut.
The most effective way to get past these obstacles is to first identify them. Once you know what you’re dealing with, you can do something about it.
Even better is that, after you’ve conquered one obstacle, you’ll have the confidence to take on the next one. Over time, you may start to see them as just temporary bumps in the road. Certainly, nothing to lose sleep over.
Remember, whatever stands between you and your career goals doesn’t have to stay that way.
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