How to Pave Your Own Path as a Freelancer


Have you ever asked yourself why you became a freelance web designer? As funny as it sounds, it may be one of those questions that we don’t ask ourselves until well after we’ve started a business.

Odds are that your initial answer has something to do with freedom. That makes sense, as it is an enticing concept. Yet it’s also a bit broad.

If you dig a little deeper, you might just find that individuality is at the very core of freelancing. It’s the need to do things your own way – without interference from the outside world. Sink or swim, you want to be the captain of your own ship.

But, how do you get to that point in both your business and life? Let’s take a look at some ways you can pave your own path.

Think About What You Really Want…And Go for It

Web design is not a one-size-fits-all type of career. Compare it to, say, a grocery store. While you’re likely to find similar goods from one store to another, the services web designers provide can vary greatly from firm to firm, person to person.

That’s a great thing, because it gives you the power to make your business exactly what you want it to be. You don’t have to work with clients in specific industries or price ranges. The same goes for the technologies you use.

Sometimes we lose sight of that. Instead of specializing in what we do or like best, we simply take every opportunity that comes our way.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with that approach. However, there is the possibility of getting stuck in undesirable situations. Clients you can’t stand, projects that drive you crazy (and don’t pay nearly enough) – this probably isn’t the independence you were looking for.

Instead, position yourself for the type of clients and projects you really want. It may be a little scary at first. But as you start to find success, your confidence will grow right along with your business.

An open book.

Find Comfort in Who You Are

Among the biggest misconceptions about owning a business is that you have to morph into a cheesy salesperson. While some sales-related skills are useful, they don’t require a change in personality.

Sales gimmicks and buzzwords are more likely to come off as forced, depending on your nature. They don’t capture your knowledge or give a potential client a reason to choose you over competitors. You might find that the opposite is true.

Authenticity is a key in booking clients and keeping them. That’s just another way to say: be yourself. That in itself is freeing.

No, it’s not a license to tell inappropriate jokes. But it does allow you to speak honestly in an effort to help clients achieve their goals. Even better, you don’t have to have an immediate answer to every question. You can take the time to research and follow up.

After all, clients won’t be working with that carefully-crafted version of you. They’ll be spending their time and money on the real you. Might as well introduce them right from the start.

A person doing a hand stand.

Do Things Your Way

You don’t have to run your business like the web designer down the street or on the other side of the planet. The decisions regarding how you work, where you work and how much you charge are in your hands.

Sure, you should carefully weigh each of those items. But the decisions are still yours to make. And, for better or worse, it’s part of what will make you stand out.

For example, if you have no interest in working with a particular JavaScript framework, there’s no law that says you have to. If you don’t want to be at your desk after 5pm, that’s on you, too.

When it comes to pricing, it can be difficult to gauge at the beginning. But the goal should be to develop a structure that you’re comfortable with and that clients are willing to pay. It may require some experimentation – which you can do in a way that suits you best.

And you’re also in the driver’s seat when it comes to the projects you take on. This is how you find your niche in the industry.

What’s more, part of following your own path is reserving the right to change your mind. If an aspect of your business isn’t working or even satisfying, you can make adjustments.

A coffee mug with "BEGIN" written on it.

The Future Is Yours to Make

By becoming a freelance web designer, you’ve made it clear that you want to control your destiny. You don’t want to rely on a boss or some corporate mandate to keep you fulfilled at work.

Instead, you’ve chosen to make your own way in the world. It’s a bold choice, and one that comes with some risk. But that’s true for just about anything worth doing in life.

Most likely, you didn’t start your own business to be like everyone else. So, embrace who you are and do your own thing. Envision the future you want and go make it happen!

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