Recently updated on June 10th, 2023
If you like the internet and see yourself as somewhat technologically minded, you may just want to make a career out of that. Becoming involved in website design may just be the right job for you. However, becoming a web designer isn’t something that you just accidentally roll into. It requires a lot of skill, a lot of time and a lot of working for peanuts before you actually make a name for yourself. As a potential web designer, you have two main options: you can either work for yourself, or you can become employed by a website design company or agency. Both have their own distinct pros and cons and it all depends on what you can and can’t do. There are even some situations in which you could do both.
The first and often most easy scenario is to start to work as a freelancer. This means you use various online tools to market yourself as a web designer and hope someone will give you a chance to prove yourself. You will generally have to start working for a salary that is far below what you would expect, but as you become more knowledgeable about the design, and you have more customers who all sing your praise, your income will start to grow.
Before you know it, roles are reversed and you no longer have to look for clients, but they will come looking for you instead. The alternative is to look for a job with a website design company. The benefit is that you will have a steady job with a steady income, which is very important, particularly in today’s difficult economy. The downside, however, is that you will not get any personal recognition for your work. It will always be the company that gets the credit. There is nothing wrong with this, because you are a part of that company, meaning you ride the waves of success of others as much as your own, but it would be nice to be able to say “I did that” every once in a while as well.
You can do both as well. A lot of people set themselves up as a freelance web designer and also look into getting a permanent job. However, once you work for a web design company, it is likely that they will want you to stop the freelance work as this becomes a conflict of interest. This is because you could technically take customers away from them for your own gain, and you could use software and other tools the company has paid for in order to further your freelance career. When you work for a company, you often have to sign a non-compete agreement stipulating you will not work for yourself while employed, or after your employment has ended, work for the competition for a set number of years.
So the choice is yours which direction you take. If you choose to start as a freelancer expect the first year to be very sparse or meager when it comes to business. You need to have reserves set aside to make it through the tough times; however there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Once you make it through that first year it starts to become a lot easier. All of a sudden business will start to be more regular.
My advice for you when starting down the freelancer road is to stay focused. Go with what you know and try to stay away from the do everything approach. Always be thinking of your future, and not just about making a quick buck. Stay within a specific niche and improve your skills while building lasting relationships with your clients.