A student of mine recently asked me about the success tips for new freelance web designers in Nigeria, and as someone who has been in the freelance world for the past 6 years, I want to share some tips that have helped me out so much and what I have learned throughout my journey.
Although, there is a lot of information out there covering topics of interest for already reputable web designers, but for those who are just starting out there’s just a little bit of useful content out there for you.
And that is why I have taken it upon myself to share these tips with you.
You see, there’s more to freelancing than deciding what tools to use or which skill to master.
When you’re starting out freelancing, you’ll be thrown into a world that is in the same way, incredible and exhausting.
You might have the technical skills covered but that’s only a small percentage of what it takes to build a hyper-profitable web freelance career for yourself.
So without further ado, I’d be sharing the 5 tips I’ve found helpful throughout my journey of building a successful web design freelance career, and in no way is this article comprehensive enough to talk about all the list of tips to help you as a new freelance web designer but it does focus on the major points that had the greatest impact on me and I believe that they can for you too.
We’ve got some grounds to cover here, so let’s dive in right away!
5 SUCCESS TIPS FOR NEW FREELANCE WEB DESIGNERS IN NIGERIA
1. HAVE YOUR OWN WEBSITE
2. NARROW DOWN
3. DEVELOP A PRICING PACKAGE
4. PRACTICE PROSPECTING EVERYDAY
5. ESTABLISH A ROUTINE
1. HAVE YOUR OWN WEBSITE.
First off, if you’re looking to build a successful web design freelance career and not just being a one-off freelancer, you really NEED your own website.
It doesn’t have to be a “fancy website” but it must outline your major offers and showcase your work.
As a web freelancer, you’re basically a small business, so you must know that your business needs a home base online.
Your website is the place where you’ll direct people to check you out via social media, so it’s key to have a website right from the start.
Sincerely, I’m always surprised when I meet new freelancers online or at networking events and I find out they don’t have their own professional website.
Like, oh my God!…. I really don’t understand how you can expect to build a business without a professional place to direct potential clients to, so that they can get more information about you, what you do and how what you offer can help them.
As you can see I have my own website here and if you’re deeply interested in getting into freelance web design, the first thing you need to do is to build a professional website or portfolio for yourself too.
There are a lot of free tools you can use to create your portfolio.
2. NARROW DOWN.
One of the best pieces of advice I received when I was starting out was to find an industry that appealed to me and focus on establishing my expertise within it.
This process is known as niching down.
When you’re starting your career as a new freelance web designer, it might be enticing to take on any project that comes your way so that you can get experience, some few bucks, and even build your portfolio.
While I totally understand this basis, it does make it harder to attract your ideal client in the future if you’re known as a JACK OF ALL TRADES.
Although niching down might seem limiting at first, it actually allows you to play a flourishing long term game. Instead of you being known as just a normal web designer, you can instead position yourself as the expert web designer for a particular niche.
For instance, Sulato is known as the #1 affordable real estate web designer in Lagos, Nigeria.
So you too can position yourself in any industry as the expert of that industry, it doesn’t have to be real estate.
You now grab the drift, RIGHT?
Now, you need to realize that niching down does not only makes it easier for you to get clients in your niche, it also makes you more pleasing to future clients since they can see from the onset that you understand their jargon and know their industry in and out.
By now you should know that standing out within a particular industry, can make a name for you and build a much stronger referral network (As a matter of fact majority of my web clients came through referrals from their friends in the same industry).
Like I said earlier, Sulato is the #1 affordable real estate web designer in Lagos, Nigeria.
This means I’ve niched down to a small business sector (real estate).
Due to my love for real estate, I grew the passion for the industry plus I also enjoy working with small professional businesses (Real Estate Agents) because I find communication between myself and them to be very informal and natural.
You may find yourself more interested in other industry like; fashion, beauty, gaming, energy or even real estate.
It all goes down to what makes you tick and you knowing what type of website you enjoy working on.
The best part is that there’s always enough work to go around for everybody!
So if you’re just starting out as a new freelance web designer my advice for you is to find a niche that you’re interested in and build a portfolio around it.
3. DEVELOP A PRICING PACKAGE.
Once you’ve narrowed in on the niche you’d like to focus on as a freelance web designer, it’s time to reach out to potential clients and get working on some projects.
Creating a package will help you know when not to say “yes” to clients and will help you see if a client would be a good fit.
When you decide to work with clients, there are so many things to consider that you might not think of when you’re starting out.
For example, have you considered the client’s budget?
How does that compare with what you want to charge for your work and what you believe is a fair rate?
Remember, as a freelance web designer you’re trading hours for money so you don’t want to work for a skimpy hourly rate.
Not every client will have a budget that fits your project rates and that’s okay.
This is where you need to understand that there are different types of customer and you need to create a product to match each customer type.
There are cheap and stubborn customers, and there are rich and affluent customers, you need to know this.
The best way to suit each customer need is by creating a package.
Creating packages make you separate cheap from affluent buyers.
So let’s say you want to create a two box package whereby there is one for cheap buyers and one for the affluent buyers.
All you need to do is to split your expertise into two, whereby one is greater than one…for example;
Cheap Package: 4-page website design, basic SEO, and a dot com domain – PRICE: 120K
Affluent Package: 12-page website design, premium SEO, a dot com domain, 3month free maintenance, and 2 free blog posts – PRICE: 200K
This doesn’t mean this is how your package will look like, this is just an assumption…you dig?
Now, why do you need to create a package?
Because some buyers are naturally cheap when buying, so you need to instigate a sales strategy to make them go for what the affluent buyers too buy.
If you check that example, you will notice that the difference in price of the cheap package and affluent package is not much but the difference in value is high…
What we’re trying to achieve here is that we want most buyers to buy the affluent package which initially is the actual price you charge but the cheap package was just created has a decoy.
You now get why you need to create a package, right?
4. PRACTICE PROSPECTING EVERY DAY.
You see, mastering the web design skill is good but knowing how to find client is even great.
Online or offline, you must prospect new people every day because when you don’t prospect, you don’t excel!
Prospecting is the lifeblood of freelancing; this means if you don’t talk to people about what you do, then how do you want to get people to work with you?
Part of my success so far as a freelance web designer is that I’ve really been obsessed with connecting with people online and offline and I have been able to build meaningful relationships.
I call this “prospecting” but most people call this “networking” and it is, to an extent, but it’s also a whole lot more than that.
Schedule time in your calendar to actually attend events in your industry and introduce yourself to clients in that industry.
At first, when I was getting started with creating websites for real estate agents I neglected going for real estate events which left me loosing lots of money on the table.
But now, I do attend a lot of real estate events and I also joined different real estate groups on WhatsApp and Facebook.
When you’re starting out, this might seem a little intimidating but trust me; even the experts were once in your shoes.
Most freelance web designers constantly talk about the hustle and the grind that comes with being a freelancer and as horrible as that is, they’re speaking the truth.
In order to separate yourself from the noise and set yourself towards becoming a successful freelance web designer, you must create a time to meet with people in your industry as well as those in other industries.
There’s a lot to gain in expanding your network and connecting with people in related or entirely unrelated industries.
You never know when they’ll think of you and pass your name on to a potential client.
Talking to people online can be tough since the relationship is never as real as in-person relationships but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest your time in it!
Think of the internet as a free marketing tool so be sure to spend time on social media connecting with people who have the potentials to buy what you offer and publish articles that people will want to read and get something out of.
There’s a lot to prospecting when it comes to freelancing as a web designer, the possibilities are endless you just have to get your feet out there and grind every single day.
WANT TO KNOW THE EXACT SECRET OF HOW I FIND MY OWN CLIENTS?
5. HAVE A SCHEDULE.
Being a freelance web designer means having freedom and flexibility with your schedule.
On the other hand it can be difficult to focus and get work done without a superior telling you what to do or you being accountable with your deed.
For myself, I’ve found it really useful to create and stick to a schedule.
It made me more efficient and improved my work-life balance.
You see, for you to be able to create a schedule that works, I will advise you to create a dedicated workspace you enjoy and can focus in.
I enjoy working from home; I’m a huge fan of working from home though I work from my office on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Having a schedule is a great way to keep structure in your day and it also signals an end to your workday, something that many freelancers struggle with.
Starting or making the switch to becoming a freelance web designer can be challenging but also hugely rewarding if you’re strategic and are willing to put in the work.
I hope my 5 success tips for new freelance web designers is helpful and you can apply them to your own freelancing journey.
Freelancing is a totally different experience to working in a traditional 9-5 job but it’s something I have loved so far.