For new and hopeful designers wanting to make a living from design the internet is proving to be a lucrative and invaluable route into the industry, by specializing in web design. Once upon a time it would have been very difficult for a graphic designer to build a career on their own, without first working at a design agency and building a creative portfolio. Design gigs for new contractors would have been very limited and very hard to find. Nowadays however, it is possible to both earn while you learn, as well as finding work as soon as you qualify. With hundreds of sites all over the internet dedicated to offering web design work at the best price, it is possible nowadays to find freelance design work and get going straight away.
There is of course a caveat. Obviously no new graphic designer, or web designer is going to walk straight into a design agency or be given a contract to redesign the website of a fortune 500 company. You’re going to be starting at the bottom. And you’ll still need the skills. Chances are that all the best jobs will still require design degrees and years of experience, as well as the required industry experience. However, what the internet has done, and continues to do, is offer new web designers a chance to work and build a decent portfolio of well designed websites and a bit of experience under their design belts so that they can feel confident applying to the bigger design jobs.
Online job boards like Virtual Assistants, Odesk, Elance and Sologig now provide freelancing designers with a level playing field when applying for thousands of web design jobs. On these job boards the job is awarded not for who you might know, but rather how good your web design skills are. Every job site will feature multiple categories of jobs and all of them will include a category for design. For example Elance has categories for “Web & Programming” and “Design & Multimedia” either of which contain thousands of jobs for the budding web designer.
Projects for web design will be advertised on these job boards and might vary from highly technical web design with specific requirements for cashier systems or databases, right the way down to the most basic word press installations or design tweaks on current sites. The job is listed and then the designer who submits the most convincing proposal (as well as offering the best price) wins the contract. Unfortunately, it’s never quite that simple when you’re starting out. Because for every job advertised there will be many other freelance web designers also applying and many of them will have been working on the job site longer than you. So in order to catch up with them and get your freelance web design career started you need to both write a convincing and appealing profile and to upload a portfolio of quality web design for prospective buyers to look through. Even if you are new to the job board and new to working in web design it is essential to have at the very least a couple of projects that you have designed yourself at home, just so the client has some of your work to be able to make an informed decision on your skills.
After that the next thing that you need is good feedback from clients on the job board. This is where clients review your performance on a job and recommend you to other prospective clients. Feedback is essential for your prospects on these job boards as the slightest bit of negative feedback can ruin your reputation and lead to no one hiring you. Of course when you’re first starting out the only way to get feedback is to bid much lower than all the other designers and then hand in faultless work, so that you can get your first review. The better the feedback, and the more reviews you get, the more new clients you’ll be able to attract. Once you’ve got a few clients, you’ve done it and you’re an established web designer!