Tips on Starting your own Freelance Web Design Business

Working as a freelance web designer is an increasingly popular career many developers are choosing to get into. And it’s not hard to see why. Not only is it a potentially lucrative career, many developers love the freedom that it comes with. The freedom to work at your own times and from wherever you want. You can work while never needing to leave your home or office, or you could work from a holiday resort in the Maldives. 

As an entry level developer, you’ll be able to charge at least R6 000 for a basic WordPress site. On top of that, you could charge at least R2 000 a month for maintenance and upkeep of the siteNow times that by at least 10 clients and you’re in business 

Bear in mind, these are just entry level fees for basic WordPress sites. Naturally, once your skill level and brand strength increase, so will the fee you’ll be able to charge. Additionally, you’ll be able to charge a bit more for sites that require additional features like eCommerce solutions or additional plugins. 

Getting into the web development industry can be a little tricky, but it’s definitely not impossible. In fact, with a proper approach, you can be up and running in not time. So, if you’re an aspiring web developer keen on setting up your own freelancing business, here are some tips to help you get started.  


Get the Right Skills 


This is the obvious first step. You need to equip yourself with the right skills, and become really good at them. For starters, you’ll need to learn the basics. HTML, CSS and JavaScript. These form the foundation of web development. You’ll need a solid foundation on which to build the rest of your career. 

Once you’re comfortable with these, you’ll need to learn WordPress and WooCommerce. These are going to be the most powerful tools in your arsenal. Majority of your work will most likely be done with these.    

It’s also worth investing some time into learning a bit of Graphic Design and basic design principals. 

As a developer, your learning should never be complete. Keep exposing yourself to new technologies and better ways of doing things. You need to keep practicing to become better and more confident. Aim to be the best.  


Set up your Corporate Identity 


This is important because this is the outward appearance of your company. This is what people see and will remember you as. This includes your branding, your company name, logo and your company colors. 

Look at companies like Google or Facebook. Notice how their names are so memorableTake a look at their logos as well. Simple, yet unique. Notice how they also use the same set of colors across their sites and apps.   

well-thought-out corporate identity will make your brand unique, memorable and professional. 


Build your Portfolio Site 


Aside from explaining who you, what you do and displaying your contact information. This site needs to be a showcase of your skills as a developer. Put everything you’ve got into this site. Make the best site you’ve ever built. 

Your portfolio site should also showcase projects you’ve done before. This includes work you’ve done for clients as well as projects you’ve developed on your own. 


Setup your Social Media Accounts 


A strong social media presence will help establish yourself in the industry and get you noticed. Be active on sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Use these platforms to market yourself and expand your network, obviously putting you in front of more clients.  

Been active on Social Media also builds industry credibility. It helps establish that you’re a real person who’s active and connected. Potential clients will be more willing to trust you as a result. 


Setup your email address 


You can’t go around using a Gmail, or worse, yahoo email address for your business forever. It’s growing to raise a few eyebrows. You need to make you brand look as professional and established as possible. Setup your domain specific email address as soon as possible.  

Remember, majority of all communications between you and your clients, as well as between you and potential clients, will be going through emails.  

While you’re working on your email address, take some time to design a good-looking email signature as well.  


Get some Experience Under your Belt 


There’s a painful irony you might run into getting into a web development career. At IT varsity, we call it the work experience cycle. It goes like this, you need experience to get a job, but you also need a job to get experience. So how do you break this cycle? 

On effective solution is to approach small business or NGOs, and offer to build a website for them for free. Be honest with them. Explain that you are a student or entry level developer trying to get some experience. In any case, most small business will jump at the opportunity. 

Once you’ve got a business on the line, build for them an amazing site. Put effort into making it as beautiful as you can. On top of that, give them a good experience. Listen to their ideas and suggestions, check with them periodically to see if they’re happy with how the site is turning out, respond to their messages and emails timelessly 

When the project is done, not only will you have experience developing for a real client under your belt, you’ll also have a very satisfied client as a referrer. This will help greatly in getting more paid clients. 



Web design is potentially a very lucrative career that allows you to work at your own times, and from any in the world. It’s a very exiting career that’s always changing and evolving. There are a few hurdles you might face heading in, but with clever planning, you can overcome these with ease. On any journey, the hardest part is the first stepSo, hold your breath, dive in and build your dream career! 

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