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The most In-demand skills every freelance web designer needs to master

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You know you’ve got the talent for web design, but you’re tired of making money for someone else. The idea of going off on your own on a freelancing adventure seems like the obvious next step.

Flexibility, choice in projects, being able to set your own hours—all of this sounds great, right?

However, in addition to your web design skills, there are some other essential skills that you need to have a handle on before you set out on your own.

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Be organized

It will be up to you to plan your deadlines, your finances, your ordering, and your workday.

While running a freelance business is much simpler than running a fully-staffed office, there are some basic day-to-day operations tasks that you may not have considered. You’re now going to be the accountant, the timeclock, the purchaser, the PR rep, the manager, and the grunt employee—all at the same time!

Without a sound organizational strategy, you may quickly find yourself falling behind on some critical aspects of your business.

Be able to work with a team

You’re not going to be given an assignment and told how to do it. Part of freelancing is working with your client to help them understand their needs and to figure out the best way of getting it done.

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When you work for a firm, there is probably an account manager who sits down with the client and helps them figure out their needs. When freelancing, you’re more likely to be working with small businesses and individuals who are unsure of what they want, so you will need to help them through the process of making those decisions.

Be able to work independently

This is not a contradiction. You need both skills. While you need to be able to work with your client, you also need to be able to stay on top of your motivation and your deadlines – without a manager or “boss” to answer to.

You won’t have someone sitting in the next cube to ask if you get stumped or need to talk out a solution to a problem.

Being a self-starter is something that many people in the freelance world struggle with, and you need to be confident in your own ability to get the job done without a corporate safety net.

Basic marketing skills

While you don’t need a marketing degree, you must understand basic marketing ideas and trends. Not only will you need to market yourself as a potential contractor for clients, but many will need direction with their own PR and marketing.

When they choose to work with a firm, someone helps them design the marketing strategy, then passes the project off to you for building.

You need to be prepared to offer your clients some basic advice and direction to work this out before you can start on the web-design.

Business skills

One of the most difficult parts of beginning a freelance career is learning the ins and outs of running a business from the ground up. While your product or service that you are selling is valuable, you need to consider the various processes involved in selling that product.

You need to be able to find clients, market yourself (see above), maintain high-quality customer service levels, determine your overhead needs, and budget your time and money wisely. You may be surprised to learn that more than half of your workday can be wrapped up in finding potential clients and then trying to negotiate details of contracts.

While you may set an hourly rate of $50, by the time you factor in overhead and time spent running the business, you may find yourself averaging $20 or less per hour of an 8-hour workday.

Don’t let any of this discourage you though; a freelance career does have its benefits. You can select which projects appeal to you, take time off when needed (if you budget for the lost income) and you can work from home in your pajamas with a cup of coffee and your dog curled up at your feet!

Just make sure you aren’t jumping in without brushing up on a few of these essential skills first.

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About Tess Pajaron

With a background in business administration and management, Tess Pajaron currently works at Open Colleges, Australia’s leading online educator. She likes to cover stories in careers and marketing.

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