Here are some things I have found to work the past few years to become better as a freelance web designer.
1. Connect with others in your niche. You can learn and teach. Also, you never know when a colleague might think of you for a client they might not be able to complete a project. In return, you can do the same. This way you become someone well-respected and people will want to work with you.
2. Make sure to make you are charging fair rates and make sure your client knows what duties will be performed for that price. Charge what you are worth. Any less and you might not be taken seriously. A regular job pays hourly. Obviously you can charge clients hourly or based on project. Time and effort are very important. If you are not charging what you should, then your project could end up several ways:
– your client expects more services than originally agreed and will not pay for them because they assumed you would do it.
– you may start feeling like you got the worse end of the business
You should never feel that way and your client might feel the effects. Have it down in writing somewhere, a contract of some sort whether paper, online document, or even via email.
3. Always be open and looking for opportunities. There are hundreds of sites opening each day and someone designed them. It could have been you. However, due to lack of knowledge on where to go, you might know. Well, it is not just online you can find opportunities, but in your own communities. If your local area has a newspaper, consider taking out an ad. The classifieds might be a nice place to start and then you can progress to ads on other parts of the paper.
Also, if you run across a site with a good idea, but could use a revamp, approach the site owner and ask them if they would be interested. Mention what you can do, and please be polite. Some site owners actually have designed their first websites with limited knowledge, so do not knock them down with your web design savviness. It might scare or insult them.
4. Keep up in the knowledge of your field. The Internet has changed many times. What code use to be valid is no longer valid. What designs that were popular 10 years ago, might not be sought after today. Whether by taking actual classes or seeking out tutorials online, you would be helping yourself get ahead in your field. And, falling back to #1, with those people you met in the web design community, if you do not know something, ask. There are people out there that are well-connected and generous enough to share their knowledge with you.
5. Turning away clients is not an option. Yes, you have become busy, but instead of turning them away, refer them to someone you trust that can do just as great, if not better job than you can. The person might be able to return the favor, especially if you might become light on projects in the future. Also, that client you referred – if they are pleased with who you referred, they might do more business in the future with you or be nice to toss your name as a referral.
What other suggestions might you have for freelance web designers looking to become more advanced in their career?