Being A Freelance Web Designer – Pros and Cons

Being a freelance web designer in Sydney, or any city for that matter, is tough. There are many pros and cons which I’ll try and cover in this article. Over 10 years of working in Sydney, I have come across a number of factors which may help you, if you are (or you are thinking of) becoming a freelance web designer.

Pros of being a Freelance Web Designer in Sydney

You can be your own boss – Being your own boss can be a great thing. You make your own hours… you answer to yourself and you choose which clients you work with. Being a freelance web designer means you also have to be very disciplined. You need to push yourself to get the work done, but also make sure you aren’t overdoing it, and working all hours of the day and night. Most freelance web designers I know suffer from the latter! Taking regular breaks and finishing at a reasonable hour is as important as making sure you start work in the morning and don’t slack off.

You can choose your clients – Being able to choose the client you work with means that, most of the time, you are working on jobs that you enjoy. I’m sure most web designers have worked for a client they just don’t click with. It makes for a long, tedious process during the project and is not fun to work on. A web designer and their client should have an understanding that they’re working together. If they are constantly bumping heads and clashing on ideas, it will make the job hard to work on. So, my point is… as a freelance web designer in Sydney, you don’t have to work for those clients. Choose clients that you will enjoy working with. This way you enjoy your work, create a better design and the client gets a better result.

You can charge what you want – This statement is not totally true… you can only charge what you’re worth and, more to the point, what the client thinks you’re worth! However, if you are a skilled designer you have the freedom to charge clients what you are willing to work for. Some jobs may be tedious and not very enjoyable to work on, so, charge more for those projects than what you would for something that is exciting for you. It’s totally up to you.

You have creative freedom – Having creative freedom is vital when working on a project, as every freelance web designer should know. Design comes from within and it is all left to interpretation by the viewer. You need to have freedom to create something from nothing as you see it. Being your own boss means you don’t have any marketing department or micro manager analysing your every move. You are free to design to your hart content.

Cons of being a Freelance Web Designer in Sydney

Larger clients may not find you – Being a freelancer means you don’t always have the means to present yourself to larger clients. You may not be able to get your website ranking against the larger players, or you can’t afford to go for the pitch. Quite a few larger businesses may be apprehensive in employing a freelance web designer. This is because there is no security and they would be taking a risk when employing you – you could just up-and-leave half way through the project or (touch wood!) get hit by a bus and the client would be stuck with half a website.

You need to manage yourself – Not all web designers have experience in management. Even if it is only managing yourself. There are many aspect you need to consider as a freelance web designer, other than just designing websites. Most of us would like to only worry about what concept we are going to go with or which colour scheme and imagery we are going to use but, unfortunately there is a lot more to running your own freelance business! Managing yourself involves:

  • Taking care of your own accounts. i.e invoicing, paying bills, paying tax… Not all of us can handle this at first, as we’re not accountants. One thing I would recommend is utilise the services of a bookkeeper. There are also some websites and programs out there which can manage billing for you.
  • Liaising with clients. As a freelance you don’t have the luxury of an account manager or art director dealing with clients. You need to keep your clients up-to-date at all times and this includes chasing up invoices.
  • Managing your time. You need to keep track of how much time you are spending on projects. This is very important – you may have quoted for 32 hours work but if the job takes you 48 hours, you’re cutting yourself short. You also need to make sure you are splitting up your time evenly between projects. It’s OK if you’re only working on two, three or four jobs but if you are working on ten, fifteen or twenty, you may have trouble.

You work in a solitary environment – This does not always have to be the case. There are shared offices around where you can rent a desk or small room. However, most freelance web designers will probably work from home by themselves. That may sound good but it can get lonely. Not only that, you don’t have anybody to reflect ideas off or help you with the workload.

You need to find your own work – This is crucial. If you have worked in a web design agency or studio before, you would have been given a brief by the art director, account manager or sales team. When working for yourself, as a freelance web designer, you need to find you own work. Even if you’re busy working on lots of well paying jobs right now, you still need to be thinking about three to six months down the track. This also crosses over with your time management – you will need to factor in time to your schedule to look for more work.

Overall, being a freelance web designer in Sydney can be a very rewarding job, both financially and for your lifestyle. As long as you have plans in place to manage the negatives, the pros far outweigh the cons.


Author: Justin Roberts