When you’re starting out as a web designer, it’s a challenge to get clients. And when you do, it’s cause for celebration! It’s easy to get lost in the mad scramble to find work, complete it, and find new work, making it even more likely that you’ll miss something along the way.
Since getting started can be hard and keeping track of the details next to impossible, here’s a list of 25 things you absolutely must know to be a web designer and manage a successful business.
Make a schedule
Seriously, being a freelancer is great and offers a lot of freedoms but without a schedule, you’re toast. Make one and stick to it, now.
From your clients and their contact information to your current assignments to your future prospects, make sure you enact an organizational method from the beginning. Waiting will only cause headaches.
Have a goal
What do you want to accomplish with your web design business? If it’s “make enough money to pay the bills,” that’s perfectly fine. Just make sure you have a clear objective.
Reevaluate your goals
Every six months or so, take a step back and take a look at where your business is and what you could do to be moving closer toward your goals. Adjust your approach accordingly.
Keep track of your money
Stuffing receipts for software and postage in a shoe box isn’t going to cut it. Pick an accounting method and solution and start using it immediately. You’ll thank me come tax time.
Budget for tax help
Speaking of the above, the world of self-employment taxes is murky at best. Don’t try to navigate it alone.
Tip: Set some cash aside to hire a tax accountant at least once a year.
Don’t fear social media
It’s here to stay so embrace it. Set up social profiles if you don’t already have them and schedule in some time each week to chat with likeminded folks. Build a network and new clients will come to you.
Pick a note-taking app
It might sound trivial, but it’s important to have a single place to store all of your notes. It should sync across all of your devices and offer a way to capture data in multiple formats. Evernote is my preferred choice, but there’s no shortage of options.
Spend time developing your brand
It might not come to you right away, and every piece might not fit together from the start, but making an effort to build a cohesive brand identity for your design business is essential. Ask yourself, “what makes me stand out from my competitors?” and let the answer be how you present yourself to the world.
Read more: The Death & Rebirth of Web Design
Be a member of your community
I mentioned social networking above, but you can take it a step further. Being a good web designer means spending time contributing to the web design community. You can do this by creating freebies for other designers to download or writing tutorials for your blog. This gets you noticed within the design community and helps you build an expert and authoritative brand.
Tip: Share knowledge generously and you’ll be rewarded.
Prioritize face-to-face time
Being a web designer means spending a lot of time behind the computer screen. It’s necessary, of course, but it’s important to find time to get out amongst people in “real” life, too.
Whether that means taking your laptop and working at a coffee shop or library, or buying tickets to a networking event, it’s all beneficial for your mental health and happiness.
Building up a web design business isn’t easy but there’s no reason you need to complicate matters by being unprepared. This quick list of need-to-know things ought to help guide you in creating a business destined for success right from the start.
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