4 Actionable Steps to Becoming a Freelance Web Designer

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Is freelance web design a good career?

Design is everywhere. Whether it be something so small as a phone in your hand, or a big roller coaster, certain aspects make it look aesthetic and user friendly. That is indeed design. Without design, you will not have something look so structured and uncluttered. 

Freelance web design as a fulfilling career

Many of you struggle to figure out how to choose a career path after a long break or being a stay-at-home mom for quite some time. In this post, I am going to show you how to start a career as a freelance web designer and how my no-design background helped me achieve something that I never imagined!

Everything is possible with a little time and consistent effort.

Does your background matter to be a web designer?

Your background in terms of education doesn’t matter if you want to be a web designer. Look at me: I am an engineer by education and I took up my first job as a software engineer in one of the reputed firms, worked as a systems analyst for an ERP product, resigned after 5 years to get married and move away from home! 

I started taking up painting and art classes at Michael’s, learning to crochet at the local library, and working on home projects. I can’t count the number of crochet projects that I’ve worked on - my pet projects were kids’ clothing and accessories. Loved it!

It was only when my husband wanted me not to waste my engineering degree and my creative skills, we decided that I would explore web design.

What are the skills needed to be a web designer?

First things first, you do need to know some basics of web design. Joining a class at the community college will help you get started. I took up ‘Internet Web Development’ which included 

  • HTML5 - Hypertext Markup Language - For the content of your web pages
  • CSS3 - Cascading style sheets - Styling of your web pages.
  • Adobe Dreamweaver - a WYSIWYG editor to create web pages
  • JavaScript - Animations

Of course, this is a good way to start as you will be exposed to what the Web is and what are the tools necessary to successfully build a web page.

How much will you earn as a beginner freelance web designer?

Freelance Web Design, ok. Taking up a few courses, ok. But in the end, is it all worth it? This is a real question that we all have, correct? I agree it is not so easy to answer. I do believe that you have to be willing to put yourself out there, learn and develop skills, practice, and stick through it to see results. As anything anyway, right?

Beginner web designers get paid about $40,000 monthly which is not a bad start. The only disadvantage is that whether you work in an office setup or remotely, you will still have a fixed, monotonous schedule and you will have to work when the rest of the company works. Don’t get me wrong! That works for some people. But not for some of us, right? People like me enjoy the freedom that is associated with working from the comfort of our own homes, working whenever we feel like it, and at our own pace and schedule. And you will get paid hourly from about $20 to $100 per project, roughly. This is only when you start freelancing. You can increase your rates later on in your career.

Freelance is the best way to go then! Let me tell you how I got to do this...

4 simple and actionable steps that you need to follow to become successful at freelance web design.

Ok, now I’ve decided to start my career as a freelance web designer. Where do I start? What do I do first? I’m pretty confused! If this is you, don’t worry, I’m here to give you some tips on how to start with this.

1. Courses - What do you need to know to start?

First things first- what skills do you need to gain as a web designer? HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript are the basic building blocks of any web page. If you try your hand at understanding these concepts, it will go a long way. Freecodecamp.org has some great resources to learn the basic concepts of HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript. You could refer to w3schools.com for some extra help with syntax and structure.

Try building simple web pages using HTML5 - this is just for the content, CSS3 - styles your web pages with colors, fonts, etc. and JavaScript - build out some basic animations. 

For example, you could build a calculator to calculate simple logic or build a to-do list with JavaScript. Try to create an intuitive web interface for it.

 You could also arrange 20 images of varied sizes on a single div block using the CSS grid. 

The options are endless! 

Some projects I tried out:



I took up courses such as Bootstrap4 and WordPress to give me a feel of the layout and how I can design elements responsively.

As a practice project for Bootstrap, and this what I did, I replicated the entire Wikipedia website using Bootstrap4. A great project to showcase! I couldn’t showcase this as a new project but I could as a Website Redesign.

Tip: You can find tons of videos on YouTube or if you are willing to spend a few dollars, Udemy is a great place to try out some great ones for as low as $9.99. There are some great free courses as well!

When you take a course on Udemy, your instructor will walk you through a web project as well that you could make your own. Still a great way to keep those in mind for your portfolio.

2. Build your online portfolio - Practice projects and how to find them.

Ok, come on, you are a web designer and web designers need a portfolio- an online one. 

A portfolio showcases a designer’s best work. 

How will you create a portfolio if you do not have any projects that you can put on there? Here are some tips on how to go about this.

Note: You also have some small projects created from Step 1.

Follow these simple steps to create an online portfolio.

  1. For an absolute beginner, I suggest that you first create a simple website using Wix. Wix has some great templates perfect for an absolute beginner to start with. You don’t even need any hosting at this point. 
  2. Take the small projects that you practiced and create a simple portfolio - Try titling your projects using this as a guide:
  • Name of the Project
  • What problem are you trying to solve?
  • How you solved it.
  • Image of the final working application/web page/website.
  • If you have hosted the project somewhere say Github, provide a live link to it. It provides the person who is looking at it, a sense of reality.
  1. An online portfolio never stops continuing to grow. As and when you create something that you are proud of, add them into your portfolio.
  2. Working on real websites - Now that you have worked on some of your pet projects and updated your portfolio, it’s time to show some courage and go through the process of applying to volunteer jobs online.

Why volunteer?

It is a great experience to help someone with what you know and also work on some actual websites in real-time. Even if it is a volunteer opportunity, you will do your best, learn a lot through this experience, help your clients to achieve the purposes for their website, and possibly get some contacts that will get you to other freelancing clients. Whew! That seems too long a sentence, but a very true statement.

Some ways I found virtual volunteer job opportunities and you can too!

  • Find volunteer opportunities online.



These are great websites, but the process of applying for a job is still the same. You would have to fill up a form with your education and experience. The application process requires a portfolio. You could use the portfolio that you created with Wix in the previous step.

Next is to search for keywords such as Website Design, Website Redesign, Visual Design, etc. Once the relevant projects pop up, take a look at each one, see what they require. Most of it will just ask you to move from one platform to WordPress or create an entire site from scratch inside of either WordPress, Squarespace, Weebly, or Wix.

The application process is pretty straightforward. You will be asked to write a few words about why you are interested in this project and why you think you are a great fit for them. Practice your writing skills here, be genuine and you will get called!

Mostly, you will be interviewed or given the job right away!

  • You could apply for internships online or join a friend’s company for some hands-on experience. This way you get to work on a real website or at least some real-time web pages. 

I created a website for my family business, it gave me a great experience thinking about the web design process from start to finish!

As always, keep updating your portfolio with your best work and at one point in time, you can remove the old projects from your portfolio website and have the best ones in there!

3. Apply for Jobs - Where?

Once you have a nice looking portfolio with only the best projects that you are proud of, it’s time to take the next step. Apply for jobs!

It does seem scary, but don’t panic! You have already gone through the process of applying for jobs online, remember?

Some great freelancing platforms to apply:

  1. Upwork - This is a great platform you can apply for jobs on. A web designer gets paid either fixed-price or hourly. It is a great place to start.
  2. Freelancer.com
  3. Guru.com
  4. Fiverr
  5. Toptal
  6. 99designs
  7. PeoplePerHour
  8. A very big list of remote jobs are listed in this link here: https://skillcrush.com/blog/sites-finding-remote-work/

4.  Keep yourself updated!

  • The design world is evolving. Keep yourself updated with the latest trends in the industry. I do this by reading blogs and watching youTube videos. Blogs help elaborate on a certain concept and reading them regularly helps you keep updated on the latest tips and tricks in design.

Some blogs I follow:




  • If you are a visual person, you may like to watch YouTube videos about the latest in the industry.


Congratulations! You have successfully read through the entire post. 

Now that I’ve walked you through the step-by-step process I followed to begin my freelance web design career, I'd like for you to step up out of your comfort zone and take the steps I took to begin mine. And you will see success!

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