I want to know people’s experience with becoming a freelance web designer.
When did you make the decision to become a freelance designer?
Does it pay well?
Do you have to do 8,10,12? sites a year to make the kind of money that you want/need to live/care for your family?
Do you feel as though it is ‘harder’ then a corporate job (eventhough the flexible work schedule is more desirable then the 9-5 routine)?
How many sites until you got the ‘street cred’ to charge a premium?
How long until you got into your groove?
Anything that you can share, I am interested to hear about.
I know that there are a lot of freelancers out in the world (and here in the forums), but I have never spoken with one about the work balance and money aspects.
All the best,
I’ve never worked as a web developer because i just started coding. But i can imagine that its a risky way of making a living because your next paycheck is never a guarantee. Sounds like something ill never do. I don’t know how freelance web developers do it.
Having been a freelancer for almost ten years, I had to face the fact that something like work-life-balance is a tough challenge. I’m not that kind of nerd working all day, but how often did it happen that a great idea for solving a problem came by cooking the dinner, cleaning up or just taking a shower bath. Then I really need to get it done. So sometimes I’d love to have a 9-5 job focused on that time – my brain doesn’t like it however.
@elmsoftware – Even i would like to know about this thing, but unfortunately i did not get time to write, so right now i am working full time. Sometime I also think should I become a freelancer, but same question how many job i will get in a year? can i set my future as a freelancer…that’s still question in my mind :-(
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It depends how seriously you want to take this. There are people out there that make a living running their own freelance business. Granted, “a living” varies for most people. There’s a price to pay for all of the flexibility of the freelance life, however. “Does it pay well?” If you charge what you and your clients agree what you’re worth and manage a steady stream of clients through good marketing practices, it does.
To quantify how many sites you’ll have to do to earn what you need is like saying how many ‘pieces’ of food will I need to eat to feel satisfied at lunch while a piece could be a whole watermelon or a potato chip (shouldn’t have skipped breakfast). You may get large projects that are going to take more time but carry a larger price, or you’ll create larger numbers of small sites for smaller prices. This is where pricing strategy and managing your personal/business budget needs to be considered.
Income aside, freelancing puts you in charge of paying your lovely taxes. Note that sole proprietors in the US are
taxed at twice the amount that employees are on income required to cover the half of Social Security and Medicare that an employer normally would. Not only that, but you have to make sure you put that money aside similar to how a company would take the money out of your check and then pay it once a year or quarterly.
Then there’s insurance. One popular way to get health insurance is to go through your local chamber of commerce at a reduced premium. In the US, as per the COBRA Act, you could keep your employers health benefits if you have resigned from your position at the company. You will have to pay the full premiums plus whatever share you were contributing via paycheck deduction. More info can be found here.
Personally, I would welcome the challenge that is freelancing full time, but I haven’t started a family or really have anybody else that I am obliged to support financially. That and I don’t have any need to stay in the city I am now. My life is a blank canvas at the moment. That said, I’d personally feel more comfortable having a corporate job (or with an existing firm) for the steady pay and benefits and do freelancing part-time as well. You’ll have to consider whether you are in a position to pursue a full-time career building and then running a business and whether you can accept the risks.
A lot more info can be found at :: http://freelanceswitch.com/
I live in the UK and have been freelancing since early 2008. Love it and make more money than I did in my full time job.
Best way to start out IMO is try and start whilst you are working thats what I did anyway then when I got too busy to do both I went full time freelance.
Check out Rockstar Freelancer that is a great book with some top advice that really helped me.
Its great being your own boss but it does have it downsides like every thing in life its not for everyone. I do miss just working with other people and it can become quite lonely at times.
Two things that I find difficult are quotes and managing my work load. Its hard to stay busy without being too busy. If I can I like to charge every client by the hour.
I found this article recently. Might be of some use here: http://samuelmullen.com/2013/07/so-you-want-to-be-a-freelancer-dot-dot-dot/.
> Note that sole proprietors in the US are taxed at twice the amount that employees are on income.
Income tax? That’s not true. You pay regular income tax rate like any other employee. Maybe you meant Social Security and Medicare. That’s where you pay twice compare to working for someone because they pay half of it for you. If you work for yourself you just have to make sure you send taxes to IRS on quarterly bases.
Agreed with all.
I am in the in-between phase when it comes to freelancing. I have a full-time job in post production, and I freelance in both post and web dev on the side. Always good to have multiple income streams.
My time is starting to get crunched, and I may make the leap to total freelance in 2014.
I’ll start off by saying that personally I’ve began to completely disagree with the way that “freelance” gets thrown around. Freelance is a far tougher gig than working for an agency, and accordingly it should also pay a lot better. The only reason to go freelance in my opinion is because you have the specialized professional skills to pull it off and make a lot of money.
I started my own company after I got laid off. I had been doing it on the side for about 5 years on and off, the last 2 pretty seriously. So even though I had a company, it was essentially a freelance situation. And yes you double up on your social security/medicare taxes, which is why many people create a S corp company so that you no longer have that extra burden (and then you pay yourself like an employee).
Without divulging actual numbers but giving you some real world idea, I can say my first year as a full time design company earned far north of $50,000 for the year. The following year it was more than that. I surpassed my corporate job by a sizable amount.
My wife and 3 kids are in no danger of going hungry. That could always change of course with the economy like any business, but doing the “freelance thing” wasn’t dipping our toes into the poverty pool. It is a risk like ANY business anyone starts. This is no different than an IT consulting firm that starts up down the road or a place that sells cars to open up. None of these places are any more secure and have any more idea what the next paycheck looks like than a web developer.
My advice is: make sure you are ready to be a professional in your field. Be prepared to behave and learn like a professional. Engage your customers like a professional should. Provide customer service and use your expertise. Make people a LOT of money with your services. And if you are doing all that, then you are charging like a professional should and making a really good living making people successful.
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