How To Become A Freelance UI/UX Designer
Freelancing is one of the most attractive business models for UX/UI designers. It provides you with an opportunity to choose your own hours, set your own rates, and even work from wherever you choose (provided you have access to the right tools).
According to the latest reports, about 35% of the American workforce is made up of freelancers. This number is likely to be even higher among creative professionals, designers, and developers. After all, a digitally-focused career like UI/UX design doesn’t necessarily require the use of a traditional office.
Now could be the perfect time to pursue your career in freelance design too. According to LinkedIn, UI/UX design is among the top five in-demand skills right now, with thousands of positions listed on the platform for budding experts. But starting a career in freelance UI/UX design isn’t without its challenges. You’ll need a clear plan in mind to bring your future career to life.
Step 1: Develop Skills and Experience
First, if you’re going to become a successful UI/UX designer, the first thing you’re going to need is the correct skillset. There are a few ways you can develop your knowledge. If you already have experience with web and application design, then there are various courses you can take online to hone your knowledge around User Experience and Interfaces.
If you’re starting from scratch, you can take a professional design and development degree or course, with a focus on UX/UI frameworks. There are also various online bootcamps and diplomas available on the web for people who want to manage their education around a busy schedule.
Notably, earning the right certifications isn’t enough to guarantee success as a UI/UX designer. You also need to have the right experience. Most clients will be looking to work with professionals who already have a strong portfolio showcasing their previous work. This means you may need to spend some time working with agencies, volunteering, or working on low-cost projects.
Although you might not earn a great income when you’re building experience, you will gain other forms of value, like an opportunity to build your network, and the ability to experiment with bigger-budgets and world-class tools when working with agencies.
Step 2: Create Your Business
Once you have your education, and a little experience, it’s time to set up your business. As a freelancer, you won’t just be dealing with creating websites and Shopify themes. You’ll also have to handle all the administrative details of being self-employed, like choosing your business structure, sending tax returns, and dealing with contracts and invoices.
Start by choosing a name for your company, and working on your brand. Ask yourself whether you need things like a logo, a business card, and a website where you can showcase your work. The answer is probably yes, as your brand will be critical to marketing your services later on.
Next, make sure you have the right tools in place for tracking incoming and outgoing expenses, such as a bookkeeping software, a business bank account, and a payment processor for collecting cash from your clients. Once you have your tools for tax management set up, you’ll need to start thinking about setting rates. There are a number of ways to price your services.
You can choose to charge your customers by the hour, using a specific rate for every 60 minutes of work, or you can give a weekly, or monthly rate. There’s also the option to give your customers specific quotes for different projects. The latter option is usually more flexible, as it can be difficult to predict exactly how long a UI/UX design project might take at first.
Consider assessing the rates offered by your competitors when you’re determining how to price your services. You should be offering a reasonably competitive price, but you don’t necessarily need to charge less than other companies if you can deliver great results.
Step 3: Find Clients and Job Opportunities
With your business now fully established, you can begin looking for clients for your freelance UI/UX design business. A good way to narrow down your search is to pick a specific niche or “target audience” you want to work with. For instance, you might offer your services primarily to small businesses, technology companies, or brands using Shopify ecommerce stores.
Using the user persona you build of your ideal customer; you can start gathering clients and job opportunities by:
- Developing your website: Use your website to showcase your skills and attract new clients. Publishing content optimized for the search engines should help you to increase the visibility of your business, and boost your chances of more customers. You can also expand your online presence on various forums and platforms for freelancers, like Dribbble.
- Using your network: Connect with other people as often as you can in the design space. This will help you to reach new potential customers, and it can also add to your credibility, by giving you people who will vouch for your work.
- Taking advantage of job boards: There are various freelance job boards which list opportunities for UI/UX designers today. You can start with options like Upwork and FlexJobs, as well as exploring sites like Toptal. Make sure you keep up-to-date with the latest freelancer platforms as they emerge.
- Promoting yourself on social media: Social media is a great environment for UI/UX designers searching for clients. You should start by ensuring your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date, so people can learn all about your skills, accreditations, and past accomplishments. Then you can start promoting yourself across multiple channels, from Twitter to Instagram.
- Become a Storetasker expert: As a Storetasker expert, you’ll be ranked alongside some of the top Shopify developers and designers in the world. You’ll have access to endless great clients, as well as fantastic earning opportunities and learning resources.
Step 4: Scale Your Business
Once you’ve started attracting clients, the next step is scaling your company. After you’ve completed a project, make sure you request feedback and testimonials from every client. This will give you crucial social proof you can share on your website. It’s also worth including work you’re particularly proud of in your portfolio, so other customers can see it.
Attend industry events and networking opportunities to connect with new potential clients, and enhance your knowledge of the industry. It’s also worth keeping up-to-date with the latest trends in UI and UX design, by following experts on social media and reading news reports.
If you start to gather a number of repeat clients, or you find demand for your services increases at a drastic rate, you can consider bringing more UI/UX designers into your team. This will allow you to take on a wider range of jobs, and potentially increase your profits.
Ready to Start your Freelance Career?
A job as a freelance UI/UX designer can be an incredibly rewarding career choice for today’s technology experts. As demand for people capable of creating immersive online experiences continues to increase, there’s endless earning opportunities in this field.
While you will need to devote significant time and effort to making your freelance career a success, the work will pay off if you’re dedicated enough. Get in touch with Storetasker today to see how we can help you launch your freelance career.