Although it's easier than ever to build a website from templates and content management platforms, such as WordPress, many businesses still prefer to hire a web designer to build and manage their websites. As a result, many web design jobs are and will continue to be available.
According to Salary.com, the median income for a web designer is over $70,000 per year, with a range from $50,000 to nearly $100,000. The combination of high demand and lucrative income potential makes web design a popular home business idea.
Becoming a Web Designer
Web designers are part artist and part tech-geek. They're not only responsible for the look of a website, but also the functions. Web designers aren't required to have any specific training or certification as long as they have the skills to design a site. Although it's not necessarily a requirement, a knowledge of coding and programming can increase opportunities and income. Web designers should have:
- An eye for design, including layout and color: Web designers create the layout of a site that should be attractive while still able to serve the purpose of the site.
- Understanding of color and font and how they can be used to enhance a site.
- Ability to organize and structure the site for easy navigation.
- Coding languages, such as CSS, Ruby, SQL, Python and/or ASP, can increase marketability and value.
Pros of Starting a Web Design Business
There are many advantages to starting a web design business, one of which is high demand. Other pros include:
- Can easily be done from home or anywhere you have Internet access.
- No specific educational requirements are needed, although certifications and training can increase your marketability.
- The Internet is here to stay, so the need for designers isn't going to disappear. Web development occupations have a job outlook growth of 27 percent, well over the 7% most other occupations average.
- You can be creative every day.
- It pays well.
- You can easily expand the business into other areas, such as SEO, copywriting, web site maintenance, and other website related services.
Cons of Starting a Web Design Business
Like all other home-based ventures, there are a few downsides to running a web design business, such as:
- The web is constantly evolving; so you'll need to stay current on coding and software.
- There's a lot of competition.
- Newer, easier to use systems means many would-be clients are trying to create their own websites.
- You're at your computer all day.
What You Need to Start a Web Design Businesses
It goes without saying that you should have the knowledge and experience in web design before starting a web design business. Once you have that, you'll need:
- A home office that is quiet and free from distractions
- Hardware, including a computer, quality monitor, scanner, printer, and digital camera
- Software for graphics, photos, and video, which may be free or cost hundreds of dollars
- A high-speed Internet connection and perhaps server space for site hosting and testing
- A menu of the services you'll provide and what you'll charge for them.
- A contract that outlines all the policies on how you work.
- A business plan, outlining your services, target market, and financial goals.
- A marketing plan that includes your target market and how you plan to reach it.
- A website of your own that not only represents your skills but offers a place to showcase your portfolio of work online.
- Marketing materials, such as business cards and brochures.
- A strong network to access for possible referrals. This network can include people you've designed for before, but also other professionals that work with businesses that can use designers. For example, you should have a network of copywriters, graphic designers and others involved in developing websites. It's possible you'll have a client that wants a website, but doesn't already have text and graphics. With your network, you have other businesses you can refer your client to, as well as the other businesses can refer their clients back to you for web design.
Once you have your business set up, the challenge will be to find that first client. There are many ways to find clients, including using your network. Be sure to gather testimonials and develop a program for getting referrals, as obtaining repeat and referral customers is the cheapest and most effective way to build your web design business.
Another option for finding your first clients is through the freelance job websites that list freelance web design jobs, and connecting with potential clients through social media, particularly LinkedIn.