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How do I start doing website design as a freelance?

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#1 jakeriding

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 19:10

I'm 16 years old, I really want to be a freelance website designer but I haven't got the foggiest idea on where to start. 

I don't have a website design portfolio, how do I create a portfolio when I can't get any work? (not even free work as I don't have a portfolio), How do I work out the cost of the service when I do get any work? 

 

Like I said, I have no idea how to start, so any help would be extremely appreciated and would help me loads.

 

Thanks in advance!

 

Jake 


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I'm just a 16 year old photographer website designer who's living in Cornwall.

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#2 Jock

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 19:44

When I was 16 a made a couple of 'fan sites' and a few sites for local sports teams and started my way up from there. If you cant find business for free now then you're going to be terrible at finding it when its paid for.

 

Nowadays there are other ways to have a portfolio, like writing some open source stuff, blogging, twitter, etc. Personally I don't have a portfolio, I just have a traditional CV and its kept me in employment for 10 or so years.


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#3 jakeriding

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 22:05

When I was 16 a made a couple of 'fan sites' and a few sites for local sports teams and started my way up from there. If you cant find business for free now then you're going to be terrible at finding it when its paid for.

 

Nowadays there are other ways to have a portfolio, like writing some open source stuff, blogging, twitter, etc. Personally I don't have a portfolio, I just have a traditional CV and its kept me in employment for 10 or so years.

Ah right, I haven't gone around and asked, I've advertised it on my Facebook and Twitter but no further from there, but what do you mean by 'fan sites'? I'm not 100% sure of what they are? I'm not a sports fan if it has anything to do with that.

 

I'm sorry so many questions, but how do I get into writing some open source stuff? I have a small blog (what I'm awful at updating) but it's on wordpress.com, I'm hoping to get around to wordpress.org soon! 

 

Thank you! :)


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I'm just a 16 year old photographer website designer who's living in Cornwall.

If you're on Facebook, give me a "like" and if you're on Twitter, give me a "follow".


#4 Notbanksys Copy Shoppe

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 22:59

Ah right, I haven't gone around and asked, I've advertised it on my Facebook and Twitter but no further from there, but what do you mean by 'fan sites'? I'm not 100% sure of what they are? I'm not a sports fan if it has anything to do with that.

I'm sorry so many questions, but how do I get into writing some open source stuff? I have a small blog (what I'm awful at updating) but it's on wordpress.com, I'm hoping to get around to wordpress.org soon!

Thank you! :)

One of the first things you'll learn if you spend any real time in this business is that you can't expect work to drop into your lap, even for free. Not at least until you have a reputation of some kind.

Put yourself in a local charity's shoes. They need a website, and they need to spend as little money as possible on it. But - and this is the important bit - they are aware that their website needs to be of a certain quality in order to attract enquiries and donations. A poor website that makes them look bad may impact their ability to attract donations. When it comes to businesses, multiply that by 10, or 100.

So you need to ask yourself, what value can you bring to a client. Because that's how you're going to land yourself the gig. Advertising your availability on facebook or twitter is going to get you nowhere. You need to pick up the phone and speak directly to the people you'd like to work with. Or even better, put on a clean shirt, and go speak to them in person. Make sure you go armed with the value you can offer them.

Which brings me to your next question. Money. How to calculate your fee. There are two ways of doing this. One is to base your fee on the value you're offering your client. For example, you're building a small web shop for a client. You have a few meetings, and figure out that a realistic annual turnover for this shop would be £12,000. So you may quote £1,200 for the job as 10% of the revenue your client will earn. That's value based.

Or you can calculate by the hour. Work out how much it costs you to stay alive every month, then add a little for savings/ unexpected costs/ whatever. Next, figure out how many hours you can dedicate to the actual work. Don't forget that not all of your working hours will be billable. Some clients will send you 5 emails a day throughout the duration of their project. You'll need to spend time drawing up contracts, invoices, maybe chasing payments, doing your accounts etc. Make sure your hourly fee accounts for all the unbillable hours. Don't expect to get this right first time. Unbillable hours always add up to more than you think they will. Income required divided by hours worked equals hourly fee.

That's a very quick look at the business side of freelance. And if you want to stay afloat, you'll need to be as up on your business skills as you are on your design & code. Some would say more so.
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#5 Jock

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 23:03

The fan sites I made was for a local speedway team and local ice hockey team. I guess you have to like sports to make something like that but you could make a site about anything you were interested. What about local churches or community groups? You should get out there had talk to them, most probably wont have a site and it will give you experience with working to a spec. You could make some info sites like this one I saw the other day - http://www.evanshalshaw.com/bondcars/

 

You like photography right? so why not build something like that scrolling through the history of Kodak for example, the scrolling increment menu could be like an old film strip, that would look cool. At the bottom of it you can put a backlink to your blog/freelance site.

 

If you want to get into open source development then all you have to do is come up with some kind of 'product', it could be anything, a jQuery plugin, CSS menu, icons, scripts, etc. Licence it under some kind of free software licence then you can use a service like github or bitbucket to host it and gain exposure. Or you could contribute to an existing project.

 

You could also make up fake job specs and just build a few fake sites to demonstrate. When I was freelance I built a lot of fake sites when I didn't have work on to demonstrate my CMS system.

 

Also I don't really want to piss on your cake but I guess most people would recommend that you did a few years of industry work as a developer/designer first so that you actually have a clue how to deal with clients and gain experience that way. Also you can use the work that you've done there to build your portfolio.


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#6 Sogo7

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 03:40

A portfolio does not have to be work done for clients, it can also be a showcase of skills demonstrating your artistic talents and ability to write any code required to make a web page work. 

 

As a starting point I would suggest using your interest in photography as a stepping stone. Designers are often looking for copyright free photo-stock images to use in their work and a gallery style website could also be used to show off any artworks or graphics you have created. Sections of the site could also carrying advertising, it will not make you rich overnight but every penny counts.


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#7 Frankchester

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 09:05

Is it that you're struggling to find work to show/

 

If so, I honestly wouldn't worry about a portfolio site, more just a CV site. Make the site itself a portfolio piece. Just sell your services, don't big yourself up too much, and then start pimping yourself out for free to local charities or groups.


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#8 jakeriding

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 09:33

One of the first things you'll learn if you spend any real time in this business is that you can't expect work to drop into your lap, even for free. Not at least until you have a reputation of some kind.

Put yourself in a local charity's shoes. They need a website, and they need to spend as little money as possible on it. But - and this is the important bit - they are aware that their website needs to be of a certain quality in order to attract enquiries and donations. A poor website that makes them look bad may impact their ability to attract donations. When it comes to businesses, multiply that by 10, or 100.

So you need to ask yourself, what value can you bring to a client. Because that's how you're going to land yourself the gig. Advertising your availability on facebook or twitter is going to get you nowhere. You need to pick up the phone and speak directly to the people you'd like to work with. Or even better, put on a clean shirt, and go speak to them in person. Make sure you go armed with the value you can offer them.

Which brings me to your next question. Money. How to calculate your fee. There are two ways of doing this. One is to base your fee on the value you're offering your client. For example, you're building a small web shop for a client. You have a few meetings, and figure out that a realistic annual turnover for this shop would be £12,000. So you may quote £1,200 for the job as 10% of the revenue your client will earn. That's value based.

Or you can calculate by the hour. Work out how much it costs you to stay alive every month, then add a little for savings/ unexpected costs/ whatever. Next, figure out how many hours you can dedicate to the actual work. Don't forget that not all of your working hours will be billable. Some clients will send you 5 emails a day throughout the duration of their project. You'll need to spend time drawing up contracts, invoices, maybe chasing payments, doing your accounts etc. Make sure your hourly fee accounts for all the unbillable hours. Don't expect to get this right first time. Unbillable hours always add up to more than you think they will. Income required divided by hours worked equals hourly fee.

That's a very quick look at the business side of freelance. And if you want to stay afloat, you'll need to be as up on your business skills as you are on your design & code. Some would say more so.

Thanks, that actually helps a lot, I might soon go out to the local charity shops (my town is filled with them) and ask them to gain experience, as I know I'm still young so I'm not relying on money yet but I thought I'd start young in the business side so it's more easier when I do need to rely on money. 

 

 

The fan sites I made was for a local speedway team and local ice hockey team. I guess you have to like sports to make something like that but you could make a site about anything you were interested. What about local churches or community groups? You should get out there had talk to them, most probably wont have a site and it will give you experience with working to a spec. You could make some info sites like this one I saw the other day - http://www.evanshalshaw.com/bondcars/

 

You like photography right? so why not build something like that scrolling through the history of Kodak for example, the scrolling increment menu could be like an old film strip, that would look cool. At the bottom of it you can put a backlink to your blog/freelance site.

 

If you want to get into open source development then all you have to do is come up with some kind of 'product', it could be anything, a jQuery plugin, CSS menu, icons, scripts, etc. Licence it under some kind of free software licence then you can use a service like github or bitbucket to host it and gain exposure. Or you could contribute to an existing project.

 

You could also make up fake job specs and just build a few fake sites to demonstrate. When I was freelance I built a lot of fake sites when I didn't have work on to demonstrate my CMS system.

 

Also I don't really want to piss on your cake but I guess most people would recommend that you did a few years of industry work as a developer/designer first so that you actually have a clue how to deal with clients and gain experience that way. Also you can use the work that you've done there to build your portfolio.

Okay, I sort of know what fan sites are now; It seems like a good idea to do and to create some fake sites to show what I'm capable of also sounds good to me. 

 

Yes I understand what you're saying, I've been doing web design for just over a year now, so maybe trying to get work at the minute is the wrong idea? How many years did you do web design until you started to look for business? I'm not saying web design is all about the money and business as I do it as a hobby as I like doing web design. 

 

Thanks. :)

 

A portfolio does not have to be work done for clients, it can also be a showcase of skills demonstrating your artistic talents and ability to write any code required to make a web page work. 

 

As a starting point I would suggest using your interest in photography as a stepping stone. Designers are often looking for copyright free photo-stock images to use in their work and a gallery style website could also be used to show off any artworks or graphics you have created. Sections of the site could also carrying advertising, it will not make you rich overnight but every penny counts.

Oh okay, so a portfolio can just be showing what I can do? 

 

I'm actually currently building a website at the minute for my photography, but going very slowly as it's the first site I'm actually building from scratch, I used to play around with already built templates. 

 

Thanks :)

 

Is it that you're struggling to find work to show/

 

If so, I honestly wouldn't worry about a portfolio site, more just a CV site. Make the site itself a portfolio piece. Just sell your services, don't big yourself up too much, and then start pimping yourself out for free to local charities or groups.

Yes, a little bit but like I have been told on here, a portfolio isn't only about showing work from what I have done from clients (of what I have none), but I might do a CV site. 

I don't want to run before I can walk with web design, I want to start it up properly, that's why I am asking so much on here. 

Thanks :)


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I'm just a 16 year old photographer website designer who's living in Cornwall.

If you're on Facebook, give me a "like" and if you're on Twitter, give me a "follow".


#9 DiederikEenschooten

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 09:36

Agree with Frankchester Everyone needs a start. Just summon op your goodpoints ( dont exaggerate ) and start asking relatives or friends if they need anything, if you could make one website for them, make it good, case-study etc, so people see how you work. Its not all about the final product, but it also depends on how you present it to others, and how you deal with your customers.

 

Beside, you are 16 ( no offense ), but its quite young. Are you learning developments / design on school? Or what is your direction? Because its pretty hard to start websites next to your school, as you cant work on them in school.


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#10 Frankchester

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 09:43

Beside, you are 16 ( no offense ), but its quite young. Are you learning developments / design on school? Or what is your direction? Because its pretty hard to start websites next to your school, as you cant work on them in school.

 

Disagree on that one :P I did a lot of web development while I was still in school. I work full time now and still manage to fit in client work, kids at school have a lot more time off too (and it's going to be summer soon).


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#11 jakeriding

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 09:45

Agree with Frankchester Everyone needs a start. Just summon op your goodpoints ( dont exaggerate ) and start asking relatives or friends if they need anything, if you could make one website for them, make it good, case-study etc, so people see how you work. Its not all about the final product, but it also depends on how you present it to others, and how you deal with your customers.

 

Beside, you are 16 ( no offense ), but its quite young. Are you learning developments / design on school? Or what is your direction? Because its pretty hard to start websites next to your school, as you cant work on them in school.

Yes I do too, I might now make a simple/sleek CV site, I have asked a few friends/family if they'd like something or anything but so much of them rely on the free 'build it yourself' websites such as Wix, Weebly, Moonfruit, Webeden and so on I'm unable to do anything but I'm planning to go up my town later and ask in the charity shops. 

 

I'm currently learning html and css, I know how to build a website. I'm not in school at the moment (currently inbetween school and college), I've been learning everything outside of school such as 'w3schools' but I've been doing an evening college course in website design just to get a small qualification so it may help in the future but I've mainly been learning online. 


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I'm just a 16 year old photographer website designer who's living in Cornwall.

If you're on Facebook, give me a "like" and if you're on Twitter, give me a "follow".


#12 DiederikEenschooten

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 09:49

Disagree on that one :P I did a lot of web development while I was still in school. I work full time now and still manage to fit in client work, kids at school have a lot more time off too (and it's going to be summer soon).

Haha might be the different hours, my school was always from 8:30 to 17:00 and had t otravel an hour, I was lucky I was learning into this direction and could make lots of work at school :P Didnt know what kind of school he did, ( now he mentioned ) I can imagene if your schools is from 8:30 till 17:00 and you study biologie, and next to that making websites, would be pretty hard :P


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#13 FreelanceWebDesigner

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Posted 22 November 2019 - 15:07

First of all, I know this post was written a good few years ago and you are probably a very successful web designer by now but I just want to share that I think it's pretty awesome that you, at 16yo thought already about your future! I wish I was like that as a teenager so you are definitely in the right track!!!

I am just curious, how did it turn out for you? What advice would you give now to your 16yo self?


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