Freelance web designer creating a website at a computer desk

Pros and Cons of Becoming a Freelance Web Designer

Becoming a freelance web designer was the best thing I ever did!

I am not going to lie, there are some negatives, but for me, they are far outweighed by the positives.

Being a freelancer means being self-employed and this in itself can be a huge challenge.

For every positive there is to becoming a freelance website designer, there is also a negative. For each point, I am going to discuss both the pros and cons.

Before we go any further, I should note that there may be a little (a lot of) bias in this article. That's because I will discuss everything purely from my point of view.

You may currently be still deciding about whether or not to become a freelance website designer. Hopefully, this post will help you to make the correct decision.

As a freelance web designer, you are your boss

I hope this is not too dramatic, but I (sometimes) felt like a slave working for someone else.

I had to do what they wanted when they wanted, and it just wasn’t for me.

Whenever the boss asked me to jump, all I could say in reply was ‘how high?’

Being a freelance web designer everywhere

One of the things I love about being a freelancer is that I can work from anywhere in the world.

As long as I have my laptop with me (and an internet connection), I can travel as far and wide as I like.

However, this does have a caveat; because I can build websites whenever I want, I sometimes find it difficult to stop.

The beauty of working for someone else is that when work stops, you can also stop working - you can switch off entirely.

It has been particularly evident to me when I first started out as a freelance website designer.

The business was new, and all I wanted to do was build websites and make new clients.

However, I eventually became ill, and it was only on reflection I realised that I needed to rest from time to time.

Chose whom you build websites for

One thing I did not enjoy about working for a web design agency was that I had no choice whom I used to work for.

My manager would simply hand me the details, and it was up to me to make the client happy.

The problem with this is that sometimes people are never happy. They fail to show any appreciation, and it can become stressful.

The advantage of being a freelance web designer is that you can pick and chose who you work for.

Personally, I prefer to like the person that I am working for because building websites are not just about building the site itself. It also involves developing a relationship with that person.

Every time they require an update, or alteration you will need to discuss it with them, and if you don’t enjoy working with them, it may get you down.

As a side note, one thing I have learnt is that birds of a feather typically flock together. So if you get one bad client, you will typically get jobs from their friends and colleagues.

That's why I believe it is important to work only for clients which you enjoy working for, are positive, and keep you in a positive frame of mind.

Freelance Web design Colleagues

Whenever I worked in an office, there was always one person I typically did not enjoy being around. I don’t believe that I am that hard to get along with, but some people appear to enjoy antagonising others.

I find it strange that someone would deliberately try to ‘fight’ with others. However, I have since learned that it usually stems from something happening in their personal lives.

The advantage of being self-employed is that you don’t need to worry about it. You can pick and chose who you work for and who you work with.

Freelancer Loneliness

For me, this is one of the major downfalls as I love being around people. I enjoy sharing ideas, having birthday parties and simply getting to know others.

Although I talk with clients, it is not the same as all we talk about is business related.

I need to keep things professional, and I can’t ask them for advice about what gift I should buy for my girlfriend.

Flexible website design working hours

Being able to decide when you work, can be a double-edged sword. That's because when you work for someone else, you will typically know how many hours per week you will be working.

However, when you are a freelance web designer, it may sometimes be hard to turn off your computer and call it a day.

I love being able to work when I want, but I also understand that it is important to take a good amount of down time.

Always at Work

The beauty of being able to choose where and when you work means that you may also sometimes forget that you are in fact working.

I have had clients contacting me seven days a week and this I why it is important to either have a separate number entirely or switch your phone off when your work day has finished.

Finding Freelance Web Design Work

As a freelancer, you will need to find your work. It can be particularly challenging especially when you are starting out.

I suggest that rather than resigning from your job entirely I would slowly decrease your hours while you build up your customer base.

Initially, when I first started out as a freelancer, I reduced my workload from 5 to 4 days, and then from 4 to 3 etc. until I eventually left.

Obviously, a lot will be dependent on how supportive your web design agency is on you leaving to work for yourself.

Freelance web designer expenses

When you are self-employed, you can write-off a lot of things. It can be very beneficial from a tax point of view. It is also another advantage to being self-employed.

If you want to buy yourself a new laptop, computer or heck, even a lamp for your office desk, you can usually claim the bulk of it as a tax deduction.

Also, because you are paying for it, you can choose to buy whatever you want.

One of the caveats with web design is there are a lot of programs, computers and laptops which all do the same thing.

When you are working for an agency, you will need to use whatever they already have, regardless of whether or not it is your personal preference.

Imagine you are a 'Mac' person, and the agency you are working for is the opposite?

The disadvantage is that you will need to fork out the money upfront. When you work in a web design agency, the hardware and software you require are simply there.

Tax, superannuation and sick leave

The beauty of working for someone else is that you don’t need to worry about tax as it all taken care of for you.

Your superannuation will be automatically paid into your superannuation account, and your sick leave will accrue as time continues.

As a freelance web designer, you will need to be disciplined enough to take time off as you need it.

Don’t be scared to stay in bed if you are not feeling your best!

Being a freelance web designer conclusion

As with most things, there are advantages and disadvantages.

In the end, the choice to become a freelancer will depend largely on your personality and circumstances.

For me, I doubt that I could ever work for someone else again.

But hey, that’s me, we are all different, I believe that the most important thing in life is that you are happy.

Some of the things that make me happy are being able to make others happy, and this is part of the reason I love being a freelancer as I can accept all the credit for the work I have done.