How to Start a Home Based Web Design Business

Pros, Cons, and Steps to Getting Started in Web Design

Web Design Home Business
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Although it's easier than ever to build a website from templates and content management platforms, such as WordPress, it hasn't reduced the need for web designers. 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. 

What Does It Take to Be a Web Designer?

Web designers are part artist and part tech-geek. They're not only responsible for the look of a website, but functions as well.

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 demand. Other pros include:

  • Can easily be done from home.
  • 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. Computer-related occupations, which lend themselves well to being work at home jobs and businesses, are expected to mushroom by up to 37% through 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook.
  • 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; 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 staring 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 of 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
  • 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 getting repeat and referral customers is the cheapest and most effective way to build your web design business. 

    Another options for finding your first clients is through the freelance job websites, and connecting with potential clients through social media, particularly LinkedIn.

    Updated September 2016