Are you looking to become a freelance UX designer?
Well, that’s a great decision. Working as a freelancer comes with many perks, including flexibility, job security, freedom, and control.
But being a freelancer doesn’t mean you get an avalanche of projects just by screaming, “I am a freelance UX designer. Give me some work.”
This approach doesn’t work.
Contrary to popular belief, freelancing is a systematic approach. It is not about being obsessive about getting some business to survive the day.
From networking, marketing your business, setting the prices to developing your portfolio, and everything in between, make sure to work over several things to stay productive, efficient, and competitive.
A survey shows that major IT-related career types of freelancers are designers, back-end engineers, and mobile developers, which accounts for about 70% of the freelancers.
This guide will help you understand these essential things to become a UX freelancer.
Understanding the Benefits of Becoming a UX Freelancer
Before moving on to how to become a UX freelancer part, it will be useful to understand some benefits associated with freelancing. Here is a rundown of some key reasons which will help you decide if freelancing if meant for you.
1. Work Whenever You Want
This is probably one of the key reasons for becoming a freelance UX designer. If you like to work at night, the shift of 9 to 5 can be challenging. As an independent worker, however, you can work whenever you feel like it. This is ideal for people with personal life’s commitments, including parents who are required to arrange their job around the schedule of their kid. It also enables you to work for clients in other time zones or work at home after you complete your routine day shift.
The point is here that most employers still operate their business between 9 and 5. If you work for them, you are expected to be available for calls or meetings during business hours. They might not be sympathetic if you went to bed at 7 am after burning the midnight oil if they require you to be in a design meeting at 8 am.
But that’s less likely to be a case in freelancing. You can start your work anytime as long as the client sets a particular schedule.
2. Work from Anywhere
No matter if you are at home, park or away for holidays, you can work from anywhere. And that’s the beauty of working as a freelancer. If you have to meet with your client in-person, you can meet them at their workplace or the local restaurant if your house lacks a professional setting.
3. Being Your Own Boss
Another common reason for working as a freelance UX designer is the ability to be your own boss. No more being micromanaged, no more being reprimanded for being late, no unreasonable expectations from your boss—you are the boss of your own work, and that’s a great achievement to have.
4. Choosing the Projects of Your Choice
You as a freelancer UX designer can choose projects or clients. If you are not easy with someone or an employer asks you to do something you feel is not right, you don’t need to do the job. In fact, you can refuse it as it seems boring if you want to. You can take the projects and pass on the things you don’t want to do. However, your poor finances can prompt you to take on work that doesn’t seem appealing to you.
5. No Dress Code Required
You can work in your loungewear or comfy wear all day. You don’t need to wear office outfits. However, it would be useful to have one or two business outfits for client meetings and presentations.
6. Being Away from Office Politics
Not all employees feel comfortable with office politics. Many employees admit that it’s the most miserable part of their job. Luckily, the day you start working as a freelance UX designer, you get rid of office politics forever.
According to Indeed, the average salary for a freelance UX Designer ranges from $68,146 to $152,792 per year in the United States.
How to Become a Freelancer UX Designer
So you must have understood the benefits of becoming a freelancer UX designer. Becoming a freelancer UX designer requires you to work over many things given below.
1. Create Your Portfolio
Even your freelance venture requires a sound portfolio.
A portfolio showcases your work to potential clients, encouraging them to work with you. With an impressive portfolio, you can market yourself in a crowded area.
Make sure your portfolio is impressive and uniquely showcases your expertise. The highlight of your portfolio should be your case studies.
Here are some tips to create an impressive portfolio:
- Make sure to choose the right format for your portfolio. You can choose PDF, website, or any third-party platform. Whatever you choose, make sure to take the backup in a flash drive and keep it with you.
- Ponder what to include in the portfolio. And this is the most important thing. List your all projects and prioritize them according to the job you’re looking for.
- Include case studies to show that you are a genuine UX designer. Besides, they help your potential clients determine your skills and expertise. In your case studies, mention the problems being solved by your expertise as a UX designer.
2. Develop Some Soft Skills
While technical skills are required in the first place, you also need to develop soft skills that make you more appealing to the clients. This is because you as a freelancer are managing the things on your own, from communicating with the client to convincing them. Here are some important soft skills you should develop to become an efficient freelancer UX freelancer.
Empathy and a service-oriented approach are important for your venture as a freelancer. Empathy lets you approach projects and issues with a desire to understand your client’s requirements and to look for an efficient solution.
To keep confusion and complication at bay while interacting with your clients, make sure to communicate well. While face-to-face communication skills are useful, the ability to interact over the phone or chats is just as important.
Adaptability and Flexibility
You as a freelancer should pace up with the times and continue to learn new skills. Today’s technology is dynamic—what’s in trend might be obsolete tomorrow. Clients prefer freelancers who can be efficient to meet their needs right away, not after you take the time to update your skills. Besides, flexibility is crucial, as each client might have various requirements for project workflows. Being too stiff can lead to sour relationships with clients as well as limited business.
3. Time Management and Self-Discipline
It is challenging to be disciplined while working as a freelancer. You might have many temptations and distractions around. You don’t have someone to remind you to get focused on the work. Time management and self-discipline go hand in hand. Set a work schedule that includes work time with brakes to keep your mind refreshed. Prioritize the important and time-sensitive projects early in the day.
4. Learn How to Market Your Business
Marketing is important for any business to get succeeded, especially when there is a lot of stiff competition around. Online marketing is a great way to get maximum reach at a minimum budget.
To get found by clients, you need a solid presence utilizing all platforms and tools available. Don’t hesitate to use aggressive marketing and sales techniques, especially at the earlier stages of your freelance career. While social media is downright essential, a personal online portfolio website is important along with solid networking.
Here are some tips to market your freelance business:
- Using Social Media
Social media is a boon for businesses and freelancers when it comes to marketing, as it lets users with the ability to connect with thousands of others at no cost. Build your presence on social media outlets like Google+, Instagram, Tumblr, and Facebook. However, LinkedIn is the most powerful tool that reinforces your networking with other professionals and clients.
According to WebFX, an average American social media user spends 2.7 hours per day on social media. As a freelancer, you cannot think of ignoring this powerful tool.
- Build a Website
The website is also a key step to boost your online presence. Luckily, building a website is easier to build and less expensive than before. A website is like your own shop where you let the clients see your work and information. Make sure to keep your website mobile responsive.
- Start Blogging
Blogging is a great way to share your expertise with others as well as showcase your talent. Above all, the blog lets readers and potential clients know you, and get a feel for your personality. You can also get traffic through your blog which can be converted to your clients.
- Asking for Referrals
You can also market your business through referrals from your clients-both existing and former. If a client is satisfied with your designs, they are more likely to make referrals if you ask them to do so. You can also encourage your clients to make referrals by ensuring discounts.
5. Build Your Network
Networking is important to earn more projects. You never know when someone will approach you to work on their project at your next design conference.
Another useful benefit of staying connected with the design community is being able to ask them about their rates for similar projects. Make your presence felt in the design community with your good work. This way, you can be recommended for more projects and clients.
If you are not a social creature or a sort of an introvert, don’t worry. You can start building your network from your family and friends. Maybe your brother has someone who is looking to get a website designed. Or your friend has someone who needs the graphics on a certain page. Besides, you can reach out to your past clients to see if they have recommendations for other prospective clients.
6. Start with Some Smaller Job
Don’t expect a windfall of cash in the earlier phase of working.
Keep in mind that you are building things from scratch as a freelance designer. You don’t have resources while you are struggling for getting clients. Right?
Being an efficient UX designer is about honing your skills and delivering satisfactory services to your clients.
Taking up a smaller job will help you build a network and reputation as well. It will just pave your way for bigger projects. Starting from a small project also lets you build your confidence and experience if you are new to UX design. Taking up complex jobs from the start can affect your confidence as well as worsen your feedback if things go wrong.
7. Learn How to Price Your Services
That’s a crucial thing to work over.
Setting the prices can be tricky, especially over the online marketplaces like Upwork where the competition is just extreme. Setting the prices too low is a blunder while raising them extremely high can deter the clients from approaching you.
To set optimal pricing, research the salaries of in-house UX designer of your level in the area where the project is based. If you are not aware of your level, compare some job posts to your work and experience to find out. Take the annual salary to add your overhead expenses and divide that amount with the working hours in a year. This way, you can set the hourly wage for your freelance work.
When finding out the hourly rate for your services, it is important to stay updated with the design industry both locally and globally. You are also required to figure out the rates of your competitors as well as what other providers are charging for a similar task with similar clients. This will help you set realistic rates that are likely to be acceptable by your prospective clients.
So you must have understood why and how to become a freelance UX designer. Going independent can be rewarding if done properly and wisely. Self-discipline, commitment, and timely delivery are important to get succeed. Keep in mind that full-time freelance is equivalent to a full-time business.
You will get what you do. That’s simple. Apart from working on your skills and networking, you need to learn the challenges in your industry while working as a freelancer.
What do you think? Drop your thoughts in the comment box given below!