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Dreaming of starting a freelance web design business but worried that your lack of degree and experience will hold you back?

Today I’m going to share the practical steps I went through to become a successful web designer and exactly what I’d recommend for someone in the same boat as I was (no computer science degree or education even remotely related to tech!)

How to become a freelance web designer with no experience

Step #1:

Pick a web design software

Now, let me explain why I want you to pick just one software and not attempt to go out and learn eight different website building platforms at once…

It’s kinda like if you said you wanted to learn a language and then attempted to learn German, French, and Italian all at the same time.

You would get completely overwhelmed and just quit, right?

There are pretty significant differences between each website building software out there…enough that learning multiple at one time would totally just confuse you and make you want to throw in the towel before you even got started!

So I want you to pick one design software to be learning, so you can focus on nailing that one platform right from the get go!

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Step #2:

Learn how to build websites on your chosen web design platform

So your next step is to learn said software!

Fab news! You do not need to go to college or university for this! In fact, I would highly recommend against doing that.

So to give you a little background, both of my brothers earned computer science degrees in school, and now, they work for companies where they are coding backend systems, creating the tech behind easy-to-use website building softwares, managing databases, all that crazy stuff.

VS. “I help small business owners like photographers or mom and pop shops to get online with a website”

These mom and pop shops and small businesses? They want websites they can actually use and be updating themselves.

When you go to college, you aren’t learning how to use these drag-and-drop website builders most designers are using to create their client’s sites…

You’re learning coding which is used to create softwares like these website building platforms .

So it is completely unnecessary to go to college or university, if you want to serve the average small business owner with website building.

If you did go to college and got a computer science degree, you’d likely end up doing something very different from what we’re talking about here, which is becoming a freelance website designer!

No matter which website building software you choose, there is a course that exists for it.

Free or paid, you can find tons of courses on these platforms that will give you exactly what you need to be proficient in using them.

Step #3:

Learn web design best practices

So you might have heard the term ‘UI/UX’ before, which means user interface/user experience.

The term UI/UX tends to confuse and overwhelm people, so I just like to call it ‘web design best practices.’

Whatever you want to call it, let me give you a little explainer of what exactly it refers to.

So think of it like this…

Sometimes you go to a website and you can’t find anything you’re looking for. Or it takes a gazillion clicks and annoying steps to do whatever you came to do.

That’s because the website has bad UI/UX…or isn’t following website best practices.

This doesn’t just relate to the functionality of the website, (ie. How hard or easy it is for a visitor to use the website) but also the design decisions.

Picture walking into a luxury store vs. a dollar store. Each one would give you a completely different feeling right?

The same is true of web design. There’s certain elements of design (like the use of color and white space, font pairings, etc.) that give off a totally different vibe.

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Step #4:

Learn SEO (Search Engine Optimization) basics

So what’s the difference between basic SEO and advanced SEO?

Basic SEO is learning how to set up all the built-in website settings correctly, naming your images, making strategic use of descriptions, headings and content on the page to be covering the keywords and search terms most likely to be searched by your target audience.

Advanced SEO involves link building (getting other high authority websites to link back to your website), and long form content creation over a longer period of time.

So while basic SEO is usually included in your web design service packages, advanced SEO would be something you would offer on retainer (meaning you do that work month to month), because if you truly want to rank in a Google search, SEO isn’t just a one and done job.

This is something that–once the site is created–the business owner (or someone they hire) continues to do over the course of months and years to get their website ranking, and then keep their website ranking.

So it’s a different service altogether than the actual creating of their website.

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Step #5:

Create a few web design portfolio pieces

If you want to land clients, you’re going to need a way to show them (not just tell them) you’ve got actual design chops. So having a portfolio they can view on your website is non-negotiable!

These portfolio pieces you create can be paid projects or free, but it takes actually building a few websites from start to finish to really learn all the tech behind your software, vs. just watching tech tutorials.

Designing these first few sites for your portfolio before you officially launch your business will also help with your confidence in landing clients, because you will have already proven to yourself you can actually deliver the service you are asking people to pay you for.

It’s a common mindset hurdle new designers face thinking “I love designing sites, but can I really offer this as a service to other people?”

So free or paid, putting in the work to create a portfolio before you start shouting out about your web design services tends to be helpful!


Step #6:

Choose a client-finding strategy

This is something I could literally speak for hours on.

But the time it takes to walk through the pros and cons of every single client-finding strategy out there usually leaves people with their eyes glazed over and feeling more confused and overwhelmed than where they started.

So to make it super easy on designers to be picking the right strategy for them right from the start, I created a quiz called “Which Client-Finding Method Matches Your Personality Type?”

It takes a grand total of 60 seconds, but answer the questions honestly and you’ll get personalized results for which marketing method will be most effective for your business (as well as the exact next steps you’ll need for getting started with your made-for-you strategy!)

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So there you have it! The first 6 steps to becoming a web designer without experience!

But one last bit of encouragement before you go…

If this is you, and you feel like you have zero education or relevant experience to be bringing to the table, I want you to know that there are so many people (not just me!) out there who were in your same shoes but have gone on to build very successful, highly profitable, freedom-filled web design business!

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How to become a Freelance Web Designer with no degree or experience