With there being so many web designers out there competition can be quite stiff but as long as you work hard at your marketing and networking activities there should always be bread on the table.
Like the majority of freelance market sectors the best source of new clients is existing clients so quite often the hardest times will be the early days so it is often a good idea to build up a small client base before making the leap into full time freelancing.
When you make new sites for clients ask if they would mind if you built a small ‘designed by’ link into their site so if visitors like the design it may be enough to prompt them to send an email or pick up the telephone.
With the amount of businesses now taking the opportunity of having a web site there is good justification in making sure you have a listing with the Yellow Pages or other local business and website directories. Unlike the Internet generation a lot of older business owners do still resort to ‘traditional’ methods for sourcing their web designer so do not apply all of your time and energy to online advertising and promotion.
Additionally keep your eye on jobsites or set up job alerts from specialist sites such as Technojobs so that you can work on relevant short term contracts when they arise. Remember this also helps build your network of contacts and future opportunities. If they are pleased with you they can often send freelance work your way in the future.
As we have already discussed web design is a catch-all term that can apply to the huge amount of skills and understanding that make up the various disciplines required to build a website and this is where specialisation and networking can go hand in hand. Using your networking skills to make contact with other freelance web designers with skills in areas where you are weak can pay dividends. This not only means that work is completed faster and with a better end product for the client but also that there are two marketing heads bringing in new work and also larger projects could be considered by presenting a joint bid. There are many freelance co-ops and groups already in existence, this is an excellent way of working as long as all contributors are prepared to work to bring in new clients and promote the skills of the group.
There are also many national and regional agencies as well as the usual online job sites (see resources) that are often on the lookout for freelance or contract web designers. This is another way of life entirely, it is possible to pick up short and long term contracts and simply jump from job to job. Some good techniques are to work with your employment agency, find out who handles the contract work and make sure they get your CV and details. Once you have completed your first contract with them they are often forthcoming with more as long as your client facing skills, as well as your industry knowledge, are suitable.