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3 Good Reasons and Practical Tips to Become a Freelance Web Designer
By Suzanne Culver

Over the years, web designing has become more and more a widespread skill. Long gone are the days when a "webmaster" was in charge of everything -from designing pages to writing content and promoting the site. All while making a good living out of this.

Today everybody is a web designer. Free and paid for software application allow to create a complete theme, or skin, for a web site with no knowledge of XHTML, CSS or Photoshop. Not to mention all the graduates from public and private courses that were trained to create web sites, pages and content management systems.

So it may look like there's little to no reason to become a freelance web designer today. But this is not entirely true. As much the tools have advanced, they are still just that: tools. They may randomize background images and create a pleasing color scheme, but they lack the mind and the skill of an individual.

And, unfortunately, so do many webdesigners that create websites with no aesthetic value, hard to navigate and look at. Sites, in one word, that can not convert their visitors into repeated visitors. Also, despite owning maybe the entire Creative Suite, they only fire up Photoshop and neglect such a powerhorse as After Effects is for Web Video creation.

And that's all, the three tips that will help you in making a living from freelancing webdesign are already in front of your eyes, but let's have a look in detail to each one of them:

1. Provide value only a trained human can provide. Machines are great timesavers, and someone using a $100 application can produce twenty web sites faster than you can plan the first. But they will all be similar, cookie-cutter produced, templates. The kind of site that doesn't reflect the site owner's goals and expectations. So make this clear, and spell it out on your Linkedin profile or Facebook page: you do care for your customer the way a factory-style designer will never be able to do.

2. Make sure you can design sites that convert. Conversion is everything when it comes to web design. And it does not stop at internet marketing. Every web site wants its visitors to convert. Signing up for the RSS feed, visiting a sponsored link, or maybe just thinking about the "Message" the site owner is traying to spread. Conversion can only be achieved when you plan the site for a very specific target visitor. And again this is something only an human can do. Start clean, don't think an eCommerce site has to look corporate or a gaming site has to be bold and contrasty. Instead, make it clear to your potential employer that you'll provide him or her with an exceptional research effort, much earlier than when you'll start writing down CSS rules and care for DOCTYPES.

3. Be on the forefront to new technologies. Just a few years ago it was hard not to find "flash intros" and pictures of people shaking hands. Now they have disappeared from all the websites where trained, intelligent, web designers are at works. But they still live, and I can assure you one thing: those site's owners experience a lack of conversion that frustrates them. Show them you can relieve their pain with a case study, or even better a video case study. Chances are you own a webcam, so have a good haircut, buy some liquorice (it works wonders when it comes to improving your voice recordings) and record a short segment where you explain how and why they can benefit from a modern, well tought out approach.

Don't go overboard with a Powerpoint presentation, keep it professional but on a personal level. And show, show, show them how an ugly site can be turned into a well oiled converting machine. All because you have spent a few hours looking at how to turn a static Photoshop logo into corporate looking video with After Effects' 3D camera movements and a little bit of screen capturing.

In summary, all you have to do is to provide something an unskilled individual with the right tool can not provide: a creative, personal advantage. Of course this means you'll have to spend some evenings in front of your Mac or Pc, scratch your head over After Effects compositions or the ins and outs of digital video postproduction. But it's well worth it and will give you a boost in no time. Remember this formula: Creativity plus Knowledge equals Success.


About the Author:

Suzanne Culver is a web designer and web developer with many years of expertise. She was already building eCommerce sites in 1997 and saw the rise and fall of search engines, portals and webrings. She does focus on creative use of web video, both for training and marketing purposes. She's well versed in After Effects, Adobe Premiere and Photoshop as well as AJAX websites built in xhtml and CSS. If you want to learn more about web design freelancing and standards compliant web development of themes and templates, please visit Education Web Design, a blog on freelancing and web site design education full of tips, ideas and suggestions for beginners and experienced developers alike. For After Effects and Photoshop training in italian language, this site offers advanced training programs on After Effects Video, with in depth coverage of what makes or breaks a motion graphics web video presentation, as well as digital video production and post production for the web.



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