Designer’s Dilemma: To Freelance or Not To Freelance

desk with laptop

Freelancing has such a glamorous connotation, it’s a wonder everyone isn’t getting into it. When it comes to technical and creative areas like web design, stories abound about people making a fortunate working for themselves. Deciding to become a freelance web designer, though, is a huge step that should be soberly considered.

Pro: Make your own schedule

Anyone who wants to freelance thinks of this advantage almost immediately. On those cold mornings in January when you have to get out of bed before the sun comes up to get to the office by 8:00, if you’re freelancing you wouldn’t have to.

You could work from home in your pajamas, start at noon on Tuesdays after a healthy workout, and quit in time to get to happy hour before the rush on Fridays. There are certainly all kinds of advantages to making your own schedule.

Con: Always looking for work

One of the drawbacks to freelancing is the constant search for new clients. You have to be a web designer and a marketing executive at the same time. It’s great to think that you would do such good work that your clients would promote you through word of mouth. And that is entirely possible.

But even the best freelancer has to market himself to maintain a steady flow of business.

Pro: Set your own rates

When you freelance, you decide what you get paid. If you work for an agency, you might notice the gap between what clients pay for your design work and what the agency pays you. As a freelancer, you get to pocket the entire fee.

Furthermore, you get to decide what to charge. If there is a task you do not particularly enjoy, you might charge more to make it worth your while. If there is a project you really want to work on, you can underbid your competition to be sure you get the work.

Girl with a lemonade standimage credit: Steven Depolo

Con: No help

Of course, once you get the work, you will not have anyone helping you execute it. You may think this is a good reason to choose freelancing, but notice how often you rely on other people around the office to complete a project.

Don’t forget to count the receptionist who holds your calls when you are working on deadline or the intern who puts together the PowerPoint for the client presentation.

Freelancing can be overwhelming when you have to perform every little function yourself, taking your time and energy away from the really creative tasks you enjoy.

Pro: Be your own boss

Face it, we could all live without a boss. Do you really need someone to tell you how to do your job?

Web design is creative, and creative people need to follow their own process. Deciding which projects to work on first, when to take a break, and how to interpret the client’s requests will make your life a dream.

Con: Pay for your own training

Web design is a constantly changing field. To produce top-quality designs you need to stay on top of industry trends and technical advancements. When you work for yourself, training workshops and seminars are extra out-of-pocket expenses.


Making the decision to become a freelance web designer requires careful consideration. However, the payoff can be much more than financial. Building something, helping others, and working through challenges can be very fulfilling.

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