Selling Is The Other Half!
The Beginning - I began to develop my web design business in 2009. What a learning curve that was!
While I had some prior practical experience in designing and developing static HTML websites in a corporate environment, this technology was already coming under fire from the emergence of the CMS into the open market, such as open-source Wordpress, Joomla and Drupal, as well as proprietary systems like Concrete5.
I chose to stay with what I already knew - HTML. That was a big mistake, and when I look back, I should have made the move to the CMS universe much sooner than I did.
A Silver Lining
But, there's always a silver lining if you look for it. Mine has been that Iwas able to go back to my old clients, and upgrade them to responsive Wordpress websites, which has been good for them, and great for me.
The Learning Curve -On the other hand, researching and understanding and then developing proficiency with Wordpress has been a monster learning curve for me. Even just getting my head around CMS databases like MySQL and the way it integrates with every aspect of Wordpress was a challenge (even though I had been involved developing enterprise databases since the late 1980's).
Then, One Day...
Finally, I was putting it all together, and my understanding of Wordpress and how to make it work was at the point where I could confidently offer my clients the latest in website technology - phew!
Technical Skill Is Only Fifty Percent
What I soon discovered though, is that a successfull freelance web design business is not just about being competent with the technology and the tools to apply it.
Just as important is the skill to market the business. To go out and find potential clients, to make a pitch to them, and follow through with a well designed and compelling sales proposal, and finally to successfully sign the client up for a new website, and then deliver it, on time and on budget.
I'm glad I had all those early years in sales
Thankfully, in another life long ago I spent many years selling in retail, commercial radio and TV and even - yes - insurance. So I had a head start in how to sell.
Now I look back on the past 6 years as a freelancer, and I know that success in this business is not just about designing and building good websites at competitive prices - it's equally about understanding what makes people buy in the first place. I'm glad I had all those early years in sales.
My Tip for Freelancers
The best freelance designers and developers will fail without one other key skill. If you want to succeed as a freelance web designer, learn to sell!