Are you an artist, designer or otherwise crafty or creative person? You may not even realize it, but you probably have a talent for designing Websites. You don’t have to know a thing about programming or HTML. In fact, you don’t even have to build a Website from scratch to make money as a Web designer.
Hundreds of new Websites enter the World Wide Web every week, even in spite of tough economic times in many parts of the world. This means that the demand for Web designers is strong even as other jobs and professions are disappearing. Later on you’ll discover how to get started reaching potential customers. First, though, we’ll look at the build-it-yourself Website, what it is and how it works.
You can find online Website templates all over the Internet. They’re often referred to as “build-it-yourself” or “drag-and-drop” Websites.
The basic programming for these sites has already been done. A designer like you starts by selecting a template that consists of a basic page. (Most of these online programs offer dozens to choose from.)
Once you’ve selected your “template,” you can start adding or removing elements from it in order to customize it for your (or your client’s) needs. You do this by choosing elements from a menu of options and dragging them with your mouse and dropping them onto your Web page in the place you want them to appear. You can add as many pages as you need to your site.
These templates are designed to be simple enough so that an inexperienced user can create his own site in just a few hours. However, many e-business and Website owners still prefer to have this service done by someone else. Often the site owner himself doesn’t have the time to do it. In many cases they simply don’t feel comfortable enough with their own computer skills or creativity to undertake this task.
Others want to have their sites customized to a greater degree than most novices are capable of doing. That’s why creative people like you are in such high demand in the Web design business, and why there’s such a vast opportunity for you to make money in this field.
Someone with a flair for creativity is usually better at choosing colors that go together, using fonts effectively, adding (or even designing from scratch) custom graphics (like company logos) and pictures to a build-it-yourself Website. Many e-businesses are willing to pay top wages for this kind of work because it’s so important to the image of their business.
Some of the better build-it-yourself Website programs online include:
*Moonfruit.com: This site builder offers several dozen templates to choose from, including various business-themed sites. Moonfruit.com includes options for hooking up your site to PayPal (for those who need the ability to make and accept financial transactions) and creating a catalogue of products. Moonfruit.com offers a free trial period so that you can take your time and play around with your design (making sure that you’re really satisfied with it) before you begin paying for hosting.
*Wix.com: Like Moonfruit, Wix.com also offers numerous templates with different themes. It also lets you choose from add-ons like PayPal and product catalogues. Wix also offers a free trial period, and monthly hosting is reasonably priced.
*WordPress.com: Once known mainly as a free blogging platform, WordPress now offers one of the biggest selections of site templates and hosting options on the Web.
*Webs.com: Webs.com specializes in business Websites. It has over 300 templates to choose from and offers e-commerce options like PayPal connection. It also offers analytics and SEO marketing features.
Getting Started with an Online Website Builder
To start creating, you simply need to choose a provider and create an account. Many online site-builders, including Wix.com and Moonfruit.com, allow you to open an account and even start creating designs for free by way of a free trial period (this is typically about 30 days). Account creation simply requires you to provide your name and some basic personal information, as well as choosing a user name and password.
This can be a great way to try out several different online site builders and discover which one you like best. Create accounts on two or three of them and start playing around with their designs and options. It won’t take you long to figure out how they work and which ones will give you the most bang for you buck.
The sites you create do not automatically go live to the Internet unless you want them to. Some site builders actually let you create sites for free and even upload them to the Web for free. They do this by placing their own ads on the site(s) you create. (You can’t use a custom domain when you use this free version to launch a site.)
However, if you are creating a site for a business, we recommend that you pay for hosting. This will remove the site-builder’s ads and will garner you better search engine rankings. You’ll also be able to use a custom domain name this way. Site builder programs generally let you choose the level of service and amount of memory that you need at a reasonable cost.
Starting Your Web-Design Business: Connecting with Potential Customers
The actual designing is probably going to be the easiest part of running your own Web design business. Starting to build up a contact list of potential customers will be the difficult part. We recommend that you get started by joining up with a freelancer’s network.
Freelancer’s networks are membership-based Websites which allow freelancers like Web designers to create a profile and advertise for customers. The most effective ones to join are those that give users the chance to bid on design jobs which are posted by customers who are looking for Web design services. A few of the best online freelancer’s networks include:
*iFreelance.com: iFreelance is a membership forum for all kinds of different freelancers, including writers, artists and graphic designers as well as Website designers.iFreelance.com offers several different membership levels. Each one builds on the one before it, offering more and more extra features. We recommend skipping the basic level and paying for one of the higher levels. They’re still reasonably-priced and will give you a greater ability to find and secure the kinds of contracts that will sustain your business.
*Elance.com: Elance works very similar to iFreelance.com with regard to paid membership, with one major exception. Elance.com requires its members to share a percentage of any fees that they generate with them (iFreelance.com does not).
The upside of this is that members are assured of receiving payment for their services, since Elance.com requires buyers to pay in advance. Elance then holds the payment in escrow until the service provider (you) completes the job. Elance takes its cut and releases the rest to the service provider.
iFreelance.com, on the other hand, leaves the exchange of money up to the discretion of the service provider and the buyer. As a result, there is the potential that the service provider completes a job and doesn’t get paid by the buyer.
*Freelancer.com: This site is similar to iFreelance.com, including varying levels of membership. Again, we recommend that you choose a higher-level paid membership. However, you can opt for a basic free trial account if you want to check out the services first.
*Rent-acoder.com: This site works like Elance. Potential service providers bid on posted jobs. Like Elance, payment is held in escrow until the winning bidder completes the job.
Creating an Account on a Freelancer’s Website
It’s very worthwhile to post a profile on one or more of these sites. The cost of the membership usually pays for itself with a winning bid or two. Sign-up is easy: simply go to the one of your choice and create a profile.
Most freelancers’ networks give you expanded profiles based upon the level of membership that you select. As noted earlier, we recommend that you by-pass the free version and opt for a basic to mid-level membership. This will increase your chances of finding jobs as well as getting unsolicited offers. (Most networks allow you to upgrade your membership at any time, should you decide to do so.)
How Much Money Do Website Designers Make?
Experienced and reputable Web designers can make hundreds of dollars creating a five to ten page Website which can be done in 2 to 4 hours in many cases. When you’re first starting out, though, it helps to keep your prices on the low end of the scale as you develop your reputation and become more well-known. Once you have a good portfolio you can begin charging more money and you’ll probably find that most serious site owners are more than willing to pay for a professional-looking Website.
Hope this helps,