A lot of people have approached web design via this route and this is mostly due to the nature of the internet itself I believe. Having been created and progressed so quickly and hitched with a “you can do this yourself and its free” moniker that alot of people stepped up and thought “hell yeah! I can do it myself and its free”. It became a pàssion, a hobby, an interest and eventually turned into a business. Unfortunately the “its Free” monkiier has stuck a little more than the “I can do it myself” side of things but that is being dealt with.
Anyways, how can you start out for free as a web design free lancer? Simple. Offer it for Free and someone will take it for free. Cant find someone to do it for free? do it yourself for free. Make a website, make a system, make something that can be used in a portfolio as an example of work done to illustrate to clients who you are and what you do. Even your own site can be a statement or promotional piece that shows potential clients what you are capable of producing.
Now hopefully you will end up with a free client somewhere along the line (by the way if you cant find someone who wants it free, then seriously consider another line of work…). Do the job take the knocks and get it done and completed. Now the serious work begins. Finding a paying client. Dont be a complete desperate fool at this stage.
DO NOT offer your services for next to nothing, you would be better doing it for free.
DO NOT offer to do a project which is really worht ALOT of TIME and MONEY for next to nothing or free.
DO NOT make your prices so low that you undervalue your own work, be honest, be fair to clients and yourself and it will benefit all involved.
Its your first project, so find something manageable, simple to complete and with easy satisfaction to both you, the client and hopefully the end user or visitor to the site.
If possible make a contract. Clarify the client requirements and what is required from you in as much detail as possible. If you dont have a contract, and even if you do, make sure you take 50% deposit to begin works and cover the 1st year of hosting, the initial design work etc.
Do the job and only put the site live or hand over any files created after all, and I mean ALL, outstaidng amounts have been cleared. Never have a client pressure you into hanidng over work or putting a site live without agreement in wirting from them to pay the difference.
An exception to this is having the site hosted on their hosting account. To many people guillably put files on the hosting account managed by the client only to have no response from them afterwards, or a nice email saying “we are not satisfied and are not paying…” even thoguh the site is live and functioning.. thats when you are beat.
NEVER EVER put the site, files, copies of the files or give the client access to the files via FTP until the work has been paid for. THEY DO NOT own it until it has been paid for.
Freelancing can be a very tough game and unless your tough yourself you may find the clients running your business for you very quickly. So good luck with managing those web design clients and not let them manage you and hopefully some of this advise will help avoid some of the more serious pitfalls alot of people encounter in the early days of starting out.