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Making Money At Web Design?

What job potential is there?

     
6:11 pm on Jan 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I've been a self-taught amateur web designer for about ten years now and would like to start making it a full time job. Since I am disabled, a local government agency is willing to invest in some online classes through a local "continuing education" program to beef up my skills with PHP, MySQL, Flash, Photoshop, etc. However, they asked me to find out how likely it would be that I'd be able to make money at it.

As I said, I am disabled and need to find work that I can do from home. I have a BA in Science and I'm less interested in having another piece of paper to hang on my wall as I am the ability to support myself doing something I enjoy while stuck here at home.

So I guess my question is, how easy is it to find and get web design work online? Do I need a specific degree? What potential is there to make a living at it? What types of classes should I be taking? How should I justify any cost for training or equipment to the state agency putting up the cash?

Thanks in advance for the input.

-- Stephanie Bargenquast

4:50 am on Jan 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Hey!

I am still in school and do not have any degrees; I am very young for what I do, though. There are a lot of entrepreneurs in my area that start small businesses, which ultimately means that they want a website for one reason or another. Since they are just starting off, they probably (don't) want to be spending a lot of money for one. That is where I come in.

For the past couple of years I've been doing side jobs for various small business owners in my area. For me it's perfect, because I'm only doing it part-time. If at any time I wanted to switch to doing this full-time--which I can't because of school--I would have 5 people right away that want me to make their website.

As for education, most people want to see what you can do and how much experience you have. Degrees, in my opinion, are unimportant. The most learning I've ever done, and I'm sure many will agree with me, is from reading and replying to posts right here at WebmasterWorld. I read books and reply to posts; I have never taken a class in my life. That may be something that will help you, however, since everyone has different learning patterns.

My final statement would be, if you know where to look, there are potential clients everywhere that are just dying for an experienced, well-educated, relatively low-priced, independent programmer like yourself. Build up your reputation, create a profile of previously created sites, and show off to your clients :)

I think you'll do just fine if you set your mind to it ;)

Good luck!

3:35 am on Jan 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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You can absolutely make a living at it. The key in my opinion is that you need to know what the cutting edge technologies are that make sites work for the end users - know how to put some editing/updating ability in the hands of your clients, and most of all, know what will differentiate you from the 100 other freelances in your town (100+)
8:22 pm on Jan 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member rocknbil is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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My two cents . . . .

The bottom line is your core talent in two areas: design/page development (which are really two things, but are part of the same process) and business relations with customers. If you're good at what you do, and know the right things to say when bringing in clients, you're golden. You can learn everything else as you need to. "Cutting edge technology" will lose it's dazzle very quickly if a site isn't making the customer money - the tools that will benefit your customers most are the ones that have been part of the web since the beginning: your website is a tool you can use to solve your customers' problems. Let me develop it into the perfect portal with which to do that.

IMO you don't need many of the classes that will be offered. The tutorials in the programs, as well as the ones you can drum up online, are more than sufficient to support anyone motivated to learn. Most classes you take will drain your bank account and teach you a lot of stuff you don't need in the real world. However, a lot of people feel more confident being able to rely on educational experience to support their trade, so if you have the time and funds to throw at classes, it's you're choice.

Web designers and page grinders are a dime a dozen, and you will be competing against everyone who can buy or hack a copy of their favorite page editor and call themselves a designer. The only really bad part about this is they will do it for free or next to nothing. Don't let these low-priced competitors force you to drop your fees or rates, if you're good and know your trade, remain confident that your fees are worth what you say. After the "smart shoppers" go through the ringer with these people, they will come a-knocking. :-)

 

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