Freelance Web Designer: Roadmap to Becoming a Professional Web Designer

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Freelance Web Designer: Roadmap to Becoming a Professional Web Designer

One of the most lucrative skills online is web design. You can make upwards of six figures monthly from this skill alone. According to PayScale, an entry-level web designer with less than one year of experience can expect an average compensation of $44,698 per year.

In this article, we will discuss what a freelance web designer is, how much web designers make, the benefits of becoming a web designer, and how you can become one in Nigeria. By the end of this article, you will be equipped with practical, cutting-edge knowledge on becoming an expert web designer.

Freelance Web Design

Web design is the methodical planning and creation of each website element, from its structure and layout to colours, fonts, images, and graphics. It is an overview of the look and feel of a website.

A freelance web designer is a self-employed consultant who creates specific visual elements for web pages with their clients’ brand specifications in mind. The freelance web designer develops visually appealing websites and quickly provides information to site visitors.

Benefits of a Career in Freelance Web Design

Being a freelance web designer is lucrative, with a lot of benefits. Here are 7 benefits of choosing freelance web design:

  • You decide when and how you work.
  • Work on a wide selection of client projects in different time zones.
  • Location-independent work-life. You can work from home or your favourite coworking space anywhere in Nigeria.
  • Potential to earn higher rates from web design projects for foreign clients outside Nigeria’s usual crop of clients.
  • Ability to handpick the clients and projects you work on.
  • Learn as you progress. 
  • Your web design career can be diversified (where you work on different unrelated projects to diversify your portfolio and broaden your experience). Or you can choose to niche down and cater to an industry of the web design market like education or e-learning (where you can hone your skills and deepen your career in your chosen industry).


How Much do Web Designers Make?

According to research from Payscale, an entry-level web designer with less than 1-year experience can expect to earn about $44,698 per annum. While a mid-level web designer with 5 – 9 years of experience earns an average salary of $57,782 annually.

What Does a Freelance Web Designer do?

As a freelance web designer, you are expected to develop, create and code web pages and apps for personal brands, companies, NGOs, government parastatals, etc. You work with clients to create technical and graphical aspects of websites and/or applications. Additionally, as a freelance web designer, some clients can offer to place you on a monthly retainer so you can be on call to help them maintain their website whenever they need you.

Intimate familiarity with current internet technology and a deep understanding of computer programming and coding is necessary.

How to Become a Web Designer

Web design clients have peculiar needs and expectations. Sometimes, these expectations can be high and unrealistic.  So you might either disappoint them or re-educate them. This, right here, is where the power of your communication skills should shine.

So, how do you become a web designer?

Becoming a web designer is an amalgamation of different skill sets. Therefore, we recommend you list skills you already possess to identify the other necessary skills you need to acquire.

  1. Learn web design theory

When it comes to acquiring a new skill or learning a new discipline, it is crucial to get acquainted with the foundational principles first; web design is no exception.

  • Learn the rules of how a website should be organised.
  •  Learn how to create precise and versatile information architecture.
  •  Read books on web usability.
  • To build a visually appealing website, you need to learn colour theory and the basic principles of visual hierarchy. 
  1. Graphic design software

Although graphic design and web design are two separate fields, as a web designer, sometimes you may need to create some graphics to solve a design issue.

Therefore, you must learn how to manipulate graphic editors like Adobe Photoshop.

  1. Develop crucial technical skills

  •  HTML (Hypertext Markup Language).
  • CSS (Cascading Style Sheets).
  •  Javascript.
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization) 

Have no fear. You don’t need to master Angular.js or Javascript before you can become a website designer. However, these coding languages do confer a certain advantage on you.

Consequently, a quick course should be enough; they can help you prepare your website for deployment, and you are better equipped to collaborate with web developers.

In addition to your technical ability, you should also possess various soft skills. For example:

Communication skills: Communicate effectively with clients to demonstrate your ability and professionalism and build your reputation to ensure a successful workflow.

Time management: This is an important skill to develop, especially when working as a freelance web designer in Nigeria. You must keep track of projects and meet deadlines. This is extremely important. You don’t want to have a reputation as a highly skilled web designer who never delivers their task on time.


  1. Master essential web design tools

Before you can launch out as a skilled web designer, there are a couple of web design tools you should master. Some recommended tools are:


WordPress is still as popular as ever, powering over 35% of all websites on the internet. Boasting a vast library of over 1,000 built-in plugins and themes, you can customize and enhance each website to your client’s specifications.

Google web designer

Google Web Designer is a flexible tool for building websites, and it works on Windows, Mac, and even Linux systems. It is designed to switch between design and HTML modes, which gives you an easier visualisation of your project.

Google web designer makes designing a website easy. However, you should be acquainted with some coding knowledge before you commence. Largely touted to be one of the best online web design tools, not only due to its expansive offerings but also because the program is free.

  1. Obtain relevant web design certifications

Relevant professional certifications in specific areas of web design will help you demonstrate your competence and versatility to potential clients. This will also sharpen your knowledge and keep you up-to-date with the latest trends in web design.

Here are some recommended paid certifications you can obtain:

Google UX design certificate

This is a six-month paid certification course about UX fundamentals and the UX design process

Responsive web design certification

This course is provided by FreeCodeCamp. The entire training will take approximately 300 hours to complete, ending with five projects that test your skills. It covers basic programming languages used to build interactive and responsive websites. 

  • Build your first web pages with HTML and CSS by OpenClassrooms.
  • Udemy’s Web Design Bootcamp: Design Like a PRO.

Read also: Subscribe to our YouTube channel for to access more webinars and learning opportunities on freelancing in Nigeria

  1. Gather experience and build your portfolio website

You don’t need to work with an actual client to practice your skills and get experience. Instead, start by building websites for family, friends, businesses, companies, or brands around your city.  As you build these websites, you’d also be able to interact with them in a way that a user might.

So, keep the following in mind as you proceed:

  • What are the navigational issues you encountered?
  • Where are the pain points?
  • How could the site be optimized to load faster for SEO considerations?

Moreover, these websites can also serve as examples in your portfolio. An excellent portfolio is your best tool when applying for web design jobs. Consequently, it’s essential that your portfolio is diverse, showing designs you are proud of.

Identify your uniqueness, then apply for jobs that amplify your uniqueness. Lastly, the UI & UX of your portfolio should be perfect.

  1. Determine your prices

Now that you’ve gotten relevant experience, you’d need to decide how to price your web design services to clients. To know what to base your earnings on, do a quick research on how much entry-level freelance web designers earn per project. You should consider an estimate of your personal expenses, including your tax information, and then round it off with an estimate of the amount of money you need to make monthly.

Finally, if you already have an established relationship with a client, start work with a deposit. Typically, deposits range from 25 – 50% of the total cost, while the remainder will be paid at the project’s close.

  1. Market your services

Having garnered the necessary web design skills, built your portfolio, and gotten your hands dirty with actual website-building projects (even if some were products you built for fictitious brands and family and friends), it’s time to dive into the world and advertise your web design business.

  • Get active on LinkedIn. If you don’t already have an account, now is a good time to create one and update it with your bio and web design certifications.
  • Create a social media page to promote your web design business on the major social media platforms.
  • Build a list of prospective clients for cold email outreach.
  • Consider connecting with an already-established web designer to see if they can provide additional mentorship or partner with you to push some projects your way.
  • You can also run a blog about web design, trends, and topics around creative ideas, best practices, and reviews of tools and design. This will help you stand out and establish yourself as a leader in the industry.
  1. Find job opportunities and build a client base

There’s no shortage of jobs available for skilled web designers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “employment of web designers is projected to grow 13 percent from 2018 to 2028,” with the demand for their services.

Sign up on freelancer job boards and list your web design services. Remember to leave a link to your portfolio and pricing plan.

  • Search for web design jobs that align with your skills because some clients may prefer certain skills to others. That being said, as a web designer who can code, you are in a separate class because you understand the backend. As a result, you will stand out from the crowd and command much higher pay.
  • Always update your portfolio with relevant projects, and proofread your application before you hit submit.
  1. Keep up with web design trends

The web design industry is constantly evolving. Many of the popular web design tools today were nonexistent 10 years ago. Consequently, as a matter of principle, you should keep up with new trends, as this could be the difference between delivering high-quality work or creating a subpar website. 



A career in freelance web design can turn your life around in no small measure, and it can become the vehicle that sponsors your dreams if you let it. With time, commitment, and a willingness to learn and apply what you’ll learn, you, too, can become a sought-after web designer. In the long run, this could create a positive experience and impact your life.

I hope you found this post enlightening. If you have any questions, drop them in the comments.

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About the Author

Princewill Nwandire is a tech copywriter, content strategist and ghostwriter based in Port Harcourt. When he’s not writing, you can catch him playing a game of table tennis with his friends. He’s available for blog and content writing projects.

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Op-Ed are articles published by guest authors. We no longer accept guest posts. However, we are still open to adding long-term content contributors to our team of insightful writers. To write for us, please check out

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