Freelancer vs Entrepreneur (and What is the Freelance Web Designer Salary)

Ah! The big, hairy question we ask ourselves when beginning a new web design journey…

Do I take the freelance route or do I go full Elon Musk and tread the entrepreneur path?

Unsurprisingly, there is a big difference between a freelance and entrepreneur web designer. A freelance web designer is someone who works for themselves independently, whereas an entrepreneurial web designer is someone who owns their own web design business. Sounds simple but stress levels are significant in practice.

Let’s start with freelance.

What is a Freelance Web Designer?

A freelance web designer is somebody who works for themselves, offering their services to multiple clients. They are in charge of finding their own work, which can be done through online job boards, personal connections, or bidding on projects.

The great thing about freelancing is that you have the freedom to work from anywhere in the world and at any time that suits you. You can also pick and choose the projects that you want to work on, which is perfect if you have a young family or other commitments.

The downside of freelancing is that you are solely responsible for finding your own work and often have to work long hours to meet deadlines. You also don’t have the security of a regular paycheck, which can be a big worry if you have financial commitments.

Sounds eerily similar to an entrepreneur and in many respects, it is (at least in spirit). The day to day of a freelancer differs from an entrepreneur only in that an entrepreneur also has to worry about things like building a team, marketing their business, and generating sales.

For those that want to find their own clients, earn above average hourly rates (or per project), and not have to worry about everything that comes with managing a business – freelance is the road for you.

What is the Freelance Web Designer Salary?

This really varies depending on where you live, your experience, and the type of projects that you’re working on. In general, freelancers can earn anywhere from $20-$100 per hour. However, it’s not uncommon for experienced freelancers to earn $200+ per hour on high-end projects.

On the flip-side, freelancers can also charge out in a value-based model. In this case, they would charge a set price for the entire project rather than hourly. This could be anything from a couple hundred dollars to tens of thousands depending on the size and scope of the project. The model you follow depends on your comfort level, the number of competitors, your value proposition, etc. A good exercise is to provide potential clients both option and see what each prefers. Then, when you collect enough data, you can optimize your model and offering.

In our experience, value-based pricing can obtain clients at a much faster clip than hourly.

What Can a Web Design Agency Expect to Earn in its First Year?

The answer to that question is “yes”.

Just kidding…

But really, there are no simple answers when it comes to web design agencies. In our experience, a bootstrapped agency with a lean team can expect to bring in several hundred thousand dollars in its first year.

Of course, this number will differ based on the location of the agency, overhead costs, size of the team, etc. Startups have a lot of risk and an agency is no different – so it’s important that you build out a diversified client base as quickly as possible to mitigate these risks.

Have the following nailed down before your go to market:

  • Niche
  • Offering
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Delivery

Having the above will put you in a much stronger position to win a lucrative market share.

Good Luck, friends!

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