Starting a Web Design Company vs. Being a Freelancer
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For you website designers out there, you might be thinking about starting your own website design business. Running a web design business has its own unique challenges, as compared to doing freelancer work.
There are pros and cons to each.
To help you decide and navigate the process, here is a breakdown and comparison of starting a web design agency vs. freelancing.
Being a Freelancer Web Designer
Chances are, if you have been doing website design on your own for awhile, you are a freelancer.
Many web designers start their careers freelancing, working from job to job or getting work as a contractor from companies or agencies.
Being a freelancer on your own certainly has benefits compared to starting and running your own agency. Here’s a breakdown of the considerations.
Pros to Being a Freelancer over a Web Design Agency
As a freelancer, you can set your own hours
Working freelance, there isn’t a company with set hours and structure. Effectively, you are the company, so you can be flexible with the work. So long as you get the work done within any deadlines, it doesn’t matter if you do the work during the day, at night, on a weekend, whenever.
At a web design company with employees, you would need regular hours so that everyone on your team can work together.
Work how and where you want
With internet connectivity being ubiquitous, you can work from nearly anywhere in the world as a freelancer.
As a freelancer, generally the main key to your jobs is getting them completed by your deadlines.
As mentioned before, as a freelancer, you can choose your own hours. So, as long as you get your work done, where you get it done from is not important.
Some “digital nomad” freelancers use the convenience of their freelance arrangements to work and travel the world at the same time.
You choose your projects
Provided you have a good source of business coming in, you can be choosy about which projects you take on. You can choose to only take projects that interest you, and avoid unchallenging projects or clients you think would be difficult to work with.
The caveat here is, you won’t immediately be at the point in your career when you can turn down boring projects.
Starting out, your bills need to get paid and you will need clients. So, you will probably not have the luxury of being able to be picky about which clients you work with.
Cons to Being a Freelancer over a Web Design Agency
But, being a freelancer compared to starting your own agency isn’t all “work from the beach whenever you feel like it.” Being a freelancer has its own challenges.
You are the business
As a freelancer, you are getting paid for your labor and effort. If you take time off to travel or because you are sick, that is time that you are not working and not able to bill your clients.
If you get sick and cannot work, your freelance business cannot make any money.
You wear many different hats
If you are freelancing, you are going to be responsible for all aspects of your work – from finding new clients to negotiating rates to doing the work to billing your client and following up to get paid.
You will need health insurance
This is something to flag in particular if you are based in the United States. You will need health insurance. Without a company to get employer-sponsored plan, you will have to find your own insurance.
If you are newly freelancing coming from an employer, you may be able to get coverage under the Affordable Care Act plans.
Other options include the Freelancers’ Union, which is easy to join and has health insurance packages.
You will need discipline
Are you good at focusing and getting work done on your own?
Working as a freelancer, you are responsible for your time, so you will need to be disciplined in your work habits to make sure your projects get completed.
Things can get lonely
Working solo isn’t for everyone. If you are working freelance, you might be working from home and not be actively collaborating with others. Sometimes the grind can get isolating.
But, if your city has co-working spaces available, working in an environment like that can be the remedy.
Starting a Web Design Company
Rather than working on your own, going project to project, you can start your own web design company.
With a web design company, you will need to build a workflow, process, brand, marketing, and team from the ground up.
It’s a big leap from freelancing, but it can have big rewards.
Pros to Starting a Web Design Agency Over Freelancing
You can build an asset
If you are more interested in building a sustainable business that can potentially run without you, starting a web design agency might be the right move for you.
A business is an asset. It is something you can eventually sell for a profit. Compare this with being a freelancer, where your labor and effort is the business.
You can get bigger returns
As you build a team, you will be able to take on a growing body of work that brings in more revenue than the one project you would otherwise be able to work on at a time as a freelancer.
With multiple people on your team working on client projects and billing your clients, that’s more return on your investment than working solo.
Cons to Starting a Web Design Agency Over Freelancing
It’s a lot of work! And you need a lot of different skills
There is a lot more to do with a web design business.
Not only do you have to do client work, you will need to manage a team, market your business to be able to get more work that can pay the wages of your team members, do sales, etc.
As the owner of your web design company, you will need to have a wide skill set.
You will need to be able to sell your services to new clients.
You will need to market your services well.
You will need good project management skills.
And, you will need solid finance and accounting.
If you are not enthusiastic about the prospect of dealing with all of this, starting a web design agency might not be the right move for you.
You will spend less time on client work and more time as a project manager
With the day-to-day of running a web design business, you will probably find yourself spending less time doing the actual client work and more time managing your team and working on other aspects of the business.
And that’s not necessarily what everyone wants. Many people coming from freelancing really enjoy the design aspects of the job and want to be able to focus on that.
Should You Freelance or Start a Web Design Company?
So, bottom-line – should you freelance or start a web design company?
That’s a tough question.
It requires some balancing and figuring out what’s right for you.
Would you rather be able to focus on your creative projects or building and running a business?
Do you prefer the flexibility of freelancing or the structure of a company?
Now knowing the pros and cons of each, you can make the right choice for you.
Is there anything we missed? Share your thoughts below.
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Offsprout was founded by two former college freshman roommates. Drawing from their experience building their web design business, JurisPage, which was acquired in 2016, Offsprout is singularly focused on being the best white label website building tool for web design businesses.