Deciding to start a web design or development business is no easy task. It requires a certain degree of diligence, tenacity, and ambition to begin working for yourself. You’ll be faced with some very hard decisions along the way that can impact the success and growth of your entrepreneurial venture.
To help you get started, we’ve compiled our most popular articles and guides into a comprehensive collection. These posts cover every stage of your journey including working as a freelancer, finding and managing clients, and tips for taking your creative endeavor to the next level. If you’re thinking of launching your own design firm, dive into the resources below before you get started.
Starting your freelance journey
Learning the ropes of freelancing
Before you find yourself managing an agency full of designers, you’ll most likely begin your journey as an independent freelancer. If you’ve never done it before, freelancing can be a challenge — you’re now your own boss and in charge of every aspect of running a business.
In this section, we’ll share advice and insights for managing the transition and finding success as a freelancer.
Making the transition
Once you've decided that you're ready to go freelance you'll be presented with many challenges and tasks that will probably be foreign to you. We went out and asked some of our partners how they made the transition and here's some of their advice.
- My First Year as a Freelancer
- 7 Secrets for Balancing Freelance Projects With Your 9 to 5
- 10 Successful Web Designers Share Their Best Advice for Aspiring Freelancers
- 5 Professional Life Hacks to Get Bigger and Better in Your Freelance Design Career
Understanding what it takes to get paid as a freelancer will help set you up for success. From pricing projects to invoicing clients, these strategies and techniques will get help ensure your new business venture is a profitable one.
- A Web Designer's Guide to Pricing Strategies
- 7 Tips to Calculate Your Freelance Rate
- Protecting Yourself From Freelancer Exploitation
- 8 Quick Tips for a BulletProof Freelance Contract
- Why You Should Bill 100% Up-Front
Tools for freelancers
Even the most organized freelancer needs a little extra help sometimes. There are a ton of tasks you can simplify, and even automate, through the use of software. We've compiled some of our favorite tools that can help any freelancer become more organized and productive.
- 6 of the Best Time Tracking Apps for Designers, Developers, and Agencies
- 9 Tools to Help You Collaborate Effectively as a Freelancer
- 5 Tools for Headache-Free Freelancer Invoicing
- 5 Free CRM Tools That Will Help Keep Your Web Design Business Organized
Promoting your new venture
Now that you’ve taken the leap into freelance, your next step is to build the foundation that will help you promote your business. Your website is a great place to start growing and marketing your brand. We’ve included some useful tips below for getting the most out of your business’s website.
- The Importance of Investing in Your Own Website
- How to Create a Compelling Web Design Portfolio
- How to Build a Great Design Portfolio — Shopify Designers Weigh In
- How to Write a Web Design Case Study that Lands New Clients
- Why Your Contact Page is the Most Important Part of Your Portfolio Website
- 3 Simple Ways Your Agency Can Use Content Marketing to Build a Better Brand and Find New Clients
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Finding and working with clients
Finding new clients
Your business is set up and your website is live — now all you need are some clients.
Finding new clients is one of the greatest challenges you’ll face when starting your web design business. There are countless tactics for landing new contracts, and we’ve included a few below that are guaranteed to help you get started.
- The Counter-Intuitive Approach to Getting Your First Client
- 6 Tips for Finding New Clients
- How to Host Webinars That Attract Clients
- How To Find Clients Using Social Media
- 4 Overlooked Tactics for Finding Clients Offline
- How to Host a Meetup
- 6 Questions to Help You Gauge Client Fit
- Web Design Experts Share Their Advice for Attracting Your Next Client
- The Ultimate Guide to Finding Web Design Clients
Working with clients
While finding and closing clients is undoubtedly challenging, it’s only the beginning of the battle. The real work comes when you start working on their projects and managing budgets, timelines, and expectations. The articles below cover the why’s, what’s, and how’s of managing client relationships.
- How to Create a Client Intake Process That Saves You Time and Headaches
- The Toughest Client Questions and How to Answer Them
- How to Persuade Any Client to Choose Your Design
- How To Build Long-Term Client Relationships
- How Building Customer Relationships Will Help You Create a Million Dollar Business
- What I Learned From Being My Own Client
- 7 Useful Tips On Handling Difficult Clients
- How to Collect the Right Information from Your Clients
- 4 Quick Ways to Build Trust With a New Client
Project management resources
Project management is a foreign process for many designers and developers, especially those working as freelancers. In order for you to build a strong working relationship with your client, you need to ensure that your project workflow is as smooth as possible. Luckily, we've compiled several articles to help you build out your project management toolkit.
- The Ecommerce Proposal Guide for Shopify Experts
- How to Write a Freelance Contract 101
- A Web Designer's Guide to Project Schedules
- How to Write a Design Brief to Keep Your Web Design Projects on Track
- 4 Ways to Perfect Your Approach to Creative Project Management
Growing your web design or development company
Scaling your business
There might come a point when you feel the need to expand your freelance operation into something bigger. While growing your business is exciting, it’ll involve some hard decisions and serious strategic thinking to transform your one-person operation into a multi-employee business. The following posts offer insights and advice for taking your web design or development business to the next level.
- 10 Pieces of Advice for Scaling Your Web Design Business
- How We’re Scaling From 10 to 25 Employees in 7 Months
- How We Built a Global Empire from a Small Island in the Pacific Ocean
- From Freelance to Agency: Advice for Growing Your Team
Additional services to offer your clients
Your client relationship doesn’t need to end after their site or app is built. Your path to long-term client relationships is paved by adding complementary services outside of your core offering. The articles below will introduce you to some new opportunities to help expand your services.
- The Profitable Ecommerce Designer
- How A/B Testing Will Make You a Better Web Designer
- 5 Simple Google Analytics Reports You Should Create for Every Client
- How to Help Your Clients Get Results with Email Marketing
- 6 Social Media Services You Can Offer to Your Clients
- 6 Tips for Crafting Great Web Copy That Converts
Building your business with Shopify
Getting started with Shopify Themes
If you find yourself working with an ecommerce client, Shopify offers an easy-to-use platform for creating ecommerce stores and templates. We’ve compiled the following articles to help you become familiar with Shopify theme design and development.
- An Overview of Liquid: Shopify's Templating Language
- The Essential List of Resources for Shopify Theme Developers
- 4 Essential Tips for Building Your First Shopify Theme
- How to Get Published in the Shopify Theme Store
- 10 Top Questions About Developing Shopify Themes Answered
- 10x Your Shopify Theme Development Skills with These Free Courses
- Best Practices for Developing Scalable (and Sustainable) Shopify Themes
- Shopify Liquid Tutorials
Getting started with Shopify Apps
Shopify also offers tons of opportunities for app developers. If you’re looking to build an app for an ecommerce store, or to help Shopify merchants in general, here are some tips for getting started.
- 5 Things Your Should Look For in an Ecommerce Platform as an App Developer
- 4 Tips for Building a Shopify App That Sells
- Getting Your App in the Shopify App Store
- How to Generate a Shopify API Token
- How to Improve Your Shopify App's Onboarding Flow
Success stories to inspire you
Hundreds of web design and development companies have built and grown their businesses with Shopify. From app developers to ecommerce design specialists, Shopify’s Partner Program provides the resources, support, and technology needed to jumpstart your career in web design. Below we’ve included success stories of some of the designers and developers in the Shopify ecosystem.
- A Day in the Life of a Shopify Partner
- How Bold Commerce Built an App Development Company from the Basement Up
- JackPine Talks Designing the Perfect Doughnut Shop
- DBNY Builds a Product Customization App
Grow your web design and development business with Shopify. Our Partner Program offers the resources, support, and technology to make your dreams a reality. Learn more →
Starting your own web design company is a major undertaking.
Whether it’s learning how to freelance, searching for new clients, or growing your business to new heights, this resource roundup is a great starting point. We hope it will help you take the leap and follow your dreams.
Good luck — you’ve got this.