5 Important Things Every Web Designer Needs To Know

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Hi, I'm Chris and I'm super glad you're here. 7 years ago I taught my self-web design and freelancing. Now, I do my best to teach others what I've learned so they don't have to struggle as much as I did.

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If you don’t want to read nearly 3,000 words on 5 important things every web designer needs to know, I got you. Here’s a podcast

Well, it’s official.

Selfmadewebdesigner.com turned 1 year old! ?

It’s been a pretty awesome year. I’ve gotten the chance to help a lot of people up their game as web designers or get started altogether.

And, from having the chance to talk to so many folks, I’ve found there are a few things that are super important to understand if someone is going to continue to grow as a web designer. In fact, most of the time the advice I consistently give can be boiled down to about 5 things.

It’s been pretty cool to see pattern’s emerge from the interactions I’ve had with people reaching out for advice on their journey as web designers.

And, thankfully, a lot of what people are struggling with is EXACTLY what I struggled with when I was first getting started OR have struggled with at some point along the way.

So, I thought it might be a good idea to just dive into what my answers typically are to the awesome people I’ve gotten to meet.

Are you ready?

1. You Can Reduce Risk But You Can’t Make it Vanish

Most of the time when someone reaches out it’s to bounce an idea off of me OR see if their game plan is going to be successful.

I get that.

Before you make a big decision you want to be sure it’s the right one. After all, there’s a lot riding on whether or not you decide to push forward.

But, here’s the thing, no one can tell you if things are going to work out or not. You just have to do it and find out.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot to be said for doing your homework and having a solid game plan before you jump into becoming a web designer.

I would never advocate for throwing all caution to the wind, quitting your job and hoping for the best.

But, most of the time the people that want to chat with me have already done a pretty good amount of research.

So, what is it that keeps people from just getting started after they’ve done their due dilligence?

One word. Fear.

It’s all the “what if” questions.

  • “What if things don’t work out?”
  • “What if I can’t figure out how to fix a problem or do something a client needs?”
  • “What if I end up wasting a whole bunch of time and money?”

At the core of all those questions is the fear of failure.

And, being afraid of failing can actually be a good thing if it’s used correctly. BUT, most of us have a really unhealthy relationship with failure.

Repeat after me: “Failure is your friend.”

I know that might be hard to comprehend BUT HEAR ME OUT.

I once heard that winners fail a lot more often than losers do.


Because failure gives you insight that you would never get from winning on your first try. And, you need that insight if you’re going to be successful.

It’s so important that you see failure for what it really is. It’s not a statement about your value or worth as a person. It’s data that you can collect to make sure you do better next time.

When you look at failure that way it gives you permission to fail quickly and fail often.

Now, I’m not saying you should try to fail or to not try hard enough to actually have a shot at winning. That kind of failure is just from stupidity.

But, you should be okay if things don’t go as planned and you’ve got to make some adjustments along the way to your game plan.

That’s not failing. That’s just normal living.

Once you’ve got your relationship with failure down there are a few things you can do to reduce the perception of risk.

  1. Safety Nets
    1. There’s nothing wrong with having a little bit of cushion in the bank account or a backup plan in case things go sideways.

      I don’t know why we romanticize burning bridges to what was our former way of life. I don’t know people that do that in real life.

      It’s okay to come up with alternatives or have an “if all else fails” strategy if the worst happens. It will give you peace of mind and make things seem less risky.
  2. Build a Supportive Community
    1. No one becomes successful on their own. And, if you’re going to be successful as a web designer you’ve got to create a strong community around you that helps to support and guide you along your journey.

      And, when you build a strong community it actually reduces the amount of risk you take when you’re making a big life decision.

      I’m going to quote a Bible verse BUT don’t check out on me. There’s some good wisdom in it despite whether or not you believe everything it says to be true:

      Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers, they succeed.”

      I’ve found that to be so true when it comes to making big decisions BECAUSE your community will be able to see blind spots and solutions to problems that you are just simply unable to see.
  3. Make Milestones
    1. It’s to be really anxious about being successful when you don’t even know what the path to success looks like. So, having some benchmarks along the way that let you know you’re heading in the right direction can be a HUGE key to success.

      So, my encouragement is to make some mile markers that tell you you’re on the right path. Things like a certain dollar amount for a project OR being able to use a certain tool or develop in a certain language.

      And, then when you hit those milestones, CELEBRATE! It’s much easier to be aware of your faults than it is your triumphs.

      So, if you’re not intentionally looking for those small successes that occur along the road to big success you might miss them.

At the end of the day, doing all those things can help BUT they won’t make you feel 100% confident. You’re just going to have to go for it.

2. Being Self-Taught is Easier for Some Than it is Others

I’m of the mindset that anyone can learn anything.

I used to not always think this way. I used to believe that people with born with certain genetic traits that made them more or less likely to have certain skills.

And, listen there’s still a lot to be learned about whether or not that’s true. BUT, so much has come out recently about the plasticity of our brains which is basically a fancy way of saying no matter who you are or what your genetic predisposition your much more capable of learning whatever you want than you think!

That being said, I believe anyone can learn web design on their own.

BUT, some of the people I’ve talked to have an easier go at it than others.

Here are a few key insights I’ve found in the folks who are able to stick it out.

  1. Know What Motivates You
    1. You have to have a good idea of what motivates you to learn web design. As Simon Sinek has made famous, you’ve got to know your why.

      It’s really easy to lose motivation when you’re doing something that requires a lot of effort and takes a long time to accomplish.

      And, guess what becoming a web designer takes both of those things.

      So, along the way you will lose motivation (sorry this isn’t an awesome pep talk)

      But, knowing that can actually help you win because you can prepare for it before you even get started.

      So, write down why you’re doing this in the first place. When your motivation starts to wane come back to it and read it to yourself. Post it on your bathroom mirror or in your car.

      I have a folder on my computer with encouraging notes from people that have found Self-Made Web Designer.

      When I’m starting to lose motivation I use that folder to help me keep going. I don’t look at it a ton BUT I know it’s there and it helps me press on.
  2. Set Deadlines
    1. It’s been said that a goal without a date is just a dream.

      If you’re going to be successful teaching yourself web design you’re going to have to put your money where your mouth is and set some deadlines.

      I don’t know about you but I’m the kind of person that needs to have a deadline in order to get anything done. The first question I ask people when they’ve got a project is “When do you need this finished?”

      That’s not for them. That’s for me!

      If I don’t have that then I inevitably find plenty of other things to do because I don’t feel any pressure to finish the task.

      So, do yourself a favor and set some deadlines. And, don’t just make it something like “Learn web design 1 year from now.”

      That won’t work. They’ve got to be small measurable steps that lead to a bigger outcome.

      A good framework to use is from the acronym S.M.A.R.T.

      Make your goals:
  3. Have Some Accountability
    1. Having someONE or someTHING to keep you on track is a huge part to most self-taught web designer’s success.

      That’s why a lot of folks opt-in for the traditional education model. We need a negative consequence like getting a bad grade or wasting money on a class to keep us going.

      BUT, there are ways to hold yourself accountable that don’t require a professor and a grade book.

      In fact, having a group of people who are on the same journey as you that are committed to following up with you along the way can be super effective.

      So, find some people that want to become a web designer and go in on it together. Meet together and check up on one another’s progress.

      If you’d rather go it alone than make a personal pact with yourself.

      For a goal I’m trying to accomplish this quarter I’ve promised to burn $100 if I don’t reach it.

      Why not give it away instead of burning it?

      Because it would be much easier for me to justify giving away money than it would be to straight-up waste it.

      Trust me, I am way more motivated to avoid having to burn money than I am giving it away.

      So, figure out what kind of pact would keep you accountable and put that in place.
  4. Set Realistic Expectations
    1. It’s so important when you’re first getting started to realize this is a long game.

      Becoming a successful web designer will not happen overnight. And, your journey will likely not look like anyone else’s.

      So, if you compare yourself to someone who is 10 years down the road from you, you’re going to get discouraged and likely quit.

      The best thing to do is realize that longevity is the name of the game.

      Most people that are successful just found a way to outlast their competition.

My encouragement to anyone wanting to learn web design is to always try the self-taught route first. I realize it’s not for everyone. There could be a ton of different reason why it works for some and not others.

BUT, if you give it a shot, it just might save you a lot of money in the process. In fact, even when you go the “traditional education” route you’re going to have to put a lot of effort into learning things your teachers leave out of their lessons.

3. Soft Skills are Just as Important as Technical Skills

When you ask someone what it takes to be a successful web designer you will most likely hear things like “creativity” or “frontend development skills.” And, that’s true.

But, a lot of times what makes someone a really successful web designer has more to do with their ability to build relationships or the ability to be empathetic than anything else.

Soft skills are HUGELY important if you want to make it as a web designer.

Here’s the good news: you can learn soft skills just like you can learn the technical skills.

I don’t know at what point we start thinking that who we are as people (our traits, our personality, etc) just can’t be changed. But, I’ve found that who you are is a very flexible concept.

In other words, “old dogs can learn new tricks.”

Is it harder the older you get? Maybe. Some studies are showing that it might be a little more difficult to learn the things that are more associated with soft skills as you get older.

BUT, those same studies are finding that it has less to do with age and more to do with mindset.

One of the first interviews I did for the Self-Made Web Designer Podcast was with a good friend Anthony Garone.

He talked about how he had to teach himself soft skills because none of them came naturally to him.

So, good news if you don’t feel like you’re strong in the soft skills area you can learn them. All it takes is a bit of effort and intentionality.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Pivot

I’ve interviewed so many people on the podcast who are in a completely different place today than where they thought they would be 5 years ago.

One journalist is now a UX designer.

Two IT support guys now run a web design business.

One teacher is now a rep for a new hosting platform that could potentially rock the industry.

In other words, their success as web designers is because they didn’t stick to their first game plan.

They changed directions along the way based on what they found on the journey. And, if you’re going to be successful as a web designer you’ve got to be willing to pivot.

Don’t get me wrong, there is something to be said about sticking to something for a little bit of time.

But, after you’ve stayed around long enough by all means do something differently.

That doesn’t mean you’ve got to do an about face. But it might mean you make small adjustments in a direction you didn’t think you would go.

When you’re first getting started it’s tough to know which direction is the right direction. But, as you progress the right path will begin to become clearer and clearer.

And, if you’re not willing to make adjustments you might get stuck in a lane that you won’t really thrive in.

5. You Don’t Need to Know Code to Be Successful But…

One question that comes up pretty consistently is whether or not you need to know code in order to be a successful web designer.

My answer is always, “Yes, but…”

Let’s talk about the “yes” part of the equation first.

I know plenty of people who are incredibly successful web designers that don’t know a lick of code.

They’ve built their web design business on platforms like Showit or Wix.

BUT…they also had other skills that made them stand out.

They were also really good at branding and marketing OR great at interpreting a clients vision and putting it into a website OR seeing what the client really needed to be successful.

In other words, you probably won’t be successful on your design skills alone. You’re going to have to bring more to the table if you want to be successful as a web designer.

A lot of times when people ask that question what they’re really asking me is, “What’s the least I can do to be successful.”

And, if you’re asking that question, I have bad news for you. You probably won’t find success.

Web design is getting easier and easier. Drag and drop platforms like Showit or Webflow make web design super accessible to people that have never even heard of HTML.

And, the truth is things will probably get even easier as time goes on. So, if you’re going to survive as a web designer you are going to have to continually add skills an expertise to the mix of what you offer clients.

Does it have to be knowing how to code? No. But it sure can help.

If learning to code is what is keeping you from becoming a web designer then by all means forget HTML, CSS and anything language you might come across.

BUT, be ready to learn some other skills that will help you add value to clients that will one day ask you to build their website.

If you don’t it’s pretty likely that it won’t be long before you don’t have a lot of folks interested in your services.

Lessons from Self-Made Web Designers First Year

It really has been an incredible year.

I’ve been so thankful for all the people that have found Self-Made Web Designer and been helped by it or just been a part in some small way.

And, to be honest, I love the fact that most people need the same advice. That means that I can get really good at explaining it and as a result really good at helping people.

In fact, I consider it one of my primary jobs just to encourage people to keep going or give it a shot.

If anything I’ve learned that anyone can become a web designer. It just takes some grit and some intentionality.

So, if you’re coming here looking for a bit of advice on your journey, the best I can say is:

  1. Don’t be afraid to fail
  2. Have a game plan for going the self-taught route
  3. Work on soft skills as you’re working on technical skills
  4. Don’t be afraid to pivot
  5. Make sure you add more skills than just web design to the mix

If you can do those things, you’ll be alright.

Here’s to another year!

Chris: What's up, everybody. Welcome to another episode of the self-made web designer podcast on what is the first birthday of selfmadewebdesigner.com. That's right. We turned one, everybody. So, cue the miniature ponies. Cue the sparklers. Cue the birthday cake. Cue the scary clown that parents always hire.
But for some reason it just keeps scaring the kids. I don't know why we do that, but we do. We did that for self-made web designer's birthday.

And I just want to say thank you. I want to say thank you for being a part of the journey. Whether you've been with us from the very beginning or whether you're just jumping in for the first time. This has been a fun year and I've gotten the chance to really interact and talk to a lot of people.

And the way that I've done that is through a few avenues. We've got, of course, selfmadewebdesigner.com which has a blog where I post a lot of articles on things that I have encountered on my journey, some stuff that I've learned.

We have the podcast which started back in March, which has been a ton of fun. I've gotten the chance to interview a lot of folks who are industry leaders in this space. There's the newsletter. There, of course, is the web designer starter kit course, which is a free video course that I highlight all the things that I did when I was first getting started, all the steps that I took to learn how to get into web design and how to become a freelancer.

And another thing that maybe a lot of you don't know about is there's a place on the website to actually sign up for a 15 minute phone call with me. And I have gotten the chance to talk one on one to a ton of people over this last year. And I absolutely love doing that. In fact, it's one of my favorite things to do from all of the things that we do to help people out.

And oddly enough, what has happened in having those conversations is I've realized that a lot of people need the same type of encouragement. They've got similar questions. They're dealing with similar things when it comes to either getting started as a freelance web designer, web developer, or whatever, or trying to up their game, trying to take things to the next level.

And so I figured that we would just kind of go through some of those things that I talk about with people and just kind of share some of the common messages that I find myself sharing consistently, because I'm betting if a lot of people that I'm talking to are having those same questions, there are probably a lot of people out there listening that are wondering the same exact thing.

So are you ready? We're going to talk about five things that every web designer needs to know when they're just getting started. Here we go.

If I were to take a poll and ask everybody listening, what is one of the biggest things that keeps people. From going for a web design freelance side hustle or full time career, what would it be?

Take a second. Think about it. I think most people would probably say that what is keeping people back is a skill, you know, being able to do development or design or a network of people to actually get business from, or the ability to market themselves or. Pitch to a potential client, or maybe it's even time, you know, having enough time to be able to actually do the project because there's so much stuff going on in life, but here's the crazy thing.

None of those are the right answer. The one thing that holds most people back from getting started as a web designer or trying to up their game in their own career or freelance side hustle or business is fear. Fear of failing fear of not being capable, fear of potentially wasting time and money. So I consider my biggest job at self-made web designer to encourage people to just go for it.

In fact, the whole reason that self-made web designer got started was because a coworker, Kurt and I were talking and I realized he wanted to start a freelance web design side hustle. I was just afraid and needed a little bit of a push, a little bit of a guiding hand to help him along the process. And most people.

Have the same fear. What it boils down to is people call me and they're trying as hard as they can to take all of the risk out of the equation when it comes to just going for it. But here's the deal. You can't, you can't remove 100% of the risk from any life decision that you make. And I am not in any way advocating to just go for it with caution to the wind.

That's not what I did and that's not what I encourage anyone to do. No, you do your homework. You, you study, you, you take. Calculated assessment of the risks that needs to be taken and you move forward incrementally. So, so hear me, this is not me telling you to quit your job, sell your home and empty your bank account, trying to build a web design business.

That that is not the point of this conversation. You have to be smart about it, and you, you have to understand what it is that you're getting into before you just go for it. But. What I'm finding is that most people have already done that work. Most people have looked into things. They've, they've done their homework, they've done the background education, and they find themselves at the edge of the diving board.

Just not wanting to take the leap. I remember being a kid at a community pool trying to jump off the high dive. And of course now, if I went back to that pool, I'm sure it would seem silly because I'm sure it's not super high, but as a little nine year old boy, it seemed like I was jumping off of a skyscraper.

And the scariest moment was right at the edge of the diving board. Before I took the leap and just went for it. And the same is true for most people who are considering jumping into web design or jumping into taking things to a higher level. A few things that I have found can be really, really helpful to people who are just on the edge and considering going for it.

And need just a little bit of encouragement. The first thing is to have a parachute, right. Have, have a backup plan. There's there's nothing wrong with saying, if this doesn't work out here are the steps I'm going to take. To make sure I am not up a Creek without a paddle. And I know that the world romanticizes just jumped in, hang out and learning how to fly on the way down.

And that's cool. And, and sometimes that works. I've actually talked to people who have done that and it's worked out for him, but more times than not, I have found that people that do that end up worse off. Then when they first decided to go for it. So have a backup plan, have some things in place place that will be like a bungee cord.

If the parachute doesn't open, have a little bit of savings in your bank account, doing that as for two reasons. Right? Number one. It helps in case something goes wrong. But number two, it makes you feel a little, a little bit better about the decision. It reduces the perceived risk of the decision to just go for it.

Another thing is to put a community around you that is going to help you. A long the way. And this is the first thing that I talk about in the self-made web designer. Starter kit course is community is one of the most important things when it comes to getting started as a web designer. And the reason for that is a hundred fold.

Number one, your community can be a. A place of encouragement when you feel discouraged, right? When you feel like giving up, because you will feel like giving up at one point in time and you can lean back on your community and say, Hey, I'm struggling. And here's what I'm struggling with. Can you help me gain some perspective?

And another thing that community does is it gives you resources when there are questions that you don't have answers to. Right. And I know that we call this the self-made web designer podcast, but there's no such thing as self-made web designer, everybody. Okay. Is somebody because of other bodies, right?

And that's, that's not eloquent. It's not tweetable, but hopefully you get my drift. Hopefully you get what I'm trying to say. There is no success in a vacuum. If you see someone who is a successful web designer, I guarantee you it's because they have people around them that are encouraging them. Along the way.

So make sure that you're building a community to help you through the process and intentionally ask them, say, Hey, would you just be here part of my community when it comes to me going for this freelance web design thing. And I have folks who are skilled in web development. Who gives me a lot of insight when I've got a development problem that I don't really know how to, how to solve.

I have folks who are great in design that I send things to and get their feedback on. I have folks who are great in business and just give me a lot of business ideas when it comes to interacting with clients and getting projects. And then I just have straight up cheerleaders who think I am way more awesome than I actually am.

But when I'm feeling down or feeling discouraged, I call those people because I know I need a little bit of pick me up. So put a community around you and put a parachute on so that the feeling of risk becomes diminished. Another thing that I've found can help with the risk is putting, putting some milestones out there for progress.

And success. Milestones will help you see the progress that you are making as you go, because here's what happens if you look at it becoming a successful freelance web designer. We're talking about the course of a few years. Okay. You're not going to be super successful within a couple of months. It's going to take some time.

Okay. And so what happens is, is you begin to get discouraged because you feel like you're not making the progress that you would want. To make, but here's the crazy thing. If you were to look back at where you are or where you were, when you first got started versus where you are today, you'd probably be pretty encouraged.

And so setting those milestones up those mile markers of, okay. When I reach. This level of, uh, uh, the amount that I get from a project, that's a mile marker. Right. And I'm going to celebrate, and I'm going to, I'm going to, you know, have a party and whether that's having a party by going and buying S actual cup of coffee at Starbucks or whatever that legitimizes.

And materializes the progress that you see you have made, so you can look back and go, Oh yeah, right. I remember when I was only charging $500 for a website, right. And now I'm up to 2000. And even though I'd like to be 4,000 are still come a super long way. So put those milestones in place to help you gain perspective and to help you take away some of the risk factor.

And that also helps you to go, you know what? I'm not. Trying to do better. Like this is cereal. I hope I become a success. Well, what does success look like? Does it look like this? Does it look like this? Now you have certain things in place that can encourage you to keep going and make you feel, feel a little bit better about the decision.

So. Three ways to keep yourself from not moving forward because of fear. Number one, have a parachute, have some things in place that will catch you. If something fails, number two, build a community around you that will help you to keep going. And number three, make some mile markers to help you see the progress that you have made along.

The way, but at the end of the day, hear me, you won't be able to take away all the risk. You've just got to go for it. You've got to take the leap and man, the jump. Another thing that I've learned with helping people along this first year, is that going this self-taught route to become a web designer, web developer, UX designer, or whatever is easier for some people than it is for others.

And that's, that's probably a given you're probably like the Chris, everybody knows that there are different learning styles. And so you should have known that going into it. And it, and here's my encouragement. Of course, everybody has different ways that they learn, but that doesn't mean that the self-taught route can't be done by absolutely.

Anybody. There are a few things that I have found that you can do no matter what your learning style, no matter what your personality, to make sure that you have success going the self-taught route. And here's the deal. I know that not everybody is going to be successful learning on their own and that's okay.
But you have to at least try going the self-taught route before you try another Avenue could because it could potentially save you tons of money, right? And tons of time. And what I have found is that the courses and the boot camps that are out there, even though they're helping you learn some things, you still got to have a little bit of self I should have in order to be really successful.

I I've talked to countless people. I've read other people's experiences that despite. The education being handed to them, there was still a lot of work to be done in the background that had nothing to do with the classes that they, they were being taught in. And so make sure that you give the self-taught route a chance before you decide to put 20 grand on a bootcamp or do something else.

But here are a few things. That I have found can, can help you go the self-taught route to help make sure that learning on your own is successful. Number one, figure out what motivates you. And this is going to be a lot different for a lot of people, because inevitably along the way, you're going to lose your motivation.

It's going to get discouraging. You're going to ask yourself things like, why did I decide to do this? What was I thinking? Who am I kidding? And so during those moments, you have to have some form of motivation to keep you going. I've done the same thing with. Self-made web designer. Right? I actually have a folder on my computer called encouragement because what motivates me is helping people become successful is helping people who were in desperate situations, get into a place where they are thriving.

And so I have a folder that has a ton of DMS, a ton of messages, a ton of emails from people who have. Since some stuff and saying, thank you for what you're doing. It has helped me. So figure out what that is for you. What made it, what motivates you? What keeps you going? Is it the accomplishment of learning something new?

Right? Is it the goal of providing for you and your family? Is it the idea of a better life? Is it just the love of the stuff? Right. Like find those motivating factors. There's and, and write them down, put them in a folder, put on your, on your desktop or in an actual folder. Right? Like, whatever it is that will help you stay motivated, you know, highlight those things.

And, and here's what happens when, when you decide that this is the thing that motivates me. And you begin looking for it. You, you begin to see it pop up more and more because what you give your attention to is what becomes predominant and the things that you are seeing in your life. So if you give your attention to discouragement, if you give your attention to the fact that this stuff is hard and why.

You're not really getting it as easily as you had hoped. Like you begin to see that over and over again, you, you, you begin to affirm that thought with things that happen. But if you, if you begin to give attention to the positive things, then you begin to see that more and more. You say, Oh man, here's something that I didn't know how to do three weeks ago.

And now I've figured it out and they find this. Over and over again, and psychological studies that when you focus on gratitude, you're able to accomplish much, much more as an individual. Then if you were be cynical to focus on the negative, so figure out what motivates you. Another thing is make a game plan with some actual dates attached to it.

So I have found for myself. If, if I don't have some form of a deadline, it's not gonna happen. Okay. I will find a thousand other things to do along the way that do not include getting better or learning something new. And so. Add some timelines, add, add something to your calendar. It says, by this date, I will have done this thing, or I will have learned this thing and stick with it.

Check your calendar on a weekly or daily basis to see how the progress. Is coming and you can't, it can't be a huge, like, you know, learn web design one year from now, right? Like that's not going to be successful. It has, it has to be those milestones that we were talking about earlier and they have to have dates to them.

Right. So, you know, at the end of October, I'm going to. Done a, B, C, and D. And then that way you can see like, okay, I've only got a few weeks coming and I've got to be done with this. And I find for myself that most of the time I'm cramming at the very end, but if I didn't have an end, if I didn't have a due date, I wouldn't cramp and I wouldn't finish.

So set a game plan with some actual dates attached to it, because as they say. A goal without a date is just a dream. Another thing is have some accountability, right? Pull some people in your life who are going to hold your feet to the fire. If you, those dates, right. Just having a date is something, but, but having something that actually.

Hold you accountable to that date is, is another ball game, right? And sometimes I do this with people saying, Hey, would you help me kind of hold me accountable to this? And another way I do that is by my own personal packs. Right? So this a crazy thing that I have done with a goal that I'm trying to reach in this next season is I've said, if, if I don't do this thing and this timeline, I'm going to burn $100.

And a lot of you were thinking, Chris, you're crazy. Why would you do that? Just give it away. Give it to me. I've even had friends tell me that. Why don't you just give me the money? And here's the thing. I know that if I were just to give away a hundred dollars, it wouldn't hurt me as bad as if I were just to burn it.

Okay. And so that motivation has kept me going as kept me on track for being able to accomplish this goal. That's my account ability. You've got to figure out the best things that you accountable. You might be held more accountable by personal PACS or more accountable by people around you. Everyone's different, but at least try to have some accountability in your life.

Another thing is to set realistic. Expectations. Okay. It's probably going to be a lot tougher than you thought it was when you first got started to become a web designer. It's probably going to take a lot longer time than what you were asking dissipating. So anticipate the unanticipated. Is that even a word, I don't know, anticipate things that are unforeseeable that there's no, no way you could have known that they would have happened.

A good example is the pandemic that happened. Right. I started this podcast at the beginning of the pandemic before everything shut down and lo and behold, the whole world went crazy. And so. That changed timelines for me with this podcast that changed my expectation. Did that mean I gave up? No, it just meant that I went back to the jury long board and I said, okay, let's look at this again and make this more realistic.

Of a goal than what I had previously thought of doing. So be realistic, be easy on yourself. If it doesn't go 100% to plan, have some accountability and make a game plan with some actual dates and figure out what motivates you. Another thing that I have found when it comes to people becoming web designers and some common questions are some common themes that have risen to the top is this it's the fact that soft skills are just as important as.

The technical skills. So let's, let's define those things. The technical skills would be things like web development, web design, UX design, all of this stuff, learn learning a soft where like sketch or Adobe. Those, those are the hard skills. Those are the technical skills. And most of the time people think that if they master those skills, they will have it all figured out.

But what I have found in so many companies is that you can master all this, but if you haven't mastered the soft skills. It just doesn't mean as much. And that's because people are relational, right? It doesn't matter how good you are. If you have a hard time connecting to people or building relationships or being a trustworthy person with integrity, you're going to have a hard time finding a job.

You're going to have a hard time getting projects. Or finding clients. And so it is so important to work on those things off skills as much or more. Then you are working on the hard technical skills and some of you out there listening are probably thinking this is discouraging because I don't have those soft skills.

I'm an introvert or whatever. I, I have a hard time relating and connecting to people and listen, I understand that, but here's what I have found. All of this stuff is learnable. Whether it's a hard skill or a soft skill, you can practice it. You can work on it, you can develop it, you can grow it. I actually have a friend who is in an incredible, lovely, successful web developer, who is a director of technology at a pretty big.

Organization. And he's talked to me about the fact that he's had to work on developing his soft skills, work on developing his ability to have conversation with people because it doesn't come naturally to him. And I've actually had him as a guest on the podcast. His name is Anthony Garone. He's one of the first four interviews that I did on self-made web designer.

And so go listen to him. He talks about. Walking into a networking event and having a specific game plan for how he's going to interact with people. And so my encouragement is, is to learn those things, learn, learn how to build relationships, learn how to have small talk with people. Because even though small talk isn't super meaningful, it can lead to meaningful relationships, learn how to have empathy, learn how to see things.

From another person's perspective, put people first, right? Like this is the thing that comes up over and over again in the podcast. Is people before profit having somebody best interests in mind, we'll guarantee you success has a weapon designer and your freelance business, or a full time career. Put people first Lee.

Work on your emotional quotient, your EEQ right. Having a low IQ will make it difficult for you for you. When it comes to building a web design career, learn how to ask a lot of questions. I learned this from my roommate in college, who actually helped me get started because he started his own web design business before I did.

And then he encouraged me along the way and gave me some jobs, but we would be in. Uh, hanging out with people at college and he would just ask so many questions. He, he would, he would, he would just over and over again, try to figure out somebody life and there's perspective and where they're coming from and, and what they were thinking about.

And I picked that up and I do that with them. My clients, I try to be as inquisitive as possible, right. To learn as much. I'm hungry to know more and more about. The people that I am serving. So, so ask a lot of questions, be curious. This is something that Sarah duty said from my interview with her on the podcast is try to figure out a lot of things.

Be naturally curious. Ask yourself a question of why does this work? Why does this not work? What can I do to make it better next time? Right? Why did that conversation go like that? What could I have done to make the conversation go better? It could, the sales call have gone on a little bit differently if I had said this or this or whatever.
So be curious, another thing is have integrity at the end of the day. Integrity is everything. And a lot of people say that their value as a company or whatever is integrity, and that can't be a stated value, right? You should just have integrity. It's not something that you should put in a mission statement.

It's just something that you should, it should be a default. Of course you have integrity, integrity. A lot of times hurts because it means that you are doing something that doesn't benefit you just to stick to your word. So again, If you want to grow, you've got to realize that soft skills are just as important as the technical skills.

And you've got to be putting just as much intention in developing those soft skills as you do into developing the technical skills. Another thing that I've found when it comes to helping web designers over this last year, is this, you can't be afraid to pivot from your first idea? I think so many people sometimes put their stake in the ground and say, if things don't look like this a year from now, then I haven't been successful.

And that is just not the case. You can't be afraid to say, you know what, along the way. This didn't work out the way that I thought it would, but I did find this one thing that I'm going to go for. And I did that myself, right. I thought, for sure, I'd be a side hustle or a freelance web design side hustle for eternity.

And then I came to a point where I said, you know what? I think it might be time for me to pivot because here's a few things that are happening in my life. And here's some stuff that is changing. And so I want to take what. The direction that I was going, and I want to change it a little bit and you have to realize you're not a failure.
If you do that, right. If you start learning web design and then realize in the midst of it, you actually like copywriting better. Or you actually like the digital marketing aspect a little bit better. You have to keep an open mind to your journey, right? Because most of the time people's journeys are not linear.

Okay. And what do I mean by that? That, what that means is that most people don't start at a and end up at B, right? They started a, they go to D they come back to B, they go to C, then they trail off and go a different direction and end up at L. And then they come back to another place that they finally figured out.

This is it. And so it's, it's gonna look a lot different for a lot people. And you can't compare yourself to someone else who, who has done it differently because you bring a unique perspective. You bring a unique piece of the puzzle that everybody will benefit from. If you just don't worry about it looking one specific way.

So I'm preaching up in here. There's somebody needs to hear this encouragement just because your journey doesn't look like mine, just because your journey doesn't look like a fill in the blank of somebody else. Who has been successful. It doesn't mean that you have failed. It just means that your journey is unique and it is beautiful.

So don't be afraid to pivot. Don't be afraid to go in a different direction. You might find yourself along the journey, realizing you want to focus more on web development and you don't like design as much. And that's okay. You might find that you want to focus more on the design aspects and you don't really like the web development aspects and that's okay.

You might find that you'd rather have a full time job than be a 100% freelancer and that's fine. You've got to figure out what works for you and then not be afraid to make a change accordingly. The final question that I get asked consistently is this, can I be a web designer? Without knowing how to code.

And my answer is yes, but. Now wait for the, but we'll talk about the, yes. The yes, is that I know plenty of people who are successful web designers, they build websites for a living and they're awesome and successful at doing it. Right. The in fact they're more successful than I am or have been, and they don't know any code.
They, they don't know how to develop anything. They use platforms like the company that I worked for or show it, or they use Webflow or they use Wix or some type of deal in WordPress. And they figured out how to market themselves in such a way that they don't really need to code anything for a client.

And so it is 100% doable. And if, if that is holding you back from just going for it, In becoming a web designer, like just do it, just, just designed, figure out some tool that helps you learn how to design. In such a way that it is valuable to somebody who is looking to have their website built, but, but here's the thing.

As technology grows, things, this will become easier and easier for people to do on their own. And so if you only learn design, then you've got to figure out other pieces of, of the puzzle that make you valuable to a potential client. Right, because it used to be that if you could just mock up a website, then you're valuable.
People were looking for that. Right. Cause nobody knew how to do it themselves. Then tools became accessible to people so that they didn't have to hire someone to build them a website. And so slowly but surely, if all you knew how to do was build a website, like you started getting less and less business.

And so. You've got to think about that. There are things coming down the road that we don't even know about right now, you know, they could be in development or they could be 10 years from now. And if you're not gaining skills that set you apart that make you irreplaceable, then. You're going to be up a Creek without a paddle again, when it comes to finding clients, there's a great book by Seth Godin called linchpin, that talks a lot about this figure out ways to become a linchpin in an organization or for a client.

What special sauce do you provide to people? You've got to ask yourself that question because a lot of the times. The question of, do I have to learn code in order to be a successful web designer that comes with, what's the least amount of effort that I can, that I can make in order to become successful.

And if that's your mentality, then I guarantee you you're not going to be successful. So here's the, but part of yes, but right. If all you're trying to do is do the least amount of work to become successful. It's not going to happen, so you don't have to learn development, but if you. Don't learn development, figure out another way that sets you apart from the multitude of the other people who are able to design a website on these platforms, figure out what sets you apart from somebody being able to do it on their own.

You, you have to understand your core competencies. What makes you valuable? To a potential customer. So again, the five things that I have found web designers need to know when they're just getting started is number one, you can't take away the risk of just going for it. You've got to figure out how to help the risk factor in your own perception.

And then at the end of the day, you just gotta make the jump. Another thing is everyone can learn on their own, but some people have an easier time with it. And so figure out those things that help you to keep going to being self-taught soft skills are just as important as the technical skills. You can't be afraid to pivot from what you first thought you would be doing when you first got started as a web designer.

And finally. Yes, you can be a web designer without knowing how to code, but you do have to have something that sets you apart from everybody else. I hope this was helpful for you on what is our birthday? The first year anniversary of self-made web designer.com here's to another 10 years here's to helping out.
More and more people. And Hey, if you need help, do not hesitate to sign up for a time slot on my website. Self-made web designer.com. I'd love to talk to you. I'd love to encourage you. I'd love to share as much as I can about the journey that I have been on. And hopefully it is helpful. If not, you know, I make wise cracks and it can be a good conversation.

So if anything else, it'll just. You know, keep you from being bored for 15 minutes during your day. I don't know. Hey, next week we've got another great episode with another great guest coming out Wednesday night. It's going to be fantastic until then. Don't forget if you. Don't quit, you win.

5 Important Things Every Web Designer Needs to Know || Balloons Being Released in the Air


Hi, I'm Chris and I'm super glad you're here. 7 years ago I taught my self-web design and freelancing. Now, I do my best to teach others what I've learned so they don't have to struggle as much as I did.

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