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I got an email this last week. And it wasn’t a fun one: I have to be honest. That was a blow to the gut and it’s even pretty hard to admit that it happened. For the longest time I’ve been a huge advocate of Upwork. I’ve even been featured on some of their advertisements. […]

How I Lost My Top Rated Status on Upwork

A neon sign with an encouraging message that says "People Fail Forward to Success" || How I lost my top rated status on Upwork

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SEO can sometimes seem like a mystical concept. We all know we need it but we can’t quite figure out how to get it. So, we figure the people that are doing well with SEO have some kind of magic formula they’ve concocted and are probably unwilling to share with anyone else. But, thankfully, that’s […]

How to Grow a Strong Web Design Business with SEO

How to Grow a Strong Web Design Business with SEO || An image of the google search page on a computer

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You can’t have a successful side hustle without having a healthy family. At least not for very long. Most of us like to think that we can compartmentalize different areas of our lives. You’ve probably heard something like this before: “whatever personal issues you have, leave them at the door of your office.” But, the […]

How to Have a Healthy Marriage and Successful Side Hustle

How to Have a Healthy Marriage and a Successful Side Hustle || A happy couple

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So many freelancers think it takes some secret to find good web design clients. But, in reality, it’s actually pretty simple. Here’s a hint. It has nothing to do with how long you’ve been in business, how many skills you’ve mastered or even whether you’ve got a degree in some related topic. If you want […]

How to Attract High Paying Web Design Clients Part 2

How to Find Good Web Design Clients || Neon sign that is a handshake

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So, many web designers settle for low paying projects. They make excuses as to why they’ll never attract the high paying web design clients they see others get so easily. “I’m just not that good.” “I don’t have an official degree.” “I haven’t been doing this long enough.” All of these excuses keep good web […]

How to Attract High Paying Web Design Clients Part 1

How to Attract High Paying Web Design Clients||Happy Man Sitting at Laptop

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Erin Flynn is not your normal freelance web designer. While everyone else is preaching “hustle, grind, kill yourself until you win” Erin is encouraging everyone to slow down and build a business that supports your life RATHER than the other way around. Erin only works two to four hours a day as a freelance web […]

How to Only Work 20 Hours a Week & Make an Amazing Income

How to Only Work 20 Hours a Week and Still Make an Amazing Income|| A man floating in the ocean while reading a book

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Forget about making a little bit of extra money on the side. This graphic design freelancer is making enough money to fund a small town in Arkansas. What amazing secret source did she use to find her success? Upwork. That’s right. The place that everyone says is a race to the bottom. The place so […]

How to Make Over 6 Figures on Upwork as a Freelancer

How to Make Over 6 Figures on Upwork as a Freelancer|| A Miami street

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Not many college students can say they make $120 an hour. But, that’s not the case with Josh Ahles. Josh started freelancing as a web designer only a few short months ago. But, in that time his success has skyrocketed. Here’s the crazy thing, only 8 months ago, Josh was afraid of freelancing as a […]

How to Crush it as a Freelance Web Designer in College

How to Crush it as a Freelance Web Designer in college || a college student in cap and gown doing a dab

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The world is crazy right now. Entire cities are shutting down. Businesses are being bankrupted. All from a virus we call COVID-19. In the wake of what’s happening around the world a lot of people are questioning what their next move is. They just lost their job or their income has drastically decreased. And, some […]

How to Be Successful with a Web Design Side Hustle

How to Be Successful with a Web Design Side Hustle || A laptop on a table with coffee, a notepad and a phone

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I have to be honest and say I did not think the Coronavirus would affect us as much as it has. I thought everyone was going a bit overboard. But, things kept getting worse. Then last week the CEO of the company I work for sent out a message telling us that we would all […]

How to Make Your Web Design Business Coronavirus Proof

A Face Mask lying on the concrete

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Well, it happened to me today. My CEO sent a message to our entire company. We are going to be working from home for the foreseeable future because of the Coronavirus. And, I’ve heard of a lot of companies who are following suit. Oracle, Twitter, Apple, Google. All of the heavy hitters aren’t just encouraging […]

Coronavirus: How to Work From Home and Not Go Crazy

Coronavirus a man working from home with a mask on

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I’ve talked to a lot of freelancers over the years. After a while, a few common issues started to pop up. It turns out a lot of us are struggling with the exact same issues but no one is talking about it with one another! That’s the topic of this week’s episode on the Self-Made […]

The 5 Worst Mistakes Freelancers Make and How to Fix Them

The 5 Worst Mistakes Freelance Web Designers Make and How to Avoid Them || a paper with a sticker on it that says Mistake

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One of the things that web design freelancers struggle with the most is figuring out how to market themselves to potential clients. I know plenty of great web developers who have a hard time breaking into the freelance world because they don’t know how to brand themselves or show potential clients that they’re worth the […]

The Best Way to Market Your Web Design Business

The Best way to Market Your Web Design Business || A piece of crumpled up paper on a desk. The paper says marketing strategy

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Getting a job in the tech field is becoming more and more competitive. People are realizing that there are tons of opportunities for jobs in web development, software development, UX design etc. So, it’s much harder to get a job in that space than it was 5 years ago. That’s what we talk about on […]

How to Build Your Dream Career in Tech

Picture of computer monitors with code on them and glasses in front

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Today I talk about how it all began. My story starts out of tragedy but it doesn’t end there. 6 years ago my wife of 10 years left me. When she did I had to figure out how I could make extra money for me and my 3 daughters as a single dad. Off of […]

How I Doubled My Income After a Tough Divorce

How I Doubled My Income After Divorce || a light shining on one stretch of road in the woods

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Dear Freelance Web Designer, We need to talk. As you know there are around 30.1 million of us here in the US. I know that after reading that your mouth is probably salivating. The harvest is ripe for the taking! Right? Hold on a sec. I feel like there’s a disconnect between you, the freelance […]

An Open Letter from a Small Business Owner to Freelance Web Designers

Man writing a letter

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I am so excited to announce that on March 3rd, 2020 I will officially be launching a podcast to go along with selfmadewebdesigner.com! Let me tell ya, I’m excited about this. For months I’ve been quietly working in the background interviewing people that I have looked up to for years. People like: Laurence Bradford of […]

Introducing the Self-Made Web Designer Podcast

Self-Made Web Designer Podcast || A microphone and headphones

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The first time I tried getting potential freelance web design clients was not pretty. I had just finished the very first site I had ever done. It was for a friend of mine who is a fitness coach. My strategy was pretty simple: Google fitness coaches/gyms located within a 30-mile radius of me See if […]

How to Get Freelance Web Design Clients Starting from Scratch

Finding freelance web design clients starting from scratch || a man in a field looking for something

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I remember being on the phone with a client that would be my biggest paying customer yet. It hadn’t been that long since I was first able to get “Hello world!” to show up on my web browser from an HTML tag in a text editor. But, here I was talking with an agency from […]

From $500 to $4500 for WordPress Websites in No Time At All: My Story

How I Went from Charging $500 to $4500 Building WordPress Sites|| A man walking up stairs with red shoes

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If you haven’t figured it out by now you will soon enough. Some people will be really, really bad freelance web design clients. The kind that will make you want to quit freelancing altogether. You have to make sure you do what you can to avoid nightmare clients. You know the kind that doesn’t get […]

7 Things Really Bad Freelance Web Design Clients Say

7 Things Really Bad Freelance Web Design Clients Say||Man Screaming with x over his mouth

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That’s my son. Dean. A chip off the ole block. At least, I think he is. He’s only 4 weeks old as I write this. He could turn out to be a jerk. Fingers crossed 🤞🏼 I’M KIDDING! He’s awesome. I love my son…a lot. But, having him after a 7 year stretch from my […]

The Busy Dad’s Simple Guide to Learning Web Design

A Busy Father's Guide to Learning Web Design|A man on the beach with his son

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Have you ever taken a personality test? I have. I love them. On the Meyer’s Brigg’s test I’m an ENFJ. My Enneagram is an 8 with a wing 7. My top five strengths in Clifton’s Strength’s finders are Restorative Ideation Empathy Competition Command While these tests can be helpful when it comes to self-awareness or […]

The One Thing You Need to Be a Successful Web Designer

The one thing you need to be a successful web designer| a man walking down a rainy road

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Pricing is scary as a freelance web designer. Ask for too much and you run the risk of losing the project. Price too little and you might get taken advantage of by a client and miss out on some serious “dough.” 💸 Before we dive too deep let’s talk about some principles Time-Driven vs. Value-Driven […]

A Simple How To Pricing Guide For Freelance Web Designers

A Simple How to Pricing Guide for Freelance Web Designer|| A sale sign in a store window

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As a freelance web designer, it’s easy to go from feast to famine. One month you’ve got more work than you can handle and the next month you literally have nothing. Zero, zilch…it’s depressing. You get to the point where you’d be willing to do just about anything tech-related for just about any amount of […]

52 Places to Find Freelance Web Design Projects Online

Man sitting in coffee shop working on computer

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I was on vacation with my fiance. We had just gotten engaged actually. We were out in California at a conference I was apart of. In case you didn’t know, this was my life before web design. The conference went great and we were on our way back to Arizona. We stopped at the outlet […]

How To Start A Freelance Web Design Project The Right Way

Paint on street that says "Start Here"

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“I need you to make my website more modern.” I hear that all the time as a freelance web designer. The problem is the phrase “modern web design” is pretty elusive. It’s elusive in the sense that it’s always changing. If you’re not careful your go-to moves for making your web design more modern becomes […]

7 Simple Ways to Make Your Web Design More Modern

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Let’s be real. Project management for web designers can be a bit of a sore spot. A lot of us are super creative but lacking a bit when it comes to keeping track of the details. Is that just me? Anyone else relate? 👋🏼 When I first started I quickly learned that being a good […]

6 Amazing Project Management Tools for Web Designers

A computer, a notepad and cell phone

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I talk to so many people all the time who are convinced they are unable to be more creative as a web developer. Most of the time when we see someone that really excels in a creative area we say things like: “What a gift!” or “I wish I had half of their talent!” I […]

How to Be More Creative as a Web Developer

Abstract Painting

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The holiday season can be a mixed bag. Especially if your the kind that tries to find the absolute perfect gift for the people in your life. Let’s be real. Some people are pretty tough to buy for. A web designer whether newbie or seasoned professional is one of those that are tough to peg. […]

The Best Holiday Gift Guide for Your Web Designer

Gift Boxes

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A common concern when first dipping your toes into the world of a web design career is being good at the interview. I get it. Interviews are intimidating. And, truthfully, they’re just a weird social concept. Imagine a group of people coming to you and saying, “We might want you to be your friend but […]

How to Be a Web Design Interview Rock Star

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Ever reach a plateau? You know what I mean. That place you get after you’ve been working hard at something and what once was excitement about learning a new thing becomes frustration with how long it’s taking. It feels like you’ve reached your limit BUT believe me you haven’t. I’ve hit a number of roadblocks […]

How To Overcome Those Stubborn Web Design Roadblocks

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One of my favorite quotes is from Richard Branson founder of the Virgin Group. He says: “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!” This was my philosophy when I first got started as a web designer […]

How to Fake it Till You Make it as a Web Designer

Thumbs up sticking out of palm trees

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A lot of what I talk about here has to do with practical advice on web design and freelancing. But after having talked to so many of you, I’m realizing that being a successful web designer has to do with much more than facts and knowledge.  In a lot of ways if we don’t include […]

A Web Designer’s Journey with Mental Illness

Graffiti that says Trust Your Struggle

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I’d like to tell you an all to common story about an average web designer and their client. Our first scene begins with the initial conversation. And ACTION! Client: “I’ve got a really short timeline. Can you get this done quickly?” Web Designer: “Well, it won’t be easy. I’ll have to push some other things […]

How to Get Paid On Time as a Freelance Web Designer

Hand with coins

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The landscape of the workplace has changed drastically. That’s probably a huge understatement, right? And, it hasn’t just been within the past decade. We’re talking about within the past 3 years. It’s not just businesses that are driving the change but the EMPLOYEES as well. People are wanting more freedom and no longer anticipate being […]

How To Win as a Web Designer in the Gig Economy

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I love web design. Like, would do it in my free time if no one paid me, love it. Honestly, I love design in general. I remember being a little boy taking bike rides with my mom. Every once in a while we’d stop at a house and she would say, “Christopher, if you could […]

6 Awesome Web Design Trends to Look for in 2020

Cut out picture of design software with a hand rearranging elements.

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I hear it almost once a week now. Someone looked at getting into web design but decided there wasn’t much of a future in it. Why? Because of all the dang drag & drop website builders. Pretty soon all you’ll have to do is fill out a little survey and out pops an award-winning website […]

Have Website Builders Killed Web Design Careers?

A robot playing a piano

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I was pretty much a full-time musician for about 13 years. To be fair, I was the worship leader of a church. Which is probably a lot different than what you’d think of in the usual sense of a “full-time musician.” But, that’s the easiest way I know how to describe what I did. Here’s […]

How I Changed Careers at 36 to Web Design

A sign pointing left and right

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I hear it pretty consistently. “Upwork is a race to the bottom. The only people that go on there bid so low I can’t compete with them.” Let me set the record straight. Upwork isn’t a race to the bottom. It’s a platform that you can make really good money IF you’re a good web […]

Why Upwork isn’t a Race to the Bottom

Men climbing a mountain

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I love what’s happening in education. Okay, to be fair, there’s a lot I don’t love: I don’t love how high tuition is getting, and I don’t love how many people end up with ridiculously high student loans. Myself included! But, I do love how people are catching on to the fact that you don’t […]

5 of the Best Part-Time, Online Web Design Bootcamps

Man sitting with laptop on roof

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That first client is always one of the toughest. To be more realistic the first 5 clients are always the toughest. When I first started it was slow going. I think that’s true of anyone trying to break through in any kind of industry. It’s a vicious cycle. Clients give jobs to web designers with […]

How To Get Your First Web Design Client

Starting mark on running track

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Pricing is one of the biggest sources of anxiety for web designers. There have been so many times in my 5 years of freelancing that I came to the end of a project only to realize I had way underbid. And, I’m not talking about scope creep where the client keeps adding features we hadn’t […]

Web Designers. How to be Confident with What You Charge

Old cash register

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I talk to people almost every day now who tell me they’d love to learn web design they just don’t have enough time! I get it. Life is busy. BUT….(you knew it was coming) You probably have more time than you think you do. I remember the season of life when I didn’t have any […]

How to Learn Web Design in Your Free Time

Big clock over looking city

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My wife and I were married almost two years ago as I write this. With our marriage came love, joy, excitement and about $30k of debt. And, listen, neither of us are big spenders. In fact, we’re the opposite. We can make pennies last beyond what seems earthly possible. For instance, my favorite meal is […]

How I Got Out of Debt with a Web Design Side Hustle

Freedom Image

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Ahh, the timeless tale of finding freelance web design clients. It’s a tale as old as time, really. And with that tale comes a certain amount of beauty and a certain amount of beastliness. (Catch the Disney reference? Sorry, I’ve got 3 daughters) Whether you’re just starting out with a web design business or you’ve […]

10 Ways To Find Freelance Web Design Clients

Find Freelance Web Design Clients Binoculars

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I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of success on Upwork. In fact, a few years back when Upwork decided to go public I was a featured freelancer in their Time Square ad campaign. To be clear I’m not a branding guru or logo designer. I’m a web designer BUT who cares! My face was […]

How to Make a Winning Upwork Profile

Profile with a green circle

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I’ve spent a lot of my time going through online courses to learn Web Design. If you haven’t noticed, I like online courses. You can do them anywhere at your own pace. But, I’ve been through some bad ones. There are platforms that set you up for success and platforms that are really just in […]

The Best 5 Sites You’ll Love Learning Web Design From

Young team sitting around a computer laughing

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The world of web design freelancing is filled with amazing clients. I’ve had quite a few. But, at the same time, I’ve had a few nightmare clients that were unpleasable, unresponsive or plain un…… When you’re first getting started it’s tough to see the warning signs. But, over the years I’ve found a few ways […]

How to Sniff Out Nightmare Clients

Crab with claws

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It finally dawned on me. My wife of 10 years, 3 kids and over a year of her battling mental illness was done. She left me. Life as I knew it was over. Then came the realization that I had not only lost my wife but I had lost a tremendous amount of income.  You […]

My Story. From Heartbreak to Financial Breakthrough

Shrub coming through the sand

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It’s tough to know how much to charge someone. Especially when you’re first getting started. Charge too much and you run the risk of getting passed up. Charge too little and well, you know…you won’t make as much. And, that really sucks. When I began Self-Made Web Designer I couldn’t keep up with all the […]

You’re Underpricing Your Web Design Services

USD Cash

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“You’ll never make real money on Upwork. People only go there for cheap, poor quality work.” Those are the things I was told when I first started building a portfolio on Upwork. And, here we are now I’ve made over $70,000 from Upwork alone. Oh, and don’t forget about all the projects that came as […]

How to Double Your Income with Upwork

Dollar bill on counter

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Tiny portfolios. We all start with them. And, they kind of suck. If only they were as cool as Tiny Homes. *Sigh* Here is the conundrum: Clients are looking for web designers with a proven portfolio before they hire them. But, how do you add to your portfolio if no one wants to hire you?! […]

How to Wow Your Clients Even With a Tiny Portfolio

Small figurines on a counter

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Don’t get a degree to be a web developer. Are those fighting words? Good. I hope I can help as many people as possible avoid debt, wasted time and a 4+ year pause in experience in pursuit of a degree they don’t need to be successful. I’m sorry if you got a degree in computer […]

Your Web Degree is Dead to Me

Charis in a Classroom

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The one objection I hear most often about starting a web design business is the fear of not being able to deliver what you promised to clients or majorly screwing up on something important. Let me put your mind at ease with 6 simple words: “You are going to screw up.” It’s inevitable. It’s going […]

My First Big Failure as a Web Designer

Broken computer screen on floor

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