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Freelancing vs. Working for a Firm in Web Design

written by: Stephanie Mojica•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 5/11/2010

Freelance web design vs. working for a company is a choice many talented webmasters must make. Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

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    Introduction

    Those wanting to have a career in creative web design are usually forced to decide whether they want to work full-time for a firm or go out on their own as a freelancer. Both options have positive and negative qualities, and really depend on the personality and short-term income needs of the web designer.

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    Freelancing

    Freelancing offers the widest flexibility and also potentially higher income, but has some significant risks. A lot of the web designer's time is spent marketing and networking, and invoicing and sometimes collections processes are necessary to actually get paid. Time management skills are also important, as time wasted is extremely dangerous to making money as a freelancer.

    One of the advantages of freelancing is the ability to offer multiple services, such as website testing, to clients. Those who are also well-versed in graphic design or SEO writing have a wider potential audience and revenue stream. It is not uncommon for a successful freelance web designer to make in excess of $100,000 a year. However, they do not have the luxury of sick days, paid vacation, or corporate benefits such as health insurance, life insurance, and company stock options.

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    Working for a Firm

    Working for a firm, thus offering that company full-time web design services, has been thought of as the most steady career option for those not willing to market or take the risk of inconsistent income. However, it is important to remember that most states can and do fire or lay off people at will, and the current economy has changed the concept of job security across multiple fields. People who do get fired or laid off are likely eligible for unemployment and other benefits, so the risk of poor income may be somewhat lower for those who choose working for a firm over freelancing. Most web designers working for a company make anywhere from $25,000 to $75,000 a year, though this is based on a 40-hour work week and depends on education and skills offered.