How to Make Money as a Web Designer

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Back in 2006, I started doing some web design work for friends and family as a way to make a little extra money. In 2007, I decided to take the next step and create my own website so I could attract more clients. What started as a little side hustle turned into a full-time web design and blogging business that I’ve been running since 2008.

Over the years, my business evolved and I stopped doing web design and maintenance for clients (so I could focus on my own websites), but I’ve always appreciated how that decision to start a side hustle has impacted my life.

If you’re looking for a way to make some extra money, there are plenty of options (see my list of side hustle ideas). Service-related side hustles, like web design, can be a great option.

This article will cover the basics of why you might want to work as a web designer, and the steps that you can take if you want to get started making money as a web designer. You’ll also read an interview with Peti Morgan, a real-world example of someone who is making money with a web design side hustle. Peti is a perfect example of what is possible with a service-related side hustle, and how it can impact your individual or family finances.

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Table of Contents

Why Web Design Makes a Great Side Hustle

Before we get to Peti’s story, let’s first look at some of the reasons that working as a web designer can be a great side hustle.

1. There is Plenty of Work Available

As a side-hustling web designer, most of your clients are likely to be small businesses and organizations. The cost of hiring a larger agency to design and code a custom website is out of reach for many small businesses. Freelancers and side hustlers can fill the gap by offering services that small businesses and non-profits can afford. There are so many small businesses and organizations out there, and new ones popping up all the time, that there is plenty of demand.

2. You Can Earn a Good Hourly Rate

Don’t be put off by the statement above that freelancers can offer “affordable” services to small businesses. I’m not suggesting that you work for extremely low wages, and you shouldn’t need to do that. To put it into perspective, many agencies have a starting rate somewhere around $25,000. That means they won’t work on any web design product that has a budget below $25,000.

Of course, that’s a generalization and every agency is different, but in general, a high percentage of small businesses cannot realistically afford the services of a web design agency. As a freelancer, you can charge a fair rate and still come in well below the price of just about any agency.

As you’ll see in the interview, Peti currently charges $60 per hour. My rates as a freelancer were similar. Not many side hustles will allow you to earn $60 per hour and make money from home.

3. The Needed Skills Can Be Learned (or You May Already Have Them)

As you’ll also see in the interview, Peti primarily uses existing WordPress themes and the Thrive Architect plugin to create custom websites for clients without the need to code. She’s not alone. Many freelancers will create websites for clients without coding, thanks to the existing resources (like the awesome Divi theme) that make it easier than ever to create a website.

You may be wondering, “If it’s possible to create a website without coding anything, why would small business owners hire someone else to do it for them?” Well, some will choose to do it themselves, but many business owners would rather hire someone to do it so they can use their time for running their business. Even though it may be possible for them to create their own website, it’s usually not the best use of their time.

Creating a website may not require coding, but a business owner who has no experience with websites is unlikely to be able to create an effective website without some help. Things like design, layout, and usability are all important too.

There’s also a learning curve to create websites with WordPress themes and plugins like Thrive Architect and Divi. Business owners may not want to take the time to learn it when they can just hire someone like you to set it up for them.

If you’ve been running your own blog or website for a while, you may already have the skills needed to set up a customized WordPress theme for clients. If not, you can certainly learn how to use the available tools.

4. There are Plenty of Related Services You Can Offer to Increase Your Income

In addition to web design, there plenty of other related services that you could also offer. If you’re skilled with design, you could offer:

  • Logo design
  • Brochure design
  • Business card design
  • Other types of graphic design (Peti also designs e-books for clients)

In terms of running a website, you could offer:

  • Social media marketing services (designing graphics or managing social profiles for clients)
  • Ad campaign management
  • On-going website maintenance
  • General VA (Virtual Assistant) services.

Offering add-on services does a few key things. First, it allows you to make more money per client. Less time looking for clients, or talking to potential clients who never wind up moving forward, means more time to spend on paying clients.

Second, some of the services allow you to retain clients month-after-month. Instead of just designing a website, passing it off to the client, and being done, you can continue to provide services and get paid by that client. Those on-going services can include things like website maintenance and updates, managing social media profiles, and managing ad campaigns.

A one-time client could turn into a client that pays you for the next few years.

5. Potential to Become a Full-Time Business

This may or may not be important to you, but web design (like many other service related side hustles) is a side hustle that has the potential to turn into a full-time income. If you have an interest in being self-employed and working from home (or wo