Is this a good start for freelancing?

Hello Campers

I want to be wordpress developer freelancer.

I can develop portfolio websites.

is creating portfolio websites is a good start ?

1- what should I expect? I will be able to find many clients who want portfolio websites? or they are not many?

2- I do not care about money at first. but how much money should I charge for projects like portfolio websites?

and many thanks in advance.

Yes it’s a very reasonable start to get experience. There are generally lots of artists, designers etc who feel they need a website, and you can generally find people in this position through your own network of friends. If it is people in the creative sector you’re talking about, the other advantage is that generally they want something unique and interesting, so it gives you a chance to try various new things.

The major downside is that it’s unlikely anyone will have much money to pay you. It’s extremely unlikely you’re going to be able to sustain yourself. Portfolio websites are a specialist niche product for a tiny market. They are most needed by people starting out, who have little spare money, and they are most often built by friends of friends. People who are successful (and people who’ve graduated to running an organisation) also need these things, but by that point they also normally have larger creative networks and can lean on very experienced & highly skilled connections.

Also note that WordPress is probably overkill most of the time as most of the people you’re building it for likely won’t touch the site once it’s built.

Edit: Note that this is literally how I started out (albeit MySpace pages before WordPress sites), I was a designer/illustrator, started building websites, went from there.

Edit edit: you can make money to sustain yourself here, but you generally need to be really fast, very accurate, and very good at communication, politics, and selling yourself. It is much easier to be a freelancer after you’ve worked for a few years in non-freelance jobs, YMMV



Thanks so much for the detailed reply. it is really helpful.
and yes I should consider that money is not important at first.
real experience and good reputation is more important.

thanks for advice. but what albeit MySpace pages, please?
also I already know illustrator but I have not known how to design a website using it yet.

I built WordPress-based sites, but started with MySpace pages, unlike you who is trying to start by building WordPress-based sites. MySpace was the largest social network in the world, everyone was on it, and you could completely style how a profile page looked, so I used to make stuff for musicians as they all wanted something unique. You can’t make MySpace pages, that’s not a thing anymore and the network is dead (I mean, it exists but that’s about it), it’s not 2005 any more.

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Yes, I got it. thanks for explaining me. :slight_smile:

What most small businesses just starting out need is a brochure website, which is basically a virtual business card. The good thing is that almost everyone needs one. The bad thing is that almost everyone can make one themselves–either in WordPress, or Wix, or SquareSpace.

So it’s a funny segment of the market that way. Similar to what @DanCouper pointed out about portfolio websites, it also suffers from the problem that more successful businesses/people will already have people or want more experienced designers. So you will be operating in a market with overall low barriers to entry, but strong competition at the top.

I am not sure I agree in general that WordPress is overkill, though, because even though plenty of clients won’t ever touch it, some expressly want the ability to add blog posts, change pictures, mess with the fonts, etc. A minimalistic WordPress installation is pretty fast-loading and proven. However, the wrong theme or user error can cause some big issues.

In my local market, I know of several WordPress agencies that create simple-ish sites for small businesses–lawyers, construction companies, doctors, etc. If you don’t mind me saying so, the quality bar doesn’t look that high.

However, I noticed that they all offer “SEO” services. To me, that means, to operate in that market, you need to also be able to get/write content, get images, do link development, do social media management, and interface with other marketing. I could be dead wrong, but I think that’s what people mean when they say “SEO”–the days when that meant stuffing your meta tags with keywords and filled footers with hidden reams of nonsense text are long gone.

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thanks so much for your helpful reply. I really do appreciate

so how much money they ask for creating the portfolio websites?

as a developer, I can not write content. also it may not be in my language.
so how could I get content?

and why a doctor or a lawyer can not write his own content?

This is a generalisation, and quite cynical, but often that means that “we install an SEO plugin into your WordPress instance & follow one of the basic checklists you can find anywhere online”. This actually leads into this:

Because it isn’t – to actually make money doing this, very often the business needs to turn around work as fast as possible (agencies, notoriously, are often on razor thin margins, and loss of one client very often kills them), and in turn this encourages shortcuts (churn out crap to spec). Not all agencies are like this, but a helluva lot of them are (I would hazard the overwhelming percentage of them).

Also, the financial difference [to the client] between a “high quality” and a “low quality” website is probably not as much as you think, and so it’s often not worthwhile for the agency to spend a lot of time polishing a site.

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I am not sure how much money those agencies are charging for just a simple site. My guess is $1-2K (US, I’m in Arizona, USA) at least, but maybe more like $3K?

As far as content, from what I can tell an agency like that would probably hire freelancers to put in content. I briefly worked for one such agency and wrote articles for them. It may be a good thing to start getting a network of creators–content writers, graphic designers, social media people–you can sort of refer or bundle with your sites.

By the way, I don’t mean you can’t just make websites, just that it looks like–to me–that many of the clients will want more, essentially they want their website to be the center of their marketing.

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That seems very low - say the agency budgets design time of a week (including changes) to do a site and developer time of a week (I’m fabricating these numbers, but for a very low quality site they seem reasonable). If they’re on (low) average minimum wage, that’s still around $1000 just in wages (cost to company of employee is normally 3× that). And I’m not including any other associated employees/contractors involved. And they are not going to be on minimum wage. For the agency to make money, the only way they can justify prices that low is they don’t budget more than say a day or two of design and dev. This is normal, but means that in turn they likely aren’t really doing any design/development – that they’re just using a white label template and customising it. With those kind of prices, they can’t really generate content or do SEO or anything like that unless they’re operating at huge scale.

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You’re probably right that it’s on the low end for an agency. Perhaps it’s more in line with freelancer fees.

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