Setting the Bottom Line for your Web Projects

By / May 15, 2012 / Tips

Working as a freelance web designer you’ll find yourself naturally jumping from project-to-project. This quick pace comes with the lifestyle and requires some serious dedication. You cannot get lost in the royalties of extra touch-ups and recoloring textures.

You need to understand how to freelance working with a bottom line. This should be your ultimate goal to achieve on every project. When working for many clients it will be difficult jumping through hoops to accommodate design choices. But in this article I’d like to share a few tips for setting your bottom line and sticking to it.

Ruler, measure and design tools - featured image

Envision the Final Product

Before you jump into coding or even open Adobe Photoshop, it may be worthwhile to plan a concept in your mind. If you can see the finished layout in your head then it’s just a matter of fleshing out the details. You’ll save loads of time going back to fix smaller mistakes if you have a plan prepared.

But having a solid finished product ahead of time also keeps you on a single course. You will know exactly what needs to be done and which steps are necessary to get there. No need to side-step your todo list and jump around on extra cool features. Sticking to a tight layout will keep you focused, working dedicated to a single end result.

Understanding Motivation

It’s important to understand why you’re even working on projects in the first place. As a new startup idea the concept is more confusing. When you are building a website for yourself it’s more about building a name, getting traffic and setting up a powerful brand.

dollar bills and international currency

But when freelancing it’s 99% about the money. You can still do amazing artwork and make payment your top priority – meaning your work quality will not suffer. But you must be honest with yourself about why you’re freelancing and what the ultimate goal should be. Is it necessary you freelance to keep paying bills, or more like extra income?

Either way you can use this motivation to keep everything moving. When you are stuck on a project and feel lost take a quick break and reflect on the bigger picture. This will reset your perspective on things and hopefully you won’t get caught up in all the small details.

Disregard Perfection

There is definitely no such thing as “perfect” in web design. Or any field of design for that matter. Going into a project with the expectation that it be perfect is absurd. Design is very subjective in its own way – meaning beauty is within the eye of the beholder.

Painting easel - creating the ocean painted

If you aren’t expecting a perfect design from the beginning then you will have an easier time accepting whatever you can build! Because with such a perfectionist mindset you’ll undoubtedly end up destroying your own work with over-analyzation. Go into every project with no predetermined expectations and you’ll be surprised with each outcome.

Stick Within your Boundaries

All too often I see freelancers jumping at any project they can land. Even if the job requires some aspect which they are not familiar with – and this will generally lead to disaster.

keys typing at night - backlit keyboard laptop

You can’t promise work to a client if you are almost totally unfamiliar with some bits and pieces. However you also shouldn’t be afraid to try new ideas which are within your realm of control. For example, if you are already familiar with PHP but have never built an avatar upload form you shouldn’t be discouraged from accepting such a project. You can use your existing knowledge of PHP and tutorials around the web to figure out a finished product that works.

A good rule of thumb is to stay away from techniques you know nothing about. If you have never made a vector in Adobe Illustrator then you shouldn’t promise anything like that in a client’s work. Even with the myriad of tutorials out there, it’s just not feasible to learn an entirely new piece of software on a project deadline.

Accept the Finished Work

One really tough aspect for freelancers is when the project finally comes to a close. Right before you upload all the finished pages, you can’t help but second guess a few choices. Maybe you could flip through a different color scheme or reposition the ad banner?

Thinking like this will keep you holed up in front of the computer screen for too long. Meeting your bottom line is a signal that all the project requirements have been met. Once everything is done you shouldn’t feel attached to the work. This will only make it more difficult to accept the finished piece and move onto your next client.

paper origami colorful musical crane - piano keyboard

Overall it comes down to business. Remember that your bottom line is to get paid and provide a service. Once your services have been rendered and the payment is received it’s time to move onto your next gig. If you live for the edge and excitement this lifestyle can be very rewarding! You can get your name on some really cool projects, all while learning new web technologies and getting paid to do so.


I hope a few of these tips can hold a purpose for like-minded freelancers. The field of web design is packed with young, gifted talent. And even meeting new clients can be a struggle with little experience. But when you setup a business around your talents then it’s so much easier churning out tasks and pushing forward as an independent designer.

About the Author

Jake Rocheleau is a creative writer and UI designer. You can follow him on twitter @jakerocheleau or visit his personal website at

  • Web Design Wolverhampton and Birmingham

    Great pointers, and I would add something to “Envision the Final Product”- between drawing the picture in your head and moving to Photoshop, sketch it out on some paper. It’ll give you a better idea of whether it will work before wasting time mocking it up on the computer. I’ll also help keep the focus clear from Photoshops many distractions.


    “Understanding Motivation” sometimes is the first target for a freelance. Every day have a thousand unexpected, new cases to be addressed. Important study the client, if reliable and trust or not, and switch to another works. Often the client think, who freelance don’t need a money to live…but is importante and (maybe) is the first rule for all freelancers.

  • Mike DeLeon

    Accepting the finished work is something I’ve learned to do as it states here. It’s like the old saying goes “Art is never finished, only abandoned.”

  • Michelle Jones

    Accepting the finished work is definitely something I still struggle with. This is why I think it is important to set deadlines for yourself, to prevent the unnecessary and constant “tweaks”. These tweaks are what can really hurt the bottom line, without even realizing it.