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What Skills Do Web Designers Need?

What Skills Do Web Designers Need?

More than 80% of small business owners say the design of their branding and marketing material is critical to the success of their business, and nearly 20% of these owners opt to hire a freelance graphic designer. If you’re looking for something more full-time, this figure shoots up to nearly 30% of small businesses hiring an in-house designer. If you’re shifting your career path, it is worth it to be a freelance designer.

But securing these jobs is challenging when you’re still establishing yourself as a professional. Tools, like professional web design contract templates from The Contract Shop, can make you stand out among the rest. Having a contract ready on hand for any given project communicates to clients that you take your role seriously and are a true professional.

Aside from a contract, what else do you need? In this article, we’ll dive into the assets you need to become a successful graphic designer.

What It Takes to Be a Graphic Designer

Becoming a graphic designer sounds trendy and fun, and with a plethora of online tools to make graphic design more accessible, it takes more than a passion for creating to stand out above the rest. Here is what you need to become a graphic designer in today’s job market:


This should go without saying, but creativity is key in the graphic design field. You need to be able to craft designs that not only satisfy the needs of your client, but also look appealing and original. You should be able to take a concept and make it your own (or, more accurately, make it unique to each client)! 

Beyond your actual designs, creativity also applies to your problem-solving skills. When you hit a dead end, are you able to get the creative juices flowing again? If you reach an impasse with a client’s demands or vision, can you collaborate to reach a middle ground? You need to consider how you can integrate your innovation into all aspects of your career.

Refined Skills

Just like in any field, you need to be able to put your money where your mouth is. You should be confident in using programs such as InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop from Adobe’s Creative Cloud. With the right tools in your pocket, you can easily compete with more established graphic designers.


Having some sort of degree or certification in graphic design looks amazing for your resume and portfolio. A Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design, Marketing, or Advertising goes a long way. However, that’s not the only way to achieve credentials.

We recommend taking a course in graphic design, such as the ones offered by Shillington’s or American Graphics Institute, because they’re affordable and entirely virtual. No commute and no classroom necessary!

A Strong Portfolio

Having a solid portfolio will help you justify to clients what you can charge as a graphic designer. If you don’t have any client work to include in your portfolio, consider including pro bono work or side projects you weren’t paid for. 

This can include creative projects you’ve done for your professional instagram, a website you’ve designed, and more. Include a variety of products, such as logos and digital ads, to show the scope of what’s possible.

A Brand

How can clients trust you to build their brand if you haven’t built your own? Building a strong brand is especially useful if you’re struggling to put together a portfolio. Make yourself your own client, first. Develop a logo, put your writing cap on, and make an online portfolio using a website platform like SquareSpace or WordPress. Your portfolio should be the embodiment of your brand and what you can do. Include information about yourself and your design approach so clients really get to know you.

Closing Thoughts

Becoming a graphic designer is more than familiarity with the Creative Cloud–it takes dedication, continuous innovative thinking, and the ability to get out there and do it! Once your ducks are in a row and you’re ready to impress clients, check out The Contract Shop’s customizable contract templates developed by actual lawyers so you can put your best professional foot forward.

Kevin Gallagher
Kevin Gallagher

Kevin Gallagher is the CEO of The Contract Shop®, a contract template store for creative entrepreneurs, freelancers, coaches, and more. His background is in helping online businesses grow, having previously worked at Allbirds managing part of their operations. He is proud to report that his digital artist wife Mandy is a happy customer of The Contract Shop®, and his main motivation is to help as many people like her as possible with the tools that they need to confidently manage their businesses.

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