Interview – Being a Freelance Web Designer


This weeks interview is with Paul, 27 who works as a Freelance Web Designer at his own business Velvet Grooves specialising in web design and SEO for Bands, record labels and small businesses.

Q. How did you first get involved in your career and why?

A. Career hasn’t particularly started yet, albeit the “precursor” if you like started in Moseley, Birmingham.  I’ve always been into music, and this was my first introductory job via the Gap Year you go through at University.  It was a digital distributor called Emusu (Now trading as Digital Animal) working with about six other people, and was probably the best working year of my life so far.  Being involved in the music industry at the time was fresh, exciting, vibrant and full of cool people, and certainly good life experience.  Unfortunately we went down under with the recession.

Now I do freelance webdesign and SEO via Velvet Grooves, which is kind of a continuation of what I did at Emusu.

Q. What is the most challenging thing about your work?

A. Velvet Grooves is quite fresh so it’s still challenging to get new business, albeit not as problematic as it was when I first started. That’s probably the most challenging part, getting people to pay a sufficient price and stick to it, without hiccups on payment. Trust me, be light on people and you’ll get messed over. There *are* good people though…

Q. Can you tell us about any interesting people you’ve met through your work?

A. Not strictly people that I’ve met, but been in contact with. With Emusu I got close to Radiohead via a business proposition to try distribute ‘In Rainbows’ with their merchandise company. That was before it had a title like. It didn’t quite work, albeit I’m still in partial contact. In addition to that, the people at Warp Records. That was great. Just music people in general I guess. Even though the music world is relatively immature in lots of ways, the “good” people that work within it are enough to make life interesting, as they really are committed, interesting, enthusiastic and nice people.

 Q. What do you do when you aren’t working?

A. My newly setup record label (Secret Hymn Records)… that’s my new baby. Very exciting. Other than that, erm… eat, sleep, beer and etc.

 Q. What is your most favourite thing about your work?

A. My evolving perception of web-design work. It’s not just something you are “taught” at University… you have to experience the field. Patters, colours, how these relate to the outside world. Its given me a far greater appreciation of photography, art and other stuff. This growing perception and how it relates to the designs is my favourite part. I’m still relatively young though, so lots more experience to go yet.

 Q. And the least?

A. I can’t go into much detail, but when clients either don’t adhere to time-scales or don’t pay on time. Oh and when you come up with something fantastic, and it gets dismissed for something that looks 10 years old (not retro-art, just crap). Then again the client is right, and they’re paying…

Q. If you hadn’t chosen this career what would you like to do?

A. No idea. I did a temp job at Halfords after graduation which could’ve turned into a career but I’m glad it didn’t despite liking the people there and the good salaries.

 Q. What tips would you give to someone looking to get into your career?

A. Music: passion, endurance and a stamina not to sleep. Do an intern.  And prepare to get messed over but then again, that’s the industry. Live and love, stick with those you trust and be professional.  It’s like that old Hunter S. Thompson quote, albeit it’s something you do out of love rather than business. Besides, if you’re planning on making money out of music… good luck 😉 The music business isn’t near the same as it was 6 years ago (advent of digital boom)… hence take an intern. Preferably with someone respectable. And work hard, be professional, have a good attitude and be prepared to learn LOTS.

Web Design [freelance]: Be strong. That’s a serious point, like music, there are LOADS of designers out there and businesses will try get the most work for cheap, basic business principle. But be strong, confident, learn how to disguise yourself as happy whilst being convincing, as they’ll pick this up in “pitch” meetings. And grow a pair of balls as you’ll need ‘em!

Q. Is there anything else you would like to share about your career choice that you haven’t already mentioned?

A. Can really say what I do is a career “choice”, as often one decides early on what they want to do and it gradually changes as they get older. But yeah, stick with it. If you’re really into what you do, your work will get better and get noticed. Web design isn’t just something you learn at University… you learn the basics and principles as well as programming etc, but the outside world is where the real learning happens. Merging principle with outside context, and relating that to the art and structure of everyday things can greatly enhance ones web-design skills… but you only learn that by experiencing what you do.

The Fun Questions

Q. What did you have for breakfast?

A. Cheese on toast. Yeah. Irregular occurrence as it’s usually just toast, but this was for a minor hangover…

Q. Who would win a fight between music and web design?

A. Erm… web design probably. Then again, it depends on how much integrity each has. They need each other, so it’d be like a marriage. Crikey!

Q. If you were a tree what tree would you be?

A. A tall tall tree so I could stand tall like giants and see the sunrise/set.

Q. What is the last book you read?

A. Don’t really read books as such. I should do though.

Q. What is your favourite song at the moment?

A. Blimey, erm… something off the Connan Mockasins record. Wierd and wonderful, but I can’t pin one down though…

Many thanks to Paul for taking part in this interview here are links to his web design work and record label and the velvet grooves facebook page and secret hymn facebook page.

If you would like to be interviewed please drop me a line in the comments below or by email – crystalbear96@hotmail.com
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4 comments on “Interview – Being a Freelance Web Designer

  1. Pingback: Interview – Running your own business in the IT Industry « Day in the life of a Busy Gal…

  2. Pingback: Interview – From idea to print: A career in Media and Graphic Design « Day in the life of a Busy Gal…

  3. Hey there! I realize this is somewhat off-topic but I had to ask. Does running a well-established blog such as yours require a massive amount work? I am brand new to writing a blog however I do write in my diary daily. I’d like to start a blog so I can share my own experience and thoughts online. Please let me know if you have any ideas or tips for new aspiring blog owners. Thankyou!

    • Hi Gretchen, yes once the blog takes off it can take up a fair amount of time, with lots of comments and emails to respond to in addition to writing and prmoting your posts and maintaining the site (which I need to do some work on here actually, when I have time! lol) I don’t really have any tips as such, just go for it, but be aware it takes time to build up a following but once you do you will need to have time to manage it all 🙂

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