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Mastering the Web Design Game : The Blueprint

Web Design is possibly the best place to start learning the skills you need to succeed in busines.

From the million dollars web designer guide

Before you dive into this blueprint, permit me to thank you for the support you are showing to okenlysolutions.com. It takes time, passion, and dedication to create this content and to know you are currently reading it. This encourages me to keep creating content for you.

This blueprint was created for aspiring and hard-to-enter into the market freelancers, who are struggling to sign-up new clients, and delight existing clients. Although this work is primarily focused on web design freelancers; it should be a sufficient blueprint for any tech freelancer.

What you are about to read is an accumulation of my personal experience since I started in 2018 in my room. I have tested and repeated multiple patterns copied from guides, videos and other freelancers out there, and could only find the right model for me in 2023.

Yeah ! that’s 6 years trying to understand what I was doing wrong, 6 years where I was broke, and couldn’t pay my bills, debts,  take care of my relatives and have fun with them. That’s because I didn’t understand one key factor in the web design business;

Coding and design techniques come second to solving problems and providing value.

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Understanding this phrase, shifted my mindset to the right, and got me thinking not more like a freelancer but like a business owner. Yes! the same business owners I was trying to sell websites to.

Today thanks to that phrase, I’m preparing to complete my computer science degree, an aws certification, a 6 months internship in an IT Company in Canada, and a 3 months internship at another IT company in America. I’m able to pay my debts as the months go by, and I can also pay my bills every end of each month.

This blueprint will therefore, help you dive into the web design game completely, and uncover the secrets you need to succeed, and progress to the next stage in your freelancing journey.

NB: I haven’t provided enough outbound links (links to other resources to help you) because, this is version one of the article. So come back often to check if I have updated it.

You can also join the Okenly Solutions WhatsApp Forum to receive updates and more insights on this article and tech.


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Table of Contents.

What to expect:


Understanding core concepts

Go through key concepts you will need to understand the blueprint


Why are you failing as a web design freelance?

Understand why web design freelancing is so hard for you.


My Honest advice about freelancing and Web Design

A run down of advices that i find useful to you.



A summary of the blog post.

Understanding Core Concepts

1. What’s a blueprint?

In the context of “Mastering the Web Design Game: The Blueprint,” the term “blueprint” refers to a detailed plan, strategy, or guide that outlines the essential steps, strategies, and principles that African tech freelancers can follow to excel in the field of web design.

This blueprint serves as a comprehensive and structured approach to mastering the web design profession and achieving success as a freelancer in Africa.

In this context, the blueprint likely includes valuable information, insights, and strategies related to various aspects of web design, such as:

  1. Technical skills and tools needed for web design.
  2. Strategies for finding and attracting clients.
  3. Tips for effective project management.
  4. Best practices for delivering high-quality web design services.
  5. Guidance on pricing, contracts, and negotiations.
  6. Insights into the African tech industry and market trends.
  7. Recommendations for continuous learning and skill improvement.

Essentially, the “blueprint” acts as a guidebook or roadmap that tech freelancers can follow to navigate the challenges and opportunities in the web design field, especially in the African context. It provides a structured approach to building a successful career in web design.

2. What’s a business?

Wikipedia says – A business is an organization or entity engaged in commercial, industrial, or professional activities with the primary goal of generating profits or providing goods and services to meet the needs and demands of customers or clients.

Businesses can vary in size, structure, and purpose, ranging from small sole proprietorships and partnerships to large corporations and nonprofit organizations. They typically involve various functions, including production, marketing, sales, finance, and management, all working together to achieve the company’s objectives and sustain its operations.

Now the question I will ask you, are you running a for-profit business, a rat race business or are you even running a business at all as a freelancer? Is freelancing just a:  I sign clients, build their websites, get paid and straight to the next? I hope you find answers in this blueprint!

3. Who is a web design freelance?

HubSpot says – A web design freelancer, also known as a freelance web designer, is a professional who offers web design services on an independent, project-by-project basis, rather than being employed by a single company or organization.

These individuals work as self-employed contractors, and their primary job is to create and design websites for clients. Here are some key characteristics of a web design freelancer:

  • Independence: Freelance web designers work independently and are not bound to a specific employer or office. They have the freedom to choose their clients, projects, and work schedules.
  • Client Base: They typically serve a diverse client base, which can include small businesses, startups, individuals, non-profit organizations, and larger companies seeking specialized web design services.
  • Project-Based Work: Freelancers take on projects as they come and often work on a contractual basis. Each project is treated as a separate job with its own terms, timeline, and compensation.
  • Design Skills: Web design freelancers are skilled in various aspects of web design, including graphic design, user interface (UI) design, user experience (UX) design, and front-end development. They create visually appealing and functional websites.
  • Technical Proficiency: They are proficient in web design software, programming languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, as well as content management systems (CMS) like WordPress or Joomla.
  • Self-Marketing: Freelancers are responsible for marketing their services, finding clients, and managing client relationships. This includes tasks such as creating a portfolio, setting rates, and promoting their skills.
  • Flexibility: Freelancing offers flexibility in terms of work location and hours. Many web design freelancers work remotely and set their own schedules.
  • Varied Work: Freelancers may work on a wide range of projects, from designing personal blogs to e-commerce websites, corporate portals, and more. The variety of work keeps the job interesting.
  • Income Variation: Income for web design freelancers can vary widely depending on factors such as experience, skills, location, and the number of projects they take on. It can be less stable compared to salaried positions but has the potential for higher earnings.

Ok, now you know who you are, and what are your characteristics. But this sounds one way not so?  You didn’t see where the client comes into play. let’s look at that with the next key concept in this blue print.

4. What is web design problem solving?

Problem-solving in web design freelancing involves identifying, analyzing, and resolving challenges and issues that arise during and after the web design process. Web design freelancers often encounter various problems and obstacles while working on client projects. These issues can range from technical difficulties to client-related challenges (branding, marketing, sales, etc.).

Effective problem-solving is essential to ensure that web design projects are completed successfully and meet the client’s requirements.

You may be able to solve the technical part of the web design process like user interfaces, database problems, website migrations, etc. but what happens when you are done and the client faces other problems related to its core business activities?

Did the website you built solve these problems?

Did you listen to the clients’ problems or just jumped into choosing a WordPress template and inserting content without understanding the core business problems the client faces?

That’s the error I made when I started, there’s a different between listening to a client, and listening then understanding a client needs.

Most freelancers listen then build a beautiful website with no accurate planning. Yes! There are a handful of websites built by freelancers who just do one thing, present content! These websites are more of liability than an asset for business owners, hence, after a couple of months they bring down the websites and register a bad experience with freelancers plus close doors for other problem-solving freelancers.

To become a freelancer who listens, then understands his/her client, you will need to start thinking like a business owner. Your clients are mostly business owners, you are not competition with other freelancers to know who will build the best website; you are competing with the business owner’s options in solving their problems. Therefore, you need to put yourself on the top of the business owners list of go-to solutions.

Thinking like a business owner will require you know what you are doing wrong.

Why are you failing as a web design freelance?

1. You are not running a business

Web design isn’t just about creating beautiful websites. It’s also about running and understanding the business behind it. A web design business runs with a business model consisting of nine essential parts:

  • Customer Segments,
  • Value Proposition,
  • Revenue Streams,
  • Channels,
  • Customer Relationships,
  • Key Activities,
  • Key Resources,
  • Key Partners,
  • and Cost Structure.

These 9 essential parts of a business model is what is guiding me right now for Okenly Solutions. I really started focusing on Okenly Solutions at the end of 2022, and I promised myself I won’t make the same mistakes with what I did with Beyond Technologies (a tech company I founded with a friend).

Though I’m still part of the company, I’m only there as a consultant and freelancer for now. That is part of Okenly solutions business model in case you are curious. As a freelance, you must focus on these 9 essential parts. They will guide you while you market yourself, sign clients (sell) and make profits.

You are therefore wrong, if you think you can run a web design activity online without having a business model; you are just on a straight part to failure.

2. You are not listening, then understanding your clients

“You listen but you don’t understand” – that’s what a client told me when I started freelancing. This happened when I was contacted by a fashion and cosmetics salon for consultancy, on how to resolve their lack of clients.

The business owner, a very straight forward woman, told me: “Many came here promising, they will do what we are asking of you, but at the end of day; they did nothing. I have lost a lot of money, and I don’t want another scam!”.

Hearing that, I understood the situation I was entering into but kept my composure. I asked her to explain the problems the business was facing marketing and sales wise and she did. She had 3 key problems:

  • Not enough visits to her salon,
  • Not enough reservations and visibility especially online,
  • And no tracking of past clients in order to inform them on new products, promotions and changes in the services the business offers.

After jotting down here pain points, I said: “I have a solution for you! with a website, you can…”; she stopped me, and told me they already have a website and didn’t mention it because it was useless, so if I’m offering a website too, what makes me any different from the web designer who designed their website.

I blacked out, and I couldn’t give her a reasonable and satisfying response. I didn’t know how to solve her problems with a website and it was clear I couldn’t help her business.

She politely told me to get back to her when I can be of any help to her business.

The point I’m trying to bring out here is, I entered into conclusion without trying to understand if a website was the right fit for the business, or if it was part of a solution that will take their business to the next level. I jumped into conclusions without a pre, and post analysis of the business.

Before going for a client meeting, make sure you do your research on the business. This helps you understand what type of problems you are going up against. If you can figure out their problems at first sight, book a consultancy meeting with the client to discuss these problems, before offering any solution.

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            If you are curious of what happened with the client, I lost the deal. I wasn’t providing enough value at the time; to make a website, the right choice for her business.

3. You are not offering enough value

In the world of web design freelancing, merely creating visually appealing websites is not enough. To stand out and succeed, you must provide substantial value to your clients. This means understanding their unique needs, goals, and target audience.

Your designs should not only look good but also solve problems and enhance the user experience. Demonstrating expertise in areas like user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design, SEO optimization, Social Media Marketing, Email Marketing, Sales, Business Intelligence, and responsive design can add significant value to your services.

By going the extra mile and delivering comprehensive solutions that align with your clients’ objectives, you can elevate your reputation as a web design freelancer and secure long-term success.

4. It’s not all about you

One common pitfall among web design freelancers is focusing too much on themselves rather than their clients. Successful freelancers understand that the client’s needs and vision should be at the forefront of any project. It’s essential to listen actively, ask questions, and empathize with the client’s goals and challenges. Avoid imposing personal design preferences or prioritizing creative desires over the client’s objectives.

Instead, effective web designers put the client’s interests first, tailoring each project to their specific requirements. This client-centric approach helps build trust and long-lasting relationships, leading to more referrals and repeat business. Remember, as a freelancer, your success hinges on your ability to satisfy your clients and deliver results that align with their expectations.

5. Your skill set is incomplete

In the world of web design freelancing, your skill set plays a critical role in your success. However, merely having design and technical skills is often incomplete without the additional skills required to run a successful freelance business.

To thrive as a web design freelancer, it’s essential not only to be proficient in design tools, coding languages, and design principles but also to develop a broader skill set that encompasses business acumen. This includes:

  1. Client Communication: Effective communication is key to understanding client needs, setting expectations, and delivering outstanding results. Freelancers must hone their interpersonal and client management skills.
  2. Project Management: Freelancers should be adept at project planning, time management, and task prioritization to ensure projects are completed on time and within budget.
  3. Pricing and Negotiation: Setting competitive prices, negotiating contracts, and managing finances are essential business skills for freelancers. Understanding the value, you provide and pricing your services accordingly is crucial.
  • Marketing and Self-Promotion: Attracting clients and building a strong online presence require skills in marketing, branding, and digital self-promotion. Creating an effective portfolio, leveraging social media, and using digital marketing techniques are vital.
  • Legal Knowledge: Freelancers should have a basic understanding of legal aspects, such as contracts, intellectual property rights, and copyrights, to protect themselves and their clients.
  • Customer Relationship Management: Building long-lasting client relationships can lead to recurring projects and referrals. Good customer relationship management skills are essential.
  • Problem-Solving and Adaptability: Freelancers often face challenges and unforeseen issues. Being adaptable and skilled in creative problem-solving is crucial to overcoming obstacles.

                “Freelancing as a web designer has given me so much in terms of skills. The most useful of them is time and project management. The must difficult to put into practice is exposure.”

6.You are not providing enough exposure to yourself

In the competitive world of web design freelancing, it’s not enough to be skilled at your craft; you must also proactively market and promote yourself to gain visibility and attract clients. Here’s why providing exposure to yourself is crucial:

  1. Building an Online Presence: In today’s digital age, clients often search for web designers online. Having a professional website and active social media profiles can make it easier for potential clients to find and learn about you.
  • Showcasing Your Portfolio: Your portfolio is your best marketing tool. By regularly updating and showcasing your best work, you demonstrate your expertise and capabilities to potential clients.
  • Blogging and Content Marketing: Creating valuable content related to web design, trends, and tips through blogging or social media can position you as an industry expert. It helps in building trust and attracting clients looking for knowledgeable designers.
  • Networking: Building professional relationships with other freelancers, clients, and industry professionals can lead to referrals and collaborations. Networking can help you tap into a broader client base.
  • Participating in Online Communities: Joining web design forums, groups, or online communities allows you to engage with peers, share insights, and gain exposure within your niche.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Optimizing your online presence for search engines can improve your website’s ranking, making it more likely for potential clients to discover your services.
  • Testimonials and Reviews: Encourage satisfied clients to leave reviews or testimonials on your website or third-party platforms. Positive feedback builds trust and credibility.
  • Engaging on Freelancing Platforms: If you use freelancing platforms like Upwork or Fiverr, maintaining a high rating and a well-optimized profile can attract clients browsing these platforms.

7. You are not trustworthy

Trust is a critical component for any web design freelancer aspiring to run a successful business. Here’s an in-depth explanation of why trustworthiness is essential and how to cultivate it:

  1. Consistency and Reliability:

Trust in business is built over time through consistent and reliable performance. Ensure you meet deadlines, honor agreements, and deliver what you promise.

  • Honesty and Transparency:

Be open and transparent with your clients. This includes discussing project costs, timelines, and any potential challenges. Honesty fosters trust.

  • Clear Communication:

Effective communication is key. Keep clients informed about project progress, changes, and updates. Address questions and concerns promptly.

  • Accountability: Taking responsibility for your work and any errors that may arise is crucial. Clients appreciate professionals who stand by their projects and are willing to rectify issues.
  • Professionalism: Project professionalism in all your interactions. This includes being punctual, maintaining a professional demeanor, and following industry best practices.
  • Respect Client Confidentiality: Respect client confidentiality agreements and data protection regulations. Clients trust you with sensitive information, so safeguarding their data is vital.
  • Deliver Quality Results: Consistently produce high-quality work that aligns with your clients’ expectations. Quality work reinforces trust and leads to satisfied, repeat clients.
  •  Build a Strong Portfolio: A portfolio filled with successful projects and positive testimonials demonstrates your track record, which can enhance your credibility.
  • Seek Client Feedback: Actively seek feedback from clients after project completion. Use their input to improve your services and demonstrate your commitment to their satisfaction.
  • Uphold Ethical Standards: Adhere to ethical principles in your work. This includes respecting copyrights, avoiding plagiarism, and conducting your business with integrity.
  • Consistency in Branding: Maintain consistency in your branding, website, and social media presence. A professional and polished image instills confidence in potential clients.

By consistently demonstrating these traits and values in your business practices, you can build a reputation as a trustworthy web design professional. Trust is the foundation upon which successful, long-term client relationships and business growth are built.

How can you improve drastically in your web design business?

1. Start Thinking Like Your Clients, Like Business Owners:

Understand your clients’ goals, challenges, and objectives. Align your web design solutions with their business needs.

Focus on how your design work can contribute to their success, such as increasing conversions, improving user experience, or boosting online visibility.

2. Start Small But Start with People Who Know You:

Begin your freelance journey by offering your services to friends, family, or acquaintances who are aware of your skills.

This allows you to build a small but essential portfolio and gather testimonials that you can showcase to future clients.

3. Build Trust and Rapport with Your Future Clients:

Effective communication is key. Listen actively to your clients’ requirements, address their concerns, and set realistic expectations.

Be transparent about your process, timelines, and pricing. Trust is often built on clear, honest communication.

4. Build a Portfolio:

As you complete projects, add them to your portfolio. Showcase a diverse range of work to demonstrate your versatility.

Highlight successful projects, including before-and-after visuals, client testimonials, and descriptions of your role in the project.

5. Provide More Value Than You Get Paid For:

Go the extra mile by offering additional value to your clients. This might include free consultations, ongoing support, or educational resources.

Providing exceptional value can lead to loyal clients who refer you to others.

6. You Are Not Alone:

Join web design communities, forums, or groups. Networking with peers can provide valuable insights, collaboration opportunities, and emotional support.

Consider partnering with other freelancers or agencies for larger projects beyond your capacity.

7. Start Thinking Long-Term:

Shift your perspective from short-term gains to long-term sustainability. Plan for your business’s growth and development.

Invest in continuous learning to stay updated with industry trends and technologies.

By implementing these strategies, you can significantly improve as a web design freelancer and transition into a successful business owner. It’s not just about technical skills but also about understanding your clients, providing value, and fostering trust and long-term relationships.

Where to start on your journey to mastering the Web Design Game, after this blue print?

Heads up here! It won’t be an easy ride, you will have to say “No” many times, and “Yes”, not so much. You will also have to accept to be hungry a majority of the time, spend days drinking sweet water and bread or avocado and bread.

 But hey! this is the process; this is how you become valuable enough for the right clients. In my perspective, freelancing is serving as valuable preparation for the journey of becoming a business owner in 2025.

If you are on motivational steroids after reading this blueprint, and you want to dive deeper with a practical and result focused approach.


Let’s schedule a call and discuss a 1-month tailored mentorship program where I don’t teach you web design any more but the added skills you need to be a better freelancer.

Nevertheless, these are things you can learn yourself. I could write an entire guide on the business skills web design can teach you, but, instead, I’ll name a few that really stand out: prospecting, sales, pricing, cold calling, cold emailing, networking, client communication, project management, copywriting, marketing, building sales systems, ads, email marketing, managing a team, managing yourself, and many others.

That’s a lot of skills. Because of the unique way in which web design requires you to both run your own business and directly help other businesses you will learn a lot in a short amount of time. As long as you focus on the right areas and clients (covered in this blueprint and mentorship), every new project is an opportunity to learn directly from an experienced business owner while solving new problems and challenges.

My Honest advice about freelancing and Web Design

When you can take a business from 0 to 1 in terms of profit, then you can call yourself a 21st century web designer.

Freelancing in web design can be a rewarding career choice, but it also comes with its challenges. Here’s some honest advice for those considering or already pursuing a career in freelancing and web design:

1. Build a Strong Portfolio:

Your portfolio is your best marketing tool. Populate it with a diverse range of projects that showcase your skills and style, because potential clients will often judge your abilities based on past work, so make sure your portfolio accurately represents your expertise.

In case you don’t have the required budget to maintain a portfolio website online, you can use solutions like Vercel and Netlify, they offer free hosting but you will be subjected to their sub domains, thus losing some of your branding. Nevertheless, you must start somewhere.

2. Master the Basics:

Ensure you have a solid foundation in web design principles, including HTML, CSS, and responsive design. A strong grasp of the basics will serve as the building blocks for more complex projects.

3.Stay Updated:

Web design is a rapidly evolving field. Stay updated with the latest design trends, tools, and technologies. Keeping up with industry trends ensures your work remains relevant and competitive. I found an app on the play store called Substack; they offer tech and other business-related articles that could help you level up.

4. Effective Communication:

Develop excellent communication skills. Understanding client needs and being able to articulate your design decisions are critical. Effective communication can prevent misunderstandings and lead to satisfied clients.

5. Business Savvy:

Treat your freelancing as a business. Manage your finances, set clear goals, and create a business plan. Running a business successfully requires more than design skills; it involves marketing, budgeting, and client management.

As a business, you must sell results to your clients. I’m not talking of how fast the site will load, or how a button looks, but results that move the needle of a business’ bank account.

When you can take a business from 0 to 1 in terms of profit, then you can call yourself a 21st century web designer.

6. Networking Matters:

Network with other freelancers, clients, and professionals in your industry. Networking can lead to referrals and collaborations. Word-of-mouth and referrals are often the lifeblood of freelancers.

7. Time Management:

Develop strong time management skills. Create schedules and set realistic deadlines for your projects. Poor time management can lead to missed deadlines and stressed clients.

8.Value Your Work:

 Price your services appropriately. Don’t undervalue your work; charge what you’re worth. Underpricing can lead to burnout and financial instability.

9. Continuous Learning:

            Commit to lifelong learning. Stay curious and open to new techniques and technologies. The digital landscape evolves, and learning ensures you stay competitive.

10. Client Relationships:

Build strong client relationships based on trust and clear communication. Satisfied clients are more likely to return and refer others.

11. Embrace Rejection:

Rejection is part of freelancing. Don’t be discouraged by every rejection; use it as an opportunity to learn and improve. Not every project or client is the right fit, and that’s okay.

12.  Plan for Downtime:

Freelancers often experience periods of low work. Plan financially for these periods. Financial stability during downtime reduces stress and allows you to focus on finding quality projects.

Freelancing can provide freedom and flexibility, but it also requires discipline and determination. Success in web design freelancing often comes with time, experience, and a commitment to continuous improvement.

FAQs about Mastering the Web Design Game: The Blueprint

1. What is “Mastering the Web Design Game” all about?

   “Mastering the Web Design Game” is a comprehensive guide tailored for African tech freelancers, especially those in the field of web design. It provides insights, strategies, and practical advice to help freelancers succeed in their careers.

2. Who is the author of this guide?

   The guide is authored by Okenly Solutions, an experienced web design and development company known for its expertise in the field.

3. Is this guide suitable for beginners in web design?

   Yes, the guide is a blueprint designed to be beneficial for both beginners and experienced web designers. It covers fundamental concepts as well as advanced strategies.

4. What topics are covered in the guide?

   The guide covers a wide range of topics, including portfolio development, client acquisition, project management, pricing strategies, marketing, and tips specifically relevant to African freelancers.

5. Does the guide address the unique challenges faced by African freelancers?

  Yes, the guide acknowledges and provides solutions for the challenges that African freelancers may encounter in their careers. It offers region-specific advice while also being applicable globally.

6. Are there practical tips for finding and retaining clients?

  Absolutely! The guide offers practical guidance on finding clients, creating persuasive proposals, and maintaining strong client relationships.

7. Does the guide provide insights into effective marketing strategies for freelancers?

   Yes, the guide discusses various marketing strategies tailored to freelancers, including online and offline approaches.

8. Are there success stories or case studies featured in the guide?

The guide may include real-world success stories and case studies to illustrate key concepts and inspire readers.

9. Can I find information on pricing strategies and negotiations in the guide?

Yes, the guide provides insights into pricing strategies and negotiation techniques to help freelancers secure fair compensation for their work.

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