I’d venture to say that most of you aspire to live a lifestyle that seems incredibly out of reach. You want to work at home or work on the road or start a business or become an author or whatever else. When you’re starting out, the path isn’t clear at all. In fact, it doesn’t even really exist. It’s a little like diverging from a main highway and driving straight into the forest. You only have the vaguest idea of where you’re going, but you can’t see too much further ahead.
When I started freelancing two years ago, I was in that exact situation. I felt like there was something different for me, that I had somehow been set apart to live a life devoid of mediocrity and filled with joy and contentment and meaningful work. The problem was that I didn’t know how to get there. I didn’t know what would give me joy and contentment. I didn’t know what meaningful work was, I just knew what it wasn’t.
The deeper you go into lifestyle design, the more you’ll see the many options people have to live life on their own terms. There are many paths to freedom, but some are more common than others.
In this series, we’ll take a look at five professions that are ideal for wage slave rebels starting with today’s profession… web design!
When I quit my job in September of 2007, I wanted to be a web designer. I didn’t know how to be a web designer. I didn’t even know of any web designers. I did, however, have some knowledge of what it involved, lots of interest in the subject and a driving passion to pursue it.
Design is something that everyone inherently understands in some capacity or another. Most people can recognize good design (or at least know when they see bad design). Most people, however, can’t create good design and I’m not aware of any high school or college course that can change that. They mostly teach you how to use the applications that have the potential to create good design.
Why do I say that? Because you should know that you don’t need any kind of formal education to be a great designer. With a handful of books, some interaction with designers and plenty of mistakes, you’ll be an expert in no time. If you have an interest in design or find yourself obsessed with packaging or WordPress themes or fonts, you probably have what it takes to be a designer.
I choose web design over graphic design simply because it costs less and takes less to get started. Web design is also more ideal for online working. You don’t have to deal with suppliers or printers and you can handle everything from your computer.
Computer This can be any kind of computer you want. If you plan on working from the road or being location independent, grab a laptop. I use a MacBook myself.
Photoshop Photoshop has become the standard for web graphics.Photoshop is pretty expensive. To lessen the cost, I purchased a cheap old version and then upgraded. Upgrade versions are cheaper. If you want a free alternative you could also use GIMP, but I’d advise against it until they give it a single window interface plus there’s no telling what incompatibility issues might come up.
Editor To write your website code, you’ll need a text editor. Microsoft Word or OpenOffice won’t work for this. They include formatting that doesn’t work in the browser. The editor has to be able to output nothing but plain text. For Windows, you could use something as basic as Notepad or as elaborate as Dreamweaver. I use Coda for Mac and I’ve also spent some time using TextMate and Espresso. All very good for coding.
Browser If you are reading this, congratulations! You have a browser! As a web designer, you’ll want to use Firefox, Safari, Chrome or Opera. These browsers adhere pretty well to web standards and in 99.99% of cases render the way you intend for them to.
Internet Explorer is now your enemy. Internet Explorer 6 is Satan. Seriously.
Here are some resources aggregated from across the web that will help you understand the web design process more fully and get you designing and coding today.
These are resources that will help you understand the more businessy side of web design. These might seem boring to you, but knowing how to run a business is essential to your success. Take a look!