How to make money from the web design business!
In my last post I showed you how to design a website for a small business even if you are a novice. If you have not read that post try and do so. It is a quick yet complete guide to anyone who want to learn website design without prior knowledge.
However, knowing how to design a website is one thing and knowing how to make money from web design as a business is a different ball game altogether. So now that you can confidently build a website, how do you now build a business and make money from this your new found skill of web design? So today I am going to show you how to build a great business from the web design idea you have and start making money from it. I will show you this in 13 simple steps:
Step 1: Set Goals for Your Business
If you have been following me for a while you will discover that I speak so passionately about goal setting all the time. And those in my inner circle know that I organize a training on goal setting and mind mapping towards the end or at the beginning of each new year.
So before you start putting anything out there, if you truly want to make money from your web design knowledge as a business I will like you to lock yourself in your room and ask yourself some questions about the future and where this could possibly lead to. Without a roadmap for your business, it’ll be hard to steer yourself in the right direction. Maybe you should just answer the following questions to put yourself on the right track:
- What is the vision and mission of this business I want to start?
- How do I want clients and other people to look at me; as a person or an agency?
- When do I want to land my first job?
- How many jobs do I want to get in my first month?
- How and where will this business be in the next 12 months and maybe in the next 5 years?
A well thought out answers to the above questions will keep you motivated even when things get tough.
Step 2 – Choose a Niche to Focus on
There is nothing wrong if you decide to build website for anyone you meet on the road. But if you want to hear the truth I will tell you. A lot of persons and small businesses have had terrible experiences in the hand of some web design guys seeking to make money from the business. And because of those experiences people are skeptical these days. Once you introduce yourself as a web designer some look at you as one not serious. So choosing a particular niche to focus on will make it easier for businesses in that niche to identify you and trust your services. Another thing it will do for you is that it will make your design as a starter a lot easier as you can easily get a template or two and stick with it for the majority of designs you do until you become a pro.
Maybe you could focus on designing websites for either churches only. Maybe you can consider primary or secondary schools alone. Your choice could just be supermarkets, hotels or restaurants. It will surprise you to know how many of these businesses in your location that still don’t have their own website. And if yo really mean to take web design as a business and make money from it you will soon become lord in your focus niche.
Step3: Define Your Service Offering
Is it just website design that you want to focus on? Would you want to include website management and any other auxiliary services? You need to make this clear so that you know how to approach prospects. Whatever your decision, make sure your service offering is strong and attractive. You can even offer some freebies as a starter.
Step 4: Choose a Name for Your Business
It is important that you get a business name for your business for more credibility. If you can afford it head over to Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and register that business so that it will have a legal identity. Why do you need to register your business name?
- It will give your business a legal backing
- Without CAC registration you cannot open a business account
- It will give more credibility when people decide to do a background check on you
- It will even help you obtain some loan or grant especially from government
In choosing a name it is important to consider the following:
- Is it easy enough to remember?
- Is it too difficult to pronounce?
- Does it sound very much like another brand that will make differentiation difficult?
- Does it sound offensive or abusive?
- Will the name suggest any religious or ethnic bias?
- Does it sound like you are offering a service you are not?
Step 5: Set Up Your Digital Brand
People should be able to identify your business from your branding even before your name is mentioned. Sometimes an advert will just pop up on Channels television or AIT when I am watching news. You would see people dancing, running, skipping and gyrating then I will say to myself this must be Airtel, or this must be MTN or this must be Globacom and most times it turns out that I am right. How did I know? Through their brand colour. So you will notice their consistency in projecting their brand even in adverts and general company materials. That helps. If you don’t just want to be known as a freelancer, if you truly want to go beyond making money and build a business around your web design knowledge, then I advice you to make brand consistency your goal.
If you are a website designer already, I’m sure you’re familiar with what this involves. It will make your life a lot easier if you adopt your branding from the word go and remain consistent with it.
Your brand should typically consist of things like your logo, your colour, your tagline/slogan and sometimes your image style.
Step 6: Register your Domain Name
Sometimes you can decide to reverse the order of #5 and #6 if you prefer to secure the domain before you do your branding (this could be helpful to ensure that the domain for your preferred brand name is still available).
There are myriads of companies that you can use to register a domain. I will not be recommending anyone right here, just check online and compare their rates. Of course for you to be a web design expert you already know this. Many of them will give free hosting after your pay for a domain. And a normal domain typically should be between $5 to $30 depending on the vendor and the domain extension.
Step 7: Build Your Own Website
It will be laughable and a height of irresponsibility if you are going to bid for a web design job but doesn’t even have your own website. And the good thing about starting this business as a web designer is that you don’t need to spend money on this since you can do it yourself and to your taste.
As a professional website designer you need to take note of the following points about your own website:
Make your own website one your clients would pay for
Your profile and marketing skill will go a long way in in convincing people to give you the job as a web designer or developer. However, your website itself is something you can use to impress potential clients even more. By building a site that prospects would be willing to own will go a long way in making them trust your competence. In that case you start hearing “can you build me exactly something like this your own?” Each time you are asked to show the jobs you have done before, let your site be the number one you present.
Make sure it’s free of errors
You can’t give clients any reason to call into doubt your abilities as a designer. The second you do, they’re going to question every decision you’ve made and it’s going to make an already difficult job of getting them to sign you up even more difficult. So ensure it is free of spelling and as much as possible grammatical errors.
If you have done any job for anyone, request a testimonial from them and put it in your website. If they are impressed with what you did they will not only give you but say something nice about you, and that can help convince the next customer. In a situation where you have not got any paid jobs you can decide to do one for a friend at a discounted rate in exchange for a testimonial.
Optimize it for search engine
From this day on, you’re no longer just a web designer or web developer. You’re a business owner. And business owners have other responsibilities other than building websites.
Your most difficult task will be to hunt for new clients. However, if you set your website up to rank for the right search terms people can easily discover you online on their own. Don’t worry about how to get that done, you don’t have to be an SEO pro to do it. Simply start with any of the free SEO plugins in WordPress and you will be balling. I recommend Yoast SEO.
Step 8: Set Your Price
This isn’t always the easiest thing to think about, especially if it’s early in your career as a web designer or developer. At this point you may be feeling the pressure of getting job for testimonial’s sake. All I can say is don’t overcharge. Let price competitiveness be one of your market entry strategies. But that doesn’t mean you should make yourself so cheap. Truth is that even a 5,000 naira difference between your price and that of competitors will make you the preferred choice for many small businesses that are working with a tight budget.
Step 9: Keep Your Books
This is one of the many ways those our tech guys usually fail woefully. You know some of them call themselves freelancers and all many such names, so for them it is anything goes. But for you, you are an entrepreneur. You are a CEO. You are now managing a company (even if you are the only staff working in that company) and companies keep books containing records of almost everything they do.
From day one you must have:
Finance Book – to track all income and expenditure. It is no longer your money but the company’s money. So every dollar must be accounted for. And that will help you to know when you are making profit or otherwise.
A Written Terms and Conditions – before you start any job send your terms and conditions to the client. Let it clearly state anything you consider as being critical to the success of that job. And make them sign it before you start. Two things that must be highlighted in that document are payment terms and the time frame for delivery. You see these two points I underlined above, if you follow it to the later you will live at least ten years longer than an average web designer. It should also specify the scope of the job you are paid to do. The tech guys don’t do these and that is usually the first point of conflict between them and their clients.
Job Order Book – for entering all the jobs received and the timeline for delivering them.
As you grow you can get some software for managing different tasks like project management software, time-tracking app, proposal/contract software, and accounting software, but for a start a spreadsheet is enough.
Step 10: Promote Your Business Online
It is important that your profile online properly reflect what you do. So all those that know you should know what you do. You never know where your customers may be and who will bring them to you. So you can consider setting up your business profile on any or all of the following:
Step 11: Find New Clients
This is by a thousand mile the most difficult aspect of the job. Some persons were told that it costs 200,000 naira to design a website and that as a professional you can design at least 15 websites in a month giving you 3 million naira in a single month. And with that mindset they resigned their job to go and learn website design. Today as I speak to you they are’ professional website designers’ with the ability to design stunning sites but they are yet to get a single job, because they thought the job will come and meet them in their houses. So it is not just about having the design skill, you need the marketing skill much more.
So how do you get new clients continuously to sustain you on the job?
Your Personal Network
Your friends, family and former colleagues may know of an opportunity that is for you, so ask them. These are the people that will help you get clients when you are relatively unknown in the game.
You already set up your social media accounts above, so use it.
Existing or Former Clients
If they were great clients, there’s a good chance they’ll know other awesome business owners that need your service.
Publish new content to your website
Content marketing isn’t just useful for raising your profile in search or on social media. It can help potential clients discover the values you offer and how it can be a solution to their business challenges.
Do you want to get new web design clients very fast? Then check around your locality.
Pull out Google Map, search for supermarkets, schools, churches, hotels and indeed all the local businesses in your area and see if they have a website. If they don’t, go pay them a visit. If they do, but it the website is not fantastic or look abandoned still pay them a visit too.
Discuss with them how your service offering can help them stay above their competitors; explain how it will increase their revenue drastically and how it will enhance their reputation.
I can hear you complaining already. In your mind, you hate all these type of going around and begging people. You will come up with all manner of excuses to justify your reluctance to take this route. Well, that is exactly the thing that has kept the website designers you know where they are.
But should I tell you the truth or I should just make you to feel good?
Okay, if your answer is to hear the truth, then here it is – The answer to that your prayer for many years is just in that little area, just outside of your comfort zone. You can do it. Go for it.
Step 12: Be Obsessed with Excellent Customer Service
Now you have gotten clients, how do you retain them? Excellent customer service is the answer. Don’t just be after the money, be after the success of their businesses, and show that you genuinely care. Even when things are not working out well, be ready to take responsibility and give all your clients enough reasons to become your raving fans.
Step 13: Be Committed to Continuous Improvement
This is the last step but by no means the least.
One of the problems you may run into when your business starts to pick up speed is stagnation of your design skills. It’s not as though you’ll forget how to build websites, no, not that.
However, web design industry changes pretty quickly. So, among everything else you must do as a business owner and web designer to succeed, you must make room for continuous learning. Take out time to take some free courses online and also check what others are doing so that you don’t just continue to do the old stuff.
Note that it will take time before you start getting regular jobs, so you’ll need to be patient and work hard. But you will start to see a “snowball effect” as you finish one website after the other. One delighted customer spreads the word to everyone in their network and so on and so on…