I write a lot about my web design business on this blog. I have also two successful products called Running A Web Design Business, an e-book and a video course.
But I always say that you shouldn’t provide only a web design service. This is because, since I started the business in 2006, only about 50% of my income has been from web design alone.
I had 4 main jobs pass over my desk in September. One was a website redesign, the other three were InDesign jobs (two onscreen PDFs and one print magazine job).
This was typical. And, also typically, these jobs came from regular clients.
I implore web designers to learn other skills. I’ve written about how web designers should learn print design and how print designers can learn web design. The other point is this: your best clients are your current clients.
Not enough work!
I get emails from web designers almost everyday and I hear varying reports about our industry. It seems that the success of contracting sites such as Elance and oDesk has impacted on some design businesses in the western world but this is by no means the complete picture.
Some web designers are using the wrong business model. The people in trouble are looking to build websites for less than $1000 and nothing else so they would need to create a vast amount of websites in a year in order to make a living.
We have to explain to our clients that, in order to see any success, a web presence needs constant work. We can help them with this and, when they do, they see results.
The best clients are large organisations. You are so much more likely to get repeat business from them because there’s more going on there. In addition to this you’ll probably get bigger jobs and they’ll go on for longer.
However, I’ve found that this does not necessarily apply to web design. Large organisations will, more often than not, maintain their website and online activities in-house. This is why you’ll get more work by offering other services.
You can offer the following work for these larger companies.
- Print newsletters
- Online newsletters
- HTML email
I have had more luck with the above than with online work.
This is not to say that small clients are necessarily bad. I usually get more creative work from startups and SMEs. But, unfortunately, the work from these clients tends to be one-offs.
Many small businesses will ask you to build a website and expect that to be the end of it. Slowly this is changing.
It doesn’t have to be this way
Providing a business with a beautiful WordPress website should be just the beginning of the process. Clients also need help with:
- Content marketing
- Setting up and branding social media channels
- Social media management
- Writing / text editing / copy checking
Providing the above online design services as well as offline design services have been essential to my business. Just web design alone is not enough.
You can do it
You can build up a business that provides regular services to quality clients but sticking power is key. It takes time to establish yourself as the reliable go-to person within a niche.
You have to stick at it and constantly remind the client of your services and your ability to deliver them.