How to Start a Web Design Business From Home

start-a-business-with-a-laptop

There has never been a better time to start a web design business. Although the western world’s economy is stagnant and demand flat the opportunities for entrepreneurs are enormous. If you have a passion and love for the internet, you can do it.

You don’t need a lot (in fact you just need a laptop, phone, electrical supply and decent internet connection) but here’s what I’ve learned in the last few years.

Business

business

In order to have a successful web design business you need to attract good clients. Trust me, the attitude of “any client is a good client” will not get you very far. By all means, give the same great service to all clients both big and small, but you will need regular and quality work and you are more likely to get this from quality clients. And “quality clients” are usually – but not always – from quality companies.

Either way, you need to look, talk and act professionally at all times. You will never get anywhere by being “cheap and cheerful”.

  • Open your own business bank account with your business’s name. If you set yourself up as a freelance, you’ll earn a freelance wage. The bigger and more professional your company looks, the better it will be for you.
  • Design your own logo. I’ve found designing my own logo to be one of the hardest jobs ever but it has to be done. Put this logo everywhere: on your invoices; your contracts; in your email signature.
  • Purchase a domain and use it for your website and email address. If you want to be taken seriously you must purchase you own domain (from GoDaddy or NameCheap, for example) and then have an email address which is you@yourdomain.com.
  • Build your own website advertising your services. You will need to spend a lot of time on this. I would advocate using WordPress for your business website and use a blog to attract business.

The paint is never dry on a designer’s logo or website. You should be continually looking for ways to improve your website as it is the hub of your brand. If you haven’t started blogging then start now. Write about what you do – it’s a fantastic way to get clients from long tail keyword searches.

How to get clients

clients

Getting clients and establishing a steady work flow is the hardest and most important challenge your web design business will face. Your best clients are your current clients as you will find people will come back to you after you’ve done a good job for them. But, how do you start the ball rolling?

  • Attract clients through your website. This is the best way to do it. Work hard on SEO and building links to your website. Vary both the type of links as well as the anchor text. Make sure all your online activity points back to your website. Nurture your relationships with other designers as well as with potential clients online.
  • Get work through social media. To be honest, I have never got much work from Twitter or LinkedIn, however I have found developing relationships on social media with designers and other professionals indispensable in terms of what it’s taught me.
  • Meet potential clients offline by joining professional groups. As much as I’ve had great success getting clients online, you can never beat face-to-face interaction. It may take you a while to find out which where your potential clients will be hanging out but the Meetup website can help.
  • 3rd party sites. I’ve never been a big fan of these sites and I certainly don’t use them myself but other people do so I will mention a few here. Try PeoplePerHour, oDesk and Elance.

The best network is your network. Most business comes from contacts you already have. But constantly strive to attract potential clients by performing well in the search engines for certain keywords.

You may like to read my survey on how designers work, how they find clients and how they get paid.

Skills

code

I can’t tell you here how to design a website. You do need technical and creative skills. But, surprisingly, these are NOT the most important skills you need.

  • Listening to and understanding clients. The most important skill is your ability to master client relationships. You need to put yourself in the client’s shoes and deliver exactly want the client wants and no more and no less. Lots of designers suffer as they think they know what’s best for the client. The first rule of graphic design is to listen. Don’t ever get carried away with your talent and think that you know everything.
  • Understanding the web and UI. The reason you are doing this job is because you have a love of the internet. Make sure you harness that love correctly. Always think of the users as well as the client when you are designing.
  • Creativity. You shouldn’t only be creative in your designs to develop your style. You should be creative in your relationships, your marketing and every possible area of your business life. Don’t get stale and always look for fresh challenges.
  • Ability to write well for the web. Another skill that is not often mentioned is the ability to touch type and write well for the web. Your clients will thank you if you re-write areas of their website so that they work better and you need to always write good English with correct spelling and grammar in your emails.
  • Technical skills. At the very least you will need to master HTML and CSS as well as a graphics program such as Photoshop or Fireworks. HTML shouldn’t take you long to master. CSS will take a little longer. Use Firebug in Firefox and Developer Tools in Chrome and Internet Explorer to give you a start. You may like to progress onto JavaScript, PHP, or whatever you are interested in. Try W3Schools for tutorials. The trick is to keep learning. And not just about website design – it’s about designing email, mobile sites and apps for iPhone, Android and iPad.

Read my article on how to learn web design.

Tools

tools

I did a survey recently and discovered some interesting facts about the hardware, software and backup graphic designers use. Certainly everyone’s different. Don’t worry, you don’t have to use Macs but unfortunately most of them use Creative Suite.

  • Hardware – The type of computer you get is largely up to you. I’ve been very happy using iMacs for the last few years. I also need a PC for testing. I would urge you to max out your RAM, disc space and broadband connection, but … we all have our budgets!
  • Software – Although it is perfectly possible to run a design business with no software at all I wouldn’t recommend it. Most of us use some sort of text editor (Dreamweaver, TextMate), some sort of graphics program (Photoshop) and some sort of FTP client (Filezilla).
  • Backup – Not strictly necessary, but incredibly handy. I would advise backing up onsite with an external drive and offsite with something like Dropbox.

Self motivation

running

Personally, I couldn’t think of anything better than working for yourself at home so I’ve never found motivation a problem.

However, for some people it is and you can learn how to work from home successfully by exercising and organising your time properly.

Collaboration

collaborate

Since you are working in splendid isolation it’s always great to meet up with other web designers. You can moan about Microsoft together (very therapeutic), exchange jobs and help each other out with bugs and other problems. I have this relationship with Derek Kirk who lives near me in north London. Derek runs a couple of great sites called creative web design and web designers London.

It’s also good to form partnerships with all sorts of professionals and experts. These are great as a sounding board for ideas and to exchange advice and work. Try to network on behalf of your clients as well as on behalf of your other contacts.

Payment

money

Don’t forget at the end of the day you are running a web design business to get money. Whether you are charging fixed-rate fees or hourly/daily/weekly rates you should be charging at least twice as much as you would earn in a normal job to complete the same task. You will never be able to do web design for 8 hours a day so the charging structure should reflect this.

Make sure the price as well as the nature and extent of a web design job is properly recorded in emails or in a contract. You may like to insist on half the fee upfront with new clients.

Finding and developing your niche

specialising

As with most design work you may want to specialise into a certain type of client or a certain type of web work. This may come as a result of your passions or you may be moved in a certain direction by the tide of work that comes your way. Whilst it’s good to specialise you should always be alert to the new developments and opportunities within the industry.

Diversify and outsource

grow

There are many ways to diversify your design business. You can offer your clients hosting, social media packages, email marketing, website maintenance, SEO services, copy writing, etc. you can branch out into a host of different directions. If you are asked to do something by a client it is usually a good idea to say “yes”. This way you can get paid to learn a new skill. Sometimes it may be possible to outsource new services.

You can do it!

I’ve wanted to write this article for ages and I’m very glad I’ve written it. I would really love to see you, the person who is reading this, try to earn money this way because it certainly beats working for somebody else.

You can start anywhere, anytime, anyhow. You just need a website. Even if you have a fulltime job at the moment or if not, you can start this work in your spare time (as I did) and take it from there. Download my e-book that will tell you everything about Running a Web Design Business.

I don’t want to make out that it’s easy. Of course, you have to work hard. But I have been getting paid to do something I really love so it would be great to see other people benefitting from this unique opportunity of our times.

If you have any experiences or you would like some help in this area, please leave a comment down below.

And don’t forget to click one of those nice sharing buttons too!

Comments

  1. Joby Immanuel C Jose says

    Super piece of information. I want to start my own web design business in order to diversify my original SEO business.

  2. says

    Hi Rob firstly thanks for the mention ;) I have to say this is an awesome post! I think you pretty much nailed it, you forgot to mention make sure they have plenty of aspirins and optrexs as this road is most definitely full of headaches and late nights.
    Another way to generate income from this profession is to create templates and sell them on sites such as Themeforest but be warned the standard must be to a very high standard.

    • says

      Hey Derek, thanks for leaving a comment. You’re right about creating themes and templates. That’s a great idea for a post: how a web designer can earn passive income. Of course, you don’t have to sell them through a 3rd party site like Themeforest – you can sell them yourself. But, I know you’re thinking of that ;)

  3. Simon Cooper says

    Yes, I agree about themes you can boost your income, but most would rather have a personal one that no-one else have therefore can charge more! I noticed that you used Theme by Genesis I used Canvas from WooThemes.

  4. says

    Under ‘Tools’ don’t forget some sort of project management software!

    You can get away with spreadsheets and email up to a certain size, but once you grow you need to start looking at something more powerful.

    There are lots of different free and paid solutions out there.

    • says

      Hello Jason, that’s interesting, I have never needed project management software as I have never had such large projects to manage. I’ve only really heard about Basecamp. Feel free to recommend some and I’ll add them to the article.

      • says

        Basecamp has excellent marketing, but is fairly expensive for what it offers.

        A lot of smaller shops install their own open source tools like Trac, Mantis, Bugzilla or Redmine.

        Popular paid solutions include FogBugz, JIRA, Assembla, Projecturf, and TargetProcess.

        Really you could write a whole article about all of the project management solutions out there. Feel free to contact me if you’d like me to write a guest post.

        In the interest of full disclosure, I founded PMRobot, which is a PM tool more for custom software developers more than web designers.

        • says

          Interesting, Jason. Thanks very much for that information. As I say, I have never had need for PM software so I’m not sure if my readers here will have need for an article for the subject. But thank you very much for the offer. If I get contacted about this issue, I’ll get back to you about that. I really like your site and your personal story. Best of luck with PMRobot – it looks like a fantastic product.

          • Anil says

            Hi Rob Cubbon
            I m from india i m intresting to desing the web and develop web ,becouse i was read your articles,and im really motivate from it .plz can you help all this thing,if you are help
            for marketing means how get customer ,how to register company and more…… Anil

  5. says

    Nice article, well written and informative, but I have to say a bit incomplete. Before you start a business you need to analyse the market. How many local competitors are there? What are they charging? How much business is there? If you’re not aiming local, do you really think a new business is going to ‘SEO’ and ‘Social network’ it’s way past the herds of established companies? If you’re aiming local, how will you compete against the established freelancers and serious 20-year old design agencies in your local market, who have strong portfolios, have already lowered their prices for this economy, and already have the networking groups tied up? I’ve noticed in the economy here a big drop in business, because companies already have websites and in a down economy they aren’t going to so readily drop money upgrading them. There are entrepreneurs who need new sites, but I don’t think any more than before, and they usually have very little money to spend and they can be very naive with their own businesses and knowledge about web design and spread problems back to you. Offshoring is a big issue especially now, people are looking to save money, and they will try and do that by getting one of the many India companies to do it. Have a look on elance and see the prices being charged are probably a quarter of just plain salary, when probably business costs mean even for a simple service in a 1-person business you’ll need to charge 2x salary. People often will use one of the latest generations of web builder to get their sites for free (e.g. Google Sites). I’ve written a number of articles on my blog about the industry that explain in more detail exactly how people are making decisions, problems the industry and buyers face, etc (http://ocportal.com/site/news.htm?blog=1).
    The real money now is in work that is buzz-friendly, things that are new technologies that clients have not had a chance to implement yet (because they do all have websites already). Things like mobile apps (so learn objective c/java), Facebook apps, social media strategy, and the latest necessary techniques to compete on SEO.

    • says

      Hello Chris. That’s interesting. Personally, I’ve found the opposite to be true. I’m sure if you have a product you need to analyse the market. But when I was starting out – all I had was myself and my skills – and if I analysed the market and found that people didn’t want me I never would have started!

      I never wanted to specialise, as well, as I always enjoyed doing different types of design for different types of clients. When I started with this website I was offering print artwork and I now primarily do website design. I have found the demand through what my clients have been asking for. If someone asks you to do something it’s always a good idea to do it, if they’re a good client.

      I would never suggest people should specialise on global or local – why cut markets off? I have a lot of clients here in London, plus others from America, Asia and Europe. It’s grown that way and I think my business has a more solid base from catering to client’s needs rather than analysing the demand because the demand in this business is huge and varied.

      I would never worry about the competition and their portfolios, etc., there is absolutely no point. Someone could have a better portfolio, more years in the business and charge less but the client could still go for you if they like you!

      I have lots of entrepreneur clients who have paid much more than a thousand dollars for websites. And I never worry about outsourcing. The one thing the low-paid Asians do badly is design.

      It’s so strange we have had completely different experience. I do agree with you that tablet and phone apps are a growth area.

      But I’d be really interested in your ideas in how you research the market when starting out in web design?

      • Anonymous says

        Hey Rob,

        We’re probably coming from different environments. My company is a technical one, the people who do work have computer science degrees and have to be very skilled experienced engineers. (I came here from a link on dzone.com, so that probably coloured my interpretation of your post heavily) So that immediately raises the costs. A typical project will take us a couple of months, which based on fair market salary is about £7k [that's taking holiday/etc into account], but considering business costs, probably £14k [that's taking sales/marketing/R&D/training/risk-offsetting/office-space/management etc into account]. These are the kinds of sites that do quite a lot, e.g. complex property website, or custom video sharing community. People look at the low end design quotes, or the offshoring quotes, and think “£2k”, so that’s already an 8x difference.
        I think if you’re doing the lower-end, purely design orientated stuff, it’s not so bad, because the clients understand it a bit better, there’s less work but they can see the work directly and hence understand the value, and designer salaries are about 35% less than programmer salaries (which I don’t think is entirely fair actually).

        It probably also varies a lot by location. We’re in Sheffield, and I can tell you this place is pretty grim in a recession. I’ve seen a number of web companies go out of business here recently, and really there is very little local industry to feed a very large web design market that is pumped up by two universities. I imagine London is very different.

        I suspect also we’re a bit constrained in what we do compared to you because if you’re technically focused in a company’s output you really need to do serious analysis into projects, it’s not so easy to chop around. And projects are longer term too.

        In summary: simple projects are cheaper, have a wider market, require less skilled staff, allow more general flexibility for changing direction and juggling things, require less longer term technology investment, more relative value will exist in the happy relationship than anything else because not so much money is involved (of course relationship is always absolutely vital, but when more money is concerned people are going to assess a lot more than just that).

        Actually talking about asian designers, I would generally agree, but we got an amazing design done by one of our guys this morning, it’s as good creatively as anything I’ve seen in the professional work I’ve done. It’s probably an exception though.

        In terms of researching the market, a few suggestions:
        1) Identify all the competitors in your particular niche (e.g. if the niche is local, find all local companies).
        2) Find out what they charge.
        3) Go through their client lists, get a feel for what companies buy, and then try and work out what their market penetration is by seeing how many companies like that there are. If you can see a large percent of the market is already tied up that’s a bad thing ;).
        4) Talk to a few people, see what outstanding issues they have, whether they can be resolved by your service (sometimes competitors suck, but also sometimes clients expect more than they pay for), and very importantly – whether you can put that in a marketing message that people will believe and will reach the market.
        5) Analyse some trends to some degree. Why do people buy what they buy, is it tied into any wider economic situation? Is that situation changing? Can you predict and preempt where things are going to open up opportunities or to avoid boxing yourself into a risky model.

        • says

          Hey Chris, you’re right we’re probably coming at this from two completely different worlds but I’m really interested in what you have to say. Yes, I’m from a graphic design background and I’m found through this website for people wanting websites, blogs, simple shopping carts and membership sites (as well as other stuff as I also do print design). So our markets are quite different.

          (I put stuff up on Dzone because some of the stuff I do is about WordPress and other tutorials and I can get some good traffic from there.)

          As a designer you can optimise your site for “web designer London”, for example, which has about 1000 searches a month and you will get a fair amount of work. But, as you can imagine, someone looking for a freelance designer won’t want to create huge, complicated sites so most of our work is fairly quick delivery and for less money. However, I’m always looking for bigger and bigger projects.

          And another great thing about graphic design is that you can be used by absolutely any industry and any sized company which is why there is so much potential when you set yourself up on your own.

          I’m fascinated to hear about your work and the way you go about it, especially the research side. It would be great to see you here again. And best of luck with ocPortal in the future – it looks like a great open source CMS.

          • says

            Thanks Rob. Nice conversation, it’s always good to see a different perspective and learn from it.

            When I say ‘research’, I don’t mean it in the white-coat kind of way, but generally that it takes some doing to get an infrastructure and proper understanding for the technology of the day. For example, we recently developed a new phase of work for a client where their sports social network interacts a lot with Facebook. People can log in with Facebook, and then receive email updates, and updates are pushed back to their Facebook profile also. That’s a lot harder than we first thought, because you can grab their email when they login, but if they change their email on Facebook’s end, there’s a very complex inter-server communication process we have to do in the background to find out about it. Now we have done it once, we can do it again much more cheaply. In terms of pure research, well we’re always thinking about usability – the big ocPortal challenge has been how to let people build their own unique complex sites in an intuitive ways.

            I think you clearly have a great skill not just in maintaining relationships, but also building them. I think it serves you well :).

            • says

              I agree, Chris, it’s great for us here to get your perspective.

              Funnily enough, I just did a Facebook welcome page for a client (they call it an “app” in Facebook but I don’t think that really describes it correctly). I provided the client with a jQuery image slider, a few images and a sign up form to their iContact account. And, just as you say, I can now offer that service to other clients now that I’ve gone through the pain that is understanding Facebook’s little ways.

              But delving into these site’s APIs to make something work is a very specialist but, I should imagine, lucrative skill.

              I’m not very good at specialising. I’ve tended to go where my clients have lead me in the past.

              I’m not sure if I have a great talent for maintaining relationships but people naturally like to work with people they already know – or who are recommended by someone they trust.

              Your tendency for going for the huge jobs works for you and I can see it has its benefits. As someone running a graphic design business I’m always happy to take on bigger and bigger projects and that’s probably something I should be concentrating on in the future.

  6. says

    Ok, I gotta to tell you, this is one quality article! I felt extremely motivated as I read it.
    I want to start learning HTML, CSS and PHP for a while now but I always get stuck with my current IM jobs. I also discovered that I’ve got an eye for web designing and even though I don’t know HTML or CSS perfectly I can manage to turn around any wordpress theme for example.

    My first passion is content creation, but I found that lots of the tips above are also applied in my field. Like having a portfolio website. That’s a really great idea….thanks!

    • says

      Thanks Cristian, welcome to RobCubbon.com – getting a portfolio site up and running and getting on the first page of Google with “web designer [your town]” shouldn’t be too difficult for you. And, then you can see what happens! It’s a good way of earning income (although active) to supplement the IM passive income which can take a while to grow.

  7. says

    I’m really impressed with your website Rob and think, by the many thoughtful, well-written comments, that I’m not the only one who is impressed!

  8. says

    Thanks for the article Rob.
    I’m going to be made redundant in the next couple of months and I really would like start freelancing. It’ll be a new experience to me, I’am a bit scared but very excited too. I’ve my website already but it’s not finished yet.
    Thanks for your tips!

    • says

      Hello David, all I can say it all the best of luck to you! You have exactly the right attitude – as long as you keep excited you will be successful. Once you’ve finished the HTML site I would add a WordPress blog to it and write about what you do, you’ll be amazed at the amount of traffic it will pull in.

  9. Cos says

    Thanks Rob for your up-beat and informative articles. I find lots of useful tips in them, plus confirmation of things I already know (for example your comment that people naturally like to work with people they already know – or who are recommended by someone they trust). This is very encouraging!

    You make it all sound so easy!

    .

    • says

      Hello Cos, I’m glad you find the articles upbeat and informative. In some ways it is easy as all I have done to run a successful business is here on my site. On the other hand, of course, nothing in life is really easy and you do have to work. But I’m sure you knew that!

  10. says

    Stunning lead photo and terrific design. I found the point on payment among the most helpful. When you are freelancing, projects always seem to take longer than you expect and, unless you’re getting paid by the hour, delays are coming out of your hide, not some company you work for. Make sure to bill customers immediately and request all agreed upon expenses. For some strange reason creative people tend to let these things go. I talked to an editor once who told me a lot of his writers never bothered to submit expenses!

    • says

      Glad you like my little montage at the top, AstroGremlin. You learn over time when to charge by the hour and when to charge a price. Many clients, however, prefer a price for the whole job in which case you have to be crystal clear about the details before you start. But, common sense prevails. Most clients are good people and they don’t want you slaving away for nothing, but they want a good deal just like you do. Creative people do need to give their attention to this side of the business or else they won’t have a business!

  11. says

    Rob thank you for writing this post! I just started my very own web design/dev biz and I’m pumped. Having go-to resources like this is a key for learning from others who have walked this path before me. I’ve already found that it’s heaps more work than I expected, but that’s OK – it’s all fun and learning (and soon $ too)!

    • says

      It certainly is an exciting experience to start your own company. Thank you for sharing that with us here. Plenty more articles to come on this subject so keep coming back to the site :) – thanks for your comment, Hugh!

  12. says

    I think my first exposure to any of your writing came this morning. Since then I’ve read several posts on G+, posts on your blog, signed up for your newsletter and downloaded your ebook. I guess that means I’m impressed. You really walk the walk.

    The only thing I’ve found that I didn’t like was being told not to use keywords instead of my name when making this comment. :–)

    I’d like to buy you a beer some time.

    • says

      If people put keywords in comments you don’t know whether they’re intention is to advertise themselves or leave a constructive comment like the kind words you just left, Bernie. Glad you’ve found something of use here.

  13. Daniel says

    Hi there,

    Great article thanks :) I am just getting into web design, learning the basics of html/css. Have made a few basic websites and am really enjoying it. I’m just a little confused as to what my next steps should be… should I start to learn an image editor such as Photoshop or make sure I have the code basics mastered first? I hope to do this as a proper job one day and you are a great inspiration!

    Regards

    Dan

    • says

      Thanks Dan, you seem to be doing great anyway. Maybe it would be good to try to make graphics with an image editor similar to Photoshop at this point, yes. But just carry on creating the websites you want to create. And explore websites you admire and work out how they were created. That’s what I do. Thanks for your comment. :)

      • Anonymous says

        Thank You :)

        That’s what I’m nervous about because I am useless at making decent graphics. I’m sure it will come in time. Have you found the best way to learn is from online tutorials and books? I’ve heard of people making their site in Photoshop then converting it to html or something, is this standard practice now?

          • Daniel says

            Ok I’ll look into that – nice article you have written. I like your style, very easy to understand. So basically the best way to get into web design is to keep making those websites and keep learning from those mistakes !

              • Daniel says

                What do you think of creating a portfolio and ‘learning while your earning’ or is it best to just work on getting a good portfolio and wait until your fully confident in all areas?

                Ok thanks for that I will check it out. Keep meaning to create a blog too I’m just worried I wouldn’t know what to write about hehe

                • says

                  Hello, Daniel. I would “learn while you earn” as you put it because you’ll never stop learning. Obviously don’t embark on a client job you have absolutely no idea how to do. But it’s always good to push yourself.

                  Everybody thinks they don’t know what to write about before they start a blog. But once you start writing you’ll get better at both writing and thinking of articles that will be useful and therefore popular.

          • Cos says

            Daniel, whenever I’ve built a website for an organisation, they’ve given me a PDF mock-up of their intended website that their graphic artist created from his/her Photoshop (or InDesign) design. i.e. first the organisation worked out their design in collaboration with their graphic artist (either a freelancer or in-house) and when they’ve been happy with the design, they’ve given it to me – the web developer – to build.

            Often-times I then need to make a few tweakes to the original design – which I do in collaboration with the organisation themselves – in order to make the design work as a website. e.g. I was recently given a design that included a panel that had an embedded Google maps iframe. The graphic artist designed the panel way too small for the map to be legible online, so we all had to get together again (me, the organisation and the graphic artist) and re-jig the website layout so that the map appeared on its own page rather than a tiny panel off to one side, and the space allotted to that panel got used for something else.

            I think if the one person can do website design AND development, it saves a good deal of to-ing and fro-ing because they won’t design something that they know doesn’t work online. On the other hand there’s a helluva lot to learn in each field to be able to do them both well. e.g. I can design a functional site for people/organisations that looks perfectly OK, but if they want something that looks truly professional, I always advise them to engage a professional graphic artist in the first instance. And if they don’t have one on hand, I always have a list of options to offer them, or I sub-contract the designer myself (which is actually preferable!)

            • Daniel says

              OK thanks for that, I will look into creating sites in Photoshop and mocking up. I think first it is best for me to master html/css first and then get to grips with logo/banner etc creation using Photoshop. What would you recommend after that? what’s the best route into this business?

              Kind Regards

              Daniel

              • says

                Hello again, Daniel, I’ve got to say that I agree with everything Cos says. He’s right that having the same person designing and developing the site makes things so much more simple and, if the site requires more than one person, recommending another person that you’ve worked with before is best.

                As for where you should go after CSS/HTML/Photoshop/graphics – it really depends on what interests you. You may be interested in JavaScript or JQuery, PHP, or WordPress or some other CMS. I have found WordPress very useful to work with.

                • (Ms) Cos says

                  If I may add my 2-bobs’ worth again … I think what you need to learn next depends very much on what your customers need you to learn! …and that depends on who your customers are, or are likely to be. That’s hard to pick sometimes, but here’s where I think there is another skill-set that web designers/developers need – soft (people) skills.
                  i.e.
                  * communication/customer liaison
                  * networking
                  * marketing / entrepreneurship
                  * business analysis (for yourself and your customers)
                  * information management
                  * designing effective and accessible user interfaces (e.g. http://www.useit.com/)

                  Other technical skills I would add to Rob’s list would be search engine optimisation and SQL or MySQL.

                  There’s obviously no shortage of learning opportunities in this field!

                  • says

                    Good points again, (Ms) Cos. Lots of designers are drawn towards certain areas of design by their customers and by their interests.

                    I completely agree with about the importance of people skills.

                    MySQL along with PHP will be incredibly useful for CMS work for years to come, I’m sure. Never stop learning!

  14. Rico says

    In the early stages of considering starting webdesign business. I have learned some html, but I have little/no graphic artistic talent. Do some design firms use temlates as a starting point (from something like dreamweaver) and tweak it to suit – or is that generally not a way to go.
    OR alternatively can a creative design aspect be outsourced ? – any thoughts/comments on that. Thanks Rico

    • says

      Hello Rico. This depends entirely on the type of business you are starting up. If you have little interest in the graphic side then you can certainly outsource this. Although you have to offer your clients something. Try to offer them a great SEO service or email set up or some other fantastic service – as there has to be a specific reason to hire you. Does this help?

  15. Daniel says

    So how does one go about starting a business like this from home? is it as simple as creating a portfolio site and advertising yourself? do I need a business plan?

    Regards

    Daniel

  16. Anonymous says

    OK thanks I will have a look round I am doing a business plan at the moment and I am increasing my html/css/graphics skills. I have also decided to use my name on the website instead of a company name.

    Hope it owrks out and to everybody else who is trying this, good luck!

    ps Could you please Remove my surname from the site, I’ve decided I want it private , thank you :)

          • says

            Well, it’s always good to have a plan or a definite niche or selling point to aim towards, but when you’re just starting out it’s good to try get work somehow and work on your website, etc.

            I wrote about my business plan for this year this time last year.

            I hope this helps. Business plans are dependent on your niche and how far along the line you are with your business so it’s hard to advise about it.

            • Daniel says

              Thanks for the advice Rob. I’ve decided to put the business on hold and continue building sites until I am 100% ready to start charging, think I’m getting a bit too ahead of myself. Hopefully in 6 months/a year I will have advanced enough to start charging for websites. Until then I will continue to progress and learn thanks to great helpful sites like yours!

              Regards

              Daniel

  17. Stephen says

    As you take on a serious career in web design, it is always safe to get the highest training possible: this will not only give you the skills and knowledge that you need, but it will also give you an edge over the competition, as web designers are a big demand in the web industry today.

  18. says

    Great article Rob, really inspiring for me as a start-up web designer, I agree with pretty much all of it. I like your conclusion saying ‘You can do it!’ brilliant. I’ve also read through some of your other articles, well done!
    Ant

  19. jnan says

    Thanks a lot for this post…..this article is very much informative and helpful for me……thankss again

  20. says

    Great article, I appreciated the read. I have a couple questions for you. Are you familiar with Gimp? Should I just take the Photoshop plunge? I am just getting started. I was a media salesman, turned seo fanatic, turned entrepeneur by circumstance. My area of focus is mostly contractors, local business, local search. Any advice on boosting my graphic design capabilities. I have found looking at other website to be my best teacher so far. Also, any recommendations on learning php?

  21. says

    I couldn’t get back down the bottom of my comment in my iPhone so I had to publish it unexpectedly. Once again, thanks for the read, I gotta go now so I can finish checking out your site. :)
    Cheers

    • says

      Hello B, Photoshop (or Fireworks) is ultimately pretty much essential for the web designer. Before you buy it you can try GIMP or there are online versions of Photoshop or similar image editors. Difficult to say whether you should take the plunge as it depends on your level, how serious you are and how much work you are getting.

      Graphic design will only improve with practice. There are plenty of sites that will help with tutorials and inspiration. For PHP, you can try W3 Schools: http://www.w3schools.com/php/

      If you have any more questions just leave another comment or send an email. :)

  22. says

    I am very familiar with Gimp, that’s why I wondered if they were conceptually the same? Layers, alpha to selection, etc. I am currently building a website a month roughly. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • says

      I’ve never used GIMP, B, I only know what other people tell me. I think it’s conceptually similar. Photoshop is probably more stable and faster.

  23. Paula White says

    About to graduate with a BS degree in IT/Security, but currently working with the government in a dead end job. I found that my passion is web design, thank you for your article because it gives me hope. I have been studying on my own for about a year along with the two web design classes that I have taken I have fell in love with the profession. I plan to try and start my own business and I am looking for good advice. Have you tried IrfanView? I found I like this.

    • says

      Hello Paula, good to hear from you. I’ve never used Irfan View, sorry.

      I would start up a WordPress.org site and start blogging about web design and see how far you get in your spare time. Let me know how you get on. :)

  24. Phil says

    Great intro for someone to get an idea of the scope of setting up for the small time – that’s me at least (but only for now)!!

    Thanks!

  25. says

    Hi Rob, you have a great site with lots of information for those of us who are just starting out in the web designing industry. I’ve come into web design quite late in life as I’m just entering my late forties. I was recently been made redundant from my last job and I am now looking for a new career. I’ve been dabbling with web design since the days of desk- top publishing back in late 90′s and I’ve always been a expert with MS Word and PowerPoint, working for a presentation department for a major investment bank.

    I’ve totally committed myself to this career choice, and have recently bought Adobe CS5.5 I’ve also been studying towards a CIW Web Design Specialist qualification since last year, and hope to take the examine in London in October 2012.

    Currently though, I’m feeling a little bit overwhelmed. There is so much to learn, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Flash Professional HTML, CSS, Javascript, jQery, the list goes on and on. However, I’m starting to find my feet and I’m currently working on a website for my daughter and a couple of information websites. But there is no way I’m ready yet to deal with individual business clients. Not that I would have any trouble offering a great service and communicating with business clients. Its just that I want to be up to speed with the software before making my services available.

    Even worst I’ve heard that many companies website are being developed with CMS (Content Management Software), such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. Its just more stuff to learn when will it ever end. I don’t know if you remember the Matrix film trilogy, but I really wish I was ‘Tank’ or ‘Neo’ and have the ability to plug-in and download all this software knowledge in seconds and I’d be set for life.

    Anyway, you must be tired of my little rant and we don’t even know each other. I’d really appreciate it, if you let me know if I’m doing the right thing and point me in the right direction. Any help and advise you could offer would be really appreciated.

    Keep up the good work, and all the best.
    Ken Bryan

    • says

      Hello Ken, I hear you. I used to do desktop publishing back in the day and it is perfectly possible for you to offer company website design at some stage. I know it seems overwhelming.

      It’s great that you are working on websites already. Keep at them and try to do as much as you can with them. When you run into problems ask questions on forums. I actually recently wrote an article about teaching yourself web design which mentions some of my favorite forums.

      HTML and CSS are a great place to start. I would forget about Flash as it’s highly specialised and not very helpful for general business websites. Yes, most websites are created with CMSs but the good news is that this simplifies the process – or it should, anyway! :) Concentrate on WordPress and forget about Joomla or Drupal for now. I would do WordPress and straight HTML sites concurrently – try to work out how WordPress produces the HTML. WordPress offers themes and plugins that can produce powerful jQuery effects, for example, without the need for knowing the code. It’s always good to know as much as you can about how things work but nobody knows everything. Web designers simply cherry-pick the best functions and UIs from around the web and put them together in a way that works.

      I don’t know about the qualification because I have no experience with them but all knowledge is good. It can be frustrating at times but if you keep at it the rewards will make everything worthwhile.

      All the best and be sure to drop by again if you have any questions.

    • says

      Hi Ken,

      Maybe you have joined at the right time the web standards code is changing greatly again: HTML5, CSS3 plus responsive websites for all devices. And while your head is not filled with too much of previous code, don’t get me wrong you do need to know it, but while you are learning get the new stuff now as well, because I know the new code intimidates me quite a bit.

      First things first, get on FireFox and start using Firebug https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/firebug/ (I know Rob will probably throw you a link to Chrome’s similar tool) :)

      To be honest I would not focus too much on the certificate and awards bit, you are only as good as your last job so my advice is just build websites, you need a good portfolio in this game and practice and learning are the only way to achieve it.

      Use this site: http://net.tutsplus.com/ (Lately they have been going all “Super technical”) but go through previous posts, There are a lot of jems!

      And of course Rob here has amazing information that will help you on your journey ;)

      All the best Del

      • says

        Hey Del

        Totally agreed with your comments, I’ve had my nose stuck in books for months now trying to learn this stuff and just realised that theory only gets you so far. So I’ve starting putting a few websites together and its all making sense now.

        Its seems every year new software versions and updates are being released, and applications popular today quickly become obsolete or out of vogue in a very short time.

        Anyway Del, thanks for your comments, much appreciated, and I’ll check out those links you’ve supplied.

        Thank again
        Ken

        • says

          Del, is making good points about getting in there and designing websites and not to worry about not understanding all the new technologies 100% – because no one does!

          Don’t worry too much about new software versions and updates. Yes, they can be frustrating when you’re starting but all your “old” knowledge will be useful in some ways. And in other ways you’ll benefit from not having to learn obsolete information that Del and I had to struggle with – like how to get sites to look the same in IE6 (excuse my language). I spent hours on this and it’s totally unnecessary now. :)

          • says

            The many sleepless nights dealing with IE full stop :( I now have IE9 on my computer (which look’s great)… but I now have too switch on my old, slow P.C to browser check 7 & 8 which I have a feeling will become the new 6 :( just not as unfair!

  26. says

    Great article Rob and has answered a fair few questions for me and given me plenty to think about, so thanks.

    I was wondering if you could recommend any sites for SEO, I imagine you know a fiar bit about this since you rank very high for “start your own web design business” :)

    I’m also unsure about how to pass on the domain registration costs to any potential customers, do you have any suggestions for this please?

  27. says

    I should probably expand a bit on what I mean by domain costs actually… I mean the fact that domains need renewing every x amount of years. When they are due for renewal do you contact the customer again and advise them or do you try and purchase it on behalf of them (i.e. in their name and email) and leave the renewals to them? How long would you purchase it for initially? TIA

    • says

      I would offer customers the option of controlling and renewing their own domain/hosting or offer to handle it for a fee which it includes a minimal amount of change time. They let you handle it for a reasonable price. I look 250/300 as opposed to 75 if they handle it. I personally setup a new account for each customer so it can be transferred if need be, and I get reseller credits every time.

  28. Carson says

    Hey rob, I have commented before and I could not get your comment system to accept my last comment until I changed the email address. It said I was posting duplicate content.

    • says

      I’m sorry about this, Carson, the post did come up as double-posted and I’ve deleted the other post. But I’ve no idea why you had this issue.

  29. Ivan Lara says

    I’m very thankful for this article, I’m a begginer trying to learn the art of web development and I really appreciate your help.

  30. Ganesh.S says

    hello sir..from india em old 19 now..from childhood i and my 4 friends are planning to start any kind of bussiness at home…we decided to start on web desinging…& we are studying mechanical engg,b.com & e&e….however we dont know anything about this field but we are very interested to do something different from others..we are planning to join the web designing course..so please get me a proper information about the requirements to do this…and i request to be a guider for us…please reply to my e mail address.. em waiting

  31. Soni says

    hi
    I am 21 yrs old
    I have taken admission in MCA and I am a B.com graduate
    I am working in biotech industry as an sales coordinator and have experience of 3 years
    I know how to deal with people inside and outside the organization
    i want to start a business of web designing on a small scale along with my job
    do I need to register somewhere or invest something
    How can I start it
    can you plz provide me a good E-book on web designing or shall I join a professional course of the same along with MCA
    It is important for me
    please suggest

  32. says

    Love this article, wish I had all this awesome information when I started 7 years ago, and of course anybody can start a web design business from his garage, but only the passionate will be able to succeed. At first I thought the Web Design business was saturated, and the more it goes, the more I realize there is place for more Web designer or freelance designer. Love you article Rob. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge.

    • says

      Thank you, Lambert, yes I agree, only the passionate will succeed. And you’re right about there being a lot of work. If you provide services that people really want you will be kept busy. :)

  33. Ana says

    Hi.. I am a comp Science student and currently working on my first wordpress webiste :D i do not have knowlage of html or php( covering in the next semester). However i have advanced experince and knowlage on other programming languages such as java and C++.
    Web design is something i would like to do to expand my experince and portfolio. Is there an area you would advice me to look into? or tutorials? how can i get more experince?
    Also how can i get an email for a domain i have created e.g email@website.com
    If i were to start designing websites would i need to get a reseller account or would it be acceptible to manage all the domains in just one host ,if so how would the client be able to edit their webiste e.g.add articles and stuff.

    Sorry for the many confusing questions!

    • says

      Hello Ana. Your programming knowledge may help you with PHP. I wrote an article about the best way to learn web design which may help you. Certainly one of the best ways is just to try to create websites and solve the problems as and when they crop up.

      Email can be sorted out through the host. I like to route my email through Google Apps for Business although they have just started charging for that! :(

      For hosts, I would recommend you use one of the shared hosts I recommend for WordPress. A reseller account would be best if you’re planning to host multiple websites, this will enable clients to have separate access to the control panel if that is what you want. Although I usually find just giving the client access to the WordPress administration area is sufficient for their needs.

      I hope this helps.

  34. Hadassah says

    Hi Rob,

    I just spent about two hours reading every word on starting a web design business. I have been taking notes and feel as if im in a University class I AM LEARNING SO MUCH! My husband has been designing and maintain both front and back end of his company’s website for the past 6 years. During these years he has been designing fliers and small 2 page websites for friends of his as well. With all the experience he has, we decided to go into business together where he will design websites for potential customers and I will be manager of him and his work. I am looking for our company to go live in August! Up until today I was lost on how to start off. You defiantly helped me feel more excited and relaxed that this business can and will grow big. Do you have any specific article that you feel I should concentrate on? Up to date we already have the domain name and email address set up through go daddy – we have a logo as well as about 30- 40 potential customers in a 12×12 street radius in our community. Over the weekend we will have our website with portfolio and past recommendations set up. (My husband can implement and have a live website up within a days of work) I feel as if I am just steps away from the beginning of a new week where my main job will be sales. I do not fancy the idea of cold calling yet I am proficient in follow up via email, a huge Facebook junky and LinkedIn fan. What is the best way to attract clients without the phone calls?
    Thank you again for all your help!

  35. Manvir Kaur Bal says

    Hey Rob !! thanks for such an informative article. Its surely going to help me in near future. i am over with my masters and now all set to start-up with the web-designing business. Thank you once again.

    • says

      Hello Lionel, I have never used Thesis, only Genesis. However, as they are both of similar quality I’d go for Genesis as you can buy the framework for $60 and then purchase a few child themes, like Agency, for $20 or $30. You can then create as many websites as you want using your own child themes for only a few dollars. Whereas the developers option for Thesis is $164 which doesn’t give you any different child themes. (These are all aff links, by the way :) )

      So for me, it’s Genesis, but not by a long way. They’re both good for a blog.

  36. Cass says

    Hello Rob,

    I switched careers to start my own web design business back in January. I am looking to expand my college education for this new career path and would value your opinion. I have been debating which type of new major to pursue: web design, graphic design, or business. My interests lie in designing websites, but my long term goal is to grown my business and be my own boss. I do believe that a business degree is useful and important in any field, and I am wary of a web design degree since that field progresses so rapidly, rendering a degree outdated by the time it is obtained. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

    • says

      Hello Cass. I’m not sure I’m the right person to ask as I’ve never had a design or business education. I can see in your question that you are siding towards the business degree and you may well be right about web design being such a fast moving subject.

      However, I just don’t know, to be honest. You can certainly learn both subjects yourself as you go along.

  37. says

    Hello Rob, a great site you‘ve got here! Glad I found it! Please, I‘ve been working seriously on starting a web desgn and web hosting business. I plan to use WordPress. I‘m appreciably experienced with it. I intend customising their free and premium themes for clients. For my web hosting services, I‘m working on using a resseller hosting such as Resellerpanel.com. Honestly, with your knowlegde and experience, is dis an advisable business model?

    • says

      Thank you, Sen, there’s a lot here about running a web design business amongst other things.

      I would need more detail to say whether that is an advisable business model. But if you feel you can provide a quality service to your clients and you’re in a position to scale up your service then you’re on the right track. You also need to be confident with the host you are reselling. I’ve not heard of the one you are using. And the major challenge is finding the clients. ;)

      I have also written a post on reselling web services.

      • says

        Yes, providing quality services and scaling things up are part of my business goals. About using resellerpanel.com as my reseller host, I have been testing it for a while but lack some confidence because it‘s not very popular and I‘m yet to see big names recommend it. I was hoping it was going to ring a bell to you somehow before I make the plunge. On the details you may find useful to help me know if I‘m on the right business track, its basically using WordPress open source to build websites for individuals and businesses and hosting them on a white-lane reseller site. With Reseller Panel, I will be able to offer web hosting services directly to my clients (white lane model). I read your article on reseller hosting as directed. Very useful, but not sure if Hosgator etc. are right for my kind of set up.

  38. says

    I’d like to thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this blog. I’m hoping to view the same high-grade content
    from you in the future as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my own site now ;)

  39. Joshua says

    I’m very thankful for this article, I’m a begginer trying to learn the art of web development and I really appreciate your help.

  40. says

    I found this article very useful. Currently I am working in a design agency but doing part time freelancing in evening from last 3 years. I found your Graphic Designers Survey results also very informative and interesting.

  41. kim says

    i really falling in love with the post so far. and this comes at a time when i was remaining with little time to start-up my own web/ application designing. but i would need your help in form validation.so please if you can help me out i would be thankful

  42. Simeon Makota says

    Rob I have NO words for your motivational, inspirational and insightful article. You know I am in Zimbabwe Africa and I have been always debating if I could start my own Web Designing business. But from like right now I am going to hit it. Thank you very very very much for your article.

    I will keep you posted on my progress.

    I Salute you!!!

  43. Billy says

    Probably the very most important checklist item is use a spellchecker!
    while a customer may not notice a technical issue they will notice a spelling mistake.
    Then check all internal links, contact forms including validation
    Basically look at your work not from the web designers view but as the end user

  44. Graeme says

    Hello Rob,

    Thank you for the great advice, I’ve enjoyed reading this so much and it has answered a lot of my questions. However, the big thing ishow much do I charge? I have designed web sites for friends and to be honest it’s always been a bottle of wine or even a few gbp’s, I never know what to say!

  45. Satish says

    helloo Rob
    this information is truly helpful and useful for people like me who really want to start there own business in web world

    thank you very much
    for sharing such a great info :)

  46. says

    Hi rob thanks …for giving information i have started my website ….srikanthdesigns.in im i CEO for that right i have started webdesign company is it right …ah rob please answer ….

    • says

      Srikanth, I’m glad you found the information useful. I can’t answer the question, “is it right?” There is no one “right” way to do a website for a web design business. The only thing I’ll say is that it’s a start. You need to concentrate on content, making sure it is written with correct spelling and capitalisations, and getting the site to load quickly. The success of your business depends on getting and maintaining quality clients.

  47. says

    When I first started out it was tough getting clients to build a portfolio and feedback history as I had none. I found working on minor projects, which take no real time, for a discount worked well to build a reputation. I did this to coincide with my part-time job and when I had enough feedback and a portfolio behind me, I could start to show clients what I had to offer.

    It was tough but well worth it in the end. You have to invest in yourself before people will invest in you. If you have great after sales support skills, then you will always be busy after that initial startup period.

    • says

      Thanks for your input on this, Mark. Interesting that you worked on minor projects at reduced prices to start with. Everyone has a different story of what worked to get their foot on the first rung.

      “You have to invest in yourself before people will invest in you” – agreed! :)

    • says

      You don’t need money, Sabby. You need to spend time creating the content and then create content to promote the content (guest posts, FB articles, images and movies). That’s the best advice I can give. It’s all about the content!

  48. says

    Hi Rob, good article hope I ‘v came across it a bit earlier. I recently started a web design business from home and it takes a hell of long time to find a customer. Few months back I lost a very big deal which I didn’t accept it and now regret not going for it. It was £8000 to get the site finished in a month but I wasn’t happy with the amount. god why didn’t I just signed the contract with them.

    • says

      Ash, don’t worry about it! We all make mistakes like that when we’re starting out. There’s loads of info here about how to get clients for web design. Let me know if you have any questions. :)

  49. says

    Great article Rob, really inspiring for me as a start-up web designer, I agree with pretty much all of it. I like your conclusion saying ‘You can do it!’ brilliant. I’ve also read through some of your other articles, well done!

  50. Musa Mustapha says

    In my own humble opinion, I think the best way to get started as web designer is to draw up a good business and action plan. The problem with some web designers out there is that they take web design as a hobby rather than business. You should differentiate between the two if you must succeed as a web designer.

  51. says

    Really great and motivational article Rob. Its really helpful the way you described these necessary steps to start up a small business. I have also started my own small business of Web Designing and Development.

    Keep up the good work!! :)

  52. Dan says

    Thank you Rob, it is a great article. I have a question though, lets say I started a webdesign business, getting the work done is not a problem but I do not have anything in the porfolio (previous real work), how do I go about it? or should I make samples of what I can do and put that in my portfolio?

    Thank you!

    • says

      I’m afraid the answer is, Dan, you make up your portfolio – and it actually can be quite fun. You buy a few nice sounding domains for the sort of businesses you would like to attract (solicitors, accountants, etc.). Also, you could do one for an SEO agency or something that is allied to what you do. You will learn loads from doing this. You may even get business from one of the sites – the SEO one, for example. And, you might be able to sell them on Flippa well you don’t need them.

  53. Paul Richards says

    Thank you for this great article Rob. It’s really brilliant of you to share your knowledge in this area. I have always had this thought in the back of my mind and I have produced quite a few websites before although these have always been for personal use. Hopefully using this information provided might get me on track to getting something up and running.

    Thank you.

  54. says

    Hi Rob

    Another great post and one Ive just been pointed to by a friend who is thinking of doing exactly this. She is an in-house designer who has been toying with the idea of going freelance for a while. I wrote another view on being a freelancer which I hope you will allow me to post here…

    http://www.thegraphicquarter.com/how-i-survive-as-a-freelancer-graphic-designer/

    I think the main thing you should do when starting out is only place work in your portfolio that you want to attract. I know when I started out I placed pretty much everything I had done online with the thought there will be something in there for everyone. There was, no doubt, but on looking at the analytics, only the first 6 pieces on each page got clicks so I suggest making sure that you ensure they are the type of work you want to get. It’s really no different to a job interview and I can still remember interviews at agencies and was always told, only show 10 pieces maximum. Transfer that to a website and you can see the sense.

    I hope you allow me to post this, I just wanted to voice my experiences as a working freelancer. It’s fun, it’s stressful, it’s a challenge, but there is no better way of life I can think of. Over the years I now have carved myself out a niche that pays well, I get a lot of work enquiries, enough to be able to pick an choose the ones I want to work on, and I think most of this comes down to a natural love of design, keeping things simple, and being transparent with clients. – And having a wife who is good at accounts :)

    Thanks Rob, look forward to reading more…..

    • says

      Hello, Jim, no problem about pasting that link here. It’s relevant and good!

      I think, the most important aspect of a design portfolio when you’re starting out is to hone in on one particular speciality. There is a tendency, which I was guilty of at first, to put everything you’ve ever done in there to try to persuade people you can turn your hand to anything in an attempt to get work. What you end up with is a splatter gun effect of contrasting styles which gives the viewer no idea of what you’re about.

      If you’re a web designer and you’re worried about the mediocre numbers of websites you’ve designed, simply purchase a domain, create a fictitious company and design a website for them. Do this again and again until you get work. It’ll only cost you $9 a time. But, please, don’t put your own portfolio site in your portfolio as an example of your work. I’ve seen this again and again and it screams of desperation. (In fact, I think I did that as well!)

      Definitely, less is more, when it comes to portfolios.

      I hope you pop back to this site from time to time, Jim, as I hope there will be lots to interest you here. And, I will, I hope, get back to your site as it looks great and interesting to me also.

  55. says

    Rob this is just an awesome article I have read. You have mentioned some of the well know website like designerdepot and other, I think your this site should also come to that list. You have really a great site with all the information that I am looking for in a single website. I am really happy I stumbled to your website.
    I have already subscribed to your rss feed :)

  56. says

    Great post, I tend to think I know everything until I stumble across a post like this which reminds me of the things I miss!

    For example: I stupidly set up my email address but didn’t update my signature with my new logo. So simple little reminders like this, are a great way to make yourself bulletproof before you need to start dodging them! :P

    Thanks for the information!

  57. Alamin says

    Hi Rob,
    I would like to say EXCELLENT job with this article, a definite motivation for me. I’ve just a few questions and hope you can help me. I know how to make websites in WordPress and it is pretty straightforward but I’m assuming learning HTML/ HTML5, CSS and PHP will be highly beneficial. My question to you is for someone as myself starting a web design business is it worth the initial time to learn or should I start with making sites for potential clients in WordPress? Also in terms of business and marketing strategy and SEO can you direct me to good resources in understanding and in how I can implement these. An in-depth article or resource will be highly ideal.

    Wish to hear from you soon.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Alamin

    • says

      Alamin, I would absolutely advise you to learn as much HTML, CSS, JS, PHP, etc., as you can. Just being able to set up WordPress is not enough to keep a business running. It is a good to be able to set up static HTML sites yourself – these won’t be useful in and of themselves but it will be good practise. Then you can learn how to code with PHP to create your own mini-CMS. This would be a good groundwork for creating sites with WordPress. And the learning never stops.

      Here is a basic SEO for small business article. But there has been many books written on this subject so it’s something you need to read around rather than look for one in depth blog post to cover everything.

      Hope this helps.

  58. says

    Yes, you are absolutely right. Who has passion internet suffering and creativity in web so web design business can start any time. Because web design as well as web development business we can make any time with passions. Thanks for post!

  59. Ajay singh says

    Such a great info with in few days i am starting our own business
    i want some more info regarding how to make clients and how to tie up with venders
    can u suggest me some venders

    I am waiting for your response
    Thanks

  60. says

    When staring a webdesign business social media can be of huge help. All you need is a professionally designed website yourself and enough contacts in your social media circles to spread a word about your new business. “Attract clients through your website” doing SEO is the hardest option. For someone new to online business probably will not work at all.

    • says

      It works for me, Asher. And social media probably won’t work for newbies either. You need an integrated approach with your site at its heart. What’s your solution?

  61. Anil Kumar says

    This is really inspiring Mr. Rob. Lots of relief after reading this article. I have completed my engineering now. I don’t want look for a job based on my degree. I have a great passion for becoming a great web designer and developer. Sir should i have to be in an IT job to start a web development company?. Right now i’m thinking of doing some simple job that’s not related to engg or IT so that i can concentrate more on my learning towards web development. Shall i take that risk?

    Anil Kumar .M

    • says

      Anil, I can’t possibly advise you on what job you should take. Whether or not you will become a web designer is more dependent on what you do in your spare time anyway. Good luck!

  62. says

    Hi Rob, excellent article and I learned a lot from the comments too which motivated me to comment. My first paid job was a web design job using HTML and CSS. In the years after I taught myself ASP.NET and PHP programming. I’ve just finished developing my personal website and I’m ready to start blogging on it. It was interesting to read that you could specialize in a service like getting things to work using the Facebook / Twitter APIs etc and that’s where I feel my expertise lies in programming for the web as well as back-end databases like SQL Server and MySQL. I’ve already set up a business bank account and got my domain name and web hosting – I use a VPS to host my websites with Windows Server 2012 as the OS – so that bit is easy. I think what’s really holding me back from getting started is writing a good introduction for the home page of my business website – my head always goes blank when I’m trying to write it because I’m probably scared of saying the wrong thing and putting people off – they say a good first impression counts, right? In my case I would love to get out there and start doing websites or small things like Facebook apps for people, but maybe I’ve been scared to just get out there and do it! Was just wondering what you think of my experience and if you think I should just go for it?

    Thanks

    Douglas

    • says

      Hello Douglas, thanks for your comment. Yes, you should definitely go for. I have a slight doubt about the host you have purchased as WordPress runs better on Linux rather than Windows – but don’t worry about that. The reason I mention this is its best to start blogging – because the more specific things you say about what you do the more likely you are to be found by potential clients. You will find this more useful than writing your “About us” and “Services” pages which no one ever reads anyway.

      If you have any more questions please don’t be afraid to ask.

  63. says

    Thanks for your reply, Rob. Do you think it would be best to just start blogging on the front page of the website like WordPress does? If so it would be very easy to get started on the website and I could just focus on the design and development for the moment.

    • says

      I think a lot of people forget to fill out the boxes on the comment form the second time round. I must look into this as my comments section obviously isn’t working great. Yes, you can start blogging on the front page of your WordPress website you could also set up the blog on another page – it’s very easy. Either way it doesn’t really matter. The important thing is to start blogging!

    • says

      I can only to talk about the situation in the UK, Eric, here you don’t need to have a company registered as you can freelance from home as a “sole trader”. However it will be different in different countries according to the local tax and company law.

  64. says

    Hi Rob,
    Thanks for this article. I am interested in finding out if you have ever dealt with clients from developing countries. I am currently visiting Africa and decided to setup a web designing company. I have managed to get about 10 clients in over 12 months. The biggest challenge I am finding is getting the client to committee. Internet speed is a bit slow and most people have been cheated before by designers. What would be your advise on how to break that or how much diversification can I add? I am already offering monthly hosting and maintenance, I also do redesigns. Thank you.

    • says

      Hi Anthony, my experience is that there’s less and less difference between clients from “developing” countries and clients from the west. In fact, in both cases, you need to find the “premium”, good clients.

      The problems you are facing are no different to the problems I faced when I started here in the UK. Concentrate on your website and try get clients from all around the world. However, I don’t think your geographical locatio makes any difference any more.

      The diversification is really up to you. It depends on what you feel comfortable doing. I think it is always best just to keep going and try everything once, if something doesn’t work, move onto the next thing.

Leave a Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.