“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way …”
from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
The economy is barely recovering. Here in the UK there was an actual contraction of the economy in the last quarter of 2010. However, like Dickens’ description of late eighteenth century revolutionary Europe, this period remains paradoxically promising for those of us who have turned our backs on corporate structures and elected instead to work on our small business at home.
You notice I said “work on” our businesses, not “work at” our businesses – because that’s the point.
Why you should grow your business
It is even more important than it usually is to expand and systematize your small business. Here are some reasons:
- As a designer, for example, you are only capable of earning so much money per hour. We get tired, we get sick – dare I say it – one day, we’ll get old. We need to find ways of accruing income separately from hours worked. Systematizing work will enable you to explain to partners and freelancers more effectively what you do and what to expect.
- Market structures tend towards an oligopoly. I mean – all sectors of industry are eventually controlled by a few (3, 4, 5, 6, 7-ish) key players. Look at the banking, energy, manufacturing and retail industries! Some of the few exceptions to this rule are sectors like internet marketing and web design. It’s no coincidence that all the opportunities for small players are online – the internet is in it’s infancy and there’s lots up for grabs. Already internet search and advertising has defaulted to an oligopoly. It’s time to move fast before the big boys swallow us up!
- So while there’s a threat from up above; there’s problems down below. There are job boards, contest sites, crowdsourcing and people willing to work for free. Sure, if you’re experienced this form of competition won’t harm you. But it is a growing phenomenon and you should arm yourself against it.
If you want to grow your business you have three options:
- You get lucky (not going to happen)
- You invent some original and revolutionary product or service (possible but unlikely)
- Take what you already have, perfect it, enhance it and expand it in every way you can (do this!)
How to grow your design business
Wealth is most often linked with exclusive ownership or control. You may make a living with someone’s idea or product, but you stand a much better chance with your own. If your product saves the client time, then you can make a fortune.
Listen to your customers – first and foremost
As a website designer/developer you may start out by supplying HTML and CSS files for someone else to create a site with. This way you are just a small cog in a larger machine.
But, maybe there’s more you can do? I have found again and again that clients would rather I do as much as possible. So a small design job can become much bigger with domain name registration, web hosting, website maintenance and email all coming into play.
So, I have prepared “packages” or, more accurately, produced whole systems of web marketing that clients can purchase in one go. Added to these packages are further annual fees for website and email hosting and maintenance.
The benefits of offering these packages are many but there are two main ones:
- The client gets peace of mind that their web presence will be professionally designed, developed and maintained with all the various benefits (on site optimization, analytics, speed) clearly itemized.
- The designer/developer gets the benefit of annual fees coming in plus the website in a safe, optimized and monitored environment keeping the chances of problems or downtime down to a minimum.
People will pay a premium price for a service that takes away hard work and confusion.
Here are some ideas of one design and marketing package that could be offered to a client:
- Logo and identity design.
- Business stationery: 500 business cards, letterheads, compliment slips printed and delivered).
- Website and blog designed, developed and hosted.
- Social media: Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts set up and profile pages designed to fit in with identity.
- SEO: on site optimization plus review of search engine indexing and performance.
- Mailing list: Aweber mailing list set up and email template designed.
- Email set up.
Make sure you like it
Are you interested in offering these extra services? Or are you only interested in website design and that’s it? Personally, the whole area of marketing really interests me so I’m happy offering these services. But, if you only like creating beautiful websites, maybe this isn’t for you.
One thing’s for sure – don’t concentrate on just making money. Concentrate on delivering a better product or service. You’ll never win competing on price … so go for quality!
As I’ve said, I know this isn’t for everybody. What about you? Are you expanding or specializing? Have you any further ideas for other services a web designer can offer?