Starting a web design business was one of the best things I ever did. I never dreamed my present lifestyle was possible a few years ago.
Is it just about money? Hell, no! But web design gave me a springboard from which I could explore other business opportunities and travel the world.
Did it happen overnight? Of course not. But that’s why I wish I started earlier. And that’s the purpose of this article: to get you motivated to take action.
So do it. No hesitation.
Nothing should stop you from taking action – put yourself out here and offer your web building services – the following will help you.
1. Separate your business finances from your personal finances
Open a business bank account with your business’s name. There is NO NEED to procrastinate on this one. The company name is not important. My company name? Rob Cubbon Ltd. Yes, that took all of 5 seconds to think up. The important point is to get a business set up as well as a business bank account that receives your client payments and pays your expenses (and pays you!)
Added to this, it’s always better to get a business PayPal account that is separate from a personal PayPal account if you have one.
2. Get a great logo
A logo supports a business’s brand. Either design it yourself or get a great designer to do it. It is your visual identity. Put this logo everywhere: in your invoices, in your contracts, and on your social media images.
3. Get a great domain name
You will need to register a great domain name and use it for your website and email address.
The domain name is the home of your website. It’s the something in the www.something.com. A domain name ends in an extension like .com, .net, .org. and many more. I would always prefer a .com.Think all the great domains are gone? Think again! Click To Tweet
4. Find a hosting service
There are two things you need to do when you set up a website: You’ve got to register a domain name and you’ve got to have web hosting.
A web hosting company will physically store the files of your website and deliver your site to visitors via the World Wide Web. Once you have your domain and signed up for hosting, you are free to set up WordPress, build a website, create content and build an amazing business. Get hosting with Hostgator and get 25% off with my special code robcubbon25 – both the link and the code will give me an affiliate commission. But, trust me, I use Hostgator, they’re a good host for the money.
Set up WordPress with one click. Your new website will be live in minutes. This website can now be scaled to run a multi-million dollar company.
5. Build/improve your website
I would recommend using WordPress for your business website.
I think site-builders like SquareSpace have improved dramatically but WordPress is best because it provides the most flexibility and it is scalable. So, if more is needed of the website, WordPress can handle it – Weebly, SquareSpace, etc., won’t at the moment.
You can always improve your website. If you’re starting a web design business, check if you have the following things:
- A clear call to action: For example, create an attractive button for a free 15 minute web design consultation.
- A great portfolio: Provide screenshots of 4 or 5 of the best websites you’ve designed (create fictitious websites if you haven’t done that many).
- Testimonials: Can you contact a past client that might be willing to write you a great testimonial? Can you write one for them that they are happy to endorse? Even better, could they do a video testimonial for you?
6. Create content for your website
Content Marketing will be central to every business’s strategy in the 21st century. I’m a huge proponent of setting up a blog and using it to generate leads for your business.
You can write articles about specific design-related tasks like: interactive PDF creation, multi-lingual WordPress site creation, calendar templates, etc. They attract people who are searching for a solution to these specific problems. These people will turn to you, the expert, for the solution.
You can also write great “link bait” or “click bait” content in your niche. This is content specifically designed to be clicked, shared and linked to. For example: Setting Up A Web Design Business? Avoid These 10 Classic Mistakes!
7. Make sure you have the right tools
There are few tools you’ll need to consider getting when you start your own web design company. I could seriously write thousands and thousands of words about various apps and tech but here are the essentials:
- Hardware — a smartphone, a powerful computer with fast internet access are absolute musts.
- Software — although it is perfectly possible to run a design business with no paid 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 — drive failure happens. I would advise backing up onsite with an external drive and offsite with something like Dropbox.
8. Take these steps to get clients
Getting your first clients can be challenging. Here are few tips that can help you get results now:
- Attract clients through your website. As a web designer, your website should attract your clients. Get ready to create a powerful content every week. Having many links to your website is good for both exposure and traffic. Work hard on SEO and building links to your website. However, this is a long game. This won’t bring you instant results.
- The importance of social media. Social media gives you a great chance to be visible to more people in the field. Be present to social networks. Build reputation by joining conversation; provide value and help. Again, this won’t bring you instant results.
- Join professional groups and meet potential clients offline. Get to know where your potential clients are hanging out. You may join conferences and meet-up groups. As much as I’ve had great success getting clients online, you can never beat face-to-face interaction.
- Cold calling. Consider buying a leads list. Don’t try to convince people, but do address rejections. This is a great way to learn about your potential clients however scary it may seem.
- Have a look on CraigsList. You’ll be surprised that there can be some decent leads here although there will be a lot of freebie seekers and bad clients here. It will improve your ability to pre-screen clients.
9. Take these steps to get paid
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.
- Put together an attractive and professional-looking invoice template
- Chase late-paying clients
- Make sure your PayPal business account set up is ready to receive and pay monies
- Consider setting up a service such as 1ShoppingCart to be able to credit card bill for specific amounts
Make it a point to offer other services as well. 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.
Spend 5 minutes brainstorming the different directions you can go.
If you specialize certain aspects of web design that you really enjoy, your work is going to be better as a result. Is there any specific type of site you would like to specialize in?
Spend 5 minutes brainstorming what you could specialize in.
Successful business people have teams. They didn’t build the team after they were successful. They built the team first and then they became successful. Put out feelers on Upwork for designers, developers, VAs, etc. You’ll suck at finding people at first but you’ll get better at it. You have to start now.
Starting a web design business – You Can Do It!
The best advice to give someone who’s starting a web design business is to do it. Just start.
I know that sounds easier said than done but I hope this helps. Do you want to get deeper into this? Try my course: Running A Web Design Business.