This is the best time ever to start and grow your own business. Lack of demand forces businesses to get creative. During the good times when the phone rings off the hook and orders are flooding in, energies are directed towards coping with work flow.
I have found diversification has increased my revenue substantially. The online landscape is constantly changing and clients need a helping hand to negotiate their way.
Graphic designers are incredibly lucky to have so many allied skills and services branching out from the core discipline.
People who start websites will want SEO services. Businesses who are having promotional materials printed will want copy checking, writing and editing services. And if you are at all interested in marketing, then there is social media to negotiate.
Here are some new ways where you can make more money whilst whilst you deliver core design services.
Text editing / Copy checking
Design clients are often busy people. They know what they want to say but they sometimes don’t have the time to say it properly. Very often text supplied by the client can be modified quickly and easily.
This is a service you can provide to any client quite cheaply. An extra pair of eyes can check for spelling and punctuation errors as well as keep a provide a consistent tone to the text. I have found clients to be very happy to pay a little extra for this service.
Sometimes the customers I work with can’t afford to get their text written by a professional copywriter. When I can see they are struggling with poorly worded copy I will always offer my copywriting services.
If you spend everyday writing you get better at it and I’m a much better writer than I was even 2 years ago. So, write, and keep writing! You will develop skills that your clients will be only too happy to pay for.
When designing and developing a website for a client, it’s usually sensible to think about SEO right from the get-go.
As always, you’ll need to understand your client’s market and products properly and research what keywords will work best for them and build this into their optimised website. I offer this as part of my basic website package.
Once you know what keywords your client needs to target and which pages are optimised for which subject, you use this information to offer your client an effective link building campaign.
Whether you are choosing someone on oDesk or a service on a forum it is essential that you read carefully all the reviews on these sites and only choose those with positive recent comments. Only engage in “white hat” SEO and never buy links. Only outsource companies to write quality articles for guest posting, for example.
OK, I know the world doesn’t need any more “social media experts” but you can offer your clients some useful packages. If your client is setting up a new website you could easily offer a social media package that could include:
- Setting up a Twitter profile with background image and colors in keeping with the client’s identity
- Automating some features of the Twitter feed using services like SocialOomph and Dlvr.it
- Creating a Facebook landing page that prompts people to “Like”, sign up to a newsletter or has a jQuery image slider
- Automating your client’s Facebook wall to display their blog posts as soon as they are published by using Networked Blogs or RSS Grafitti apps
- Starting a YouTube channel with color and background image in keeping with their website
Use productivity techniques that you have learned syncing social media for yourself on your clients and they will love you for it!
Offer different types of web service
People are looking beyond the traditional blog being the hub of their online presence. iPhone and Android apps are a huge growth area you can move into. In addition, there are plenty of other website types you can specialise in:
- e-Commerce sites – Although there are some solid WordPress plug-ins you can use for e-Commerce sites, a large shopping cart would probably be better handled by a dedicated shopping CMS like Magento
- Membership sites – Offer your clients the ability to build a membership site with WordPress and WishList Member
- Multi-lingual sites – Give you clients the option of adding a multi-lingual WordPress site with WPML
- Social sites – You can even offer clients their own social network with Buddy Press
- Forums – Forums can be a lot of work to get going but are fantastically easy to set up with phpBB, BBpress, or vBulletin
In addition to offering different types of website you can offer complete domain registration, web hosting and email hosting packages.
- Domain registration – this is a service you can offer your client that will actually save you time. I have sometimes found it very difficult to get a client to change the name servers on a domain. By taking charge of the domain registration using a company like Namecheap you have control over everything
- Web hosting – when you host the client’s website on your own server it is easier to maintain and you can receive almost passive income for hosting and maintenance
- Email hosting – use Google Apps for Business to host your client’s email
- Email marketing – offer email marketing and list building services by using MailChimp and Aweber
There are a host of other internet services you can offer your client within the basic design and development package. Also, you will learn how to provide some of these services by being asked to do them for the first time by a client. As your knowledge and ability increases the more you can offer to clients. This is huge!
Your client sometimes doesn’t want you to do one little task in their big project. There are enormous economies of scale and consistency benefits to be had if one company handles as many things as possible. Be that company! Offer your client complete packages so they receive a portfolio of services at a reasonable price.
Tell us what you do?
Do you run a graphic design business, any other type of online business or do freelance work on the side? How have you diversified to earn extra money? Have you outsourced? Is there another area of business you’d like to move into soon?