Are you currently working as a website designer for an agency? Perhaps you have built one or two sites on the side as a hobby? Whatever the situation is, you’ve settled on the following idea: to start your own web design business.
There are various reasons why you may have decided to take this path. Building bespoke websites for clients can be financially lucrative. Running your own business offers freedom and flexibility that normal employment cannot match. Plus you might simply be enticed by the prospect of doing work while lounging around on the sofa in your underwear.
Yet before you can turn the positive points into a reality, there are many steps you need to take. Even if you can do it from the comfort of your home, building up a successful web design business is hard work.
Fortunately for you, this guide is here to walk you through some of the key points you need to keep in mind.
Firstly, don’t quit your job just yet
If you’re currently in full-time employment, you might be fighting the urge to tell your boss where to stick it ASAP. However, there’s no point in sacrificing a steady paycheck just yet – especially when you’re likely to have a few lean months while getting your web design business off the ground.
The good news is there are several things you can do during the transition process. These include:
- Decide on a brand name
- Create your business website
- Optimize social media profiles
- Write a business plan
- Produce promotional materials like business cards
- Refine your web design skills
Find your niche
The bad news: the web design market is an incredibly crowded one. Competition is fierce and trying to gain a foothold is going to be the biggest challenge you face.
This challenge, however, can be made a lot easier if you settle on a specific niche. If you try and target a general web design customer, your chances of landing clients are going to be wiped out by the big boys instantly. Think about it: you don’t have the experience, reputation, or budget to seriously compete with the top web designers in the industry – certainly not when you’re starting out.
This is why you should focus on a smaller segment of the web design pie. Yes, your potential customer base is more restricted. Yet there’s also a lot less competition, which means the potential of attracting clients is more likely.
When deciding on a niche that works best for you, think about selling point such as:
- Focus on a particular website design type: blogs, membership sites, e-commerce, etc.
- A platform transfer service. For example, moving a Weebly site to WordPress.
- Offer a modernization/redesign service for existing websites.
- Provide regular maintenance services.
- Work in a specific industry: food and drink, hotels, government, legal, etc.
Also Read: Top 14 Web Design Trends Of 2020 & Beyond!
Establish your brand
By this stage, you have probably settled on a name for your business. However, there’s more to crafting an effective brand than a snazzy title.
To begin with, you need a high-quality logo to let that name shine. The logo needs to be professional and eye-catching, the type that shines your business in a positive light. If you have enough spare cash, it pays off to hire a professional graphic designer to craft your logo. If your budget is limited, you can use a platform like Fiverr and receive a serviceable design for a few bucks. Also, keep in mind to have a color guide for your logo that also matches your website and overall design.
Alongside your logo and brand name, it also pays off to have a simple yet catchy slogan. This can help to add further detail about your business. Even something as basic as ‘Affordable and fast web design’ can do the job.
Furthermore, and while it might be overlooked as a brand element, you need to focus on your tone of voice. It is vital your messaging matches up with your target audience. Consider characteristics such as age, gender, likes and dislikes, budget, and so on. The more you know about your ideal customer, the more you can effectively speak to them.
Pick your insurance
It’s not uncommon for those starting a business to underestimate the need for insurance. This is particularly the case for something like a web design company, where assets, clients, and employees are hard at the same level of risk as, say, a contractor-focused business.
However, it’s imperative for your small business to have insurance in place. It not only adds an extra layer of protection for your company, but it’s also a selling point for prospective clients. If they don’t have any proof you have liability insurance, they may decide to go elsewhere.
Set your prices
This is one of the trickier aspects of starting a new web design business. You don’t want to price your services too low, but you also want to have an enticing fee that will get clients interested. The latter is especially important for a startup – even if you possess an impressive portfolio, new clients will be more interested in feedback from past customers. If you fail to have any reviews, it’s going to be difficult to charge premium prices for your work.
When coming up with your rates, it’s often recommended to go with a project rate rather than an hourly one. This way, clients know exactly what they’re paying for, and they’ll be more comfortable in enlisting your services.
Get the word out
Your website is up and running. You’ve developed a brand. You have your business cards. You have everything that is needed to get on with your new web design venture. Well, other than one important component – clients.
To attract clients, you have to get the word out about your business. Utilize social media and share your designs on the likes of Instagram and Twitter. Create website content to improve your SEO. Use paid ads, set up a Google My Business account, build an email list, etc. There are many different ways to promote your new business –make sure you select the ones that will most likely appear in front of your target market.