Starting a web design business in 2022 can seem like a daunting task and in some ways, it is. The best way to explain it would be simple (but not easy). Like most things in life, if you follow the appropriate steps and put strong repeatable processes in place then you, too, can find immense success. And with so many new tools like Webflow and Carrd, you can become a specialist in one of these areas and really take your rocket ship to new heights.
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The web design business is growing rapidly, as of 2021 there are over 1.7 billion websites on the internet and this number is only increasing as we become more and more reliant on the internet for day to day tasks.
The three initial pillars to focus on will be:
- Customer Acquisition
Because you can’t be all things to all people (and frankly you don’t want to be this), it’s important to figure out your place in the web design (or business, generally speaking) landscape. Your niche can be segmented in many different ways. Here are a few cuts to get your started:
- Technology/Platform – you will find that there are many different web design platforms, each serving a different purpose. Specializing in one of those can be helpful. Examples include: Webflow, Carrd, Clickfunnels, Shopify, WordPress, and countless others. Find a trend and jump on the bandwagon.
- Service – Maybe you’re good with each of the above platforms. So, what now? Think about specializing in building landing pages for window washers, or blogs for pet grooming businesses. Dig deep to identify what interests you or what you’re experienced with
- Business Model – Do you understand staff augmentation well? How about value based projects? It’s entirely possible to build a business based on your confidence of a particular business model. We spoke with a successful web design agency founder (Stephan Z.) that built a business on the spread. He would sell web design services for $X and go out to find a web designer that would charge him half the price. Stephan keeps the spread, almost like a broker.
Your pricing should be in line with your market and the perceived value of web design services.
There are many ways to price web design services. Here are some popular models:
Hourly – This is probably the most common way web design services are priced. You simply charge an hourly rate for the time you spend on a project.
Project-based – This is where you agree to complete a web design project for a set fee. The client usually provides some kind of scope or specification document that outlines what needs to be done.
Retainer – This is where the client pays you a monthly fee in exchange for web design services. This is usually recurring, meaning that the client will continue to pay you every month as long as they need your services.
Value-based – This is where you price your web design services based on the value they will bring to the client. This is usually done by first understanding the client’s business goals and then coming up with a price that reflects the web design services required to achieve those goals.
When there is uncertainty around competitor pricing, management consulting companies tend to build their offering on a “Cost Plus” model. This means understand all of your costs to acquire a client and then adding Y% margin on top.
The final piece of the puzzle is acquiring customers. This is probably the most difficult part of starting a web design business, but it can be broken down into a few simple steps:
- Research your target market – Figure out who your ideal customer is and where they hang out online. This will give you a good starting point for your marketing efforts.
- Create a portfolio – Showcase your web design work in a portfolio so that potential clients can see what you’re capable of. You can create a simple website to showcase your work, or use a platform like Behance.
- Get involved in your community – Meetups, webinars, Slack groups, Twitter chats… there are plenty of ways to get involved in the web design community online. But don’t stop there! Getting involved in your local community can be just as beneficial. Volunteer for local organizations, attend meetups, and sponsor events.
- Stay up to date with industry news – Keeping up with web design trends will not only make you a better designer, but it will also make you more marketable. Platforms like Twitter and Medium are great for staying up to date with the latest web design news.
- Network, network, network – Attend web design conferences, meetups, and networking events. Get involved in online communities and forums. The more people you meet, the more likely you are to find potential clients
And my favorite hack:
Identify your ideal competitor(s), find their social handle (i.e. Twitter), and DM each of their followers. Ask them to jump on a call with you and that’s where you can close the deal. You should be able to find 2-5 clients in your first month!
Good luck, friends!