4 Tips for Starting a Web Design Business

November 30, 2015

6:00 pm

Are you happy with your current web design job? Do you feel like it’s time to grow from a one-man freelance band to a bureau of professionals?

If these questions crossed your mind at least once, you are probably ready to start working on your own terms as a proud entrepreneur. Before making the leap of faith, however, check out the following nuggets of practical wisdom about starting a web design business.

You’ll Have to Master Selling

“Sales” – the four-letter word all creatives hate.  Unfortunately, if you plan to run your own web design business, you’ll have to master the art of negotiation and selling your services.  Some key tips to remember:

  • You can’t compete on price alone – There are billions of freelancers and design studios out there offering cheaper/more expensive/same prices as you do. Don’t think of yourself as a product. Instead, you should…
  • Compete on the quality –
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale.  Leave aside all your woes about sounding too pushy and close the series of negotiations with a simple, yet effective line: “I’m really interested in your project. When can we get started?”

Work On Your Business, Not In It

Working “in” your business is easy, especially when you are in the creative industry.  Your reputation speaks for yourself as you grow your portfolio, network and expand your client base.

Certainly being good in what you do is important, but it’s not enough for a successful business.  You need to allocate the time for working on your business plan and objectives, forecasting and developing new customer channels.

Expand Strategically

At the beginning, it’s okay to wear many hats – be an HR, CFO, new business developer on top of your actual job.  Certainly it is overwhelming and can’t last forever. Meaning you will need to expand and oftentimes before you start standing still on both feet.

If your budgets are still limited, consider launching an internship program and inviting design students on board to get some of the tasks off your hand. Platt College, for instance, actively seeks employers via their website.  Small to middle universities are always on the look for career opportunities for their students, so it’s always worth to make a few direct inquiries.

Take Advantage of Social Media

Social media presence helps you validate your business.  A lot of the clients will google you first, so make sure your social pages pop up close to the top and your profiles don’t look blank.  You don’t need to become a social media celebrity, but occasional Twitter/Facebook/Instagram updates come as a must as:

  • They show you are still in business.
  • They validate your credibility and increase trust levels (as it becomes clear you’ve been in business for a while and have a public presence).
  • They can actually bring new leads and clients.

Here are a few tips to help you lead the social media game in the right direction:

  • Feature your team: even if it’s not that big you can run a “meet the team member” weekly series on social media and feature one of your mates, their experience, credentials and some funny facts.
  • Run contests: For instance, offer a hefty service discount or a free product sample (e.g. cool design posters) to those people who like/share/tweet your posting. Obviously, the more shares – the higher the chances to win the draw.  Competition plugins like Pick Giveaway Winner or Contests by Rewards Fuel should help you organize everything easily and efficiently.
  • Content curation: Sharing industry news and valuable tutorials that may capture your potential client’s’ attention is another option to keep your feeds filled up with updates.

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Dianna is a former ESL teacher and World Teach volunteer, currently living in France. She's slightly addicted to apps and viral media trends and helps different companies with product localization and content strategies. You can tweet her at @dilabrien

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