Not everyone is born a designer but all businesses require an online presence. Through a website, you can connect with people quickly and convert people into loyal customers. Even though you have many platforms that will allow you to setup a website quickly with little effort, it’s still important to have knowledge on how to customize your preference. CMS platforms like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal have thousands of plugins you can install into your website to tweak the functionality. When I first started blogging, I hired programmers to customize all my designs because I had specific look and feel I was aiming for. Over the years, I’ve educated myself and know enough to do the work myself. There are those businesses with a monthly budget they’ll invest into marketing and web design so it’s important to leverage the skills you have. This is a question I get asked from my readers:
“How can I effectively start a web design business and what should I focus on?”
If this is your passion and you know you can get the work done, then you should follow these steps to get started…
A Business Plan
No matter what business you start, you’re going to need a detailed business plan. This will organize the steps you need to take to ensure things get done correctly. Having a business plan will ensure you don’t forget anything along the way, making sure all important elements are in place. Some things covered in your business plan will be:
- Budgeting – what is your initial investment?
- Foundation – how to start your business
- Marketing – how will you market your business?
- Management – how will you manage day-to-day tasks?
- Communication – how will you communicate with team and customers?
Depending on the type of business you’re setting up, you’ll have a different plan. Make sure you cover all the important steps so you’re organized from the start.
This part of your business matters especially in the starting stages of your business. When starting your web design business, the investment will be lower than an actual physical business, but you’re going to have expenses like hosting, marketing, freelancers, etc. You have to be careful where you invest your money and to get a complete picture, it’s important you do your accounting. I recommend doing it every two weeks or month to get a better idea of the flow of money in and out of the business. Having an accounting report will give you a better understanding of where your money is being spent each month and you can then make adjustments accordingly.
The accounting doesn’t have to be done by you, but it should be something regularly outlined each month.
Your marketing and retaining customers will come through a funnel like a website or blog. It’s important you have a website to showcase your skills and streamline the sales process. The good news is you’re a web designer and can get your site up and running within days. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know how you’re going to set everything up and it’s important to outline the entire process. Here are some elements to pay close attention to:
- CMS Platform – what platform are you going to use for development? i.e., WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal
- Plug-ins – a list of the plug-ins you can utilize to streamline your development and checkout process
- Colors and navigation – what colors are you focusing on and what to include on your menu?
- Content – will you add content to provide resources to your visitors?
- Portfolio – how can you easily and/or effectively display your previous work?
- Web hosting – what company will be hosting your website?
Network and Outreach
If you’ve been online for several years, then you’ve probably networked with influential people in the business. This means you can reach out to some of them to help you get started. However, you’ll have to be creative in the way you choose them so it’s beneficial for both of you. For example, many authority bloggers have reached out to me to promote their new product or service in exchange for referral commission. We both have niche relevant people so it can be lucrative for both. You should try and apply the same concept to your business and effectively implement an outreach program to retain customers. Before getting started, it’s important to answer these questions.
- Who can I contact?
- What is my pitch?
- What will I offer in exchange?
- How can these people help me?
- What can I do to help them?
The answers to these questions will help you construct the right outreach email, improving your chances of getting people on your team.
Now we have our business plan ready and website in place, so it’s time to start networking to retain customers. However, we still have to make use of other marketing channels available to us. You have both paid and free channels and the one you choose will depend on your budget. In part 2 of our series, we’ll look at different marketing channels and what to do after converting visitors into paid customers.