In the course of 5 years, I have successfully launched two web design companies and few startups.
I’m not telling you this to brag about it. But, to clarify the doubts that building a web design startup isn’t as scary as you think.
Even if you are just starting out, you can definitely succeed in the web journey.
However, having an experience in the field does give you an extra edge.
But there isn’t any rule of progress that sets inexperienced and newbie apart.
So the question is how?
Here are my 5 tips that I learned from my experience.
And this will surely help your boat float in the saturated ocean of web design.
Start with building a portfolio
I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a portfolio that speaks about your service. I have seen people complaining rather than working on the real deal. They feel clueless about their first web design project. The How’s and Where’s captures their goals instantly causing them to believe web design startup as a digital faux.
But here is the bottom line:
There are tonnes of ways you can grab leads for your business if your hustle is honest. Don’t let anything boggle your vision and goal.
There is no right time or age to start working with clients. You should do it straight away. This is what Leslie did on her 30’s when she quit her high paying job and started working on her own. Her client referrals and great portfolio helped her business to grow rapidly. If an adult woman who didn’t have any prior knowledge of the web can do it, you surely can.
Just know this:
Getting your first client is always a tough ask. However, if you get the first one clicking, then the tires start moving.
Here is a food for thought for the beginners who are just starting out:
Don’t run after money, run after clients. Offer them more than they have given. This surely builds a bridge of emotional connection between you and clients. This often leads to a tonne of referrals. This is the same formula I and many of the web designers followed in early days.
Focus on Branding
You should always set a brand for your web design service. When people talk about your service it should be Ahhh “guy” or Oh yes “that brand.” It shouldn’t be like I made a website from a random company. You should always have a distinguishable label for your service.
So how do you start with building a brand?
If I just look from a branding perspective, I would recommend you go for your own name like Nirmal. This way you can simply work as a freelancer or an agency itself. If you want to take it to a company level, you can put anything that catches your client’s attention. When I’m under my SEO thinking cap, I also think sneaking one keyword to your brand does world of good. For example: If your brand name is “Ghale”, anything like ghaledesign would add an SEO value to it.
Another tip for branding is to leave your brand name on footer with or without a link. Now, footer links are vital for backlinks and SEO drama. But it’s not as important as a referral you get from it.
Trust me, if you have to build a decent website for your client, you will get a free referral with the sole footer text. Footers are the goldmines for web design agency. Utilise them.
Free design is never a crime
Everyone loves free stuff. Even the psychology suggests that having something small like free shipping as a label helps in conversion making. So why can’t we as a web designer offer something for free?
Because we are reluctant to offer something for free that costs us our time and experience, right?
However, sometimes free offerings can dwell into huge productivity. How?
When I started out, I mainly targeted top brands like FSC and SAI Global. For me, it was never about the money. It was all about building a name and taking one step further to my career.
The thing about these big brands is that they have a tonne of works if you know how to approach. I didn’t make the website overall, but I designed the inner reporting system. This is one clean way to create a name by keeping it free.
Never stop networking & make competitors your friend
Even after you become the Donald Trump of your industry, you shouldn’t stop networking. It’s that simple. Networking with your peers and like-minded people helps your business grow. My second business was able to grow in just 1 year due to my previous networking. This is the best strategy for any newbie startup owners.
Connect with people of your community. Share ideas with them, understand the pitfalls and learn growth hacking techniques. You can easily get few web design clients if you can network the right away. I was able to grab 5 clients during a closing time of the year.
On the other note, you should also change your mindset. There is a famous saying – “keep your friends close and your enemies even closer.”
Learn from them. See what they are doing. Analyse their process. And try to replicate it.
On the bright side, try to connect with them and ask for web design clients. You will be surprised how many of them accept your proposal if you have genuine answers to their problems.
Get a reseller hosting
This is one mistake I regret doing while I was starting out. I was so much into web design and development that I overlooked things that could literally give me passive income.
Yes, you heard me. You can easily make passive income by hosting your client’s site in your own reseller hosting.
I can’t tell you how many clients I missed by making this silly mistakes. When clients used to ask me for hosting, I was so stupid to recommend them to other hosting service providers.
Really, it was dumb.
This is what you can do:
Buy a reseller hosting for no more than $500 per year. If you can only host 50 accounts in one reseller account at $3 per month, you will earn approximately $108 per month. This, of course, isn’t a big amount, but hey it’s a passive income never the less.
Also, what it does is it gives you control over the websites you have built. That includes footer links.
Starting any startup is a daunting task. But if you have a roadmap, it makes things much easier. For a web design startup, the above 5 tips can your work a breeze. What tips do you have to offer? Let us know in the comments below.