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How to start a web design business

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Starting a web design business relies heavily on the right knowledge and resources. To help you get started, we’ve developed this ebook. It’s free to download and includes more than 100 pages packed with tips and tricks for getting your venture off the ground.

From setting up your workspace, to drafting a business plan, to crafting your brand — it’s all in there. These insights come from real-life pros who’ve been there and done that. It’s a roadmap that guides you toward a booming web design business.

And if you want even more of a head start, sign up for The Hub by GoDaddy Pro. It’s free to sign up and you’ll save tons of time thanks to this platform for managing all the clients you’re about to land.

Ready to do this? Let’s go!

How to Start a Web Design Business

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How to start a web design business

  1. Set up your work environment
  2. Build your support squad
  3. Decide on your products, services and their pricing model
  4. Name your web design company
  5. Write your business plan
  6. Address legal and administrative requirements
  7. Create your proposals and contract templates
  8. Formalize project management and communication
  9. Create your client site launch process
  10. Craft your brand
  11. Build your online presence
  12. Find your web design clients in 3 ways

1. Set up your work environment

Get ready to start your own web design business by setting up your work environment.

Create your very own workspace that enables work/life balance

Entrepreneurs know the work/life balance struggle is real.

To minimize that struggle, create a dividing line between work and the rest of your life, starting with a dedicated space that allows you to get work done, uninterrupted. Set and enforce boundaries, including rules ensuring your space is left untouched, and that you are given time to work.

  • Carve out space for your at-home office — whether it’s a full room, or just a desk in the corner, and set boundaries around others using it.
  • Work with other residents, such as your family or roommates, to establish guidelines around work time including working hours, and how to handle or avoid interruptions.
  • Stock your office supply station so you’re never caught without printer paper, labels, folders or any other supplies you regularly depend on to get your work done.
  • Identify just a few stores where you can consolidate business purchasing, and set up accounts that earn rewards or rebates.

Understand how many hours you can reasonably work, while maintaining your productivity, protecting time with friends and family, and continuing to pursue your own hobbies, sports, or other outdoor activities.

Consider how best to pace yourself, and be more productive each day.

Related: Separating personal and professional

Know your contingency plan

Power or internet service outages are a crisis for those who work at home.

Know where you can park for a few hours, with an available wireless network and table space.

Locate:

  • Two to three local coffee shops at varying distances, as a power failure might extend further than your neighborhood
  • The closest library (confirm open days/hours)
  • Coworking locations (confirm open days/hours and fees)

Invest in solid and capable hardware and software

You’re a web professional, so it’s critical to consider the right tools for creating graphics, modifying photos, and documenting your work:

  • Buy the best computer you can afford. Get an external monitor, a printer and scanner.
  • If you’ll be taking photos to use on client websites, consider buying a dedicated camera.
  • Know how you’ll continue working in the event of a computer catastrophe, such as keeping a second computer for backup.
  • Figure out which software you’ll need. If you’re not sure, many offer 30-day free trials. The first candidate on your list should be Adobe Creative Cloud.
  • For subscription services, figure out what plan level you need. For example, GoDaddy Pro Sites offers bundles of specific features for managing larger groups of sites.
  • Don’t forget ongoing costs for other cloud apps like accounting software, video calls, and remote computer access.

Related: 90 essential tools for WordPress designers and developers

Have a bullet-proof backup strategy

Don’t compromise on reliable security and backup strategies for your computers and office. Having these systems in place will let you sleep at night.

Select a remote file backup to OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox or another provider.

Determine if you will want a complete computer backup to an external server, and if so, add that to your hardware budget..

Keep simplicity and scale in mind when choosing your tech

Look for tech solutions that offer the features and capabilities you’ll need later on. Keep in mind:

Simplified workflows. Look for tools that minimize steps per task.

Product trials. Spend time working with the tech before you commit.

Scaling with success. The more successful you are, the more projects you’ll need to manage.

Transferring ownership. For example, you may cover web hosting costs or other fees on behalf of your clients. Know how you’ll transfer ownership if costs need to move to the client.

Be financially accountable

Be diligent with your business bookkeeping and client billing information right from the start.

Use an accounting/bookkeeping tool. Make sure your chosen solution easily creates professional invoices, automatically tracks expenses, and allows for recurring invoices and expenses.

You don’t just want this information to make sure you get paid. You’ll also want to have that data for future projects, plus income/expense estimates and forecasting.

If this isn’t your wheelhouse, don’t be afraid to get help with small business expense planning.

Even if you feel comfortable doing the work, consider investing in a few hours of consulting time with a financial expert to establish your chart of accounts and bookkeeping structure.

As for taxes? Consider a long-term relationship with a tax professional, who can handle taxes as well as answer financial system questions.

Set up a separate business credit card. Purchase what you need through your business (and save money by using pre-tax dollars), including hardware, software, internet service, cell phone, and office supplies. The points add up. Plus it can help you deal with the unexpected costs that throw a wrench into your budgeting.

Related: Best invoicing software options for small businesses

Know exactly how you’ll get paid

Nail down the details about requesting and receiving money before any billable work is done.

Define your invoicing processes and policies including invoice creation, delivery and due dates relative to invoicing dates.

Clarify how you will accept payment, including checks, credit cards, and online systems such as PayPal or Stripe.

Set expectations around deposits, penalties for late payments, and consequences when invoices go unpaid.

Know how you will pay yourself. Will you receive a set salary on a regular schedule, or asynchronous payments based on income?

Consider using a payroll service, where the small monthly cost lets someone else worry about money transfer between accounts, ever-changing tax laws, and correctly filing government forms.

Pro tip: Put processes and policies in place to make sure invoices are paid on a timely basis.

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2. Build your support squad

Now that you’ve got your initial space, processes and tools in place, it’s time to surround yourself with a community for support.

Find your peeps

Even when working alone in your own little office, be on the lookout for ways to interact and engage with others in the web and business community.

Look for local meetups or other networking groups of freelancers and web professionals, e.g. meetups for WordPress users, designers and developers.

Join online communities focused on web design and development, through Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social media channels.

Actively participate in both online and in-person discussions, so that people know you’re interested in what they have to say, or in solving problems.

Join community groups such as the local Chamber of Commerce, service organizations such as Rotary, or a small business owners networking group.

Pro tip: Join online or in-person communities of your fellow neighbors, alumni or participants in your current hobbies or outside interests. People you meet in those communities may need your services, or know someone who does.

Work with a mentor

Taking the leap into a new tech-based career can be simultaneously exhilarating and intimidating, whether you’re a new college grad or making a mid-life career transition.

Mentoring works for everyone as a means to build confidence, enhance skills, and set achievable goals.

When moving from employee to freelancer, a mentor who’s already made that transition can impart wisdom only gained through experience.

Related: The importance of female mentorship in the tech industry

Assemble your all-star extended team

Build a circle of known and trusted “power partners” who provide complementary services that work in sync with yours. You’ll all benefit without cannibalizing work or clients.

For example, you can collaborate with local partners who specialize in Information Technology (IT), search engine optimization (SEO), online advertising, social media, photography, video or any other service area that’s beyond your comfort zone.

You can also assemble a go-to list of virtual partners, including hosting providers, domain registrars, stock photo libraries, or third-party software solutions to integrate into the websites that you build for your clients.

Related: Forging strategic partnerships to grow your business

Consider how and when you might outsource

As the leader of your business — even if it’s a business of one — you need to continue to prioritize and delegate.

You’ll never be able to do everything on your own if you also want to learn, grow, and scale up your business.

Outsource tasks that don’t require your technical or creative skills — including taxes, bookkeeping, data entry, and anything else you don’t enjoy doing.

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3. Decide on your products, services, and their pricing model

Define your services, productize them, and set a price point for monthly recurring revenue.

Clarify your service offerings

For example, you might offer any or all of the following:

You might also offer complementary services, such as:

  • Managed web hosting
  • Content creation
  • SEO
  • Social media management
  • Online advertising
  • Email marketing

Related: How to sell a content creation service to earn recurring revenue

“Productize” your services to create recurring revenue

Recurring revenue should be part of every web designer’s monthly income.

Recurring revenue succeeds when you’re providing recurring value. Turning your services into a product that works on a short-term-but-renewable basis is key.

You can earn recurring revenue by selling your services as a value product that people subscribe to.

You define exactly what you do, what the value is, and how much it costs each month.

This removes a lot of the waste from the traditional service business model, such as design revisions, project management, account management, invoicing, and chasing payments.

It’s automatic money coming in every month, without requiring you to constantly be in the mode of selling.

Related: Recurring revenue model for web designers and developers

How to set a price to be profitable

It’s preferable to charge for value instead of time, so you’ll want to figure out which pricing model (e.g., hourly or project-based billing) is best for your web design business.

Defining a per-project price avoids conversations about how every last minute is spent, and price negotiations based on specific features or items clients may feel are not important.

Keep in mind:

Review pricing models of other web designers. Your goal is to be competitive without giving away the store — but don’t scare off clients based on price. Beware of underpricing your services.

Feel free to use hourly rates to estimate the project cost, but don’t feel obligated to share that information.

Remember that you have to cover your own vacation time, sick days, benefits, retirement, taxes, and the other expenses of running a business.

Consider the fees associated with taking online payment.

Add in project costs such as plugins, software licenses, copywriting, stock images, etc.

You need to cover the cost of business development, or finding more work.

What you charge is not just about meeting your expenses: you need to make a profit as well.

Analyze the market demand and what the competition is providing at what costs. Price competitively, in a way that provides value but would also be fair to you and your goals.

Here’s the punchline: not all of the activity that goes on in your business is directly related to any specific client, but all of the activity that goes on in your business must be built into the price that clients pay you.

If clients are not paying for all of this activity, it means you are.

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4. Name your web design company

“I had to choose a business name and decided to use my initials with the two industries I felt most of my services would arise from — KR Media & Designs.”
~ Kristina Romero, web developer and business owner

Your name plays an important role in attracting customers and clients, submitting legal documents to form your business, and selecting a domain for your business website. Therefore, naming your web design company takes thoughtful consideration and planning.

Consider your long-term business goals when deciding whether to use a “business” name (Web Awesome Agency of Washington) or your personal name (John Doe Design).

Do you see yourself transitioning to an agency, or staying a freelancer and growing your personal brand? Will potential clients view you as “just a freelancer” and expect lower rates, vs. the professionalism that an agency name/structure implies?

Do you see web services as the end goal, or do you want to use them to elevate a personal brand into another field, such as public speaking, teaching or writing books?

Is this a temporary solution in order to gain experience for a full-time gig? If you enjoy working with a company but need to be on your own at the moment, using your own name continues to promote your availability as a freelancer.

Are you 100% certain about the services you will offer? If not, avoid putting specifics in your business name.

In summary, here’s when to use a business name:

  • You see yourself transitioning from a single freelancer to an agency.
  • You’re switching careers and need to establish a brand name different from your personal name.
  • You’re forming a legal entity such as an LLC or an S-Corp (if in the U.S.) and want to protect and distance your personal identity.

And when to use your personal name:

  • You’re leveraging your name for SEO.
  • You see yourself as a sole freelancer and would accept a full-time position in your skillset if offered.
  • You intend to grow a personal brand to build credibility (speaking engagements, books, online courses).

Related: 10 tips for naming a business

Take action and register your domain

Once you’ve identified your perfect name, be sure to register your domain right away.

Try to get a .com, but also consider variations and other extensions.

Related: How to buy a domain name

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5. Write your business plan

Your business plan should:

  • Define your business vision and identity.
  • Set financial goals and targets.
  • Include your products pricing options.
  • Set long-term goals around new products/services.
  • Estimate your expected expenses and income.
  • Define your ideal clients.

You don’t need to start from scratch. Here are five great business plan templates.

Pro tip: Try using a one-page Lean Canvas template to create your business plan.

Treat building your business as a project

It doesn’t have to be complex, but the project needs to be managed correctly to ensure that it sets clear goals, keeps focus, and stays within budget.

This means having a basic idea of how you’ll tackle project management.

Many use a diagram called a business model canvas to show how the company will create value for itself and its customers. The canvas visually lays out your business model, your key features, the size of the market, etc.

How big is your potential market? Use tools such as Google Trends and Facebook ads to evaluate market potential. If you’re targeting geographic areas, check public data sources like local chambers of commerce and economic development corporations.

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Here’s where you get your paperwork in order. Decide how you’ll structure your business, check with local governments for any licensing requirements, arrange insurance and benefits, and manage your time so you set yourself up to succeed.

Establish your business identity

Decide if you’ll operate as a sole proprietor, LLC, or corporation. Consider engaging a lawyer to help you with the necessary paperwork and/or using an online service such as LegalZoom.

Get licensed

Check your city government website to determine local requirements for business licensing, permits and fictitious name or DBA (“Doing Business As”) registration.

Acquire insurance

Liability insurance is a good idea in general, and some clients may require proof of it. In addition, determine extra insurance you might need, such as disability insurance.

Solicit several quotes to make sure you’re getting the right package for your needs.

If you have car insurance and home or renter’s insurance, get one of those quotes from your personal insurance agent.

Plan benefits

If your previous job included medical, retirement or other benefits, you’ll need a plan to get the equivalent items in place.

Can you be covered on a spouse or partner’s medical insurance? What about setting up a retirement account?

While you won’t earn paid holidays or vacation, you’ll want policies in place to set client expectations and to provide for a backup resource if necessary.

  • Identify if you will acquire medical/dental benefits through another family member’s work benefit, a group affiliation (such as membership in a professional organization), or independent procurement.
  • Plan retirement contributions through your business or other means.
  • Determine your vacation/holiday policy.
  • Know how you will communicate time off to clients.
  • Formulate a contingency plan if your services will be needed during scheduled time off.

Ace the day-to-day tasks

Set and enforce boundaries, adopt time management best practices, and maximize your productivity by setting up tools and systems.

  • Choose a to-do list application such as Teux Deux or Todoist.
  • Set up a system to track time and tasks for each client.
  • Have a process to migrate daily tracking information into an invoice or reporting format.

Identify the key tasks that would benefit from consistent execution. Set up processes, checklists and organizing strategies for:

  • Designing a new site
  • Pre-launch cleanup
  • Post-launch testing and approval
  • Any daily, weekly, or monthly tasks around tracking, reporting, or bookkeeping

Create templates for:

  • Proposals
  • Contracts
  • Let’s get started” emails that outline initial needs from clients when starting new projects
  • Commonly sent emails, such as those announcing a planned vacation

Related: How to create a client management system

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7. Create your proposal and contract templates

Do the pre-work to confirm client fit

Before proposing work for a prospective client, additional pre-work can help you minimize re-work, avoid gifting clients with “free” work and steer clear of projects that are not a good fit for you.

That pre-work includes recon on your part: Is there an existing site? Where is it hosted? Is their business model ethical?

You’ll also want to ensure prospective clients have a solid grasp of key factors involved in developing a successful web design for them, including purpose, measurable objectives, realistic budget/cost/schedule expectations, and the site’s intended audiences.

Start the negotiation with preliminary costing

Most projects start with speculative preliminary documentation that initiates the project costing conversation — ideally leading to a more formal contract.

Estimates provide a general idea of whether services can be delivered within budget in the client’s required timeframe — and are offered with the understanding that details could change as more is learned about requirements.

Quotes are more formal, with a fixed price constrained by a limited valid timeframe.

Bids provide documented responses to a set of well-defined specifications, often submitted in competition with other bids.

Proposals deliver a comprehensive, detailed document, and are perfect for letting you outshine the competition.

Once you’ve negotiated an agreement with your client based on one of the above methods, it’s time to seal the deal with a comprehensive contract.

Related: 14 project estimate mistakes that freelancers make and how to fix them

Create a contract that protects both you and your clients

A web design contract protects you, your time, your bottom line, and your sanity.

As with any contract, a web design contract defines the business and legal relationship between you and your client, as well as the personal relationship concerning business practices, communication and interactions.

Legally, it’s a mutually binding agreement, where each party makes commitments around deliverables and compensation for the work to create them. If either party fails to meet its commitments, the contract becomes the basis for possible legal action.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, and the web development agreement that’s right for you won’t be right for others. Contracts are critical in:

  • Specifying a clear scope of promised deliverables.
  • Making sure you get paid.
  • Describing each party’s role in the process, including actions, confidentiality, and consequences of not fulfilling that role.
  • Clarifying who owns the work after delivery.
  • Explaining post-delivery activities, in terms of changes, warranties and liabilities.
  • Mitigating common “what if this happens” scenarios.
  • Protecting yourself in the event of exceptions.
  • Creating a helpful reference document for later.
  • Setting the stage for a successful relationship.

Developing your own contract from scratch can be time-consuming, and you may forget something important. Then again, paying someone else to create your custom contract can get expensive. The compromise solution starts with finding a free, customizable web design contract template.

Related: How to create a web design contract that converts new clients into long-term customers

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8. Formalize project management and communication

Tracking time and communication, establishing an onboarding process and effectively managing scope changes are all part of a web designer’s job, and it’s critical to have the right tools and processes to help you stay on top of everything. Here are a few proven tips:

Formalize project management

Find an online tool that makes it easy to keep track of communication. Managing projects through email is impossible once you get bigger.

There are plenty of tools

When you bring someone in, or the client brings in a new employee to handle the project, you will need a way to go through what has been done.

Establish a new client intake/onboarding process

Once you’ve found and landed those ideal clients, and have the signed contract, plan the process you’ll use, including:

There are many different types of clients you will likely encounter as you get your web design business off the ground — so plan to adjust your communication style to suit each type of client’s unique needs.

Track time obsessively

Track your time on everything. Time adds up, with a phone call here, and email there. Time is one of the only things you can’t get more of.

Control change requests

You will always want to keep a client happy, but if you start off making simple unplanned changes to the project you’ll be opening the door for your client to expect big free changes.

Have a way to document a change request and make sure they know that it costs something.

One of the quickest ways to lose profit in a web design project is to mismanage client expectations when it comes to scope changes.

A good way to avoid this situation is to get your client interacting with the website as quickly as possible.

Even a prototype with limited design elements gets them viewing the site as if they were an end user, so questions will come up sooner.

This is where the concept of interactive prototypes comes into play.

There are many ways you can use WordPress to quickly build website prototypes. The idea is to keep it as plain as possible and get your client to sign off on functionality.

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9. Establish a comprehensive client site launch process

When it’s go-time, your job is to make sure the website is absolutely ready to launch. First, the content and technical check, including these topics (although you’ll want to customize):

  • SEO and analytics
  • Connection to social media channels
  • Validation of HTML and CSS
  • Accessibility
  • Cross-browser and device testing
  • Testing of all functionality
  • Testing of form submissions
  • Image/JavaScript/CSS optimization
  • Security
  • Fonts
  • 301 redirects
  • Google verification
  • CDN
  • 404 pages
  • CMS up-to-date
  • Themes and plugins are up-to-date
  • Daily and weekly backup schedule in place

Then you need to prepare your client for their website launch, including the following considerations:

  • Are we satisfied that the website is going to help us achieve our SMART goals?
  • Does the website clearly state what we do and who we do it for?
  • Does the website contain clear calls-to-action?
  • Are we ready to receive and read Google Analytics reports?
  • Do we have a content calendar in place for the next 12 months?
  • Do we have the resources to promote our website through social media channels?
  • Are we ready to take incoming inquiries from the website forms?
  • Are we using live chat, and if so, is someone ready to monitor it?
  • If running advertising campaigns, are our tracking code in place?
  • Is our email marketing service provider plugged in and ready to capture email addresses?
  • Are our email marketing automation campaigns ready to fire?
  • Are we trained in how to use the content management system?
  • Have we subscribed to a care plan, and if not, who will support the website in the future?

Here is a fantastic resource to make sure you cross your t’s and dot your i’s before you launch a website.

Related: How to perform a website launch and handover

Solicit social proof

When it comes to attracting new clients, few things are more powerful than social proof.

Getting good testimonials is about delivering value before you ask, and then timing your request.

If you have over-delivered on value, offered a service that really solves their problem, provided exceptional customer service, and made customers feel like you’re there for them, then they’re usually happy to give you a good testimonial. Best to ask immediately after the project is done, as soon as they have begun getting value from your work.

Related: How to ask for testimonials and reviews from your clients

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10. Craft your brand to tell your compelling story

Your brand starts with a logo and color scheme, but beyond that, it’s about the messaging connecting you to your target audience, and it affects buying behavior.

Let your “voice” represent your values, your strengths, your style.

Young and trendy, or mature and experienced? Serious or whimsical? Luxury service or economical alternative?

Your brand is unique, so tell a compelling story that makes clients want to hire you instead of your competitors. Identify your unique selling proposition (USP) to have ready answers to these questions:

  • Why should I hire you instead of your competitor?
  • What makes you a better solution?
  • Why should I hire a solo freelancer instead of an agency?

Related: Create It — Building your presence, brand and product

Create marketing collateral

Start with business cards, flyers or brochures, and any giveaways that get — and keep — your name in front of potential clients.

Related: 9 things to use in a swag bag for your business

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11. Build your online presence

You’re proud of your work — time to showcase it to the world with a website and social media presence that attract your ideal clients!

Take time to connect with your audience on social and build a comprehensive marketing strategy.

Create a website for your new business

Create the vehicle that showcases your work, shows your product/service offering, demonstrates the value you provide and covers your policies.

Nothing tells your story better than your portfolio of completed work.

If you don’t have much completed work to highlight, consider building a few volunteer sites to beef up your portfolio.

It’s OK to start small, but continue building out and improving your site in the background. As you finish with pages or sections, publish and test the site with your potential customers: feedback is key.

As a minimum, your site should include:

Include details around any certifications or specialized training, and make sure readers know you are indeed trained, with experience and skills they can use. Show how you stand out from the hobbyist crowd, with a reliable background and formalized education.

Related: 5 tips for a killer WordPress portfolio

Establish social media connections

Set up social media accounts, and consider whether you want business profiles separated from your personal profiles.

Focus your efforts on the few best platforms for reaching your target audience, and work them effectively. Confirm which platforms your audience is most likely to spend time on, based on demographics such as age, gender, geographic location.

Related: How to claim social media handles

Get customers to your website

Getting potential customers to your site requires a marketing strategy.

Use tools such as Google AdWords, Facebook ads, and GoDaddy Email Marketing to raise awareness about your business and products.

Related: Lead generation for web design businesses

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12. How to find web design clients in 3 ways

Focus on a niche

You don’t want to be known as just a generic “web designer.”

In order to showcase your expertise, consider specializing, whether based on the types of clients you take, or the types of projects you do.

Specializations could focus on market space, geographic area, or a particular type of site, such as eCommerce or membership management. Communicate your niche throughout your materials.

Your sweet spot is the intersection of both your skills and your passions.

That’s where you want to spend most of your time, so if an activity is not in that sweet spot, consider delegating, automating, or deleting it from your task list.

The benefit of spending all your time doing your best work is that the work quality tends to be higher, the outcome for your clients tends to be better, and you’re happier — which is good for avoiding burnout.

Know your audience

Once you’ve identified your sweet spot, ask yourself, “Who stands to benefit the most from working with me when I’m doing my best work?”

Customer satisfaction is critical to the success of a web design business.

Even more critical is your own satisfaction. Engaging with web design clients who are the right fit for you is one way to facilitate that.

  • Describe your ideal client, including attributes such as geography, cultural, entity size/type, products/services offered, or audience served.
  • Know your evaluation criteria, including financial expectations, technical considerations, location, size, length of engagement, the potential for ongoing work, partnership potential, strategic positioning within your portfolio, and even personality fit.
  • Have an evaluation strategy that allows you to quickly rule out mismatches, make exceptions, suggest alternatives, and if it’s not a good fit, execute a speedy-yet-graceful exit plan.

Related: What to include in a customer profile

Strategize finding clients to grow your web design business

You may ask “How do I find new clients?” as if they are hiding. In fact, clients are not hiding from us; they are waiting to be served. The trick is finding them.

Business development is an ongoing process to ensure there’s always work coming in the door. It’s not just something you do when you need new clients, but an always-there task.

Tips that can help you find clients:

  • Consistently do your best work and collaborate on projects where there is a shared vision.
  • Leverage your existing network: let everyone know what you’re up to, post on your personal social media profiles, ask friends and family to share and send referrals.
  • Create a lead magnet, an item of value that you can offer your target audience, in exchange for their email address (e.g., a free download, checklist, or form). Building your email list results is a way to provide ongoing communication and outreach.
  • Use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management Tool) to keep track of who you contact, the results of that contact, and potential future follow-up opportunities.

Strategize ways to find, meet, and land those folks.

Having your talking points at the ready means you’re prepared when you meet potential clients in unlikely venues, including the gym, Starbucks, or at a concert.

  • Identify how and where you’ll find and meet prospective clients.
  • Carry business cards with you at all times.
  • Develop an advertising strategy.
  • Craft your elevator pitch.
  • Have a ready response to requests for discounts, such as from nonprofit organizations or friends and family.
  • Determine whether referrals deserve compensation, such as a token thank-you gift or credit toward future work.
  • Brainstorm ways to promote and market your web design business.

Related: A comprehensive guide to finding your perfect clients

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Are you ready to start & grow a web design business?

Considering the pros and cons to starting a web design company is the right move for you.

Upsides

  • There will always be demand for websites, as new businesses get started, and established organizations want to up their game.
  • The work is fun, creative, and you’ll learn from working with many types of clients and businesses.
  • The work can be done from anywhere, and allows you to flexibly balance family or personal needs.
  • You can get started without a formal degree, and use specialty certifications and training to raise your expertise level and be better prepared.
  • You can expand your business over time, by offering complementary services as you gain expertise.

Related: The 17 types of clients that every web designer deals with

Challenges

  • In a rapidly evolving field, you can’t rest on your laurels. You’ll need to stay current on new trends and technologies.
  • Precisely for the reasons listed above, there’s a lot of competition, as many are anxious to get into the field.
  • You may be working alone at your computer for long stretches of time, so will need to change your lifestyle to increase outside interaction.

Related: 11 web design trends to watch in 2019

Don’t quit your day job yet!

No one becomes a successful web designer overnight.

Plan to spend a few years improving your technical skills, then start charging for your services, and continue to develop a stable revenue stream.

Remember that you won’t just be doing production work. You’ll also be the salesperson, bookkeeper, project manager and account coordinator. GoDaddy Pro can help you manage multiple websites to boost project efficiency for clients.

These skills don’t come from online courses or from attending a fast-track coding school; they’re learned through hands-on experience over time.

How can you start gaining that experience now — even if you’re just starting your freelance web design business?

Use what you learn from these activities as a foundation to build on as you’re starting a web design agency.

Related: 14 tips for successful web design projects

Initially, most new clients will probably come from word-of-mouth referrals. But what if you have no existing clients? Consider activities that boost your visibility while demonstrating your expertise:

  • Volunteering your services to an organization
  • Building sites for friends and family
  • Creating side projects of your own
  • Participating in both online and offline communities

Related: Finding your first client as a freelance web professional

The journey of a freelance website designer is often like a turbulent, yet exciting, roller coaster ride.

From a state of confusion to a sense of accomplishment, from exhaustion to exhilaration, with detours along the way for sanity checks, strategy resets and supporter shoutouts.

But if you do it right, all those banked turns and barrel rolls can lead to a successful career as a freelance web designer.

Even with all of this information to get you moving in the right direction for starting a web design business, you may be wondering … what’s the secret to making it happen?

Mark Twain said “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”

Take the time to absorb all that’s covered here, dig into the linked articles for more information, make your plan, choose a starting point — and then go for it!

To summarize the main steps in the process:

  1. If you’ve determined you’re ready to start a web design business, set up your work environment and build your support squad.
  2. Focus on business planning by writing your business plan, addressing legal and administrative issues, defining your brand, identifying your perfect clients and how you’ll connect with them, and clarifying your product and service offerings at a profitable price.
  3. Create infrastructure and processes for working with clients, including proposals, contracts, project management, communication, and launching their beautiful new website — designed by you!
  4. And finally, establish your online presence and let the world know you’re ready to work.

No matter what, the best thing you can do is just get started.

Editor’s note: Starting a web design business? Join GoDaddy Pro to securely manage all your client sites and GoDaddy accounts from a single dashboard. Learn more and sign up for free.

***

This article includes content originally published on the GoDaddy blog by the following authors: Lisa Stambaugh, Kristina Romero, Randy A. Brown, Aaron Reimann, Troy Dean and Andy McIlwain.


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When you use The Hub from GoDaddy Pro, suddenly there’s more time in your day to focus on what matters most. Forget about juggling admin tasks. Reclaim your time and use it to make clients feel like the center of your universe.

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How to Kick-Start Your Online Clothing Resale Gig

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With the recent rise of resale apps like Depop and Poshmark, the idea of selling old clothes online is becoming more fashionable. Many people have turned clothing resale into a lucrative side gig or even a full-time job, gaining thousands of followers and making dozens of sales per week.

The secondhand-clothing market is projected to more than triple by 2030, according to a 2021 study by reselling platform Mercari and research firm GlobalData, as more fashion enthusiasts clean out their closets and search thrift stores to find valuable pieces to resell.

But whether you have a collection of band T-shirts or office attire, finding success on these platforms takes time and effort. Before diving into your closet, there are a few things to know.

You set your prices

Unlike consignment and resale shops, you can price items yourself on an online platform. Before listing a piece of clothing, look it up on multiple platforms to find out what it’s currently selling for. Depending on age, condition and brand, prices can vary widely.

You can also take advantage of direct messaging to negotiate with buyers and use features on apps like Depop and Poshmark that let you accept offers and create multi-item discounts.

“Sales can be sporadic,” says Andres Castillo of Los Angeles, who sells rare designer pieces through Depop, eBay and Instagram under the name Debonair Vintage. With rare or high-value items, it may take a while to find the right buyer, especially if you’re looking to break even or make a profit.

There’s a big time commitment

“I treat [reselling clothes] like my job,” says Eve Perez, a full-time student in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, who sells under the name Fitsfinesse and was featured in Teen Vogue in 2021 for her Depop success. She responds to messages daily, on top of taking product photos, sewing custom pieces, and packaging and shipping orders.

Communicating clearly with first-time buyers is essential: “If you don’t build that relationship, then you won’t get sales and returning customers,” she adds.

Although you have control over the prices, reselling online takes much more time and energy than selling to consignment stores. According to Depop, sellers who list consistently — around 15 items per week — sell more over time.

“It takes a lot of time and dedication,” says Castillo. Top-notch sellers have to learn to take eye-catching photos, understand shipping rates, negotiate over text, and research brands and trends to make the most of their inventory.

Overhead costs add up

Yes, you can set your prices — but there are a few overhead costs to factor in. Online resale platforms charge commission fees, plus additional fees for shipping through the platform or accepting payments through a processor like PayPal. Depop takes 10% of every sale and eBay takes 15%; Poshmark takes $2.95 for items under $15 and 20% for items over $15. PayPal, which integrates with Depop, Poshmark and eBay, charges another 3.49% plus 49 cents per transaction for payment processing.

On top of that, you’ll need to pay for packaging, label printing and possibly storing inventory including bins, hangers and shelves. Top sellers also recommend adding a personal touch in shipments, like free stickers, small accessories or a thank-you note. When all those costs add up, you may find that only higher-value items are worth listing.

You can cut costs by reusing shipping mailers and boxes, and printing labels at your local FedEx or UPS store instead of purchasing a label printer. Or, reduce shipping costs for buyers by bundling several items into a single shipment, which can motivate buyers to purchase more from your shop.

The social aspect is a priority

The most successful online resellers have one thing in common: a strong personal brand. Finding your niche and building a loyal following is essential to long-term success on a resale platform.

“It’s like Instagram, but for selling,” says Perez, who focuses on curating a consistent aesthetic and marketing her shop on social media platforms like TikTok.

Castillo grew his business by catering to a very specific market: vintage designer collectors, specifically for Moschino and Chanel. He sells across several platforms, using his Instagram to rent pieces out to stylists for photo shoots and red-carpet events. Though he targets a fairly small community, his narrow focus helps him reach his ideal buyers.

Other top sellers on resale platforms can be seen taking a similar approach, with shop themes ranging from band T-shirts to vintage gowns. “Lean into your personal taste,” says Castillo. Even if you don’t have a curated collection to sell, personalized packaging or a unique photo background can help your items stand out.

Both Perez and Castillo emphasize the importance of cross-linking social media platforms to reach as many potential customers as possible. Creating a dedicated Instagram Business account and following other online sellers and designers can help drive buyers to your shop. Check popular pages for trendy hashtags and add those to your posts. Making the time to promote on social media can help transform your closet into some serious income.

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Turning Your Hobby into a Business? Here is What You Need to Know

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Do you dream of one day quitting your job and following your passion in life? You can do it! Many successful entrepreneurs turned their hobbies into profitable businesses.

Do you have a hobby? Doing the things you love keeps you engaged with life, gives your mind a focus, and helps you enhance your concentration. Investing time in your hobby also provides you with a great way to relax, unwind, and relieve daily stress.

photo credit: Giulia Bertelli / Unsplash

You shouldn’t be ashamed of your hobby even if your friends and family don’t share it. Only because they find interest in something else doesn’t mean that no one in the world shares the same interests that you do. In fact, millions of people engage in the same hobby as you do daily.

So if you thought that no one shared your enthusiasm for this activity until now, think again. Whatever activity you can imagine, millions of other people on the planet are doing it as you read this article.

If you’re one of the individuals who wonder how they can transform their hobby into a successful venture, this article provides information on how to start a business based on the things you love.

Do a Self-assessment

Do you know what it takes to turn your hobby into a lucrative business? Do you have the required stamina and energy to take the necessary steps and transform it into a venture? Yes, it would be nice to spend your days doing what you love and making money, but make sure you don’t ruin your hobby by transforming it into a business. You started pursuing it to blow off some steam, but you could take its charm away if you add a lot of pressure on it to deliver money.

Research to understand what starting a business in this sector implies and make sure there’s a paying public before you bet the farm on it. Running a successful company requires plenty of work and responsibility, two things that could take the fun out of your hobby.

Plant hobby as a business

Test The Idea

If you decide that you have what it takes to turn your passion into a business, the next step is to test the concept by starting a side hustle. When the profits reach a level that allows you to cover monthly bills and support yourself, you can quit your job and pursue this venture.

However, don’t leave your present job if your side gig doesn’t make enough cash flow to last you at least two years. Be ready for the shock you’ll get when you turn from getting a monthly salary to having to pay taxes yourself. To make sure that you won’t worry about housing, food, or monthly bills, save up at least two years of living expenses.

Research

Before investing time, money, and effort into starting a business, take a look at the market and see what your future competitors are doing. Research the niche online, on social media and among the public to see what customers expect from you and what other companies provide.

You can research the market on your own or hire a professional company to do it for you. It’s recommended to work with specialists because they know the aspects that require extra attention and can help you determine if starting a business in this niche is worth it.

Make a list of your biggest 10 competitors and analyse their activity to figure out what they do to position themselves as leaders in the industry. Check their website, evaluate its functionality, and have a look at their Google ranking. Remember that people start searching for a product or service online in the present digital world, and it’s crucial to rank high in search engines to reach your ideal customer.

After doing research, you’ll have a clear idea of what you’re dealing with in terms of competition.

Reading small business plan

Write a Business Plan

The business plan serves as a blueprint for your company, and you’ll definitely need it if you want to apply for a loan. However, don’t skip creating a business plan because it’s quite useful in starting your venture, even if you don’t seek funding. Research shows that the business people who make a detailed business plan are 16% more likely to develop a profitable business.

Here are some elements your business plan should include:

  • Financial plan
  • Executive summary
  • Business overview
  • Management team
  • List of services and products
  • Marketing and sales plans
  • Marketing strategies
  • Metrics and milestones

If you want to transform your hobby into a profitable business, you need to take it seriously and write a complete business plan.

Build a Brand

Branding is essential when trying to build an easy-to-recognise business. It would help if you had a unique business name and logo that match your company’s personality and values. Pick brand colours that resonate best with your target audience, and craft a message they resonate with.

You can use free online tools to create a logo and elements for your business cards and advertising materials. Canva is such a solution that provides access to a huge library of elements.

Digital aisles

Establish a Strong Web Presence

In the digital era, all businesses need an online presence to attract attention and reach their target audience, no matter their size or specific. You should create a website that allows you to present the benefits your clients get if they purchase your products and even create a shop page that allows them to buy online. However, establishing a solid web presence extends beyond creating a website. It also implies creating and maintaining the page, connecting it to social media profiles, and posting regularly on the blog.

Your purpose is to brand your company as an authority in the industry that also provides valuable pieces of advice beyond selling products.

Try to be consistent in how you present yourself to your public because you need to establish an image. Your web presence and brand are the main elements that impact your company’s identity and help loyal clients differentiate your products from your competitors.

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Q&A With Dr Ryan Shelton on Starting Up a Natural Healthcare Business

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”Dr Ryan Shelton is the Medical Research Director For Zenith Labs. He believes that there is a way to help sick people with natural treatments complimenting the conventional pharmaceutical approach. He has created a regimen of natural treatments consisting of holistic and complementary medicine, and it’s all backed up by science-based research.

Dr Ryan Shelton had dreams about being a doctor from a young age. His love for helping people inspired him to study the human body and how its internal and external environments change it for the better or for the worse.

Dr Shelton’s path to becoming a doctor was anything but typical. His undergraduate education focused on biochemistry and genetics. After attending medical school for one year he withdrew to “think in slow motion” and received another degree in Philosophy. He left because he disagreed with the way doctors were being taught to practice medicine. Dr Shelton believed that the better way to treat his patients was to heal their whole bodies rather than just treating the symptoms.

After receiving his Philosophy degree, Dr Shelton understood how important it would be to be able to treat or prevent chronic diseases holistically. He returned to medical school, where he earned his Naturopathy Doctorate. Now, Dr Ryan Shelton gets to follow his passion by helping his patients achieve their best overall health through natural remedies.

With chronic disease being on the rise, Naturopaths like Dr Shelton want to do their best to try and stop it from spreading by treating patients holistically. He does this by turning their food into medicine first and using natural remedies to increase their overall health. His goal is to balance his patient’s systems, and he passionately believes that his ultimate goal is to help his patients achieve optimal health.

Dr. Ryan Shelton’s work with Zenith Labs has helped him attract patients interested in pursuing wellness rather than focusing solely on disease care. His successful medical practice complements this passion, as does the company he founded. Whether you’re looking to improve your overall wellness or just want an alternative to the traditional pharmacological regimen, Dr Ryan Shelton has a plan for how to help you.

Hello Dr. Shelton, can you briefly tell us who you are and what you do?

Currently, I’m the medical research director for Zenith Labs and a Naturopathic Doctor with a successful private practice. I am also the Wellness Director and on the admissions team for a behavioral therapeutic program.

For the last few years, I’ve been running an online supplement business where people outside of where I am can get the same kind of advice that I give to my in-person patients from anywhere in the world. I do my best to promote a concept of total wellness and natural health solutions.

I have developed several natural health regimens over the years based on my research. I’m working hard to teach people that everything else will follow if they improve their overall health.

Please describe your company in a few words

Yes, it is a company, but really what we’re trying to promote here is a culture. Sure, we could go online and sell supplements till the cows come home. Lots of people do that. This naturalistic approach has been my life’s work ever since I was in medical school. I initially left medical school because I felt that the traditional way medicine was practiced was to treat the symptoms rather than treat the whole person.

I’m working hard to use my company as a vehicle to teach my customers and patients that they can improve their total body health, which makes healing other symptoms easier.

What is your company’s biggest achievement in recent years?

The surge in online business, I would say, has been our best achievement in recent years. When we first moved into this space, I felt like the company wasn’t getting the attention it deserved. We did traditional promotions and bought advertising, but nothing was really getting us over that plateau.

Just when I thought I might have to just let it go, word of mouth started spreading, and it spread like crazy. Satisfied patients were telling other people about what they’d experienced by using these treatments, and those people turned out in droves to get these benefits for themselves.

In what direction do you see natural healthcare going?

The coolest thing I think I have seen recently is that natural medicine is becoming more and more mainstream all the time. For a long time, people who preferred natural remedies were seen as “uninformed” or “Weird.”

Nowadays, people are flocking to find out what natural remedies they can incorporate into their own life. We’ve all seen so many odd things come from big pharma over the past ten years, so is it any wonder people are looking for a way that they can take charge of their own health. It will become much more focused on environmental medicine, lifestyle medicine, and anti-aging medicine.

We will begin using natural treatments not in response to crises, but rather to promote a level of optimal health not yet seen in the general population.

Natural medicine
photo credit: PhotoMIX Company / Pexels

Which recent developments in your industry do you find exciting?

The way in which people seem to be flocking to natural medicine. It’s no longer on the fringes of people’s thoughts. I see people take a more open-minded approach to learn about things that natural healers from around the world have known for centuries.

The general attitude that people have, that they want to discover things for themselves rather than just taking the proscribed wisdom as gospel, is really exciting. I feel like I’m getting closer and closer to being able to reach more people than ever before.

Again, environmental medicine and anti-aging, natural agents specifically targeting your unique specific genes and DNA to promote optimal health. The days of degeneration and disease are hopefully going away soon.

What keeps you motivated?

My vision. It’s been front and center in my mind since I was a child. I watched so many of my older relatives that suffered from chronic conditions just wither away with the traditional medical approaches. I knew there had to be a better way, and I feel like I’ve found it.

What keeps me motivated is the drive to bring what I’ve found to as many people as possible, so maybe they won’t have to watch their loved ones suffer as I did.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the health field?

Hang in there. It’s the best advice I could give anyone. Medical school is tough, and it should be. Then you’ll have your residency and boards, which are brutal. Becoming a doctor is a privilege that we, as a society, only bestow on those who have proven themselves to be the best at what they do.

If being a medical professional is your dream, then hang in there, and fight for it tooth and nail until you’ve achieved your dream.

Thanks for your time, Dr Shelton!

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