How To Start A Web Design Business
- Matan Naveh
- on Business
- Updated on: 06.07.21
Starting a web design business is an ideal opportunity. The industry is growing at a rapid rate and now’s the time to invest in creating a successful brand. However, it is a competitive industry so it’s important to carefully lay the foundation for your business so you can avoid those “Wait, what???” scenarios that too many first-time business owners face.
So, in the following guide, we’re going to look at everything you need to do to become a successful web designer and business owner. You’ll learn:
- How to choose your design niche
- How to set your rates
- How to attract new clients
But first, let’s look at your current situation and make sure you’re in the best position to start a business.
How to Start a Successful Web Design Business
- 1. Pick a Web Design Niche
2. Decide Which Design Services You’ll Offer
3. set your company goals, 4. set your rates, 5. choose a name for your design business, 6. set up the legal stuff, 7. create your digital branding, 8. build your design business website, 9. get your business software in place, 10. start building your online profile, 11. find new web design clients, 12. make time for education, 1. pick a web design niche.
Unless you have a ton of experience in a specific industry or building websites for certain kinds of folks, this might seem like an impossible task. Plus, why bother committing yourself to only one niche if you could design websites for everyone ?
There’s actually a lot of value in choosing a niche as a web designer or web developer.
For starters, it’s so much easier to sell yourself to potential clients when you can say:
“I create beautiful online stores and shopper-friendly experiences for companies across the UK.”
“I’m a web designer .”
Having a well-defined niche also helps you more quickly identify leads that are a good fit for your business. You might not think that’s a big deal now, but opening yourself up to any and every job will only lead you down a time-consuming rabbit hole looking for new clients.
Instead, take some time right now to choose a niche for your business. It’s okay if it evolves over time. But, for right now, you need to lay down a clear path for yourself and the niche is the first step in doing that.
How to Choose the Perfect Web Design Niche
Ideally, you’ll operate within this niche for a long time to come, so it should be something that you’re passionate about and have the ability to succeed in . If either is lacking, it’ll be hard to stay committed to the work.
First things first, look at your past experiences. Were there any industries you enjoyed working in or you found particularly rewarding? This goes for your experiences as a web designer as well as in other roles.
Then, think about what it is you excel at and where your strongest skills lie. Are you more of a designer or a coder, or something in between the two? Do you have a specialty, for instance UX design or frontend development? You should also settle on one CMS, too. (If you’re here, that’s most likely means it’s WordPress.)
You might also want to narrow down your niche by location . That doesn’t necessarily mean opening an agency and buying office space downtown, but it does mean that you’ll focus on serving the local business community from wherever you operate.
Once you’ve settled on a niche, do some research to make sure:
- There are opportunities within this target niche.
- They can afford to pay for the kinds of websites you build.
When you’re happy with what you’ve come up with, move onto the next step.
Look around at the existing web design solutions being offered to your target niche. What do they consist of?
Are they solely offering to build a website for a flat fee or are there other services baked in? How about web design-adjacent offerings, like website maintenance, managed hosting or consulting?
These days, it’s a good idea to consider ways to bring extra value to your client relationships. And the reason why is simple:
Website builder technologies like Wix and Weebly have made it easy for consumers to:
- Build their own websites.
- Pay a small monthly fee for them.
- Get their businesses online in a matter of days instead of weeks or months.
- Not have to worry about buying web hosting, themes and plugins or maintenance services.
In the minds of business owners, this is a huge win. All those annoying things they don’t want to worry about or pay for seem to be taken care of for them.
Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t inherently make any of this easy for business owners. Which is why when you’re setting up your business, you need to figure out a way to make both your web design services and the WordPress CMS the most attractive option. It also doesn’t hurt that it’ll put more money in your pocket at the end of the day.
So, what can you reasonably offer to clients that they’d find valuable?
Finn & Gray , for example, offers a multi-pronged approach:
This agency provides clients with the following services:
- Logo and brand design
- Photography and videography
For businesses that are just getting off the ground, this would be immensely helpful as they could use the same agency to take care of everything for them.
Then you have a company like Four Trees Media that offers digital, print and social media services:
For companies that intend on doing more than just sitting behind a website — like networking, advertising, growing an online community, etc. — offering a well-rounded service like this would make your business an attractive option.
Or you could start simple. This is how Proxy handles it:
There’s one package for branded web design and it includes the essentials a business would need to get a WordPress website off the ground:
- Search engine optimization
- Managed hosting
This kind of solution is great for those business owners who don’t want to worry about the technical side of a website and would prefer to offload it to someone else.
But you need to consider what your niche and audience will find the most valuable. You should also only offer services you know you can deliver on.
That said, don’t feel like because you don’t know the first thing about something like WordPress security that you can’t add monthly maintenance services to your plans. There are plenty of tools and third-party companies who can handle that work for you while you still make a profit on it.
Before you start building everything out, I want you to take a moment to look ahead to the future. Without a roadmap for your business, it’ll be hard to steer yourself in the right direction.
Answer these questions to put yourself on the right track:
What is your company’s mission?
Sum up what you do, who you serve and why you do it in one or two lines. Then, come back to it whenever you need a reminder of why you started this business in the first place.
How do you want clients to look at you?
As a freelance designer? An agency they contracted for help? A business and marketing partner? A digital specialist? Give yourself a name, one that strongly resonates with the role you play in your clients’ lives.
When do you want to sign your first client by?
Be realistic. If you have an existing list of clients to pull from or ask for referrals from, landing your first client in a week or two is a reasonable expectation. But if you’re starting from scratch, give yourself at least a month or so to work out the kinks in your pitch and presentation and not feel incredibly pressured to close any client that passes your way.
How many clients do you want to work with each month?
Notice how I said “want” instead of “can”. There’s a difference between maxing yourself and your resources out to the point of burnout… and taking on a reasonable amount of clients so you can always give your best. Be kind to yourself and your clients. Set a limit on how many clients you can reasonably serve each month.
Where do you want to be 1 year from now? How about 5?
This could pertain to how much money your business is generating or how many clients you’re capable of taking on. It could also pertain to what kinds of services you offer. Perhaps your goal is to move from solopreneurship to running a full-blown agency by Year 5. Or maybe you want to sell your agency by then.
Give each of these questions some serious thought and record your vision for the business. This’ll help keep you motivated even on your hardest days.
This isn’t always the easiest thing to think about, especially if it’s early in your career as a web designer or developer and you’re feeling a touch of impostor syndrome.
But here’s the thing:
If you don’t charge a competitive rate on Day 1 and are willing to let prospects low-ball you or, worse, ask that you work for free, it’s going to be a long while before you can start demanding the kinds of rates you deserve.
So, here’s what I’d recommend you do to come up with pricing for your business:
- Find out what the competition is charging for the same services.
(e.g. $7,500 for an optimized website)
- Use the average competitor’s rate (or your own, if you have one) to figure out your monthly revenue based on the number of clients you expect to have.
(e.g. $7,500 x 2 = $15,000/month)
- Personal branding, web hosting and other things needed to maintain your site
- Marketing and advertising costs
- Software fees
- WordPress themes and plugins
- Office rent (even if you work from home) plus utilities
- Insurance fees
- Tax payments (you should put aside estimated taxes every month so you’re not scrambling at the end of the year to pay them)
- Employee-related costs
- Subtract your estimated monthly expenses from monthly revenue.
(e.g. $15,000 – $2,500 = $12,500)
If you want your business to be successful and you want to feel good about the work you do, you have to make a profit. It’s okay if you don’t have an exact number just yet.
That said, don’t just look at your profit margin and call it a day. You should also consider the value aspect of what you do.
For example, if you work with software companies that sell licenses to enterprises at $1,000 a pop, a well-built website could realistically make them tens of thousands of dollars in their first month alone. A website that costs $7,500 would be a steal for them and I’m not sure you’d want to send that kind of message.
So, again, this is why we’re going through this one step at a time. Look again at your niche and figure out what kind of value they’ll get from the website you build for them. While it’s important that you cover all your expenses, it’s just as important that you price your services based on their value to clients as well.
A common question I see in my freelance and entrepreneur Facebook groups is this:
“Should I name my business after myself?”
Let’s say you start as a solo web designer, so you figure using your own name to brand everything is fine. This is what clients as well as the WordPress community have come to know you by.
But what if you decide you want to add a team to the mix? Your name could become problematic. For starters, clients might still ask for you or fill up your inbox with requests when it’s no longer even you designing websites.
For some web designers and web developers, the ultimate goal is to pull back from the design or coding end of the business and to run the show. So, you’d want your business to have a name that’s different from your own.
You also have to think about how your business name sounds to your target audience. For instance:
- Is it easy enough to remember?
- Is it too difficult to pronounce?
- Does it sound too much like another company?
- Does it sound like you work in another industry or with another niche?
- Will prospects be turned off because it’s location-specific even though your services aren’t?
Start spitballing ideas and run them by people you know. Friends. Family. Former colleagues. Get a gauge for how they feel about it.
And when you’re happy with what you’ve come up with, buy your domain name as soon as you can!
This is a tricky one to cover because it all really depends on what kind of company you decide to create and where you are doing business from. In the United States, for instance, we have to deal with things like:
- Paying for business licenses and associated fees.
- Registering with and filing local and state taxes.
- Securing various business insurances.
- Developing an iron-clad business contract .
And if you decide to create a WordPress agency on Day 1, you also have to concern yourself with employee- or contractor-related matters, like salaries, taxes, benefits setup, etc.
So, here’s what I’m going to tell you for this one:
Do your research.
Go to your local government’s website and make sure you’re in full legal compliance when setting up your business. Then take a look at the things you need to do to protect your business. Hiring an attorney probably isn’t necessary, but buying something like liability insurance might be in order depending on the kinds of clients you work with and how much your services cost.
As a web designer, I’m sure you’re familiar with what this involves. Even if you don’t do brand design , you know to ask for these elements before a project starts. You also know how much easier it makes your life as well as marketers’ lives when clear and consistent branding is used from the get-go.
So, make sure you spend time building out this visual identity for your business before you start worrying about it for other people.
At the very least, you’ll want to create:
- A logo (with variations for purpose, background and channel)
- Font pairings
- A color palette
- Image style
It wouldn’t be a bad idea to put everything into your very own style guide either.
This way, you’ll have a resource you can turn to if and when you decide to revamp your branding or your website. It would also be useful if you have freelancers or employees working for you. Something like updating your website or content can and should easily be outsourced to others when you’re focused on building a successful brand and business.
One of the nice things about being a web designer or developer is that you don’t have to worry about this part of the startup process. That’s why I’m not going to tell you how to build your business website with WordPress.
What I want to do, instead, is to give you some quick pointers on things you should do to make your life easier:
Make your own website one your clients would pay for
Your portfolio is going to do a lot of the heavy-lifting in terms of demonstrating your prowess as a web designer or developer. However, your website itself is something you can use to impress potential clients.
By building a site they’d be willing to buy (at the highest price point you’re asking for), it’ll be so much easier to gain their trust. “See what I did here? We can do the same for you!”
Make sure it’s free of errors
You can’t give clients any reason to call into doubt your abilities as a designer. The second you do, they’re going to question every decision you’ve made and it’s going to make your life a living hell when it comes time to ask for their feedback.
By ensuring your website is free of errors, you can ensure that their first impression is solid.
As soon as you start wrapping up jobs with satisfied clients, remember to ask them for a testimonial. It might feel awkward at first, but think about how hard it is for you to trust a service provider you don’t know when you have little proof that they’re qualified to do what they claim.
With testimonials clearly displayed on your website, you can clear up doubts they have about taking that next step and filling out your form or giving you a call.
Optimize it for search
From this day on, you’re no longer just a web designer or web developer. You’re a business owner. And business owners have other responsibilities than building websites.
One of the most time-consuming responsibilities (if you let it be) is the hunt for new clients. However, if you set your website up to rank for the right search terms (e.g. “WordPress designers near me”, “UX designers ecommerce”, “digital agencies Austin”), it can do some of that work for you.
Don’t worry. You don’t have to be an SEO pro to do this. Start with one of these SEO plugins to get the ball rolling.
Once your website starts appearing in organic searches and you have prospects interested in working with you, don’t just send them to an open-ended contact form . Your website can automate the prospecting process, too.
What I’d recommend is creating a form similar to the one ecommerce design agency SAU/CAL uses:
It has a small footprint, asking for basic contact details. However, it also allows prospects to fill in extra details about their store, what they need, timeline and so on. Not only does this help the agency vet leads and make sure they’re actually a good fit, but it helps make the discovery call go much more smoothly.
You could also take this a step further and embed an online scheduler like Calendly into your site and ask prospects to schedule a time to chat so you don’t have to do the back-and-forth dance over email with them.
Up to this point, you probably haven’t spent much money on your business. That’s going to change in this stage. While you can certainly get a number of business tools for free to start, you’ll eventually have to spend money on them. It’s the only way to ensure your company maximizes its productivity and profitability every second of the day.
Here are the ones you should have in place by the time of launch:
Project Management Software
Even if you work on your own, there are just too many moving pieces as well as projects and clients to keep track of. Project management software helps keep teams big and small organized and projects delivered on time.
It’s also a dedicated space for you to develop and document your processes — both for your projects as well as internally.
You can use this tool to develop a series of templates as well. So, any time you identify something you do over and over again (like a specific email you send to clients or a new project folder you set up at the start of every job), simply templatize it and save it here.
Plus, by saving your processes and templates to the cloud with one of these platforms, you can empower your team (if you have one) to update and improve them as they see fit.
- Asana (best for solo)
- Trello (best for small teams)
- Monday (best for agencies)
Have you ever heard of scope creep ? How about late payments? Or, even scarier, clients that ghost you? It can be nerve-wracking entering into any new relationship, but when money, reputation and your sanity are on the line, you can’t afford to enter one too casually.
That’s why you put a website proposal and web design contract in place to ensure that all parties are officially in agreement on the scope of work and the terms of the relationship. It’s the best way to assure your clients that you’re legit and it’s the safest way for you to do business.
You’re going to need help managing your money and an accountant might be a little too pricey at the start. That’s fine because there are plenty of accounting tools that help with things like invoicing, payment processing, as well as general bookkeeping.
Really, you should be billing clients a flat hourly-rate for the work you do, be it a one-time payment for a website or a monthly fee for an ongoing service. It’s still a good idea to track your time.
If you work on your own, time tracking allows you to see how long it takes to complete individual tasks and entire projects. This data will help improve your scheduling and may also give you a valid reason to increase your rates.
If you work with a team, you should enable time tracking to get insights into how long it’s taking everyone to complete different tasks and phases of your projects. You don’t want your team to feel like they’re being monitored or rushed through their work. You just want to make sure they have enough time to get done what’s needed, which allows you to more accurately forecast projects and create realistic timelines for clients.
Design and Development Software
This seems like a no-brainer, but I’d recommend you explore design and development tools that enable you to collaborate with others. By simplifying collaboration and handoff, you can get jobs done more quickly, produce better results and have a happier team.
Many of these tools have collaboration features built in, so check on your existing ones before exploring alternatives.
Human Resources Software (Optional)
If you decide you want to expand your web design business beyond yourself, you’re going to need tools to manage your team. This will ensure you have all information on employees and contractors safely stored as well as things like taxes and benefits automatically handled for you.
Which software you use depends on whether you hire contractors and/or employees. It also depends on how big your company is at the moment. A good one to start with, though, is Gusto . Finally, it’s important to pay attention to the type of laptop you’re using. Make sure you have the right kind of PC or Mac that’s most conducive for web design projects .
I originally set out to show you how to start a web design business. All of the steps before this will allow you to do that. However, before you go looking for new clients, build out your online profile a little bit.
Remember: It’s not just your website that clients may go looking for or encounter online.
So, while the website needs to be the central informational hub they eventually arrive at, you’ll want to have a presence on other channels as well.
Here’s an example from Google and Zen Den Web Design of how you eventually want this to look:
You can see that this design agency has done the following:
- Provided Google with business details through a Google My Business account.
- Created a Facebook business page.
- Claimed its listing on Yelp.
Keep in mind that everyone’s online presence is going to look a little different. You need to build one out for yourself that makes the most sense. For example, do you need:
- A Google My Business or Yelp account to reach local business owners?
- A Facebook business page?
- A Facebook group to grow your community?
- A LinkedIn page for recruitment?
- A Quora account to answer questions and help potential clients find you there?
Just keep in mind that for every profile you set up, it needs to be regularly managed and closely monitored. If you don’t have the capacity for that, then just focus on your website and one or two social media channels for now.
Technically, everything you’ve done here will help you get web design clients . But like I mentioned before about SEO, you don’t always want to be on the hunt. It’s a time-consuming and exhausting process that’s going to take you away from paid work and building relationships with existing clients.
That said, your SEO work is going to take some time to kick in. In the meantime, here are some ways to get in front of high-quality prospects:
Ask existing or former clients for referrals. If they were great clients, there’s a good chance they’ll know other awesome business owners that need your help.
Connect with your “tribe” on social media . There are tons of groups on Facebook and LinkedIn where you can connect with other small business or agency owners who need clients or are maxed out and want to refer qualified prospects your way.
For instance, this is a post recently shared in the Web Designer Boss-Ladies group on Facebook :
Reach out to your personal network. You never know, a relative, friend or former colleague might know of an opportunity that would be perfect for you.
Publish new content to your website. Content marketing isn’t just useful for raising your profile in search or on social media. It can help potential clients find knowledgeable and talented designers or developers who understand their pains and know the exact solutions needed to ease them.
You can also use this space to communicate your mission and values, just as Wholegrain Digital does:
Offer a lead magnet. If you don’t have time to do a lot of blogging (or the funds to outsource it), put together a free and valuable resource to give away on your website, like a template, checklist, or ebook. Just remember to set up a sales funnel so you can automate pushing those leads through to conversion.
Scour job boards for good opportunities. Try to stay away from freelance marketplaces that require you to pay a fee for every job you secure. Instead, use resources like Indeed and LinkedIn Pro Finder to find reputable and high-quality clients .
Cold reach isn’t always a bad idea , especially if you’ve taken the time to research the company and website. Just make sure you actually qualify them as a lead, have a valid reason for reaching out to them (i.e., their website sucks), and have a plan for how you can fix it.
One of the problems you may run into when your business starts to pick up speed is stagnation of your design skills. It’s not as though you’ll forget how to build websites, especially if you’re working five days a week.
However, web design changes pretty quickly. One minute, every website is using lead generation pop-ups to greet visitors… and the next, they’re using AI chatbots to generate leads and get the conversation started.
So, among everything else you must do as a business owner and web designer to succeed, you’ll want to make room for ongoing education.
The easiest and most pain-free way to do this is to subscribe to a few of your favorite web design or development blogs . This way, you’ll always have the latest news, trends and changes waiting for you in your inbox.
Another thing you can do is carve out time for more formal education . And, no, I’m not talking about going back to school. There are so many other ways to accomplish this these days:
- Take free classes with a platform like Khan Academy .
- Play around with new coding or design techniques in online playgrounds like CodePen .
- Attend real-world training, collaboration, or networking events through WordCamp or Meetup .
If you want to ensure that your business does better with each passing year, keep educating yourself (and your team) so you’re always poised to deliver the most value.
The Challenges of Starting Your Own Web Design Business
To be fair, there are a ton of benefits associated with running your own small business or agency. You get:
- To set your own prices.
- Total control over your career and the direction of your business.
- Flexibility in terms of where, when, and how you work.
- Greater fulfillment working with clients you like, respect and can make a difference in the lives of.
But there are challenges, too.
For one, you’re the boss now, which means you’re responsible for making sure that everything runs as it needs to.
This goes beyond just successfully launching client websites. You have to make sure you’re making more money in your business than you’re spending on the business. You have to become really good at managing client relationships (and perhaps employee relationships, too). You also have to balance web design work with sales and marketing tasks.
Being the owner of a small web design shop is a lot of work. It costs money, too (as you’ll soon see).
Then there’s the fact that how you enter this opportunity can make or break the business.
For instance, let’s say you currently work full-time at a design agency, but your contract has a strict non-compete. When you leave, you might have to start your business with a new set of clients in a completely different niche. It’s going to take a lot of work to build your portfolio and reputation back up again if you have no previous work or contacts to leverage.
It’s not impossible, but it does make it harder.
Or let’s say that you’ve recently graduated from university. You have a pile of loans and expensive monthly bills that need to be paid now that you’re out in the real world. You’re having a hard time spending anything more than the bare minimum your business needs to get off the ground.
Without a healthy safety net of cash behind you as well as the time and funds to put into building your business today, it’s going to be difficult to ever get to a point where you generate a steady and predictable income from it.
Whatever your situation, just keep in mind that you won’t be able to launch this business tomorrow nor will it become an overnight success. It takes time, money and effort to get a business off the ground and, if you’re not in the right space to do that, you may want to postpone this until you’re ready.
Wrap-Up (Plus, a Bonus Tip!)
You wanted to learn how to start a web design business — and the 12 steps above will certainly set you down the right path. However, I want you to keep one very important thing in mind here as we wrap up:
If you do not take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of your clients.
In other words, if you’re hustling like crazy to launch this business and take on as many clients as possible, there’s a good chance you’re going to burn yourself out. And when you’re exhausted and can’t see straight and your body is killing you from sitting around for 10+ hours every day, your head isn’t going to be in the right place for this. You’ll rush through your work, get agitated with clients who mean well and the quality of output will decline.
This can happen in the very early days of a business as well as in the years ahead.
So, starting as early as possible, set up the following burnout-proof practices to ensure that you and your business always perform at their level best:
- Set a schedule and stick to it.
- Create boundaries within your workspace as well as with clients.
- Take weekends off and spend time with people you care about.
- Schedule vacation time at least once a year and build that time off into your pricing structure so you don’t see it as a “loss” you have to make up for.
- Connect with and support other creative business owners who’re in the same boat.
If you have a team working for you, foster a working environment that encourages these same best practices. No one is going to be of any use to your clients if you’re all struggling to get through the day. And you don’t want to let all the hard work you’ve invested in this business go to waste because of that.
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How to start a web design business
- Set up your work environment
- Build your support squad
- Decide on your products, services and pricing model
- Name your web design company
- Write your business plan
- Address legal and administrative requirements
- Create your proposals and contract templates
- Formalize project management and communication
- Create your client site launch process
- Craft your brand
- Build your online presence
- 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.
- 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. You can even create your own Facebook business page to promote your new venture.
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.
3. Decide on your products, services , and 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:
- Complete website design and development
- Site redesigns or rebuilds
- Website maintenance or management services
You might also offer complementary services, such as:
- Managed web hosting
- Content creation
- 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. However, 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.
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. You can use our business name generator to get some fresh ideas.
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 .
Related: How to buy a domain name
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.
6. Address legal and administrative requirements
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 .
Check your city government website to determine local requirements for business licensing, permits and fictitious name or DBA (“Doing Business As”) registration.
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.
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:
- “ 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
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. This includes:
- measurable objectives
- realistic budget
- schedule expectations
- 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 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
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. 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:
- Use of an intake form or checklist
- Holding a project kick-off meeting
- Educating clients about expectations regarding both behavior and deliverables
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.
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
- Cross-browser and device testing
- Testing of all functionality
- Testing of form submissions
- 301 redirects
- Google verification
- CMS up-to-date
- Themes and plugins are up-to-date
- Daily and weekly backup schedules 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 codes 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
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
11. Build your online presence
You’re proud of your work — time to showcase it to the world by creating 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:
- Contact information
- Services provided
- Testimonials and/or success stories
- Optionally, a free download that helps you acquire contacts for your mailing list
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: Check out our article on how to make a website from A to Z.
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 and 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
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
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.
- There will always be demand for websites, as new businesses get started, and established organizations want to up their game.
- The work is fun and 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 complimentary services as you gain expertise.
Related: The 17 types of clients that every web designer deals with
- 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?
- Treat all your projects like paid projects (even if you’re doing them for free ).
- Write effective contracts .
- Track expenses.
- Create project plans.
- Gather testimonials .
- Ask for referrals.
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:
- If you’ve determined you’re ready to start a web design business, set up your work environment and build your support squad.
- 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.
- Create infrastructure and processes for working with clients, including proposals, contracts, project management, communication, and launching their beautiful new website — designed by you!
- 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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Options and Tips for Creating a Web Design Business Plan
Don’t get too intimidated by writing a web design business plan, a lot of it just means getting down onto paper things you likely have been considering anyway. According to Entrepreneur “Writing…
Estimated Read Time: 40 minutes
Don’t get too intimidated by writing a web design business plan , a lot of it just means getting down onto paper things you likely have been considering anyway. According to Entrepreneur “Writing out your business plan forces you to review everything at once: your value proposition, marketing assumptions, operations plan, financial plan and staffing plan.”
If I can do it – and go from 1 to 10 people in three years, you can too 😉 My wife will tell you… I’m no genius.
Table of Contents
Main Points in a Web Design Business Plan Outline:
1. business concept –.
What is the web design industry like in your immediate area and region? What are the high-level possibilities for the success of your web design business? What are the prime differentiating factors and how you will set yourself apart from the competition?
2. Who is the market for your web design firm?
Who are your customers? Are you serving only mid-sized businesses? Only editorial publications? Churches? Non-profits? Teenie tiny mom and pop shops? Fortune 500 companies? What niche are you looking to serve? What is the demand like for the service? And this leads us into our next question.. What does your pricing need to look like to serve these customers? And it’s not always getting your price down into affordability; maybe you need to price higher so that your company seems more professional and that you can offer above and beyond service. “Price high and justify.”
3. Income and Cash Flow Statement, Balance Sheet etc.
“Start by estimating the revenues generated by an average sale. Then subtract the costs that change with each transaction, like sales commissions and costs of producing the products sold. The result is your “unit contribution.” Next, predict your monthly overhead, or expenses that don’t vary directly with sales volume, such as rent, salaries, utilities, legal fees, and accounting expenses. Finally, divide your monthly overhead by your unit contribution. That number will tell you how many transactions you’ll need per month to break-even.” From this article on Inc. of The Basics of a Business Plan by the Numbers.
Get started with this One Page Web Design Business Plan
General Principles for writing a Web Design Business Plan:
1. Keep your business plan short and simple.
Go for it right now with this One Page Web Design Business Plan .
2. Use visual charts to quickly show key numbers.
3. Do what you do best, and make it look professional.
4. Ask key questions like what will be it’s annual revenue in a year, and in 5 years.
5. What things can I delegate? Sales, Technical or others? How will you attract these people to help, and what will be your key differentiators of process and culture?
6. Is the business plan going to help you raise money?
7. How much of an initial investment will the business need?
Tools for Creating a Business Plan:
1. LivePlan.com – Visual planning tool, helpful if you really don’t know where to start. It will give you the sections and the template is already there.
2. The Art of The Start 2.0 (Book by Guy Kawasaki) – “It’s most relevant for technology or IT companies, but he has a way of writing that’s very clear, very to the point. There’s not a lot of pedantic info that you’ll find in textbooks.”
3. Score – Business Planning Templates – Quickly assess your marketing plan, Free business listing list for search engine optimization, Marketing must haves etc.
Thank you for reading! Share the love. 🙂
Keep the content coming, by tweeting this.
Other Links related to Web Design Plans:
- Web Design Sample Business Plan – Executive Summary
- 9 Steps to starting your freelance web design business – Business Tuts
- Plan a Web Development Business Part Two- BPlans
- How to Make a Business Plan for a Website Development Startup – Color Whistle
Getting Your First Web Design Clients
My first web design client was my future mother-in-law, a real doozie. A non-profit, I was paid $500 and an iPad. I’ve also been paid as little as – negative $ for making a website, because I was so eager for real world experience. Do you want a website? I want to give you one.. just let me pay for your hosting and I’ll make the website out of the salt from the sweat of my children.
Don’t sell yourself short. Charge a decent amount.
So the first real website I sold was a couple months later. I was just learning WordPress and I sold a site for 10 monthly payments of $250 dollars. Because it was a fairly simple marketing website and didn’t have a ton of custom features on it, this was actually a pretty solid deal for a starting out web designer.
The first half of selling yourself as a web designer is evidence. Let’s see the goods.
Make sure you have a decent portfolio out there, that you made yourself..
I don’t care if it’s on WordPress, straight HTML, or Ruby on Rails. Get that thing out in the open, give it the best you got and make sure it shows the best of your best work. Code up a non-profit’s website for free if you have to, and show as many real projects as you possibly can. I iterated on my website 3 times, with 2 live at my domain before I ever got my first real set of clients. It doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to exist.
Here’s my site I made in 2012 (click here to see it in the Internet Wayback Machine):
Here’s the site in 2013 (click here to see it in the Internet Wayback Machine):
Yes.. I agree my portfolio was a little weak at this point, but guess what? I was getting clients. I wasn’t by any means, raking them in, but people I knew were coming to me and asking if I could help with their website or help them make a new website. I was eager to be of service, and make enough money to stop bussing tables.
Let the world know you’re making websites now.
Change your job on Facebook to ‘Self Employed Web Designer’, change your LinkedIn – don’t put Aspiring Web Designer in your Twitter profile, put Web Designer. You’re a big boy (or girl) now. I personally took a good hard running jump at web design, and with one client and one month covered in expenses jumped out into the market as a web designer. No more restaurant job (which for me didn’t pay THAT well anyways.) When people hear that’s what you do, and you take a friendly and helpful attitude when they reach out, or you offer your services you can quickly earn some awareness around the new service you offer.
Don’t wait until you have it perfected, just go for it.
I’m not suggesting you make the new 3M website, or try to sell yourself as a ten year veteran of website design. You can, however, say you will go above and beyond for a client as you are starting out fresh and will do everything in your power to make them an excellent website. If you’ve created a couple of examples, then that can help adjust expectations and although you may need to put ungodly amounts of time into your first couple websites you will earn your chops in the struggle. You’ll figure out how to z-index a logo over the top of overlapping nav div.
In defense of the designer-developer.
Other ways to promote your new web design business
- Look for ways to trade your services for advertising : I sold my services in an auction by a Minneapolis newspaper in exchange for adspace in their lifestyle magazine VitaMN.
- Get every viable social media handle/url under the name you’re using to freelance , promote yourself vigorously on TWO of these, and understand you’re not going to do ALL of them well .
- Make a list of all the acquaintances who have small businesses, and that could use a website. Send them a quick note, and always be of the mind that you’re there to be of service – not sell.
- Go old school and create a flyer : I put boots on the ground and peddled my wares (a one page services sheet – without pricing on it) around every business that I could open the door to in my area of Uptown Minnesota. I focused on what I did that was different. Alot of times this is personal service, since you likely have less clients and more time and attention than alot of web design shops in town. – To be perfectly honest, this didn’t get me a client. Maybe what I’m really suggesting here is hustling your ass off and being as present as possible… take every opportunity to share what you do until you gain momentum.
- Put out content on a blog on your website and promote it on social media : Don’t sell dude. Don’t do it. You can still see my oldest posts on this blog that are salesy… it’s not going to kill your blog, but it’s really boring and no-one wants to read those. Just give as much value as you can, share your experiences and focus on the ONE SERVICE you are really trying to sell and things you’re learning in that discipline. Use it as an opportunity to dig deeper into your craft, and to share as you go.
Price High and Justify
After you promote the living shit out of yourself on social media, talk to your long lost friend with a supplement or house painting business, and make a few mistakes it’s time to price high and justify . You have to charge what people will pay, but as soon as you can push that number up as high as it can reasonably go. Why? If you have high prices it means you can make more excellent work! Justify the price with above and beyond service and you’ll feel great about what you do. Your work will mean more profitable businesses that benefit from the excellent websites you make. It feels good to help people feed their families by helping them get the word out about what makes their business special. And in the end, that’s what it boils down to for me.
Make Sure Your Process Differentiates You from Competitors
It’s important to recognize what your business’s competitive advantage is, and unless you want to build a business that depends upon what’s special about YOU as an individual you have to draw out and nurture the special things about your process. To focus on your own unique specialties alone builds a prison fortress around you, and if you ever want to hire or contract out parts of the business you’re stuck with a business that only works with you sweating away at the center of it; the wizard behind the curtain, slowly getting too tired to perform at the same level.
So for me the key pieces of my web design process as I am learning to define them are:
1. responsiveness to changes that clients need..
– Example: Client asks for a lighter color scheme in development, instead of fretting we work hard to satisfy the request and push back when appropriate to keep within a reasonable budget.
Key to fulfilling: Web design services should not be dirt cheap, and if they are they aren’t taking into consideration the time it takes to build something fully customized for the business’s needs. Templated solutions get generic unfulfilling results. (However, I still feel that for some customers templated solutions such as Squarespace.com and WordPress Themes from Themeforest without custom code can occasionally fulfill their needs and suggest that they try those routes if their budget doesn’t allow to really hire someone to do it right.)
2. Examining the overall market for the client and tailoring the content on the site to the scenarios that could be useful to their favorite kinds of clients.
– Example: Your site is serving people who just suffered hail damage to their home, we assess that a key to surprising and delighting these types of customers is serving up content that is about how to buff out hail damage on their car.
Key to fulfilling: It’s crucial we think about the psychology of the people coming into the site. This is the number one question we ask when making a website: “how can we serve your ideal customer with this content, this imagery, the messages we’re sharing and the story we’re telling.”
3. Building out the main service pages of the website in the hope that the content will attract new customers, making key items like ‘contact us’ and ‘buy now’ super easy to access on the main promos, sidebars, and at the end of content.
– Example: Adding bigger content pieces after key visual blocks on service pages so that the service page is indexable by Google and people who want to really dig into what you have that option. Big old juicy buttons that say “Contact us now” or “Request a quote” are super obvious and surrounded by trust factors such as positive testimonials, industry badges, a phone number, or 3 key differentiating features in bullet points.
Keys to fulfilling: It’s important not only to think about how people are going to perceive this site when they get there but how they are going to get there in the first place. By thinking about big content pieces that could provide big value for the client during the design process, the website can be built in a way that emphasizes and makes those big content pieces that are serving a real need available and to the forefront of the site with menu structure, and other pieces of navigation and structure.
4. Imagery is outside the box, and elicits a positive emotional response from key individuals your business is targeting.
– Example: A Death to Stock Photo image that feels less stock photo-esque and more candid than most stock photos.
Even better, you and your storefront, your set of tools. An ACTUAL satisfied client, smiling and holding your product or enjoying your work.
Keys to fulfilling: Often this involves imagining what a positive interaction between your business and your client will look like. Is it you sitting with them, them smiling, and a chart of upward momentum on the computer screen in front of you? Is it freshly cut grass without them lifting a finger, so they get to smile and sip fresh lemonade on their porch? This is the story we want to display. We want the imagery to feel candid, real and maybe even a bit unusual. But a visitor should be able to see it and think to themselves, I want to be there. They should be able to imagine themselves in the place of the person pictured on the site.
5. The copy is written in a way that quickly explains the core benefit/value from your product or service, invites the visitor to participate, and explains why it will be awesome for them.
– Example: A moving company could say “Your back will thank you, call us for a custom quote today.” A remodeling company could say, “You’ll feel as good as your home will look.” with a call to action button that says, “Get a quote for a fresh look.”
Keys to fulfilling: Never be generic! Shake out the cobwebs in your marketing brain right now. Seriously, every single product or service has a unique and special story behind it, and the customers you serve need to know why anyone would choose you . Why have they in the past? I speak to the business owners and people representing businesses in their marketing teams, and I ask: “Tell me the story of positive customer experience, that you’re aware of.” What does that look like. Tell that story on the site. The more you get curious about these stories and the core benefit a product or service is providing, very few things are truly boring. The more you get interested in the story of the product or service, and tell that positive experience story the more you’ll see that almost anything can be interesting.
And the moral of the story is:
As you can see, the key differentiating features of this design process is a personal connection, customizing the solution to the industry and those specific businesses prime differentiating features, and enthusiasm. That enthusiasm through every piece of the puzzle is crucial. It’s important to note at every step of the process that this is for a business composed of REAL PEOPLE, whose food and shelter depends on telling the story to the world, and REAL PEOPLE who benefit from the product or service being served. This is the real end value. So anyone I work with, or for feels that: the enthusiasm and the genuine intent to provide value. This is key to this design process.
How to Speak About Design to Establish Trust
“I thought you might like the flourishes in the header, it has that bohemian, natural feeling you were talking about when we first met up to discuss the project.” = FIRE ME . “Thought you might like,” “Going for that feeling,” and “I was inspired to take a fun direction,” all scream of whimsical dainty little artist types who could literally die from the harsh realities of designing for real economic pressures. The real economic reality is that families food and shelter depends on the success of a business, and a key component of how a business does is how that business presents itself to the world through design.
I’m not saying you can’t feel a feeling and apply it to your work in design, but design isn’t art. It is meant to solve real world problems. So instead of focusing on your feelings while presenting to the client, focus on design principles, web design best practices, and the persona’s and scenario’s you established during your discovery phase. Focus the conversation around:
- Design Principles
- Web Design best practices
- Persona’s and scenario’s
Why do design principles even matter?
I’ve had a couple situations lately, where someone seems to be questioning why a font choice even matters. They rolled their eyes when I mentioned a study that called Baskerville the most trusted font. It got me thinking. How am I presenting this wrong? Because I know in my heart of hearts that design matters. <- FIRE ME, but I can’t seem to always make it dead obvious to people I’m presenting work to.
I want to show them two ads side by side, one with high quality fonts that were chosen with serious intention and one with quickly chosen free fonts , and ask them which of them makes the product they represent seem more expensive, or which one makes the product seem more quality. Because good design does indeed represent products and services in a better light, and makes them seem more high quality. You know that, and I know that, but:
But how do we make the value of design dead obvious?
1. Resolve to help them find solutions to pain points. – Your website looks like shit on mobile, let’s fix that. Your logo has gradients and shadows in it to the point it’s hard to use on shirts and in other simple ways. Let’s address those and work from there how design can help solve problems you’re aware of now. Maybe it expands from there; as a designer, you’re a problem solver and the more you can identify and come up with creative and solid solutions for, the more design solutions you get to get paid for.
2. Dive into their world and become aware of what they value. – For web design you might realize the client cares more about looking cool than contact form submissions. You might realize they value their relationship with their family deeply, that a certain type of customer is their favorite . Once we realize what they care about deeply… pause pause pause …we can help them communicate those values through the design. By diving in, visiting their shop, asking a lot of questions, and being present we can then better let them know how good design will help them do that.
3. Focus on the things they do understand like ‘Trust factors’, ‘color psychology’ and ‘telling the story.’ – ‘We have to tell the story of your business better,’ is going to resonate with some people better than my fascination with the font Baskerville. Even though I deeply care about typography, it’s just not always as accessible of a topic, or as interesting to clients. What they do understand is how adding a Better Business Bureau badge next to the contact form will help increase the likelihood of people contacting them, and how blue is associated with trust and how green get’s associated with natural, fresh, or innovative. This really depends on the particular client, as some clients can go deep without a lot of prep.
Let’s circle back for a bit and make sure you’re working with the right kind of client:
The client defines the value and the designer discovers it. Ask the client what their business or organization does and why is it important to their target audience. If they don’t give you a quick comprehensible answer they are not ready to work with a designer or an agency. If they do answer the question you should next ask them what success looks like and what their goals are. DO NOT lead them toward what you think success might be. Let them define it.
When you get their feedback, dig deeper. A good way to do this is by asking who their target audience is and what their target audience needs are. If they can’t answer this they are not ready for the value a designer or an agency will provide. The client needs to have experience communicating with their target audience in order to set proper goals. If there’s no goal, how will you know whether or not a project is successful? Here are some red flags to look out for in the beginning stages of communicating with a potential client. I asked a fellow designer, Brenna French to share some thoughts on this issue:
“You sit down at a coffee shop excited to talk to a potential client about the project and the first thing they say is, I want to build a website how much would that be? This is a red flag because this means their mindset is already focused on getting a deal and not on the value you can provide for their business or their target audience.
This goes both ways in the relationship by the way, you never want to position the project or conversation around money. If you talk about money right away this shows the client that you are money hungry or desperate for work. Remember you are a professional and you are serious about your work and the value you can provide. Positioning the conversation around value sets the tone for the whole relationship in a positive way.
Say you get past that money conversation and everything is going well so far so you start talking about the project. The client starts to explain that they are wanting a one-page website design and they also want the main colors to be blue and orange because to them those are beautiful colors, oh yeah they also want a picture of themselves in the main header. This is a red flag because they have too many ideas of what they are visually wanting the end product to look like.
As a design professional, I don’t want to execute the client’s wants in mind. I design the best possible solution for the client’s target audience so the client will reach their business goals. From my experience, a client that has a specific visual direction is difficult to work with. Position the conversation around value. By the end of the conversation, you both are excited to get started. You set clear expectations and attracted the client by positioning the conversation around value.”
– Brenna French
Ask these questions of new possible clients: Is the client sure of their target audience?
Is the client aware of their target audience’s needs?
Are they able to answer right away, what is it that you do and why is it important to your target audience?
Do they start talking about their budget right away? (If they do it might be a red flag – try to change the conversation to talk about value that you’ll provide, not an arbitrary number you come with on the fly without fully understanding the project.)
Do they give off the impression that they understand you’re the expert, that they understand that are only responsible for Content – and Business Goals?
Do they have alot of ideas already about how the website should look? – A possible red flag.
That last one is challenging, and occasionally working for small businesses it’s important to kindly educate your clients on what is your responsibility and what is yours. But needless to say, if they come out of the gate giving strong layout suggestions and explaining their specific vision for look and feel you’re being pigeon-holed into the position of technician implementing someone else’s design, not the dynamic problem-solving designer.
Ways to talk and words to use
Talk confidently and make sure to include examples of previous work where you solved a specific goal-oriented problem. Now is the time to ask what their primary objective is, and to set up a metric for the design you’re working on currently. 100 e-mail list subscriptions, 15 contact form submissions by legitimate prospects, 20 sales the first three months of launch. Make specific goals have a date attached to them. Gathering this information after the design should be part of what you’re being paid to do, and part of what you’re selling.
Do user testing on the old site when they come in, if it’s worth testing. Talk about testing critical things. Words and phrases to use: research, effective, goals, trust-worthy, tell your story, appeal to your core demographic. Always do research on their industry before getting into the site design. Their competitors, and brand positioning. By doing this you better understand what they are up against and you position yourself as the expert with a unique understanding of their dilemma. This is another reason to hold off giving a price for the work until you fully understand the problem at hand.
Share research. You don’t always have to have it on hand when you are discussing a particular issue. But you should do your due diligence, if they want a pop-up newsletter subscription box then you should be able to go find the research on which way of doing that is most effective (right away, timed, or exit intent,) or general tips on making a pop-up effective. I find it especially effective to share these bits of research right before you show the design at all. Come up with three pieces of research to support points that might be contentious or that push their comfort level on the design. Share them briefly before going over the design.
When you get into showing the design, avoid the real estate tour; ‘here’s the logo,’ ‘here’s the nav,’ etc. Go straight for the heart of why the design serves their goals. Talk about flow and conversions, and especially focus on how the design presents their story in a unique and compelling way to appeal to their core demographic. Never ask for feedback, ask if they have any questions. In this way, you can further ingrain yourself in their mind as an expert. I think of it as a bit of swagger. Humble swagger, but you have to have some swagger in this industry.
Content Strategy for Web Designers to Attract Ideal Customers
Devising a workable and effective content strategy can be difficult for any company or brand, as the needs and desires of readers, clients, and businesses always vary from individual to individual, and from day to day. With a bit of work and the following content strategy guide to get you started, you should be well on your way to developing a stellar web design content strategy ! The most important part is that you start, and these practical and actionable strategies will help you get your ass in gear.
If you’d like a brief overview of what a content strategy is, check out this brief video by Lynda.com.
Begin with Introspective Evaluation
Before taking that first step down the road of content creation, the best tactic is to initially spend some time to evaluate where your company, your content, and your brand currently stand. Begin this evaluation by honestly answering a few simple questions:
How is our brand currently perceived in the marketplace?
What are good and bad aspects of the brand’s existing content?
What content-related goals would we like to achieve?
How does our brand match up to other web design competitors?
With these basic questions answered about your brand and where your company currently stands, you can move onto an overall content strategy design by answering “The Five Ws”:
Who is the audience of our content?
When should particular content be available?
Where (in which channels) should the content exist?
Why is the content relevant (or) why will the audience care?
What is the message or purpose of the content?
For example, throughout this article I’ll illustrate examples with a fictional up-and-coming web design firm called Green Lemon Design. The Green Lemon team — who are looking to establish themselves in the web design market as a talented, young, and energetic choice for lower to mid-tier web designs — might answer these questions in the following (simplified) form:
Potential clients: Users seeking low- to mid-range website design and consultation services.
Existing clients: Users who have worked with us in the past.
Most content on the website should be available 24/7, while content that is time-sensitive (such as a month-long new client special deal) can be temporary.
Onsite, Blog, Email, Twitter, Facebook
The audience should be seeking professional and affordable web design services that we can offer (for potential customers) or additional customer support and services (for existing clients).
To inform and educate our audience on the skills and capabilities of our brand, to impress with our past successes and portfolio, and to establish good rapport and relationships with both potential and existing clients.
Establishing Brand, Voice, and Tone Guidelines
With the basic questions answered that inform you of a need to change your content strategy , now is a good time to evaluate the brand, voice, and tone guidelines you’ll utilize throughout the content.
Brand guidelines can cover logo design to color pallette and everything in between. For content strategy , the best places to start are:
Fonts and typefaces : What fonts will be used throughout the content? How about sizes for various elements (paragraphs, headers, testimonials, etc)?
Colors and palettes : What colors best suit your brand or company and can be utilized throughout the content? – Example above includes a distinctive color palette that could be applied to other elements.
Images and logos : Which particular static images or logos should be prominent throughout the content? – It’s useful to repeat symbols such as the ‘greenish lemon’ throughout this piece. This may be particular to the content you put out on your site in general, or a particular blog post or content hub.
Videos and animations : As above, are there any video clips that should be frequent or readily available somewhere in the content?
Voice & Tone
Determine early in the process what kind of voice and tone you wish to attach to your content and thus associate with your brand. This can be difficult at first, particularly without much in the way of experienced writers on staff, but finding an appropriate voice can be a huge boon to your content strategy as a whole.
For example, Green Lemon Web Design may elect to take on a very informal, even humorous tone throughout their content. As a young and fresh company, they may feel most comfortable keeping their tone light-hearted and fun, to attract the business and clientele of smaller, younger companies like themselves.
Onsite Content: The Bread of Your Content Strategy Sandwich
Time to get down to the real core of your content strategy by first devising the outline of content that should exist onsite. Remember, anything that exists on the company or brand website (with the exception of the blog) is considered onsite content and should be under your complete control.
For our fictitious Green Lemon Web Design, the outline for onsite content strategy might include the following sections:
Voice & Tone : Errors/alerts, testimonials, FAQ, portfolio should have a fun and humorous tone, while a more serious, business tone is necessary for transactional and billing-related messages.
Images : In addition to the logo and color palette established previously, we’d like some professional photography to splash through the core onsite pages (about us, contact us, etc), but with a refreshing twist: Each photo should contain a small green lemon strategically placed and tucked somewhere in the graphic, to bring a branded element into the design for brand awareness and maximum impact.
Portfolio : A list of clients we’ve assisted in the past with small testimonials from business partners from each when relevant.
About Us : Details about how Green Lemon came to be, including headshots of all employees with short, fun bios from each. Employees must provide a quote (think high school graduation yearbook quote, or ask a curious question to get your team showing their true colors.) In my experience looking at analytics for a lot of sites, people visit these pages more than you might initially think. It make sense, because we want to know about the people in your business. Tell us more, give us the inside scoop, tell your story.
Contact Us/Get a Quote : Standard form with name, email, and (optional) telephone fields for potential clients to get in touch. Should we include our company promise to establish return correspondence within 4 hours?
FAQ : Answer basic questions, primarily focused at potential customers. What is our typical turnaround time? What post-design support can we offer? Include a handful of fun and humorous questions at the end as well.
Services : Describe all services we offer, broken into categories (consultation, marketing, technology, industries, etc).
Errors & Alerts : 404 error should be squeezed green lemon with one final drop of juice falling out. Logged in clients with unread messages or invoices should see amusing flash message on each screen until dismissed. Little alerts and responses to contact form inquiries can be an opportunity to show a bit of the companies friendly, human character as well as display being adept with technology and attention to detail.
Blog Posts: That’s the Good Stuff
While strong onsite content is of course critical to the success of any strategy, very often the real meat and potatoes of your online presence is contained within the blog. The blog offers an avenue for expressing ideas and sharing content that is timely, relevant, and inspirational for the audience.
A blog is also a more appropriate channel to take risks — even slight ones — with the content your brand produces. Blog content can be anything from industry news and competitor-vs.-self comparisons to tutorials and how-to guides.
A successful blog is a channel for content that relates to the brand or company, but then extends well beyond the purview of the brand to provide relevant and interesting content for the audience to consume.
Don’t get caught in the old-school idea of a blog, where one or a handful of curators post personal stories and anecdotes. While that type of content is certainly acceptable and sometimes appropriate to a modern blog, try to expand the content well outside the bounds of that traditionally small umbrella.
For example, Green Lemon might highlight some potential blog ideas for their new web designer content strategy :
A post discussing highly influential creatives in the design space and how they have inspired Green Lemon and other designers. We should emphasize the great projects these creatives have worked on over the years to entice our readers by illustrating how Green Lemon understands the industry and that our team (or freelancer) strives to meet the same standards of excellence.
Discuss the importance of social media contact, even amongst these influences, by tagging them on Twitter with a link to the blog post. An ideal tactic is not to directly ask a question of the power user in question, but to ask a question of our general Twitter audience (e.g. “Designers: How has @Influencer inspired you in your own projects? #GreenLemonDreaming”).
Content Hub Posts
Posts that emphasize a highly-curated and relevant series of links and posts found elsewhere that relate to a particular topic, such as web design. Since a popular group of articles gathered in this singular “content hub”-style post will drive a lot of SEO traffic and referral linkbacks to our site, we can be confident that the effort in putting together these posts is worthwhile and will generate a great deal of buzz and traffic for Green Lemon.
As a relatively new company, we cannot be afraid to try emphasizing localized keywords to drive interest and traffic to Green Lemon and bring in potential clients.
A great technique is to create a series of blog posts that highlight particular keywords and heavily focus the relevant aspects of the content on those keywords.
To drive localized traffic we can start with “Web Design in Minneapolis” and “Web Design in Minnesota,” which should feature some location-specific content mixed into the standard information. This can be as simple as pictures or mentions of local attractions in the city or state that residents of these areas who read the article will relate to.
Conversely, we’ll need more broad language and images to accompany our post about “WordPress Web Design,” which should shy away from localized content but instead contain information solely about the techniques and technologies (CMS organization, colors/typefaces, content release schedule, etc).
Inactivity is a Death Sentence
While the initial questions and answers when getting started in the content strategy process as seen above might seem at first to provide only a very rudimentary insight the steps to implement a strategy, there is one key lesson to learn when it comes to anything related to content: Don’t get bogged down by the minutiae and thus never take action .
The biggest mistake anyone can make when it comes to content strategy is to be too passive, to over-assess and over-plan to the point of inaction. Particularly in the online space — where content moves at the speed of light (both figuratively and literally) — failing to act at all on a new content strategy is far worse than taking action and modifying or adjusting the content strategy plan as you learn and grow along the way.
That’s not to say planning and strategy are not important, but in many situations for both companies and clients alike, it is far more important to just “get out there” with the content so the audience can begin to interact with the content or brand than it is to delay far too long with nothing to show for it from a public perspective.
Maintaining Your Flexibility
Content strategies come in all shapes and sizes and should not be solely thought of as a brand-wide, all-inclusive methodology for every piece of content the brand creates.
Instead, content strategies can and should be developed in a modular fashion. Similar to a well-crafted website, an interchangeable content strategy allows for flexibility throughout the process over time, as variables change and the success (or failure) of a particular strategy evolves over time.
This technique should most commonly be used to distinguish between the various channels in which your content resides. A strategy module that suits email campaigns is likely not as well suited for handling social media interactions on Twitter, just as the static onsite content used throughout the site will differ significantly from the content posted on a blog.
Embrace these differences and freely develop multiple modules of your content strategy to fit each appropriate channel. You can and should still maintain an overall parent strategy that infuses elements into every child strategy below that (fonts, colors, common logos/images, etc), but much of the content beyond that will shift as the medium changes.
The Necessity of Taking Risks
A very useful tool when first developing a content strategy is to evaluate the various levels of “risk” involved in any given style or example of content. That is, when a reader or user engages with that content, how likely are they to expect it versus how likely are they to be pleasantly surprised? Additionally as the content creator, how likely is a piece of content to feel standard and safe versus something risky that could fail or be taken poorly, but provide benefit if successful?
There are numerous risk strategies out there, but a solid standard for content strategy used by Portent, Inc. is the 70-20-10 rule .
This rule effectively states that 70% of your content should be safe and expected, 20% should be moderately risky and challenges the standard 70% of your content, and the last 10% should be very risky , such that it is entirely unexpected content or may horribly fail in some way (but will offer large benefits if successful).
For the fictitious Green Lemon Web Design, they have elected to disperse their content using the 70-20-10 rule in roughly this manner:
70%: Most onsite stuff, such as About Us, FAQ, Services, Contact Us/Get a Quote, etc.
20%: Most blog posts that relate to the industry; those that provide assistance to clients, potential customers, or casual readers.
10%: A handful of blog posts that go against the normal, such as emphasizing the great work our competitors have been doing in the past few months or a post about a seemingly unrelated topic to drive traffic and user interest (books, gaming, fishing, etc). We’d also like to add a comparison chart of services and pricing between Green Lemon and popular competitors, which may include features we are weaker at than others but may ingratiate readers to us for our honesty.
Whatever the exact risk assessment is that your own brand settles on, it is vital to not be too afraid of taking risks from time to time. Being a little out there or edgy with your content will make a lasting, memorable impression instead of the countless other examples that are boring and forgotten after a short glance.
A Handful of Content Examples
Below you’ll find a list of example content titles that a new web design firm like Green Lemon — or even you — might find useful to pursue, roughly categorized by intended audience and/or creators.
For Web Designers
Web-for-All: Accessibility for Modern Web Design
Why Improved Design Cannot Solve Content Issues
Content Optimization for Mobile Platforms
Why Email Requires a Responsive Design
And Dash of That..: How A/B Testing Dramatically Improves User Experience
A Bridge Too Far: When Additional Feature Requests Should Be Ignored
This Ain’t Your Granddad’s Pixel: How Modern Displays Are Changing Web Design
Creating Beautiful Graphics and Logos in Pure CSS
The Homepage: When Automation Must Take a Back Seat to Human Control
For Web Marketers
Identifying Your Audience and Content to Meet User Demands
Community is Everything: Why Building a Community is Critical to Content Strategy
Risk vs. Reward: Why Safe is Often the Least Safe
Cultivating Client Relationships
I Like You: Spreading Your Content via Third Party Services
Localization, Love, and Liberation: Why i18n is Critical to Content Strategy
Miniature Adults: How Children Utilize the Web and Interact with Your Site
Stay Awhile and Listen: How to Genuinely Engage with Readers
Establishing a Content Strategy for Personal Websites
Online Trapdom: Why Free Services Rarely Are
Just You Being You: How Social Media Encourages a False Sense of Self
Look At All My Resources!
While this article should provide a great starting point to establishing your own web marketer content strategy , there are multitudes of resources online with great information to boost your knowledge and get you down the right path toward content nirvana.
Below are a handful of prime resources to chew through at your leisure, so please enjoy!
Creating a Content Compass : Explores the diverging content strategy of a particular web project across the entirety of a brand’s content universe.
The Magic Content Marketing Ratio: Email Conversion Rate
4 Keys to Capturing a New Audience for Your Content Marketing
Being Real Builds Trust : Discusses why trust with users and clients is among the most vital components of strong marketing content strategy .
Help Your Content Go Anywhere With a Mobile Content Strategy
Future-Ready Content : Developing a web design content strategy that is as future-proof as possible, not just technically but in the manner in which content is created.
Contently Comic: Sponsored Insanity : Explores the pitfalls and trouble that can come from unnecessary sponsored content.
The Most Important Audience for Your Content Marketing : Your Own Employees : How brand and businesses should ensure employees fully understand and adhere to the marketing content strategy .
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How to Start a Web Design Business: A Step-by-Step Guide
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So you’ve mastered the arts in web design . Now you’re looking to grow your own web design business. You clicked on this page because you want to know how to start a web design business, and yes, this is the right place.
A web design business can be started in two ways, mainly as a freelancer or as an agency. A freelancer means that you work individually and directly with your clients.
In contrast, an agency is where several designers are under the same roof, meaning multiple people can work together with a client.
You’ll need to consider a few elements before starting your own website business. In this article, I’ll be giving you seven detailed steps on how to start a web design business and some tips to guide you as you build it.
How to start a web design business in 7 steps
1. Find a niche for your web design business
You might think that creating designs for everyone is the right way to go. Unless you have a ton of experience designing for various industries, this is a challenging task.
Before you learn how to start a web design company, you should try choosing a niche first to establish yourself and show that you are different from the rest.
Your business should be something that you’re passionate about and have a high chance of success when doing it. Look at your past experiences, where did you enjoy working? Think about your most vital skills, where do you excel the most?
You can even create a niche based on your location, serving the local business community. Once you have your niche, take some time to research whether it has opportunities and whether you’ll earn money.
2. Create your business’ brand
After you’ve settled on a niche and know that it will be profitable and last for a while, it’s now time to create a name for your business and create a brand that will effectively communicate what values you bring as simply as possible. This is an essential part of how to start a web design business.
Create a memorable logo
If you’re more than likely a web developer, logo design isn’t your thing.
You can create a logo by hiring a professional graphic designer, and they’ll create whatever logo you want to have. Though if you don’t have a large budget to start your business, you can design your logo for free by using an online logo creator, or other software you’re comfortable with.
Make sure to keep your logo fairly minimal and limit it to two or three colors, no more. A messy design will be hard to remember and will generally look quite unprofessional, especially for a web designer.
Craft a compelling Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
As you want to stand out from the rest, you’ll want to create a unique selling proposition . It will greatly speed up the process of learning how to start a web design business. It’s a summary of what makes your business stand out and valuable to your target market.
To create a compelling USP, you should follow these steps:
- Describe your target audience
- Explain the problem that you’ll solve for them
- List your biggest unique benefits
- Combine them into a paragraph
- Cut it down to just one sentence
As the final result, you’ll end up with a USP that’s specific and simple. Take your time to draft out a few USPs, then compare them all in the end to pick the best one. And remember, a second opinion doesn’t hurt.
Choose a color scheme and design language for your brand
This is another important, often overlooked, aspect of branding. Color schemes matter because people often link them to emotions and emotions are a powerful force that drives people’s decision-making process. As a brand, you’ll want to create a strong emotional connection with your customers.
Here are some examples of what brand color means and the effects it has on people:
- White — relates to cleanliness, virtue, or simplicity
- Light Blue — it evokes trust, tranquility, and innocence
- Red — stands for excitement, passion or importance
- Gray — can be interpreted as neutral, classic, or mysterious
- Black — gives a powerful, modern, and luxurious feeling
There are plenty more meanings to colors, take your time to research thoroughly.
Another thing to keep in mind is the design language of your brand. Creating a design language means building a foundation for how all of your designs should be communicated. Remember that you’re not designing a brand for yourself, but you’re doing it for your customers.
To create a great design language, you must first know your customers and ask how your current design looks. You can also ask questions like, what makes you trust a brand? And so forth.
Not only does your design need to utilize color, but you also need great typography. You should spend some time to find the fonts that suit your style and your brand.
3. Decide how much to charge for your web design services
Now comes the tricky part, how much should customers pay for your services. When deciding how to start a web design business, you’ll have three different ways to get paid :
Pricing Option #1: Charge an hourly rate
In this method, you set a price for each hour you put in the project. When the project is done, you ask for payment for the total hours you put in. An average hourly freelance rate is between $15 – $75+, according to Upwork .
A lot of clients expect this kind of payment. It’s incredibly easy to calculate. This is an attractive prospect for freelancers like yourself as you don’t know how long the project will take.
If you’re unsure about what to charge, use our free freelance rate calculator to see exactly what you should be charging in order to hit your income goals.
Pricing Option #2: Charge per project
Here, you set the price based on what project you will do. The rate is flat and will depend on the difficulty of the job and your experience as a designer. Usually, the rate is around $500 to well above $5000 per project, according to Ripe Media .
Here, you can focus more on delivering the best product you can make. Clients who choose this method also know that they are paying for the outcome, not their effort. Therefore, you can charge more as well.
Pricing Option #3: Charge per day
By using this method, you charge based on the number of days you work with your client. The standard rates vary from $90 to $900, according to ExpertMarket . The rate depends on your experience. The more experienced, the higher you can charge.
This is an excellent method if the client wants you to go to their place to monitor and tell you what to do directly.
4. Build your business website
When you’re creating your own website, there’s plenty to consider.
Before anything, you need to buy your own domain name (ex: webcompany.com), purchase your web hosting (like BlueHost or WP Engine ) then you can get started building.
Next — what platform will you use? This largely is determined on your knowledge as a web designer.
One of the leading platforms for building websites today is WordPress — powering over a third of all websites on the web. WordPress allows you essentially unlimited options and opportunities for website design.
There is a small learning curve with WordPress, but there are literally thousands of pre-made freelancer WordPress themes you can buy to help get your website started. They come with tons of templates, plugins and friendly builders to create your own website with ease.
There’s also DIY website builders like Squarespace and Wix — which are for ultimate beginners. These platforms, however, do not have the flexibility that WordPress offers.
Now that you’ve gotten that straightened out, you should remember that you need to have a few static pages to boost your credibility and image. Those pages are:
- About – this is where you introduce yourself to visitors and list your credentials as well as past experiences.
- Contact – this is where people can get in contact with you. You can promote your social media here too.
- Portfolio page – this is where you showcase your previous and ongoing work for visitors to view.
To make your website more credible, make sure you also emphasize writing. Not only about your work in the past, but people are also interested in reading about the projects and what made them special, and how you overcame design challenges. You can also provide testimonials somewhere on your homepage to build trust with current and future clients.
5. Get the required licenses and permits
This is the part where you get your paperwork done as a new business owner. Here, you decide how you’ll structure your business, whether you want to do it alone or not. You should check with your local government to see if you require any license to operate.
Choose a business entity
Here you’ll get to pick your own business structure. The choice you make will affect your legal liability as an owner, your growth potential, and your tax obligations. I would recommend you consult with a lawyer to help you with the necessary paperwork.
I’ll give you some ideas on the types of business entities. Some are:
- Sole proprietorship – your business is not formally registered. Hence the business is not its own entity which has separate legal and tax obligations from you. Everything that the business has is tied with you as the owner.
- LLC (limited liability company) – your business is considered a disregarded entity. Meaning that its tax obligations are directly related to your own tax returns, but your business is a separate entity from you from a legal standpoint.
- Corporation – your business is considered as a separate entity in terms of both tax and legal responsibilities. The income and expenses are tied to the company, not you. Ownership of the business is based on the number of stocks placed.
Doing Business As (DBA)
This is another way of registering your business. This is so you have the right to use your fictitious business name. Every region has different requirements on whether or not you need to register your business name. So be sure to check with your local government first.
Generally speaking, you’ll need to fill out a statement or buy a business certificate and pay certain fees.
When you’re ready to hire people…
If you plan to hire people, then you’ll need to create an EIN (Employer Identification Number). It is a set of numbers that will be used to identify your business for everything.
You’ll also need to provide medical, retirement, or other benefit plans for your employees. You should identify if your employees will need special medical benefits and determine your vacation policy.
6. Get the right equipment and software
Now you probably already know the types of equipment and software you need to design a web. But here, I’ll remind you of the best practices for each, giving you a few recommendations regarding which tool to use.
Image editing and prototyping software
A great image editing software that probably every web designer uses is Photoshop. The endless options for colors and gradients give you the ability to create aesthetically pleasing prints and patterns in your design. This allows you to create authentic websites since you’re creating the digital files based on what you’ve drawn.
If you’re looking for a prototyping software, then I’d recommend you to use InVision Studio. It has an incredible UI tool with various features and applications to help create website interfaces that are responsive, beautiful, user friendly, and collaborative.
One of the features, called rapid prototyping, allows you to create web transitions that are both creative and complex. Giving you the level of animations you want.
Professional web design software
Adobe XD is the standard when it comes to UX/UI design. It allows you to do collaborative designs and customize many elements of your soon-to-be website. You can add and customize voice interfaces and animations, gain the ability to build design systems and responsive web designs that have content-focused layouts, and do much more.
Version control system
If you’re working with other people, then this tool is necessary for you. A version control system like Git allows you to have multiple developers working on the same project simultaneously.
How this works is, each developer gets a full copy of the project they’re working on and can merge what they did with others through a master copy on a central server.
A good thing about this is that there is a record of what has been added or edited, so if something goes wrong, you can use an earlier version. Git is a free and open source.
Project management software
To make your work more efficient, project management tools like Trello are a great help. It essentially works like a to-do list where it consists of a single user interface and uses cards and lists as the things we need to do. You can make lists on your own, starting from to-do to completed, and move the cards along the way as you progress.
7. Get new clients and grow your business
The last step, and probably the toughest one, is getting your first client. I’ve taken some recommendations on how to do that based on an article made by a colleague and will sum up a few points. You’ll quickly learn that getting new clients can feel like a full-time job in itself, you should check out this article for more detailed information.
Create your business profiles on social media
A necessary thing to create nowadays is a presence on social media platforms. By sharing your expertise, personality, and professionally branding yourself on social media, you can swiftly build an audience through many channels. Perhaps some of the audience will become your clients.
Facebook is a great platform to promote to your circle of family and friends. It also allows you to create a professional company page. Instagram is a great platform for web designers as the platform’s visual aspect allows you to visually promote your previous work while using a hashtag to gain attention.
Create business profiles on job boards and freelance sites
Sites like LinkedIn are a great way to promote yourself and get discovered by potential clients. They have a section called LinkedIn Recruiter, where companies go to find talent for their project. You can advertise yourself there, but make sure to include “Freelance Web Designer” as your heading.
Freelance job sites like SolidGigs is great because it saves you the time hunting for jobs. They scour the web and send you the best freelance gigs to your inbox — easy peasy.
This is an effective way to directly get in touch with your target audience and start promoting yourself to them. An easy way to do this is by going to local meetup events, but make sure that your target audience will be present.
Other ways to get new customers
- Use email marketing
- Create content/blog
- Ask for referrals
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Tips on how to start a web design business
Now that you know the step-by-step process, I’ll give a few tips to get you started.
- Keep up-to-date with the latest web design trends and technologies
Web design is one of the fastest-moving spaces. Therefore the need to keep learning is crucial. You want to be the first to get on the latest technologies or software to gain a competitive advantage over the rest. Here are a few ways on how to keep up with the latest:
- Listen to recent tech podcasts
- Subscribe to tech newsletters
- Network with experts
- Attend conferences
- Show you care about your clients
You want to create a great first impression on clients and also leave them satisfied after the project concludes. This is to entice your clients to do a repeat purchase , meaning they’ll come back to you should they have another project.
Or to create a positive word of mouth as if clients are satisfied with your work, they are likely to tell it to other people. Some of the ways to show that you care can be:
- Go the extra mile
- Make a VIP section
- Show respect
By showing you really care, and doing great work, clients will have no problem sending you referrals in the future.
- Use automation where possible
Business automation is becoming commonplace, even for small businesses. You can incorporate automation into every aspect of your business. Using tools like Zapier , you can automate various tasks such as:
- Email communication
- Marketing funnel management
- Payment processing
- Lead generation
- Sending appointment reminders
- Publishing social media posts
- Get good at negotiating
When you eventually get a project, you’ll come across a contract from your client. Contracts usually lay out what you’ll do, the payment, and many more project-related matters. You’ll need to come up with a strategy to become good at negotiating, so you get the best out of the contract. Here are some tips:
- Have your end goal in mind
- Research the client first before negotiating
- Everything is negotiable
- Be reasonable
- Make sure everything is fully explained
- Be prepared to walk away
- Position yourself as an authority in your space
There are so many choices when people are looking for a web designer. People tend to go to trusted authorities who have proven their expertise. You need to position yourself as an authority to get a higher chance of being selected for a project. A few ways to do that include:
- Focus on a niche
- Be consistent
- Offer what others can’t
- Engage your community
- Share your content for free (blog posts, tutorials, etc.)
So now you’ve learned the step-by-step guide on how to start a web design business. Let’s recap the steps:
- Find a niche for your web design business
- Brand your business appropriately
- Decide how much to charge for your web design services
- Build your business website
- Get the required license and permits
- Purchase the right equipment and software
- Find new clients and grow your business
I’ve also given you a few tips to help you get started. Those tips are:
All that’s left for you now is to start creating your web design business. Remember to focus on your niche and take your time when deciding your brand. Good luck!
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Written by Mitchell Stevens
Contributor at millo.co.
Mitchell Stevens writes articles that, depending on where you've got an opportunity to read them, are always exciting and informative. He's known for writing articles to many known pages about SEO, website design, development, etc. He's always interested in speaking about almost any topic there is, so you should try to reach him through LinkedIn, where he spends most of his time! He likes riding on his bike, hiking, or getting something delicious to eat in his free time!
Reviewed & edited by Adam Wright , at Millo.
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Category: Web Development
Date: September 7, 2023
How To Make Business Plan For Your Web Design & Development Startup?
Are you planning to start a web design and development company? Whether you’re starting or growing your business, you definitely need a business plan.
Only a business plan can give you answers to a wide-ranging list of questions. It sure is tedious, but it definitely pays off.
The good news is you don’t have to spend days to write a business plan. We will walk you through on how to make a business set up for your web design and development company . In case you already created one, you can use our guide as a reference to see what you missed.
Web Development & Web Design Business Plan
If you want to stand out and be noticed and if you want to succeed, you need to have the right business strategy. Let’s take a look.
1. Who Is Your Audience?
Given the current state, having a well-defined target audience is important. No business can target everyone. Some say they will offer their services to interested parties, others say they target small business owners or stay-at-home-moms. Such types of targets are way too general.
Targeting specific customers does not mean that you’re excluding others. You are simply targeting a particular set of audience who are more likely to buy from you. Answer these below questions to figure out your target audience.
- Figure out who will seek your web design and development services based on age, location, gender, income level, education level, occupation, ethnic background and relationship status
- Which medium does your audience turn for information?
- How and when will they use your services?
- Is your target audience easily accessible?
- Will they really benefit from your services?
- Can your target audience afford your web design and development services?
2. Understand Your Competitors
Knowing your competitors and what they are offering can help your web design and development company stand out. You can set pricing accordingly and better prepare for rival marketing campaigns. Try to find out answers for these questions.
- What is their market position and what are people purchasing from them
- What is their pricing structure?
- How good is their social media review?
Also, figure out their weakness and find out how it can be addressed by your services.
In today’s economy, there is really no shortage for candidates for any position. It will appear as though employers can find the best candidate for any job. However, it is not that simple. There is always a possibility of hiring the wrong person which can have a negative impact.
Impressive work qualification and work experience are certainly required but, you also have to figure out if they blend with the culture of your organization.
Some of the ways you can improve recruitment process are by looking for a career-oriented person, accessing practical experience, determining strengths needed for the position, asking the right job interview questions, checking candidate background reference, and using phone interviews to pre-screen.
4. Finding Work For Your Start-Up
The next step is finding the work and here is where it can be a challenge to get noticed. One option is to try advertising on webmaster forums and business forums. Here you will find people who are looking for web design and other online services and you can connect with those people.
Alternatively, you can try using sites like ‘ eLance ‘, ‘ ODesk ‘ and ‘ People Per Hour ‘ which are aimed at connecting online workers with the businesses who need them. You can even try going around your local area and asking businesses if they already have a website!
5. Cash Flow Management
When it comes to financial management of a company, cash is king. Whether you’re a startup or growing business, cash flow management is essential for business survival. Failing to manage cash flow puts your business with too much stock, long payment terms, overspending and overtrading. So be prepared, an accurate cash flow projection can give you heads up before trouble strikes.
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In order to compete, you are probably going to have to offer very low rates at least to start with and this is where things can get tough. But a great solution is to use a white label company like ours.
Many businesses hire ColorWhistle to provide work that they will then resell to their own customers.
As we’re based in India we can work for comparatively low rates, that means you can charge more for our work and still make a profit – and your clients don’t need to know we were involved!
You can then use our services either to outsource all your customers – making an almost entirely passive income, or you can use our services to lighten the load or to handle the bits that you don’t want to do.
Either way, you optimize your workflow meaning you can take more projects on and offer the most competitive rates around while doing what you love! Why not give us a call or send us an email to find out more?
In conclusion, running a web design services company is a great way to make money but you need to ensure you take time to research the market and that you do everything you can to increase your output while cutting overheads.
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About the Author - Sankarnarayan. R
The founder and mastermind behind ColorWhistle is Sankarnarayan, a professional with over fourteen years of experience and a passion for website design services and digital marketing services. At ColorWhistle, our team has a wide range of skills and expertise and we always put our clients’ satisfaction first. This is what sets us apart from the competition – an eye for detail and the best website development services from the start to the completion of your project.
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How to Start a Small Web Design Firm
Once you’ve decided that you’re ready to start a small web design firm, you’ll need to develop a host of skills to help you run a successful business, including time management, sales and promotional strategies, and client acquisition.
1. Create a Lean Business Plan
The first step to running your own business is creating a solid plan. This is where you get your idea out of your head and onto paper to put it to the test, but it doesn’t have to be a 50-page long document that you’ll work through once and file away, never to be seen again.
Instead, you can create an alternative to a traditional business plan—a Lean Plan which is easier to adapt throughout the life of your business. The goal here is to write a plan that’s going to lend itself to regular reviews and frequent updates, based on goals and performance that might change quickly over time—it should be a tool, not a static document.
Your Lean Plan should include an overview of your strategy and tactics (problem-solving and possible solutions), your business model (including your target market and competition), and a schedule of what you’re doing and when. You should also include some core financials such as a sales forecast, expense budget, and cash flow forecast. Don’t forget to outline your milestones , so you’ll have a clear sense early on of whether your strategies are working.
Most importantly, you should set up a timeline to keep revisiting your plan and adjust it on a regular basis to ensure you’re on track to meeting your goals.
2. Calculate startup costs
While you may envision running an agency full of designers in the future, you’ll probably begin your journey as an independent (solo) freelancer.
The good news is that startup costs are relatively low, but you will need a few things, so make sure you spend some time thinking through your startup costs .
- The basics . In addition to basic equipment such as a computer, phone, and desk, you’ll need to consider the cost of registering a domain name and building your own website. You’ll also need business cards, stationery supplies, and software that’s specific to your design work. When you’re just starting out, you can make use of 30-day free software trials until you find the right fit. But ensure your business cards and other promotional materials showcase your best design work to make a good first impression.
- Insurance, taxes, and software . Be sure to consider the costs of health insurance, personal liability insurance, and taxes, and software tools that you’ll need. When it comes to accounting software, many services are aimed at small businesses and handling your own bookkeeping can work out cheaper. QuickBooks , Xero , and FreshBooks are all popular choices. However, finding a good accountant early on can save you a lot of heartache in the future, and will help ensure you know exactly where you stand in terms of your tax position and other liabilities.
3. Build your brand
How you brand yourself is an important decision which can impact the way your clients see you. Many freelance web designers choose to use their name as their brand, which on the positive side lends a personal attachment to your business.
Your clients will feel they’re working with an individual rather than a fully fledged agency, which usually translates to more flexibility, a personal approach, and cheaper rates.
However, if your high-level goals include growing your business, maybe turning it into a studio and hiring a few more people, then you may want to start out with a more formal name.
When you’re creating your business plan, take the time to think about how you’d like potential customers to perceive you and how this fits in with your view as a freelancer and your future goals. Would you rather be seen as a young startup company, or work on creating your own personal brand?
4. Establish your freelance rates
If you don’t have a framework for establishing your rates from the beginning, it’s very easy to end up working for very little money. It’s much harder to raise your rates later on and can affect the timeframe for getting your new venture off the ground.
Calculating your rates:
- It’s difficult to know where to begin, so start by calculating your monthly costs. Include everything such as your rent, utility bills, travel costs, insurance, and tax liability.
- Multiply this sum by twelve and add your ideal annual salary.
- Divide this figure by 48 to figure out what your costs are per week (allowing for four weeks holiday).
- Finally, divide your weekly cost by the number of hours you plan on working in a week —many freelancers start with 20 hours—to establish your hourly rate.
Make sure you get paid
Managing cash-flow as a freelancer can be very stressful, so once you’ve established your rates, you’ll need to do everything you can to ensure you’re paid on time. Make sure you always have a contract which stipulates the scope of the project and terms of payment and request a deposit before you begin work.
For longer projects, it’s also standard to ask for milestone payments so that you’re guaranteed compensation over time.
Some freelancers prefer to be paid up front, but in order to do this, you’ll need to be able to estimate the typical number of hours a project will take and then add a percentage for overage.
5. Showcase your work
Your portfolio website is undoubtedly one of your most important assets when it comes to promoting your services. At a minimum, your website should state your services and offer a clear way to contact you, but to really show off your expertise, you should use it showcase your previous work.
This can be hard when you’re just starting out and your portfolio can seem light, but there are ways around this. Consider reaching out to local charities, schools, church groups, and so on, and offer your services for free or at a low cost.
This is a good way of expanding your portfolio, practicing your skills, and helping out in your local community. You don’t need to include all the work you’ve ever done—three or four high-quality pieces should be enough to show people what you can do.
6. Promote your services
However good your web design skills are, they’ll mean nothing if you don’t know how to promote and sell your services.
You should develop a sales process that covers the following:
- Finding new prospects
- Cultivating relationships
- Informing potential clients about your services
- Offering your services to the right people
- Fulfilling expectations
- Developing relationships with clients
To identify your ideal client (or your target market ), think about who they are, what they do, and where they spend their time (both online and in person). Choose some of the same places to hang out and try to engage them in conversation.
This is the perfect time to impress people with your elevator pitch , which is what you use to show potential clients how you can help their business and the reasons they should hire you.
Online freelancing platforms such as Upwork and Freelancer are also good places to find prospective clients. However, competition among freelancers from all over the world is fierce, and many employers opt for the lowest possible rates. You’ll need to be selective about the jobs you bid on and try to identify serious clients who are happy to pay for quality work.
Show your target market how you tackle their specific concerns and provide concrete examples of how you’ve solved those problems successfully in the past. This approach makes it much easier to find new clients.
7. Start networking
Connect online . Communities where other professionals in the industry hang out are great places to find support from people who are in a similar situation. Follow other designers and developers on Twitter, and reach out to people on LinkedIn, Facebook, or other social media channels.
Be part of your local community . Joining groups for freelancing professionals and immersing yourself in communities provides great opportunities for networking, asking and answering questions, establishing your expertise, and helping people who may be looking for your services in the future.
Keep your ear to the ground . You could start by following blogs which have a high number of comments and regular contributors, as well as signing up to RSS updates on web development boards. It’s all about interacting with other web designers, connecting with potential clients, and gaining referrals.
8. Master time management
As a freelancer, being organized and productive means you can get the most out of your day without being glued to your desk for hours on end, so you can start to scale your business. By implementing a little structure, you can schedule your tasks around the times you’re most likely to get things done.
Develop a routine . It can help to group similar tasks together and consistently carry them out at a certain time of day. For instance, answering emails in the morning as you’re still waking up, taking care of phone calls after your second cup of coffee, and coding/designing whenever you have the most energy.
Take advantage of tools . There is lots of software available to help simplify and automate many of your daily tasks, so make use of the tools available for time tracking, project management, managing finances, etc.
The bottom line
Successful freelancers are excellent multitaskers. To deal with the uncertainties of running your own business and the stress of an irregular income—at least when you’re starting out—you need a plan. The more structure you have from the outset, the easier it will be to develop a successful business and grow your company in the right direction.
Callum is the head of marketing at Warble Media . They are a boutique website design and digital marketing agency based in Dubbo, NSW, Australia.
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How to Start a Web Design Business
Starting a web design business can be very profitable. With proper planning, execution and hard work, you can enjoy great success. Below you will learn the keys to launching a successful web design business.
Importantly, a critical step in starting a web design business is to complete your business plan. To help you out, you should download Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template here .
Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here
14 Steps To Start a Web Design Business :
- Choose the Name for Your Web Design Business
- Develop Your Web Design Business Plan
- Choose the Legal Structure for Your Web Design Business
- Secure Startup Funding for Your Web Design Business (If Needed)
- Secure a Location for Your Business
- Register Your Web Design Business with the IRS
- Open a Business Bank Account
- Get a Business Credit Card
- Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits
- Get Business Insurance for Your Web Design Business
- Buy or Lease the Right Web Design Business Equipment
- Develop Your Web Design Business Marketing Materials
- Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your Web Design Business
- Open for Business
1. Choose the Name for Your Web Design Business
The first step to starting a web design business is to choose your business’ name.
This is a very important choice since your company name is your personal brand and will last for the lifetime of your own business. Ideally you choose a name that is meaningful and memorable. Here are some tips for choosing a name for your own web design business:
- Make sure the name is available . Check your desired name against trademark databases and your state’s list of registered business names to see if it’s available. Also check to see if a suitable domain name is available.
- Keep it simple . The best names are usually ones that are easy to remember, pronounce and spell.
- Think about marketing . Come up with a name that reflects the desired brand and/or focus of your web design business.
2. Develop Your Web Design Business Plan
One of the most important steps in starting a web design business is to develop your web design business plan . The process of creating your plan ensures that you fully understand your market and your business strategy. The plan also provides you with a roadmap to follow and if needed, to present to funding sources to raise capital for your business.
Your business plan should include the following sections:
- Executive Summary – this section should summarize your entire business plan so readers can quickly understand the key details of your web design business.
- Company Overview – this section tells the reader about the history of your web design business and what type of web design business you operate. For example, are you a web development agency or a freelancer?
- Industry Analysis – here you will document key information about the web design industry. Conduct market research and document how big the industry is and what trends are affecting it.
- Customer Analysis – in this section, you will document who your ideal or target market are and their demographics. For example, how old are they? Where do they live? What do they find important when purchasing services like the ones you will offer?
- Competitive Analysis – here you will document the key direct and indirect competitors you will face and how you will build competitive advantage.
- Marketing Plan – your marketing plan should address the 4Ps: Product, Price, Promotions and Place.
- Product : Determine and document what products/services you will offer
- Prices : Document the prices of your products/services
- Place : Where will your business be located and how will that location help you increase sales?
- Promotions : What promotional methods will you use to attract customers to your web design business? For example, you might decide to use pay-per-click advertising, public relations, search engine optimization and/or social media marketing.
- Operations Plan – here you will determine the key processes you will need to run your day-to-day operations. You will also determine your staffing needs. Finally, in this section of your plan, you will create a projected growth timeline showing the milestones you hope to achieve in the coming years.
- Management Team – this section details the background of your company’s management team.
- Financial Plan – finally, the financial plan answers questions including the following:
- What startup costs will you incur?
- How will your web design business make money?
- What are your projected sales and expenses for the next five years?
- Do you need to raise funding to launch your business?
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3. choose the legal structure for your web design business.
Next you need to choose a legal structure for your web design business and register it and your business name with the Secretary of State in each state where you operate your business.
Below are the five most common legal structures:
1) Sole proprietorship
A sole proprietorship is a business entity in which the web design business owner and the business are the same legal person. The owner of a sole proprietorship is responsible for all debts and obligations of the business. There are no formalities required to establish a sole proprietorship, and it is easy to set up and operate. The main advantage of a sole proprietorship is that it is simple and inexpensive to establish. The main disadvantage is that the owner is liable for all debts and obligations of the business.
A partnership is a legal structure that is popular among small business owners. It is an agreement between two or more people who want to start a web design business together. The partners share in the profits and losses of the business.
The advantages of a partnership are that it is easy to set up, and the partners share in the profits and losses of the business. The disadvantages of a partnership are that the partners are jointly liable for the debts of the business, and disagreements between partners can be difficult to resolve.
3) Limited Liability Company (LLC)
A limited liability company, or LLC, is a type of business entity that provides limited liability to its owners. This means that the owners of an LLC are not personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business. The advantages of an LLC for a web design business include flexibility in management, pass-through taxation (avoids double taxation as explained below), and limited personal liability. The disadvantages of an LLC include lack of availability in some states and self-employment taxes.
4) C Corporation
A C Corporation is a business entity that is separate from its owners. It has its own tax ID and can have shareholders. The main advantage of a C Corporation for a web design business is that it offers limited liability to its owners. This means that the owners are not personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business. The disadvantage is that C Corporations are subject to double taxation. This means that the corporation pays taxes on its profits, and the shareholders also pay taxes on their dividends.
5) S Corporation
An S Corporation is a type of corporation that provides its owners with limited liability protection and allows them to pass their business income through to their personal income tax returns, thus avoiding double taxation. There are several limitations on S Corporations including the number of shareholders they can have among others.
Once you register your web design business, your state will send you your official “Articles of Incorporation.” You will need this among other documentation when establishing your banking account (see below). We recommend that you consult an attorney in determining which legal structure is best suited for your company.
4. Secure Startup Funding for Your Web Design Business (If Needed)
In developing your web design business plan , you might have determined that you need to raise funding to launch your business.
If so, the main sources of funding for a web design business to consider are personal savings, family and friends, credit card financing, bank loans, crowdfunding and angel investors. Angel investors are individuals who provide capital to early-stage businesses. Angel investors typically will invest in a web design business that they believe has high potential for growth.
5. Secure a Location for Your Business
To find a location for your web design business, you’ll need to consider a few factors. First, think about the kind of environment where you want to work. Do you want to be in a busy city or a rural area? Next, consider your budget. How much can you afford to spend on rent or office space? Finally, think about what kind of commute you’re willing to endure. Do you want to be close to public transportation, or will you drive to work? Once you’ve narrowed down your options, take a tour of the locations and see which one feels right for you.
6. Register Your Web Design Business with the IRS
Next, you need to register your business with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which will result in the IRS issuing you an Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Most banks will require you to have an EIN in order to open up an account. In addition, in order to hire employees, you will need an EIN since that is how the IRS tracks your payroll tax payments.
Note that if you are a sole proprietor without employees, you generally do not need to get an EIN. Rather, you would use your social security number (instead of your EIN) as your taxpayer identification number.
7. Open a Business Bank Account
It is important to establish a bank account in your web design business’ name. This process is fairly simple and involves the following steps:
- Identify and contact the bank you want to use
- Gather and present the required documents (generally include your company’s Articles of Incorporation, driver’s license or passport, and proof of address)
- Complete the bank’s application form and provide all relevant information
- Meet with a banker to discuss your business needs and establish a relationship with them
8. Get a Business Credit Card
You should get a business credit card for your web design business to help you separate personal and business expenses.
You can either apply for a business credit card through your bank or apply for one through a credit card company.
When you’re applying for a business credit card, you’ll need to provide some information about your business. This includes the name of your business, the address of your business, and the type of business you’re running. You’ll also need to provide some information about yourself, including your name, Social Security number, and date of birth.
Once you’ve been approved for a business credit card, you’ll be able to use it to make purchases for your business. You can also use it to build your credit history which could be very important in securing loans and getting credit lines for your business in the future.
9. Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits
The licenses and permits you need to start a web design business will vary depending on your location. You may need a business license, a trade license, or a special permit. Contact your local government or business licensing office for more information.
10. Get Business Insurance for Your Web Design Business
Other business insurance policies that you should consider for your web design business include:
- General liability insurance : This covers accidents and injuries that occur at your office. It also covers damages caused by your employees or products such as copyright or defamation lawsuits.
- Workers’ compensation insurance : If you have employees, this type of policy works with your general liability policy to protect against workplace injuries and accidents. It also covers medical expenses and lost wages.
Find an insurance agent, tell them about your business and its needs, and they will recommend policies that fit those needs.
11. Buy or Lease the Right Web Design Business Equipment
To start a web design business, you will need computer equipment, software, and a website. You will need a computer with a high-speed internet connection, graphic design software, web development software, as well as a domain name and hosting account.
You will need an up-to-date computer with enough RAM and hard drive space for all of the software applications, design files, and eCommerce tools that you plan to use. Make sure your computer is properly configured before purchasing expensive design programs.
12. Develop Your Web Design Business Marketing Materials
Marketing materials will be required to attract and retain customers to your web design business.
The key marketing materials you will need are as follows:
- Logo : Spend some time developing a good logo for your web development business. Your logo will be printed on company stationery, business cards, marketing materials and so forth. The right logo can increase customer trust and awareness of your brand.
- Website : Likewise, a professional web design business website provides potential clients with information about the services you offer, your company’s history, and contact information. Importantly, remember that the look and feel of your own website will affect how customers perceive you.
- Social Media Accounts : establish social media accounts in your company’s name. Accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and/or other social media channels will help customers and others find and interact with your web design business.
13. Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your Web Design Business
The most important software for a web design business is a content management system (CMS). A CMS allows you to manage the content on your website without needing to know how to code. Popular CMS software includes WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla.
If you plan to offer search engine optimization (SEO) services, you’ll need analytical software, such as Google Analytics. You will also need a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to manage your sales pipeline and a project management software to keep track of your clients and projects.
14. Open for Business
You are now ready to open your web design business. If you followed the steps above, you should be in a great position to build a successful business. Below are answers to frequently asked questions that might further help you.
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How to Start a Web Design Business FAQs
Is it hard to start a web design business.
It is not hard to start a web design business. There are many web design platforms that allow you to create professionally designed websites for your clients. Web design is one of the easier forms of businesses to start with little financial investment required.
How can I start a web design business with no experience?
Start by researching web design. Find some beginner tutorials and books on the topic. Practice as much as you can. It's important to practice because if you don't know what you're doing then it might be difficult for new clients to take you seriously.
What type of web design business is most profitable?
There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on a number of factors, such as the size of the business, the location, and the services offered. However, in general, businesses that offer web development and web design services are more likely to be profitable than those that only offer web hosting or domain registration services.
How much does it cost to start a web design business?
It can cost anywhere from $0 to tens of thousands of dollars to start a web design business. The amount of money you'll need to invest depends on the type of business you want to start, the services you offer, and the tools and resources you need to get started.
The most expensive part of starting a web design business is the cost to build a website. If you want to become an independent contractor and build websites for others, it can be fairly affordable to get started. You may simply need a domain name and hosting service which starts around $12 per month. However, if you want to be a freelance web designer and offer website building services, you'll probably need access to software, design tools, and other resources that cost money.
What are the ongoing expenses for a web design business?
Ongoing expenses for a web developer can include website hosting, domain name registration and renewal, email hosting, software licenses, and marketing materials.
The biggest expense is the cost of the website, which is around $3,000. You also have to pay for hosting, which is about $100 per month and domain registration which is about $10 per year. There are also marketing and advertising payments, which can be pretty expensive.
How does a web design business make money?
One way web designers can make money is by charging for their services. They may charge a set fee for designing a website, or they may charge by the hour. Another way a web designer can make money is by selling advertising space on their websites. They may also sell products or services on their websites.
Is owning a web design business profitable?
The profitability of a web design business will vary depending on several factors, including the size and scope of the business, the location of the business, and the type of services offered. In general, owning a web design business can be quite profitable if it is run efficiently and marketed correctly.
Why do web design businesses fail?
Other web designers fail for various reasons. However, the majority of web design companies fail because they are unable to generate enough sales to pay their expenses. Usually this occurs when a web design company fails to obtain new business from existing clients or is unable to obtain new customers through advertising and marketing strategy.
Web design companies should develop a customer base with regular monthly income from past work before they attempt to obtain new customers.
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How to Start a Web Design Business in 2023 (Ultimate Guide)
- April 25, 2023
- Business Tips
Figuring out how to start a web design business in 2023 can be a bit overwhelming.
However, at the same time, if you’re stuck in a job that you don’t 100% like, the prospect of using your skills to build a web design business that operates based on flexibility and freedom is hard to deny.
Would you rather toil away as you are, continuously bogged down by stress? Or are you willing to take a risk for a chance at something better?
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- 🛒 How to Start Ecommerce Business
- 📝 How to Write a Business Plan
- 🤝 How to Sell Your Business Online
- 🏷️ Where to Sell a Business
- How to find and deal with clients
- How to run the backend of your business
- How to plan for the future and grow
The easiest way to beat your budding sense of overwhelm before you’re all-in on starting a web design business? Proactively prepare for all of the possibilities!
📚 How to Start a Web Design Business:
- What to do before you quit your full-time job
- Decide who your target client is
- Decide what to offer
- Set your prices
- Leverage your existing network
- Make a presence on social media
- Experiment with video
- Experiment with learning platforms
- Build an email list
- Do cold outreach
- Contracts & proposals
- Business incorporation
- Business administration
- Get your tools in order
- Scale up, make more money & provide more value
1. Before you do anything else…
Let’s get one thing straight: without clients, you don’t have a viable business. Of course, when first getting started, you’ll inevitably be spending more time chasing down opportunities than you will be doing actual work.
1.1. What to do before you quit your full-time job
If you currently work a full-time job for someone else, it can be useful to start your transition by pitching prospects before you quit. Ideally, you’ll also wait until you have at least a few months of emergency expenses built up (6-12 months is the gold standard).
While you’re biding your time, you might as well make it productive. Start working on the professional materials you’ll inevitably need, such as:
- Your professional portfolio website
- Proposal templates
- Business cards
- Social media branding ( cover photo , bios )
This can also be a great time to build thought leadership. There are so many web design and WordPress blogs (or other websites where your target client hangs out) that accept guest posts — you might try your hand at writing for a few of them. Just make sure to include a compelling link back to your portfolio website . WPMU DEV offers insights for making successful guest blog pitches.
If you’re not much of a writer, at the very least, comment on those industry blogs and make your name known that way.
When you start a web design business, building a portfolio website is necessary because it allows you to show off your unique style and skills. It’s a lot more personal (and professional) than just making an account on a portfolio platform like Behance.
Since we are talking about how to start a web design business, I assume that the “creating a portfolio website for yourself” -part doesn’t sound like something difficult. Here’s some inspiration – a set of cool portfolio sites .
If you don’t like writing, there are plenty of other ways to become known in the community (both WordPress/web design and your specific area of focus), such as:
- Participate in Twitter chats (check out TweetReports for a searchable list)
- Regularly post thoughtful content on social media. It helps to come up with theme ideas that demonstrate your expertise: web design tips, work examples, articles you’ve written, and so on.
- Participate in online summits and/or conferences like WordCamp . Get to know conference organizers for a better chance of getting your pitches accepted!
Of course, in order to be known for something, you have to stand for something. Specifically, you need to niche down.
1.2. Decide who your target client is
It’s not enough to add a vague “Web Developer” title to your LinkedIn profile. If you want to build clout, you need to specialize. While you might be worried that this is limiting, it’s honestly how all the top earners have made it to six-figure earnings (and more).
Once you’ve established your niche (and it’s ok to play around with this after the fact), make sure you’re communicating this on your portfolio website and other online mediums. As part of this process, spend some time developing your target customer persona (a basic bio of your target customer).
HubSpot’s MakeMyPersona tool offers a straightforward way to do this.
You should learn as much as possible about those people.
Where do they hang out? How to best reach them? What do they require from a website? Etc.
1.3. Decide what to offer
We’ve already touched on the importance of niching down. The question is: how?
Here are some ideas to help define your specialty when get working on how to start a web design business:
- Offer WordPress maintenance services (core, plugin, theme updates)
- Design complete website projects for new businesses
- Focus on a specific type of website design: ecommerce, membership sites, etc.
- Convert websites from other platforms (i.e. Weebly , Squarespace , Drupal) to WordPress, or even do PSD to WordPress
- Focus on redesigns/responsive retrofits
- Work with clients in specific industries: government, small business, B2C, etc.
There are no wrong answers — play around with the possibilities until you land on a winning combination!
1.4. Set your prices
In general, project rates are better than hourly rates for big projects because people won’t question you about how you’re spending your time — it’s already accounted for and they’ve already paid for it. Hourly rates set you up for annoying conversations and the devaluation of your expertise.
That said, hourly rates may be what you use to estimate project rates .
It’s a good idea to calculate your ideal hourly rate, even if your clients are never privy to this information. If you’re going to freelance full-time for the first time, don’t forget to build in the cost of benefits (medical insurance), sick days, and vacation days. Also, don’t forget that you should plan to save 20-30% for taxes!
Nation1099’s rate calculator can be useful for plugging in all of this information to land on the right number.
You may also want to check out these business-related calculators .
To pitch with confidence, benchmark your pricing against industry rates (here’s how it plays out in the WordPress industry ).
2. Start with clients – here’s how to find them
With all of the most important questions answered, it’s time to start publicly sharing the news that your web design business is ready for clients. There’s much less risk involved in quitting your full-time job if you have several clients lined up!
The key to success? Not treating marketing as a one-and-done task. Successful designers are constantly looking for opportunities to promote their business — not waiting until they get to a point where they have no clients and nothing to do.
2.1. Leverage your existing network
One of the best first steps is to start by making your intentions clear with your existing network. Post publicly about starting a web design business on social networks and reach out to friends, family, and colleagues who may be able to send you referrals. Just don’t be pushy — it’s not their job to find work for you.
2.2. Make a presence on social media
While we’re on the subject, it can also be beneficial to create a social media strategy to stay top of mind with your network using some of the theme ideas outlined earlier in this article.
LinkedIn can be a great source of leads because of its B2B nature. Twitter is an awesome place to build clout with the web design community . So start conversations with other WordPress professionals and prospective businesses you want to work with. Build lists to help you organize your conversations (my WordPress is Best Twitter list may be a good place to start!).
2.3. Experiment with video
If you don’t yet have much of an audience, you might try building one with video marketing. Video marketing is quickly becoming one of the most popular content marketing mediums. Create a weekly Facebook Live series based on your web design specialty and offer free advice to build thought leadership.
2.4. Experiment with learning platforms
On a related note, it can also help to create short classes on platforms like Skillshare or Udemy to fill up your sales funnel and build an audience of people who can act as your brand ambassadors.
Specifically, Skillshare provides a lot of beginner resources to get started and supports new teachers by hosting monthly challenges with prizes (including marketing features).
They allow outside links to landing pages, where you can provide class resources in exchange for email addresses.
2.5. Build an email list
In tandem with these efforts, start building your email list by attracting qualified leads with a relevant lead magnet on your portfolio website. In order to gather the actual email addresses, you can use any of these tools .
A lead magnet is something compelling to your target audience that you offer in exchange for a person’s email address: perhaps a handy checklist, ebook , or list of resources.
Spending time on email marketing is important primarily because an email list is something you own — the followers you reach on other platforms could go away if the platform ever decided to kick you out or shut down.
2.6. Do cold outreach
No matter what, business development efforts shouldn’t be something that happens only when you need new clients — it’s an ongoing process to ensure that you constantly have work on your plate. Create a goal to cold pitch a certain number of businesses each week and track your success rate in closing prospects to determine how many inputs lead to closed and won deals.
While pitching for work is slightly different than some of the aforementioned marketing ideas, at least when you first get started, you’ll need to do both.
Use a CRM (customer relationship management tool) to keep track of your deal stages with various prospects and who you need to follow up with.
Hubspot offers a robust free option.
3. Run your web design business effectively – the behind the scenes
So here’s the thing: it’s not enough to do the work and the marketing. The key to figuring out how to start a web design business is taking over some roles typically handled by specialized departments within a company.
This might actually be the hardest and most annoying part of running a web design company! But the best part, creating freedom and flexibility around your passion, more than makes up for it. As you’re starting a web design business, you’ll find ways to alleviate some of this pain and find more time to focus on our core business tasks.
But since you’re just getting started, let’s focus on what you need to be thinking about right now.
3.1. Contracts & proposals
Ideally, before you quit your full-time job, you’ve spent some time creating a winning proposal template .
Some of the most important things to include in your proposal/eventual contract:
- A clearly defined scope of work (including what your project rate doesn’t cover)
- Specific deliverables in customer-friendly language
- Timeline and milestones
Don’t forget to build in the cost for WordPress themes , plugins, and any other necessary tools to get the job done. For example, if you’re helping with SEO, you might factor in the cost of your SEO tools.
Don’t move forward without a signed contract agreeing to your terms — and payment upfront (even if it’s just a partial payment).
And.co is a great free contract tool to start with that offers eSignature capabilities and alerts about when your documents are viewed. You can also use it to collect a deposit and future payments.
Another option? LegalZoom legal document templates available as part of an affordable monthly subscription.
It’s also beneficial to get your initial contract template reviewed by an attorney. In the United States, a local small business development center (SBDC) can provide access to legal and accounting professionals free of charge!
3.2. Business incorporation
At some point, you may deem it necessary to incorporate your business — providing some legal protection in the form of separation between personal/business assets. In order to do this, you’ll need to fill out some forms and submit payment to your state/country. It helps to have a good lawyer or accountant on your side (or help from a local SBDC, as mentioned above).
Regardless of where you’re incorporating your business, make sure to check on local rules and regulations as well as consulting with other businesses in your niche to determine what you need to get started.
3.3. Business administration
Figuring out how to start a web design business means taking on a bunch of roles you’d probably rather not — but don’t ignore them!
Here are a few hats you’ll have to wear as a new web design business owner:
- Accounting/Bookkeeping : Use an accounting tool like Freshbooks or Quickbooks to send invoices, receive payment, and track expenses.
- Marketing : We’ve already shared some specific tips but the point is that you shouldn’t wait until you’re low on client work to market your business — it’s a long-term process .
- Hiring/Management : You may eventually decide to outsource smaller projects and administrative tasks ( you can try Fiverr for that), so it helps to build a process around hiring and management as soon as you start to recognize this need. In the meantime, create process documentation for as many things as you can so that even if you’re not ready to hire yet, you’ll be prepared when the time is right! Until then, you can check the best platforms to hire WordPress developers to help you decide.
3.4. Get your tools in order
As you’re working in the trenches and getting through your projects, it makes sense to stop and think about the tools that you’re using. You might already be familiar with many of the essential web design tools, but at the same time, not all of those are going to be as effective when scaled up and incorporated into a web design business.
In other words, just because something worked for you in the past, doesn’t mean that it’ll continue to work in a professional business environment that you’re in now.
Consider this roundup of excellent tools for web designers and WordPress users . The list covers things like time tracking, document handling, project management, communicating with clients, working with graphic design, code development, and more.
4. Scale up, make more money & provide more value
When you’re first learning how to start a web design business, you’ll have to build your way up the ranks. This might mean taking on low paying job in order to build out your portfolio — not exactly glamorous, but something basically everyone in your position has had to do!
Once you’re more established, you’ll want to start thinking about how to build more value into your offerings so that you can make more money. To be fair, there’s nothing stopping you from getting started with these things right now. You’re only limited by your energy and focus, which will be somewhat split doing many of the other activities outlined earlier in this article.
Here are a few ideas to make more money for your web design business:
- Sign up as an affiliate for your favorite WordPress products (plugins, themes, hosting) and recommend them to your customers for a commission. To find success, be clear with affiliate disclosures (e.g. “This article contains affiliate links” ) and be transparent about your experience with the product.
- Make even more money by directly managing customer web hosting and ongoing WordPress maintenance (plugin, theme, core updates — as well as periodic website content updates/changes as requested by your client).
- Keep learning new things. Of course, there’s no reason to try to learn everything there is to know about web design/development but you should work to stay current in your niche/specialty. Follow Google’s 20% rule for learning/developing — spend time going to conferences, completing courses, and reading more about coding to stay fresh. By spending time on this, you’re also essentially writing your own raise with current/new clients. Your expertise is definitely worth something!
- Create information products. Selling services means that you’re limited by available time and energy. Selling products means unlimited revenue potential. Ask yourself, “What do I know enough about to write an ebook or create an online course about?”.
Final thoughts on how to start a web design business
By taking each of these steps in stride, it doesn’t have to be completely overwhelming to start a web design business.
What other questions do you have about starting a web design business? Share your thoughts in the comments and together, let’s help grow the community through helpful support!
Don’t forget to join our crash course on speeding up your WordPress site. Learn more below:
Layout and presentation by Karol K.
* This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and then purchase the product, we’ll receive a small commission. No worries though, you’ll still pay the standard amount so there’s no additional cost on your part.
Maddy Osman is the bestselling author of "Writing for Humans and Robots: The New Rules of Content Style. She's a digital native with a decade-long devotion to creating engaging, accessible, and relevant content. Her efforts earned her a spot in Semrush's and BuzzSumo’s Top 100 Content Marketers and The Write Life’s 100 Best Websites for Writers. She has spoken for audiences at WordCamp US, SearchCon, and Denver Startup Week.
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Website Design and SEO Company Business Plan
- Website Design Business Plan Template(Microsoft Word) – $47.00
- +Add Excel Worksheet (Recommended) – $25.00
- +Add Funding Package Pitch Deck PowerPoint – $35.00
How to get funding for your website design and development business!
“Here’s the ‘Perfect Solution’ to getting your website development and SEO business funded quickly…even if you don’t have a clue on how to write a business plan and don’t have the budget to pay a professional to do it!”
If you want to get your website development business organized and funded then here’s the perfect solution:
Did you know that a well written and researched business plan is the key to getting funding for your website business?
But most entrepreneurs neglect this aspect of their startup.
That’s usually because they are not knowledgeable enough to write a business plan on their own.
Or do not have the budget to pay a professional business plan writer.
But if you’ve ever wanted to start a website development business and you need to write a business plan to get funding then our Hybrid DIY Business Plan Template is for you.
A Hybrid Business Plan Template is a high quality thoroughly researched business plan template, but also a business plan that has examples for you to insert your own market and business specifics into.
Our templates are high quality, in-depth and researched with the most up to date statistics available.
Each one takes us a minimum of 160 to 200 hours to write and has been reviewed and proofed by at least 3 professionals and a third party prior to being offered to you.
A website design and development business is a great first business for those interested in entrepreneurship.
With a startup cost more affordable than a traditional storefront as well as being able to change your location easily a website design and development business is a great flexible first venture. With more and more businesses coming online as well as many more legacy long term businesses needing an update to their current online presence there has never been a better time to start a website design and development company. The issue now is not so much educating clients on what a website is and how it can help them, now it is more on showing the clients how a website can help them grow as a business. How websites are effective mediums to get their business name and service or product out there affordably.
With a just few modifications (Like the name of your company and owners bio, market, financials and location specifics) you can customize this business plan for your exact needs.
Here’s why a free business plan template can risk your chances at funding.
Lenders and investors see thousands of business plans and they know when you’re using a template because the “Wording is just not right”
You can have the best idea for your venture and pitch it to them perfectly, however when you leave and they review your plan what will it really say about you?
And free isn’t really free if it costs you your funding.
Why leave the future of your business to chance?
Our business plan templates are written for your specific market, up to date with the most current research available, references are included as well as current financials.
Start your business off the right way with our comprehensive Hybrid business plan template.
You will receive our 45 page Hybrid fusion business plan template which contains the following sections:
- Executive summary.
- The enterprise.
- The business concept and need.
- Industry / market overview.
- Growth strategy and implementation summary
- Management plan
- Risk factor
- Financial projections
- Use of proceeds
- Investor return strategy
( Click here to view sample pages – opens in new window)
Website Development Excel template available separately.
Investor Presentation Package avaliable separately. Includes:
- eBook: How to pitch your business idea to investors
- eBook: Elevator Pitch Template and Examples
- 12 Slide website development PowerPoint Pitch Deck
(Click here to see sample pages of what you will be receiving)
See what our customers are saying about our business plan templates..
“The plan had some great points that were very beneficial and important to my business. I hope other clients are able to see the value you are able to provide in their business plans, just like myself. I would highly recommend you to other prospective entrepreneurs. It’s been a pleasure and I look forward to execute my business plan.”
“Black Box Business Plans has given me the tools and inspiration to pursue my business venture. Not only was the template helpful in helping me form my business idea it really explain how it would benefit my company.”
Young Peoples Consulting
“Black Box has been a tremendous help to me and my business ventures. His templates were extremely helpful to me with regards to moving my business from the conceptual phase to something that could be successfully implemented. Furthermore, his business plan example and associated materials allowed me to organize and structure my venture according to how I wanted to run and grow my business. I also found the process much easier with the materials (as opposed to doing everything on my own), since they provided a solid blueprint for my business. I would recommend Shawn and his team to other entrepreneurs and business owners without hesitation. They have been great to work with!”
The best part about our templates is that the TIME CONSUMING parts are DONE for YOU.
Our Hybrid Fusion Business Plan Templates save you time as most portions are already completed for you, including the general narrative, market research, format, charts and financials are already researched and written for the website development industry.
What makes our Hybrid Fusion Business Plan Templates Different?
Here are just a few reasons why the black box business plan template is the best solution to begin planning your venture:
- Written by business professionals combined with real entrepreneurs with over 20 years of experience.
- Formatted layout for investor and lender use.
- References provided at the end of each plan.
- Most recently available market research and demographics used.
- Beautifully formatted to look professional and pleasing to the eye.
- Full narrative written from scratch for your industry.
- Industry financials at the end of each plan.
- Written in a persuasive way to show investors the true potential of your venture.
- Hybrid Fusion Cross between a business plan sample and template to make customization more realistic.
(Click here to view sample pages of this website development business plan template)
But we don’t want to sell you on easy. .
We want to make sure you obtain a well-researched market specific business plan template you are able to build a realistic and truly investor friendly business plan upon.
Real investors and lenders see 3 to 15 business plans a day.
With the big “Corporate” business plan template companies luring you in with an “Easy” business plans those very lenders see right through them.
With our plan templates you will have something extensive, unique as well as currently researched to set you apart from the “Corporate” generic business fill-in-the-blank plan templates.
Do-it-yourself and not only save, but learn more about your business as well.
- Each complete plan takes us about 160 to 200 hours to research , write and create and is written in a way to make it easy to understand yet investor friendly. A professional business plan writer would charge a minimum of $650 to create a unique business plan of our length with the amount of research, financials, graphs and charts.
- This is the viable solution you have been looking for. A comprehensive, well written template with full narrative and financials research specifically for your industry. Our business templates are investor friendly, written by professionals and offered at a fraction of the cost of a professional business plan writer.
- We stand behind our quality. Our templates are in-depth and researched with the most up to date statistics available. If you are able to find a lower priced more researched, referenced, comprehensive, up to date website development 2017 business template we will refund your money.*
- Don’t believe the MYTH of “Fill in the blanks” business plan templates. Each venture is unique as is each market. If someone promises you a “fill-in-the-blanks” template or automated way to create your business plan then you are effectively getting a generic plan. Our hybrid business plan offered here is researched written and formatted in 2017 specifically for the website development industry.
- Before purchasing please understand the usage of this document (Yes you will have to put in some work) we are honest about what offer and provide screen shots of the documents you will be receiving so there is no misunderstanding.
A customized or turn-key document from a reputable professional business plan writer starts at $450 and an cost upward of $1,300 (A Google search will show you this.)
We are attempting to help you get started on a budget hence we are providing our extensive hybrid fusion business plan documents as a starting point for you to build your plan upon.
If you do not wish to do any work we do offer a fully customized plan starting at $850.
If interested please feel free to message us regarding these fully custom written plans.
- This is a Hybrid Fusion business plan template, which is in between a business plan template and sample. This is NOT a complete Turn-key business plan. Modify and use this Hybrid Fusion business plan template as a foundation to create your own plan. See sample pages to see exactly what you will be receiving.
- We are unable to make any changes to this plan or excel sheet or pitch deck or documents for you.
- By purchasing these documents you agree not to resell, copyright or post them online.
- Digital Download for Microsoft Office XP 10.0 in Windows XP and higher versions.
- Will open in Microsoft Office for Mac however some formatting issues may be present and will need to be corrected. For this reason we unable to guarantee 100% direct compatibility with Microsoft Office for Mac.
The best time to start is now. Purchase with confidence. SSL Secured Checkout and 30 Day Money Back Guarantee if you are able to find a more comprehensive and up to date plan and funding package combination for a lower price point.*
* Click here for Money Back Guarantee terms and conditions.
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- Will open in Microsoft Office for Mac however some formatting issues may be present and will need to be corrected.
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Sample Web Design Business Plan Template
Web design company business plan sample.
The web design industry basically encompasses the design of websites and hosting of websites on the World Wide Web for both individuals and corporate organizations alike.
In today’s world, it is very uncommon to find companies, and individuals who seriously want to make an impact and do not have a website. With an active website, one can be able to communicate his ideas and message to an audience.
If you are keen on starting up a web design business, and have considered all of the basic things which you have to consider before starting the business, then this web design business plan sample will prove beneficial to you in writing a simple business plan for your web design business.
Here is a sample business plan for starting a web development business.
BUSINESS NAME: Incandescence Screen Printing LLC.
Our Products and Services
- Market Analysis
Sales and Marketing Strategy
- Financial Plan
- Sales Forecast
Five & Six Technology LLC has been duly registered to fully practice in Los Angeles, United States. The business will be very delighted to offer its many products and services to customers all over the United States.
To get started, the owners, Mr and Mrs Smith will be responsible for providing two-third of the startup capital which amounts to $300,000 while the final third will be sourced from the owners’ bank.
The sole purpose of starting up this business is to maximize profits. This, we will achieve by ensuring we do all within the laws of the United States in operating our business.
Five & Six Technology LLC is a web design company which will be operating from Los Angeles, United States. The business has been established so as to maximize profit in the industry. The following are the products and services which we will be offering to our customers not just in Los Angeles, but in the United States at large:
- Designing of websites for corporate clients as well as individual clients.
- Developing of websites and custom platform web development.
- Optimization of website’s functionality for website owners.
- Code writing services and search engine optimization.
- Word press web development.
- Corporate identification design services
- Several other web design related services.
Our vision is to build a standard and world class web design company that will be providing its services to customers not just in Los Angeles, but also in the United States. We want to be counted as part of the leading web design companies in Los Angeles, United Sates.
Our mission is to establish a web design business that will be particular about providing its professional services towards assisting individuals, businesses, non-profit organizations, to be able to promote their brands and connect with more prospective customers.
We are very interested in building a web design company that will become a very competitive business in the industry. We will start it small and grow it big into the web design company we hope it to be. It is in view of this that we will not take lightly our recruitment process. We will hire only candidates that meet with our qualification criteria. Candidates that we will recruit will have to be very honest, hardworking, qualified, and most important, they must be very ready to work with us. Below are the positions which we will fill:
- Chief Executive Officer
- Human Resources and Admin Manager
- Creative Director
- Content creator
- Web designer
- Client service executive
Market Analysis Market Trend
One trend in the industry is that the target market is always growing. More persons and organizations have become more aware of the need to have an official website, and also to seek the services of a professional graphics designer in the branding of their products so as to reach more customers.
The following are the groups which we have identified to make up our target market:
- Financial Institutions such as Banks, and Insurance Companies
- Corporate Organizations
- Real Estate Owners, developers, and contractors.
- Television stations
- Political Parties
- Religious Organizations
- Sport Organizations
- The Government
- Blue Chips Companies
We have our goal for our business set at a very great height. For us to be able to accomplish our heights, we will do well to station our business amongst the very top web design companies in the United States. The following are the ways we would promote our business to our prospective customers:
- We will make sure to introduce our web design business to various institutions and individuals, all of which make up our target market.
- We will list our web design business in local directories ads.
- We will always stay updated by attending various seminars, expos, business fairs, and the likes.
- We will make very good use of the internet and social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to promote our business.
- We will encourage the use of word of the mouth in promoting our business.
Financial Plan Sources of Startup Budget
Having conducted thorough study on the industry, and carried out a feasibility study on our line of business, we have been able to determine the needed startup capital to launch our business from scratch. This total startup budget amounts to $300,000. We will do well to obtain this capital from the owners and from the owners’ bank. So far, the owners have been able to raise a total of $150,000. They are expected to raise $200,000 for their part, while the remainder will be sourced as soft loan from the owners’ bank.
Sales Forecast First Fiscal Year $100,000 Second Fiscal Year $150,000 Third Fiscal Year $200,000
Above is the sales projection for Five & Six Technology LLC for the first three years from startup. This sales projection is based on what is obtainable in the industry, and it will only function as a guide.
The above business plan sample is a web design business plan sample titled, ‘Five & Six Technology LLC’. The business which will be located in Los Angeles, United States will be focused on providing its customers in the United States with its numerous products and services. The business will be run by the Smiths.
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- Best Website Builders for Small Businesses of 2023
Website builders provide responsive templates and drag-and-drop editors to simplify site creation. Selecting the right provider and services enables small businesses to get online quickly to generate leads, sell products, and reach customers.
Popular Website Builders
Why Trust U.S. News
At U.S. News & World Report, we take an unbiased approach to our ratings. We adhere to strict editorial guidelines, maintain a separate business team, and provide transparency on our methodology.
Website Builders Evaluated
Website Builders Analyzed
Best Website Builders
Table of Contents
- Best Website Builders for Small Businesses
- Compare the Best Website Builders for Small Businesses
- Rating Details
If you want to create an appealing website quickly and within your budget, a website builder can help. Our Best Website Builders for Small Businesses rating can help you decide which one to use. We researched providers and compared more than 20 features to identify the top four site builders. Compare pricing, tools, customer service, and more to find the best solution for your company.
Our Best Website Builders for Small Businesses of 2023 Rating
Compare the Best Website Builders for Small Businesses of 2023
Best website builders for small businesses in detail.
We evaluated web hosting services, site-editing tools, and professional reviews for our rating of the Best Website Builders for Small Businesses. Our assessment looked at plan pricing, range of subscriptions, and features for various industries. Also, we considered cart, checkout, analytics, and inventory management tools for e-commerce. Explore the top website builders to create a professional and functional business site.
$16.00 - $59.00
Wix Is Recommended For:
Businesses of all sizes and budgets looking for site building packages
Customers that need 24/7 support via chatbot and callback
Those in search of a range of management, marketing, and e-commerce tools
Wix Isn’t Recommended For:
Businesses looking for a low-priced plan that supports e-commerce
Companies that want to integrate their point-of-sale (POS) system with their site
Those who don't want to purchase a custom email address separately
$11.99 - $44.99
GoDaddy Is Recommended For:
Small businesses looking for an affordable option for their online store
Services that need low-cost appointment scheduling and reminders
Retailers that want to combine point-of-sale (POS) hardware with their online sales operations
GoDaddy Isn’t Recommended For:
Midsize companies requiring a full-featured development platform for their site
Those wanting access to an app marketplace of free and fee-based third-party add-ons and integrations
Companies requiring currency conversion for processing international sales
$19.00 - $49.00
Duda Is Recommended For:
Web designers and agencies who build websites for others
Those who are okay with using non-industry-specific templates
Duda Isn’t Recommended For:
Those who want a wide range of template choices
Customers who don’t want to buy e-commerce features as add-ons
$9.00 - $70.00
WordPress.com Is Recommended For:
Those in search of a budget-friendly website builder
Anyone who wants to build a website without knowing code
Users who want access to a wide range of free and premium themes
WordPress.com Isn’t Recommended For:
Those seeking a low-cost e-commerce solution
Those needing immediate access to customer support
Users wanting high-quality security features without upgrades
What Should a Small Business Website Include?
Most website builder templates provide a few page layouts pertinent to your industry or chosen goal. As such, these make a good starting point for deciding which pages to include on your small business website. However, a restaurant may want to add an online menu, whereas an accountant will highlight their services. See the checklists below for essential, industry-specific, and optional web pages.
Small Business Website Pages
Here are the essential web pages every small business website needs:
- Homepage: This is the first thing visitors see upon arrival. It should briefly describe your business, services or products, and how you help customers.
- About: You can highlight your company’s history and team members, or share your business vision and values.
- Services or products: Summarize what your business offers and detail or link to additional pages with more information.
- Contact: Encourage visitors to get in touch or stop by your physical store. Consider adding a dynamic map to guide customers to your location.
Industry-Specific Website Pages
Depending on the industry, your small business website may benefit from:
- Online menu and integrated ordering tools (for restaurants)
- E-commerce store with clickable products and images
- Customer account page for managing retail or subscription orders
- Shipping and return information (for online stores)
- Appointment request form or booking page with a calendar
- Gallery or portfolio pages (for creatives)
- Event pages for ticketing
- Case studies page for professional services
Nice to Have but Not Required
Consider these extras:
- An FAQ page can assist with SEO and reduce emails with repeat questions.
- A testimonial or review section shows your company’s expertise via social proof.
- With a blog, your company can share news and educational content.
How To Choose the Best Small Business Website Builder for You
When you first compare small business website builders, it’s essential to understand your site’s goal and which features can help you accomplish it. Many companies want to sell products or services online or build their brand’s presence. Integrated payment processing and e-commerce features help with the former, while a custom domain name and native email marketing tools support the latter.
Also, work out your minimum and maximum monthly budget. Some website builders lock core functions behind more expensive plans, making them out-of-reach for companies that need a free or cheap service. Remember to consider the payment processing costs, as fees can take up to 10% of each transaction. Write down your must-have features so that when you compare providers, you can eliminate any subscriptions that lack the necessary tools.
Consider the following questions before assessing your options:
- Do you want an all-in-one platform with a builder, domain, and web hosting? Or would you prefer to buy a domain separately ?
- How will you accept payments, and for what kind of products or services?
- Do you need an online store? If so, how many products will it have?
- Are built-in social media and email marketing tools important?
- Does your company require industry-specific features, like booking, ticketing, or reservation tools?
Does My Business Need a Web Designer?
Entrepreneurs can DIY their websites with user-friendly site builders and editing tools. But what if you don’t have the time or inclination to make a website? Alternatively, suppose you have a sizable startup budget and want to see your ideal design come to life. In these cases, a web designer could be the better solution. Although it costs more and takes longer, you can request customizations without completing the work yourself.
However, a website builder is the way to go if you needed your site online yesterday and want to accept payments within the next day or two. Website builders include pre-made templates, so you can add your main pages without formatting each one individually.
Artificial intelligence (AI) text generators and image libraries also enable quick website generation. And if you select a site builder like GoDaddy, payment processing is built in. Learn what’s involved in our How to Build a Website guide.
Web designers take longer because they must consult with you, develop one or more site mockups, and then collaborate with you to ensure each element meets your expectations before building begins. WordPress.com and GoDaddy offer in-house expert design services, whereas Wix and Duda provide access to third-party professionals.
How Much Does a Website Builder for a Small Business Cost?
Most website builders have the same templates, regardless of the subscription. But features and functionality differ between personal, business, and e-commerce packages. Website builder plans range from free to $70 monthly. Free versions lack a custom domain, which many small businesses prefer for improving brand awareness and customer experience.
GoDaddy offers the cheapest business subscription: Commerce. The regular price is $24.99 monthly for 5,000 products, social selling, and promotional tools. Conversely, the WordPress.com Business plan costs $40, and e-commerce solutions are only available with plug-ins. However, less expensive options are available if your small business doesn’t need a full-fledged online store with payment processing.
For instance, GoDaddy’s Basic package costs $11.99 monthly, whereas entry-tier plans from Duda are $19, and Wix starts at $16. That said, it’s vital to compare tools closely. Although GoDaddy’s most affordable subscription doesn’t have an online store, you can still process payments through a virtual terminal or payment links, a less common feature among other website builders.
In addition to monthly fees, payment transactions may incur processing fees. These vary by website builder and range from zero to 10%. Duda doesn’t collect payment fees, but you must find and integrate your site with a third-party payment processor. WordPress.com has fee-free transactions for Commerce users ($70 monthly), and Business users pay 2% per payment, which is less than Wix ($2.9% plus $0.30) and GoDaddy (2.3% plus $0.30).
Small businesses intending to sell digital or physical products online should consider an e-commerce website builder plan. These packages have built-in features for online stores, like payment processing, item catalogs, and shipping integrations. While some platforms let you add payment processing through third-party integrations, others require switching to an e-commerce plan
If you believe you may sell products in the future, look for a website builder with a scalable plan selection. That way, you can upgrade your package and build a store quickly when it’s time to open your online shop.
Since consumers will judge your creative business on the visual appearance of your site, find a website builder with templates and tools that fit your brand the best. For instance, WordPress.com supports paid subscribers and tipping on all plans (including the free version). In contrast, Duda provides agency packages, perfect for companies looking to add web design or hosting services.
Creative businesses may prefer website builder plans with the following features:
- Slideshow, stacked, carousel, or grid gallery options
- Appointment scheduling and payment tools
- One-time and recurring subscriptions or memberships
- Free and paid digital product downloads
- Password-protected gated content for members
- Built-in collaboration tools for clients and teams
- Clickable elements for donating or tipping artists
- Video editing and storage features
- Social media integrations
- Digital marketing automation for email and social media
- Client management tools and user permission levels
Although you can install a third-party website builder plug-in, in many cases, it’s easier and possibly more secure to use your web host’s website builder. A web hosting company creates and maintains its website builder, ensuring that it receives the latest security patches and meets new standards for web accessibility. If you have a problem, you can access support through your provider’s customer service channels and knowledge bases.
In contrast, when you use a third-party plug-in, you must rely on another vendor for vulnerability patching, product updates, and support. If you run into a problem while creating your site, it can be challenging to find a solution, which is why we suggest using your web host’s website builder.
Unless you have a developer on your team or the budget for a professional web designer, a website builder is typically the better solution for a small business. Website builders don’t require coding skills or technical knowledge. Instead, they provide drag-and-drop tools, allowing you to easily switch page elements or add new ones. Customizable pre-made templates and layouts eliminate the need to start from scratch whenever you add a page.
In addition, many website builders are all-in-one systems, meaning you can use one vendor for your domain name, hosting, site-building tools, and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. However, hand-coding a website allows for even more customization and integrations. It takes longer than making a site with a website builder, but you can turn a blank site into a custom creation with the right skills.
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Our 360 Methodology for Evaluating Website Builders
1. we researched the companies and products people care most about., 2. we created objective 360 overall ratings based on an analysis of third-party reviews..
- Professional Ratings and Reviews . Many independent website builder evaluating sources have published their assessments of website builders and their products online. We consider several of these third-party reviews to be reputable and well-researched. However, professional reviewers often make recommendations that contradict one another. Rather than relying on a single source, U.S. News believes consumers benefit most when these opinions and recommendations are considered and analyzed collectively with an objective, consensus-based methodology.
- Consumer Ratings and Reviews . U.S. News also reviewed published consumer ratings and reviews of website builders. Sources with a sufficient number of quality consumer ratings and reviews were included in our scoring model.
- Calculating the Z-Score: The Z-Score represents a data point's relation to the mean measurement of the data set. The Z-Score is negative when the data point is below the mean and positive when it's above the mean; a Z-Score of 0 means it's equal to the mean. To determine the Z-Score for each third-party rating of a company, we calculated the mean of the ratings across all companies evaluated by that third-party source. We then subtracted the mean from the company’s rating and divided it by the standard deviation to produce the Z-Score.
- Calculating the T-Score: We used a T-Score calculation to convert the Z-Score to a 0 to 100 scale by multiplying the Z-Score by 10. To ensure that the mean was equal across all data points, we added our desired scoring mean (between 0 and 10) to the T-Score to create an adjusted T-Score.
- Calculating the common-scale rating: We divided the adjusted T-Score, which is on a 100-point scale, by 20 to convert the third-party rating to a common 0 to 5 point system.
U.S. News 360 Reviews takes an unbiased approach to our recommendations. When you use our links to buy products, we may earn a commission but that in no way affects our editorial independence.
More From Forbes
The 10 Biggest Business Trends For 2024 Everyone Must Be Ready For Now
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It is time once again to look into the crystal ball and predict the direction that business and industry will take in the coming year.
With the general global economic downturn predicted to get worse before it gets better, companies are likely to remain cautious when it comes to spending and investing in radical new ideas in 2024. However, there are a number of technological and societal trends that are simply too big to ignore or put off until better days. These are the areas where we can expect to see continued innovation and investment, and I'll highlight the most prominent in this article.
As has been the case for the past few years, there's some overlap between these and my other predictions, which focus primarily on technology. Simply put, this is because business trends today are largely driven by technology. However, as we develop a better understanding of a technology - artificial intelligence (AI) being the obvious example - we also understand what it isn't. In 2024, this will lead to new perspectives on what makes us human - a theme I believe is reflected in this year's predictions.
Generative AI Everywhere
The Boston Consulting Group asserts that “to be an industry leader in five years, you need a clear and compelling generative AI strategy today.” AI and machine learning have been making waves for more than a decade, and are thoroughly integrated into many of the products and services we buy from major companies. Now, generative AI puts the power to create and intelligently automate the customer experience - as well as internal operations - in the hands of nearly every organization.
Soft Skills And The Human Touch
As it becomes increasingly feasible to automate technical aspects of work - coding, research, or data management, for example - the ability to leverage soft skills for tasks that still require a human touch becomes critical. For this reason, in 2024, we will see organizations increasing their investment in developing and nurturing skills and attributes such as emotional intelligence, communication, interpersonal problem solving, high-level strategy, and thought leadership.
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The Skills Solution
We’ve been hearing about the skills shortage for several years now. Changes in hiring practices that emphasize selecting candidates with the specific experiences and skills needed for a role, rather than qualities such as educational attainment or age, are a part of the industry's response and will continue to be a strong trend. We will also continue to see increased investment in training and upskilling, particularly around disruptive technologies such as generative AI and skills that will be in demand in an AI-driven economy.
One driver is clearly customer demand, as research continues to show that consumers increasingly prefer companies with a solid commitment to reducing their environmental footprint. On the other hand, as the green economy grows, we're learning that green solutions often lead to bottom-line growth. For example, Walmart WMT dramatically reduced its spending on fuel and vehicle maintenance by transitioning to an EV delivery fleet. We'll also get better at spotting greenwashing, where companies pay lip service to environmentalism in an attempt to divert attention from environmentally unfriendly practices.
One driver is clearly customer demand, as research continues to show that consumers increasingly prefer companies with a solid commitment to reducing their environmental footprint. On the other hand, as the green economy grows, we're learning that green solutions often lead to bottom-line growth. For example, L’Oréal has developed personalized cosmetics to match customers' skin types, and Nike NKE and other manufacturers offer custom shoes in thousands of combinations of styles and colors. This will lead to companies of all sizes offering customized solutions to build stronger relationships with customers.
The Data Economy
Data is an increasingly valuable business asset. By 2024, more companies will have streamlined their operations and improved their customer offerings by taking a strategic approach to their data. As a result, they will be ready to take the next step - monetizing data itself to drive new business opportunities. Leading the way are companies like John Deere, which has pioneered the model of selling data from its sensor-laden farm equipment back to farmers as insights to improve productivity. As access to large-scale data collection and AI-driven analytics becomes increasingly democratized, we'll see this trend adopted by smaller companies in niche and diversified sectors.
The Customer Experience Revolution
Imagine a line on a graph that rates your customers' sentiment at every touchpoint where they interact with your company, goods, or services. This illustrates the concept of customer experience. While traditionally a company might build a business model around superior quality or value, in 2024 the impetus is to ensure that every single interaction and experience makes the customer smile. This means personalized marketing that delivers what they need at the right time, on-time delivery, frictionless setup and installation, and efficient problem resolution. It's becoming increasingly common for companies and brands to appoint a Chief Experience Officer to ensure these principles are fully integrated into all business strategies.
Remote and distributed work
It's no longer about companies surviving the pandemic, it's about offering flexible arrangements, valuing employees' time and harnessing the potential of a global workforce. Yes, workers returning to the office has been a theme of the past 12 months. But employers are also ensuring that they retain the ability to work with geographically dispersed teams and attract talent from anywhere in the world. For these reasons, we'll see the number of job postings with "remote" or "hybrid" locations remain well above pre-Covid levels throughout 2024.
Diversity and Inclusivity
Talent comes in all ages, shapes, sizes and colors. Unconscious racist, sexist or ageist bias can easily seep into systems around hiring, training, performance management or development, resulting in talent being marginalized, mismanaged or overlooked. There has always been a business case for ensuring diverse and inclusive workforces, but in the age of AI, as we increasingly rely on machines to make decisions that impact humans, it's more important than ever.
Ensuring an organization is protected from whatever threat is around the corner. That could mean cyber attacks, economic downturns, environmental events, war, global pandemics, or the emergence of a disruptive new competitor. It's about taking what we've learned from companies that have survived and even thrived in turbulent times and using it to plan and prepare for what might happen tomorrow. Despite my crystal ball, the future is never certain, and building resilience to any threats that might emerge will be a key business trend in 2024.
You can read more about these topics in my book , The Future Internet: How the Metaverse, Web 3.0, and Blockchain Will Transform Business and Society and ‘ Business Trends in Practice , which won the 2022 Business Book of the Year award. And don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter and follow me on X (Twitter ), LinkedIn , and YouTube for more on the future trends in business and technology.
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Biden-Harris Administration Awards $600 Million to Bolster US Manufacturing of COVID-19 Tests and Announces the Re-Opening of COVIDTests.gov
Actions are part of ASPR’s comprehensive strategy to strengthen the domestic supply chain and promote access to COVID-19 tests
Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR), is announcing an investment of $600 million across 12 domestic COVID-19 test manufacturers and the reopening of COVIDTests.gov to deliver COVID-19 tests for free to households across the country.
These critical investments in U.S. manufacturing will improve preparedness for COVID-19 and other pandemic threats of the future, strengthen the nation’s capacity to manufacture tests, and secure approximately 200 million new over-the-counter COVID-19 tests for future federal government use.
The awardees are:
- $88.7 million for Access Bio in New Jersey.
- $4.5 million for Advin in California.
- $61.2 million for Azure in Texas.
- $86.4 million for CorDx in California.
- $167 million for iHealth in California.
- $20.7 million for InBios in Washington.
- $31.4 million for Kwell Laboratories in California.
- $49.5 million for Maxim Bio in Maryland.
- $5.7 million for OraSure Technologies in Pennsylvania.
- $28.7 million for Princeton BioMeditech in New Jersey.
- $28.6 million for Quidel in California.
- $20.5 million for Sekisui in Delaware.
“The Biden-Harris Administration, in partnership with domestic manufacturers, has made great strides in addressing vulnerabilities in the U.S. supply chain by reducing our reliance on overseas manufacturing,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “These critical investments will strengthen our nation’s production levels of domestic at-home COVID-19 rapid tests and help mitigate the spread of the virus.”
Combined, the 12 U.S. manufacturing companies operate production facilities across the country and employ hundreds of workers in seven states.
“Manufacturing COVID-19 tests in the United States strengthens our preparedness for the upcoming fall and winter seasons, reduces our reliance on other countries, and provides good jobs to hardworking Americans,” said Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell. “ASPR’s investments in these domestic manufacturers will increase availability of tests in the future.”
In addition to the investments in domestic manufacturing, beginning September 25, households will again be able to order four free tests through COVIDTests.gov. These tests will detect the currently circulating COVID-19 variants , are intended for use through the end of 2023, and will include clear instructions on how to verify extended expiration dates.
This upcoming round of ordering follows four previous rounds in which ASPR and USPS provided over 755 million tests free of charge to households across the country. These efforts complement ASPR’s ongoing distribution of free COVID-19 tests to long-term care facilities, low-income senior housing, uninsured individuals, and underserved communities, with 500 million tests provided to date through these channels.
To learn more about the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, please visit ASPR.HHS.gov .
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Announcing Microsoft Copilot, your everyday AI companion
Sep 21, 2023 | Yusuf Mehdi - Corporate Vice President & Consumer Chief Marketing Officer
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We are entering a new era of AI, one that is fundamentally changing how we relate to and benefit from technology. With the convergence of chat interfaces and large language models you can now ask for what you want in natural language and the technology is smart enough to answer, create it or take action. At Microsoft, we think about this as having a copilot to help navigate any task. We have been building AI-powered copilots into our most used and loved products – making coding more efficient with GitHub, transforming productivity at work with Microsoft 365, redefining search with Bing and Edge and delivering contextual value that works across your apps and PC with Windows.
Today we take the next step to unify these capabilities into a single experience we call Microsoft Copilot, your everyday AI companion. Copilot will uniquely incorporate the context and intelligence of the web, your work data and what you are doing in the moment on your PC to provide better assistance – with your privacy and security at the forefront. It will be a simple and seamless experience, available in Windows 11, Microsoft 365, and in our web browser with Edge and Bing. It will work as an app or reveal itself when you need it with a right click. We will continue to add capabilities and connections to Copilot across to our most-used applications over time in service of our vision to have one experience that works across your whole life.
Copilot will begin to roll out in its early form as part of our free update to Windows 11, starting Sept. 26 — and across Bing, Edge, and Microsoft 365 Copilot this fall. We’re also announcing some exciting new experiences and devices to help you be more productive, spark your creativity, and to meet the everyday needs of people and businesses.
- With over 150 new features, the next Windows 11 update is one of our most ambitious yet, bringing the power of Copilot and new AI powered experiences to apps like Paint, Photos, Clipchamp and more right to your Windows PC.
- Bing will add support for the latest DALL.E 3 model from OpenAI and deliver more personalized answers based on your search history, a new AI-powered shopping experience, and updates to Bing Chat Enterprise, making it more mobile and visual.
- Microsoft 365 Copilot will be generally available for enterprise customers on Nov. 1, 2023, along with Microsoft 365 Chat, a new AI assistant that will completely transform the way you work.
- Additionally, we introduced powerful new Surface devices that bring all these AI experiences to life for you, and they are available for pre-order beginning today.
New Windows 11 Update delivers over 150 new features, including bringing the power of Copilot to the PC
Today, we’re thrilled to share our next step toward making Windows the destination for the best AI experiences – with a new update that delivers our most personal experience yet coming on Sept. 26.
Here’s a look at some of what’s new in the latest update for Windows 11:
- Copilot in Windows (in preview) empowers you to create faster, complete tasks with ease and lessens your cognitive load – making once complicated tasks, simple. We’ve made accessing the power of Copilot seamless as it’s always right there for you on the taskbar or with the Win+C keyboard shortcut providing assistance alongside all your apps, on all screen sizes at work, school or at home.
- Paint has been enhanced with AI for drawing and digital creation with the addition of background removal and layers as well as a preview of Cocreator that brings the power of generative AI to the Paint app.
- Photos has also been enhanced with AI including new features to make editing your photos a breeze. With Background Blur you can make the subject of your photo stand out quickly and easily. The Photos app automatically finds the background in the photo, and with a single click, instantly highlights your subject and blurs out the background. We’ve improved search, with photos stored in OneDrive (home or personal) accounts, you can now quickly find the photo you’re looking for based on the content of the photo. You can also now find photos based on the location where they were taken.
- Snipping Tool now offers more ways to capture content on your screen – with this update you can now extract specific text content from an image to paste in another application or, you can easily protect your sensitive information with text redaction by using text actions on the post capture screen. And, with the addition of sound capturing using audio and mic support, it’s easier to create compelling videos and content from your screen.
- Clipchamp , now with auto compose, helps you with scenes suggestions, edits and narratives based on your images and footage automatically so you can create and edit videos to share with family, friends, and social media like a pro.
- Notepad will start automatically saving your session state allowing you to close Notepad without any interrupting dialogs and then pick up where you left off when you return. Notepad will automatically restore previously open tabs as well as unsaved content and edits across those open tabs.
- With the new Outlook for Windows , you can connect and coordinate your various accounts (including Gmail, Yahoo, iCloud, and more) in one app. Intelligent tools help you write clear, concise emails and seamlessly attach important documents and photos from OneDrive. To learn more, visit this link .
- Modernized File Explorer, we are introducing a modernized File Explorer home, address bar and search box all designed to help you more easily access important and relevant content, stay up to date with file activity and collaborate without even opening a file. Also coming to File Explorer is a new Gallery feature designed to make it easy to access your photo collection.
- New text authoring experiences to voice access and new natural voices in Narrator , continuing our ongoing commitment to making Windows 11 the most accessible version of Windows yet.
- Windows Backup makes moving to a new Windows 11 PC easier than ever. With Windows Backup, transitioning most files, apps and settings from one PC to another, is seamless so everything is right where you left it, exactly how you like it.
These experiences, including Copilot in Windows and more will start to become available on Sept. 26 as part of our latest update to Windows 11, version 22H2.
Bing and Edge are redefining how we interact with the web
Today, we’re announcing new features in Bing and Edge to supercharge your day powered by the latest models delivering the most advanced capabilities for AI available. You can use Bing Chat today with Microsoft Edge or at bing.com/chat. Features will begin to roll out soon.
- Personalized answers. Now, your chat history can inform your results. For example, if you’ve used Bing to track your favorite soccer team, next time you’re planning a trip it can proactively tell you if the team is playing in your destination city. If you prefer responses that don’t use your chat history, you can turn this feature off in Bing settings.
- Copilot in Microsoft Shopping. From Bing or Edge, you can now more quickly find what you’re shopping for online. When you ask for information on an item, Bing will ask additional questions to learn more, then use that information to provide more tailored recommendations. And you can trust you’re getting the best price – in fact, in the last 12 months, shoppers have been offered more than $4 billion in savings on Microsoft Edge. Soon, you’ll also be able to use a photo or saved image as the starting point for shopping.
- DALL.E 3 model from OpenAI in Bing Image Creator . DALL.E 3 delivers a huge leap forward with more beautiful creations and better renderings for details like fingers and eyes. It also has a better understanding of what you’re asking for, which results in delivering more accurate images. We’re also integrating Microsoft Designer directly into Bing to make editing your creations even easier.
- Content Credentials . As we continue to take a responsible approach to generative AI, we’re adding new Content Credentials which uses cryptographic methods to add an invisible digital watermark to all AI-generated images in Bing – including time and date it was originally created. We will also bring support for Content Credentials to Paint and Microsoft Designer.
- Bing Chat Enterprise Updates . Since its introduction just two months ago, more than 160 million Microsoft 365 users now have access to Bing Chat Enterprise at no additional cost and the response has been incredible. Today we’re announcing that Bing Chat Enterprise is now available in the Microsoft Edge mobile app. We’re also bringing support for multimodal visual search and Image Creator to Bing Chat Enterprise. Boost your creativity at work with the ability to find information using images and creating them.
Transforming work with Microsoft 365 Copilot, Bing Chat Enterprise and Windows
In March, we showed you what Microsoft 365 Copilot can do in the apps millions of people use every day across work and life – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Teams – using just your own words. After months of learning alongside customers like Visa, General Motors, KPMG and Lumen Technologies, we’re excited to share that Microsoft 365 Copilot will be generally available for enterprise customers on Nov. 1.
Today, we’re also introducing a new, hero experience in Microsoft 365 Copilot: Microsoft 365 Chat. You saw a glimpse of Microsoft 365 Chat in March, then called Business Chat — but rapid advancements over the last few months have taken it to a whole new level. Microsoft 365 Chat combs across your entire universe of data at work, including emails, meetings, chats, documents and more, plus the web. Like an assistant, it has a deep understanding of you, your job, your priorities and your organization. It goes far beyond simple questions and answers to give you a head start on some of your most complex or tedious tasks — whether that’s writing a strategy document, booking a business trip, or catching up on emails.
Over the past few years, the pace and volume of work have only increased. On a given workday, our heaviest users search for what they need 18 times, receive over 250 Outlook emails and send or read nearly 150 Teams chats.  Teams users globally are in three times more meetings each week than they were in 2020.  And on Windows, some people use 11 apps in a single day to get work done.  Microsoft 365 Chat tames the complexity, eliminates the drudgery and helps you reclaim time at work. Preview customers can access it today on Microsoft365.com, Teams, or in Bing when signed in with their work account. In the future you’ll be able to access it wherever you see the Copilot icon when signed in with your work account.
To empower you at work, we’re also introducing new capabilities for Copilot in Outlook, Word, Excel, Loop, OneNote and OneDrive. Bing Chat Enterprise —the first entry point into generative AI for many companies — is getting a few upgrades. And as part of our big Windows 11 update, Windows 365 Switch and Windows 365 Boot will be generally available making it even easier to access your Windows Cloud PC. This will help employees achieve more, while making it easier for IT to deploy, manage and secure. Check out the Microsoft 365 blog to learn more about how Microsoft 365, Bing Chat Enterprise and Windows are transforming the way we work.
Unleashing personal productivity and creativity with Designer and Copilot in Microsoft 365
Designer , the newest addition to our family of Microsoft 365 consumer apps, helps you quickly create stunning visuals, social media posts, invitations, and more using cutting-edge AI. Today, we’re showing some powerful new features, many of which will be powered by OpenAI’s Dall.E 3. Generative expand uses AI to extend your image beyond its borders, generative fill adds a new object or background, and generative erase can remove unwanted objects.  Dall.E 3 will also soon power the image generation experience in Designer, making it easy to add original, higher quality images to your design in seconds.
We’re also integrating Designer into Microsoft 365 Copilot for consumers — starting with Word. Designer uses the context of your document to propose visuals to choose from; you can make it more personal by uploading your own photos too. And within moments, you can transform a text-heavy document with custom graphics. We’re starting to test Microsoft 365 Copilot with a small group of Microsoft 365 consumer subscribers and look forward to expanding the preview to more people over time. Seventy percent of creators tell us one of the most difficult parts of the creation process is just getting started.  With creative tools like Designer, plus Bing Image Creator, Clipchamp and Paint, you can now have an immediate visual draft of almost anything — with a few simple prompts.
Introducing new Surface devices available for pre-order beginning today for people and businesses
There is no better stage to bring to life all of the incredible AI experiences from across Microsoft than our new Surface devices. Surface is at the forefront of device performance and processor technology. We have been investing in silicon advancements to augment this next wave of AI innovation, unlocking experiences like Windows Studio Effects in Surface Pro 9 with 5G and continuing to increase performance to run the latest AI models with powerful devices like the new Surface Laptop Studio 2.
- The new Surface Laptop Studio 2 is the most powerful Surface we’ve ever built. Turbocharged with the latest Intel® Core processors and cutting-edge NVIDIA® Studio tools for creators-with up to 2x more graphics performance than MacBook Pro M2 Max,  Surface Laptop Studio brings together the versatility to create and the power to perform — a stunning 14.4″ PixelSense Flow touchscreen display and flexible design with three unique postures. And with new customizations brought to the haptic touchpad to improve accessibility – we’re proud to call it the most inclusive touchpad on any laptop today.
- The new Surface Laptop Go 3 will turn heads with its balance of style and performance. It’s our lightest and most portable Surface Laptop, with a touchscreen display, and packed with premium features like an incredible typing experience and a Fingerprint Power Button, and it comes in four stylish colors. With Intel ® Core i5 performance, all-day battery life, and robust RAM and storage options, it’s the perfect everyday laptop and stage for the latest AI tools from Microsoft.
- Surface Go 4 for Business is our most portable Surface 2-in-1. This fall, the new Surface Go will be available exclusively for organizations to meet the growing needs of frontline workers and educators. We can’t wait to see how it will help businesses modernize and make their users more productive.
- S urface Hub 3 is the premier collaboration device built for hybrid work, designed end-to-end by Microsoft. The Microsoft Teams Rooms on Windows experience is familiar and intuitive on a brilliant 50” or 85” screen. The 50” Surface Hub 3 brings entirely new ways to co-create with Portrait, Smart Rotation and Smart AV. AI-enhanced collaboration tools – like Cloud IntelliFrame and Copilot in Whiteboard – shine on Surface Hub 3.
- 3D printable Adaptive Pen Grips for Surface Pen have been added to our lineup of adaptive accessories enabling more people to engage in digital inking and creation than before. They are available for purchase through Shapeways or as downloadable plans for 3D printing. To hear more about how we’re taking steps to close the disability divide, check out our video .
To pre-order one of our incredible new Surface devices , visit Microsoft.com, Bestbuy.com, and our Surface for Business page and blog to learn more about all of today’s new products.
The new era of AI with Copilot from Microsoft is here – and it’s ready for you
We believe that Microsoft is the place where powerful, useful AI experiences come together – simply, securely and responsibly – into the products you use most. Today, we showed you how we are not only increasing the usefulness of these experiences, but we are expanding them. From Windows 11 as the destination for the best AI experiences to empower people using it at work, school and home. To Microsoft 365, the most trusted productivity suite on the planet. To Bing and Edge, the most innovative search engine and browser available. All of it coming together on Windows 11 PCs like Surface. And with Copilot helping you get things done, helping you create and connect to people you care about or the world around you. We can’t wait to see what you can do with these experiences.
Learn more on the Microsoft 365 blog and the Security blog . And for all the blogs, videos and assets related to today’s announcements, please visit our microsite .
 Data represents top 20% of users by volume of searches across M365 services, emails received, and sent and read chats in Teams, respectively.
 Microsoft annual Work Trend Index 2023- Work Trend Index | Will AI Fix Work? (microsoft.com)
 Data reflects the top 20% Windows devices by app volume per day.
 Generative erase in Microsoft Designer is generally available to try today, with generative expand and fill coming soon.
 Survey of 941 creators commissioned by Microsoft in June 2022.
 Tested by Microsoft in September 2023 using CineBench 2024 GPU benchmark comparing Surface Laptop Studio 2 with RTX 2000 Ada Generation to MacBook Pro14” with M2 Max 19 12 core / 30 core configuration.
Tags: AI , Bing , Designer , Microsoft 365 , Microsoft Copilot , Microsoft Edge , Surface , Windows 11
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