10 Key Takeaways for Success as a Web Design Business

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Lesson Overview

In this lesson, we’ll discuss my 10 Key Takeaways for Success as a Web Design Business:

  1. Be Friendly & Responsive
  2. Automate, Automate, Automate
  3. Have Systems in Place
  4. Specialize
  5. Sell Values, Not Features
  6. Focus on People, Not Money
  7. Ask for Reviews
  8. Build Your Portfolio
  9. Choose the Right Tools
  10. Continue Your Education


Lesson Transcription

Welcome! I’m Leighton, your webmaster. In today’s lesson, let’s consider my 10 Key Takeaways for Success as a Web Design Business.

  1. Be Friendly & Responsive — People do business with those they know, like and trust. Again, people do business with those they know, like and trust. The #1 best service you can provide for your clients is your customer service. So be friendly. Be likable. Let people get to know you. The more they like you, the more likely they are to hold on to you as their webmaster, and refer you to others. In testimonials written about my agency, they write more about ME than their own website. So being responsive and quick to resolve issues will go a LONG way. Be available for and take care of your precious clients. Your friendliness and willingness to help will not go unnoticed.
  2. Automate, Automate, AutomateAnything that you can automate, do it. Let me give you some examples: Sending recurring invoices, uptime monitoring, change detection, monthly analytics reports, backups, and the list goes on. I’ve automated all of those tasks, and imagine all the time it would take to manually do all of those things for every client! For example: Let’s say you send out 50 invoices on the first of each month. If each one takes you 3 minutes to prepare, that’s 150 minutes, or 2.5 hours, of your time, every month! On the other hand, if your invoicing software can do this for you, you’ll spend 5 minutes ONCE setting up the recurring profiles, and you’re done. Automating these basic tasks frees up your time to do more important things, like meeting with clients and building websites. So anything that can be automated… go for it. Your time should be spent doing things that can’t be automated and that others can’t do for you.
  3. Have Systems In Place — Don’t reinvent the wheel for each project. Anything that you do over and over again, like preparing quotes, interviewing clients, writing up contracts, launching websites, can be simplified into a written process. In business, this is called an SOP, or Standard Operating Procedure, which is a list of step-by-step instructions on how to perform routine operations. The things you do the same way each time. Don’t create a new contract or proposal from scratch each time! Don’t guess at how to launch a website! Systematically make a list and follow it each time you need to perform that task. You’ll save a ton of time, and you’ll ensure that task is done properly and efficiently for each client.
  4. Specialize — So when I was first starting out, I wanted to offer everything! Be a one-stop shop. That meant web design, development, custom coding, eCommerce, branding, printing, logos, and more. I eventually discovered 2 major issues with that: I wasn’t good at all of those services. My forte was WordPress website design & development and running a business. Those other services didn’t bring in much money. This is why you need to regularly review your financials. Figure out what actually generates considerable revenue, and cut out the services that you don’t excel or make much money at. Furthermore, it’s kinder to the businesses too, because you want them to get the best product possible, and if that means a website from you, and a logo from somebody else, then so be it! Be a specialist, not a jack-of-all-trades.
  5. Sell Value, Not Features — This applies to any product you sell, but for website design, there are plenty of features you can build. A WordPress site. Mobile site. Photo galleries. Contact forms. Map. Testimonials. Videos. Those features are good… but do they sound like they’re worth $2000? $5000? Maybe not. But what’s the VALUE of a website? If a roofer is landing $10,000 roofing leads through their website, and they sell 2 of those per month, then their website is valued at $20,000 per month! Now does it sound valuable to pay $5000 for that website? Yeah!! Sell the value of a website, not the features on it. Value-based marketing is one of the best ways to level-up your sales. Figure out how the website is going to help a business’ bottom-line, then craft your sales pitch around that. As long as a business owner can see the value and profit in something… the exact cost becomes irrelevant.
  6. Focus on People, Not Money — So when you’re growing a business, it’s easy to become obsessed with making money, but when that’s your primary motivation… you could go down a dark path. Long hours, shady business practices, over-charging, misrepresenting value are all possible side effects of being solely focused on money. I encourage you to focus on helping people. Identify their problems and offer practical solutions instead of just selling them the most expensive product. Morally, you’ll feel a lot better when you show empathy. Identify your WHY. Why you’re pursuing this business. What your personal goals are. How much do you need to earn each year? What are your personal priorities? How will this business support those priorities? It’s easy to grow, scale, obsess over money, but you won’t be truly happy unless you’re fulfilling your personal goals. So be human, be empathetic, identify your WHY and focus on helping people instead of just making money at all costs.
  7. Ask for Reviews — Your brand’s digital reputation, for better or worse, is tied to your reviews. That means Google reviews, Facebook recommendations, and Yelp or Tripadvisor reviews for certain industries…  As consumers, we pay attention to reviews, so as a business owner, you can’t dismiss them. And while it’s hard to get reviews organically, you don’t have to sit around and wait for one! Be proactive! Send your happy clients a link directly to your Google review form, and you’ll have a MUCH greater chance at landing a positive, 5-star review. Collect as many of those as possible. The more you earn, the better your business will be perceived. And if you do get a low review, like 1-star, life will go on, and you can take that as a learning experience: First off, why did that person write you a 1-star review, and how can you learn from that feedback to prevent it in the future? If several people write the same negative comment, that’s no longer an anomaly; it’s a trend. Fix it. Second, bury that 1-star review with a bunch of 5-star ones! That will go a long way to improving your average rating.
  8. Build Your Portfolio — In website design, nobody cares if you went to college, they don’t ask for your licenses or education, they just want you to know your stuff. Your portfolio is how you show off your work. Start building that from the very first project you complete. Carefully curate your portfolio by only putting your best work, and highlighting the best-of-the-best at the top. You’re going for quality, not quantity, in your portfolio. And when you’re meeting with a client, if they’re in the construction industry, why not show them examples of websites you’ve done in that same industry? Roofers, electricians, plumbers? They might not be as interested in your coffee shop or beauty salon websites, but if they see you’ve helped others in their market, that’ll grab their attention. Tailor your sales approach to their industry. A successful website designer knows their portfolio inside and out, they know their go-to websites to show off, and they know what sites they’ve built in various industries.
  9. Choose the Right Tools — What would a handyman be without a hammer? A landscaper without a lawn mower? A diver without proper SCUBA gear? Tools are essential to perform a task, and certain tools can either speed up or slow down the process. So what tools do you use in web design? At bare minimum, you’ll need a computer, smartphone, WordPress… but what else? If you figure in software, there’s an endless supply of shiny new software to try out. But just because it’s new, doesn’t mean it’s best. Stick to the mature, stable software that’s here to stay. Think Adobe… Microsoft Office… Wave… Spend time learning those tools, and ignore all the shiny new beta software that comes your way. There’s nothing worse than wasting time switching to a new piece of software… then they close up or end support after a few years. Invest in tools that fill your needs, add value to your company, and are built by companies that are going to last.
  10. Continue Your Education — Always be a student. Keep learning with every new project. I still, to this day, learn new things with every website I build. Whether I’m trying out a new Divi feature, a new design idea, learning a new plugin, developing functionality I hadn’t previously experienced, I grow my knowledge and skillset with every project, even decades into this business. Take time to thoroughly learn new skills once, then you won’t have to re-learn them on subsequent projects. Follow quality tech blogs like TechCrunch and Mashable. Listen to reputable podcasts. If you’re a Divi user, keep up with the Elegant Themes Blog, which is one of the highest quality WordPress blogs I’ve ever seen. So always be a student, be humble, modest, and you will find success in life!

I’m Leighton, and now you know… 10 key takeaways for success!