I have no experience but would like to start a web design company. What is the lowest number of employees I can start and their job descriptions?
I have owned and operated a web design business since 2006 with only 1 employee — myself.
That being said, being your own boss and running a web design business alone means you must wear several hats:
- Website Designer — The core of a web design business is the design of the websites themselves. If your websites are not attractive, the business will fail. Therefore, general knowledge of design, graphic design, and web design is important. Learn color theory, web design trends, and browse the Web for websites that impress you. Save the ones you like and note the reasons they stand out to you. Notice the unattractive websites as well, and consider why you don’t find them visually pleasing. The more websites you design, the more you’ll hone your design skills. Divi and WordPress make design a breeze using the Visual Builder.
- HTML (HyperText Markup Language) handles the core content and structure of a web page. CSS
- CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) gives a website style. Use CSS to design and beautify a website.
- PHP (Pre-Hypertext Protocol) lets your website interact with servers and databases to store and retrieve data.
- Webmaster — Designers design a website. Developers build it. Webmasters take over the completed website to maintain and manage it going forward. This involves having a Website Maintenance Plan (the linked course goes in-depth on how to structure and sell these valuable plans as a webmaster). As the webmaster for your web design company, you are generally responsible for hosting, managing, backing up, securing, and updating your clients’ websites. Here are 16 ideas for your maintenance plan:
- Domain Registration
- Web Hosting
- Email Hosting
- Uptime Monitoring
- Site Backups
- Security Updates
- Search Engine Optimization
- Local Listings
- SSL Security
- Virus Removal
- Site Updates
- Website Support
- Performance Optimizations
- Marketer — Web design clients aren’t going to fall from the sky. You’ll need to drum up business, and there are several ways to do this.
- Friends & Family — One of the best ways to kickstart your portfolio and reviews is to build (discounted) websites for your friends and family. Do any of your friends or family members own businesses? Let your friends and family know you’ve started a website design business and could really use their help. Leverage your personal network of friends and family to help them out, build or improve their website, as they help you out by building your portfolio, reputation and experience
- Warm Calls — Have you ever come across a website that needs help? Maybe it doesn’t look very professional? Give them a call or email them. Let them know specifically how you can help them with their website! You could also make a note of businesses in your area that do not have a website at all. Email or call them to offer to build their website.
- Freelance Sites — Have you heard of Freelancer.com or Upwork ? These websites let you bid on projects. You can create a profile on sites like these and search for companies who need a web designer like you. Put in a “bid” by stating how much you would charge to solve their website design problem. If they choose you, you’ll be paid to design or improve their website (or whatever else they requested).
- Search Engine Optimization — Have you heard of SEO? Have you ever done a search on Google? Companies that have optimized their websites for search engines have a better chance at showing up on page 1 of Google search results. Learn SEO for free at a website like Moz so your website can rank well when people in your area use Google to find a web designer. However, don’t sit back and expect customers to come from your Google listing. Invest your time in SEO but don’t rely on it as your only referral source.
- Non-Profits — Do you have any non-profit organizations in your area? How do their websites look? Do they have a Facebook but no website? These organizations are great first customers! They are passionate, they know people, and they need a good website. You might not get as much money from these customers, but they can help you grow your business by recommending you to other businesses!
- Trade Organizations — Do you have Tradebank or ITEX in your area? These are bartering organizations. Basically, you build a website for “trade” dollars, which you can spend with other businesses also in that network.
- Advertising — You can run TV ads, Google Ads, Boost Posts on Facebook, and countless other means of advertising, but you might be wasting your money if you don’t gain any customers from that. If you decide to advertise, find a company that will monitor your ad campaign closely, optimize it, and stop advertising if you don’t find any customers from it.
- Network & Referral Marketing — Have you heard of BNI? BNI.com is the absolute best way to get customers. Look into local BNI chapters in your area. Meeting people, making connections, shaking hands, passing business cards is the #1 most effective way to attract more customers. It is so important to meet people, because people do business with those they know, like and trust.
- Accounting — Running a web design business requires invoicing your clients, both for the initial build of their website and the recurring charge of hosting and maintenance. There are free and paid options for this, and you’ll save money by passing on an accountant if you learn the accounting software yourself. When taking on a web design client, send them an invoice for the entire amount agreed upon and request half down, balance on completion. Most modern accounting services will allow your clients to pay online with their credit card.
Any one of those roles can be hired out, but there are pros and cons of hiring. A major disadvantage is that you must be serving enough clients to pay their salary. When you’re first starting out, you won’t have that regular stream of income.
My recommendation is to learn these skills yourself, be your own boss and your only employee.