How to Start an Online Website Design Business in 2021
You are here which means you have the skill to design a website. And people all over the world are craving veteran website designers like you to design their sites.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,
“Employment of web designers is projected to grow 13 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations”
So, why don’t you take this opportunity to flourish your designing skill and earn pennies at the same time? Like our beloved Joker once said, “If you’re good at something, never do it for free“. Now all you need to do is launch your own website design business to earn through it.
There is nothing easy about building a business, and the same goes for building your own web design business. It takes skill, commitment, persistence, courage, and consistency. There are no shortcuts.
So, follow this step-by-step guide and keep working hard to reach your goal.
Is It Worthy to Go for Online Website Design Business in 2021
Let me explain my answer a little elaborately now. It is worthy of going for online website design business because:
- People Are Spending More Time Online Than Ever Before: You want to start an online website design business, right? So, you need more people online so that you can target them. And it’s a piece of great news for you that people are spending more time online than ever before.
- Big Chance of Freelancing: An Upwork study at the end of 2020 reveals that freelancing grew by 22% (about 2 million workers) since 2019. So, the chances of getting a job from the online marketplace are increasing on a large scale.
- You Don’t Need to Go to the School to Be a Designer: You have heard me right. You don’t go anywhere else to learn web designing. There are a lot of free resources online to learn from. And no one will ask you to show your web designing degree to give you a task.
- You Can Do It from Anywhere and Anytime: When people are nervous about traveling or living in densely packed cities, that’s not something that should worry you as a web designer. One of the benefits of being a web designer is that you can do it from anywhere you want and on your own schedule.
- There Are High Rewards: Web designer income may vary from place to place. But on average, a web developer salary tends to range from $60k-$75k/year.
How to Start an Online Website Design Business from Scratch
There are hundreds of people who launch new startups every year. Unlike you, most of them don’t have the skills to build websites for themselves. If you set yourself up the right way, you can be that web designer they turn to for help.
So, it’s time to set yourself up the right way to be a successful owner of a website design business. Let’s track the cracks to do that. And here are the steps to follow.
- Come up with a Niche that You Really Want to Work on
- Create Your Own Portfolio Website
- Establish Your Brand Like a Genius
- Get Ready with Your Skill Sets for Starting an Online Website Design Business
- Be Master of the Some Prominent Designing Tools
- Get Clients for Your Website Design Business
- Ensure Customer Satisfaction to Get Them Onboard Again
- Never Mess up with Your Task List
- Keep Updating Yourself or Never Be Satisfied with Your Current Position
Use these guidelines to get rolling and start your web design business off on the right foot. Now, let’s dive into the deep!
Step 01 – Come up with a Niche that You Really Want to Work on
First thing first! Before moving anywhere else, you must choose a niche that is your field of expertise. You’re probably tired of hearing this cliche sentence, again and again. But believe it, without choosing a perfect niche, your business won’t be surviving too long.
This is especially the case in the web design industry. Web design is already an over-saturated market. The competition is fiercer than ever before. So, having a specific niche (micro-niche, if possible) would be a great idea for you.
It’s difficult to become an expert in every single part of an industry. However, it’s fairly easy to become an expert in a specific market niche.
This is quite possible that there are numbers of people who have already been working on your niche. But it should not be bothering you unless you’re smart and determined to do something extraordinary than your competitors.
What makes you different? Why are you special? What do you have to offer that no one else does?
Answering those questions will help you carve out your own small piece of the massive web design pie. You can guarantee the fastest possible delivery (within 24 hours, if possible) whereas your competitors take an eternity to deliver, or, you can guarantee better quality design than your competitors.
Step 02 – Create Your Own Portfolio Website
Get ready to start building your website once you decided on your niche. Building a website is no more a sole developer task. Even you can create your portfolio website from scratch being a designer. WordPress lets you do this job with ease.
Try to follow the below-mentioned points while creating a portfolio website;
- Keep it simple, clean, minimal, and engaging.
- Your website is nothing without high-quality images and video. They should make up about 70-80% of your content.
- Make it mobile-responsive. The majority of traffic now comes from mobile. Ensure your site is 100% responsive for all devices!
- Speed is everything. Make sure you’ve compressed all of your images to ensure they are as small as possible without sacrificing quality. And don’t add too many plugins as it can bloat your site.
And last but not the least, ensure a seamless checkout process. Your payment gateway must work seamlessly across platforms, no matter which payment gateway you’re using.
Step 03 – Establish Your Brand Like a Genius
Let’s face the fact – everyone is in the race to establish their brand like a genius. Don’t give me that look! That’s the bitter truth.
Then how would you make your brand stand out from the crowd? No worries, follow some proven tips, be patient, and keep working hard to establish your brand.
Create your unique
- Color guide
And then let people know about it using social media, forums, blogs, videos, and infographics.
When people visit your site, make sure your brand can convince them
Why should they hire you instead of your competitor?
What makes you a better solution?
Why should they hire a solo freelancer instead of an agency?
If you’re able to answer these questions to your visitors, they will definitely refer you to their surroundings. Thus you can create your brand like a pro.
Step 04 – Get Ready with Your Skill Sets for Starting an Online Website Design Business
This one is the most crucial point, right? If you don’t know the swimming, then diving into a pond ain’t be a good decision. Instead, you should be shielded with swimming skills if you want to dive into a pond.
The same thing goes for the designing business. To run an online website design business, you need to have the knowledge of
- Color theory
- Designing Softwares
- Responsive Design
- UX & UI Design
- Graphic Design
- Photo Editing
Apart from these, having some soft skills will help you to grow fast. These are the soft skills a designer should have;
- Communication Skill
And finally, these are the additional skills that will make you stand out from the rest.
Do you have lackings of any of these skills? Don’t worry! Start learning today, soon you will be the maestro of that skill if you have proper determination.
Step 05 – Set Your Rate and Form a Standard Contract Template for Your Clients
Things are getting interesting, right? Well, it’s time to set your work rate. So, our recommendation is to find out what your competitors are charging for the same services. Then make a calculation and finalize your rate.
Here we have given a demo calculation for making your job easy.
Let’s assume, you charge $1000 for designing a complete website. And now you have two clients for this month. So, your income will be $2000/per month.
Now, add up all your business expenses from the month, including things like:
- 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
- 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
Suppose, it is $1200/per month. Then your revenue will be $800 for this month. It’s quite good, right?
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.
Form a Standard Contract Template for Your Clients
A web design contract protects you, your time, and your sanity. So, follow these points to create a contract template that will save both you and your clients while working for them.
- Specifying a clear scope of promised deliverables
- Making sure you get paid
- Describing each party’s role in the process, including actions, confidentiality, and consequences of not fulfilling that role
- Clarifying who owns the work after delivery
- Explaining post-delivery activities, in terms of changes, warranties, and liabilities
- Protecting yourself in the event of exceptions
- Creating a helpful reference document for later
If you want to add or subtract any points to this template, you are free to do that. After all, it’s a template that should match your philosophy.
Step 06 – Get Clients for Your Website Design Business
This one is the most challenging job for starting an online website design business. Don’t be panicked! Yes, it is challenging but at the same time enjoyable too.
Let’s try to make it fun! Okay? But how? Here is how!
- Leverage Your Existing Network: Let’s get started with our very own surroundings. 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. But don’t push them too much as it’s not their job to find work for you.
- Make a Presence on Social Media: As we’re talking about earlier, you need to have a presence on social media like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, and so on. Forums like Quora and Facebook designing community will help you to get your clients.
- Experiment with Video: Create videos of your design and upload them to your social channels like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram to attract your potential client’s attention.
- Build an Email List: Start building an email list from your portfolio site so that you can reach them with your awesome design ideas. Give your visitors free resources like a template, checklist, or ebook to get their email. Just remember to set up a sales funnel so you can automate pushing those leads through to conversion.
- Do Cold Outreach: 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, and have a plan for how you can fix it.
- Publish New Content to Your Website: Try to publish designing related new content on your site so that your visitors get a reason to come back.
Step 07 – Ensure Customer Satisfaction to Get Them Onboard Again
Managing customers is important. And it’s true that managing customers manually is a tough job (sometimes impossible) when you are growing really fast.
Ensuring customer management tasks like giving a separate dashboard for every customer, maintaining their contacts, sending emails, scheduling meetings, and so on can help you to earn customer satisfaction.
You can automate all these tasks using a customer relationship management tool and invest your time to design more websites.
Our recommendation is to use the WP ERP tool for managing these bunch of tasks with ease. Apart from managing customers, it will also allow you to manage your business accounting without hiring an expert (an accountant might be a little too pricey at the start) to manage the accounts.
This tool will help you to generate invoices, reports, and handle taxes and vats in the lie of giving you any extra tension.
Step 08 – Never Mess up with Your Task List
The best way to complete a project is to breakdown it into a number of sub-tasks. And then assign a specific person to a specific task only if you manage a team. Otherwise, you can breakdown the task into subtasks and set a time frame to do it in chronological order all by yourself.
So the situation is you need to manage the subtask by following a time schedule to meet the deadline, no matter you do it alone or manage a team. And do it without seeking help from a task management tool is like a nightmare. We can certainly say that if you want to manage these tasks without getting yourself a tool, you won’t be able to concentrate on your website designing task (that is your main task though).
So, our recommendation is to use a Project Management tool that will perfectly handle your tasks.
WP Project Manager is such a tool that will not only manage your task with perfection but will also track your project progress and completion time.
Step 09 – Keep Updating Yourself or Never Be Satisfied with Your Current Position
Website designing trend has always been an ever-changing industry. If you stop updating yourself over time you will be faded away from the race for sure.
So, be engaged with the design community to keep updated yourself. Follow designing trends and top influencers from this industry to know what’s going on right now. It will help you to find out where you need to improve to be a high-rated designer.
Bonus Tips: Avoid the Most Common Website Design Mistakes to Grow Fast
Committing mistakes is common when you’re a newbie. But doing the same mistakes, again and again, is something that reflects you’re not serious about your work. And after coming up in this position (when you have started a website design business) doing a mistake is like committing suicide as it will cost you to lose your customers.
So, let’s aware of some common mistakes to avoid.
A Lack of Clear Call to Action: Don’t forget to add CTA buttons to your design. A properly placed CTA can help you to drag traffic where you want to get them. These are the CTAs that you can think of;
- Add to Cart
- Get Started
- Contact Us Today
- Yes, Sign Me Up
- Buy Now
Unclear Brand Messaging: Your design should visualize the brand message that you want to let people know. A clearly visualized brand message can trigger the audience’s decision to buy that product. So, design the website as per the brand message.
Weak Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Many website designers don’t even think of this point. But making your design SEO optimized can add more value as it will get a good search result on search engines.
Hard to Find Contact Info: When you design a website make sure you have created a clear and easy-to-find Contact Info. Add a “Contact Us” page link in the main navigation. Allow users as many ways to contact you as possible, like
- Phone number
- Email id, or
- Google map
And let people submit their contact form even via your Facebook or Twitter page.
Slow Load Times: Optimize your design in a way so that it can load in under 3 seconds. Otherwise, more than 50% of users will leave that site if it loads above 3 seconds.
No Mobile Site Experience: The number of mobile phone users is increasing insanely. So, never create a design that doesn’t fit with mobile or any kind of tablet phone.
Are You Ready to Start Your Online Website Design Business Now
If you’re done with your research part, it’s time to start working on implementing your website design business idea. After reading this article, you should be able to make a checklist of total works and prioritize what to be done when.
So, what did we learn so far? Well let’s recap and summarize the procedures like the following:
- Choose a niche, set up a proper work environment, and make a team (if you want to start it with a team).
- Be shielded with the required skill sets.
- 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.
- Get tools for your online website design business;
- And finally, make your online presence and let the world know you’re ready to work now.
Now, all that you can do is get started with your planning. Work hard, be patient, stick to your plan, and keep trust in yourself, you’re just a step away to be a successful website designer. Good luck!