- Step 1. Think carefully
- Step 2. Define the offer
- Step 3. Business plan
- Step 4. Legalization
- Step 5. Website and portfolio
- Step 6. Marketing and promotion
- Step 7. Scale the team
- Additional tip 1. Do the blog
- Additional Tip 2: Use subscriptions
- Wrapping up
There are lots of people who prefer to be employees rather than employers. When you are a part of a team that gets tasks assigned from a PM or manager you have to take responsibility only for your own work. You don’t have to think about such questions as “Where to get the money?”, “How to attract clients?” or “How to make the work more efficient?” That’s OK. Every company stands on such people who do their job correctly and on time. But there are also some guys who want to be their own bosses. They start working as freelancers and sometimes evolve to something bigger.
This article is right for such people – freelancers who feel ready to start their own web design business. It’s a tiny step for a single person, but a huge leap for an entrepreneur. The way to opening and growing your web agency is complicated, so to make it a little easier I’ve described the main milestones of it and added a few useful tips. Let’s go!
Step 1. Think carefully
Before asking yourself the question, “How to start a web design business?” define your reason for doing it.Click to tweet
When you become the head of a little website design agency you will probably have to solve problems that never before occurred in your work. Moreover, you probably won’t be able to continue creating websites - there will be too many other tasks to complete. And the third thing that may make you change your mind is communication. Maintaining a website design business is not for introverts – you will have to do a lot of talking every day. Seeking clients, discussing their requirements, constant communication with employees (maybe there will be none at the beginning but you will expand at some point), and networking – lots of phone calls, emails and live chats.
So, think again. Do you really want to start a website design business? If none of the points I mention frighten you – don’t hesitate to do it. I had to warn you so that you will know what is waiting for you.
Step 2. Define the offer
The website design business has harsh competition. There are several big companies and dozens of little ones in every country and even in every big city. It would be cool to do different websites for different companies but to step out of the line you will have to focus on something more concrete. There are several ways to differ your website design company from others:
- By the niche. Maybe you did a couple of websites for different organic food and cosmetics brands – focus on it and build the whole company around the idea of organics and healthy life. Look for a trendy topic you can use as a foundation of your company.
- By the quality of the service. You can create simple websites using ready-made templates that you customize. Then ordering a site from you will not be too expensive. Or you can build websites from scratch for the solid and bigger firms. That service will cost them much more money but guarantees a unique design.
- By additional services. Creating websites is great, but sometimes clients need more than just a website. Searching for a hosting company, constant minor maintenance, security or speed boosting – your company could specialize in some of the additional services.
At this stage, you will have to do some investigation. Check the market, see what needs the customers have, and which agencies fulfill those needs.
If you will be careful and attentive enough – in the end, your little web developer company will quickly become efficient, popular and profitable.Click to tweet
This step is very important – the right choice of specialization will help you not only at the beginning of your web agency development but throughout its time of growth.
Step 3. Business plan
Believe me, you need it. Even if you won’t show it to anyone – you need it at least for yourself. A business plan is a kind of summary where you write down what amount of resources you have to spend and what steps to take to achieve your goals. A business plan will help you understand what you want from your website design business, what the main goal is, and how you plan to reach it.
I sincerely doubt you have never heard of it, but just in case – here is a detailed article about what is, actually, a business plan. In simple words, it is a list of steps you are going to follow. The goals could be as simple as “earn $1000 in the first month” or “earn $100,000 in a year.” Purchasing software, hiring new teammates, and spending money on promotion – those are all steps you are going to take while growing your design business.
If you need a business plan only for yourself – you can write it simply on a sheet of paper. However, if you want to show it to the partners or investors, it is better to make it look good. Here are 7 steps for a perfectly written business plan which you can use while working on it. And if you want some more details and explanations – this article will tell you how to write a business plan.
The most important advantage of performing this step is your financial capabilities evaluation. Here you look at how much money you will need to launch. This step will define whether it is affordable now for you or not. There is a possibility that you will have to wait until you earn the necessary sum. If that happens to you – don’t worry, it is not a catastrophe. Don’t give up, try again, and after some time you will have your web agency.
Step 4. Legalization
A web design company is not just some people doing the work and a website to sell their service. To make your little company legal you will have to get some licenses and permits from federal and state agencies of your country. Some insurance will also help you to feel confident. Citizens of the US could check the U.S. SBA website for information about necessary licenses and permits. If you are going to start a web design business in some other country – search for an appropriate website (a little tip – search for tax authorities of the country).
Chances are, you will need some help here. Ordinary people don’t meet with legalization problems often, so you may need to find a lawyer who will be able to explain all the details to you. If you don’t have a reliable attorney in mind you can go search for a lawyer on a specialized website. If your web development business will be located in the US – check Avvo. For the European location, go through e-Justice.
Step 5. Website and portfolio
Now it is time to show all you’ve got. It will be a little strange if your website isn’t attractive, up-to-date, and working smoothly. Come on, you are going to sell website design service! You have to do your best building and designing on the pages of your own web design agency site. Go research the latest trends and use some of them. If the user likes the website you created for yourself – there will be more chances he hires you. Here are some design tips for the successful WordPress site. They will also be useful for a site built on any other CMS. By the way, I personally think that WordPress is the most suitable and convenient platform for website creation but that is up to you, of course.
A portfolio page is a must for your website building company. Every client would like to see examples of your work. The work you put into your portfolio has to be real websites that a customer will be able to go to and observe. If you are a beginner – show the projects you did as a freelancer. You can also create a few sites for your relatives or friends for free or offer someone a promotional work for allowing you to use the site in your portfolio. It would be great if you or your company’s name is mentioned on the website somewhere – it will confirm that you really did it.
The two pages you have to pay special attention to on your website are Portfolio and “About us” – visitors will evaluate you according to them.Click to tweet
And I’m serious, the “About us” page is the most recently visited on every website – people want to know who they are dealing with.
Step 6. Marketing and promotion
Your website business won’t become popular and efficient if you don’t promote it. As I previously mentioned – the competition is harsh in this niche. Visitors will more likely hire a company they already saw somewhere. I’m not talking about billboards or television – advertisements there won’t be really useful for a web agency. The website design business has to be promoted in the same space it is working – on the internet. So, here are a few of the most efficient ways of making your company visible.
People spend an enormous amount of time on social media, scrolling the feed, commenting, and liking posts. That’s why you should make yourself visible there. First of all - create your website design agency group on Facebook. Instagram won’t be a powerful channel for a website building firm, but such sites as Behance and Dribbble are definitely the right choice. Think about launching a paid advertising campaign on Facebook. One way or another – become a big social media person – and clients will be finding you through the messengers.
Blogs and Forums
Once again – you have to become visible. When people start recognizing you and your company – you win. Go to the blogs and forums where developers discuss their problems and ideas. Get involved in discussions, create an account on StackOverflow, answer questions on Quora, and write articles for Medium. Be active and interact with the community.
There are lots of conferences and events for website developers – meet the people there and talk to them. Tell them about your little new website design agency and listen to their companies. Not only will you get lots of useful tips and tricks, but also make others remember you.
If you are good in some CMS (and you are because otherwise, you won’t be able to create an agency) you can go through certification on TemplateMonster and get the certificate. Besides that, you can hang that certificate on the wall, and your company will also be added to the Top web design & development companies list. From that moment you will be able to get orders from TemplateMonster and earn additional money. You will increase both your web agency visibility and revenue.
Join the TemplateMonster Marathon
June 11 starts the TemplateMonster great Digital Agency creation marathon. You can still make it if you will hurry up. Participation is completely free and lasts for 5 weeks. During the marathon, you will get all necessary information about creating your own digital agency and starting the business. After you finish the marathon, you will receive a certificate of completion and the best students get a special offer from TemplateMonster.
The course will be useful for web developers, designers (both web and UI/UX) and freelancers who want to start working on something bigger. Every week participants will be learning one lesson, and that lesson will have a 6-day duration. At the end of the week, every student answers a test which defines if he can move on to the next step. The information that will become available for you during the course is insider data and exclusive cases. That’s why you shouldn’t waste time and subscribe for the marathon immediately!
Step 7. Scale the team
Sooner or later your website design company will grow big enough to hire new people. At first, you can work by yourself, but after some time you will have to concentrate on management and leave website creation to your employees. The first developers you hire could work remotely – it will allow you to save some money. Then you can take on a few full-time employees and your team will start growing.
The simplest way to find new people is to search through the specialized websites like Glassdoor, Linkedin, and StackOverflow could also help you to find experienced developers. To understand what salary will be enough – go through the offers. It will give you an understanding of the median salary for the job you want to give to the developer. If you need more details – go through this nice guide about how to hire your first employees.
Additional tip 1. Do the blog
If you think this is pointless – you are wrong. Detailed, well-written, and understandable articles will help you in several ways:
- Grow your audience. People won’t start visiting your website on a regular basis if there isn’t something interesting to read. Some of those people will not only read the texts but also hire you to create a website.
- Improve SEO. Search engines love big texts and the more keywords there – the higher your website will land in the ratings. And if your website is shown on the first page of the search – it will start gaining organic traffic.
- Show your competence. Articles describing some details of your work will show that you know what you are doing. Not all of the readers will pay attention to that, but some will – and your loyal community expands.
Additional Tip 2: Use subscriptions
All website developers and web design small businesses try to reduce the amount of money they spend. The most efficient way to do it is subscriptions. For example, ONE by TemplateMonster is a unique subscription service, created especially for website designers and web agencies. It works very simply – a web developer creates an account, pays a fee and gets access to the best products on the TM marketplace. The website designer can download as many templates and other tools as he needs and use them for any number of projects. No limitations! Normally, every download is paid individually but the subscription allows you to sufficiently reduce the amount of money spent.Why ONE subscription is useful to web agencies owners:
- It saves time. Originally you spend loads of time searching for templates and other tools on dozens of different resources. But with ONE you have all the items you need for website building gathered in one convenient location. Easy to find and easy to use!
- It saves money. Let’s assume you want to buy 5 templates - 2 WordPress (average cost - $75), 1 HTML (average price - $75) and 2 Shopify (average cost - $139). The final bill will be $503. ONE subscription only costs $19 per month, which is only $228 for the entire year of usage! And during that year you will be able to download much more than just five templates.
- It saves energy. When your client comes to order a website you will be able to just show him a list of available options and discuss the customization. It is much more convenient for the client because he can see the final picture. And it is convenient for you because you will only have to do customizations, not creating the website from the ground up.
In fact, all you really need to make your web agency profitable and popular is a strong will. The other features can be bought, learned, or found but will is the only thing you have to grow inside with your own hands. People who have a clear goal will sooner or later achieve it if they continue trying. That’s why I wish you strong will and good luck. I’m sure that your website design company will become well-known and efficient!
I hope you find this article useful and found some inspiration to start your own website building business. Maybe you would like to share the story of your agency? Or have a useful tip for other beginners? Please, don’t hesitate to leave a comment in the comment section below.