Varying from simple 3-page sites telling potential customers what’s on offer and how to get it to websites with hundreds of pages of information and content, web design is big business. In fact, it’s estimated that $20.1B is spent annually on web design in the US alone.
If you have a knack for taking abstract concepts and creating designs that embody them, and can use a variety of programs to create attractive sites users will want to engage with, web design could be just the business for you.
So what will you need to succeed? Let’s jump straight into it.
How to Start a Web Design Business Step 1: Learn to Code
While there are a number of excellent programs and online tools which will allow you to create appealing websites with ease, learning to code in the languages which websites are built in will give you more flexibility and options when it comes to website functions and design.
Every website is written in code behind the scenes, so learning at least the basics of the following will help you create world-class sites that beat the competition.
HTML – Every website from the most basic black and white page of text to the stylish and sleek modern designs are coded in HTML. HTML has gone through several ‘versions’ as the web has evolved, and the most recent is HTML5, which will allow you to add interactive buttons and a host of extra features to sites.
CSS – An acronym for Cascading Style Sheets, CSS controls everything from fonts to colors to spacing to background images. This is the stuff that will allow you to take websites to the next level.
Java – While not entirely essential for basic websites, learning to code in java will allow you to add extra features to a website. Java can make a site much more interactive and add features like popup mailing list invites.
PLACES TO LEARN CODING ONLINE
Step 2: Create a Design Portfolio
Before approaching potential clients, you’ll need to create a portfolio to show them what you’re capable of. Your portfolio should be varied, extensive, and should show the full range of your skills.
To create a portfolio approach local businesses and charities and ask them if they need a website to represent their business or cause. You can charge at reduced rates or work for free, explaining that you’re working on getting experience. Most will be happy to oblige and try it out.
Create Your Own WordPress Design Portfolio Website
Step 3: Create Affiliate Relationships
Before you launch your own website and start looking for clients and customers consider the other ways you might make extra income by building affiliate relationships.
A great looking website is only part of the equation when it comes to keeping sites online and every website will need at a minimum a domain name and hosting plan.
A domain name is simply the name of a website, like www.xyz.com, and a hosting plan simply means space on the server computer which the website lives on, which processes requests to access the site from search engines and users.
Many of the big name web hosting companies out there have affiliate programs and will pay you on a referral basis. Bluehost, HostGator, and Wix all allow web designers to sign up and will pay up to $60 per referral. If you’re building a website for a client, there’s a good chance they’ll take your advice on hosting, too, and you can funnel them into these affiliate programs, banking the extra money on an ongoing basis, every time they renew.
Step 4: It’s time to Launch
Now that you have a portfolio of winning websites to lure them in with, it’s time to look for your first paying clients.
You can market directly by approaching businesses in your local area and asking them if they wish to build a website or upgrade an existing one, and by running a social media and paid advertising campaign, bringing those who are looking for web designers to you.
Consider allocating a set amount to running Google Ads and Facebook ads, inviting those searching for key terms like ‘Web designers online’ or ‘Top web designers’ to find your website and browse your range of designs. Make it easy for them to contact you such as by offering a toll-free number or requesting a callback to discuss their needs. Most potential customers will browse 3-4 options and contact them all to get the best deal, so make sure your offer is competitive as well as profitable.
Pro Tip: Consider offering add-on services such as graphic design, photography, content creation and market research to help clients grow their business. Once they see the phenomenal job you’ve done on building their website, they may be keen to trust you with other tasks which help them grow. You may need to build a freelance team to do this, but it may be profitable enough to warrant doing so.
Summary: How to Start a Web Design Business
You don’t need any special qualifications or degrees to launch a web design business. Experience and ability will trump credentials every time, and your results do the talking for you in this industry. It can be so hard for customers to find the right web design company, so you need to stand out from the rest, what makes you better than your competitors? The best design agency will make sure that their website stands out from the rest of the crowd, this includes using bright colours, using image or scrolling animations and making sure everything looks and runs smoothly. If you want to keep up with the rest of these agencies, you’ll need to make sure your website does all of these things exceptionally well.
The web design sector is hyper competitive with talented individuals and teams around the globe working to be the best in the game, but for those who have the talent, are up for a challenge and want a piece of the $21.1B pie, a web design business could be your ticket to the big leagues.
With 3 billion more people set to come online by 2050, many of whom will be looking to build a web presence for their business, charity, or interest, and who you can now reach with your offer through the internet, there’s never been a better time to launch a web design business.