At this point you should have a firm grasp on the basics of HTML, CSS, FTP and Photoshop, you should have your own website and portfolio and you should have started some basic marketing through connections that you already have. Hopefully you have created at least one website for a paying client. If not please look at part 1 and part 2 of this series.
In this final part of the 3 part series of how to become a web designer we will talk about marketing strategies to gain more clients and how to target your customers with a laser like focus.
5. Time to Start Marketing Yourself
Go to any bookstore and you will find entire bookcases dedicated to sales and marketing. It is an extremely complex and broad subject and I will only be able to scratch the surface here with a few specific strategies to try out. As mentioned in part 2 of this series make sure you are listed on Craig’s List and make sure you repost it at least once a month and post it on your Facebook wall (and other social networks) that you are open for business. This should be enough to get you a few interested clients, but it won’t be enough to support you. I want to stress that you can’t just sit back and hope to get a good placement on Google where you can watch the sales leads roll in.
If you are serious and want to pursue web design as more than just a part time hobby, you will have to be aggressive and seek out potential clients. Not actively marketing yourself is the surest way to secure failure!
Just as bad as not marketing yourself is bad marketing. There are a lot of ineffective ways to market yourself that will only waste your time and money. On the front of your mind should always be ROI. Say it to yourself now, “ROI”. What is ROI? Return on Investment. Consider this, a full page ad in your local paper could get you some attention and drum up some business, but it will cost you dearly. Money isn’t the only thing you can lose, your time is valuable as well. You could go downtown and walk door to door handing out business cards or fliers, but it would take you days just to reach 50 customers.
One method casts a huge net while costing more money than you probably have to spare at this point. The other method costs you considerable time while only reaching a very small number of people. The ideal type of marketing will reach the people that need your service, while not being too expensive or too time consuming on your part. In other words, it needs to have a high Return on Investment, ROI.
Here is one high ROI strategy that does not cost too much time or money:
- Search for local businesses either through Google or in your local Yellow Page ad’s (Business phone directory). Look for businesses with websites that are less than impressive or look old or outdated. Gather a list of 100 of these businesses and start targeting them. Begin with direct mail and send out professional postcards, about 10 a day, to these businesses. The postcard should include a) your contact information: email, phone, web address, b) a coupon for $200 off any website of $700 or more. Don’t be afraid to make it a compelling discount to get their attention.
- 3 days after sending the first set of postcards call the first group. They should have received them by now and it will still be fresh in their mind. Tell them you called to make sure they received the coupon and you want to see if there was anything you could do for them. You could also mention that your time is starting to fill up fast, but you could still fit them in to start on their site right away. So for the next 10 days you should be calling the group that you sent the postcards out to 3 days before.
I recommend starting local because it is a lot harder to compete on a national or global level and you have the “keep it local” advantage where a lot of small businesses want to do business locally. The above process should take just over 2 weeks to create the postcards, send them out and make the follow-up calls. If you have more time than you do business you could then follow-up the phone calls with dropping by anyone that expressed any interest over the phone a couple of days later. Be sure to look and dress professional without seeming stuffy.
When it is all said and done, you should have anywhere from 3 to 10 new clients.
6. Niche Marketing: Targeting Your Clients with Laser Like Focus
You can increase your ROI by homing in on one particular industry, especially if you are operating in a large enough market. Try to find at least 5 answers to any of the following three questions.
- What hobby or profession do I already know, love and have a connection with?
- Do I already know a lot of people involved in a particular profession, industry or service area?
- What am I interested in that I would like to know more about?
After answering the above questions and narrowing down 5 ideas, look at your list and eliminate any of them that do not have money to spend on a website. For example, maybe you are into fantasy football. Websites are vital to fantasy football leagues but they usually are not looking to spend any money on them. On the other hand maybe you are involved in cycling. There maybe a dozen or so different bicycle stores and repair shops in your area and even more if you consider neighboring cities.
Maybe you know a number of attorney’s, I’m sorry. If so that might be your “in” to that service area. Or perhaps your dad was a plumber so you grew up around that type of work. These are all advantages that give you an edge in creating websites for these businesses or firms.
So here is what you can do. If you want to target law firms, make a killer generic law firm website and try selling it as a package. Show the site to some of your lawyer friends and have them critique it, maybe even create some default content to fill the website, if you know enough to do that. Now focus on selling this turnkey or already made website to law firms. Give them a package price where you will include their logo, pictures and custom content. Be sure to set very defined limits on what they will get with the package. Don’t let them buy the site and then make you completely redo it for them.
There are of course many ways to go about it, but following the 6 steps outlined here is a sure way to get your web design business up and running in no time. If you agree or disagree with anything please let me know in the comments section. Good luck.