Here is what most web designers think their first priorities are.
1. Having a kick-butt computer
2. Having every possible graphic and web development program
3. Creating THE best portfolio ever
4. Getting lots of traffic to their website
5. Setting up a good office space
6. Learning every possible cutting edge Photoshop or jQuery trick
7. Being the first ever to do ___________ in HTML5 and CSS3
And so on and so forth…
So, which do you think is the right answer? What is most important? The correct answer is… none of the above. They are all dead wrong. You can have a mediocre 5 year old computer, you can code everything using Notepad, and design graphics with Paintshop and still be a wild success if you have put the first priority first.
On the other hand, you can create the most amazing portfolio ever, traffic can flow into your website like tourists at Disney Land, you could have prime office space downtown, know every photoshop and jQeury trick, and you can even write a book on HTML5 and CSS3… but if you don’t have the number one priority first, then you will fail. In fact, at this point, it will be an Epic Fail.
all of your knowledge,
all of your state of the art hardware,
all of your cutting edge software,
all of your photoshop tweeking,
all of your hard work, time spent, and plans made will come to nothing. They are pointless…. useless… distractions…
Have I made my point enough?
Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come!
So what IS your number one priority as a web designer or developer?
This is especially important in your first year or two, or until your business machine is somewhat self-sustaining. The 80/20 rule is a good guideline. You should be putting 80% of your time into selling and 20% into everything else. Sounds crazy, huh? When will you ever get anything done?
Most new web development businesses spend most of their time on brushing up their skills and learning new technology or techniques. This is good and important, but most never break out of learning into doing; but if you want to make a living out of it, there is no point in doing it if you aren’t getting paid. This is where sales comes in, remember? Getting paid? Making money?
Your website isn’t like a baseball diamand that you build in a corn field. Just because you build it doesn’t mean that they will come.
In order for your business to become self sustaining it is vital that you reach a Critical Mass of Qualified Customers as quickly as possible. Until then, your business will be a daily struggle just to survive. Once you reach that Critical Mass of Qualified Customers (CMQC), you will finally have the momentum to relax a bit. At that point, you will have built up enough steam to be able to focus more on doing the actual work of creating sites.
So, before you start running ads in your local newspaper or put a bunch of money in your Google Adwords account, consider the last half of CMQC, “Qualified Customers”. Not just any customer, paying customers. Customers who are willing to pay more in the future. I may write more about CMQC later.
So, what do you do next? First, download my free lead generating guide that will get you 1,000+ targeted web design leads in no time flat! Then take a look at my ever growing collection of articles on how to find more web design business.
Think I am crazy? Let me know in the comments below.
You tell’em brother!
Being a Freelancer doesn’t happen over night and isn’t always easy at all. I had to focus so much on the sales that I lost a lot of desire to actually develop.
So now I’m putting on the hat of the man who helps these people hone their skills and still make a buck.
Cheers, fellow developers!
That’s a good point that you can go so far down the sales and marketing hole that it is hard to come back out. It is important to reach that tipping point where you have reached critical mass and your business has enough momentum to carry itself. That is when you can pull back and turn more of your focus back to developing more products/websites.
Where does one download the lead generating guide?
Jonathan, you can download the lead generation guide by entering your name and email address in the download box above these comments right at the bottom of the article. You will receive a confirmation email. Just click on that link and then you will get another email with the link to the lead generation guide and another link to the Quality Control Made Easy Guide and checklist. I hope it helps.
Great post. Thanks for sharing your experience
How do you feel about working for free to build one’s portfolio?
Tayo, it is okay to do at the very beginning if you have to. I would recommend charging a small fee, but if you have the time then it can be a great way to get some experience, references, and a portfolio. I would recommend doing it for non-profits, not businesses.
Thank you for giving some realistic advice! I’ve seen way too many “How to start a web design business” posts lately that start with “make business cards” and “post to social media”. None of those things matter until you have clients. Doing all that first would be like opening an Apple store in the poorest neighborhood of a city and just hoping people will come in and buy things.
You have to do your research on how to meet your client’s needs, like specific client’s that are looking for web design services. Knock those jobs out of the park and that will lead to way more work than any portfolio or Twitter account ever will.
Thanks, I hope that this can help some. Good luck.
Just a quick question to follow up on that comment, How is the starting freelancer ment to develop these clients without a portfolio to show prospective clients or business cards at a minimum to hand out at startup meets etc. . ( Not intending to be argumentative, just wondering )
Daniel, that’s a great question. It is kind of like “which comes first,the chicken or the egg”. Business cards are fine, but too many startup businesses spend all their time trying to look legit, or taking care of what they think are business essentials. They end up putting off the most vital aspect of any business though, which is getting customers and making sales. Simpixelated, is right, I have seen a lot of those same articles and this blog post is sort of a response to that idea. My point is to make sure you keep your focus on the what really matters and not get distracted by the easy things that don’t add any real value to your business or put food on the table. I hope that helps.
Super, gracias desde colombia.