I very much liked what IA on Twitter said about The Practice of Web Design:
In my eyes, web design is neither an artistic exercise nor a scientific discipline but an economic practice…
He has a great point here as and this is a team who really excels in the niche that they belong to – WEB DESIGN. Taking inspiration from this singular quote i’ve listed some items that might help you start developing your design work into a full time business – so you can earn the money you worked so hard for.
A little background here before you read onwards: I started out as a freelancer taking on all sorts of projects – it took me about 3 years to understand the game and build my client base, and i registered my company in early 2009 – www.fluidnewmedia.com. From small Flash Micro Sites, to the Joomlas and WP’s of the world we can now build our own applications from ground-up for our clients. I couldn’t have gotten this far without concentrating on the following points:
- Don’t Give Up Your Freelance Work: With the state of the current economy going freelance is your best bet, people these days are turning to independent freelancers for quality projects and you can charge a good amount of money – this depends on your client and the scope of the project. For now stick to it until you position yourself as a company. Take into consideration your day job as well and how many hours you can set aside for your freelance work.
- Keep Your Eyes On The Money: We all have the tendency to over involve ourselves in design work – Point is to find a happy medium with your quality of work and amount you charge your clients. Don’t let yourself get carried away with the details – concentrate on charging your client for the quality of work you bring to the table.
- Start Thinking From A Business Perspective: Not everyone is a business man/woman by heart but this is an area to concentrate on now. It’s more important than design itself, chalk out a plan, meet with people – start mareketing your services and products to a targeted market; look for your niche in the market and supply the demand. You can do this I know, so start now!
- Learn How To Outsource Work and Keep Your Margins: Interestingly enough most passionate web designers don’t like to outsource to Third Party’s – they get too emotional with their own work. While i can understand this, my advice is for projects that require alot of work (coding, design, database) try and find a team or another individual that can cover the areas you can’t. This way you can manage the project, do what you best within the scope of the project and still have room for other work on the side. This is the first step to thinking like a business person – You might not like it (I didn’t) but you’ll reap the benefits monetarily in the long run.
- Don’t Reinvent the Wheel: This is an extremely important point. If there is a system out there that you can use, use it – there is no sense in designing and coding up your own. Especially when open source developers from all over the world have worked hard at one platform – use it to your benefit.
- Concentrate on Re-Occuring Income: There are two ways of looking at this. One is a income generated on a monthly basis from maintenance fees, or finding a good client who can give you a certain amount of work every month. The point here is to have income in your pocket from your design business every month.
- Learn How To Say No: Saying “No” is tough at times but extremely necessary in the design business. If you always say yes to your clients then they will expect that each and every time they ask you to do something – then if you say no after agreeing with them time and time over you’ll look like a hard-ass. You don’t want that to happen..
- Learn How To Tone Down Your Ego: Even if you are a top notch designer try to be humble with clients. Ask them what they want first, then give advice where appropriate.
- Always Charge 30% More Than What The Project Is Worth: Simple equation here. Most people like to bargain with the price and will bring you down off what you quoted initially.
- Provide Bullet Proof Documentation: Show your clients where their money is going, list out the features and activities of the web design and development practice.
Try sticking to these steps for a couple of months. You can only try, and it doesn’t matter if you fail (if you haven’t failed then you won’t be a leader; I’ve failed time and time again till i got it right). Get up and try again till you get it down to a science.
By applying these steps i really feel you can bump yourself up to another level. End of the day we are all passionate about our work, but it all boils down to the dollars at the end of the day – no matter how skilled or awesome we are at our job. You could be the best designer in the world, but if you have no clients you’ll be there twiddling your thumbs asking yourself what went wrong. Know what i mean??
As a bonus feel free to download THIS SAMPLE DOCUMENT to get an idea of the structure for a project over $3,000. Keep in mind this is a rough draft of the final doc, but its a good start. Feel free to use it any way you like..
If you feel you can add to this list feel free to do so, would love to hear your opinions. What do you think will help your business grow besides whats already stated?