To create a marketing plan for your web design business, you first need to decide what you’ll be offering. What core service offerings will be available?
When I started my web design business I was too optimistic. I thought I could offer everything. I thought that offering a variety of services would bring in more clients. So my original site offered graphic design, web design, web maintenance, internet research, desktop publishing, SEO, logo design, photography, press releases, and publicity planning. I’m really surprised I didn’t include content writing on that list!
Well, experience showed me that (1) web design clients are not hard to get, and (2) I can’t do everything. What I ended up doing was graphic design, web maintenance, and web design, with some SEO and content writing work tossed in on the side.
My recommendation for one-person home-based web design business owners, is to specialize in just a few things. Be the expert. Train yourself well and then take on only the jobs you’d be best at. Yes, you’ll have to prepare yourself to turn some people down. In particular, if it seems the client wants you to do something you’re unfamiliar or uncomfortable with, you can save yourself a lot of stress by saying NO. You’ll find that you earn more and work with a happier state of mind when you choose your projects wisely and turn away the rest.
Of course if you’re starting a large web design firm that will hire specialists in logo design, SEO, graphic design, content writing, and more, you can advertise and get jobs in all those categories. But for the one-person business, it would be a bit too much.
So evaluate your talents and decide exactly what your core service offerings will be. You might also decide now that you’re going to specialize in websites only for horse owners or artists, or musicians.
Here are a few examples:
Example 1 – Graphic Designer: If you’re an outstanding artist you might want to advertise your images to web design business owners. Let them know your artistic talents are available for their web design projects. They in turn will tell their customers that these amazing graphics are available (for a greater price) and you’ll probably find you have more work than you can reasonably deal with.
Example 2 – PHP specialist: If you know how to code PHP you’re bound to be in demand. You can offer your talents to web designers and to the public, with your PHP web design website. You might be able to make a business doing PHP only without dealing with the web design or graphics end of the business by working with a few talented web designers who will sub-contract work to you.
Example 3 – Flash specialist: If you’re good at creating Flash sites, this is a specialty that could be turned into a business, again without delving into the intricacies of design, SEO, and content writing.
Example 4 – HTML/XHTML/CSS specialist: If you’re like me, and are basically good at HTML, XHTML, and CSS, then make those your core products. If your customers ask you to include SEO and content writing skills in a job, you can add these to your contract if you feel competent to complete the tasks well.
Example 5 – CMS specialist: Some web designers specialize in setting up content management systems (CMS) and installing themes. You might advertise WordPress setup, Drupal setup, or whatever you’re really good at.
Whatever else you decide, remember never to offer to do something you are not sufficiently trained to do. You need to be totally confident in your skills. Make sure, before you start your business, to have your education (or self-education) complete and UP TO DATE. Well, the truth is, your web design education is never totally complete, because you’re always going to be acquiring new skills. The thing I’m trying to get at here is that you should be entirely competent to do whatever it is you’re offering as a core service.
Once you know what your specific core service offerings will be, you’ll be ready for part two on creating a marketing plan for your web design business.