Finding clients as a new Squarespace designer – 7 costly mistakes to avoid (60 min on-demand training)
When you started your web design business, you were probably dreaming of a life of freedom where you’d be:
✓ Designing your own days
✓ Feeling hella-fulfilled by your work
✓ Loving your clients
✓And earning boat-loads of money for your expertise
But it’s possible (if you’re like many new designers) it’s looked a little more something like this instead…
✗ Working more than you did at your 9-5
✗ Feeling burnt out, under-appreciated, and wayyyy underpaid
✗ Taking on a bunch of extra, not-so-ideal projects just to barely squeak by
✗ Pulling constant 3 AM work sessions and drinking ungodly amounts of caffeine to get it all done (and still never getting ahead)
How is it they are able to earn more all while taking more time off, and only working on projects that fill (not drain) their cup?
Well, option 1, and the first thing people tend to reach for, is to create some sort of passive income product (which I talk about in this post)…
*BUT* I personally only recommend this for the person who is already established and thriving in their 1:1 custom design business, because you are really going to need that income to carry you while you wait for your passive thing to really take off and start generating reliable revenue.
Plus, it takes time to come up with new product idea, create it, market it…the whole shebang!
So what if I told you there was a way to earn more money without taking on more clients (and without having to try to invent the next best passive thing?)
What is it? What’s the secret?
…or creating a laundry-list of extra deliverables your client can expect come launch day!
In fact, if you’re doing it right, it should actually be making your job easier (while still blowing your client’s mind! )
Sometimes all it takes is just a handful of simple tweaks to something you are already doing for things to really turn a corner in your business.
So what are those tweaks?
Here are 2 simple changes you can be implementing in your business TODAY…2 things I’ve noticed that pretty much every single successful web designer has in common that separates them from all the other designers trying to make it out there…
Niching, if you didn’t know is all about picking one very specific type of client and making everything you do in your business only about them.
And how does doing this instantly up the value of what you offer as a web designer?
Oh let me count the ways!
When you are not trying to serve everyone, you give yourself more space to truly educate yourself about your ideal client’s industry.
You’ll be able to anticipate your ideal clients needs and provide game-changing recommendations proactively!
Rather than waiting until they ask “can you do this?” and having to quickly cobble together a solution so the project wraps up on time.
Becoming the go-to resource for your niche takes the homework out of your client’s hands, so they can spend less time Googling things they don’t understand, and more time working in their own area of genius!
If that doesn’t scream “premium service” I don’t know what does!
It’s pretty hard to prove you care the most about an industry you know very little about. ♀️
When you niche, you are literally calling your ideal client by name.
You are saying “Hey, I see you. I see your hopes and fears. I see your struggle, and I’ve dedicated my entire career to ONLY helping people just like you and no one else.”
And those dream clients you’ve been searching for? The ones with real, big girl budgets and dreamy content you can’t wait to get your hands on?
They tend to be wildly passionate about their niche industry (which is how they are so successful) so if they are going to pay you the big bucks, they need to see that you are wildly passionate about it too.
It’s pretty hard to prove your obsessed with someone’s industry when you serve alllll the industries, right? So again, niching instantly makes you the ultimate fan-girl and feeling like the biggest supporter of your ideal client.
It’s hard to talk benefits, when you’re not sure exactly who your service will be benefitting.
So when you put off niching, because you are worried you’ll drive away legit paying customers, then all you can really speak to are the features (or basically a bullet point list of what’s included in their package).
Spoiler alert: you’re not offering any *air quotes* ‘features’ that other designers aren’t already offering.
But when you niche down, suddenly it’s just you and that one client in the room. And you can write them a love letter 10 pages long about all the benefits, and what the future holds if they say “yes” to you!
There’s a reason experts get paid more…
It’s because they can get the same job done faster, better, and more decisively.
How? Because it’s literally all they do!
When you niche, onboarding suddenly becomes a breeze for both you and your client because you are already very familiar their industry, so there’s no them having to ‘get you up to speed’ on the lingo and current trends.
Oh, and no more information overload and decision-making fatigue for your client either. Because you know their industry inside and out and you won’t feel the need to run every little thing by them first!
Instead, you’ll be able to quickly and confidently make design decisions because you understand your client’s exact needs, and how to make your design appeal to their own target audience.
And the best part…
Because you aren’t trying to be everything to everyone and adding a bajillion add-ons to every project.
You become the expert, easily justifying a higher price.
You are zeroing in on the one thing you do better than anyone else and are hella-focused on elevating that one service or experience.
An elevated service means you can charge premium prices…
And premium prices means you can take on fewer clients!
And voila! Earn more, work less!
Not to mention, your clients will love the added value of having your full-undivided attention on a project because you aren’t trying to juggle it with endless other client work!
So yep! First step to turning something you are already doing into a premium service is niching! Not just picking a niche client, but even picking the niche service you will offer that niche client.
Because again, being a Jill of all trades seems like it would be highly valuable, but those higher-end clients are looking for luxurious, higher-end services. And when they have to choose between a specialist and a generalist, they are going to go the specialist route every time!
Okie dokes, onto secret #2 for working less and earning more as a web designer…
Currently winging it with your design clients? They can tell…
But don’t worry, niching (tip #1 we just finished talking about) actually helps with that!
You see, when you aren’t try to be all things to all people, it automatically gets easier to be organized in your business.
You can set up a super streamlined plan for doing things smoothly, and in the exact same order every time.
All the email templates you create for automating your workflows and communicating next steps to your clients can suddenly be a whole lot more tailored, since they only need to vibe with one specific person.
And clients will love the personal touch!
Plus, when you niche in both who you serve and how you serve them, there’s no more scrambling to offer a million different services tiers or packages that change a mile a minute based on the client you book that week.
You can design 1-2 perfectly tailored signature services or packages…and then create super sexy rinse-and-repeat process for getting it all done (without a single missed step) by launch day.
More than any pretty website alone will ever accomplish!
And more referrals means more ideal inquiries that you didn’t have to go out and personally hunt for! (A.K.A less hours spent marketing your business!)
Sometimes, working less in your business is not about doing fewer things, but about doing them more efficiently!
Think of every single thing you have to do with a client from that first point of contact to when you are actually ready to start designing their website:
send over your prices & packages
nail down a consult date
send a custom proposal (though I personally never do this, and I share my reasons why in this video on the 3 web designer business rules I break)
prepare their contract
figure out a way for them to pay you
follow up when your client falls off the face of the earth for a week
(follow up again)
send a client questionnaire
collect their website content…
What if instead of having to babysit every single client, and play a rather annoying (for both of you) game of email tag for weeks, you could do it all on autopilot, with just a few clicks of a button?
And that every single communication or touch point in your business could look and feel consistently on-brand, and highly personalized to each client, without being tied to your inbox?
It’s possible – with the right tool!
This is why one of the first things I teach inside my Square Secrets Business™️ course is how to set your web design business up with a proper CRM (client relations management) software!
For your client, it’s the difference between…
Working with someone who takes care of everyyyy detail, and is always one step ahead of them, making sure their project is on track to finish on time…
Them having to email their designer for the 11th time that week to ask for next steps and when they can expect their design done.
No client wants to feel left in the dark or like they are blowing around in the wind while you jump from task to task in their project.
Feeling like an afterthought doesn’t exactly scream ‘premium service’, right?
But with proper systems and processes you will actually be saving time WHILE ensuring the client they are your top priority!
So if you are wanting to learn how to find that balance of earning more and working less in your web design business, then turning something you are already doing into a premium service through niching and setting up proper systems is a great first move!
It may take a little time and planning up front but it’s wayyy easier than trying to run out and invent a whole bunch of new, untested products or services to hopefully start making more money…
And the time you’ll save both in the marketing and design phase will actually blow your mind!
So besides investing in the education needed to level up your actual design skills (which is definitely a good idea if you want to charge high-end designer prices) the two simplest things you can start doing today to achieve this goal are 1) to get serious about picking a niche, and 2) to take the time it takes to finally set up proper systems and processes for your business!