This is it, Ya’ll!
The last in the Web Designer Q+A series!
If you’ve been following along, I’ve been busy IGTV-ing allll the answers to allll the questions related to building a successful Squarespace web design business!
And I may have just saved the best for last! (You can find the original IGTV video here, btw!)
Oh, and here’s the first 3 posts/videos in the series if you’re wondering where to find those:
Ready to dive in!?
I offered the 2-week website right from the beginning!
And I hope this gives you hope, because I was still a full-time student in college getting my Master’s Degree, working 20 hours a week for the University (to pay for the Master’s Degree) andddd doing my 2-week website design hustle!
Meaning, it’s 100% possible to do, even if you have other (or several other) full-time things on your plate!
But it’s really no different when you become a full-time web designer because you still have other things that you do in your business besides just building pretty websites!
You have your marketing, legal, taxes, etc!
So I definitely recommend you test your process with a client first where you make the client aware that you are just getting started and that there may need to be a little leeway, even though your goal is to design a knockout site in just 2 weeks.
I definitely recommend the two week website and I’ve found it is loved by both the designer and the client! I lay out every step of this process (plus every spreadsheet, template, and script you’ll need to implement it!) in my Square Secrets Business Course, but you can also peep that process below!
The reason I love the 2-week website process is that I never had the overwhelming feeling that I might have if I was constantly juggling multiple projects and clients that dragged out for weeks on end!
Say you have 4 clients on the go, and then suddenly they all get you their content, or all their revisions on the exact same day. You went from having nothing to do that day to being so busy you don’t know where to start!
Whereas when you do a 2 week website, you are focused on one project for a short amount of time, before moving on and being able to fully focus on the next!
This totally cuts down on the stress from managing multiple projects and client expectations.
Say your client comes to you wanting a 3rd navigation option – the bad news is that that’s not something that’s natively built into Squarespace’s design features or capabilities.
But the good news is that Squarespace has really designed their platform with website conversion in mind (turning visitors into actual paying clients and customers.)
So every single design feature included was created with website best practices in mind.
So the fact that there’s no 3rd level of navigation is honestly a good thing because what you don’t want to do is have like 50 options happening in your navigation.
Visitor session duration (how long someone spends on your website) is low, and you may only get one click or one additional page visit besides your home page.
So you can use similar reasoning to help you educate your clients if a feature they are requesting is not possible!
Generally the reason something is not possible is because it wouldn’t be best practice to include it, and it could even diminish or distract from what you actually need your website to do (convert!)
Now granted, there are some things Squarespace can’t do that really don’t go against web design best practices, in which case you have two options:
If you have the capability you can let them know it’s possible using code, but then educating them on the repercussions of adding custom coding to a website. You can find a few of those repercussions in Squarespace CSS: what you need to know before you get started…
But the main reason being that if you code them some super fancy footer or something, they are not going to be able to follow Squarespace tutorials in order to update it themselves in the future and that they would be reliant on you or another designer to update it.
Most of the time they will come back to you with something like “oh, ok never mind! Was just curious if that was possible!”
But the odd time, they do want to go ahead with that custom design aspect anyway!
So what you can do is if you are not comfortable with coding, you can set up your packages to where they only include what is possible within the native features and functionality of Squarespace, and that anything that falls outside that you are happy to refer to your list of trusted developers!
So you automatically get a 2-week free trial when you start using Squarespace but you can actually also contact Squarespace support to extend it if you need more time!
So you can test it out completely free, without having to enter in your credit card details or anything.
You can start as many free trials as you like and even duplicate the website you already started so that you can start a new 2 week free trial without having to start again with the content.
If you want to build a few mock websites to create portfolio pieces, you can create them for free on a 2-week trial website and screenshot your work for your portfolio.
So it is possible to start playing around in Squarespace for free!
I was chatting with another designer one time and she made a point I absolutely loved!
Just by using your client’s unique content they provide you (copy, images, branding colors) your overall site design is automatically going to look different!
The reason for that is that the content will actually guide what’s happening on the page, not the other way around.
So rather than trying to stuff their content into some sort of template, you’re designing the page specifically to fit their content.
So just by doing that, you will automatically be creating unique websites!
But it is always fun to challenge yourself creatively. So for every website, you might challenge yourself to come up with one creative new section, a fun new background, or a different functionality for a certain section.
One of the students inside my Square Secrets course mentioned during a recent monthly live Q+A call that she felt like she was out of ideas, so I’ll share with you what I told her!
Don’t kill yourself trying to come up with someone new for every single section of every new website you build!
It’s 100% normal to have a cohesive look to all the websites in your portfolio.
The fact that all your pieces have a similar vibe and feel is totally fine! If someone sees your work and falls in love with your design style, they are going to be super pleased when their site comes out looking like the examples they were drooling over in your portfolio!
And as I mentioned earlier, each client is going to be bringing you totally unique content, so even if you used your own sort of template, every single website is going to come out looking different.
Every single website designer out there has faced this at some point! So you’re not alone!
But I find the reason that many of us have imposter syndrome when we get started in something like Squarespace web design is because we feel like everyone else studied it in college, or took some sort of design degree or something.
So since we have zero prior background in it, we think “oh I’m sneaking into this thing I should be allowed into!”
But the honest truth is that most people who are doing this (and doing it super well!) did not study anything to do with design in college.
Having said that, it is important that if you’re going to start a business offering some sort of service that you do it well! So the important thing here is to improve at whatever you offer.
And to improve, you have to practice!
So practicing could look like offering to do a free website for your friends & family, or a local charity, or church, or whatever/whoever!
By offering a website for free, you are getting practice at not just the design, but also managing clients, and testing out different design processes to see what works best for you while still making the client happy!
Now, it’s def not necessary to study Squarespace web design in college (not sure a program like that even exists!), but getting an education on the topic is kind of important!
This could mean taking an online course like Square Secrets & Square Secrets Business, watching 100 YouTube videos, studying branding or copywriting…whatever you want to offer, it’s important to know the best practices so you can offer it with confidence.
The final thing to do after practicing and finding ways to educate yourself on your topic is to find a community. Having other designer friends to bounce ideas off of, or share learned experiences is so helpful in overcoming those fraudy feelings!
Knowing someone else who has gone through what you are going through and someone you can ask questions is going to make you feel a heck of a lot better!
This is the reason I decided to add Student Facebook Groups to both my courses this year because I wanted to give students the chance to find community and be able to have those exact conversations!
So, again those steps to dealing with imposter syndrome are:
Know that it’s 100% normal and to be expected
Practice your skill
Find a way to educated yourself on your topic
Find ways to connect with other people doing what you do
So definitely read the terms & conditions, but generally when you buy a plugin it is licensed for use with one site.
So you have the client pay to purchase one license for use on their site.
Now, sometimes if a plugin is inexpensive and the client is paying $5K for their project, I just go ahead and purchase it for them rather than having them pay for it.
At some price points, it’s not even worth the hassle of emailing them and getting them to pull out their credit cards and instead I let them be surprised and impressed by the plugin’s functionality on their site.
Some plugins do allow you to purchase a designer license where you have permission to use it on any site you are designing in which case you’d just purchase it yourself to have in your designer toolbox, or add in a little extra to each site that requires the use of the plugin.
So I don’t have a stand-alone content workbook for purchase that I know of to recommend to you, but let me explain what I did!
When I was first getting started designing for clients, I literally wrote out a Google doc for my clients where I would list out the pages (home page, about page, contact page, services page, etc.) and then gave them instructions to write what they wanted on XYZ page in the space below.
Obviously, a lot of clients aren’t going to know what to write, so I had to kind of walk them through the types of things that would need to live on each page.
Later on when I created my Square Secrets Course, I knew that this would be an area students would struggle in when DIY’ing their own website and content, so I took my process (which I’d refined over time from that original Google Doc) and created sort of Mad-Lib-style website content page planners!
Each page (home, about, contact, 404, etc.) has their own prompts that tells students exactly what they need to be talking about and where.
So all they have to do is basically fill in the blanks with their own information to create the content for their website.
I was still designing 1:1 for clients at this point, so I actually began to share the content planner docs from inside my course with my clients which they loved!
So this year, I decided that I would also give students of my Square Secrets Business course access to the page planners to provide to their design clients as well!
So it’s definitely not necessary to offer copywriting with your web design packages if you don’t want to!
If you’re confident in it and it brings you joy, and you want to add value to be able to increase the price of your packages, then yeah! Go for it!
But based on the way you phrased your question, it doesn’t sound like this is bringing you joy!
In this case, I would say to partner up with a copywriter, whether that’s just someone you love to recommend, or you have some sort of collaboration agreement!
For the most part, my clients were writing their own content using the content page planners I provided (mentioned in the previous answer above, ICYMI!)
Most newer or even “medium experienced” business owners tend to opt for writing their own content as opposed to paying for copywriting services.
So basically, if it brings you joy, do it!
But if it stresses you out, you can team up with another creative service provider or give clients some sort of content prep planner and let them go at it!
So I honestly don’t think it makes that big of a difference either way!
I personally like to buy my domains through Squarespace because it’s just super easy and convenient to keep all the billing and accounts related to my website in one place.
Yes, they are often slightly more expensive through Squarespace than through something like GoDaddy, but for a couple extra dollars a year it’s not a big deal.
The other good thing about buying through Squarespace is that depending on which plan you choose, if you pay for it annually, you:
1) Get a savings
2) You get your domain for free the first year
You could choose to move it somewhere else after the fact but again, it’s really only going to save you a couple dollars and probably not worth the effort.
When it comes to clients, I generally just had them purchase through Squarespace so that they could get that first year free, but if they already had a domain purchased from somewhere else, it was no problem to connect it.
So setting up a new domain name is pretty simple, but tends to get more challenging when they already have a domain name somewhere else.
It really depends on where they have it! So if it’s with GoDaddy it takes 3 clicks to set the thing up and connect to Squarespace, but I found moving one from something like Wix to be a bit more of a pain!
I usually handle this in our final meeting on a project, where we are wrapping up all the things needed to launch their website to the world.
If you’d rather not hop on a call for this then you can create them a tutorial video showing them how to do it, but I would personally always just hop on a call.
At that point, we’d be done all the design and edits so I’d use the same call to show them their website and how to maintain and update it going forward, giving them a tour of the back end.
I’d also use this call to walk them through getting their Squarespace plan so that they could pop in their credit card details right then and there without having to share them with me.
Pro-tip: you want your client to use their card instead of just using yours and then invoicing them for it, because the plan is going to auto-renew every month or year and you don’t want to be chasing them down for the next 10 years to make sure you’re reimbursed or that they’ve changed their billing info.
If they don’t already have a domain, this is where they will be purchasing one. So they would type in all their credit card info and pick their plan, and if they are paying annually (depending on which plan they choose) they will be getting their domain for free for the first year.
So they really just have to type in the name of the domain they want, click purchase and it’s connected.
If they have already purchased their domain elsewhere, you’ll want to check out the support documents/articles of wherever the domain is coming from and read through the steps prior to hopping on the call.
So only once your client has paid you all the money owed for the entire project (and only then!) you can go into Settings > Permissions and then add them as a contributor to the website.
It will send them an email letting them know you’ve invited them to become a contributor on their site.
When they click it, it will open Squarespace, and if they already have an account they log in, or create their account.
From there, they are able to see the backend of the website.
So you’d send them to Settings > Billing, and start the process of upgrading to a paid Squarespace plan and getting their domain.
After they’ve upgraded, they will be able to have two admins on their site.
I generally recommend to my clients to keep me as an admin.
We can transfer ownership and they can kick me off whenever they want to, but it’s just useful to keep me as admin rather than have to add me back in anytime they require maintenance or hourly work down the road.