I recently held a live Q+A session with 3 of my past Square Secrets Business Course Students where people could pre-submit all their web design business related questions to be answered by these 3 super talented, crazy-succesfull designers!
Well, we had soooo many questions pour in that there was just no way we could get to them all in just one session!
So I decided to hop on IGTV and finish answering any questions that came in that didn’t get covered during the live Q+A call!
Here’s the link to the first IGTV video if you cared to watch, or just read along for the answers below!
So in no particular order, here’s what we chatted about!
A: So when I was still offering 1:1 custom design, I chose to work with only one client at a time. Traditionally designers would take on multiple projects at a time, taking anywhere from 1-2 months to get their site up and launched, but since I was focused on just one client, I could complete a project within 2 weeks!
That means I could do on average 2 clients per month.
Everyone’s process is different! I’ve even seen some designers offer a 1 day website! (You can read about a past student’s experience with that here.)
Once my Square Secrets Business students finish the course and have learned all the start > finish steps that go on BTS when designing for clients, they can then take that process and tweak it to fit their own life and preference for how they work!
But for the most part I would say it is pretty normal these days to do one client in a two-week period.
The good thing about that is the first week is pretty full-on, but the second week tends to be a lot easier and that’s when you have more time to do the other things within your business like accounting, marketing, content creation etc.
A: Now that I’m teaching Squarespace Design & and how to start and manage a successful web design business, I no longer offer 1:1 custom services, but near the end of my full-time design journey, my base pricing per project was $5K.
If a client wanted to add branding, e-commerce, etc then those projects went up to $9K.
Most web designers when they are first getting started charge around $2K for a 5 page website.
So if you’re doing 2 clients a month, you’d be looking at a $4K month as a beginner!
More often than not clients need help with more than just the website part – they want branding, copy, etc. (I’d say at least half of my clients chose to add-on some sort of additional service!)
So those add-on packages definitely increase the value of the project!
Once you are consistently booking out your business with clients, you can also start to add in additional revenue streams!
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A: Great question! I personally never reach for developer mode when creating websites in Squarespace. Instead I’d use code blocks, header or footer injection, or the CSS injection area in the Design Panel.
One across-the-board tip I’ll give you for working with web design clients is that if you give them some super coded website, they are not going to be able to follow along with event the most basic of Squarespace tutorials if down the road they decide to swap out a bit of content, because it will have been coded into existence, rather than using Squarespace’s built-in design features.
They won’t be able to chat with Squarespace support, because designs created through the use of custom coding & CSS are not supported by the Squarespace team!
Your client would be totally reliant on you for all future tweaks and updates!
So this would be a good thing if you plan to offer retainer packages, where they pay you to get access to you on a monthly basis for website maintenance, but it does mean that you’re sort of “on call” whenever even minor updates are needed.
I personally love the freedom of being able to hand over a complete website and quick little tutorial library for maintaining their own site. So I tend to stick to designs that use only the built-in features of the platform for ease-of-use for my client!
This is especially handy if you want to ever take a vacation! You can safely leave your laptop at home knowing that no-one will be in your inbox looking for updates because they don’t know how to code.
So it really depends on you! I personally didn’t love the idea of always being on retainer but some people love the idea!
Maybe they had an absolute dream client that they loved working with and wouldn’t mind continuing to work with them!
Not to mention how appealing it is to have guaranteed income from retainer packages month-to-month!
So while custom coding can have it’s perks, people tend to pick Squarespace for it’s ease of use in the first place, and any custom coding would def make website maintenance more difficult for the client!
I love to find ways to “hack” what the client is asking for using Squarespace’s native features! (Something I teach in my Square Secrets Course, btw!)
A: Ok, so I want to tell you a story to answer this question.
It’s the story of a web designer who was actually on our live Q+A session with our 3 designer panelists the other day.
Her name is Charlotte and she is a web designer for authors, as well as being an author herself!
She created her first website to market herself as an author, and she realized then just how much she loved designing sites!
She was in this Facebook group full of other (non-self) published authors and they have conversations about their writing, editors, marketing etc.
She was in there answering questions because she had a unique understanding of the industry, and had successfully built her own website for the very same thing!
And because she became known as a bit of an expert within that one Facebook Group, and one very specific niche, it just started raining clients!
So when it comes to your target audience of female entrepreneurs & small business owners, I think the problem here is that it’s just not specific enough!
Think of who specifically you want to serve (what type of female business owner? what style of websites? What specific industry?)
And by specific I mean so specific that there’s just one or two obvious connection points for those people. What’s a connection point? It could be an industry event (like a wedding venue conference or health & wellness expo) or there’s a Facebook community, or maybe there’s a podcast they all listen to, or a forum they all hang out on!
A perfect example is ex-pats living in Germany (like me!) There is this one random website with this super old forum, but it has such good information about living in Germany as an expect, and it’s thee place to go if you need answers!
Since female entrepreneurs & small business owners is so broad, there really isn’t one specific place you could go to find them.
That, and the fact that there are already so many people serving them.
When you get specific, your content can be more specific, and therefore wayyyy easier to rank in terms of organic SEO!
(You might visit Charlotte’s website to get an idea of just how specific content can get when you know your niche!)
So if you feel like you are doing allllll the marketing but it’s getting you nowhere, my first suggestion is to get very specific, and adjust your content strategy to speak only to them.
Then find that connection point and start serving!
I know niching sounds scary, and like you might be narrowing your pool of potential clients, but it actually becomes much easier to market your business when you aren’t trying to cast your net so wide and catching nobody!
Since niching, Charlotte is now booked six months in advance, charging premium prices, and working only on projects she loves!
A: I actually just had this question come up in our monthly live Q+A exclusively for students of my Square Secrets Business course so I will share the answer which I gave to them!
I have personally done the 2-week website design side-hustle while also being full-time in my master’s degree, and having a part-time student job with the university.
So I don’t know your current life/schedule load (like how demanding your 9-5 is, or if you have 3 kids) but it def was possible for me!
When it came to getting started with the 2-week website process while juggling all the other things, the thing. that made me more confident offering this was the first client where I just prefaced it with the fact that I was a college student, and that there was no guarantee I’d actually be able to finish it in two weeks, but that was my goal.
I did this project completely free (you don’t have to do it for free, you can also just charge a discounted rate for your first 1-2).
But it was a great time to test what was realistically going to work with my real life.
Like I mentioned earlier in this post, the first week of the 2-week website process tends to be full speed ahead, but then the second is just revisions, feedback, and tying up loose ends for launch etc.
I was talking to Charlotte about this and she said that she gets the client’s content the week before. She’d start the website that weekend and then by the time the actual project start date rolled around she had already completed the bulk of the design!
So I would say to test it out, taking the pressure off yourself to get it perfect by offering a discounted or free website the first time.
Once you get in a rhythmn, the 2-week website is pretty chill, because you aren’t balancing 10 other clients at the same time, so it’s definitely possible to manage other aspects of your life that are more full-time!
A: Some designers choose to offer branding & web design, while other’s just offer the website creation part and require the client to provide all the necessary branding & copy bits.
Some designers branch out to offer tech services like maintenance & 3rd party integration/account setup (ie. setting up and connecting an email marketing software account).
Some designers will offer copywriting, or branding photography, or social media marketing…
If you get joy from adding these services, do it!
It’s a really great way to increase the value per project and the price that you’re commanding for each project!
Some clients are very happy to pay more to have it all handled by one person and check off their to-do list all in one go!
But if you don’t find it enjoyable, and it adds stress to your life, don’t do it!
I would say half of my clients requested additional services, but half only needed websites. So it’s really not necessary to offer additional services in order to stay fully-booked as a designer!
Someone recently asked me on a webinar if I suggested becoming a digital marketing expert and offering those services for months and even years after you design a client’s site.
But I would say that is a lot for a one-person show to manage! Especially if you ever plan to take on more than one client in your web design career!
Being able to focus on just one client at a time, and not having other client demands going on in the background brought me just mental peace!
So as you add services, it may become necessary to start building a team to offer those things, or even collabing on a recurring basis with other creatives or service-providers.
A: If you have no plans to live in Germany, go ahead and skip over this one!
So it’s been a few years since I was dealing with all this visa stuff, so this is not going to be a complete start to finish checklist, but let’s see what I can remember off the top of my head!
I had to show proof that I could do the type of work I said I was going to do (A.K.A showing portfolio pieces)
I showed that I wrote out a business plan (not that I even followed it but they wanted one)
I had to prove I had some savings tucked away to survive on
I had to have a contract from someone who said they will pay me to do the freelance work I was claiming I’d be doing (so maybe having a few client’s lined up with contracts)
I applied from within the country, but I’m not if you can also do it from outside the country? This may have to be a blog post for another time, but I would say it took me about 2 weeks to put together everything I needed for the application!