When I started this Squarespace website design business I was a full-time student, so I wasn’t swimming in the dolla dolla bills by any means.
Looking back there were some very wise investment decisions I made and a few silly ones.
If you’re looking to get your own Squarespace website design business up and running, I have put together a very specific list of what I now believe is really truly worth spending your money on when you’re just getting started.
As they say, hindsight is 20/20 so in this post, I’m offering that experienced hindsight to you.
Some of these may be paid monthly, others are things you might prefer to pay in full for a discount.
You can sign up for a free trial of Squarespace here and I also got ya a little off the price, use code PAIGE10 for 10% off your first year. (Yes, that’s an affiliate link!)
. . . Duh. It’ll be a little hard to get anyone to take your seriously as a Squarespace website designer if you haven’t designed your own website on Squarespace.
This site will be your businesses online home, where you show off your past work, display your packages and prices, give out a sweet freebie opt-in gift, share your amazing knowledge bombs, offer free consult calls and lock down sales!
As you’re a business (or soon-to-be-business) I’d suggest going with Squarespaces Business Plan which, if you pay annually works out to $216. This will be your biggest up front investment.
While you could pay monthly, there’s a couple of benefits of paying annually (see below).
Pssst – you can also get 10% off your first year with the code PAIGE10 by the way, bringing your price to $194.40 for the year.
In order to look legit and get rid of the yourwebsite.squarespace.com you’ll want to get a custom domain name so your site will just be yourwebsite.com.
If you pay for your Squarespace plan annually, you’ll get a domain name free for the first year and in future years it’ll be $20/year.
Along the same lines of making you look legit, getting an email which is firstname.lastname@example.org makes you look like you’re running a serious business.
Yourbusiness@hotmail.com just doesn’t instill the same confidence that you’re taking your business seriously.
Plus, professional Gmail is fab! When you get a professional Gmail you also get access to the GSuite of products – Drive, Hangouts, Docs, Calendar.
I keep all of my business documents, files, photos, client folders, etc. in the Google Drive attached to my business email.
When you get a professional Gmail email, your storage allowance is increased from the regular free Gmail too.
For the longest time I was keeping all my files on my laptop but have now moved over to keeping it all in the drive which makes my life way easier being able to access info from my phone, and not constantly have my computer storage full to the brim.
Again, if you sign up with the Squarespace business website plan you’ll get professional Gmail and GSuite for free for the first year, and $50/year after that which works out to $4.16/month.
This will be your very first step into getting your business to be legit and legal, how exciting!
Once you have a website, it’s the law that you tell people what info you’re collecting, how you’re using it, how visitors can control what you collect, etc.
(Again – when you start a business from your dorm room, you aren’t a big spender.)
So I’d suggest skipping the headache I put myself through and getting one the moment you actually need one, which is the moment you launch your site.
Want to know one thing I picked up when I was doing all the research before starting my business? Everybody and their brother who ran a successful online business preached the massive importance of building an email list from day 1.
If they hadn’t done that, they said how not building their list from the very beginning was one of their biggest business mistakes and regrets.
I decided not to repeat others’ mistakes so I started building a list from the get-go and I cannot tell you how freaking amazing my email list has been for my business!
Yes, even as a serviced-based business owners and Squarespace website designer my email list has been vital to my success and booking out my calendar.
I started with MailChimp cause I was #ballinonabudget and had used MailChimp before.
When the time came to switch to a more legit email marketing platform, ConvertKit, it was definitely a pain to migrate my list over, change out all my opt-in gifts, adding new forms to my site, etc.
I could have saved myself a good amount of work in switching had I just started on ConvertKit from the start.
If you want to know more about why I suggest ConvertKit over MailChimp, I give you a detailed explanation in this post.
(Spoiler: You’re going to end up paying wayyy more for MailChimp in the long run.)
ConvertKit’s plans start at $29/month for up to 1,000 subscribers and then pricing raises with more subscribers.
Books are some of the cheapest professional development resources out there.
Most people who have done anything impressive in their life have written a book about it. People take a lifetime’s worth of knowledge and packaged it up into a book; talk about a fast-track to success!
Your business will grow to the extent that you grow, so if you want a successful business, it’s time you get serious about getting successful in your mind and life!
Not to mention, books are superrr budget friendly.
There’s 3 books specifically that I read when I got started and I definitely recommend these to others who are also starting a business of any kind.
Read 1st: The Miracle Morning
Read 2nd: You Are A Badass
Read 3rd: Think and Grow Rich
(Yep, those are affiliate links!)
So, those 6 bits are the absolute essentials to get you started, before you’ve even landed a first client.
Again you’ll want:
ConvertKit email marketing
Add up $194.40 + $90 + $25 + $29 and you get a new business ready to take on clients for $338.40!
Then for the rest of the year you’ll be spending on just the email list and books, so $54/month going forward.
Compared to opening a brick and mortar or any business selling products where you have to invest in materials beforehand, that’s a hellah-affordable new small business to start! Wahoo!
Now, what about once you land that first client? Once you do that, you now have a legit business that is trading something valuable (Squarespace website design) for money.
Once you hit that point, I’d reinvest that first clients payment in the following essentials ASAP!
I went wayyy too long without a CRM. I justified that I didn’t need one because I only had one client at a time and am a pretty organized person.
Wrong Paige, wrong!
Recently I stopped hating on CRM’s and tried out Honeybook and my god, I could kick myself for all the time I’ve wasted and headaches I’ve given myself trying to get along without a CRM.
I recently hired a photographer who was using Honeybook as her CRM so I got to go through the process of a project using Honeybook as a client and it truly was such an easy, professional and seamless process.
It left a fabulous impression on me as the client so I decided to try it out for my business.
Honeybook makes following up with clients from inquiry to booked client so clear. I can collect payments, get clients to e-sign contracts, store files, set up templates and automate tasks through Honeybook so easily!
Honeybook will make my life easier? Whatttt? That’s worth my money!
I’d now suggest you don’t make your life harder as I did and the moment you land a client, reinvest that money into Honeybook as your CRM.
I went longer than I want to admit before it even dawned on me that a contract might not be a bad idea to have with my clients.
(Again, dorm room business here. It didn’t start out all professional and polished.)
Now I cannot imagine not having a contract with my clients and cringe every time someone comments on the blog with some client horror story and they admit they never signed a contract with their client so they don’t know what to do.
Contracts make those messy, uncomfortable situations a lot easier to handle and generally make both you and your client feel secure in knowing exactly who does what, what the final deliverables are, when payments will be made, etc.
My go-to, Shop Creative Law has a contract specifically for website designers (affiliate link!—and use code “PAIGE10” for a 10% discount on your purchase!) so it’s tailored to exactly what you’ll be offering and you can rest easy knowing you have a lawyer created contract to fall back on when the sticky situations arise.
And yes, as much as I hoped and prayed that I’d never need to fall back on my contracts with clients, I’ve definitely had to and at some point in your business you’re going to run into those sticky situations too.
Having to fall back on your contract doesn’t mean that you’re a bad web designer or that you have a terrible client by any means.
People loose jobs, natural disasters hit, families get pregnant and plans change. None of these are anyones fault, it’s just life.
When one of these life events inevitably happen, you’ll thank yourself for having a contract in place to spell out exactly what happens moving forward.
(And yes, you can take your Shop Creative Law contract, upload it right into Honeybook and have clients e-sign it!)
There you have it! Those are the things truly worth investing in and getting for your business from the get-go.