Square Secrets Business™️ Course for web designers
Have you ever heard the saying that you first need to know the rules in order to know how to break them?
Well, when it comes to being a web designer there’s a handful of dos and don’ts that are widely accepted as gospel for finding success designing for clients.
But the thing I love about building your own business and becoming your own boss is that once you know the rules, you get to bend and break them any way you please to make your business fit perfectly with your life…and not the other way around!
So in today’s video, I’m sharing the 3 web design business rules that I personally loved to break, and how doing the exact opposite of what was expected actually changed my business for the better!
Here’s how it’s usually done…
A potential client visits your website, checks out your portfolio page, and then falls head over heels in love with your work.
Next, they head over to your services page to see how much it’s going to cost to make their own website dreams come true.
They read over your services, see that you offer a few different web design packages based on the scope of their project, but they still have no idea how much it costs, so they head to your contact page and submit an inquiry form.
You really don’t want to scare them away by talking about price before value, and so you offer to hop on a free consultation call to discuss their needs.
After the call you whip up a custom proposal based on what you think the scope of the project will be, and how much you think the client would be willing to pay.
Once they’ve accepted your proposal, you still have to prepare a contract and invoice to send their way so they can get officially booked.
So that’s how it’s typically done!
Here’s what I chose to do instead…
I listed the exact prices of services on my website, including a breakdown of what was included in each package.
There’s no guessing whether or not a potential client can afford my services. It’s just “here’s my packages and my rates…if that sounds good to you, here’s how you book a call to get started!”
Right out the gate I’ve weeded out all the people who wouldn’t be a right fit budget-wise, or who’s project scope was outside what I offer, and therefore wouldn’t be worth hopping on a consult call with.
I personally don’t feel right changing my rate based on what I assume a person can pay, so by listing my exact pricing on my site, my clients show up to the call already knowing exactly which package they want, there’s no need for the added step of putting together a fancy custom proposal.
If on the call, I discover they need something extra that isn’t included in their package, I just let them know how much extra that will be.
You will already be outlining all the services you promise to provide in your contract, which the client will need to review and sign prior to paying their deposit and reserving their spot on your calendar anyway, so a custom proposal really would just be an unnecessary step.
Not to mention you are increasing the length of time between first point of inquiry to actually locking down that sale.
I’m all about finding ways to make the process more efficient, not just for me as the designer, but also making it easier on my client to actually get started working with me.
It’s common for designers to offer multiple different tiers of packages for their design services ranging from hourly design support and simple 1-2 week projects all the way up to massive custom projects that take upwards of 6 weeks to complete.
I actually started out doing offering all sorts of packages…I had big packages and little packages, packages for photographers, sororities, small business owners, restaurants, and so on. As you can imagine, my services page started to get pretty long and confusing.
I decided I needed to make it super simple for people to start working with me TODAY, so I narrowed my offerings down to just one package.
The 2-week website.
(The process I teach in my Square Secrets Business™️ course. )
Here’s why that worked for me…
Because of how quickly I could finish a project, I was able to take on just one client at a time, instead of trying to figure out how to juggle and prioritize multiple projects that all overlap.
Plus, the quick turnaround meant that clients couldn’t drag their feet in getting me their content or revision requests.
My clients loved it, because they didn’t have to wait months and months to get their website launched to the world, and they had my complete undivided attention during that time.
If I wanted to take a 2-week vacation, I simply didn’t fill that slot on my calendar.
It also allowed me to streamline my design process, because I wasn’t having to bounce between projects, and I could use the exact same 2-week website checklist every single time.
I never had to wonder what I should be be doing when I opened my laptop to start my day. I’d just look at my process checklist and say, “Cool. It’s Tuesday, which is the day I do XYZ thing in my process.”
And by not offering multiple tiers of packages, I was pretty much able to predict my business’s revenue for the entire year…
This made it incredibly easy to price my services.
I would just figure out how many weeks a year I wanted to work, and therefore how many 2-week websites I could take on. I would decide how much I wanted to make in a year and therefore how much I needed to charge per project to make that work.
And then I got to work becoming the designer I needed to be in order to be charging those premium prices!
Ok to this next rule also has to do with creating predictable income, and that is that many designers choose to offer monthly retainer services.
So this means that once you finish their initial web design project, your client pays you a recurring monthly fee to sort of have you on call for any updates or maintenance they may need on their site.
So if they have a bit of content that needs swapping out, a new integration set up, or they need someone to update the info on their services page, they just shoot you an email and you take it off their plate.
It’s a wonderful way to increase the revenue your business sees per client, and therefore you need fewer clients to meet your revenue goals. Plus, you can rest easy knowing you have a guaranteed minimum monthly income coming in depending on how many retainer contracts you land.
But I personally did not enjoy being on call for retainer clients.
I liked knowing that at the end of a project, I could fully hand it off, and the only person I needed to make myself available to in any given week was the one client I was currently designing for.
Offering a monthly retainer can often mean not hearing from your retainer clients for weeks, and then suddenly all 7 of them show up in your inbox with an emergency on the same day and you have to figure out how to get it all done in time.
By choosing not to keep clients on retainer, I had the freedom to take time off guilt-free, legit leaving my laptop at home, instead of worry about past clients urgently trying to contact me for last minute updates while I’m trying to get my vacay on.