A few weeks ago over on Instagram I asked ya’ll to send your biggest web designer struggles my way so I could answer them live!
I answered the first batch of web designer struggle Q+A over in part 1!
And now it’s time to tackle the rest!
Learn to steer the ship!
In the beginning I’d hop on a call and my client would basically be interviewing me and I was just along for the ride, hoping to answer everything to their satisfaction and therefore convince them to work with me.
But if instead you show up with a plan and you are the one asking the questions and taking charge, then they are going to see you as the leader and the expert!
In fact, I was recently hiring for an OBM position and this was something I noticed made for a pretty significant difference between the top candidates and the middle tier ones.
The winning candidates always came with a plan.
This will happen more over time as you gain experience and as you learn more about how you like to work and what your design and client handling process looks like, but if you can use a little help taking charge right out of the gate, I have all the confidence-building questions you need for your first or next consult call here!
It’s really about coming up with a process that fits with the way you like to work so that when you show up on a consult call you can confidently say…
‘This is how it’s going to work…’
‘This is how and when I’m available for communication…’
‘This is how many drafts or revisions are offered with the package you are purchasing…’
‘This is how long you have to give feedback before a design is finalized…’
‘This is when content is due…”
‘This is when the project will be launched…’ etc.
So again, you have an agenda that reminds you what you need to get through on the call.
Then you let them know when you start the call what it is you will be talking about and then if they have questions at the end you are more than happy to help answer them!
If you don’t have a solid process in place where you handle every client the exact same way all the way from that first inquiry to post-launch day, it’s time to build one!
Thankfully the person who submitted this particular question for the Q+A has since joined me inside my Square Secrets Business™️ course where I basically hand you a customizable business in a box and show you how to take my proven design & client handling process and tweak it to fit perfectly with your preferred way of working and your personal goals or the lifestyle you are needing to build your business around!
It’s also very useful to have these expectations outlined in your client welcome package and your client contract!
That way, if a client comes to you wanting something that isn’t included in your package then it’s already written down where you can easily refer them to it.
Say you require clients to source their own photos and website copy prior to you beginning the design…
You would have already made clear before they signed their contract,“Here’s what I’ll be bringing to the table, and here’s your homework based on the package you are going for.”
I’ve been there, and I feel for you!
It’s not fun, but the good thing about getting a super needy client under your belt when you are first getting started out is that you will now be able to spot those red flags in the future! Knowing how to spot the red flags means you can decide not to accept certain projects in the future if they will no doubt be more trouble than they are worth.
But it can also be a wonderful way to develop a super solid process!
Because of your past experience with a needy client, you’ll be able to predict some of the issues that might arise in future projects, and you’ll be able to tweak your process to account for those things!
The most common time that clients start to feel needy and challenging is right around the time you start to do revisions and feedback on their site design.
Say your package includes two rounds of revisions…
So you make the requested changes, completing both rounds of feedback…but then your client continues to come at you with edit after edit when they decide later they changed their mind about something.
That would make this your third round of revisions…which is not included in the package they purchased.
So unless you want to end up resenting your clients and always doing a whole bunch of extra work for zero extra pay, then developing and sticking to a solid client process is the way to go when it comes to needy clients!
And may very well have it in your welcome package and contract, but it takes including friendly reminders prior to entering each next phase of your process if you want to nip needy behavior before it even has a chance to bud!
So when you are sending them a link to their site for the first round of revisions, you might say…
(Then doing the same for the second round.)
If they end up needing extra rounds, they will already be aware that that is above and beyond what your package includes.
Just be sure to include in your welcome package and contracts what the cost of those à la carte items (like extra rounds of revisions) will be.
It’s sooo much less awkward for you than having to bring it up after the fact!
You can just say something like…
It is very common in the web design world to have 3-4 projects at a time, each project lasting several months.
But when I first started my web design business, I quickly decided that this wasn’t going to fit with my life.
Doing just one project at a time worked better for me!
My clients loved it because it was a super fun fast way to get their gorgeous new site launched quickly.
They didn’t have to wait 6-8 weeks for me to finish their design, and they were willing to pay premium prices to have my full undivided attention because I wasn’t trying to juggle 7 other projects at the same time.
It meant total scheduling freedom for me, in that if I wanted to take 2 weeks off, I just didn’t fill that slot in my calendar. I knew I wouldn’t have other clients trying to contact me while I was sipping margs on the beach, or hitting the slopes in the French Alps, because I had already completed those projects and handed them off for good!
Plus, dragging projects out for months means more room for dilly-dallying on the client’s end, causing major headaches when it comes to being able to gather up the content you need to get started on the dang thing!
Quite often what gets designers in hot water and feeling burnt out about their business is that they don’t set strict deadlines for the different phases of the project.
They will have weeks and weeks where they won’t hear from their clients and then suddenly they all surface on the same day and it’s a mad scramble to get it all done.
Clients tend to respect your time and your boundaries a lot better when they see that you respect them too.
My favorite thing is when past students take my proven design process and customize it to work for their unique lifestyle!
(A student of my Square Secrets™️ & Square Secrets Business™️ course bundle recently shared her own unique web design process that works, even if you have a 9-5 job!)
I personally use HoneyBook (yep! That’s an affiliate link! ☝️ 20% off your first year!)
I will tell you why I love it and when I think it would or would not be right for you!
HoneyBook only works if you live in the US or Canada.
Fortunately, I was able to use it even while living in Germany because I had a SIN/SSN (Social Insurance or Social Security Number) and had a bank account in at least one of those countries.
HoneyBook has a fabulous mobile app!
So if you love being able to do things on the go, or leave the house for the day knowing you can still run your business from your phone, then this is perfect for you!
Dubsado does allow you to automate a lot of things, but unfortunately there’s no mobile app just yet if you need to update or send something on the fly!
HoneyBook also has an integration with G Suite, which we use for everything in our business (ie. syncing to my calendar and contacts)…so majorly majorly convenient there!
HoneyBook has a super clear way of tracking and managing projects and being able to see at a glance where you’re at with each person you’re currently engaging with in your business, so no clients (or potential clients) will ever slip through the cracks again!
HoneyBook has fewer options for customizing the automation of certain tasks than Dubsado does.
So in Dubsado, you can set a workflow up to where once it’s triggered (ie. someone submits an inquiry, books a consult, or accepts your proposal) then the next steps will automatically happen without you needing to pop in and manually send the next steps.
In HoneyBook, you can still create workflows, it just takes manually approving/initiating next steps in some parts of the workflow (which can honestly take a matter of seconds if you did the work to set them up for smooth sailing in the first place!)
Which actually brings me to my next pro…
So because HoneyBook’s automations are a lot less complex, and you still have to sort of manually send/approve each phase of the process, there’s a much easier learning curve, and a lower chance you will accidentally send files and emails without realizing, leading to some awkward conversions and frequent emails with the subject line “Oops! ♀️”
I’ll give you a recent real life example…
In my search for our OBM (Online Business Manager) I held calls with several candidates, many of them sending over a custom, on-brand proposal following the call.
I responded to let them know it would be several weeks before I made a hiring decision, but one person’s CRM accidentally followed up with an invoice, letting me know payment was due that same day!
Thankfully I’ve totally been there and knew it was just an automation they forgot was running in the background, but needless to say it caused a little panic on their end when they saw what had happened!
So when it comes to whether HoneyBook is right for your web design business, it really comes down to two factors:
Can you even use it in your region? If not, Dubsado is a very solid alternative!
Do you care more about features and customization? Or ease of setup/management?
If you love to being able to nerd out over the tech and customization aspect, Dubsado will give you more options, but if you just need a simple way to do & track it all in one place then HoneyBook is the way to go!