So, you’ve got a web design business. You’re working hard and you’re hoping it will pay off, but you can’t help but notice that your business isn’t taking off the way you think it should. That may be because creative industry freelancers and small business owners tend to make a series of mistakes that can become real setbacks, over time. Here are 6 business mistakes freelancers make that you should avoid:
They work for free or for “exposure”
“This project doesn’t pay, but it’s a valuable work opportunity and offers wonderful exposure!” Who hasn’t heard this one before? If you’re a web designer or otherwise working in a creative industry, you’ve surely had your work belittled, minimized, and straight-up mocked before, usually after you refuse to work for free:
“Anyone can do that”
“I can do it myself”
“But it only takes you 5 minutes”
“It’s not real work”
“It’s a hobby, not a job”
“That’s too expensive for a drawing”
“You didn’t even do anything”
See what I mean? When you’re doing a creative job, everyone out there will be trying to swindle you and get you to work for free, and if you’re young and/or inexperienced, it might even work. The most frequent promise is that of the infamous “exposure” or working to pad your portfolio, but you can do that without making someone else money, thankyouverymuch.
If you work for free, not only will the clients not respect you or think your work is worth anything, but your business will never take off. You’ve got to be making money to call yourself a business, otherwise you’re just a guy who draws pretty pictures for free. We all know that “exposure”, “experience”, and “portfolio work” don’t put food on the table, so don’t take the bait and work for nothing. And blacklist the clients who ask you to.
They do not market their business
If you want to get anywhere in any business, you need to start marketing yourself, your products, and your services. And that’s something a lot of people don’t do, especially novices. But when you don’t make an effort to let the world know about you and your work, your business can’t develop and will not reach its full potential.
Marketing doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive; it can be as simple as releasing a weekly newsletter, setting up a website that you post on frequently, or even buying ads in strategic placements that may expose your business to a new audience.
They charge too little
Every freelancer falls into this trap: “The less I charge, the more attractive I will look to clients!” But that is, unfortunately, a mistake. The race to the bottom doesn’t benefit anyone, and it only ensures that you are actively devaluing your own work. Knowing how to value yourself and your work is an important step when establishing your business, and it will ensure that you will be taken seriously. Plus, it helps you establish a reasonable price for your time.
As you know, clients will try to get you to lower the price, but that doesn’t mean they respect or appreciate your work or you, as a designer. On the contrary – they see it as work devoid of value, and they won’t start paying you more or sustain a long-term work collaboration, because you become interchangeable with all the other cheap freelancers who are racing to the bottom.
They take on nightmare clients
Okay, back to the awful clients, because we’re not done talking about them yet. Many freelancers, and creatives, in particular, make the mistake of taking on any client who offers them work, for fear of missing out on the opportunity. And perhaps some would say that’s the right way to do it and that passing on clients is a mistake. However, the reverse can also be true: taking on difficult clients is counterproductive and a waste of time.
Here’s why: when you’ve got a client who doesn’t respect your work, like the ones we exemplified earlier, one who doesn’t seem to like anything, or one who doesn’t know what they want, you may be in trouble. Clients like this may sometimes pay well, making a collaboration very tempting. But when you’re stuck with vague briefs or redoing the work for the 42nd time because they still don’t like it, you’ll see why avoiding them from the get-go works out to actually be more cost-efficient. Think of all the time you sunk into this client and how many other projects you could have taken on.
They work non-stop
Unfortunately, overworking is a symptom present in many entrepreneurs, small business owners, freelancers, etc. When you work for yourself, you are tempted to keep working at all hours of the day and night. When you don’t, you feel guilty, or anxious, but all that work isn’t actually helping your business; in fact, it may be actively damaging it.
Why? Because the quality of your work is suffering, not to mention your mental health. Burnout is a very real thing, and as an artist, you can very well start feeling it pretty soon. Not to quote “The Shining”, but we know what all work and no play do to a person. For one, it depletes your creativity, so you will find yourself unable to focus or come up with new ideas, so both you and your clients will become dissatisfied with the work. Plus, you won’t be all that excited about working, in general.
They take on too many projects
The old adage of picking quality over quantity rings true in this case, as well; it’s always better to take on fewer, bigger projects than to accept a million little projects that aren’t very well paid. You may think that it makes more sense, financially – take on 10 easy projects instead of two more complicated ones, but more often than not, you will actually find that the small projects end up taking way more time than you bargained for.
And while you’re redoing the same crappy job for a client who is perpetually unhappy, you’re still getting paid the same $15 you agreed on, even though you’re working as hard as you would have on a bigger project. Plus, think about it this way – the more high-quality the projects are, the better they look in your portfolio. Those small logos that you redid 8 times and the basic websites won’t impress anyone.
What’s the bottom line?
Setting up your own freelance business can be quite difficult, especially as a web designer or otherwise as a freelancer in a creative industry. It’s uncharted territory from many points of view, and learning how to deal with clients, value your work, use your time efficiently, and market yourself takes time. You just need to be aware of these 6 mistakes and hopefully, your business will flourish.
Redesigning a website is part of a regular marketing strategy for most successful businesses. Even if you have a well-functioning website, after a few years, you will notice that competitor websites are improving their sites with updated styles, content and services, thus increasing their organic rankings in Google. In order to compete, you will need to keep up the pace and update the look of your existing website.
Deciding to move forward with the redesign is one thing, but actually doing it is something else entirely. Here are some important things that you should consider before you start the actual process.
Back up your old site
When doing a redesign, a lot of things can go wrong. A small mistake in the code on a page might disrupt the functionality of several other pages. For instance, a new slider you were very excited about might render the entire website unusable.
In these scenarios, it is a good idea to revert back to the old version of your website while you pinpoint and fix new issues. So, before you start with the new design, create a backup for the old one.
This is an excellent opportunity to get back to the drawing board and see if you can improve your business goals with the new design. In many cases, a website redesign happens when a business is experiencing growth. So, it is important to use this momentum and improve the very core of your business.
Talk about setting new, bigger milestones and work on redefining your target audience. The new design will welcome a whole new customer demographic, so be prepared.
Create relevant content with SEO in mind
With the new design, you should also work on new content – a new homepage text, new articles for your blog, new texts for the services page, etc. Of course, the content you have on your old site will be of use, but – again – this is a new beginning. You should focus on creating content that is better than what you had before.
Your goal is to reach a better rank in terms of SEO, so creating a new set of keywords and defining a new marketing strategy is not at all a bad idea.
The new design will hopefully introduce new features and services. There might be some new functionalities that you want to showcase. Your customers, both old and new, might have issues identifying these innovations.
A good idea here is to make an explained video where you will showcase your new design to everyone.
Broken link management
And, finally, when the new site is up and running, chances are that some broken links will emerge. Your new site map will be different than the old one. You should cross reference all links and see if there are any broken pages.
When you identify them all, create a redirect system where these broken pages will directly be diverted to the new ones.
A website redesign is a sign that you are moving forward as a company. Make sure to consider the aforementioned tips and be extremely careful. You want your new design to be a success, but if you don’t pay attention, it might end up hurting you more than you can imagine. So, play it safe and you won’t have anything to worry about.
Are you planning on launching a new website? Whether it is a personal blog, business portfolio, or e-commerce website, you have to know all your options to make a smart decision. One of the most important factors to consider when building a website is: “How much will it cost?”
To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of several ways to get your hands on website design and how much it will typically cost you.
Drag and Drop Website Builders
Drag and drop website builders are developed to streamline the website design process. These tools are designed as online platforms which you can use to create and launch a website without even knowing how to code or how to design a website. The most popular drag and drop website builders include Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace.
Designing a website via a drag and drop website builder won’t break the bank. In fact, if you don’t want to use any of the premium features, you can get your website up and running completely free.
Pros and Cons
The pros of using drag and drop website builders include:
No design skills required
No coding skills required
Get a website up and running in no time
The cons of using drag and drop website builders include:
Generic templates make it hard to achieve a unique look
Bad user experience due to slow loading times
Questionable customer support
Pricey premium features
WordPress Website Design
WordPress is the most popular content management system. Launching a WordPress website is also considered simple, but unlike drag and drop website builders, it requires some technical knowledge.
WordPress comes with a completely free theme that users can use to build a website. Apart from the default WordPress theme, users have access to a number of free and paid ones. The design cost depends on your choice. If you go with a free theme, the overall costs will be minimal, but even purchasing premium themes won’t set you back much, as they usually come with an average price tag of $70.
Pros and Cons
The pros of using WordPress include:
WordPress and the majority of themes are free
Complete control over website files and data
Access to free plugins and extensions to enhance the user experience
Easy to customize
The cons of using WordPress include:
Maintenance requires technical knowledge and experience
You need at least some basic coding knowledge
Expensive managed WordPress hosting services for those who want to automate updates
Custom Website Design
Designing a website from scratch is also a viable option.
The design costs depend on the overall functionality and number of elements of a new website. According to the current prices on the market, it’s safe to assume that hiring a web designer will cost you approximately $2000, $6,000 and up.
Pros and Cons
The pros of using custom website design services include:
Get the exact design you want to
Achieve a unique design and unique brand experience
Outrank competitor websites with SEO Web Design strategies.
Have complete control over the brand of your website.
The cons of using custom website design services include:
Medium to High up-front cost
It’s difficult to find a trustworthy web designer
You’ll need long-term cooperation for updates and maintenance
Hopefully, this information will help you make a better decision and get the website that gives you the biggest bang for your buck.
Who are the highest paid website designers on the planet as of today? These website designers are some of the most sought after custom web designers in the industry. Although there are hundreds of world class web designers in the US alone, these are the top 3 that I follow and look up to as a website designer. These world famous web designers command tens of thousands of dollars per sign on bonus as well as over a hundred thousand dollars a year plus extras. Why do startups and large corporations shell out the big dough for these designers? It must be their ROI. Good design and programming married with excellent copy writers make for a winning combination for many business websites. Not to toot my own horn, but Check out my web design award honor with The Webby Awards, an international recognition for creative website designers around the world.
The average yearly salary for a web designer is around $49k. Small business owners would be hard pressed to afford an in house web designer to design, develop and market their companies website for less than $60k if you include taxes, benefits and retirement.
Young web designer with a dream salary…
James Somers, a Web developer in his mid-twenties, planned to quit the field and become a freelance writer.
He had a sweet first assignment lined-up too. He was going to write a profile about Douglas Hofstadter, and magazines were already lining up to pay him $10,000 to $20,000 to publish it.
But then he got a job offer to go back into Web development.
These were the terms:
“$150,000 in salary, a $10,000 signing bonus, stock options, a free gym membership, excellent health and dental benefits, a new cellphone, and free lunch and dinner every weekday. My working day would start at about 11am. It would end whenever I liked, sometime in the early evening. The work would rarely strain me. I’d have a lot of autonomy and responsibility. My co-workers would be about my age, smart, and fun.”
If there’s one man in the web industry who probably doesn’t need an introduction, it’s Ethan Marcotte. One of the web’s best-known designers Ethan is a regular and popular speaker on the conference circuit and, in his own words, the one who “started that whole ‘responsive web design‘ thing”.
A world-known CSS expert and HTML guru, Chris Coyier writes one of the most popular CSS blogs on the web, CSS-Tricks. Throughout his career, Chris has published many tutorials, websites, and scripts to help designers improve their skills. A designer at CodePen, Chris can also be found at web design and development podcast ShopTalk.
UX expert Karen McGrane motto is simple – ‘On a good day, I make the web more awesome. On a bad day, I make it suck less’. A content strategist and user experience designer, Karen has over 15 years experience of making big, complicated websites. Currently managing partner of Bond Art + Science, she is also the author of Content Strategy for Mobile.
Andy is a well-known speaker on the conference circuit, and is the founder of a Welsh-based design studio, Stuff and Nonsense, that boasts clients including the likes of The Home Office, STV and the International Organization for Standardization. Andy is perhaps best known for his book, Hardboiled Web Design, which combined the idea of progressive enhancement with responsive web design.
Dan is the author of five web design books covering everything from standards-based code approaches to Sass. As well as writing, Dan is a practicing web designer, and a popular speaker. Alongside Rich Thornett, Dan is a co-founder of the popular dribbble.com show-and-tell website that allows designers to upload micro-shots of their work in progress.
User interface designer Sarah Parmenter specialises in design for the web, iPhone and iPad. Owner of design studio You Know Who and co-host of the Happy Monday podcast, Sarah can often be found travelling the world to speak at the world’s leading web design conferences. Her client list includes Blackberry, News International, STV and The National Breast Cancer Foundation of America.
Dave Shea is most famous for his CSS Zen Garden project, which helped spearhead the move from table-based web design layout to CSS-based layouts. The website became very popular, both helping to push the boundaries of what designs could be achieved with CSS alone, and also encouraging web designers the world over to adopt the approach.
Jeffrey is perhaps the best known of all the people featured in our list. He’s the author of a must-have book, Designing with Web Standards, publisher of books via A Book Apart, Speaker and is the driving force behind the immensely popular industry-leading online journal, A List Apart. Jeffrey is also the founder of Happy Cog studios, a US-based consultancy with clients including MTV, Ben & Jerry’s and Stanford University.
Vitaly is well-known in the web design world for his web design blog, Smashing Magazine. The original blog has grown over the past few years to incorporate a huge set of web design resources, and has branched out into both publishing (with Smashing Books), and workshops/conferences which attract some of the web’s best experts.