SitePoint Sponsor

User Tag List

Results 1 to 13 of 13
  1. #1
    SitePoint Evangelist
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    496
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Where am I going wrong?

    Hello there. I setup my web design company about 8 months ago and I'm getting to a point where I'm not sure where to go next...

    I know PHP, MySQL, XHTML and CSS. All the sites I've created have their own CMS and they are all cross browser compatible. The most I've ever got for one of my web sites is 520. And that took me ages to make and deploy.

    But to me, I really feel that I'm undervaluing my work alot - and I'm getting to a point where I'm not sure what to do. I'm self-taught through using books, and my design skills aren't that great - but I am really proud of the coding I do. I really feel it's of high quality. But I hear all the time that people who know these skills are getting paid loads (20, 30, 100 + an hour). I don't see how I can achieve these rates?

    I know that I should approach bigger corporations, but are they gonna be interested in a young self-taught web developer? All the corporations want Microsoft based solutions and myself (out of choice) don't know these technologies.

    Could anyone give me any guidance in where I can go next with my skills? I'm tired of doing 200-300 web sites for 'man and his van' companies.

    Any help at all would be useful, because I really am thinking of just packing it all in!
    Cheers. James

  2. #2
    SitePoint Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    11
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    You must NETWORK. Example, I know there is a hospital in my area. Get the directory and start cold calling some of the doctors to see if thye would like a website setup for them, hell, have a few templates available. things like that iwll get you started, then word-of-mouth will continue. I just got a network consulting job for about 2k. it easy work because im highly recommended. now i dont get these all the time, but that + my normal job = lots of $$$

  3. #3
    _ silver trophy ses5909's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    NoVa
    Posts
    5,466
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)
    Moved to Business and Legal where you should get more targetted responses.
    Sara

  4. #4
    Galactic Overlord gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy
    HAWK's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    12,600
    Mentioned
    987 Post(s)
    Tagged
    14 Thread(s)
    And it might pay to work on your design. Either do some training or partner up with someone that has strengths in that area. In this industry, looks are everything. Most people that come to you wanting a website don't really know (or care) what is going on in the background. They want their site to look good and attract customers...

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
    beley's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    LaGrange, Georgia
    Posts
    6,117
    Mentioned
    3 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Owning a web design business is hard. It's hard because you (the web designer) like to design... so you think "I can design, so I should own a web design company (or freelance)"

    Well, in reality business is about 90% marketing, bookeeping, invoicing, collections, customer service, networking, planning, delegating, research, etc. Very little comes down to actual skill and working in your craft.

    That may be an extreme statement, but it's true 99% of the time. Look at Microsoft and McDonalds. Do either of them have an excellent product? No, bug riddled software and cheap stale hamburgers. However, they are market leaders in their respective industries because they build a solid business system.

    Now, how does that apply to you? You need to focus on the building your business instead of designing websites. Sure, your skills as a web designer are important - but they don't mean anything if you can't find clients and put food on the table.

    So, forget for a minute that you're a web designer. You've just been promoted to CEO, President, Marketing Manager, PR Manager, CFO and more.

    First step (as suggested above) is network. Talk to everyone you know. Ask for business. You have to overcome any fear of rejection if you're going to go it alone and build a business (even freelance). If you can't, you might want to think of finding a web dev job with a company.

    A good way to get your first (real) clients is to talk to everyone you know - parents, cousins, uncles and aunts, grandparents, parents' friends, friends, teachers, mentors, etc. Ask them if they know anyone who might need a website - business owners, people who work in bigger companies, etc. Don't just ask for referrals, ask for names and numbers. Take the action out of their hands - go and call these folks yourself.

    Once you've exhausted those people, you can do any number of things. Attend business networking functions like chamber of commerce events or BNI meetings. Go down the phone book and find companies with no websites listed and call them up. There are hundreds (thousands) of ways to find prospects.

    And lastly, quit charging peanuts. You need to build up some confidence in yourself (because if you're insecure people will see right through and they'll know) and charge what you're worth! I'm not suggesting that you try to charge astronomical rates, but charge industry standard if you're starting out (and more if you've got some experience).

    Best of luck... I'd also recommend you read the business articles here at SitePoint and read up in the Business and Management forums. There's a wealth of information here that can help you find prospects, give proposals, etc.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Evangelist
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    496
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Cheers for that advice people. Excellent stuff.

    It is hard all this. I was thinking of packing in me owning my business and just work for a company else where, but I'm self taught. I feel that maybe I don't quite have the skills needed (not general enough) for an employer to take me on. But then, I way of the pros and cons, and owning my business fits me more. I think maybe I've still got some teenager/student tendancies left in me, and sometimes find it hard to motivate myself... I am only 22 years old.

    Thanks for the advice so far, if anyone can shed more opinions please do. It's helping me out.
    James

  7. #7
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Winona, MN USA
    Posts
    10,053
    Mentioned
    142 Post(s)
    Tagged
    2 Thread(s)
    The first thing you need to do is build a business plan. This article by Andrew Neitlich will help you see where you are not and where you want to go.

    Also have a look at the many articles here by Rachel Goldstein.

    Both of these people offer enormous help to beginners and their advice is free!

    Beley is right. Although we aren't supposed to talk specific prices here, from those you have posted you are way too low. Believe it or not, under-valuing your work will hurt you in the long run. Often when your prices are too low, the good potential clients wonder why and move on to a competitor.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard johntabita's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    In a big, big house, with lotsa lotsa room
    Posts
    1,062
    Mentioned
    7 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by littlejim84
    But to me, I really feel that I'm undervaluing my work alot - and I'm getting to a point where I'm not sure what to do. I'm self-taught through using books, and my design skills aren't that great - but I am really proud of the coding I do. I really feel it's of high quality. But I hear all the time that people who know these skills are getting paid loads (20, 30, 100 + an hour). I don't see how I can achieve these rates?
    James, even if you were the greatest coder in the world, it wouldn't quarantee that you'd be highly valued or well-paid by your customers. Business owners or corporate decision makers don't care about how "high quality" your code is. As beley said, forget you're a web designer and put on the hat of the CEO, President, Marketing Manager, etc. Learn to understand how they think and what's valuable to them.

    Here's a hint. Unless your services enable your customer make more money, spend less money, or both, then you will always be undervalued. As CEO/President/Marketing Manager of your web business, your primary job is to demonstrate to your clients how you'll contribute to their bottom line. Networking, cold-calling are all good means of finding prospects. But you must have a compelling value message with which to engage them, once you find them.

    Once you engage your prospect, look for the emotional benefits that your service provides. Remember that money is usually just a means to an end. To a business owner, more money may represent buying a new car for his wife, or hiring an additional employee so he can spend more time with his family. Someone once said that you can get anything you want by helping others get what they want.

    If all this sounds like this is a far cry from the familar PHP, MySQL, XHTML and CSS - you're right, it is:

    Quote Originally Posted by beley
    Owning a web design business is hard. It's hard because you (the web designer) like to design... so you think "I can design, so I should own a web design company (or freelance)"

    Well, in reality business is about 90% marketing, bookeeping, invoicing, collections, customer service, networking, planning, delegating, research, etc. Very little comes down to actual skill and working in your craft.
    Once you decided to set up your own web design company, like it or not, you became a sales person. So, of all the skills necessary for running a business, selling is the first you must master - because without sales, nothing else happens.

    So how do you learn how to sell? Well, you can read some books or attend some seminars. Here's a novel idea: get a sales job. Afraid to cold-call? Working in call center for a month will rid you of that fear. Taking an entry-level sales position for a few months will gain you tons of practical, real world sales experience.

    Hope that helps.

  9. #9
    SitePoint Enthusiast
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    43
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by beley
    That may be an extreme statement, but it's true 99% of the time. Look at Microsoft and McDonalds. Do either of them have an excellent product? No, bug riddled software and cheap stale hamburgers. However, they are market leaders in their respective industries because they build a solid business system.
    Hey, I like McDonalds hamburgers!

  10. #10
    SitePoint Member elliottdesign's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    5
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    WOW some great advice in this thread, glad i found this forum.
    www.elliottdesign.com.au
    Design . Illustration . Animation

  11. #11
    SitePoint Evangelist
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    496
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Bit of good news!

    Thanks so much for the advice. Some really good stuff!

    I've managed to secure free office space! I'm getting out of my room and into a nice lush office space. Sharing with two other guys.

    Maybe this will be the push I need?!

    Cheers again. James

  12. #12
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    2,676
    Mentioned
    10 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    You might also want to think about taking the solutions you've already made and creating 'ready-made' solutions for your 'man in a van' companies. For example, offer a package with a ready-setup CMS, hosting, email contact form, generic design template and 5 empty pages ready for content to be slot in. Minimal work from your end, but you can re-use this with endless clients who only have a few hundred quid budget. In the meantime, you can spend your free hours working to find the higher paying clients.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Evangelist
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    428
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Hey James,

    I'm currently read a book that you might find usefull. It's called "Book Yourself Solid" by Michael Port.

    The book addresses exactly your statement:

    "Could anyone give me any guidance in where I can go next with my skills? I'm tired of doing 200-300 web sites for 'man and his van' companies."

    The book gives you guidance on how to move on to clients that match your skills and you'll enjoy to serve.

    I hope this helps. Good luck!
    George Skee
    Follow me at GeorgeSkee.com


Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •