Thoughts on setting up a web development agency

Hi, I’m a university student considering starting a web development agency where I approach small businesses in a particular niche and offer to build them websites. Do you think this a lucrative business idea? There are so many website builders out there now which allow anyone to quickly put together a simple website, so would people be willing to pay a lot of money for this service?

At the moment I have a basic understanding of HTML, CSS and Javascript but nowhere near enough to be able to put together a full fledged website that people would pay for. So do you think I should put in the time to learn HTML/CSS/JS considering that now we have so many simple website builders like Wix, squarespace and webflow?


To get paid to develop sites you will need to know more than that. Most professional sites use databases, for instance. You should understand server software; at least one of Nginx, Apache and IIS. I hope your university is teaching system design too. Have they taught you about configuration management software, such as Git?

You could offer your services for free so that you get experience and build a reputation. The most likely result will be that you will be overwhelmed by the requirements and get a bad reputation, even if you do it for free. You need experience.

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You need to be able to show how your services provide value. What can you offer that the builders can’t? You will also need a portfolio and references, which means you’re probably going to have to do some free grunt work.

Find someone in the niche you’re interested in and offer to do some free work for them in exchange for portfolio rights and a reference.

Be sure to set limits though! X number of pages taking Y number of hours, with Z number of revisions/updates. Otherwise you’ll be providing services for free forever, and if it’s not a friend, that can be annoying quickly and can degrade just as quick.


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