Web design can be a great career.
I mean it wholeheartedly.
For instance, you get a lot of side perks once you take your business off the ground. Just to name a few:
- You get to choose your own hours.
- And you get to choose your own clients.
- And you get to choose your tools.
- And you even get to choose how much actual work you want to do every week.
But there are also some limitations. Chief of which, a one-person web design business isn’t very scalable. You only have a limited number of hours in a day, and no matter how hard you try, you’re going to hit a ceiling at some point.
So if you want to grow your income, but you don’t want to work yourself to death, you have basically two solutions:
- a) increase the rates on your main web design service, or
- b) start offering other, additional services.
On increasing your web design rates
Let’s just have a quick word on this.
It is by far the first thing that every web designer should do if they want to grow their business.
As designers, we’re naturally exposed to people undervaluing our work (the “hey, my cousin can do this for half the price, so why would I pay you?!” – type of clients). And in general, there’s not that much understanding about our work throughout the population.
All this and probably a handful of other factors convince us that we need to be … what’s the word … “careful” with our rates. However, that’s also the first step to failure.
Quite simply, if you don’t increase your rates, you’re just failing slowly.
And increasing your rates has multiple benefits, apart from increasing your bottom line, obviously.
Most importantly, it puts you in a different market space. If you manage to position yourself as “premium,” you won’t need as many clients to make a living. Premium is always better. No matter if we talk web design, stock images, or even tea.
There are multiple ways to increase your rates, so let’s leave that for another time (in the meantime, here are some possibilities). For now, though, let’s discuss the other side of the coin:
Offering additional services as a web designer
The thing worth pointing out here is that web design is a very complex type of a service.
Actually, “complex” isn’t the right word. What I mean is that there are always additional things that need to be taken care of together with the design or alongside it.
Picture the following. Whenever you order a burger, you get asked if you want fries with that. On one hand, that Burger Company could just focus on burgers and let the Fries Company make that other dollar. But instead, they’ve decided to offer a whole meal package. A silly example, I know, but it does illustrate what I mean here.
It’s somewhat similar with web design. On one hand, the design is what the client wants most of all. But at the same time, they could also use other services, which you can offer either as a package deal, or something paid extra.
Here are the possibilities:
This is #1 on my list and not without a reason. Hosting is a huge business. In fact, it’s a $16 billion industry in the US alone.
And what’s best, looking at it from a web designer’s perspective, every web design client also needs a web host for their new site. This is where two options come into the picture:
- either offer hosting packages as a reseller, or
- offer hosting packages as an affiliate.
The former gives you the possibility to set your own prices to some extent, and also suggest a hosting plan that’s going to be optimized for your client’s needs. That way, you’re saving yourself from any future website troubles that might be a result of a bad hosting setup (even though this wouldn’t be your fault, the client could blame you anyway).
The latter – affiliate partnership – gives you less possibilities, but you do get to earn extra money while not having to do any additional work. In this case, you can also influence the client’s choice and point them away from low quality companies or plans.
2. Simple development / site rollout and config
Just like web hosting, your clients are going to need help rolling out the site and configuring it on day one.
Depending on your experience with web development, you can offer a more or less elaborate service, but you should at least give your client a basic stress-free starting point.
Handling the rollout on your own will also make sure that everything gets done properly, and that there are no surprises once the site is on its production server. Plus, in case there are any issues, you can fix them even before the client notices anything.
One more thing you can do is offer the client a deal on the hosting+rollout package – a discount significant enough that will convince them to buy both of these services from you.
(Read on even if copywriting is not your thing.)
Depending on how prepared your client is to get their online operation started, they might or might not have the copywriting part taken care of.
More advanced clients will already have a good idea on how operating online works and what they need to get their thing off the ground, so they will probably have a copywriter and content creator already lined up.
For clients new to the online, the fact that they “need a website” might be the only thing they know, so they will need additional help. Whether it’s going to be you who offers them this help or not, it’s up to you.
Tackle this by offering a copywriting service. Two options:
- a) If you feel confident about your copywriting skills and want to do copywriting on your own then great, keep things in house!
- b) If not, outsource this to a professional copywriter. Find someone skilled and get into an agreement with them. Agree on a rate and add X percent on top of it for yourself.
4. A getting-started content package
Similar to copywriting, but not exactly the same.
The thing I mean by a getting-started content package is something like a set of blog articles, which some clients might need.
It’s very common for businesses to launch blogs alongside their main websites these days, but not every one of them has any idea what they’re actually going to be publishing there.
This is where you can reach out and offer a content package as an added service.
Again, if you’re not comfortable (or don’t have the time) to handle this yourself, outsource to someone else. Preferably a professional blogger. Add your fee on top of theirs.
5. SEO (on-page)
Sources say that Google accounts for over 90 percent of global organic search traffic.
Search engine optimization really is one of the most popular “elements” that every website owner needs. In fact, if their website is not visible on Google then it might as well not exist.
So the thing you can offer your clients is to take care of basic on-page optimizations for them. These days, on-page SEO efforts matter just as much as link building. And it’s not just me saying this. Here’s a quote from John Rampton, an online marketing expert and entrepreneur:
“It’s well-known that a strong link portfolio is a huge ranking parameter, but an optimized site that can funnel link juice correctly is just as important. Your site has to be optimized to carry the power of the links you build to the right internal places.”
The thing with SEO is that it’s not a one-off task. For really good results, and your clients certainly want those, it requires ongoing effort. So take a step forward and offer that to them.
The service itself? First, visit popular SEO blogs to learn what makes highly ranked content in 2015 and going forward. Implement the advice. Or, again, outsource. For instance, you can offer 1 hour a week of on-page SEO work. Make it a monthly package, or a yearly package.
6. Newsletter design and set-up
Some clients are just getting started in the online. They want to test the waters before they invest in various assets.
Others have a complete business plan right off the gate, and will likely need more design work done for them. That additional design work could be pointed in your direction if you just pitch the right offer.
Newsletters are one of those common side-tasks.
You can offer a custom newsletter design package – a handful of standard email types and templates. For example: a sales email, a blog update email, a general outreach email, plus whatever else the client could use (consult this with them).
Since you already have the individual design elements that identify the client’s brand (like the logo, the colors), crafting the newsletter designs should be easier for you.
Next, also offer to set up their email newsletter software. Do it either as a free bonus or as a paid thing.
7. Advertisement design and set-up
Just like with newsletters, your clients might also need custom ads designed to then be used in their various promotions. It’s yet another side job for the taking if you just pitch a good offer.
There are multiple different types of ads that the client might need, so this type of service could end up being quite extensive. With a good pricing model, you can make this a profitable service.
Also, very likely, your clients aren’t going to need the ads designed just one time. More often than not, they will be running ongoing promotions and will need a constant stream of new designs.
Once you establish yourself as the person who can design great ads, you may see work coming back to you every month. And the more you work on a particular client’s ads, the more reusable elements you’ll have at your disposal, so you will be able to deliver new ads even quicker.
8. Site analytics and insight
I think it’s safe to assume that every successful website out there has some form of tracking and analytics implemented.
Quite simply, if a site owner doesn’t pay attention to the traffic they get and to the results the individual pages are getting, then how are they supposed to cater well to their audience / customer base?
There are a couple of things you can offer your clients in that department:
- Hook up their site to a popular analytics script and make sure that everything is working fine.
- Offer them regular monthly reports on their site’s performance, the most popular pages, content, and other insights that will be valuable to them.
Both of the above sound like simple services – like something that the client would be able to do on their own. However, this isn’t about the difficulty level, but more about the time-saving value of such a service. If you’re there taking care of that, then the client can focus on other things.
9. Free site design update after X months
This might be a dangerous thing to offer, so be careful. The general idea is to simply give your client a free design refresh after 10-12 months.
The way this can backfire is if your client expects to basically get a whole new design done free of charge. So make sure to clarify in the contract what the design refresh / update actually means.
This brings real value to your client because after a year of operating, they will already know what direction they want to take with the site. The market will evaluate their original plans, so to speak, so they will know what they need from the design refresh.
10. Website software update after X months
If the client’s site is meant to run on an external content management system or with the use of any similar tools, scripts, and plugins, then those things will need an update every 6 months or more frequently (depending on the technology).
Not all clients will want to take care of that on their own, or will even know that they should. This is where you come into play.
- First, educate them on the importance of software updates and why they’re crucial (mostly for site and data security).
- Then, offer to come back every X months and take care of those updates for them.
This sort of work is usually not very time-consuming and can be done in minutes, yet it’s still an added value on top of your standard service.
What’s your take?
So what do you think? Do you offer any additional services alongside your main web design service? If so, how big of a role do they play for your bottom line? Feel free to share in the comments.