The first website was built in 1991 by the creator of the World Wide Web, a man named Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Since then, millions of websites have been created by people all over the world.
New websites are being created every day. While there are a number of platforms for do-it-yourselfers, many need a more sophisticated website than they could create on their own. Or they simply want someone else to do it for them.
That means there is a lot of opportunity in the website design business for anyone with the right skills.
- You can be your own boss.
- You can work any time you want.
- Do work you love using the skills you have.
- There is a lot of demand for website designers.
- Since many websites are designed using popular content management systems, you may have to learn how to work with several different systems (or, you can specialize in one).
- If you want your services to be desired, you will have to learn how to produce websites better than people can produce on their own with the various easy-to-use platforms that exist.
- You’ll need to work hard to keep your skills up to date as website design styles and trends change rapidly.
How to get started:
NOTE: Before you start your business, you should read the page on this website entitled “things to think about before you get started.” After you have taken the preliminary steps for starting any business, you can take the specific steps outlined below.
Getting started as a website designer takes time and effort but you can do it if you take it step by step.
Learn to design a website and create your own practice website. (NOTE: If you don’t have a good, working laptop, you will have to invest in that first.) The best place to start is by using a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress, the most popular CMS in the world. Another popular platform is Wix.
If you learn those platforms to the point where you know them well and know how to use all of their features, you can be helpful to a lot of people and generate a lot of business.
While designing a website using a CMS can be a fun and profitable way to design websites, if you want to get more clients – and more sophisticated (and better-paying) clients – you need to learn HTML and CSS. Those are the basic building blocks of websites. Learning HTML and CSS is not essential but you will need them if you want to be able to take websites beyond what most people can do themselves.
Build some websites for free for friends and family. This is a good way for you to learn so it is definitely not a waste of your time. And, of course, they get a free website so they can’t complain about your work. (You may have to put out some of your own money for domain registration, hosting, purchasing photos or other costs but it will eventually be worth it.)
Build your own website showcasing your work. (Use the best websites you designed for family and friends for your showcase page.) Before you can get clients who will hire you to design a website for them, you’ll need to prove that you can design nice-looking websites.
It’s also a good idea to include a testimonials page – ask your family and friends to write a testimonial praising your work. (TIP: Your “clients” don’t have to disclose that they’re your grandma.)
Now you can start seriously seeking business.
Get in the habit of asking your satisfied clients for referrals. Other free ways to get your first website design clients include:
- Setting up a Facebook page for your website design business and posting content that demonstrates you have a knowledge of website design.
- Join LinkedIn. Be active in commenting on other people’s posts and use classic online networking techniques to find people looking for website designers.
- Start a blog. Write to it daily or weekly at first, and share all of your blog posts to each one of your social media accounts. Write about website design and prove to potential clients that you know what you’re talking about. If you can’t write daily or weekly, write as often as you can. Start with once a month if you have to.
How much to charge:
Good website designers can earn thousands of dollars once they’ve proven they are experts in their field. Specialists can earn more. Starting out, you’ll need to be competitive and that might mean charging less in order to build up your clientele.
For a basic 5-page website built on a WordPress template, you can charge between $500 and $2,000 for a local business or organization. (You may want to charge less for a nonprofit institution.) However, website design prices differ based on location. Call around to a few website design services in your area to see what the going rate is and charge a few dollars less for the same level of service.
Another thing that can add to the fee you charge is complexity of design. The more difficult the job and the longer it will take you to complete should be considered when bidding website design services.
Taking it to the next level
Once you’re up and running, take your business to the next level of upskilling yourself. For example:
- Learn to use tools like Canva to design headers and logos. Become familiar with websites where you can get images (many of them free, like Pixabay and Unsplash) for those headers and logos.
- Learn to use tools like Photoshop and InDesign that you can use to design graphics. (There are free versions such as pixlr.com.)
- Branch out into ancillary services, such as SEO optimization, creation of social media and website maintenance. These will involve their own learning curves but, if you are serious about a website design business, they will give you additional ways to generate income and make it more likely that you will have a long-term, successful business.