Nobody ever said running your own business would be easy. And if you’re running your own WordPress web design firm right now, you know this to be doubly true!
At the request of one of our visitors, I decided to post some essential tips for WordPress designers running their own design business to follow:
1. Choose a framework — and stick with it!
Choosing a single theme framework to work with will help you reduce your work and speed up your overall development process. In most cases, the customer isn’t likely to care about which you choose, since they’re hiring you to build a custom theme for them.
There are several WordPress theme frameworks available. I’m a big fan of the Genesis framework on my sites, but there are a zillion others and I’m sure they’re just as designer (and end-user) friendly.
It’s also good to have a set of WordPress plugins that you install and keep them as part of your blueprint. Finding plugins that do specific tasks will help speed up the process as well.
2. Partner up with the right host — strike up a solid partnership!
Your clients will need your help and advice on choosing the best WordPress hosting. Often smaller web design agencies host client websites by themselves which can provide an extra revenue stream, but it comes with it’s own hassles.
The best advice is to partner with a host you trust (the one you use yourself is the most obvious) then place your clients websites on their shared or dedicated servers; depending on their bandwidth and storage needs.
There are a number of awesome hosts who offer lucrative affiliate deals, so not only does this get the server management problem out of your hair, it may well turn out to be a nice extra profit generator for your design business. Many pay over $100 per new signup.
And let’s be honest, most of the companies that get any amount of press out there are good. Though I’m not a fan of GoDaddy and there “give us your credit card number right now” mentality — ever heard of people actually liking the protection offered by making transactions through PayPal guys?
3. Be a stickler for building relationships with your clients!
Your clients are people. People with hopes and dreams. If you can help them achieve those hopes and dreams, they’ll be loyal to you forever.
Never let minor annoyances with their demands turn into bitterness or you’ll lose every time. As Tim McGraw sings in the epic tune Humble and Kind: “Bitterness keeps you from flying, always stay humble and kind.”
They are the client, after all, and although not true of every customer; their job is somewhat to annoy the heck out of you to keep you on your toes and make sure they get the design done as close to exact as what they envision in their head.
And after the job’s done, don’t let yourself become a stranger. Continually follow up with your clients to see how things are working out for them. Stay connected on social media and show genuine interest their satisfaction with the project and listen to their social chatter to identify other opportunities they may have coming up soon you can pitch them on.
Try to send out a gift basket, or at least a card on special holidays — their birthday especially. You can find this info on most client’s social accounts, but it never hurts to ask outright (tell them you offer a single 10% off any design ordered within a month of their birthday every year — they’ll be elated to give out this info!)
4. Don’t forget to partner with good freelancers!
You can’t be a master of everything, or even several things. So, trying to do everything on your own will destroy your web design firm before your first couple of projects are completed. Find the people who have the skills and knowledge that you lack and delegate work to them.
Specialization is key for the success of your web design business. Sure, it’s going to take some time to find those whom you can really count on, but that’s just the breaks when it comes to running your own business.
Hiring full time staff to work in an office with you can get expensive: ie., actually renting an office, recruitment (ie., time and marketing), benefits, taxes, etc., etc. Hiring freelancers, online or off, is the most economical choice. You can also terminate those who aren’t working out without notice or severance pay, as you please.
Share your own tips
If you’re a successful designer, leave a shout out with a tip below so everyone can benefit.
Main Image Credit: Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr