26 Tips To Avoid Disaster In Your Web Design Business

View Comments by Bianca Board on 1 November 2013

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When I started BRB Creative, I was a plucky little freelancer with dreams to rule the world (or Wagga at least). I got off with a bang by getting my first 20 design clients in under 48 hours; mainly because I won't take no for an answer! But what did I know about running a successful design business? Nothing. And boy did that slow down my plans for world domination. 

The next few years looked like this...

7 day working weeks, financial nightmares, sleepless nights, getting done over by clients and getting done over by contractors, not to mention the stress and physical exhaustion. Yep, I've experienced it all. But after years of running my design business the tough way, I finally learned how to run it the SMART way. 

These are my discoveries, distilled into bite-sized 'Web Wizdoms' so YOU can profit faster. 

I now run a booming web design business with 20 staff and counting, so I think it's safe to say my system works!  Follow my advice and you'll achieve a successful business you love at warp speed. Trust me, I'm a web-business doctor! 

So, are you ready to get profitable? Awesome, then keep on reading!



1. More Education = More Profits.

"The more time you invest in your education, the more your clients respect you, value you and depend on you for all their projects. Become the educated designer clients happily pay top dollar for!"


2. Ditch the jargon!

"Too many web geeks sell on fear and doubt and think jargon makes them appear smarter. It doesn't. Always use plain English. Be different, and watch your client list BOOM."


3. Traffic + Conversions = Client Bliss.

“Focus your energy on building websites that boost traffic and increase conversions. Nothing else matters. WEB RESULTS = MORE REFERRALS”


4. Our Sales Secret…

“90% of sales are done on rapport. People buy from people they know, like and trust. You miss out of one of those three, you miss out on the sale.”


5. No Time For Time Wasters...

“You don’t have to meet with a client just because they ask. Pre-qualify them and send them a proposal first. No green light? No meeting. This will save you up to 10 hours a week!"


6. When quoting website projects…

"Always put a limit on the number of pages, products or hours that your price includes. And an hourly rate if they need more. Cover your ass!"



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7. Know your numbers.

“If you don’t know what each bum on each seat in your business costs, including YOURS, then how you can you judge how profitable you are? Knowledge = profits”


8. What website clients really want...

"A client doesn't want a website, they want more leads and more profits. Never forget you aren't just building a website, you're building their business. So help them grow and you'll have more clients than you know what to do with!"


9. Your next prospect is just a friend you haven’t met yet.

“Next time you go into a sales meeting, talk to your prospect as though you were just hanging out at a mutual friend’s BBQ having a chat. Spend the first 10 minutes talking about everything BUT their project. 

You'll be amazed how effective this is at building trust and rapport. Who says clients can’t be great mates?”


10. Life’s too short to work with clients you don’t like.

"Be prepared to say ‘no’ if:
a) You just don’t like someone, period.
b) Your gut instinct is sounding alarm bells.
c) They don’t want to invest any time into their project.
d) They’re trying to screw you down on price (everyone wants a bargain, but when it's clear your client doesn't value your expertise or your time... ditch 'em!)".


11. Design for results.

“If you’re creating pretty websites without improving your client’s results then you’re in the wrong business. They might as well go and get a free Wix site in my opinion.”

What’s your #1 web design tip? Let me know in the comments down below!


12. Eat humble pie. 

“If you make a mistake, admit it! Clients are surprisingly forgiving. I employed a designer once who spelt ‘Merry Christmas’ wrong on a Christmas card. They were the only two words on the front of the card. EPIC fail!"   


13. Care about your clients. 

“Work hard for their business and they'll repay you in spades. Don’t just deliver a website and say ‘good luck’ after they go live. Teach them how to profit from it, send them a book on social media, check in regularly after they launch. Just go the extra mile and show them that you care.”


14: Design your freedom.

“Don’t just work in your business, work ON it. I now work from home in Airlie Beach, even though our office and majority of staff are in Melbourne. Was it hard? Hell yeah it was hard! It took 5 years to make the move but I’m now in paradise living a lifestyle I only dreamt of a few years ago! Get creative, design your ideal freedom.”


15: Love Web. 

“Passionate people make more money than non-passionate ones! Seriously.”


16: Guilt-Free Pricing. 

“The person with the biggest problem with your price... is you!”


17: Work Hard, Stand Out. 

“Mediocre work = mediocre profits.” 


#18: Get A Mentor.

“Find a mentor who runs a successful web business… and pick their brains clean!”


19: Time is money. 

“Streamline all your processes until they’re smart and lean.”


20: Never assume. 

“Always ask what your client REALLY wants out of their website. What are their primary and secondary goals? How are they going to measure success? Every client is different so take the time to uncover specific needs early on.”


21: Results Matter. 

“Web results impress clients more than beauty, but if you’re doing both you’re golden!”


22: Ditch Dodgy Developers. 

“A good developer will lift your project… and a bad one will send you broke!” 



23: Check for success.

“Triple check EVERYTHING. Even one mistake is bad for business.”



24: Design for success.

Know how to design trust signals and where to place them.”



25: Refresh your brain.

“Take regular breaks. All work and no play makes a designer go cray-cray! Take regular breaks AND go overseas at least once a year if you can... in fact why not shoot off somewhere right now?”



26: Gettin’ Paid.

“You deserve to be rewarded for your time and experience. Never apologise for charging what you’re worth. Your client expects it. Remember the person with the biggest problem with your pricing... is usually you!"


Ask me a question. I'm always here if you need some more 'web wizdoms'...

Fancy some wizdom from a gung-ho designer chick who's got 10 years of business ups and downs under her belt? Ask me a question by leaving a comment below and I'll create a Web Wizdom with your name on it! Go on, I could save you a motza!


Stay tuned for next week's tips! 

And if you're not already part of my inner circle of design gurus, there's a spot here with your name on it. Signup now!


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