Growing Your Web Development Business from Scratch to Success
1. Check your skills: Technical and sales
To win in the web development business, you need two different types of skills. If you are reading this, you probably already have some or all of the technical skills. You know WordPress and the fundamentals of web design. If you have never set up a website before, you will need to develop those skills first. As a web developer, you can practice your skills by creating your website before you land clients.
But what else do you need? Sales and marketing skills. If sales are unfamiliar to you, keep this in mind. As Chris Gillespie writes, “Real sales is about matchmaking – about putting relevant products in front of people.”
Now that you know your way around the fundamentals let’s dive into how to get your first few clients.
2. Get your clients: Network and outreach
When you are starting a web development business from scratch, finding clients is tough. You do not have a long track record. You probably do not have a portfolio of websites either. How do you get started then?
2.1 Ask your network
Ever heard the saying “your network is your net worth”? It is entirely right when it comes to landing web development clients. We recommend reaching out to people who already know and trust you to ask if they know anybody who needs a website. Ideally, you are looking for businesses who need websites rather than individuals.
For the best results, send individual emails to people in your network rather than just posting an update on Facebook. If you have many contacts, start with the people who have seen you at work first.
2.2 Reach out with an email
Many web designers have mixed feelings about job sites. On the one hand, job sites like Upwork.com and Freelancer.com have a constant stream of new opportunities for clients who WANT to hire web developers. On the other hand, it can be challenging to stand out from the competition on these platforms especially when you are new.
To maximize your success on job sites, you need two practices. First, you need a list of job sites to check regularly. Second, you need to learn the art of writing a pitch to grab the client’s attention. Take a look at the Art of Emails’ resource “5 Cold Email Templates to Land High Paying Gigs” for tips on cold email. If you are interested in Upwork specifically, check out Freelance To Win’s resources like Top 10 Upwork proposal tips: How to win Upwork jobs in 2018.
After you land a few clients, it is time to invest in improving your marketing, so you can attract better clients and stay productive.
3. Invest in marketing and systems to keep growing
While they are great to start with, there is a major limitation to relying on the strategies outlined above to grow your business. Unless you focus significant effort on growing and nurturing your network, you cannot expect new leads from your friends each month.
With job sites like Upwork, you face a different challenge. Winning clients at premium fee levels is rare. It is also difficult to stand out because you are in direct competition with many other web developers. To continue growing, you will need to invest in your company’s marketing and systems.
Depending on your budget and skills, there are different options available to invest in marketing. You might investigate marketing partnerships with companies that have a similar audience as yours. Adding your company to agency directories like Clutch.co and Digital Agency Network is another option. You might also experiment using SEO and online advertising.
Once you fine-tune these marketing systems, your agency will start to grow rapidly. Rapid growth creates different problems. Instead of scrambling to pay your bills, you have to fight to stay on top of your client relationships. Keeping all of your client relationships straight when you have 10, 20 or more clients is too much to keep in your head.
4. Improve client retention and efficiency with the Plesk Control Panel
At first, you might be able to manage your web development business with Google Docs and your memory. Eventually, you are going to forget critical information. It could be forgetting to test a new plugin before pushing it out to a client. Alternatively, merely forgetting to monitor the backend processes for all of your client websites.
What if you could have all of your client website information in one place? That is what you get with the control panel by Plesk. Whether you build websites in WordPress, Joomla or Drupal, you can track all of those web projects from a single place. To avoid disasters, the control plan also has staging and user provisioning, so you do not have to worry about these administrative tasks.
Why does the Plesk Control Panel matter for your web development business? It helps you to provide a more consistent experience. It means you do not have to worry about WordPress security and multiple servers. No more forgotten configuration or testing mistakes. You focus on keeping your clients happy and growing your business.
Systems and sales: You need both for a thriving web development business
As your web development business grows, keep your eyes on a few critical points. Job one: keep your clients happy. Next, keep up your sales efforts even when you are busy to avoid feast and famine syndrome. Finally, invest in systems and software to automate your business so you can focus on growth rather than tracking issues manually.