In September 2019, I gave a talk at a local Divi Meetup here in Columbus Ohio about 7 Keys to Running a Successful Divi Design Business. Many of you asked if you could see or hear the presentation but it wasn’t recorded live so I decided to take my notes and make an episode of it!
P.S. All of the content was taken from my Web Design Business Course so by just listening to this episode, you’re getting some of the course content for free 🙂 If you enjoy it and want to learn more, join my course today!
1) Protecting your #1 asset….
Which is….your mind! Most business owners focus on nothing but growth, scale, success, etc but neglect the most important asset in the business…your mind. This is what has lead to widespread burnout, stress, lack of balance, etc that all takes a toll on mental and physical health. Because whatever or however you’re feeling mentally, every area in the business will follow suite.
Before evening thinking about building something up for success, make sure you build habits to stay level, stay balanced and do all you can to do these 4 things:
Feed it, Build it, Calm it & Protect it
- Feed it – with books, podcasts, other inspirational and thought provoking content.
- Build it – with online courses, tutorials and other forms of learning that will keep you sharp and moving forward.
- Calm it – keep at a sustainable pace and do things that keep you balanced, physically & mentally. Things such as regular exercise, sleep, avoiding too many notifications, social media, taking too much on, etc.
- Protect it – primarily, protect it from negativity and doubt that comes internally and most important, externally.
2) Solidify your offerings
I’ve learned by personal experience, it’s very hard to successfully build and run a business if you’re not 100% clear of your service offerings and your value.
We can do this in 2 main parts:
- Solidify your services – focus on the services that you’re most experienced in, that you actually enjoy and are most effective/valuable for your business. For years I was offering way too many services that pulled my attention in all areas, most of which were not my most effective and most profitable services which were in this case, web design and website maintenance. By removing most print work, photography and other “sub services” and focusing on my most profitable services, we got better at doing a few things really well and ended up making a lot more because we were pulled in many less directions.
- Solidify your price ranges – I say “ranges” because I’m a big believer in not limiting yourself to certain pricing packages, however, if you have no idea what ranges web design builds will fall into, it can be very difficult and time consuming to quote.
We have 3 main price ranges that most projects fall into. Small (starting at $2,497), Medium (staring at $3,997) and Large starting at ($5,997). And we’ll employ value based pricing when needed for projects that go up into the 10-15k range.
3) Streamline your tools
It can be very difficult to effectively run your business if you’re constantly dabbling in a variety of tools and chasing all the shiny new platforms and apps that come out.
We use (and have used) the same set of tools for several years with great effect. Those include:
- Gravity Forms
- These free recommended WordPress plugins
- These top recommended Divi plugins
- 17hats for invoicing and administrative
- Basecamp for project management
- Stripe for collecting payment
This has many pros. It’s easier to scale when you have less tools to train others in and once you find a set that all play nicely, updating and managing multiple sites becomes much easier.
This is a biggie with Theme Page Builders. I know many people who use Divi, Elementor, Beaver Builder, etc and they are constantly having to bounce back and forth between learning, re-learning and keeping up with all these themes. Whereas placing your focus and trust in one leads to a much more balanced approach in running your business and scaling when you start bringing others in.
4) Utilize the Divi community
One of the best things about using Divi and being a member of Elegant Themes is the unparalleled support that the community provides. There are several Divi Facebook groups out there including the main ET Divi group, my Divi Web Designers Group, Divi Freelancers for Hire, etc. All of which I recommend joining.
These are great for:
- Support – getting answers and solutions to your questions or problems quickly.
- Hiring – yes keeping an eye on folks who are helpful, competent and engaged is a great way to find talent to eventually hire for your business or outsource some work.
- Inspiration – it’ll help you stay fresh, engaged and often inspired by seeing solutions and projects that others are working on.
5) Utilize Divi library, saved code, etc
With Divi, we have the ability to save entire pages, sections, rows and modules for use on current sites or additional sites which happens to be one of my favorite aspects of Divi. I can’t encourage using saved library items and templates enough in order to save time. Especially when working on website builds where you’re creating layouts and sections similar to what you created on a previous site.
And for those who are completely stuck or are maybe starting out and don’t have an eye for design, the premade layouts that Divi comes with act as great starting points for designs.
Same applies to code and any customizations you do as well. I recommend saving your most commonly used code/customization snippets, ID’s, Classes, etc when customizing sites.
6) Systematize and automate
One of the most important time saving lessons I’ve learned in my decade of running my web design business is this one rule: Anything I do more than twice, I automate it or make it a template.
This applies to work on websites, emails that I frequently send, processes, etc.
Practically, a few things I recommend you do:
- Create staging sites – I use ManageWP and having staging sites with the basics of WordPress, Divi and my other main tools (license keys, etc) already set up so I can quickly deploy sites and get building. Saving 15-20 minutes when starting sites adds up in the long run!
- Create email templates – I have a series of email templates saved that save me so much time from writing and repeating the same thing over and over and over and over again when starting, managing and wrapping up projects. You can use platforms like text expander or different canned response settings or email signatures in gmail or whatever email client you use or just keep them as plain text docs.
7) Challenge yourself on every build/project
Finally, make sure on every project that you challenge and push yourself to go to the next level. This could be challenging yourself with new designs, coding tricks, etc or even challenging your workflow, your process with project management, onboarding, etc. But each project should be a step forward in making you a better designer, a better business owner and should ultimately be making you more value and in many cases save you more time.
When I was a solo freelancer, I challenged myself by always doing something cool with design, a layout or CSS trick. When I started scaling my business and my role shifted to more of team building and project management, I focused on all my scripts, templates, processes, etc to make sure each project was getting progressively more effective and smooth both internally for me and my team and for my clients experience from start to finish.
Links mentioned in episode: