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 can lead 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:
Episode #011 Full Transcription
Hey, friends, welcome to episode 11. In this one, we’re going to talk about seven keys to running a successful web design business. This is actually taken from a recent presentation I gave at a Divi meetup here in Columbus, Ohio. And I talked in that presentation about seven keys to running a successful Divi web design business. But for this podcast, I’ve rephrased it to just web design business because all of these keys and tactics are going to be applicable to you whether you use Divi or not. So even if you use another theme builder, like Elementor, or Beaver Builder or something else, or even if you don’t use WordPress, all of these keys are still going to be very applicable to you.
A couple things I wanted to mention, before we dive in, these are the seven most important keys that I have personally found to be the most beneficial when building and running a successful web design business. So these are all based off of my decade of experience of starting building and running my own business, I was trying to think of the most important lessons because you know, I could do 1000 lessons. But these seven I think are the the top ones that I would recommend for anyone just getting started or anyone who was just ready to level up.
The other thing I wanted to mention is that these are all pulled from my web design business course. So this podcast is kind of a teaser into my course, a lot of these topics. And the strategies that we’re going to talk about here are pulled from that course. But we’re just scratching the surface here. So in the course I go into a lot more detail with each one of these, but just wanted to give you a heads up that you’re actually kind of getting part of that course for free in this episode here. So if you like what you hear, if you like these keys, and you’re ready to take things to the next level, I would love to help you personally. And we can do that through my web design business course. And the link will be in the show notes for this episode.
1) Protect Your #1 Asset
So without further ado, guys, let’s get right into it seven keys to running a successful web design business. Number one is to protect your number one asset. anyone guess what that is going once going twice, you may have guessed it, your number one asset is your mind. This is something that I have found to be a little more rare in the entrepreneurial space because I feel like most business owners, whether it’s web design or not, are all focused on growth, scale, success and, and revenue and all this stuff. But so many people neglect the most important asset that keeps all that going. And that keeps it sustainable. And that’s your mind. And the problem is if you just focus on money, sales, growth, revenue, and all that stuff, or growing your team or working more hours or all this stuff, you are going to burn out, there’s going to be a lot more stress, there’s going to be a lack of balance in your life, a lot of you know that I my second daughter was just born and I am all about balance and keeping a sustainable pace. And that all goes back to protecting your mind and how you your habits on a day to day basis and how you process the world and your emotions.
So your business is going to run off of how things are going in your head. Particularly if you’re building a team, your team and your business is going to follow what’s going on with you mentally. So you really need to make sure that you protect your mind. Now I’m going to give you four quick ways to protect this. And again, we go into more detail in my course on this but here they are.
First thing is to feed it. Now practically you can feed your mind with books, podcasts, like you’re listening to hear other inspirational videos or any thought-provoking content, whether it’s blogs or anything like that. So you want to feed it with good things just like everything in life, whatever you feel like your body. For example, if you feed your body, your body crap, you’re gonna feel like crap. Same thing with your mind, if you feed your mind just a bunch of senseless useless stuff, you’re, you’re going to feel like that. And this is really important in business. I’m not opposed to any sort of entertainment or video games or anything like that. But you want to make sure that you’re feeding your mind with good things as a healthy balance for your mental diet.
If you’re watching the news all day and you’re just playing video games, chances are it’s gonna take a lot longer for you to to level up, and you’re probably going to feel negative and burn out a lot of the time. So feed your mind with good things, good business books, good podcasts, I actually have a post on my top recommended business books, which I’ll link to in the show notes here.
Number two I mentioned there was to build it, build your mind, you can do that with online courses, tutorials and other forms of learning. They’re going to keep you sharp and moving forward. So it’s similar to feeding but by building your mind I’m talking about doing more things that are more practical and that you can apply to your business. So you know most all of you know that I am a course creator. The reason I create courses because I want to help people build up their businesses quickly and efficiently. And And that’s what I’m talking about, invest in online courses, tutorials, training, workshops, anything that will help you build your mind and level up faster, it’s worth investing in.
Number three in this major number one point of protecting your mind is to calm it, just like I mentioned a little bit ago, it’s all about keeping a sustainable pace. You want to do things that keep you balanced physically and mentally. So you know what I’m going to say now, regular exercise, getting sleep, avoiding too many notifications. That’s a big one. If you guys have notifications on your browsers or in your phones, turn them off, turn them off for one week, and see how balanced and more relaxed you’ll feel. I did this for my email for Facebook, and nothing is on my phone, I have zero notifications on my phone unless I get a call. And like right now my phone is actually turned off. So I am engaged when I’m doing something and I’m telling you, it has revolutionized my life, I recommend you do the same. And again, exercise and sleep are the two biggest I think avoiding notifications as big as well. Not taking too much on that’s a big one too. You got to learn to say no, you want to free up your mental space and make room for the yes, the big projects and the good things you want to take on.
And then finally, the last thing to this number one point of protecting your mind is to well, oddly enough protect it. And primarily what I’m talking about here is you want to protect it from negativity and the doubt that comes in internally. Now the last podcast I talked about overcoming imposter syndrome. So that’s certainly a part of this. The other thing is to protect it from negativity online. Now I had to really, really think about this when I got started doing tutorials, particularly on YouTube, because YouTube is just oh my god, it’s just, I mean, you talk about a place for negativity, the comment sections in YouTube is a breeding ground for a lot of mental strain. And one of the best things you can do is just to just block yourself from that completely.
So the other thing with negativity online is forums. So I run a Facebook group for Divi web designers called the Divi web designers Facebook group, it’s approaching 20,000 people right now. So you you know we have a pretty clean and great group, but a group that size is inevitably going to have some negativity. So you need to be really careful about those negative comments, my recommendation on that is to just not engage with them at all. The big thing to remember online nowadays, whether it’s social media, or YouTube or any forums is that negativity is going to happen. There are a lot of messed up people out there. And often the way those messed up people take out their feelings is through an anonymous comment. Because it’s very easy to just bash somebody on a thread or, or get negative because you’re sitting behind a computer.
So if you’re one of those people, I will say there is hope for you, you do not have to be like that. If you start spreading some positivity over negativity, it’ll, it’ll spread like wildfire in a good way. And it’ll help you from day to day will make you feel better. And if you’re a person who sees negativity or gets that and it starts bringing you down, I just want to encourage you just to neglect to completely just screw it, I have to have that same mindset. When I’m viewing YouTube comments that bashed me or my channel, I just realized that this person has a lot of problems going on. And they’re they’re doing something that isn’t helping anybody. So don’t let that negativity spread to your mind, you’ve got to protect your mind. So that’s number one is to protect, calm, build and feed your mind.
2) Solidify Your Offerings
Number two, as far as the key of running a successful web design business is to solidify your offerings. Now, I have learned that by personal experience, you need to be very clear with what your services are. And you also want to make sure that you’re doing services that are the most valuable for your business. So just recently well over the past year. So I whittled all because for a while my services if you don’t know the history of my business, make sure you listen to the first podcast I did. It kind of talks about my story.
But when I got started my services and I have a pic of my business card. I’ll make sure I put it in the show notes for this episode. But my business card was at that time I was in the band world. So I was doing MySpace pages, basic HTML websites, brochures, t shirt designs, flyer designs, and I even put drum lessons on my business card. Yes, terrible idea that shows you how Josh from a decade ago had just zero mind for business because I was doing drum lessons and I thought it would be cool if I put that in with all my other services. Not a good idea. And once I started getting corporate clients, they were like I was interested to see that you had drum lessons on your business card then I realized crap I need to take that off.
And long long story short is I was doing more services throughout the years including graphic design, video photography, and then over the past few years, I whittled everything down to my top three services which are in my case, web design, and that would include website builds from the ground up or website redesigns. And it will also include website maintenance, that is the second big service, and then SEO. So those are the only three things I offer, I used to do logo design and branding. Now, if any of that comes in, I generally just refer that or we do take it on in house, it’s because the client requested that, and then I just kind of oversee it.
So by doing that, in my business, I’ve been able to focus on those three main services. And the moral of the story here is those services are the most profitable for me. So just a quick example, I was doing print services for a long time and ordering business cards for clients and things like that. And I realized, while yes, it was easy money in a way. And it wasn’t nearly as, you know, hard as web design from the standpoint of revisions and coding and things like that. The problem was it was it was low hanging fruit. You know, clients were not wanting to pay several $100 for business cards and stuff. And so I was doing work for fairly cheap for doing these little revisions and ordering. And again, it was easy money was okay, when I’m, when I started. I’m not I’m not regretful of doing those services. But it wasn’t near as profitable as my web design services where I’m doing projects for 234 $5,000. And up. So I got to a point where I was like, You know what, I have got to cut out my print services, I have to do that. And it’s really shown in the numbers that once I stopped doing that, my revenue has gone up. And I have more time because I’m focusing on the most profitable services.
So solidify your services, focus on the most profitable ones for sure. And the other thing is that with this is to solidify your price ranges. Now I say ranges because I’m a big believer and not limiting yourself to certain pricing packages. However, if you have no idea what your price ranges are for, particularly for website builds, it can be very difficult and time consuming to prepare a quote or proposal.
So here’s a little heads up. And again, this is something I go into a lot more detail in the course. But I have three main price ranges, most all of our web design projects will reside into these three ranges. One is our small range, which currently starts at 2497. These will be for very small websites, maybe three to five page brochure style sites, maybe a really advanced lead or landing page. But generally just you know, regular portfolio style sites are medium range, which right now starts at 3997. Those are for your more medium site builds, which are going to be 10 to 15 pages, maybe up to 20, depending if it’s just content. And and that will include some basic functionality like events, multiple contact forms, and things like that.
And then I have a large starting price range, which starts at 5997. And this is the starting point for bigger sites that are going to be 20 30 40 50 pages, maybe they have more advanced functionality for things like E commerce sites, or sites that are including a lot of different plugins or forums or things like that. So those are the ranges. Now, the big thing I mentioned in the course, and I want to mention to you here is that you want to use this really important term. And it’s called starting app. So you want to have all your pricing say starting at, because when a quote comes through, I can view this and say, Okay, I think this is going to be a medium site. And then I’ll let the client know, it’s you know, our medium sites start at 3997. But if they want to add some other plugins and additional functionality, it may be closer to $5,000. That project, but again, we’re just starting at that range.
So those are the two things within point number two here with solidifying your offerings, it’s to solidify your services. Also make sure you focus on the ones that are most profitable, and you want to solidify those price ranges. But don’t limit yourself, don’t say, I can do a website for 500 2,000 4000. Because if you get a massive project or somebody who’s willing to invest a lot more than that, you don’t want to limit yourself. Later in the course I talked about the first time I landed a $15,000 project and I walk you through everything I did with that. And the reason I was able to get a project at that high level is because I didn’t show them my price ranges. I basically heard her there details of what they need for the project, and then I bid it out accordingly. had they seen some of my lower price ranges, I probably would have questioned Hey, why is this one so expensive, and it’s because I had a different process for that kind of client. So solidify your price ranges though, it’ll help you a lot moving forward with your web design business.
3) Streamline Your Tools
Now number three is to streamline your tools. As I mentioned, I use Divi it’s the most popular builder for WordPress. I’ve used it for years, I have literally never used another builder since 2014. All of our websites are WordPress and Divi and there’s a few reasons for that. Number one why I love Divi. That’s a whole nother episode but it’s reliable. The functionality keeps on improving the community around it is amazing and I trust Elegant Themes with their support and and a very valuable product. Now I say that to say what I’ve done that has been super excels successful and helpful with not only growing my web design business as a solo freelancer, but now with a small team is that by solidifying and streamlining all of our tools, it has helped me scale dramatically.
So we use a handful of certain tools and those are as follows. WordPress all of our sites are WordPress, we do not do any custom HTML sites or anything with another CMS or anything like that. We use Divi, we do not use any other theme. I have never opened Elementor or Beaver Builder or any of these other builders, I have chosen to go with Divi and I have chosen that path. And yes, there are a lot of benefits with other theme builders. But one of the reasons I just stick with Divi is as I’ve scaled my team, as long as they know WordPress and Divi, then they’re good. Imagine and this is important because imagine if you are scaling your business, and then you hire a freelance designer, and they have to know WordPress, they have to know Divi Elementor, a bunch of other themes, and then they have to know all these other platforms, that’s going to be way, way harder to manage and going to gonna be very time consuming from a training standpoint, if you’re using all these different tools.
So by streamlining your tools, and just using a handful of selected trusted tools, it’s gonna have all kinds of benefits moving forward. It’s also very easy to maintain, so or easier to maintain. So you can imagine if you’re, you know, we have over 70x Yeah, I think we have over almost 80 sites in our website maintenance plan right now, and that they all use WordPress, Divi and these other tools that I’m going to mention here. But imagine if we had all these other builders in the mix as well. It’s a nightmare for support, because you never know what plugins or plugins are going to conflict and stuff like that. So streamlining your tools is huge.
Other ones I was gonna mention that we trust in us is WooCommerce. For online stores. It’s what I use for my site. I love Gravity Forms. There’s a lot of other great form builders out there as well. But we just choose Gravity Forms. We have a certain set of plugins that we have and then I personally use 17 hats for invoicing and administrative Basecamp for project management. And then I love stripe and PayPal for collecting payments. So like those are our main tools that has not changed for years. And I don’t plan on it changing for years, unless for some reason, we just find something that is absolutely better than one of the tools that we’re using. So again, it’s huge for scaling. It’s huge for managing things as a solo freelancer, or particularly when you start bringing people on streamlining your tools will have all kinds of benefits for you.
4) Divi Community
Number four, is if you’re using Divi and this is the reason why I initially had this as a Divi presentation is to utilize the Divi community. One of the best things about Divi and having an Elegant Themes license is the unparalleled support and the community. There are a ton of Facebook groups out there a couple I’ll mention and the links of the show notes of this post. But I mentioned my Divi web designers group that’s a great one Elegant Themes has a Divi specific group that’s huge. That’s a really good one. There are some rules and regulations so that one that I typically don’t care for, which is why I like having a more open in a group like mine, which is more of a support group. There’s also a great group called Divi freelancers for hire, there’s some other ones as well that I’ll list out.
But these groups are great for I think three main things. Number one is support because you can go through Elegant Themes support, but a lot of times it’s going to be a little delayed. I mean, they have over 600 I’ve even looked recently it’s well over 600 1000s probably more like 700,000 customers. So can imagine their support queue that sucker gets filled up very quick. So these groups are great for support, you can often get answers and solutions to your questions and problems very quickly and for free. So that’s a big one.
Number two is for hiring so you can keep an eye on folks who are being helpful and who are engaged in the community and who are competent and are helping people find solutions. I’ve actually found a couple subcontractors like that and it’s been amazing and for those of you who are in Divi groups in particular, just remember, people are watching you. So every comment you make is being seen and is very, very important. So you want to stay positive, you want to stay helpful, and that can help to landing work, but it can also help you for those who are hiring to get some solid subcontractors who know WordPress know Divi and know some of the tools you’re using.
And then finally inspiration that’s been a big one for me too, as it’s often helped me stay fresh and engaged by seeing other people’s solutions and their projects and seeing what they’re doing with Divi. Now this can be applied to other builders as well again, I don’t use Elementor, Beaver Builder oxygen or any of these other tools, but I know some of them have communities as well. Nothing is going to be matched towards what the Divi community is. But those three things support hiring and inspiration can definitely be beneficial for those communities as well. So definitely recommend whatever you use get into Facebook groups or forums or communities. That’ll be a big help for you.
5) Divi Library
Number five is to utilize if you’re using Divi the Divi library then if you’re not using Divi any sort of library or saved code, so one reason I love love love Divi is the library functionality at source and if you’re not a Divi user, make sure you click my link on the show notes to get Divi or try it out because you can save certain certain sections, rows modules, or the entire page as a library item. And you can use that library item on other pages in your website or other websites entirely. It’s freaking awesome. I absolutely love the Divi Library.
Divi comes packed with a bunch of pre made layouts. But one thing that we have really liked to do is to save certain layouts for other sites. So let’s say we create a contact page on one site. And our clients like maybe a new project, they go through our portfolio and they say, Hey, I really liked the contact page of this website. Well, instead of having to recreate that contact page from the ground up, all we have to do is export it from Divi, import it to the other site, change colors, change the styling and text accordingly, and boom, we’re good to go. So it can save a lot of time.
Same thing with saving your code. So a lot of you know, I’m a big proponent of CSS, the majority of my tutorials online on YouTube, our CSS tutorials for Divi. And one thing I’ve really wish I would have done more in the start was to save those code and those snippets, and then pull those into other sites, I started doing that and it started saving a lot of time. So I kind of have like a library of saved code. And a lot of times, what we’ll do is if we do a CSS snippet, or something custom on a site, and we want to use it on another site, we just go into that first site, pull the code and bring it back over. But you can also create a list whether you do it, you know, internally on your computer, or whether you save it online somewhere or you know, again, there’s there’s numerous ways you can save your code. But having like a list of saved code is super, super handy. It’ll save you a lot of time, particularly for those of you customizing things with CSS and PHP, and all that really fun stuff.
6) Systematize and Automate
Number six, systematize and automate. This has been probably the most time saving things I’ve learned. And it’s been so beneficial when it comes to saving time. And there’s a ton of different ways you can do this because you can apply Systemising and automating things or systematizing. I think I just made up a word Systemising systematizing. Hey, maybe I just made up a cool word. But in any case, you want to do things that are going to save you time, particularly when it comes to doing anything repeated. So you can do this on workflow with websites. You can do this with emails, you can do this with processes. But let me just give you a couple ways that systematizing things and automating things has really benefited me and my web design business.
Number one is to create a staging site. Now, I use manage WP to manage all of our websites. And one thing that I found to be really helpful is when we launch a new project and we start a site, generally what do you have to do, you have to go into the host you have to install WordPress, which doesn’t take long but then you have to go into the word the new WordPress site and you have to go through all the settings you have to go through all the basic WordPress settings, all the Page Settings, all the post settings all the notification time and all that kind of stuff. And while it doesn’t take too long to do that, it can be an extra 10 15 20 minutes that you could save by having all that pre built and a staging site. Same thing with Divi. When you upload Divi it’s very easy to get started but you still have to go through all the basic settings and get everything together. And before you know it you may very well spend half an hour or an hour on every project just getting WordPress and Divi set up with the basics. And then if you want to start with any certain pages or text, you’re gonna have to do that as well.
So what we do is manage WP, we have different levels of staging sites. So we have a staging site for basic site design, we have one for WooCommerce or E commerce site. And when we start a new website, we just clone those over to the new site and then boom, we just saved up to an hour of time because the staging site is ready to go. My lead designer can get started on the design and we don’t have to fuss with doing all those little things over and over for every website build. So there’s a few different ways you could do that. I love managed WP again, it’s what I use, but you could do I know local by flywheel is a good way to do it locally. There’s some other staging sites out there and I know like SiteGround and some other website hosts have template style staging sites that you can take advantage of but I like doing it through managed WP I just had more control of it. So definitely will save you a lot of time in the long run.
The other way that I really found help with saving time with optimizing or automation and systematizing is email templates. So I found myself particularly with this Josh Hall co endeavor I get a lot of the same question asked all the time, and I do with my web design, business InTransit studios as well. We get all kinds of questions that are asked, and what I learned is that I found myself repeating the same thing over and over and over and over and over again, sometimes on phone or in meetings, but primarily with email. And one day, it just dawned on me, wait a minute, why don’t I just make this a template, I could just make it a template, and I could just copy and paste, and boom, it’s gonna save me a ton of time.
So I actually have email templates saved in three different categories. I have a bunch of templates for my business in transit studios. Those templates will include everything from, oh, gosh, I’m not pulled up. But I mean, templates, from leads and sales processes to proposals, I have a whole weed out process that I go to go through in more detail in my course, as far as whether it’s a qualified lead, in which case, I’ll send them through one path with a certain set of templates, email templates, or if it’s a questionable lead, I have a different path for them. So I have all kinds of email templates for that. Once our maintenance plan is set up, for example, I have a whole email template that I just copy and paste in there that outlines what we’re doing for our sites on a monthly basis.
And then I have templates for my JoshHallco stuff. So a lot of people want help with their websites. But that’s not something I’m doing. Now. I don’t I don’t take on one offer freelance work for Josh hall.co. So instead of just not responding to those emails, or typing out the same thing over and over, I have some trusted colleagues that I’ll recommend, or I’ll have some options for them. And it’s all in an email template. So when somebody gets that email back, they’re like, Wow, Josh must have took like 10 or 15 minutes to write this out. Well, in fact, Josh actually took only about 15 seconds and just copy and pasted that in there. So email templates are a great way to go.
The other thing I use email templates for is for my Divi web designers group, I have templates for certain things I don’t have near as many in that category. But those are the three categories that I have all my email templates in. But that idea will be huge.
Now, you can also use certain platforms and tools for anything word related. So you can use like text expander, with email and other programs for for like, if you type in a certain word or a certain phrase, it’ll kick in, you know, what you could expand with. There’s also I mean, you could do different email signatures for certain emails. So there’s a lot of different methods, but the idea of creating any sort of templates, for any emails or anything that you find yourself repeating over and over, that’s what I recommend. And that is what will help you save a lot of time, from writing the same thing over and over and over again, that’s just that’s the worst terrible use of your time, figure out better use for your time.
7) Challenge Yourself on Every Build
Finally, number seven is, and this, this may be, I was gonna say it’s the most important, maybe it’s not the most important, but it’s dang important. And that’s to challenge yourself on every website build. Now, two different ways, I want to encourage you to challenge yourself, when you are an entrepreneur or the business owner. And particularly for those of you who have teams or who are hoping to scale your business and grow a team, you want to make sure you challenge yourself on the working on the business. And I’m using air quotes here. Because when you’re well with any sort of business, but particularly in web design, there is on the business work, and then there’s in the business works getting on the business work would include things like sales, project management, onboarding, off boarding, client relations, belay, administrative stuff like that. Whereas in the business work would be the actual work you’re doing for your clients. Those would be building the websites, troubleshooting things, handling client issues, and stuff like that.
And you can challenge yourself in two different ways with those. When you are a freelancer, or when you’re doing the actual work, you can challenge yourself by learning new CSS tricks, learning new design tricks, learning all kinds of new stuff per website project. Now, one thing I would recommend doing is to limit yourself, I mean, you don’t want to limit your creativity. But if you try to learn too much on every project, you can find yourself burning a ton of time on every project because as you probably know, for all of you website designers out there, a project is never really done. And you could spend the rest of eternity tinkering around with one website. So what I would recommend doing is just challenge yourself to do something new on every project just to like one thing, maybe one, two or three things, whether it’s a new CSS trick, whether it’s a new style layout, whether it’s learning something new with Divi, if you’re a Divi user, you can challenge yourself like that.
And then for those of you who are more of the entrepreneur, you can challenge yourself by creating better automated systems, doing anything process related that’s going to help you know speed up your project management or internal things with your team. And for example, one thing that I did in the beginning of 2018 is I use 17 hats, but I never took advantage of their workflows. And what that is, is you can basically set up like a triggered automated system or triggered not triggered, triggered automated system for linking things in like proposals, invoices, contracts, and the like.
So what I did was, before that I had a bit of a time consuming process where I would kind of manually create a proposal, I would take some of a template of what I’ve done for other projects, but it really wasn’t like set in stone. And I would take quite a bit of time doing proposals, and then I would manually send out a contract if they move forward. And then I would mainly go in and send an invoice. Well, if you go through my business course, you’ll see how I have this automated through 17 hats because now I have it all set up as a workflow and 17 hats to where I set up the product or the proposal template, I fill in the necessary details for that project, I have an email template that is set along with it. And then once a client accepts that project, they get kicked right over to the contract where they can sign online. And then once they sign it zips them over to the invoice where they can pay.
So from my end, once I submit a proposal to lead, if they move forward, in my email, I see client accepts the project client signed the contract, boom, first payment just came in, how awesome is that and it’s all automated. Yes, it took a little bit of time to set that up. But it has paid off tenfold for me.
So challenging yourself to do things like that, if you’re an entrepreneur will be a big help. And again, if you’re someone who’s more of a freelancer and you’re doing the actual work, challenging yourself on each project with like one or maybe just a couple things, they’ll go a long way. And before you know it, you’ll have a whole cool bag of tricks.
So let’s just recap those seven keys to run a successful web design business. Number one is to protect your number one asset is your mind. Number two is to solidify your offerings, make sure you solidify your services that are most profitable things that you enjoy things that you know well. And things that you actually want to focus on. Don’t do services you don’t like or you don’t have expertise in pretty, pretty obvious. Well, you would think it’d be pretty obvious but to Josh for several years, it wasn’t very obvious, then you also want to solidify those price ranges. That way you know where your projects can fall into. Number three is to streamline your tools set up your your ideal tools.
Don’t deviate from those unless something really goes awry. But I’m telling you, it’ll not only save you a lot of time if you’re just a single solo website designer, but particularly for those growing and having a team a set set of tools will be so beneficial because you can scale and build your team much faster if they have to learn less tools, or they already know a few tools. A few tools. Number four is to utilize the Divi community. And again, those are great for support hiring and inspiration. You can also utilize communities of whatever theme builder or platform you use. Make sure you utilize the Divi Library or any library style things that you have with your builder, any saved code, anything like that, anything that you can, you know, save and reuse and save and reuse can save you so much time. Number six is to systematize and automate everything you can particularly when it comes to staging sites and creating email templates. And then finally, challenge yourself on every project.
For those freelancers, and people who are in the business doing the work. Make sure you challenge yourself maybe one to three times per project. And then for entrepreneurs challenge yourself with internal tasks and anything that’s going to help you save time working on the business.
There you go guys who hope you enjoyed that one, those are my seven most important keys to running a successful web design business. Again, these are all things that are pulled from my business course. So I’m essentially giving you some some free lessons here from the course of which we go into a lot more detail. We’re just scratching the surface with a lot of this stuff. So if you want to see how I run my business and what’s worked for me, my business course is going to be is going to be your best bet. I would honestly genuinely love to help you either start or build and run a level up your own successful web design agency.
Alright guys, hope you enjoyed this episode. Be sure to leave me a comment on this episode page. If you enjoyed this, and then hey, if you wouldn’t mind leaving a review that would be super super appreciated wherever you listen to this podcast before the outro kicks in. So Alright, until next time, here’s the outro see you guys on the next episode.
Thanks, Josh great info as always!! I have been ‘setting the table’ for a big 2020 with Divi, the Divi community, and in particular, yourself and Tim Striffler from Divi life. This is sort of a ‘thank you note’, because I have been bootstrapping my divi side-business during the same year of my wedding/honeymoon, and soon (gulp!) the pivot to full time WFH. For these reasons, I have really seriously milked your guys’ amazing free content and only made modest purchases thus far. However, I already have a ‘wish list’ of purchases for both of you guys that I am looking forward to making in the first quarter/half of 2020, and will be ‘leaning’ on the great divi community–especially to improve my own administrative and ‘systematizing’ aspects that you mention in this podcast.
I have been building divi sites in the evenings and on weekends for ‘clients’ (just friends with small business so far) and the two of you have emerged as my go-to resources–not just because of your great tutorials, but because of the path that you have forged in your career(s). I am also a musician, and former drummer (I’ll never REALLY give it up~HA!), so there is just a great deal that I get out of your posts and tutorials.
Thanks for all that you do to help guys like me get going…hard to express the gratitude when you touch on things like ‘the impostor syndrome’, for example. It helps more than you know to see an actual nice guy with no slick gimmicks has made it to where I’d like to be someday…thanks and Merry Christmas and/or Happy and safe Holidays to you and your family =)
See you in 2020!
Michael Hurley (Hockeymike43@gmail.com)
Thanks for the amazing comment, Michael! Awesome to hear about your journey so far and I seriously can’t wait for your 2020! It’s going to be awesome. Best year of earning is always preceded by best year of learning so it sounds like you’re on the right track!! Glad to be able to help in your journey.
Even though you always have great content, I was half-expecting this post to contain the same type of stuff everyone says about web design biz. I was pleasantly surprised though – these are all things I’m either working on or need to work on. Thank you!
Could you expand a bit on your use of staging sites, maybe in another post? I’ve used staging sites before but I didn’t get much benefit from them so I’m not sure I was doing the same thing as you.