Web design has never been more needed by businesses around the world but this demand has also created a very oversaturated space. A lot of my students have asked me recently about how to stand out from the crowd of other web designers and agencies so in this episode, I’m going to share the main tips and strategies I share with my students, with you!
The good news is, while yes, web design is often an oversaturated market, that’s ok; because you don’t need every business that wants a website as a client; you only need a couple dozen clients to make a living doing web design if you do it right. But how you get those clients and separate yourself from competitors in your area is the question and that’s what I’ll empower you with in this episode.
What’s more, with just a few mindset shifts and intentional ways to go about your business, you can stand out from the crowd TODAY!
In this episode:
01:07 – Good news
03:44 – Featured Podcast Review Shoutout
06:06 – How to learn from criticism
09:01 – Why choose you
11:18 – 1) Personalize site
13:27 – 2) Don’t false advertise
16:59 – 3) Teach to impress
21:39 – 4) Co-Opetition
26:38 – 5) Personal videos
29:00 – Recap
You can also view the full transcription of this episode below.
Featured links mentioned:
Hey, everybody, welcome into the podcast. This is Episode 85. And in this one, I’m going to give you some tips and strategies for how to stand out as a web designer this year and 2021. The reason I wanted to do this episode so early in the year is because more and more people have flocked to web design as either a freelance side hustle or they’re they’re now going full time as a web designer or they’re starting an agency. And that has created a lot of oversaturation. There’s more web designers now than ever. And in fact, a lot of my students who have come into my courses have asked me about this repeatedly over the past handful of months. And it’s really made me think about putting this together and to offer this episode for you guys to help you stand out as a web designer. Because yes, there is a lot of oversaturation. There’s more designers and agencies for people to choose from. But the good news is, well, there’s actually two, two bits of good news. The first bit of good news is that you can stand out and you can beat out your competition. That’s what we’re going to talk about. The second bit of good news is that there’s more need than ever for web designers as we saw in 2020. The pandemic showed us that a lot of businesses either needed to get their businesses online, or they needed to really boost their online presence, or in a lot of cases, they had need for a trusted web designer or an agency to help them do all that. And some other cases they needed to start selling online. So the need for a trusted web designer, or a web design agency partner is bigger than ever, and it’s still going to continue to grow. Web Design is still one of the hottest industries to get into. And it’s why I’m so honored and privileged to be able to share with you what I’ve learned in the past decade of building a web design agency and working with clients. And what I want to do in this episode is highlight some ways that you can stand out because yes, it’s an oversaturated market. But that is okay, you can still stand out. And I’m going to give you five tips and strategies on how to do so this year. So super excited to help you, particularly for those of you who are just getting into it, who want to make sure this is viable, and that you can actually stand out from the crowd.
Before we dive into this couple things I wanted to mention I got a just an announcement for you. And then we’re gonna do an interesting podcast review in this one and you’ll find out why it’s interesting here in a sec. But just a quick announcement, a lot of you have been asking about how my surgery went. I did have surgery last week on my left knee all went really well I’m at the time of publishing this episode, I’ll be a couple weeks out as far as recovering it is a four to six week recovery period. But even at the time of recording this, which is just a week after having surgery, I’m kind of hobbling around. So I’m able to put some weight on my knee. And and it’s going well recovering is going good. I’m trying to be a good patient and keeping it up. But part of that is also keeping it active and doing some stretching and not having it be too stiff and just lay in there. So I’m kind of balancing the best of both of those. But recovery is going good. I am kind of hobbling around right now like my one year old daughter, we kind of have the same walk right now. So that’s been kind of funny and interesting. But all is going well. So thanks everybody for your thoughts and prayers. And everyone who sent a note for the surgery, it did go very well. And I will say after my surgery when I came out of anesthesia, I’d never had a surgery before. I’ll just say that Teddy Grahams have never tasted so good. Because I was starving. And man I woke up to some delicious honey, cinnamon, Teddy Grahams. In any case, things are going well. So that’s my announcement.
And then let’s dive into this featured podcast review, which I told you it was interesting. And the reason this is interesting is because this is a four star review. And I wanted to highlight this, I didn’t want to overlook it because this was a very thoughtful and intentional review. It was a good review. But this person Gulf Coast 3131 from the US pointed out some things that really made me think and this is something I’d love to pass on to you because it’s something I really worked hard at. And I really appreciate. And that is constructive criticism. I am all about constructive criticism, if somebody has something to say that maybe that I could do better or something that really gets me to think about how I can better whether it’s my podcast or my courses or whatever. I’m all ears. And the reason I appreciated this is because yes, it was a four star review. But it was intentional. And let me just read it to you and then I’ll give you my thoughts before we dive into this episode on some five ways to stand out as a web designer. It says good podcast, but a bit heavy on self promotion. Let me start off by saying that I do love this podcast, especially the episodes Josh does with guests, but and I think he’s extremely knowledgeable and generous with what he knows. However, it has become a bit heavy on the self promotion. I get it podcast is a great funnel to convert listeners to your courses, your Facebook group, email lists, etc. And we’re all out here trying to make a living. However, if I’m being completely honest, I feel like I’m being sold to constantly throughout the episodes. Whereas with my other favorite podcasts, I feel like their priority is providing content without trying to convert me to buy their courses and products, which in turns, in turn makes me want to support them even more. All in all great podcasts. I know how much work goes into all this, and I commend you for that. Thanks, Josh. So this is a again, this really made me think First off, Gulf Coast 3131, if you’re still listening, hopefully you are, thank you for leaving that. I do want to thank you for also not leaving like a one star. This podcast is crap kind of review, because Luckily, I don’t I haven’t had any of those on the podcast. But those type of comments and reviews are not ones that I really look into, because it’s usually just trolls and people spreading negativity. Whereas you were very intentional about a good criticism of this. And it’s one that I’m definitely going to take to heart. I wish I knew your name because I’d love to address you by name, but that’s alright. This definitely pained me to hear because I don’t want to come across like that. For those of you who have followed me for a while, you know that I try to not be as salesy at all costs. The big thing with this, though, and this just to give you my feedback before we dive into the episode, yes, truthfully, the My Courses and my membership, that’s what makes this podcast available. And it’s what makes it happen. I don’t do advertising. I’m not gonna say that I’m never going to take on advertisers for the show. If so, I probably won’t have the courses, you know, sponsor episodes, because as of right now, all interviews are sponsored by a course. And then yeah, I do try to sprinkle in, you know, if there’s an opportunity to say, Hey, I do have a course on this, I tried to mention that. But I, I certainly don’t mean to come across too self promotional. And that this gives me a really good kind of, this makes me reflect on how I’m doing the episodes and make sure I don’t cross that line. So again, I am going to continue to promote episodes or promote courses in my membership, but I will definitely keep this in mind and try not to overdo it. One thing that would really help me Gulf Coast 3131 is if there was an episode where I just kind of overdid it, shoot me a note go to Josh Hall.co/contact let me know what episode it was because I would love to read listen to it to hear maybe what I did and and make sure I don’t do that again, I I don’t listen to all my episodes over. Sometimes the interviews all I generally listen to the interviews over once they’re recorded and published. But a lot of my solo episodes in particular, I just recording and then we get them distributed. So I don’t necessarily listen back. So I need, I am going to start doing that a little more even though, you know, I want to keep on listening to myself over and over. But I will do that with a reflective state to make sure that I’m to hear how I’m coming across to you because I don’t want to be that douchey entrepreneurial, self promoter guy. So I’m gonna really work on this, I’ll take this to heart, I again, appreciate the four star review and your intentional thoughts. And it was good, but you felt it was a bit heavy on the promotion, I definitely take that to heart. My commitment. And my guarantee to you guys as listeners though, is I will not be a heavy ad type of podcast. Some advertisers or some podcasts have ads that run for five to 10 minutes before we even get into the episode. And I’ll tell you something that I absolutely hate as a podcast listener myself, is when people sprinkle in ads in the episode and in conversations, I can’t stand that. So I will not do that to you. That is my guarantee. Eventually, if I take on ads, eventually it’ll just be in the beginning or the outro. But I will never, ever do an ad in the middle of a conversation. I just feel that breaks up the entire show anyway, I didn’t mean to get sidetracked there. But that’s my commitment to you. So I will definitely work on that. I appreciate this review in this thought. And I’ll think about it. And I’ll definitely make sure that doesn’t happen again, because I do not want you guys feeling like that at all.
Alright guys. Well with that in mind and with all that out of the way. As far as some announcements and some thoughts on that review, we are going to dive into the five ways that I have for you to stand out as a web designer this year in 2021. And it begs the question Why? Why do you want to stand out? Well, like I just mentioned, a big part of it is that there are more web designers than ever getting into web design. And no matter whether you’re a solopreneur or you’re an agency, you’re going to have competition. And one thing to remember, especially for those of you who are just starting out, your clients and your leads are going to often be getting quotes from other web designers and other agencies. This kind of took me off guard guard at first I almost felt slightly offended the first time a client said Well, I’m working with you know, three other agencies and looking over their proposals as well. And I was kind of like, Oh, I didn’t really think about that in the early days. But now I encourage potential clients to do that. I want potential clients to get other quotes as well. And then they don’t go with me or my agency, I often want to hear why. And I would love some honest feedback and critiques like you just heard from the podcast review to get better. So don’t be surprised that other people are going to be looking at other web designers. But let’s make sure you are empowered to stand out. So that’s a big reason. And one thing I will say, speaking of standing out, you know, why you should, or why somebody should choose you over your competitors. And as a kind of a preface to all of this, make sure that you put that on your website. So if somebody asks you, why would I choose you over somebody else, and you can tell them in 30 seconds or a minute or less, put that on your website, that is a wonderful section on your homepage. And just as a reminder, even though people are getting, you know, a lot of quotes and proposals from other agencies and designers, that is okay, there is no better time than ever to sell you as a web designer, even if you don’t have as much experience as other people. Because one of my favorite quotes of 2020. And something that can help you with this is “Your vibe attracts your tribe”. So just by implementing everything we’re going to talk about here, into your website and into your brand and your messaging, you’re gonna attract good clients. And that’s how you can stand out. So practically, here we go. Five things that are gonna help you.
1) Personalize Your Site
Number one, personalize your website. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, this is the big one. And you don’t have to have a personal brand website, even if your website is just you. And it’s an agency name, or maybe it’s a small team, or maybe it is an agency, there is no reason you can’t personalize it. And there’s a number of different ways to do this. But one of the most practical ways to go about this is to make sure you have an about page with an agency, this will often be a team page. And this is where you can have your mission and your vision and a little more info about your business. But for those of you as solopreneurs, this can be a little more about you it’s almost like a portfolio type of page to where it’s almost like a, like a resume type of page, not a resume, I don’t want to say that. But this is a page where you can really talk in detail about you your services and, and all this stuff about you. But a lot of people tend to bury this page. And that’s okay. It doesn’t necessarily have to be front and center. But what I would say, and what I tell all my students and members is that you want to personalize your front page. Even if you just have a blurb on the front page with a picture of yourself. Yes, a picture of yourself even if you hate getting your picture taken. Even if you hate being on camera, people are going to work with you. So put yourself out there, it doesn’t have to be super professional, just keep it real and keep it you know you and, and personal. But I have a picture of yourself and just a founder’s note just something about why they should work with you or you know what a client is going to experience with you make it personal, because now more than ever, companies and businesses want to work with somebody they know like and trust, whether that’s a solopreneur, or whether that’s an agency and personalizing your website with a little section on your homepage that links to your about page, your team page is the number one best way to really elevate yourself and stand out from the crowd because a lot of web designers for some reason, and I think this is dying out, which is great. But a lot of web designers tend to want to overstate or oversell their, their company.
2) Don’t False Advertise
And this actually leads in to number two here, which is to don’t false advertise. A lot of people want to overstate who they are like if you’re a solopreneur. For some reason, you just want to come across like a big digital agency. And even if it’s just you, I’ve seen a lot of solopreneurs do this to where they talk about their web design services as they’re like a big agency and they say we, instead of me or I a lot and all the verbiage. And that is not something I recommend doing, I actually recommend going against the grain and being the total opposite. If it’s just you say it’s just you. But here’s the trick. If it’s just you make sure your clients know that you are in a great network of designers and developers who you can turn to when needed. And the best part is there’s different levels of having this type of network you automatically if you’re listening to this podcast, and if you’re using Divi especially, you are automatically you can you can automatically tell people you have a network of designers you can turn to because you do you can do that with my free Divi web designers Facebook group, again, try not to get too promoted here. But that is a free group. And there is a there’s a collection of 1000s of web designers you can turn to. And there’s also web design clubs and forums and there’s like I have my membership you can join at some point, all these different avenues where you can really surround yourself with good designers. So even if it’s just you, you’re still not alone. And this is the best way not to false advertise because you can tell clients and you can adjust the verbiage on your site to say yeah, it’s just me, but I have a small team or I have a collection of you know colleagues that I work with. So make sure you don’t false advertise. That’s number two. So number one was personalize your website, ideally with a blurb or a section with your picture and a founders note that links back to your about page. And that’s good SEO right there. And the second is to not overstate or false advertise who you are and how big your agency is. And if you are an agency, you can say that as well. And just be very clear about the size of your team, and who’s on the team or what that looks like, there’s I just don’t understand this need for looking like you’re this huge agency when you don’t have to be in this day and age. In fact, most clients, if not all, clients nowadays wants a personalized service. So most clients will avoid big agencies because they end up feeling like a number or for anyone who’s worked with agencies in the past, or maybe you’ve been in an agency in the past, you’ve seen that agencies have terrible turnover. So a lot of clients are terrified about working with somebody, and they might really like their contact, but then all of a sudden, their sales contact is different than the web designer, and then their web designer maybe moves on. And then they’re working with different people constantly. And it can be a, it can be a bigger version. So a lot of people want to work with a trusted web designer, or a very small team. So just be real, be real about your setup. And if it’s just you and you feel like you’re a little leery of telling clients, it’s just you just let them know that you are automatically or you have a collection of designers and a network of people you can turn to when needed. And you do you have that with all the kinds of groups that are out there. Now in and around web design. And even just using WordPress, being being in the WordPress community, no matter what theme you use means you’re automatically in a network of amazing web designers you can turn to at some point, so don’t false advertise it. And just remember, you’re not alone and avoid and resist that drawl for coming across like this big huge agency, because it doesn’t matter. It’s 2021, it doesn’t matter anymore.
3) Out-Educate Your Competition
Alright, number three, this is a big one, out educate your competition. I actually loved this term, I picked this term up from the guys from Basecamp, who still the project management system, me and my agency use. And I’ve been a big fan of Basecamp the software for years, and I’ve been probably even a bigger fan of the Basecamp team. They produced some amazing books, that one of the books called “Rework” really changed the game for me, it really changed the way I work, when you know it, they also have a great book called “It doesn’t need to be crazy, or “It doesn’t have to be crazy at work”. That’s another great book by them. And something I picked up from them was that instead of focusing and relying on advertising and marketing, they were just big on training and educating. They educated their clients. And I picked up this mantra from them that you want to out educate your competition. And it’s a lot less expensive. If you do that, yes, it’s time consuming to put everything you’ve learned and you know, into ebooks, or books or guides or training videos or lead generators, it takes time, but it’s way less expensive. And you’ll get such a bigger ROI. by just being you and being real and educating your leads and your potential clients. And if you educate your clients and all the ways I just talked about, that is a huge way that you will stand out as a web designer, because when somebody comes to you, you can automatically have a library of free information for them. And it’s going to help build authority, it’s going to build trust. And it’s really going to again, make you stand out from your competition, who often kind of dog on their competition, we’ll talk about that next. But you don’t want to be that person, you want to be dogging your competition, and being fearful of them because clients can smell that. And they can feel that if you just out educate your competition. And if you don’t even worry about those other agencies, though those other web designers if you just focus on what you know, and what you’ve learned, and you package it up in the way that you like to explain stuff to your clients, that’s enough. And that will get you so far. And that will immediately make you stand out from your crowd. And I’m telling you, if you just if you work on education stuff, you know, you don’t have to be an education channel. You don’t have to do what I did and start a YouTube channel and create courses. You don’t have to do that you can make it as simple as training videos. for existing clients versus new clients. You could create some guides, you could basically listen through my podcasts and put together some guides on like best practices for websites go back through I got episodes on SEO conversions, all kinds of stuff, put together some guides off of what you learn, whether it’s from me or anybody else. And just give that to your potential leads and just tell them hey, here are some ideas on how to make your website stand out or some tips on conversions are some basic SEO things that you can do on your site and just create little guides. It could be a one page PDF, or a little five minutes 10 minute video, something that educates people and is going to build that trust, it’s going to build that authority. But more importantly, you’re going to out educate your competition. Even if some people have blogs and content marketing that’s existed for years. If you educate the way that you talk to your clients, it’s immediately going to separate yourself. And it goes back to what I mentioned in the outset of this, your vibe attracts your tribe. So some clients may see an agency that has a huge blog, but they may just feel overwhelmed, but they might see you. And they might see a couple of your videos and say, You know what, I really liked this gal, or I like this guy, and I feel comfortable working with them in the way they explain this made so much more sense than this other huge blog post. So in that, that could be a really good legion right there. And you could create a client for life by just putting some of what you know, into some sort of resource for people so out educate your competition. The beauty about that is that it takes so much stress and pressure off of advertising and marketing, which is super costly and expensive. And it just gets you out of that dog eat dog world type of competition, because it just doesn’t need to be like that. Yes, there’s competition. Yes, you’re going to be up against a lot of other designers and agencies. But there are plenty of client fish in the sea. That was a terrible little metaphor. But it’s true. There’s plenty of people who need web design services. And as I’ve talked about a lot on this podcast, you don’t need that many clients, you don’t need to keep on selling and marketing if you focus on education, and adding more value to your clients. So to sum that up, provide as much value as you can to potential clients and existing clients. Because that’s going to create so many more leads, and you’re going to build that authority and trust and you’re, you’re going to stand out from the crowd immediately. That’s number three.
4) Focus On Co-Opetition
All right, number four, speaking of competition, what if we really flipped the table and looked at competition as not a threat, but something that could actually be kind of an asset to us. And I want to encourage you to focus on Co-Oppetition. This means that you take your competitors, but work on cooperating with them. And my biggest gift for you and beginning of this year, is to encourage you have this mindset that you don’t need to be afraid of your competition. In fact, a lot of times you can partner up with agencies and other web designers, and even collaborate with your competitors. Because more often than not, a competitor is not going to have your exact skill set or your exact same services. So it’s funny, being in Columbus, Ohio, coming up there is I mean, I’m in a I’m in a tech city that is we’re a Midwestern town, but we’re a growing city. And I’ve seen it grow over the years and more and more agencies were popping up because of this. There are more business, the economy was getting stronger, more businesses were wanting web design and stuff. And I saw a lot more web designers pop up and agencies. But what I realized, probably, I’d say back in like 2016, as I was about six or seven years into my journey, was that when I started collaborating with agencies, and collaborating with other web designers, I often made some of the best partnerships and in turn created some really good referrals for them and for myself, by just being open with them and sharing clients. Because I had my set of services for a long time, I did not do SEO. So I had partners who did SEO, that’s what they did. Now, they did web design, too. But what ended up happening, which was great was they would send the web design stuff to me and I would send the SEO stuff to them. And I made so many good relationships like this, I did the same for social media, and for videography. And for all these other services that are in and around web design, that I just ended up either cutting out of my business or I just didn’t know that much about like I never really did video, I dabbled around with it. But I always had a couple people I could turn to, to send my clients to for video stuff. And I got a ton of clients, amazing clients over the years from my videographer, referrals and partners. I did the same thing again, with SEO social media, even people who did web design, before I got into doing e commerce sites, I had some people who I would refer out for big online stores and they would be great referral sources for me, because they were focusing on the e commerce, you know, complex sites. And they would often send me the smaller sites didn’t have a budget. But you know, could would be perfect for my type of services. So it can really be a win, win win all around, it can be a win for you. It can be a win for your competition. And it can be a win for the clients who feel good about having a partner who also has a lot of other partners. And it just it shows something about you. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t dog on your competition. If you be in here’s a little heads up because it’s I understand there is competition and you want to win and you want to pay your bills and you want to get that job. But let me let me just tell you this because I wish somebody told me this when I got started when I was starting out. If you find yourself going down that hole where you dog on your competition and you kind of point out their flaws, I want you to catch yourself immediately. And I want you to drop that mindset. And I want you to have the mindset of even if a client says I had a bad experience with this other design company say, yeah, I’ve heard some things. But you know, you can all you can actually kind of stick up for them in a lot of ways. You could just say a lot of times big agencies have turnover. So it’s kind of tough, which is why you know, me, my agency likes to stay small. You don’t have to dog your competition. And in some ways, I actually, I learned almost stick up for my competitors, and a lot of ways because it made the client look at me differently, because instead of trashing them and being like, yeah, this agency sucks come to us, I would often be like, yeah, it’s tough. You know, a lot of times, agencies are set up differently, or maybe, you know, they didn’t really articulate the, the need or the deliverables. And, and that just encourages me to, to make sure I understand what you need. That way we know we don’t have that type of experience. So you don’t need to trash or dog your competitors. And again, if you collaborate with them, you’ll build an incredible network fast, because most competitors Don’t be blindsided if you actually give them referrals. Or you ask about partnering up with them. And it’s amazing way to go. And this is something I’m, I’m practicing what I preach, I’m holding to this, as a course creator, I have a lot of colleagues who are my direct competition, but I’m partnering with them in a number of different ways, whether it’s affiliate marketing, or doing webinars together, or doing training for them, and having them do trainings for me and my membership or stuff that I’ve got going on. So there’s a lot of different ways that you can utilize these relationships for good, you don’t need to be that douchey designer that’s trashing everybody. So number four, focus on competition.
5) Do Personal Videos
And then finally, I’ve saved the I’ve saved the best for last because this is the number one thing that will differentiate yourself from other web designers, particularly in 21. And that is personal videos. This is probably not a shocker for most of you who have listened to me for a while because personal videos have been an absolute game changer for me over the past couple years. With the agency and with my brand here, Josh Hall co has a course creator. And I’m telling you, if you implement doing personal videos, it will rock your world, you will see an immediate ROI, you’ll start building clients for life. And you’ll start More importantly, converting new clients because you’re going to stand out from the crowd because Who the heck does personal videos for leads, nobody. And I just released an episode. This was Episode 82, where I talked about the power of personal videos. So it’s just a few episodes back. If you haven’t checked that one, go back to that one and listen through because I talked about this in more detail. But personal videos can be very, very simple. They don’t require editing, they’re just real. They’re quick, I use loom to do this, which is a browser extension and an app. That’s what I recommend you do. And you can do personal videos for overviewing proposals, answering quick questions, instead of going through email on stuff, you can do personal like welcome or thank yous, I do recommend having onboarding videos and other videos that are kind of standard to save you time. But as far as like a personal video, you can do welcomes to say, hey, once they sign a proposal, it’s awesome. You know, I’m so excited to start working with you guys. It’s awesome to to have this opportunity to work with you and your project. And then here comes the next steps. And that’s when you have your automated sequences to to get people going onboarding and everything. And then offboarding videos, too, that’s another big one, a lot of people disappear, or just kind of lose their really good communicative touch at the end of a project. But if you come in with an onboarding personal video that says, hey, you know, Jim, it was awesome working with you on this project. So excited about your new site. Here’s a moving forward page with the details and ideas that we have for you to move forward the website. Keep it personal, keep it real, that will create a client for life. And it can also be a great segue to upsell additional services. So there’s all kinds of power with personal videos, and I highly recommend you do those right now. Even just one of those methods, that outlet outline in Episode 82. Do personal videos because it will make you stand out.
So a quick recap and then we’ll wrap this one up. Number one, personalize your website. Don’t be afraid to be real to be you. Even if it’s just you be real. Put your dang picture on there. People want to see who they’re working with. I don’t care if you don’t like it, do it. I promise you’ll thank me later. Number two, don’t false advertise if it’s just you say it’s you. But say you have a network. And if you’re a team, say you’re a team and show your team. Number three out educate your competition, just focus on explaining things like you would if you were meeting with a client and just put that into some sort of guide or some education materials, you can build those up over time. That’ll be a huge converter. For you. That’s way less expensive than advertising. Focus on competition. Again, don’t be afraid to partner up and collaborate with your competitors. And then finally do those personal videos. Those five things combined will definitely make you stand out as a web designer and I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed. Don’t feel the need to do all these right away. Just implement one of these at a time or if you are that go getter who’s just a wild person, and you want to get it all gone. Do it all. Let me know how it goes.
Hope you guys enjoyed this episode. I’ll see you on the next one. And again really excited to help you and your web design endeavor and this new year of 2021. Guys Cheers.