You’ve likely heard me talk numerous times about website pricing and my rule of thumb is that you get to the place where your starting point is $2,497 in an effort to make sure your business is profitable and you keep your sanity.

But you might ask, what about clients who are in the $500-$2,000 range? Is there a market for those type of sites/clients? The reality, yes. I don’t recommend doing CUSTOM WORK for that range, or at least not for long, as you won’t be in business for long. However, there is a market and a way to get clients at that range and stay profitable. It really boils down to being able to produce template style sites.

In this episode, we take a deep dive into the pros (and cons) of this strategy to see if it’s right for you and I also give you some example of web agencies who I know personally that are doing this so you can see a good model to follow if you decide to try it out.

If you’ve had experience (good or bad) offering template style sites at this price range, please feel free to share as a comment on the post!

In this episode:

01:15 – Market for templates
03:39 – Two examples
06:06 – Biggest pro
07:37 – Adding upsells
08:47 – Building relationships
09:34 – Adding clients faster
10:27 – Easier to scale
11:23 – Biggest con
13:50 – Overshadowing
14:49 – Portfolio struggles
15:52 – Bleeding into custom
17:36 – Not fulfilling work
20:54 – Recommendations
21:08 – Have constraints
22:11 – Clear explanation
22:59 – Hidden option
24:26 – Make it about recurring
25:01 – See how it goes

You can also view the
full transcription of this episode below.


Featured links mentioned:

Episode Transcription

Josh 0:14
Hey, everybody, welcome into Episode 103. In this one, I’m just going to have a very frank and open conversation with you about whether or not you should be offering template style websites. And the reason I wanted to bring this up right now I actually had a different episode planned for 103. But I wanted to talk about this right now. Because it seems like this question is more popular than ever, I see a lot of my web design students either go this route, or they’ve been asking me about whether they should do sites that are quote unquote, simple or template based sites that are generally going to land in the 500 to 1500 range. And I’ve seen a lot of members in my web design club, be curious about this to see if it’s worthwhile diving into. And in fact, the CEO of my web design agency, Eric recently asked me my thoughts about this, because it’s something we’re looking at rolling out with my web design agency, because a lot of our white label partners that we do websites for have a lot of clients that have been asking about these simple, quote unquote, simple style websites.

Josh 1:15
So there is a market for this. And what’s interesting, is, if you’ve been listening to this podcast for any amount of time, you know that I recommend, generally steering away from doing sites under 1500 bucks, because it can be extremely costly. If it’s a custom build. Now, is there an avenue for template style sites in this range? Again, between 5 1500? Yes, there is. It’s not a route that I took. Personally, I always did sites over 2500. And that’s what I got to. And that’s what I’m pretty stern on recommending for you, particularly when it comes to custom builders, you want to start your pricing at 25. Well, 2497, in detail, but you want to start at that range and go up because there’s a lot of problems if you’re charging 500 to $1,000 for for a website and spending 40 hours on it like I used to. But that’s my starting point.

Josh 2:05
But again, there is a market for this, and I’ve seen it work. And it’s a big question. There’s a lot of people interested in this. So again, what I want to do in this episode is explore whether it’s right for you. And what we’re going to do is going to talk about the pros and the cons. And then I’m going to give you my recommendations if you do decide to roll this out, or if you do decide to try it out in your business. Because the reality is if you say hey, Josh, should I do template style sites? You know, bait, particularly for those of you who use Divi or other theme builders, where there’s a bunch of layouts that you can just, you know, one click implore and then change pictures change type and and launch it. Is there a market for that? Well, yes, there’s a market. But whether you should do it, that is not a yes or no question. And it’s not something that’s black and white, there’s gonna be a lot of things you need to think through to see if it’s a good fit for you. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do. So again, we’re going to talk about some pros, things that I’ve seen work.

Josh 2:58
And I do have to say, as a disclaimer, I did not go this route, I stuck with the custom build route. I was very happy doing that. But I understand the benefit to doing sites for 500 to 1500. So there is a market for that. So we’re going to talk pros. We are going to talk cons though, and I want to just kind of give you a heads up for a lot of things or a lot of problems that can happen if you add this. And then if you are going to add this, I’m going to give you some recommendations to put in place before you do it. Because a lot of you are going to get halfway through this episode. And you’re going to say you know what, I don’t want to go this route. And that’s totally fine. You can do what I did, and not go this route. But again, a lot of students, a lot of my members and my agency are looking at exploring this route.

Josh 3:39
So before we dive into the pros and cons, I do want to say there are some companies that I want to have you look at as good examples to follow if you want to go this route. There’s two. The first one is Monterey premier.com, which is run by my good buddy, Geno Quiroz. This is a company out of California. What’s interesting about and I will have this links in the show notes. So just go to Josh Hall co/103. And you’ll find the links for this. And then the other websites I’m going to mention here. But Geno and his company have a very clear service offerings. If you go to this website and click on website services, there are essentially two paths you can take. You can go simple website solutions, which brings you to a page where he’s essentially got packages for these template based websites built with Divi or you can go the custom website design route, and that’s going to be the projects that are several $1,000 or more. But the simple websites for Gino start at $2,000 and under. So again, it’s that same realm of 500 to 15 $2,000 websites.

Josh 4:43
Another company that does this really well are my boys from Artillery Media. And what’s interesting about what John and Jake do who run the company is they do not you know, not like Geno to where he has a very clear service. You can go customer goes simple, they actually have their quote unquote, simple option hidden. So with Artillery Media, you’re not going to see a simple website option. What they have is a whole separate brand. And it’s called Page in a Day, that’s page in a day.com, you can go check that out as well. So you can go to their main site at artillery media.com, where you’ll see primarily the stuff for custom builds. And then they have a nice funnel weed out system for people who they know are not going to be able to afford a $5,000 site, then they go to Page in a Day, where they’re really big on building your site in under 24 hours. And actually, I’ve seen them do this, I know this works. Now, do I recommend that you offer sites in 24 hours? No, unless you have a really great system like they do, I do not recommend that I would just keep it a simple build. But this is a good example of another option you can do which is to set up like your own little almost company division specifically for this if you go that route.

Josh 5:55
So I wanted to just put those out there because those are good practical examples that I would recommend you look at as inspiration if you do this. So now, with all that said, let’s talk pros and cons.

Josh 6:06
So the biggest Pro with going the template style website approach is the recurring income that you can build with that. And I would say we’ll talk about the silhouette a little bit, but I would not do a site for 500 to 15 $100. If they are not on your maintenance and hosting, I don’t think it’s worth it. Even if it does only take you a handful of hours to build. It’s all about the recurring income you can build with maintenance and hosting. And actually, speaking of artillery media, I interviewed john john Woo. And that was episode that was early on in the podcast that was Episode 18. Go back to that one if you haven’t listened to that, because it’s all about recurring income. And he said this exact statement. Paraphrasing, of course, he said, it’s for us, it’s not about the initial website build, it’s about the hosting and maintenance, we want people to get on our hosting and maintenance, they’ll do sites for very little just to get people on their hosting and maintain maintenance. And it’s built their income at that time, I believe you have to listen to the episode and hit me up and remind me but I think they were closing in on 150 maintenance and hosting plan clients. So while it took a little while to get to that point, they have really nice stable and secure income with their recurring income. And this is this approach, this template style approach is not going to be a quick win, the ROI is not going to be there immediately, it is going to be a slow build. But that’s totally a fine approach. And for those of you who just want to make 25,000 or something a year, for right now, you could get there pretty quick with this approach at 500 to 1500 a site.

Josh 7:37
So the recurring income, that’s where it’s all at, that’s the biggest pro now, additionally to this is the other income that can accompany that. And that would include like hourly rate, or any type of upsells. So if somebody signs on for $1,000, and they do your hosting and maintenance, and they want to add some more functionality to their site, but maybe it’s not getting into the realm of custom design yet, then they’ll likely purchase a retainer of hours from you. And you should definitely offer that and we’ll talk about setting constraints and stuff here. But it is a good way to add some additional sources of income for you. Now what what your hourly rate is that, you know, like if your hourly rate is $100, and you’re charging 500 bucks for a site, then a client might see, you know, well, man, you’re charging me four hours for this work, that’s almost as much as I’m paying. That’s where you can get into a little bit of trouble with this or maybe not trouble. But it makes it tricky. So whatever you charge hourly, you do want to make sure you have retainers that are available to clients if they want to add some functionality, but you do want to make sure it doesn’t bleed into being a custom build. We’ll talk about that here. But there are other avenues for income like hourly retainers and upsells.

Josh 8:46
Now one really big pro about this is that a lot of you can, you can land a lot of clients, and they can eventually be better clients. And they might eventually invest more, because the relationship is already there, they already hopefully know like and trust you. So if there’s a brand new business that has very little budget, but you really like them as a person and as a client, it’s very likely that they might get on one of these template based style sites. And as their company grows, they can eventually have a more of a budget to invest in a custom website design. Or if you work with them for a while. And they have all these feature requests and be like, Listen, I would love to do this. But this needs to be a full custom build, then if again, if they like you and their business is growing, and they might be down to upgrade to bigger work. So that’s also another big pro to this.

Josh 9:33
Another one is the sheer number of clients, you can land opposed to turning them away. And this is what I experienced as a quote unquote premium website designer is again, I got to the point where my price point started at 2497. Which mints Well, excuse me, which meant a lot of clients that were in this mold of 500 to 15 $100. We’re not even going to talk to me, and I personally liked that not because I didn’t want to talk to them. As a person, but I just wasn’t interested because I didn’t go the template style route, there was no way in Heck, I was going to be doing custom sites for less than 2500 bucks. So but I did have to turn away a lot of people. And I immediately funneled out a lot of opportunities to build recurring income through hosting and maintenance. So that is actually a benefit, you can attract a lot more clients and build your bottom line slowly but surely, with maintenance and hosting with this model, so that’s another Pro.

Josh 10:27
And then finally, the last big pro here is that it’s easier to scale. I was gonna say easy to scale. But I don’t want to say that I don’t I don’t know if I would back that statement. But it is easier to scale compared to custom builds. And it’s probably easy to fit, it’s probably understandable why and that is because with the template style approach, the actual work itself is a lot easier than custom build. So if you’re using templates, and you set constraints, once we’ll talk about to where clients can only change titles, images and a few functions, it’s going to be a lot easier to get some help and scale that and have, you know, junior level designers build that kind of stuff, rather than going a custom route, where there’s custom PHP and CSS and a lot of different aspects of play. So it is easier to scale. If you’re very business minded, and you just want more clients and to build your bottom line that is definitely a pro.

Josh 11:23
But again, it all comes with some cons because just like a coin, there’s one side of the coin on the other side, there’s some other stuff that we need to look out for. And those are the drawbacks to this model. The biggest one, and this is I think, is potentially the most important of all the ones I’m going to talk about. And that is it can d value your custom builds. And this is the big one to watch out for this is the danger. I’m going to call up Geno here, Geno? If you’re listening to this, let’s have a conversation about this because I want to and that is it can devalue the custom builds. Because if somebody sees Well, you do simple website solutions. But then you also have custom builds that started, you know, several $1,000, why would I go that route, if I can just have a simple website built. Now, there are some websites that are very clear, this needs to be a custom build, if it’s a big e commerce site, or a big site with a lot of different blog posts, a lot of different functionality, different post types and everything that’s very clearly a custom build. But let’s say a medical offices, for example, just once a brochure style site, and they have a budget of maybe around $5,000. And I’m using this example because I landed several medical office style sites at that range. Well, if they just need a brochure style site, and they have $5,000 to spend, I want, I want them to spend that with me. And I want to make that site better and more valuable and really dive into it and have some fun. Whereas if they see Well, why would I spend 5000? When I can just make it a simple style site and get it for 1500? What are they going to do, they’re likely going to go the 1500 route. So that’s the danger of this. And we’ll talk about where to put this and how to position this offer. But that is a big danger is the the fact that they could see your simple builds and go, you know what, why we don’t need a custom site, I don’t care what it looks like just use a template. And we’ll just do the simple one, at least we’ll have something up. That’s the danger here. And that’s probably the biggest drawback.

Josh 13:19
And even from a value based pricing approach, meaning you quote the project based on what you think it’s worth the customer. And as a practical example, my biggest site as a solopreneur was $15,000. Had they seen that I was doing sites for 500 to 1500, I guarantee they would be like why the heck is our quote for 15,000 when you’re charging, you know, 10 times less than that. So that’s where the danger comes with these simple quote unquote simple style websites approach. So that’s the biggest one.

Josh 13:50
Now, another big one is that when you’re actually building these sites, if you get a large amount of clients, it probably seems pretty awesome. But that can very quickly overshadow your bigger projects. And I’ve seen this happen with people who go this route. If you’ve got a couple $5,000 sites on tap, you want to work on those sites, those I guarantee are going to be your A and B clients for the most part. So you want to give them your full attention, you want to make it a great experience. Now if you’re working on like, five $500 sites, you’re still gonna have a lot of tension on on all those and and it’s likely that as that grows, you’re going to have less time to focus on your bigger sites, unless you scale it correctly and have some people helping with that. But all in all, it can definitely become a problem. And it can overshadow your custom designs and your custom build. So if you’re going to go this route, what I would say is just keep an eye on that. And if you feel like it’s just becoming too much, and that’s where we need to pivot and potentially look at that differently. Either way, it can overshadow your custom builds.

Josh 14:49
Now, another con to this method is your portfolio. For one if you’re doing a lot of these websites or portfolio is going to look kind of crappy. It’s going to look like the same website. Oh Over and over, or it’s going to be very clear that you’re just using a template. And it just looks like a standard template poor portfolio style site. And that is not what you want. As a web designer, you want your portfolio to be like, Damn, look at this portfolio. That’s what I want clients to see. And I want, that’s what I want them to say. And I want them to see that and be like, Wow, this looks freaking like, there’s a lot of great work here, I want that for you, too, I don’t want you to have a portfolio you’re not proud of. So that’s definitely a big drawback is your portfolio is going to suffer. If you only do three custom builds, and you only have three sites there. And then you have a bunch of lackluster template sites, it’s just not going to look great. And there there are there, excuse me, there are ways to make template style sites look a little different, you can have those in your portfolio. But at some point, they’re going to start looking the same. So you got to be very leery about that. So the actual portfolio itself is a big con.

Josh 15:52
Another big one here is that it can be very costly, if it bleeds into being a custom build. And this is where if you are going to go this route, you have got to set constraints, because clients are not going to understand the difference between simple sites that are based off a template and custom builds very easily, you’re going to have to make it very clear what’s involved, what can be changed what is outside of a simple project, meaning whether they need to invest in a retainer of hours. And the other problem with this is if somebody says, Okay, well, I’ll just add a few extra hours. Well, if it turns out that they actually need to add like 20 or 25 hours to get what they want, it actually should have been accustomed bill. So this is again, where it can be very tricky if you go this route. And you want to make sure if you do these quote unquote, simple style sites, that it’s very clear what they get, and what the options are for customizing anything, you got to have those constraints and remember to, you’re also going to be dealing with Content Collection, and working with clients and everything else that is involved with a website project. So you’ve got to have some systems in place, if you’re going to do this well. So that’s a big drawback. That’s probably one of the biggest things that would deter a lot of that’s what deterred me from doing this as I was like, you know, what, if I’m gonna be doing a cipher, 1000 bucks, I’m still gonna have to collect content. And I don’t want to do that for 1000 bucks, I’d rather do that for 2500 to three to four to 5000. So there are ways to get around that. And maybe I’ll have, maybe I’ll have Gino and john and Jake on another podcast soon to see how it’s working for them. Because I’d be curious for some of that stuff. There are ways to set constraints with Content Collection, but either way, it can be costly if you’re not prepared for that.

Josh 17:36
And lastly, and one reason I actually love to talk to Gino and john and anyone else who’s doing this type of service, in this maybe is maybe the most like heartfelt one of the part of this. And that is, it’s not going to be likely it’s not going to be fulfilling work. When I was doing custom sites, I remember wrapping projects up and being like, Man, this looks freakin sweet. Like I am proud of this, this looks really good. I wanted to show it off in Facebook groups, I showed it off to my network, I put it on my website, I was really proud of it because I worked hard and I had some fun. And it was something I was proud of. If you’re doing template sites, you’re not going to be excited to show them off. And I think more importantly, this is a big one this is, so shout out to john who’s one of my one of my web design members because he’s implementing this. And I said something to him that he said really stuck out with him. And that was, you know, do you love your work? Do you love doing these template sites? Do you wake up in the morning and say, Gosh, I cannot wait to build these template sites out? Probably not. If you’re going to go this route, it’s going to be 100% a business decision. And that’s okay, I do want to say that is okay, if you can scale this and make it work, then this is totally a fine way to go. However, I doubt you’re gonna wake up and be thrilled to work on a template site now where you wake up and be thrilled to work on a custom site that you’re super excited to show the client and to get out in the world. Absolutely, I did that nonstop in my web design career.

Josh 19:06
So that’s the big drawback. That’s one of the big drawbacks that I wanted to end with. Because, again, it’s not going to be fulfilling work from an artistic standpoint now, from a business standpoint. And going back to my conversation with John, my web design club member. I told him that and he said, you know what he’s like, at this point, John, I hope it’s cool that I share this. He said at this point, I’m more interested in doing custom sites, you know, almost periodically, but then build the bottom line of my business with maintenance and hosting and have the numbers continue to go up as we build that bottom line. And then take on, you know, less custom builds at higher higher price point. And I said, that’s cool. That’s totally fine. If you can balance the two to where you have a division doing the agent or the template sites and a part of the business doing the big custom builds. That is okay too. So those are the cons.

Josh 19:55
So let’s recap the pros and cons real quick. Then I’m going to wrap this up with giving you my wreck. emendations, I’ve got five recommendations for you to wrap this up. If you decide to go this route, again, the pros recurring income, it’s all about your recurring income that you can build with maintenance and hosting. And you can do that with higher numbers going this route, you can build all sorts of additional income with hourly retainers and upsells. If you go this route, you can absolutely create customers that will likely lead into higher paying work, eventually, you can build your client base and much bigger number instead of turning away a lot of people. And it’s going to be easier to scale because it’s easier work to do. But the cons it very easily can devalue custom builds, it can overshadow your bigger projects and be problematic. If you’re balancing this with a lot of more custom, more complex sites, your portfolio is going to suffer no doubt, they can be very costly if they become custom builds. And it’s probably not going to be very fulfilling, those are the cons.

Josh 20:54
So after hearing that, if you’re still with me, it’s likely that you’re serious about considering this. So here are my recommendations. These are like five of maybe about 100. But I figure for the sake of keeping this episode, hopefully under half an hour, we’re gonna stick to five.

Josh 21:08
Number one, like I just said a little bit ago, you have got to set constraints, it has to be so so very clear what is involved with these simple websites, you also have to do a very good job at what we’ll talk about that next we’re going to talk about differentiating them. But the first part of this is setting those constraints. And that could be I think that’s where having different tiers like Geno has on his site at Monterey Premier, I think that’s where that’s really beneficial. Because you can have a one page type of website tier, you can have a three page website tier and then a five page anything other than a five page or bigger the five to 10 pages, that strikes me as a more custom build type of approach. But it’s got to be very clear what those are involved with, you’re also going to have to create very, not only constraints, but good systems around collecting the content. And being very clear about revisions. That’s another big one, revisions are gonna have to be laid out. I don’t have this on the list here. But you’ve got to have constraints. And all the details laid out when it comes to revisions and all that.

Josh 22:11
Number two here, you have to make sure it’s very clear what the difference is between a simple website and a custom website. Because again, clients are going to be like, why would I spend 5000 when I can spend 1500. So if you’re going to show this as a service, it’s going to be have to very be very clear that these are for folks who have very low but what maybe you don’t want to say it like that. But you would say these are very simple sites that are you know, template based off of proven designs, they don’t need to know that there are templates from Elegant Themes or anything like that, and you can create your own, but just say it’s based off of proven templates, but you’re gonna have to make sure it’s very clear, because I guarantee like, Who the heck is going to pay 5000 if they can pay 1500. So make sure it’s very different. And make sure with custom builds, that you share the value that comes along with that.

Josh 22:59
Now, number three years if you are going to go that route. And if you are in a place like I was where I was landing three, four, or five, even 10 to $15,000 projects, I did not want people seeing that I was doing less than 2500. So and actually didn’t for a long time. So if you are going to do this, what I would do is hide it. And I would make this a plan B. So what I mean by that is if you want to focus on custom builds, but you want to have this as kind of a catch for people who just do not have the budget for several $1,000. But maybe you still like them, and you really like to work with them and you feel like again, you could build some hosting and maintenance with them and build a relationship, then what you can do is have this page on your website, but it’s hidden, it’s not on your menu, and just let them know, like, you know, I totally understand maybe you send them a proposal for 5000. But they just they’re like I’d love to I just I can’t afford it right now. You could say Well, listen, there is an option there, there’s an option I’d be happy to do for you. And that is more template based approach. And you know, here are the price points for that it’s drastically lower, you don’t get as much and it is based off a template. But at least we would have the website and I can still maintain the site. That’s what I would do, I would do the hidden route. Unless you plan to scale this area business division, I would just make it hidden and just have as kind of a fallback plan for clients who you like and you hate to see go. But you would like to work with because you can absolutely do that.

Josh 24:26
And again, above all, the biggest probably takeaway here number four here is to make the big draw about hosting and maintenance and you can you can articulate this to your clients, but also for you. It’s really all about hosting and maintenance who wants to build $500 websites and then say see later clients like I did when I got started. Let me tell you, nobody that is a terrible business model. It’ll be stressed out and it’s not worth it. So if you’re going to go this route, I would say you they have to sign up for your hosting and maintenance if you’re going to do this and again, you can build that bottom line. So That would be my recommendation there.

Josh 25:01
And finally, number five, my final recommendation is just to measure it and see how it goes. And more importantly, follow your sounds Goofy, but follow your heart. Seriously, follow your heart with this, like, if your gut is telling you, God, I just hate this, I’m just not excited about this, I don’t like it, I’d rather build a $5,000 site than 10 $500 sites, then stop it pivot. And maybe you could keep those clients that are on your hosting and maintenance and build relationships with them, but then cut it out. So just measure it. And you can also measure your time to, you know, listen to your gut, and then measure your time, if you’re finding again, that over half of your time is dedicated to these lower end type of template sites and all of your custom builds are suffering, then we got to look at that we’ve got to make some changes. And the beauty about this is in anything in business, you can always drop it and you can always change, there’s nothing that’s saying if you do this, you have to do it for 10 years, you can absolutely give it a go for a few months, see how it goes. And if it’s working out great. And you’re building that bottom line, and you can scale at one step at a time. Awesome. But if it’s a problem, and you just hate doing that work, and you don’t like it at all, and it’s costly, then you can drop it. So hopefully that gives you some encouragement to say there’s no you don’t have to be too afraid to try it out, you can always try it out. And you can always change it moving forward.

Josh 26:19
So there you go, guys, those are my thoughts. I thought this is gonna be a 10 minute episode. But shocker, we’re at almost a half an hour. So that those are my that’s just that kind of an open ended discussion with you that I’ve had with a lot of people recently. So I hope you found it beneficial. If you’re interested in doing these type of sites, I would actually love to hear if you do this type of service. First, well, what I’d love to do is just go to the the Show Notes for this episode, Josh Hall, co slash 103. Leave a comment, leave a comment. And if you’re open with sharing your website, if you do these types of services, feel free to post it there. If you’d like to contact me directly, just go to my contact form on my website, Josh Hall co slash contact. I do read all the emails that come through there. So when you fill that out, I will see it. And I’ll take a look. I would love to hear like if you if it’s something you want to keep more direct just to me and confidential, I would be happy to hear about whether this is working for you. And any lessons learned. Or if you done it and you just hear like don’t go this route. I’d like to hear about that too. I always enjoy hearing both sides of the coin. So hope hope this helped guys and then again, maybe I’ll try to get Gino and John and Jake from Monterrey Premiere and then Artillery Media to see what’s worked for them in regards to the template based sites. But I would love to hear how this helped you out. Let me know if it inspires you to offer this or let me know if you listen, you heard the cons list and we’re like, heck no, I’m never touching that. I would love to hear from you. So

Josh 27:44
Alright guys, hope you enjoyed this one. I’ve got a really, really super fun, exciting episode for you. Next up, Episode 104 which is with I’m just gonna you know what cats out of the bag it is with the radio broadcaster voice of the Columbus Blue Jackets. As a hockey fan, and as a jackets fan, I was stoked to have him come on. And that’s going to be the next episode Episode 104 you’re not gonna want to miss that one. Because we talked about getting better on camera and communication and it was one of my favorite podcast episodes to date. So that’s up next, but for right now, hope this one helped. And if you implement it, let me know. Alright guys see on the next one.