You might hear stories (from me and others) of web designers who are making at least 100k/yr consistently and wonder…how are they actually doing it?
Like real world, practical advice?
Not just vague, loose theories?
The reality is, there are soooo many ways you can build and sustain a 6-figure web design business. There’s no right or wrong.
So I just released a brand new podcast episode sharing 7 strategies that are common between many of my web design students (and from what I did in my journey as a web designer) who are all making 6 or multi-6 figures in their web design business so that you can know what’s working well TODAY and get to implementing in your biz.
Enjoy and again, if you haven’t joined my Web Design Business Course, this is all pulled from there so join and let’s get to leveling up your dream web design business today!
In this episode:
01:39 – Building a Successful Web Design Business
04:45 – Offering a complete web design experience
09:15 – Recurring income channels
12:21 – Upselling to existing clients
14:58 – Marketing with 1-2 primary channels
18:40 – Referral partner relationships
22:00 – In person networking
24:04 – Proactive with client communications
26:26 – Recap
Episode #284 Full Transcription
Welcome to the Web Design Business Podcast with your host, josh Hall, helping you build a web design business that gives you freedom and a lifestyle you love. Hey, friends, great to have you here for this episode of the show. I hope you’re doing awesome right now and I hope you are excited about this season, being that we are early into the fall here of 2023. The reason I say that is because I’ve found typically September, october and November were the boom months of web design. I think it’s probably like a lot of other industries, people are on vacation during the summer, so it doesn’t mean that summers always have to be slow, but they often are. Because of that, what I’ve found is when kids are in school, a lot of the parent business owners have a little more time for web design and they have time to get going on their projects. And also, leading up to the end of the year, before the holidays come, a lot of businesses want to get the marketing expenses off of their books if they have a marketing budget. All those reasons combined mean that fall is typically an amazing time worldwide for web design. I hope you’re excited about that. What I want to do in this episode is I want to give you a bit of a cheat code on what I see working well right now that a lot of my students who are at six figures and above, or maybe closing in on six figures, are doing today. That way, you can take advantage of this amazing time in web design, because there really is no better time to build and grow your business in web design. Again, for all the reasons we just mentioned, fall is a very, very unique time of the year. I don’t want to sound kind of weird, but I do want you to utilize it and take advantage of the time that is here for you, especially if you’re light on clients. These tips are going to give you some real help. I think what we actually have here are seven strategies. You could call them tips. They’re more or less strategies that you can get going on immediately. Now what I would say is, if you are feeling wild, you could do every one of these. In most cases, I would say, maybe try to stick to like two or three and at minimum, just try one of these things. One of these seven, I guarantee, is going to turn your business around or help it go to the next level, no matter where you are in your business this year here in 2023. So let’s kick off with number one and again, these are based off of some of the things that I did in my business, but what I see a lot of my students doing right now. It’s kind of interesting. Before we dive in here, I put out a poll in Web Designer Pro, my web design community, and I DMed everybody. I did not do that one-on-one Circle now has a group. You can DM by group one-on-one like a bulk DM, and I just asked everybody how’s business going? But from the students who got back with me, who had amazing years to this point, these are the seven common things that they’ve done. So I wanted to set the context for that. So, number one People who are doing six figures and above and killing it this year, are offering a more complete web design experience. Now, what does that mean? Sounds kind of vague. It does, and the tricky thing about offering a full web design experience is you could do so many different things, but at the core, the foundation of this idea is to offer more than just building websites. Now, I have gone on record in saying that that is often how I started the conversation with a lot of my clients, because if I told them I do digital marketing and websites and social media and like 39 services, they’re going to be like. I don’t know what to talk to you about now, but if what I did early on was I would just say I do what, I’ve built awesome websites, and that would open the door for more services, even when they need them Now. By a complete web design experience, I don’t mean that you’re offering every service you can provide, but you are going to offer more than just a pretty website. The good news is, no matter what you would like to include in your suite of services or in your packages, you’re likely doing way more things than you realize you are. You’re just not charging for them. So, case in point, when I was building websites, I was also doing a lot of SEO foundational work. I was doing a lot of messaging and copy work. I was doing a lot of strategy. I was doing a lot of business consulting half of the time. I was also doing a lot of graphic design work. Those are five services right there that I just mentioned that I was not charging for in my web designs. Now, in my website prices, those were included in some way, but a lot of those kind of creeped outside of the scope of what I would offer normally in website design and eventually what I learned to do is just have higher end packages that included all of those things. Now, the really cool thing about a complete web design experience is what we’ll call this Is that you can do whatever you want. So we had my student and colleague, april Rayon, recently, who does email marketing, and this is top of mind for me because she just did a live training in Web Designer Pro on how she offers email marketing for web design clients. So, yes, she does email marketing herself and her business, but she has such a passion in the area she knows the tools really well that she decided for her kind of growth category, she is going to have email marketing be that main service that she does for her clients and it’s a recurring income source for her, which we’re going to get into. So that’s just one example of an additional service you could have in or outside of your web design service to have a more complete web design experience. So, to put a cap on this idea for you, this isn’t something you have to decide today, but be thinking about. What are you interested in outside of just designing a website that you could offer in a higher tier in your business, or something that I share in my business course that I’ll share here, is that I recommend that you have three categories of services One for builds, one for support and care. This will come into play in recurring income, which we’ll dive into next. And one is to have a growth category, something that you do to help your clients use that website. Like the mistake I made for years as a web designer was thinking that once we completed the website it was audios I’ll hope to see you again client, or probably never again. I mean, I was so wrong. I could have served my clients better and made more recurring income and more repeat income if I had just repackaged a lot of the things I was doing as an ongoing service. So for you, what do you enjoy? Do you like SEO? Do you like messaging and copy? Is that a sweet spot for you? Do you like graphics and do you enjoy social media? Is a part of you. Don’t have to be a social media manager, but do you like assisting with the branding elements and that side of things for your web design clients? Do you like strategy? Again, you’re doing strategy right now. I guarantee it. You’re just not charging for it, but would you like to do ongoing strategy for clients? All of these things, my friends, you can do and make it a more complete web design experience. That way you don’t become the dreaded web designer commodity. And that’s where if you only say I just build websites that’s where things like AI and chief web designers can get a foothold on your business, because you should be offering more than just a nice, pretty website. You want to be the web master, you want to be the web person for your client in any areas that you can. And the other areas that you don’t want to do. We’ll talk about what to do those here shortly. So that leads us to number two I’ve already mentioned it which is recurring income streams. Now, the reality is there’s so many and this is exciting there’s so many recurring income options available to web designers. I dare say there is no industry in the world that has this many avenues of recurring income and that, my friends, should be really exciting to you. And I’m going to take a lesson out of my business course here. I’ve got it open. Right now. I’m going to share with you what I share and one of the lessons on recurring income, and that is and I’ll just list them out here here’s eight. Here’s eight recurring income streams, domain management and hosting, maintenance plans and support, packaging them those up together for hosting and maintenance. But actually I’ve got nine for you. Ongoing SEO you could do this foundationally, just basic SEO. You could do advanced SEO, back thinking and stuff like that. Ongoing copy and website optimization that would include messaging as well. Strategy consulting you could do this monthly or quarterly in web design packages or as an upsell. You could do the subscription web design model as a full model for your business or as a backup. Let’s say your clients don’t have the budget for a $5,000 one-off project, but if they’d be open to doing, say, a website build for even a low-end let’s say it’s like $2.99 a month or an 18-month contract well, that’s not quite $5,000, but that’s still ongoing recurring income that you can use as long as it’s constrained. And if you do that multiple times over, you could have a recurring income source, just with subscription web design as a fallback plan. If you are in the ads world, that is still very, very much available and a challenge for clients that you could help out with, as we talked about social media and digital marketing, whether it’s branding or graphic design, like I did. You could do that, and then you could also look into training and educating your clients in a manner that is a more membership style site on the back of your services, which Eric, my CEO of Intranset Studios, is doing right now. I actually have a couple students doing that as well. It’s like a kind of like a client membership. It’s like a. It’s a premium kind of membership for clients who want ongoing, whatever type of training you’d like to provide for them or community. So those are just a handful of options for recurring income channels for you. If you don’t have any, I would start with hosting and maintenance and definitely do those together. I’ve said it many times on this podcast you are going to get the calls, you’re going to be the middleman for clients when it comes to hosting and domain management, so you might as well charge for it. So start with that. Maintenance plans, recurring income I have a whole other course on maintenance plans. If you don’t have that yet, you can get it one off by going to joshallco clicking courses and just joining that course, or you can also get that as a part of your membership and web designer pro, and that’s where my business course is as well. You can get that one off by itself more DIY or you can come into web designer pro, get all the courses in community and coaching. So those are the first two complete web design experience and then a recurring income source, at least a couple channels of recurring income, and you can add to that moving forward. I was going to say one more thing on that, but that comes into another point coming up, so we’ll move on to number three, which is to upsell to clients. Now, what’s interesting about this is upselling to existing clients. So this is existing clients. Just remember the old business adage it is 10 times less expensive to sell to existing clients than it is to find new ones, because you don’t have to reintroduce yourself, you don’t have to build trust, you don’t have to build authority. They are a pool of people who will re up with you. So what’s interesting is a lot of web designers in particular constantly chase new clients. It’s new clients. How do I get clients? How do I find clients? Very, very rarely do I say or do I see. How do I get more projects? Isn’t that interesting? Because more projects is very different than new clients and more clients New clients, friends take so much more to land and I’m not saying don’t get new clients. You need to have a pipeline full. But remember you, probably even if you have five clients, those are five people or teams of people who will buy from you again. You just need to offer them something else. This is the first thing. By the way, I coach people on in Web Designer Pro and they say my leads are dry, my new clients are dry. I often start with so here’s some free coaching. I start with email, your current list of clients. Offer something new, offer something that you’re already doing. But just repackage a little bit. You’ll be amazed at how many people will sign up with you. And they already know you, they already like you, they already trust you. You just need to offer something to them. So they’re upselling to existing clients. This is something one of my students, lisa, did more recently and it kind of comes into play with recurring income, and that is that she started a. When we talked about strategy, she started a strategy service that she upsold to clients. Now they could get this one off, or they I believe they could get it as a part of their maintenance plan with certain tiers. But what she did, that was so genius about this is that she just opens up strategy calls over like a week or two period every quarter. So that’s what’s daunting is like well, what if I have 50 clients who all want to do a call, you know, like every couple months or something? That’s going to be a nightmare. You don’t have to do it like that. You could offer it and for the clients who have that plan and who want to use it, that’s an option for them. So just food for thought there. When it comes to upselling to existing clients, your current clients Again, change your mindset maybe, from how do I get new clients to how do I get more projects, very, very different. It also gets into repeat work rather than just recurring income. It’s like additional work on top of that, but it could lead to recurring income too. That’s number three. Number four a lot of students I’ve seen do really well over the past year or two at Six Figures and Beyond are marketing with one to two channels. Whether it’s social media or in-person or Chamber of Commerce or what you name it whatever, whether YouTube channel, whether podcast, they’re marketing with one to two primary channels, but they are not everywhere and I struggle with this, the urge to kind of be on all the channels. It’s a little bit different in my situation as a coach and a community builder, because I should spend a little more time being wide reaching. But as a service provider you do not need to be everywhere and, quite frankly, we all know at this point you can’t be everywhere not effectively at least unless you have a team of social media people and you’re present in person as well. So they’re marketing with one to two channels. Case in point Marie Brown, one of my Rockstar web design students. She has a podcast in Instagram and those are her two biggies and they kind of work well together for her audience because she’s kind of the website coach to people who find her on Instagram or her podcast and they kind of feed with each other. And I will say, when it comes to marketing, this is tricky because there’s a couple different styles of marketing and I’ve really come to adopt this more recently. I love this. I guess it’s a framework, it’s a strategy, I don’t know, but it’s having one channel for acquisition, meaning people are finding you, and then one channel for nurturing, meaning people are hearing from you over and over. For me personally, the finding is generally coming into play. For me for my YouTube channel, which I’m about to really re-engage with here, which I’m so excited about. I’ve really not done a good job at posting new tutorials and stuff like that. That is my number one acquisition channel. My number one nurturing channel is right here my podcast, because a lot of the listener now this is an acquisition channel surprisingly bigger than I thought. When I asked recently some members of Web Designer Pro how did you hear about me? A lot of people said they just went into the podcast app and looked for web design and there I was. So it can work for acquisition. It can be both, but in most cases, I recommend that you should have one channel for acquisition for new leads and one channel for nurturing those leads. Now they could be the same channel. You could be using Facebook for that, you could be using LinkedIn for that, you could be using Instagram, even a YouTube show or podcast, whatever. Those could be both, but in most cases you’ll have one for new clients and one for nurturing people who are already in your sphere. In a lot of cases, it’s email marketing to nurture them over and over, even if you just send an email once a month or once every quarter. And then your acquisition is where are the new people finding you? This could be in person, it could be networking, or it could be online with social media, with webinars, with being a part of summits or virtual trainings all sorts of options that we cover in detail in my business course. So for you, number four here, what’s your marketing? What is your primary channel for acquiring new clients and then nurturing the people who are in your zone? They might be followers, they might be email subscribers, but they’re not yet clients. They could be. In that case, we go back to upselling to existing clients. You wanna sell them something else. So one acquisition, one nurturing. That’s what a lot of my Rockstar students are doing right now pretty well, and the reality is every option works. There’s no right or wrong social media platform, there’s no right or wrong in person. Whether it’s a referral group or networking, whatever it is, they all work. You just need to decide what do you like? Where do you enjoy being? Where are your ideal clients? Serve them, show up there. Number five hugely important one, in fact, this may be my favorite of all of these right now and that is a lot of my web design students who are doing a really good job at maintaining six figure income is they have referral partner relationships, and by referral partners there’s actually two different versions of referral partners. One version, one category, I guess, are partners who they might do web design or they’re often adjacent to your services. Case in point I had two referral partners who were huge for me. One was an SEO guy and I hired him to do advanced SEO. I did some on-site SEO but he would do advanced and ongoing SEO and white labeled for me, but he was not a good designer, bless his heart. So he often referred a lot of people to me for the design part of things and he would do SEO. Another one was in my networking group and he was a videographer. So he would do videos for a lot of businesses and then when businesses said, hey, we wanna put our video on our website, and then he looked at the website and was like, oh my God, dude, your website’s terrible. You should talk to my guy, josh. That was a huge referral source for me. So those are two examples of referral partners, of people who are adjacent to your services. So for you? Who do you know in your professional network? Who do you know in your family, your friends’ relationships? Who do you know who could be good referral partners for you and hopefully you are for them too? The more you give, the more you get in that regard. So, do you know photographers, who work with businesses, who need website care often? Do you know videographers? Do you know SEO people? Do you know graphic designers and brand designers? Maybe that’s not something you do and maybe websites aren’t something that they do. You guys could be a business match made in heaven. So get on it, start making some referral partner relationships and give people referrals. The other aspect, the other category to referral partners are, surprisingly, your clients, because not only will they refer you if prompted, but you may have clients who may be really good referral partners for you. One of my best referral partner clients was a business coach, a business coaching program. Guess who they coach Businesses. Guess what those businesses needed? Often, web designers and web design help so by me being their web designer, it was like an instant referral relationship. Guys, this is how I literally built a multi six figure web design business over the years with next to no online presence. Like a little bit of SEO on my site, but that was mainly just to get people onto my site and convert them. And then I have like a site designed by Intransit Studios and that got me some clients that were national and abroad, and that’s how. I had like no social media. All I did is I had a Facebook that I updated for portfolio posts and when I started blogging I posted those. That’s it. I was able to do everything in person and not being on social media, mainly by what I just shared with you. Those marketing channels, particularly those partnerships oh my gosh, I can’t believe I haven’t talked about this more. Really, we’re gonna talk about it more because this is especially nowadays. This is key. So, number five referral partnerships. We’ll do a recap on these as we finish these last couple couple quickies here to end off. In-person networking. Number six I can’t recommend enough that you consider more in-person events and more in-person networking. I just recently had my student, katie Lake, onto the podcast a couple episodes back, if you wanna revisit that because she literally went from like nothing in the pipeline to swamp with work and in that episode you may remember if you listen to it she said that in-person networking like getting out of her place of work, like out of her house, off of her chair, and into the world with real people. That was a game changer for her, and it’s amazing what in-person networking will do when it comes to referrals, and I think it’s more powerful now than ever. Quite honestly, in the wake of everything that the whole world has been through the past few years and the fact that so many people are online, in-person connection means so much more than it ever has before. So in-person networking, even if you are not in a great location, you can still join up with online groups. That would be the next best thing, but more than likely, I guarantee there are some networking groups around you. There are referral groups, there are a chamber of commerce, there are gosh a variety of in-person things. You can do ribbon cuttings for businesses. You can literally just go meet people in-person and make business connections. There’s professional groups, there’s meetups. Again, in my business course, this is something I share in detail because I load you up with literally everything well, just about every place imaginable that you could go get clients. But think about that what is in your area? And you don’t have to sell, you don’t have to be salesy, but you’re just, you’re the web person for them and you can serve and just share what you know, educate clients as much as possible and when you build that know, like and trust in person, my gosh, you will be a referral train. The referral train is coming, friend. You just have to kind of get off your butt and go do it and again, there’s no pressure. You don’t have to sell it’s amazing. Just be cool with people and share what you know and wanna help and enjoy seeing your bank account grow because you’re gonna be referrals. Lastly, number seven A lot of my students are doing a really good job with this and I’ve been really harping on this and that is to be proactive with client communications. The keyword in there is with no, I’m just kidding, it’s proactive. That’s the keyword. You want to be proactive with all client communications. You want to be the first to follow up, be as quick as possible with new leads, especially when you’re building that trust. You don’t want to set the precedence, that they can just call you or text you anytime of the day or night and you’ll get back to them, but you do not want to be the designer that gets a referral and they don’t hear from you in a week. This actually just happened in my personal network. I referred somebody I know, locally so for some photography and videography for In Transit Studios, my agency, one of our clients. A couple of days after I sent them to Eric, my CEO, I was like hey, did you ever hear from him? He said no, he haven’t heard back. I’m like now I feel a little weird. I don’t even know if I want to refer him. Maybe he’s not going to get back with people. And luckily I’ve talked to him and he did get back eventually. But it did take some prompting and I’m telling you guys, you do not want to be that person. I’m sorry that person is listening, but maybe it’s a good time for you to hear this. You do not want to be that designer who needs to be prompted to get back to new clients and new leads. Yes, you don’t want to create boundary issues, but that’s probably not going to be a problem if you are just responsive within normal work hours. If you get back with somebody within 48 hours, you’re good. You get back with them within 24 hours, you’re great, you’re golden. So just be more proactive. And then, during projects, one thing I’ve found a lot of my students who are doing really well with this is they are guiding clients through every step of the process. They are avoiding the client who has to check in on how the project is going. That is danger zone, my friend. I remember that happened that one time and that, just like that, shook me to my core. I was like, oh, I can’t believe the client had to like ask me where the project was. I know you’ve been there too. It’s the worst. It’s the worst because suddenly you’re like, oh, I dropped the ball Once a week. Just let your clients know where the project is, even if you’re not working on it yet. Let them know it’s in the works. So there we go, the top seven quick recap here. Before I do, though, at the time of this recording and this episode going out, my business course, my web design business course, the launch sale is going to be ending here. So make sure, if you’re catching this live or a couple days after its release, if you are ready to build your business up to help, I can help you personally with your pricing, your offers, recurring income strategies, everything we’ve covered in this and so much more, including onboarding proposals, invoicing templates, project management, content collection. I mean this list could have been a hundred here, but all of those things are covered in my web design business course and I would invite you to come in, even if you’re listening to this. After the launch sale, I’m often doing webinars and some trainings to have some stuff that leads into the business course. So just email me, joshjoshhallco if you’re interested at any point in the future. I really want to get this in your hands because I’m sick of seeing web designers price too low and make a mess of their business and burn out. I want you to avoid that. Everything that I’ve learned in my agency and everything that I’ve learned in my journey and a lot of what I just shared here today that my students are doing, it’s all GM packed in the course. So I really, really want to get this thing out to as many people as possible. So if that’s you and you’re ready, and you’re ready to do this effectively, hopefully these seven items which we’re about to recap have helped and for more visuals, for more in depth guides on all this, come on into my web design business course. You can go to joshjoshhallco Again if you’re catching this episode when it comes out. The launch sale is still on for just a limited time, short while longer. But if it’s after that, email me at joshjoshhallco and I’ll see what I can do for you. So seven point recap. Number one web designers, who are doing six figures and beyond, are offering a complete web design experience based off of the services and offers that you like to do and that help your clients. There are recurring income channels in your business, including hosting and maintenance, on top of others that we covered. You’re upselling to existing clients. You’re not always worried about new clients and feast and famine because you have a pool of clients that will pay you. So you’re more focused on projects upselling to existing clients. You’re marketing with one to two primary channels one channel for new acquisitions and one for nurturing those acquisitions so they become clients. Five you’re building referral partner relationships, either with colleagues who have adjacent services to you or with clients who are good referral partners. Six you’re doing more in-person networking, because we all know in-person converts way more than having to build up a social media empire. And seven you’re being proactive in all of your client communications, from the sales process to ongoing projects. Keep talking to your clients. You cannot over communicate with clients. So there we go, friends. Seven tips to help you that I see a lot of designers doing really well right now. I hope these help you. Hey, I would love to know your favorite. What one of these? Was there one that just was like, oh my gosh, I needed to hear that, or that’s my favorite. I want to do that again. If you’re feeling wild, you can get going on all seven, but I would say, at least do one One of those. Implement today, get started on today in your business. If you can, over the next couple months here, work on the next few, I guarantee your business is going to be in a whole another shape here soon. So let me know, go to Josh Hall that co slash re in 284, 284 for this one to leave me a comment. Let me know your favorite. I do read all those. I’d love to hear from you. And again, my business course. The revamped version, version 2.0, is live. These are all things that are pulled from that course. So if you like this and it’s helping, just imagine what the full kitten Kaboodle is going to do let’s do it. Friends, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be a six figures and above right now, even if you’re early on. So I’m here to help you do it together. All right friends, enjoy. I’ll see you on the next episode. Make sure to subscribe and hopefully I’ll see it in my business course. Josh Hall dot co. Slash biz If you can catch the launch sale discount of version 2.0. If it’s after that, just email me, josh, to Josh Hall dot co and we’ll hook you up. All right friends, talk soon and cheers to six figures and beyond in your web design business.