Start a web agency, freelance or consultancy and build websites
Many dreams of being their own business. Maybe the purpose of the enterprise is to have the potential to make more money, get the opportunity to be your own boss, the freedom to work wherever and whenever you want, but above all, the idea of being able to do something that you really enjoy is fun these days.
If you have an interest in creating websites, developing or designing web, I have put together some good tips that may get you started on your own. Either start your own web agency, start consulting or freelance as a web developer and create websites for your clients.
What is the difference between freelancing, being a consultant and starting a web agency?
I don’t really know if there is any exact limit on what is freelancing and what is a web agency. In my opinion, you can have a web agency on one person while others may think that you are a freelancer or consultant.
I think it’s more about how you want to market yourself. It does not make much money to market yourself as a large established web agency and once you sit down at the first meeting with the client and they realize that it is a one man agency you will regret that you were not more clear with this. And being alone is not necessarily any worse than being a big agency. It is about what the customer is looking for and what kind of company they want to hire and collaborate with.
If your goal is to grow with employees soon, you should of course promote yourself as an agency. But nothing says that you can change in the future.
How do I get started with my websites?
The first step is of course that you need to know what you do, what you sell and what you can deliver to your customers. If you are experienced in web development, you probably know which techniques and CMS systems you want to use. My tip is WordPress and that’s all you need in the beginning. Coding pages from scratch is not an effective way to build websites nowadays.
Get started with WordPress
Learn how WordPress works. Read on, test create a website and see what you can do and what limitations you encounter.
Web server / web host, DNS, domains and mail
The next thing you should both be aware of and that your customers will expect you to have experience with is the handling of domains DNS and mail.
Web server or web host
The web host stores the files for the website to make them accessible in the browser around the world via the internet.
As you probably already know, the domain name is for visitors to enter an address in the browser instead of the web server’s IP address.
DNS stands for Domain Name Server, in the DNS manager you can point different services on the same domain to different servers. For example, web traffic for the domain name goes to the web server and mail traffic can go to a Microsoft Outlook service.
When you are in and configure a customer’s DNS settings to redirect their domain to the new page you built that may be on another host, you need to keep track of how mail and MX pointers work. Here is a topic to read about on Wikipedia or search on Youtube.
For Swedish entrepreneurs: F-tax, FA-tax or limited company (aktiebolag)
The type of company you should start depends on how big you intend to do it. Should you feed on your new web agency or freelance / consulting business, I would personally recommend starting a limited company. If you are more interested in testing and doing it on a smaller scale, F-tax is a slightly easier alternative.
F-tax or FA-tax depends on whether you have an employment or not where you receive pay from also. Starting a limited company is a slightly bigger process, requires 25,000 SEK in start-up capital and you have a little tougher rules regarding accounting and financial statements. But if you plan to have employees, F-tax is not an option and you should go to a limited company. Regardless of the corporate form, you need to be VAT registered.
Get your first assignment, build your portfolio
As a newly started web consultant, freelancer or web agency, you end up in step 22 when you want to attract your first customers. You have a hard time getting new customers because you have no portfolio and no reference jobs that show what you can do. And you can’t build your portfolio and your reference jobs because you don’t get any first clients.
Here are some tips for building your portfolio and getting your first customers
Build your first website for someone you know. Dig into the contact book on your phone, your Facebook friends and your contact network on LinkedIn. There will be someone there who needs either a new or a better website. Offer to do the job for free or for a symbolic sum, because you are newly started and need a reference job.
Find a company where you are a customer who needs a new or improved website. Check out the companies you shop at today, the little cafe on the corner, the gym or the hairdresser. Same thing here, offer to do the job for free or at such a low price that they can’t say no. Don’t forget to say that the reason for the award is because you are a fresh start and are building reference jobs for your portfolio.
Ask about being referred to new potential customers
Once you have built and delivered your first website, you have a start. Ask the customer who in their vicinity who might need your services. If you have done a good job, your customers will be more than happy to recommend you further and, in this way, you will get started with having an input with potential customers.
Be customer focused and make the customer satisfied
Making the customer happy is not just about working hard and doing that little extra. Which I think you should do too. But my experience is that you get a satisfied customer by being clear on expectations. If the customer’s expectations of quality, delivery time and price are in line with what you deliver, you will have a satisfied customer. Here is the challenge to both communicate to the customer your quality, delivery time and price. And make sure the customer understands.
Continue to help the customer after the project has been completed
Existing customers may be the best customers. They already know what you can deliver, and you have done the job before. Serve the customer with updates, changes and additions. Of course, you should pay for this. But it is easier to sell a change or update to an existing satisfied customer than to go out and look for new customers all the time. I usually think that a website is a living document that is constantly updated with new information and new features. Which is necessary to keep a website up to date and fresh. Get your customers to understand it too.
Get more customers with collaborations
Collaborate with other companies or freelancers who are good at other things where you complement each other. Are you good at building websites? Collaborate with someone who is proficient in graphic design and logos, their customers probably need websites too. If you are good at search engine optimization, then work with advertising agencies.
My best way to find collaborations is on Instagram. Click around and like different agencies and sites where you can in any way complement each other, pull out a message and ask about collaboration. Your most serious business partners, I recommend that you meet to get an impression of what kind of company you might recommend your customers to. It will be a win-win even when you have the opportunity to offer your partner’s services to your customers, even if it is through a referral to a company you partner with, it gives the impression that you are in control of the situation and can help solve the customer’s problem.
Install necessary features, plugins and accessories
Between the customer and you, you are the expert on websites. Make sure to take that role seriously too. Things like Google Analytics and Google Search Console are things you should always install. Your customers hire you because you can do more than them and then you should also do the necessary things to make a website as complete as possible.
Start by making sure you know what you’re doing with, you don’t have to be the best but keep track of the basics of how to build a website in WordPress. After you have explored WordPress and it feels like something you want to work on, it is time to get to the company, you can wait to start the company until you have done your first job. Pull in your first customer, complete it and continue with more customers. Do not forget to maintain and make additional sales to existing customers, also ask for references to their contacts who may be interested in your services. Collaborate with other companies to both expand your range of services and bring more customers to your web agency. Always install Analytics and Search Console.
Perhaps most important of all, I think is to put customers’ expectations at the right level. What do you think is good to think about when starting a web agency or a freelance / consulting business in web development? Feel free to comment below!