10 Lessons I’ve Learned As A Web Designer In Business
I bet you've had a struggle getting to where you are, and I know all about it. It's a bitch getting a business off the ground. We don't know what the smart thing to invest our time and money into is and it feels like a huge gamble every time we make a decision.
I decided to share 10 lessons I've learned as a web designer working for myself 🙂
I hope these take aways help you in developing a structure and strategy to running your own business even if you're not a web designer! I feel this applies to any service based business. So here it goes!
Save everything you type up in a word document FIRST. Idk about you but it’s like Facebook KNOWS when I’m typing a long post into the little box, it seems to think it’s time delete that shit on me. WordPress too! I type up a blog post hit submit – page cannot be displayed. Hit the back button & the box is empty. WTF!!! Amirite?! Write in a document then save it to your computer then upload it to the cloud THEN post it or submit it. This helps keep good records too. You can re-purpose your content later into other marketing materials. A Facebook post can be turned into a blog and a blog turned into a video. Keep it all recorded in a folder and the cloud! BACKUPS BACKUPS BACKUPS! Don't screw yourself LOL!
Clearly Define Your Process
Don’t expect the client to understand your process. Don’t expect them to know how technology works. Have GREAT vetting processes to understand where their abilities are, what their vision is & if it’s developed enough to even do the project without back tracking to delete or redo content. If you can’t do the strategy for them, then they need to have a professional strategist on the team to plan out what their site needs.
Teamwork Makes The Dream Work
Designers need to be able to communicate as a team member. Sure you might be a solopreneur but, if you aren’t keeping in touch with the client’s copywriter, ads gal, or whoever, then the project will go stagnant. That’s on YOU to be a good team member and plan accordingly. Keep everyone in the loop on YOUR process with clear details on when things are due and what might be on hold. Follow up regularly with information letting them know they are still on hold. Clients forget things.
Create alliances with other service providers like copywriters, graphic designers, developers, business strategists, legal professionals etc. Your clients will need them if they aren’t set up as a solid business yet. If you have a team on call, you can get them to work with your team of people that you already communicate well with & have a work flow with. This will make the process MUCH easier for you working with people you are familiar with and already get along with.
Hire an assistant FIRST before other employees or consultants/contractors. They should know how to at a minimum: post blogs, send newsletters, post to your social media platforms, book appointments, follow up with clients about project status, & answer emails/phone...AND get you coffee if you can get someone in house rather than virtual haha! I’ve hired high school & college students that would come to my home office and hop on the computer to start working a few hours a day! Those little things that suck your time away from clients and CEO duties should be tasked to your assistant so you can keep the business in the direction you want it going at a steady rate with less bumps along the way.
Nurture Not Numbers
Don’t focus on the number of likes you have in your social accounts or members in your group. It isn’t directly relevant to your success to have several thousand page likes. What is relevant however is the professional connections you are developing with industry professionals. These are the people that will recommend you to their clients if they see you as an equal. Numbers don’t make you an equal. Focus on providing high quality service and information. Focus on engaging with the audience you have. Keep that interaction nurtured. QUALITY numbers will grow instead of just vague half hearted numbers that don’t care for creating a relationship with your business. Quality visibility is more important.
Set CLEAR Boundaries
Set official work hours and stick to them. If 7pm not part of those work hours let the client voice mail or message wait till you are open again. Soon as you let them know this boundary isn’t a hard set one they will see that as it’s ok to continue contacting you outside of those hours. Keep your boundaries NON NEGOTIABLE. Get off social media outside of your normal business hours. You can get auto post services to put your impromptu great post ideas on and let that feed them out over time.
Educate So You Don't Alienate
Educate the client about the process. Set milestones with tasks under them so they understand the design can’t be completed yesterday when we are still gathering content to plan the layouts! Make it linear and visual for them. Draw it on paper if needed. Add notations where they have due dates to hand in information and due dates where you have them review progress. Your process is likely a mystery like physics to them! Spell it out in simple terms so they don't feel alienated later on if either of you start to get upset about miscommunication about where the progress is. I know loads of my process is behind the scenes things you can't really see as a client. Configuring settings and stuff. Let them know that's what you are doing. Follow up regularly with reports. Like any good relationship in life, communication is KEY!
Accountability & Tracking
Create a business activity tracker. Set 5-10 tasks that need to be done daily for your business to grow and move forward. Track progress in numbers so you have a visual showing you where you need to improve & it keeps you accountable. Some things I track on mine are messages sent to strengthen alliances. Conversations with prospects. Follow ups with leads. Introductions to new leads. Social analytics like email list growth, Instagram followers etc, I do as it’s own thing now.
Personal & Business Development
Take a group coaching course to help you move forward in your business. If you can’t afford a business coach 1:1 then you need to do the group program. Find one that addresses the problem you are facing that can’t be solved by the business tracker. Trust me that business tracker will save you a shit load of money and time invested in programs and coaching haha! You always want to be creating a better version of your self and your business. This is crucial to your business like drinking water is to survival. Make this your priority 1 every day and you will always be in business.
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