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White Hat Website Business?

Discussion in 'Making Money' started by senecapharm, Jan 5, 2009.

  1. senecapharm

    senecapharm Registered Member

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    Hey guys,

    I'm thinking about starting a website design & marketing business. Right now I'm going to work on making a business website for a fellow student (I just graduated).

    The basic deal is that I can create websites for people using Joomla that can serve any purpose that they would need (I have decent experience with Joomla after creating my own website with the system). I can create great looking websites for them.

    The question is, what can I charge? I mean right now I'm charging pretty low ($300 for a website , directory submissions, adwords campaign, free vouchers, landing pages, SEO). I'm doing this until I can build up some references.

    I have 4 plans:
    1. Business card website
    2. Business website with marketing plan
    3. E-commerce website
    4. E-commerce website with marketing plan

    Right now I'm making her buy the domain and hosting package so I don't have to deal with the costs. But as business goes forward I would imagine I would just buy the plans and markup the monthly or yearly costs to them.

    What do you guys think? Is it a decent business? What do you guys think these services are worth?

    Thanks,
    James
     
  2. macmastermike

    macmastermike Junior Member

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    isn't this a business like thousands are doing this day? are you really good in this job? experience? how about working in a normal design/web agency first? you have some clients?

    i started almost like you 4-5 years ago - and the first years werde not very easy... you need at least 2 profitable and esp. big clients who pay you every month

    the worth of your work depends highly on your skills...
     
  3. senecapharm

    senecapharm Registered Member

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    Yea well I was thinking of building up references locally and marketing locally to businesses here. I live in north pennsylvania and I can say for a fact that I'm the best web designer around here, and probably the only one who knows about internet marketing. I've seen some websites that local companies have made around here... they look... horrible.
     
  4. macmastermike

    macmastermike Junior Member

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    ok sounds good. maybe you'll have success then! but one more thing: in my experience every business owner needs 2 of these 3 things i tell you now. it won't work with only 1...

    1) you need connections to other business people
    2) you must be a good sales man
    3) you must have good knowhow.

    any idiot can sell crappy products as long as he's a good sales man and has some connections. but a sales man with no good product and no connections is as unsuccessful as a great designer with no connections and no sales skills...

    i don't know how the market situation in the US looks these days - from the news i read here in europe i only see headlines like "us-market is collapsing"... but i also look into a bright future this year!

    so i wish you a great start and a lot of success!
     
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  5. senecapharm

    senecapharm Registered Member

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    Yea i've taken a number of sales classes and realise how important sales is... starting out on my own would require me to do everything I guess! I'm used to that... any idea what I could sell these services for?
     
  6. macmastermike

    macmastermike Junior Member

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    depends on a lot of factors... actually i have no idea. normally countryside-agencys are much cheaper than city agencies. maybe you should do some research how expensive other agencies in your region are (try to get some quotes maybe)
     
  7. dynamicvb

    dynamicvb Regular Member

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    Lots of companies will pay a lot more than 300 bucks for a design and site. I've seen CMS systems go for thousands and up. You just need an edge that no one else has. Now if these are mom and pop type shops then you won't get them to pay as much as you would a midsized company. I would start by pitching upkeep on a current site as its cheaper than having a full time webmaster. Once you have built your rep with the company then pitch a redesign. This is a very competitive market so keep that in mind.
     
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  8. innocent

    innocent Junior Member

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    I agree that $300 is too low and you can charge much more. If you want $300 to be a base price then just create a pyramid pricing structure touting the benefits of the more you pay the more you get. I think for you, your issue isn't pricing, skill, or anything else other than........finding a good sales person who can deliver the business.
     
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  9. ukescuba

    ukescuba Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    pitch at least $1000 a lot of business owners love the fact you can update a site live via Joomla or any other CMS - i charge a shit load more than that for custom work but our work is of course exceptional and also SEO optimized. If you just sticking a bit of content in and using a pre-made template and some 3rd party plugins you should be able to knock out a site in less than a day easily.

    to make it easier get them to pay say 50% down and then monthly payments - i dont do this but with the economy i maybe doing this soon...

    and having customers get their own hosting bad..... you are loosing residual $$$ get a VPS and charge your customers for hosting it will pay for itself ten times over if you have just a handfull of clients - plus a VPS is great for testing out your own projects out too. charge them yearly upfront.... when the next year comes around charge them again! :)

    in most instances your clients wont screw around with the hosting - do not be tempted to start offering web hosting services by themselves... this is very important!

    ive been doing web development over ten years now - damn im getting old - but thats the best advise i can give you. :)
     
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    Last edited: Jan 5, 2009
  10. roamer

    roamer Power Member

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    plɹoʍ ǝɥʇ punoɹɐ ƃuıɯɐoɹ
    The very first thing you'll need is to create good looking websites, but the real challenge is to produce results for your client (i.e. Sales). The web designer is but a piece of the puzzle; if possible you've got to offer the whole package ( product/image development, design, implementation, marketing... ). I've been working at a marketing agency for the last 2 1/2 years and I've found that clients are looking for results, not just a good looking website. Learn how to integrate all aspects into your services and you're guaranteed to succeed.
     
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  11. ukescuba

    ukescuba Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    remember a great looking website is cool, but if no one can find it....

    include basic seo principles in all your jobs but charge $$$ for it too :)
     
  12. senecapharm

    senecapharm Registered Member

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    @ innocent - I know $300 is low but I wanna build a rep first, and you gotta take a hit in the beginning, I think it might be worth it for the references... like "Holy shit I got this for only $300 and it boosted my sales by 150% this year!" sort of references

    @ roamer - that's what I was going over in my marketing plans, some people don't realise that you have to market websites after you make them, or they just plain don't know how. I would always try to upsell them to the marketing plans and if they didn't go for it, they can't complain to me if nobody can find it.

    @ ukescuba - Argh! I should've thought of that, I have my own VPS! About Joomla, are you saying they pay more for handing them off the CMS and let them manage it themselves from then on?
     
  13. ukescuba

    ukescuba Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    basically what we have done in the past is do joomla sites for a lot of bars/clubs they update content a lot for events and drinks specials etc, most bars get pissed off with having to wait for the old web master to update the site... show them joomla and how easy it is to update and i would say most potential clients say yes... its getting to see the right person that pulls the shots thats more important...

    from there we will design the site but then give them access as an administrator to add/change the content... we've wrote our own guides and showed them how to use the site untill they can demonstrate they can do it themselves.... always make a backup!!!

    this way they can manage their own content and you dont have to be getting pissed off doing minor little changes every two minutes... unless of course you upsell them a maintenance agreement... which in that case you wont care...

    you always have to make it worth your while... ive found be fair but dont be taken for a ride... works best
     
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  14. senecapharm

    senecapharm Registered Member

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    Hey that's a great idea, package your own Joomla installation, with components, templates, guides, etc. Maybe even minify it? Good ideas man, this is what i'm talkin about!
     
  15. ukescuba

    ukescuba Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    look into a plugin called joomcloner it basically clones your sites...

    once you have one with all the plugins etc you can clone it and install it on another site in seconds with a click of a few buttons! :)

    another piece of advice joomla templates are not SEO friendly... use the style and recreate it yourself - ive figured you can make a good looking template and make it extremely well optimized with about 15 lines of html code, about 15 customized css tags and just 5 images! :)
     
  16. senecapharm

    senecapharm Registered Member

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    Hey can you pm me an example of a template like that? The templates have always pissed me off trying to edit and I think it'd be worth my while to learn how to make a really fast and good looking CSS template.
     
  17. darklegion

    darklegion Regular Member

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    It sounds like a good idea but it might come back to haunt you like it did for me when I was doing this as a side job.

    I would do work for one client at $100 and then I would get another client and he wanted to only pay me $100 but the amount of work for him was twice as much. Needless to say I did not do work for him and really could have used the money..

    Good luck, this is a highly competitive business, one wrong mistake and good bye.
     
  18. kenpodude

    kenpodude Registered Member

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    Here's how to get $2000 plus for a Joomlasite... I do it every week.
    Don't sell "web sites" or web design sell "lead generation systems". It's all semantics but it is what business owners want to hear. Just about everyone is past just "putting a site up on the web". They understand that you have to get traffic and convert some 'call to action'. I often tell most of the small business owners that I talk to that honestly that most small businesses looking to get on the web would be better off paying a copywriter to write a kick ass sales letter for their product or service and put that up than worry about all the fancy smancy web design. Now don't get me wrong I think folks that can create visual stunning sites are fantastic. But in my experience it's better to spend that time and money on adcopy.

    So my pitch is to stress, SEO, copywriting, having a defined call to action, etc that is all trackable and measurable.

    build them a basic Joomla site with a new commercial template. Don't waste alot of time on design stuff. Work with them to create solid ad copy. Get Keyword Elite and dazzle them with some initial keyword reports for their niche. (You'll have them licking their chops if you lead off with this..) Learn basic on-page SEO and talk about how that also influences the adcopy that is to be written. In affect tell them how internet marketing really works and the plan you have for them. Now you are much more than juat a web guy and can charge whatever the heck you want. I've come to realize in this biz that the only thing that limits your fees is your ability to ask for the price you want with a straight face. You got to believe you are worth what you are asking for and they will then believe it also.
    With the economy going down the tubes I've noticed actually more small business owners taking the web more seriously. When compared to the cost of a Yellow Pages ad a few grand for SEO and a site upgrade are peanuts to these biz owners.

    Get the ...I"ll only charge $300.. out of your mind. I was where you were when I started. I did a Joomla site for a prson for $400. It only took me 2 hours so I was happy till I found out they paid the person that did the little logo $795. :)

    I then jumped my fees to $1500 and then $2000 when I added basic keyword research and SEO. All told these site take me about 3 hours in fornt of the computer. The rest is just one meeting at their place to collect %50 up front and show my face.
    Thne a few emails back and forth to collect the ad copy, photos they want, etc. Thne I sit down and crank out the site in a few hours. You can easily do the same...

    My prices are going up to $3000 at the end of the month. Then it's 1 site a week and and my ass will be in brazilian jiu jitsu class everyday! :)

    I'd stay away from ecommerce sites unless you charge a heck of a lot more. They aren't worth the headache. much easier to create simple business sites, integrate an autoresponder for them, help them with the adcopy, and collect a nice check.

    I'm in PA as well so this works.
     
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  19. dbomez

    dbomez Registered Member

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    Read this book Web Design Business Kit! And it's not advice it's an order :) You must read it.. maybe even twice.. and in couple of months read it third time. Yeah, it's that good!
     
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  20. kenpodude

    kenpodude Registered Member

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    I agree with dbomez. I read that at the time I first raised my fees to half way respectable levels.