You make websites; and if you also sell web design services, you probably do a good job at it. The problem is, however, being able to make good websites doesn’t always mean you are able to sell your web design services. You’re a designer, not a salesperson after all!
When you sell web design services for a living, your designs become more than an artistic endeavor, they suddenly become a product that you must market, create, and deliver. It’s a tough transition for some designers, but it is one you must make if you want to survive as an independent professional.
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Why it’s so hard to sell web design services
Selling anything online can be a challenge nowadays. With so many freelance web designers in the market, it’s hard to stand out among the masses. The problem is, a few designers made a lot of money some years back, and suddenly everyone thinks they can quit their job and start freelancing. While there is opportunity for most, with so many people attempting to sell the same thing, the competition is overwhelming.
The facts are, the freelance web designer has it hard these days. Web design services are particularly challenging because although a growing number of businesses need websites, technology has made it easy for them to do it themselves. On the other end of the spectrum, those that want more customized solutions often opt to use in-house web designers, rather than outsourcing their solutions.
Even those enterprising few that are comfortable with their ability to sell web design services may find the current market challenging, to say the least.
Can you afford a sales rep?
Depending on where you are on the web designer salary spectrum, one way for freelance and small agency designers to sell web design services is by hiring a sales rep. This way, you can focus on creating websites that outshine the competition and delight the customers. However, those sales reps aren’t cheap. Expect to pay at least $40,000 a year for a full-time sales rep. If those numbers are way outside of your budget, try these six tips instead.
How to sell website design services – our tips
Selling anything is about creating relationships. Focus on these six tips to improve the relationships you have with potential clients and sell more of your web design services.
1. Sell the utility of a website
A beautiful website is a piece of art. Unfortunately, most businesses are not interested in purchasing art. They are looking for results in the form of returns on their investment and increased customer satisfaction. Your website must solve their problems or fulfill their need, and if it looks good as well, even better.
When selling your services to a potential client, resist the urge to sell web design services strictly on the aesthetics. Instead, point out how your product (yes, product) will help them reach their business goals. Show your potential client how you can help them make more money. In the end, that is what they want to hear. Besides, when it comes to looks, your portfolio should speak for itself.
Here are some specific benefits that websites offer to businesses:
- Trackable metrics
- Personalized image
- Targeted advertising
- Enhanced productivity
Don’t be shy about pointing out these benefits, and using figures when at all possible. Common statistics such as the number of people online as well as the number of people using their phones to browse the internet can help you sell web design services.
It’s also important to remember that a website may be quite the investment for smaller companies, so it is essential to explain what they will receive. While most people are familiar with websites nowadays, and may even understand that they need them, many still do not have a proper expectation of their costs.
2. Be authentic
In an oversaturated market it is vital to do things that make you and your services stand out. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is by being authentic. This means being willing to remain an individual even when it is tempting to make yourself look larger than you are.
When it’s time to sell web design services, do your best to look human. Write in the first person, be honest about who you are and what you do. Make potential customers see you, as well as your work.
Authenticity makes it easier for potential clients to connect with you, and as a result, build a relationship. These relationships will make it easier for you to sell web design services without even asking.
3. Teach your clients
Especially if you work with small businesses or market your services in a rural area, there will probably be somewhat of a learning curve for your customers. Many business owners are not aware of what they can do with a well-designed website – but you do.
Show potential and current customers some of the things they can accomplish with a professionally built website, such as:
- Bill payments
- Subscription options
- Content management
- Newsletter registrations
These types of features aren’t always available in the DIY options, and many business owners aren’t educated on how they can help their business grow. In the end, it isn’t about what features you can add to the site, so don’t just rattle off a list of options. It is about how well you understand your client’s needs and can use technology to help them.
Another way to teach your clients is by comparing yourself to the competition. Although many may shy away from pointing out competitors, if you take the time to explain the differences to a potential client, it often works in your favor – especially if you are actually better. Remember, in an industry dominated by code, the competitive advantage often comes down to the relationship.
Consider educating your prospects on your your own web development process. Be sure to provide specific details and steps to show how your own process works. Consider utilizing a website planning tool to organize your pitches by including visual sitemaps allowing for prospects to see a representation of your website ideas.
4. Make products
Even though you sell web design services, most clients prefer to buy products. Therefore, one way to sell more services is to design them to look like products.
Creating products out of your services requires some forethought. You’ll need to systemize your services and understand exactly how long it takes you to do specific tasks. Choose a few services to focus on and sell them as packages. Automate whatever you can.
It may seem a bit impersonal, but in the end, it is better for the client. Making products in the form of packages improves your efficiency, helps deliver a consistent product, and prevents you from taking on projects that are not in your scope of interests.
Products can be created around a variety of needs. You could offer your web design services by industry or even by type of website. The important thing is that you avoid marketing yourself as the all-in-one website design solution. Pick a specialty that you can excel at and focus on that.
Here are some example “products”:
- E-commerce site
- Portfolio site
- Magazine site
- Real Estate site
- Lawyer site
- Consultancy site
Networking doesn’t have to mean developing a killer elevator pitch. In fact, if you truly want to sell web design services, its probably best if you chillax on that a bit. Because businesses are looking for web designers that understand their needs, you should focus on getting to know them first.
When looking for new clients, focus on your local community. Send emails to local businesses, introducing yourself and your services. Join local business organizations and volunteer some of your services, if you can afford to. These little steps will help build relationships with the people who need your services, and if they don’t buy from you, they likely know someone that will.
When it comes to finding ways to sell web design services that actually work you’ll want to steer away from the traditional methods. Forget mass emails, cold calling or advertisements. To build relationships that lead to long-term clients, you’re going to need to get personal.
6. Offer more than web design
Even if you are only interested in making websites, you may want to consider offering additional options that help you sell web design services. You don’t have to do these additional services personally. Simply select a few agencies and freelancers that you trust and combine it with your web design services.
Some great web design add-ons include:
- Social media profile creation
- Website management and hosting
- Website customer service
- Website sitemap design
- Internet marketing services
- Graphic design
- Rapid prototyping
- SAAS consulting
- User flow diagraming & a/b Testing
Any of these value-added services will show potential clients that you care about the success of their businesses – even if you’re only creating the website.
How to market web design services
Marketing is a big part of the sales process because it’s what gets eyes on your service. Networking is of course a great, personal way to start marketing your web design prowess and ability to deliver solutions but there’s more to it. Here are a few ways to market that won’t break the bank:
Share & discuss UX/UI designs
Add mockups from Figma or your computer to ensure UX/UI is moving in the right direction.
If someone needs web design services, chances are they’re on social media. After sorting out your ideal clients or finding your niche, find out where they congregate on social and get some ads in front of them. Maybe slide into their DMs if it makes sense.
Before you start selling…
The six tips above will help you stand out in today’s congested web design world, but it’s worthless if you don’t have anything to show off your skills. Make sure you have a solid portfolio of work before you reach out to potential clients – including your own website. If you can create case studies, do so. Once you have established yourself to a business as a designer they can trust, you’ll want to have some quality examples that justify their decision to work with you.