Looking to start building sites for people...I have a few questions if you wouldn't mind

14 replies
I'm not sure if this is the right section or not, but it's about making money online so I figured it belonged here...

So I've been searching around the net for these answers, and I tried using the search feature on this forum, but it never yields any results for me. Basically, I haven't been able to figure out the answers to the following questions. I was hoping that someone who is experienced in providing the "creating a website" service for people may be able to help me out here...

I do know how to create a customized website that doesn't look just like a standard blog. I've built 3 sites so far, and yes the one in my sig does have the "standard blog" look. However, I've recently been working on another site, which is currently not finished, but it's turning out to look really great. I've learned a ton about CSS and HTML...and I have the Thesis developer's license (which makes customization very easy). Therefore, I can easily customize a site to look anyway that I want...I'd say that my skills are at least "intermediate".

1.) My target number is $2000/month. I'm still working on building my list, building my own sites, etc. However, I believe I can achieve $2000/month faster by providing a service to people. Is $2000/month attainable for someone who doesn't really have experience building for others, but knows how to build a customized site of their own?

2.) What is the best way to get started in finding clients that will put their trust into someone with no portfolio?

3.) When creating a site for a client, how do you work the whole hosting/domain name purchasing part into the deal? Like, how to I make it so that the hosting and domain name will be under their name and not mine?

4.) How do you work out payments? For instance, do they pay me half upfront then the second half when I'm finished? How do I know I will get the second half?

That's pretty much all I've got...any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
#building #mind #peoplei #questions #sites #start
  • Profile picture of the author rmcmill
    #1) Easily attainable. I used to go around and take pictures of businesses in my area create a facebook page with followers and sell it to them with a website package etc. So your neighborhood is an easy way to look. Craigslist as well. Church also if you attend.

    #2) Create templates that are proven to convert. If you can't do that buy a developers license for a software like premise, or optimize press, that allows you to install on as many domains as you want.

    You could then use their templates etc. as your portfolio.

    For example if you bought the developers license for Genesis by studiopress you could use all of their example sites or themes on your own domains and/or subdomains using separate wordpress installs and/or templates for certain pages or subdomains. Overall you'd only need one domain, because you can use subdomains for each wordpress template or install. Like example1.abs.com, example2.abc.com etc.

    3) my take on this is many hosts offer unlimited addon domains. You could easily make a profit on the hosting you're already paying for. I have recurring income from a few people that I host as addon domains, mostly as a favors, but still a few extra 100 for nothing.

    4) I always took 50% UP front and created what they wanted in a test environment with a watermark etc. and made it clear that I would create what they wanted for 50 percent up front and when we agreed on the design would implement the agreed upon design for the remainder. Used paypal, check, or cash. Which covers everything...
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  • Profile picture of the author Bkelly301
    Hey rmcmill...thanks a lot for that info. That clears up a lot, but there's a few things that I'm still a bit confused about. Do you mind if I pm you when I post some follow-up questions to this thread (I'm away from my comp now)? That way it doesn't get lost onto the second page before you have time to see it?

    Thanks again!
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    • Profile picture of the author rmcmill
      no problem... Would be happy to help.
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      • Profile picture of the author Bkelly301
        Great thanks a lot!
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        • Profile picture of the author thriftgirl62
          I've been looking for someone willing to take enough time to learn the web design business right the first time. Would you like to build database driven [some ecommerce, membership or both] websites for people who sign up for the 30-day free trial here: Online Business Platform These 4 websites were built using the same platform:

          Local Business HQ - Consumer Reviews & Reports

          Local Business Issues

          Custom Jewelry by Jahda dot Com

          Welcome to Production Car Care Products

          And then there's another geo lead generating platform that just needs the front end designed for each site and the back end configured so it works properly. There's a link to the guide on each of these 4 examples:

          SAVE-A-CELL - someone tried to design that one but...nah, back to the drawing board it goes.

          NETHOMETOWN

          IPO Game

          SpyDudes Shop

          I also have complete web design courses that teach you everything you asked about, some with certifications at the end. None of them are launches from years gone by or promoted by marketers. If you like custom built cars, boats, houses, jewelry, etc.. then you'll understand the difference. If you have questions, you can talk directly to the creator who actually uses what he teaches in his own business every day.

          There is nothing to buy. No sales pitches or high end coaching offers are going to pop up anywhere. What you see is exactly what it is. Real web design businesses that need someone who knows how to design web pages to pick up where I left off. I don't know enough about designing anything past mediocre which is why they're just sitting there until, if not you, then someone like you comes along.

          It's a place to start without any risk involved and always a work in progress with nothing etched in stone. What more could you ask for? Some people like rigid buisness plans, clocks, calendars and timers. I just like to have fun working every day without looking at the clock. Let me know what you think.
          Signature

          I retired in 2005 at 43 and now I give away websites like these for FREE [hosting excluded]

          When you make at least $100+ per month, we split the profit 80/20 and YOU get the 80% Until then, you keep 100% and I'll help you drive traffic, get backlinks and put the domain in your name too!
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  • Profile picture of the author jwmann2
    Very attainable. I know a guy that charges a flat rate $1500 for a simple website creation and does many of those per month. You should try to also offer hosting for the folks that you create websites for and provide free support to them when they call rather than them dealing with someone in India. The same guy I had mentioned went to college in Nashville, started building websites for Country Music Artists trying to make it big and word got around quick that he was the guy to go to. He knew there was a niche in Nashville and he took advantage of it. Hope this helps.
    Best of luck to you.
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  • Profile picture of the author chaotic squid
    I've been into web design for about a year now, and WordPress for about 6 months. Have built about 6 sites (plus a couple small practice ones in pure HTML/CSS) So I'm probably just a few steps ahead of you BKelly.

    First you need to define a market. Are you selling to small businesses? Freelancers? Medium/large corporations? If someone needs you to build them an ecommerce site would you be able to? Building blogs can hardly be compared to building an entire online store with payment processing, memberships, etc...

    Regarding your questions

    1.) 2,000 a month is possible but not as easy as it sounds. Designing a site for a client can easily take up to a month (more or less) because of communication, content creation, revisions, and error/problems so it will be difficult to do more than 1 site a month by yourself unless you hire help or outsource (more costs).

    To make 2,000 in profit you're going to have to charge upwards of 3,000-4,000 per site to cover costs (taxes, themes, hosting, premium plug-ins, hired help, software, payment fees, etc...) and that will be very difficult to sell to small business owners because many will not understand the value of a professional website.

    2.) Build a portfolio is the best way to get trust and get clients. If people can see work you've done, testimonials from people that you've worked with, and demonstrate that your knowledgeable/professional it will be much easier to build creditability. This may even mean that you'll do a few sites for real cheap (few hundred dollars) to build up a portfolio and more experience quickly. Then slowly start to raise your prices as become more valuable.

    3. I recommend that clients purchase their own domain, because the domain then becomes their property and an asset to their business. As for hosting, I ask what the client is most comfortable with. That they can get hosting themselves and then forward me all their credentials, or that I can setup hosting for them.

    Everyone's going to be a little different on how they want the domain/hosting done, so best to be respectful of their wishes while also giving them recommendations and different choices.

    4.) For websites I usually do half upfront and then half once the final design/layout has been chosen (people will be very hesitant to just fork over 2,000 to someone they just met) this way there's more leverage and trust in the relationship. Basically, once the 2nd payment has gone through then the site is finalized to be 'launched' so make sure that the payments are all squared away before the site "officially launches" because then you'll lose more control if you wait much after that.

    However, for smaller projects like logo designs and business cards I always ask for 100% upfront because it's only a few hundred dollars and makes the whole process much easier with just a single payment.

    Hope that helps a little
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  • Profile picture of the author Davecg
    It's awesome that you're learning html and css, but I think you're definitely jumping the gun. Web development is an incredibly competitive industry. There are a ton of people out there who have been building sites for years that will not only have more coding expertise, but more importantly understand what makes websites effective marketing tools; and a lot of them are priced very competitively. You'd have to offer cut throat prices to even get work and honestly while it does look like you can get a site up and running, it takes a very specific skill set to make a strategically designed website (I say this as a 13 yr developer, even I hire a good designer with specific expertise in web design). I think you would struggle to hit several hundred a month due to the fierce competition.You should continue to learn about programming and use this forum to learn how to make a website that is an effective marketing tool. But I definitely wouldn't recommend quitting your day job until you've gained much more experience.

    Here's my answers to your questions.

    1. I don't think this is a realistic goal for someone with 3 sites under their belt. It's just a very competitive industry.

    2. There really isn't an easy answer for this. Keep building sites of your own and focus on learning what makes great sites effective. It's going to be extremely hard to sell someone a site with your current portfolio.

    3. If you're asking this question I'd say you should spend some time researching registrars and web hosts. I would register everything in their name and give them the login info but tell them to avoid making edits. Anyone who does their research before purchasing a site will stray away from companies that try to keep ownership of their domain and host (unless you lease a server and host the sites yourself). Make sure you understand how all this works, your clients are going to ask these kinds of questions themselves and if you can't answer them with confidence you won't get the sale.

    4. This all depends on your price point. If you're $1,000 or less you can ask for all of it upfront but you'll need a good contract so your clients feel comfortable paying you before delivery of the product. Larger projects can be broken up into payments based on milestones in the project. With your experience and no real portfolio pieces you're probably going to have to do the site with no upfront payments and even take a risk that they may not like the end result and not pay (I know this sounds extreme but so is trusting someone to build your company website who's never built a site professionally).


    I know I seem to be a Debbie downer here, but I've been in that world and can tell you it's so competitive these days that even if you're a very experienced developer with a great designer it's still very hard to compete in website sales. Your only saving grace with the amount of experience you have would be if you're a great salesman. Again, I don't mean to discourage you here, just trying to save you from learning these lessons the hard way. Best of luck!
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  • Profile picture of the author chaotic squid
    Some good points Dave. Web Design is very competitive and to stand out you'll want to find ways to differentiate yourself. For example I also do professional photography, and offer discounted photoshoots to clients to help get unique and professional images of the company/business.
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    • Profile picture of the author savidge4
      Honestly, forget all the find your market, there's a lot of competition, I don't have a portfolio.. if you want it, chances are, opportunity is right out your front door, or close by anyways.

      An exercise for you, search some random topic. Pick a site. Can you replicate that design with your skills? Do that a couple of times.

      Since you currently have room mates ask one of them to draw out on a piece of paper what their idea of a website would be. Go and duplicate that.

      That is in general the web design process. A customer is going to tell you they like such and such site, or they are going to draw it out for you.

      As long as you are comfortable with replicating design, you can move forward with confidence.

      Start with places you know. See if they already have a site, if they do, walk in start a conversation with the owner.. ask if they hear people found them online. <-- this is the opening to you asking further questions. Go from there. You will fail a few times, and the more you do it, the better you will get.

      If the place does not have a web site, start with the same line... oh you don't have a web site? have you thought about having one? Use your phone or a laptop, Show them they ARE online in like the yellow pages. Explain people are seeing you this way, would it not make sense to have YOUR story out there as well.

      This will bridge the gap on those folks that say oh I don't need to have a site, but when you show them that they don't have a site, but they are listed. There business is already there. Its really awesome when the info on YP is incorrect! haha

      Your Motivated.. you got bills to pay, and a looming deadline in front of you. You can make it happen or sit there. I know which way you'll go!

      Good Luck!
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      Success is an ACT not an idea
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  • Profile picture of the author Ricardo Furtado
    Sorry, I do not mean to put a damper on your spirits, but let me quote you – “Is $2000/month attainable for someone who doesn't really have experience building for others,”

    I am afraid the answer is NO – if it were so easy, then so many people would not be struggling with IM and quitting it in despair.

    Sure, many people are going to tell you that it is very easy to achieve what you are trying to – well to that, I would only say – all then best – you will learn the truth on your own.

    Once again, I am not trying to discourage you, I am just trying to tell you the real scenario.

    All the best. Regards.
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    Ricardo Furtado

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  • Profile picture of the author Bkelly301
    Thanks a lot everyone for the honest advice based on experience!

    No I have no experience now, but I'm a smart motherf***er with an innate ability to figure anything out. I also have tons of time!

    I was thinking along the lines of building small, simple sites for well beyond market price in order to build up a portfolio. I will create a website with "my portfolio" on there as well. I will gradually move myself up in price as I gain more and more professional experience.

    This thread was very helpful. Thanks a lot!
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  • Profile picture of the author DubDubDubDot
    Originally Posted by Bkelly301 View Post

    Is $2000/month attainable for someone who doesn't really have experience building for others, but knows how to build a customized site of their own?
    That depends on your skill level. Modern web design is art married to technology. The more you excel at each one, the better your chances.

    You mentioned using WordPress for this. Carefully consider what happens when WP and plugins need to be updated and what happens if a plugin breaks or is hacked. Who is responsible for that and could it mar your reputation?

    Originally Posted by Bkelly301 View Post

    .) What is the best way to get started in finding clients that will put their trust into someone with no portfolio?
    Would you buy from someone without a portfolio?

    Your currently empty portfolio doesn't need to have actual clients. You can make sites for fictitious businesses and put those in your portfolio.

    Originally Posted by Bkelly301 View Post

    3.) When creating a site for a client, how do you work the whole hosting/domain name purchasing part into the deal? Like, how to I make it so that the hosting and domain name will be under their name and not mine?
    Get reseller accounts.

    Originally Posted by Bkelly301 View Post

    4.) How do you work out payments? For instance, do they pay me half upfront then the second half when I'm finished? How do I know I will get the second half?
    Payment usually comes in stages.




    These sites do not meet the minimum quality standards of modern design and should not be mentioned as examples of what to do.
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    • Profile picture of the author thriftgirl62
      Originally Posted by DubDubDubDot View Post

      These sites do not meet the minimum quality standards of modern design and should not be mentioned as examples of what to do.
      Well, duh? They obviously aren't finished yet even if they do work. You must have missed the part where I clearly stated, "I don't know enough about designing anything past mediocre which is why they're just sitting there until, if not you, then someone like you comes along."

      They are simply a place to start. The back ends work beautifully regardless of how the front end looks. The design, menus, navigation, pages, etc... can be easily changed by someone who knows more about front end design than just the minimum to get by. A good knowledge of HTML5, CSS3, and Javascript is all you need to design the front end of working sites like these.

      I've got all the forms, contracts and design option forms that give clients complete freedom to choose exactly what they want they're site to look like without losing any of the website's functionality already built in and working.

      Web designers make web pages come together and look good on the outside which is why there are so many blogs being sold as websites. It's easier to keep the price down when you sell WP Blogs to business owners who are only too happy to run it themselves and keep it constantly updated [at first] versus selling them a real database driven website that actually works for the business owner so they have time to continue doing what they're supposed to be doing, running their business.

      One thing is for sure. You won't be able to do everything yourself [nobody can] which is why I'm looking for a good front end designer who understands what it takes to run a long term sustainable business. Whether you make money or not depends on whether you love what you're doing or not. The best advice you'll ever get in 69 seconds or less: Steve Jobs Secret to Success RIP
      Signature

      I retired in 2005 at 43 and now I give away websites like these for FREE [hosting excluded]

      When you make at least $100+ per month, we split the profit 80/20 and YOU get the 80% Until then, you keep 100% and I'll help you drive traffic, get backlinks and put the domain in your name too!
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