Offering my support and advice

by Roquen
7 replies
Hi all,

I just wanted to start a new thread in case anyone wanted some advice or support if they are transitioning or hoping to transition from a 9-5 job, to a home business. My husband and I have successfully achieved it (not via internet marking income but from our web design and graphic design business) to the point that we have my husband, myself + 3 full time staff working from our home office, all job boards full and struggling to get through the volume of work. We have NEVER advertised apart from our business website being online.

We had ups and downs and it was not always easy, I thought I'd share my experiences and suggestions if anyone wanted my thoughts. I'm no guru but I wanted to promote that it can actually be done, as from reading here I see many people are doing their IM and websites on the side, hoping to one day take the plunge!
#advice #offering #support
  • Profile picture of the author chiqita
    Hi Roquen, that's really impressive. How long have you and your husband been running the business? I'm still in the transition having quitted my 9-5 job for over a year now. Certainly would like to get some pointers, suggestions, etc.. since I'm very green in IM. Do PM me, really appreciate any motivation and support from everyone.
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  • Profile picture of the author RogozRazvan
    Hello Roquen,

    The web design market, as most service based market is very competitive. There are many amateurs who are driving the prices down and changing the status quo of what your services are worth.

    From what I can see on your website, you charge the correct rate for web-design and your $110/hour rate is impressive. How did you manage to combat the objection that these services are usually a lot cheaper?

    Also, who is your target market and what is the difference between working for someone offering $110/hour compared to $50, $25 or even $15?

    Thank you,
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  • Profile picture of the author Roquen
    Thanks for the responses, I'm on the road today so can't reply in as much detail as I'd like so will get to that later. we started off with small freelance jobs while still 9-5, our focus has always been quality of work, manually coding and designing everything. We honestly never gave much thought to the market saturation of cheaper designers as we moved into out home office full time. We've increased our prices over time, but always charged what we feel is reasonable for our experience level at the time and the quality of work we turn out.

    We offer a very personal service to clients, building rapport with them which has meant a lot of returning clients as well as word of mouth referrals. One aspect that really gave us a huge leap in terms of work volume was making the decision to focus our brand on our local town, which is a very small town and a large portion of our work is now local. A lot of clients in the baby boomer age group whi are running decent sized businesses are NOT tech/net savvy and like the old way of doing business but do want a web presence for their business. our clients like us because we don't treat them like a number, they know we understand local trends and businesses and our good reputation spreads easily. Never underestimate how much people want to avoid outsourcing and not being able to have a face to face meeting. Offering a personal, premium service is a niche of its own. We do have clients overseas or in other areas/cities which is great too, they came about via word of mouth, some jobs we found just via friends on the Internet who suggested us after seeing our work etc.

    Will share some more details ASAP juggling a iPad and a 2 and 5 yo kid right now :-)
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  • Profile picture of the author NashRyker
    The main piece of advice I'll share is that it's very important to NOT allow yourself to get scattered between too many projects/methods, etc. If you already have a business you're promoting, find one or two traffic methods and learn to master them before moving on to try other things.

    If you don't currently have an online business, find a niche that you have a passion for, and then either promote an already proven product or service within that niche (as an affiliate); or create your own info product within that niche and start promoting it yourself and through affiliates.

    Whatever you decide - STAY FOCUSED AND DON'T QUIT!

    True personal and financial freedom awaits those who persist.

    Life is good
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  • Profile picture of the author Hackbridge

    Congratulations on your successful business.

    I'm out shopping right now minding the children

    I need advice on creating Amazon sites. I have two domains I can use. Just simply advice on getting started would be fantastic.

    Thanks and God bless

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  • Profile picture of the author WeavingThoughts
    How did you initially find clients? Do you do cold calling? Warm calling?
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  • Profile picture of the author Roquen
    When we were transitioning to our home office (hubby had to quit a full time senior designer role at a major Sydney commercial radio station) we had already been handing out business cards to anyone and everyone knowing that was our plan. While hubby had been working full time we'd had a website online and were getting the odd logo design or small website job that we did after hours. I think in the digital age many of us are guilty of trying to take the easiest, fastest online option, but sometimes it pays to do things the old school way. We still do it - hand our business cards out to ANYONE we talk to - strangers we chat to in a cafe ("So, what do you do for work? "We run a little web and graphic design studio from home" "Oh cool!" "here take a card just in case you ever need us". We always give people a few of our cards and MANY of our big jobs have come about because someone kept our card and gave it to a friend at work who mentioned they needed a job and so on. Jobs led onto other jobs, and now to the point we are doing massive contracts for big multinational companies.

    Another thing we did early on (and try to now but we are sooo damn busy) is even when we were doing it very tough with finances, we'd post our clients a thank you gift after a job was done with a handwritten card. ALL of the clients have come back for more work - other jobs, website updates, complete re-designs when their site was fairly old etc. We'd spend $30 max on these gifts - sometimes it was our last spare cash but we did it anyway. I'd go to the local stores and grab a handmade block of chocolate, a cute natural fabric bag, maybe a nice pen or some drinking chocolate and handmade cookies etc. Put it in a cute brown bag with a business card stapled to the front and a heap inside plus a nice card. Doing little things like this - TANGIBLE gifts really makes clients feel special and appreciated and it is a warm fuzzy thing as the business owner to do. If you do things like that, I swear you get the money back x 10.

    We never advertised (not even now). We have a facebook page, we actively tell people what we do in general conversation and get a lot of work this way. We always had a website online that was SEO friendly and really promoted in our quotes and initial briefs that we code and design websites by hand, that artistic functional work is our forte. Now we are in a position where we have a waiting list, and clients who are happy to wait, and pay what we ask.

    ONe of the main things I advise to anyone who asks about our business model is that whatever it is you offer as a product or service, you really need to be passionate about it, you need to be prepared to NOT take shortcuts, and think on the fly. Sometimes we'd get asked about doing a job that was outside the scope of our knowledge, something we'd never done before. We'd take the job on, and buy a book from sitepoint, learn the skill and integrate it into the site and then add that to our list of skills for future jobs.

    We have a few clients who turn us down after a quote is too much, go away and get it done cheaper elsewhere, then return to us 12 months later begging us to re-design the site as the cheaper place didn't do a good enough job! So, price what you think is fair for your level of expertise. Don't get down if you lose out on a few jobs, for every 1 job we lose as our quote was too high, 5 or 6 more accept our quotes and fill our job board.
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