Taking my web design business to the next level... help?

9 replies
Hey everyone let me explain my story...

So I graduated high school at the age of 17 with mediocre grades at best. Decided to start working, held a lot of jobs all in the 'labour/skilled labour' market (ie: construction, HVAC, things of that nature). The jobs got progressively better in pay, but the work seemed to get progressively worse at the same time. Then at age 21 after doing that for too long I decided I wanted an education, so I applied for university, took the tests and to my amazement I got in. So I started school with some small savings and wondered what I would do to pay all the bills, this is when I first went to the internet for money. Started uploading files to those annoying survey file download services, made some money, it got me hungry for more. I stopped that and moved into the E-cig market, which 2 years ago was quite hot; imported from china and made good money off that - Health Canada didn't approve so that was the end of that.

Now to this chapter of my life. I was selling the E-cig's locally but I designed a site for them, so that got me into web design. A friend saw the site and liked it so I built his too. Started advertising locally on craigslist and I make on average 1-2k a month. This isn't very good, but for a full time student it works.

So lately I've noticed that craigslist competition is getting fierce! and I don't think there is really a way to expand my business while still making any decent amount of money on craigslist. So I am looking to move from the 'passive' craigslist ad's to something a little more pro-active. But because all of the people from craigslist that called me already wanted a website, I have very little experience in actually 'selling' my services.

Currently I have two semesters left in my Criminology degree, it's an interesting field but I know it will be hard to find a good job. So I am planning to take this summer off school, something I haven't done since starting university, to just put four months of serious effort into my business and see if there is any future in it. I am really looking for advice on what exactly I should do, maybe even from someone who has been in a similar situation.

I finish exams in about 3 weeks then I can officially kick all my plans into gear, but I want to start figuring out exactly what I should do so I can really hit the ground running after exams.

If anyone has experienced advertising web design locally and can give me some insight I would really appreciate it!

My preliminary thoughts on my marketing involve: (so far)
1. Cold Calling
2. Cold Walking


Thanks for reading, it was a long one!
#business #design #level #taking #web
  • Profile picture of the author RentItNow
    Andrew, sounds like a good path already. You are learning entrepreneurship the same time you are studying your main career choice. I have never regretted taking a similar path but the one thing I KNOW I would have changed is I would have learned sales at a much earlier time in my life. You can certainly build a marketing business now or you can even learn sales more by working for a large firm working along side hardened salespersons. I don't know if you have read Rich Dad, Poor Dad but he actually said most of his success came from selling photocopiers because he learned the sales skill first and then built his own businesses.

    Just an option for you.

    Me personally, I have had great success (in Canada) cold walking. Will be getting more into Cold Calling soon because frankly, I could probably make a whole lot more money letting my fingers do the walking so to speak.
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    I have no agenda but to help those in the same situation. This I feel will pay the bills.
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  • Originally Posted by mcflause View Post

    Hey everyone let me explain my story...

    So I graduated high school at the age of 17 with mediocre grades at best. Decided to start working, held a lot of jobs all in the 'labour/skilled labour' market (ie: construction, HVAC, things of that nature). The jobs got progressively better in pay, but the work seemed to get progressively worse at the same time. Then at age 21 after doing that for too long I decided I wanted an education, so I applied for university, took the tests and to my amazement I got in. So I started school with some small savings and wondered what I would do to pay all the bills, this is when I first went to the internet for money. Started uploading files to those annoying survey file download services, made some money, it got me hungry for more. I stopped that and moved into the E-cig market, which 2 years ago was quite hot; imported from china and made good money off that - Health Canada didn't approve so that was the end of that.

    Now to this chapter of my life. I was selling the E-cig's locally but I designed a site for them, so that got me into web design. A friend saw the site and liked it so I built his too. Started advertising locally on craigslist and I make on average 1-2k a month. This isn't very good, but for a full time student it works.

    So lately I've noticed that craigslist competition is getting fierce! and I don't think there is really a way to expand my business while still making any decent amount of money on craigslist. So I am looking to move from the 'passive' craigslist ad's to something a little more pro-active. But because all of the people from craigslist that called me already wanted a website, I have very little experience in actually 'selling' my services.

    Currently I have two semesters left in my Criminology degree, it's an interesting field but I know it will be hard to find a good job. So I am planning to take this summer off school, something I haven't done since starting university, to just put four months of serious effort into my business and see if there is any future in it. I am really looking for advice on what exactly I should do, maybe even from someone who has been in a similar situation.

    I finish exams in about 3 weeks then I can officially kick all my plans into gear, but I want to start figuring out exactly what I should do so I can really hit the ground running after exams.

    If anyone has experienced advertising web design locally and can give me some insight I would really appreciate it!

    My preliminary thoughts on my marketing involve: (so far)
    1. Cold Calling
    2. Cold Walking


    Thanks for reading, it was a long one!

    Andrew

    Andrew,

    If you're good at webdesign, then look into joint venturing with another company to see if they can use your services to enhance their clients' base needs.

    It's all about opening your mind to see other opportunities that are all around you.

    Seek and you will find!

    Meaning, realize what you have and what others need, then find a solution for them.

    Need help / inspiration? Use the search function here, by using your keywords on what types of services that you're looking for to fulfill!

    Cheers,

    JMB
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  • Profile picture of the author vogancotner
    Any business is depends only on market and customers. Customer is the king and if you are able to provide the awesome and uninterrupted services then they are always come with you. Finally you can step up your business to the next level.
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  • Profile picture of the author hostwindsEvanM
    Have to get a leg up on the competition. If they are still advertising on CL, then likely they arent too far up themselves.
    Target local google searches, participate in local meetups or forums/boards, find local companies or startups and form a partnership.

    Also, you will _require_ a portfolio of your top work. If you aren't 110% proud of whatever it may be, do not put it on your site. You want your own site, and your portfolio, to speak for you.

    Best of luck!
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  • Profile picture of the author Xifos
    I started out by doing the odd site for free for friends etc. and recommendations and referrals built up from there. I believe leave everyone to what they're good and focus my own energy on what I'm good at. Basically what I'm saying is that if you have a budget then use this for the marketing and spend your time doing what you love doing and get your portfolio up at the same time.

    If you're in the UK I did a site for a telemarketing company who are absolute gods at what they do.

    The CEO has done work for me and I've also seen him in action.

    His name is Jazz and you can get in touch via his website xpandunlimited.co.uk
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  • Profile picture of the author iAmNameLess
    Craigslist is a numbers game, and a copywriting game. If you quit, you lose out on money, if you get discouraged and don't post religiously and consistently work on your copy, then you lose out on money.

    Competition on CL is fierce because it works. I haven't seen a decrease in my income that comes from craigslist. In fact, I just got a $5,000 deal the other day with craigslist. The problem is, most people are not patient enough. It will take you a full month to really get results with craigslist.

    You want to take your business to the next level? Then do it.... You already said something that will help... cold calling.

    Now mix your craigslist posting with cold calling, and maybe some direct mailing and you have a marketing strategy in place that will increase your profits by 300% minimum.
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  • Profile picture of the author Andrew H
    Hey Guys,

    Thanks for responding, this post was from 3 months ago it was kind of a good 'refresh' of where I was 3 months ago. Since then my business has just exploded. After my exams I landed a large 10k contract for a inventory management system, with many other features, built in php and mysql for a manufacturing company (it was actually fun to build, learnt a lot of new stuff). After that was another big contract, and then another and now I am just swamped with development work (All web design and database systems).

    I have taken the summer off school, not because of the business but just because none of my classes I needed were offered. I think it might have been the best thing that's happened. I am lined up to make 30k this summer and it feels good, but I must say it is harder to keep grinding the long hours when you have a decent amount of money in the bank (weird how that works eh?). So I am just trying to find some motivation after slacking off for the last week or so (ie: maybe a new car? I dunno).

    I really have to thank craigslist for taking my business to where it is. iAmNameLess is right in that you need to just keep posting and the jobs will come (be ready to filter out some tire kickers though - Never start a job without a deposit). I got all my first clients from craigslist and now all my bigger clients have been referrals from those lower paying craigslist web design jobs - and currently I am not advertising at all because I just have so much work to get done.

    So I guess long story short is - I never actually had to put any of those marketing plans into action (cold calling, etc) because everything just kind of fell into place. Goes to show that if you work hard enough you can make your own luck (but after you get that luck, how do you stay motivated to work the long hours??)
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    • Profile picture of the author digichik
      Originally Posted by mcflause View Post

      Hey Guys,

      I am lined up to make 30k this summer and it feels good, but I must say it is harder to keep grinding the long hours when you have a decent amount of money in the bank (weird how that works eh?). So I am just trying to find some motivation after slacking off for the last week or so (ie: maybe a new car? I dunno).

      Goes to show that if you work hard enough you can make your own luck (but after you get that luck, how do you stay motivated to work the long hours??)
      The motivation will come when you realize that 30k is not as much as it appears to be and when you realize that the real fun and motivation comes from seeing how far you can take your business, at such a young age. Do you realize you can earn far more at what you are presently doing, than you'll ever probably earn with a criminal justice degree? And you can have more freedom too. What portions of your business can you outsource, so that you don't burn out.

      I'm really happy for you, keep challenging yourself.
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