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Ideas For Businesses

7 Ways To Make More Money Designing Websites

How To Make More Money Designing Websites (7 Ways)

(note: some of the links in this article are affiliate links. I may make a commission for recommending them at no cost to you).

Yes, you can make money building websites – but this article is about making MORE money!

How to grow the profit in your website businessSo you’ve got a web design business and you’ve figured out how to make money building websites, maybe as a side hustle or your full-time business, but the question on your mind is how you can make MORE money designing websites. It’s an important question because by scaling you can start to outsource or hire for the things that aren’t in your sweet spot, and start really focussing on working on your business instead of in your business.

Often we default to thinking if we can bring in more clients then we’ll make more money, and while that’s often true, there may be ways to be more profitable with the clients you currently have.

Remember: Your client’s end goal isn’t building a website

Your client’s end goal is to make money online. Building a website isn’t their end goal, just a tool to get them to profitability. You’ll help them see how building a website is a path to that end goal.

You’ll increase your confidence and value in building websites when you see yourself as providing products and services that help your client make more money, not simply seeing yourself as just a web designer who is designing websites for local businesses or someone’s side hustle.

It’s worth repeating: They don’t call you because they want to create a website. Business owners call you because they want to find clients online.

This is not going to be a step-by-step how-to in building your side hustle, but more of a brainstorm of ideas that you can use to increase your bottom line and make money building websites. Not every idea will be a match for your business, but take the ideas and find the ones that will matter to your clients.

1) Understand The Benefits of Quantity vs. Quality (aka Templates vs Custom)

building a web design business to be more profitableLet me start by saying as a generalized idea, neither is better, but it is important to understand that both are different when you’re building websites for clients. Most web designers will learn that one is better than the other for their particular goals, and understanding the differences can fast-track you to deciding which best suits your model and helps you make more money.

When I first started to make money building websites, I knew I wanted to pursue a service model so I could be building monthly recurring income, but I was building my client’s websites upfront (custom) for $0 to get them into the service model.

It would take 10-12 months into their small business service package before I was making money. Business owners loved the model, but it was because I was giving away my shirt. I still laugh when I think how inefficient it was to try and do custom work for simply a service model.

Learn from me: If you want to make money building websites, it’s best to choose one or the other.

Scaling Your Web Design Business on Quantity (Leveraging Website Templates)

Quantity is a great way to scale your business when you’ve built a highly repeatable model. If you build websites for ice cream shops, and each time you bring on a new client, you’re populating your ice cream shop template, you can look at scaling based on quantity; How quickly can we bring in more ice cream shops?

This is a popular model for selling websites as a service (instead of an upfront lump sum) because you’re simply populating your existing templates and getting the client’s website live or a monthly service fee. (This is the model of the “Build Your Agency” course if you want to learn step by step how to create this model.)

The Quantity approach helps your scale your business quickly because you’re building monthly recurring revenue, and once your hit a particular income level, you can easily outsource populating the templates because your entire system is built on a repeatable model.

It is contingent on you focussing on a specific industry and building websites for that industry – it’s the only way templates become efficient as a web designer.

It’s also a very appealing model for a small business, or business owners who are just starting out because instead of hiring someone at a graphic design hourly rate, you’ll get their website up for $0, and a reasonable monthly fee.

How to choose an industry to make money building websites through templates:

  • Mostly individual owned (not franchises with a head office – perfect for a small business)
  • Similar needs between different businesses (in the ice cream example, list of flavors, specials, and directions would work for most businesses)
  • Simple business model (ice cream has a fairly straightforward offering. A movie production company, or app startup, or sculptor are not going to be standard from one business to another).

You’re also creating income stability because you can project your monthly income based on your current client base. If you don’t bring in any new clients next month, you’ll still have the monthly recurring revenue coming in. If a client walks away, they’re just a small piece of your monthly income.

 

Building with quantity gives stability because you don’t have a large portion of your income depending on any one client.

When Focusing On Quantity Works Best:

You have a repeatable model. You can be are cost-efficient with that model (for instance, $0 upfront and a monthly service fee for a website: perfect for a side hustle or local businesses starting out). Bring in as many clients as we can to execute that model.

Scaling Your Web Design Business On Quality (Custom Design)

custom web design workNot to suggest that your quantity website templates aren’t of high quality, but in this case, we’re talking about custom design work, which understandably comes with a higher dollar value than populating a template.

With custom work, you need to charge an upfront fee to build out a custom website. That’s not to say that you can’t use a starting point like a WordPress and a theme builder like Divi, but you’re not simply copying and pasting text and pictures, you’re actually getting and creating custom content for these based on their business model, audience, needs, opt-in offers.

Custom sites may also need a specific type of functionality – a quoting program, API to a listing website, booking appointments online, etc.

While I’m a big proponent of not reinventing the wheel (there’s probably already software out there that will do these things) there is likely a cost to using those products, so you’ll want to look into those costs before providing a quote.

With custom web design projects, you’re often able to make a substantial profit from a single project to hold you over until the next project. When you figure out how to bring in new clients regularly, then custom projects can allow you to scale by building your team.

When Focusing On Custom Quality Works Best:

You serve an industry where every client has custom needs, or you simply want to serve just a few high-ticket clients.

2) Service Your Web Design Clients Monthly

Even if you decide not to sell websites as a service, and you do high-ticket custom web design work up front, your clients still have ongoing costs to service their site:

  • Yearly domain registration
  • Hosting
  • Updates or changes to their content
  • Renewing licenses on any custom WordPress plugins
  • Email Addresses

Most businesses wouldn’t think twice about a $100-$200/month service fee for your agency to look after all of these details and wrap them into a single service package, and depending on a business’s needs, you could be substantially higher than this. If you’re not servicing your clients monthly, you’re handing money to someone else.

Increase your profit 30% with a service package:

You can easily increase your profit per client in the first year by 30% by offering them a monthly service package. For instance, if you’re selling a custom design at $10,000, then a $300/month service package brings an additional $3600 into your business in the first year, and the lifetime value of the client skyrockets.

Even if you’re in the $3K-$5K custom price range right now, $150/month client service package is an extra $1800 from the client in the first year.

Keys to selling a website maintenance package:

  1. Include it in your initial quote. Don’t spring it on your client once their website goes live. Set the expectation from the beginning that you’ll be servicing their website each month before you start designing.
  2. Position the service package fee in terms that relate to your client’s business. How many of your client’s products equate to your monthly service fee? (For the same as booking one night, we’ll service your website each month. For less than a round of 4 players, we’ll service your website each month. For less than the profit from one new client, we’ll look after your website each month).
  3. Phrase your pricing. For some clients, $299/month sounds like more than $10/day. Phrase your pricing to resonate with your client’s perspective.
  4. Set all of your invoices to the first of the month. You want your recurring income to all show up at the same time, not a few dollars here and there throughout the month. This makes it easiest to track if someone misses a payment, and helps with budgeting your web design business.
  5. Use Recurring Invoice Software. DO NOT try to manually process your recurring invoices each month, or send out an invoice. Get a credit card on file. There are plenty of accounting software options that will do this for you like Freshbooks.

3) Increase Your Prices When Quoting New Websites For Clients

I know this sounds incredibly obvious, but the hardest amount of money to get someone to spend is $1. Once they’ve decided they’ve decided that your services are worth spending money on, then it’s just a matter of balancing the value you bring with the return they expect to see.

Increasing Website Prices Gets Easier Over Time

As your business has a stable number of clients on a monthly service plan and you’re hustling for growth rather than hustling simply to get enough to pay the bills, then it becomes easier for you to walk away from business owners when their budget doesn’t match your value.

In the meantime, start adding 10% or 15% to the last price you were about to quote, or increase your package price on your website by 30%.

Fight The Fear: Think of a 30% increase this way:

If 1/3rd of your potential clients walk away because your pricing is too high in their perception, you gross the same money with 1/3 less work.

4) Use A “Request A Quote” Page On Your Website including Budget Field

quoting clients for web designToo many designers have a “contact” form on their website that asks for name, email, phone, and message. This is a surefire way to leave money on the table since you’re going into a conversation with a potential client with no context for their business.

If you’re lucky, business owners might leave something in the message field like “I’m starting a paving business and need a website. Afternoons are the best time to call me.”

Instead, have a “request a quote form” that asks 10-12 questions (should be able to complete it in 3-4 minutes) to give you some context for the client’s business. Here’s a general guideline:

  • Name
  • Phone number
  • Email
  • Name of your business?
  • Do you currently have a website? If yes, what’s the address:
  • Where are you located?
  • What’s the best time to call? (morning, afternoon, evening)
  • How do you currently drive traffic to your website / gain new clients?
  • What is your design budget? (usually a dropdown with some options/context and a price range)
  • What is your budget for servicing your website each month and bringing in new traffic?

In my first year in business, too often the client would respond to a quote with something like “Wow, that’s really reasonable quote!” (aka – wow, you’re cheap). I even lost a few potential clients and they told me they went with another designer who was priced much higher because they didn’t trust that I could actually do their project for the small amount I quoted. (paraphrasing). By lacking confidence it showed through in my pricing.

I would be leaving money on the table because they had a $5K budget, and I was trying to make the sale for $2200 to pay the bills. Once I added the request a white form to my website, I now had a much better idea for the context for their project, budget, and scope and could let them know if their needs matched their budget, rather than guessing at both.

I’m not advocating topping out a client’s web design budget just for the sake of profit

If they have a simple project, quote them accordingly, and add on some bonus value.

For instance, if they have a $10K budget, but you would have quoted them $3k, then let them know their website is $3k, but with the balance of their budget, you could work with someone to create them a custom video for their site, create some social media graphics and images for them to use, build a landing page for each of the subsections of their audience, or help them create blog content for the next 12 months.

This is especially true if you’ve just quoted other potential clients a similar project for $3K. You can’t then turn around a charge another local business $10K without any justification on the difference – you’re just going to upset someone.

5) Don’t Quote Website Prices Over The Phone for Custom Work

If you have a templated quantity-style model then your prices are probably already on your website. Go ahead and send that link to the client when they ask about pricing, but for custom work (or they want your template, but have a specific customization need that’s not included in your typical package) don’t give them a quote over the phone.

Most people on the follow-up call will ask “How much is this project?” or “What is your hourly rate?”

I always have their “Request A Quote” submission in front of me when I call for a follow-up, so I can look down and see what they put in their budget field. I’ll often say “I see that the budget you had in mind was “$5K – $10K” so I’ll look into the specifics of your customization details and see what software is out there to help us get those results for you, and I’ll send you an email tomorrow with full details. I see your email address on the form is ______. Is that the best address to send your quote?”

What if you think their project is an $8K project, then after you get off the phone, you find out the software they need to do a specific integration is $2499.99? That’s going to hurt. Instead, add that as a line in your quote so they understand where the costs are coming from.

Other things to avoid on your phone call:

Don’t talk about WordPress, themes, plugins, or related software; these things don’t matter to your clients (plus, if they google WordPress they’re going to see the word “free”). What matters to them is making money, so talk with them about how you’ll get results, not the tools you’ll use to get there.

Quick Tip for Quoting Web Design Projects:

Don’t send them a quote, then wait for approval, then send a contract. Send their quote as their web design contract with a note that says, “Here’s your quote. When you’re ready to move forward, just sign and scan it back to me and we’ll get started.”

6) Execute Every Time

The best way to grow your income is to service your clients well.

Their word of mouth is the best way for new clients to arrive at your request a quote form already deciding they want to work with you.

If their friend says you’re the best, you always reply to emails the same day, and you hit your timelines, then you’re miles ahead of the competition, and worth paying a premium for.

How to get more client referrals than 90% of Web Designers: Communication.

  • Hit your timelines and commitments every time.
  • Have a system of steps that the client can follow along to build confidence in your process.
  • Make suggestions to your clients that may increase their return (It’s been a while since we updated photos, would you send 1 or 2 new ones over? Any new menu items to add to your website? Have you considered putting a button at the top each month for your monthly special?)
  • Answer emails.
  • Answer your phone.
  • Send out Christmas or Holiday cards.
  • Email your clients just to see if they need any updates to their site.
  • Let them know when you’re upgrading your services / hosting speed / etc at no cost to them.
  • Like their posts on social media.

Want to be known as the expert web designer among your clients and leverage their network for referrals? Be present for them and they’ll refer you in a heartbeat.

7) Offer Additional Digital Marketing Services

What other digital marketing services can you price in a way that adds value to your clients and also has margin to be profitable for you?

Can you come up with something that you can create once and make available to multiple clients with some light customization?

Additional Digital Marketing Products and Services:

  • Email Marketing: A weekly or monthly email newsletter for their client list.
  • Social media content management: create and schedule their social media posts for them.
  • Custom video made for their website.
  • Host a live stream interview once a month with someone from their office to answer client questions.
  • Create Blog content for their website.
  • Opt-In content to grow their email list.
  • Facebook Ads.
  • Design a landing page for each of their subsections of the clients they serve.

When you’re thinking about services you could offer, make sure that you’re charging enough to make a profit per hour that you’re putting in, or about to outsource the work for less than it costs you to get paid for the job.

Bonus: Using Social Media To Bring In New Clients with a social media strategy.

While I’m a BIG proponent of leveraging the power of social media, make sure these other ideas are working for you first to maximize the profitability of your future cleints.

 

Final Thoughts On Making More Money Building Websites:

You can almost always increase your prices and make more money. It’s more often about your self-confidence than your client’s budget, but I’m hoping these tools along the way will help you gain the confidence to add that extra margin, and build a recurring income.

Whether you’re a full-time web designer, this is a side hustle, or you’re exploring new ways to make money online through additional products and services for your clients, you’ve got this.

 

Have a question or an idea I missed? Leave it below so we can all learn together!

 

 

 

Categories
Ideas For Businesses

31-Point WordPress Website Launch Checklist

Isn’t it the worst to feel you might be missing something, especially when you’re launching a client’s website and helping them represent themselves online?

  • What if you missed a step in SEO and they won’t show up in search?
  • What if you forget to back up their site and something goes down?
  • What if you don’t put in their email address on the contact form and they miss a quote?
  • What if your intern or new team member doesn’t know that you ALWAYS turn something off in development that needs to be turned back on when it goes live?

DOZENS of other things that can go wrong when you launch a new website without a checklist

My brain isn’t into remembering that many details at once. (I need a list if my wife wants more than 3 things at the grocery store)

That’s why we use a 31-Point checklist when we’re launching a client’s website – a list that we’ve used for more than 100 site launches. Up until then, our process was a bit sketchy, (including the time I tanked a website for a dairy farmer because I forgot to turn off “Discourage Search Engines From indexing” and they disappeared from Google. I was in a pile of manure.)

checklist for launching a wordpress websiteYou’ve put so much time into design, revisions, tweaking, mobile formatting, and HTML table or two, that you don’t want to let your launch go to chance. Launch with confidence by having a checklist that works for your business.

Website Launch Checklists are essential, even if you’re an army of one

If you’re looking to scale your WordPress web design business, at some point you’ll need to grow your team. Maybe that will be an intern, an outsourced designer, an on-staff designer, an administrative assistant, a tech-support person, or a VA.

Checklists for every process in your business create a standardized way to be sure something gets done. Unless there’s malice (or you’ve hired outside of the realm of expertise) a checklist will either make sure everything gets done, OR allow someone to say “I see this on the checklist, but I’m not sure what that means. Would you clarify?”

Get Your 31-Point Launch Checklist And Save Yourself Some Headaches!

Wordpress Website Launch ChecklistWhether you’re talking about making sure that default WordPress plugins are updated, your media library is cleaned out of unnecessary stock photos, your images have alt tags, and the old website links have been redirected to relevant pages on the new WordPress website (so visitors and search engines don’t get discouraging 404 errors), this checklist will help you launch your next site with confidence.

Never feel like you’re missing anything again!

 

PS. As a bonus, I’m also including my 10-Point Jumpstart Checklist (copy and paste) for clients who want to fast-track traffic to their new website: Just email them the checklist that includes the WHAT and WHY for each point and they’ll feel like they’re contributing to their site’s success.

AND If your agency uses Trello for Project Management, I’ve already created the full checklist as a “To-Do” template and included it in the bundle (upload the JSON file to your Trello Board)

AND, I’ve included a link to a free downloadable PSD portfolio mockup file so you can provide a mockup to your clients to use in promotion (checklist item #29), and add the same mockup to your agency’s portfolio (Checklist item #30)

Get That Checklist

Categories
Ideas For Businesses

How To Get New Web Design Clients: 12 Fast and Sustainable Ways

…aka marketing your web design business.

Most web designers starting have no idea how to get new web design clients.

(as surprising as it sounds when you look around and see people marketing successful web design businesses.)

how to get web design clientsLaunching your web design agency often goes without having to find new clients (at least for me, it did)

  1. Build your first WordPress website for free for a community organization, church, school, or small business.
  2. A few people see that website and ask about your design service and if you’ll build one for their small businesses. You have your first client.
  3. That first person refers you to someone, or you post on your social networks that you built a website, and now you have 2 websites in your portfolio and maybe a few leads for your services.
  4. The next thing you know, client 3 and client 4 are showing up, and you’re a web designer through referrals.

It was a bit of a thrill at first and a bit of a mystery at that moment. I had money coming into my business, and my skills, services, and portfolio were growing, but I started getting worried. Since I didn’t know where clients were coming from (other than hard work and great referrals) and how I would find web design clients if that stream dried up.

I didn’t know about building landing pages for specific target markets, or content marketing, or how to help people in my professional network realize that if they need a website, I was the guy to call for design services.

What happens when you have a hard time finding web design clients?

This was a challenge for me personally, and I would love to say that I’ve completely conquered the challenge of finding new clients – that I have so many clients coming in that I increase my prices exponentially and still have a lineup.

It’s not quite that way, but it’s also no longer something that scares me. I do have a bit of a unique challenge since we travel full-time. I don’t often attend networking events in the city where I started my business as I did at first. I also don’t have the opportunity to cold-call face-to-face like I did a few times when starting since we’re often in a country as a visitor where I’m not allowed to solicit work.

I’ve learned a few things along the way since starting my web design agency in 2011 and started RVing full-time in 2018 that allows me to build a consistent free-flow (or reservoir) of new clients.

 

We’ll start with some quick ways that may generate clients this month, and then we’ll talk about sustainable ways to build a system of bringing in new clients.

How to Get Web Design Clients Fast

time to find new clients for web design businessWhile quick ways can work, they also come with a fair amount of uncertainty and inconsistency. You might try a few of these ways and pick up a client or two in the next few days, or you may not see anything for the whole month.

While these quick ways can work for almost any web designer, don’t settle for consistently hitting panic mode of “Where is my next web design client coming from?”

Grow as a freelance web designer towards a sustainable system that brings in new potential clients so you can focus on growing and scaling your business rather than just spending your days searching for new clients.

Here’s the TL;DR for people wired like me:

  • Ask your existing clients for referrals – give them an incentive
  • Aquire a competitor that’s in your industry but no longer building new sites
  • Freelance web design job boards
  • Post a free ad on Facebook Marketplace, Craiglist (or Kijiji in Canada) offering web design services
  • Attend networking events
  • Sponsor a Facebook group for a month and get on a live video call
  • Post a recent portfolio item on your social networks
  • Pick up the phone and cold call

Ask For Referrals From Your Existing Clients

Incentives work. Even something as simple as “one free month of website service” when a client refers someone else to you, or a “$25 Gift Card” to a favorite coffee shop goes a long way to encourage your current clients to think of someone who may be a fit for your web design services.

If you’re focused on a specific industry as a web designer, your current clients probably know others in that industry – people they’ve met at a business event or online chats or from working with common suppliers. Your current clients are always your best referral source.

Include a “Designed By” link in the footer of every website you build

On a related note, put “Design by…” with a link to your website in the footer of EVERY website you build. Don’t shy away from including it. It’s pretty standard in the industry, and if someone likes a website in their same industry, they’ll often scroll to the bottom and click the “Designed By” link. That person is still getting to you through your work, and they liked it enough to find out who designed it.

Leave that link out, and you’re missing out on that referral.

In the time I’ve been designing websites (since 2011), I’ve had 1 client ask me to remove that link. I’m happy to do that if the client requests it. Otherwise, put it in by default, and most clients won’t mind or notice.

As you grow to become the industry experts, many clients will find that little “Designed by” link to be a badge of honor, like a logo on a hat or an expensive purse, as they’re happy to let others know that they’re dealing with your expertise.

Check Out The Web Designer Competitors In Your Industry

find new web design clientsThis may seem like an odd way to find new clients. (…and in case you’re getting suspicious, I don’t mean go to their portfolio and treat that as a potential client list.)

Many web designers have run into the same challenge that you’re facing: How do I find new web design clients without begging for referrals?

While you’re finding ways to overcome that challenge, others often give up and look for other sources of income, leaving their clients with unreturned emails or simply not calling people back when a quote request comes in.

Sometimes see signs that this designer is not taking business, from a website that’s many years old to something as obvious as a banner on the home page saying, “We’re not taking new clients at this time.” This is the perfect opportunity to ask them if they’re interested in getting out of the business altogether and if there is an option to buy their client list, email list, and social media channels.

Often, this comes with an eager ‘YES!’ since someone who has taken a full-time job might be more annoyed by clients asking for updates to their site than the value of the monthly service that comes from that client. This acquisition is great for you (with instant growth in business) and great for the clients.

The previous web designer may also be willing to give up their domain if it’s ranking higher in industry searches than yours, and maybe they have a backlog of quote requests that you could follow up on.

The transition is often simple: Have the current designer send out an email to their current client list letting them know that the business has been sold, but their services will continue as usual under the new brand, then introduce yourself as their new web designer, and outline what other services you offer.

Not only is this a great opportunity to increase your monthly revenue by bringing on new clients, but it’s also an opportunity to upsell by saying, “Here’s something I offer that different from the last person, and you might benefit from these services.”

Check Job Boards or Freelance Marketplaces For Potential Clients

use job boards to find new web design clientsNot a sustainable way to build your brand, but in a pinch, you can often find hourly projects to get you by or meet your budget for the month on these sites. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of these sites for a few reasons:

  • No matter who you are, you’re competing with someone willing to work for less.
  • You often spend a pile of time investing in pitching or bidding for projects that don’t come through.
  • The biggest factor is often not experience or expertise but the quoted price.
  • The Trust level is low. People often want to see many pieces of work that are perfectly in line with what they’re trying to accomplish. Since anyone can create a profile and say whatever they’d like about their skills, you have to find a way to prove yourself, which is often time-consuming.

The Benefits for Web Designers of Job Board or Freelance Marketplaces:

  • If you use sites like this often, you can build up a reputation and a rating that allows you to get jobs quicker.
  • If you learn the system well, you can create swipe copy (copy and paste) job proposals that speed up your time invested into the proposal.
  • Job boards are open 24/7, and people worldwide are looking for help, so if web design is an evening or weekend side hustle, you can make the proposal process fit in your schedule.
  • People looking for help will often make quick decisions, and you can often get paid the same day if selected.
  • Work is often simple and well-defined. You’re not typically getting into a 3-month project, but more often, something that can take an afternoon or a few days.

A few that I’ve heard people finding success with sites like Upwork ( Upwork.com) or Fiverr.com – Again, not making any specific recommendation that this approach is a good idea, but these are popular sites worth exploring to get some cash in your pocket this month.

Post a “For Sale” ad on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or Kijiji

You’re probably not going to find customers who will pay a premium for your expertise, but if you’re looking to build your portfolio, or bring in a new monthly service client, then this could work.

Offer clear deliverables, timeframe, and (yes, I know…) a set cost.

Something like “Looking to add local businesses to my website portfolio this month. FREE 5 Page website: Home, Products, Services, About Us, Contact Us. $0 upfront. $XXX.XX/month for maintenance. 3-week from start to finish. Click here to order.”

Build a landing page on your website specifically for that offer, and use the link in the ad, so the person clicking can get the exact details of what you’re offering and make a decision as quickly as possible.

Find Networking Events

new web design clients from networking eventsOften event organizers provide an opportunity for new members to introduce themselves and their businesses. Same as the “For Sale” idea above, introduce yourself and let people know you’re wanting to grow your experience and skills, so you’re offering Free 5-page websites for $0, with a monthly service fee to keep the website maintained and updated.

Listen as everyone else introduces themselves, then go to different business owners in the room that could use your services. Start a conversation with them, and be social. Learn about their business, ask them how they got started, find out who their customers are and what they like most about the projects they get to work on. Don’t try and sell; open the door to a conversation and let them take it from there.

If you’re unsure where to find upcoming events, contact your chamber of commerce, small business center, optimist club, or local churches with a business breakfast. Look for conventions, conferences, and almost any event where people gather around a common interest.

Turn your kid’s little league, soccer tournaments, and hockey games into opportunities by asking other parents what they do for work. Eventually, they’ll ask you what you do. You’re at those events anyway with your kids, so make the most of your time.

Sponsor a Facebook Group or YouTube Channel And Get On A Live Video Call

If you serve a specific audience, there’s probably a Facebook group or YouTube channel for that industry. Let the admins know that you freelance, and ask if you can sponsor a promoted post and do a live Q&A interview about websites in that industry. Either the group admin can interview you while taking live questions, or you can go live on your own with a mini-webinar followed by taking questions.

Through the webinar, offer a coupon code with a deadline for viewers to get started with you so that viewers will have some incentive to act now, and you’ll be able to track how your sponsorship investment did in returns.

Post A Recent Portfolio Item On Your Social Network

Your work is your best proof that you know what you’re doing, and a testimonial is even better. If you haven’t been consistent with creating regular content, then you probably won’t get much exposure with a single post about a recent example of your work, but with any luck, the client you did the work for will share the post with their audience and you might find someone there.

Since every client has unique needs, don’t post anything about pricing or timeline, so you’re not setting unrealistic expectations for someone who wants to take the next step and start a project with you.

When All Else Fails: Pick Up That Phone And Start Dialing

calling new web design clientsHow committed are you to see your business grow? Too many people think that resorting to calling potential clients is an act of desperation. It’s not. Desperation is determined by how you act or what you say once you get the potential client on the phone.

Begging on a phone call is desperation. Making the phone call itself is not.

If you specialize in a specific niche, pick up an industry magazine and start checking out the websites of people who are spending money on magazine advertising. If you see an opportunity, then give them a call and start the conversation.

The best opportunities are when the client probably knows they need to redesign their website. It’s the perfect opportunity to call.

Telltale signs that a client probably knows they need to redesign their website:

  • There’s a “Coming Soon” or “Under Construction” page when you visit their website.
  • It’s not a mobile responsive design or difficult to read on your phone
  • The “Last Updated” or “Copyright” date at the bottom of the home page is more than 5 years ago
  • They have outdated information on their site (like discontinued products or services, show a brand that doesn’t exist any longer, or an old location)

You might think this is rare, but do some poking around, and you’ll find plenty of businesses who haven’t gotten around to updating their website.

Do a little homework first. Hop on Linkedin and see if you can figure out who in their office will likely be the person to talk with about a website redesign. Send an email ahead that lets them know you’ll be calling, and add in some personal info about who you are and your expertise with their niche.

Nobody likes a cold call from someone they don’t know trying to sell something. Still, if they know, you’re planning to call, and who you are ahead of time (maybe they even clicked the link in the email to check your portfolio), then you’re lightyears ahead of the other “We’d like to redesign your website” calls that they probably get every week.

Sustainable Ways To Build A System To Get Web Design Clients (aka Marketing)

While you may have to pay the bills this month with a quick new client find, a better strategy (and one that has allowed us to travel full-time) is to build marketing systems that will bring in new clients, so you can focus on designing and getting your new clients website live, rather than spending time finding clients AND getting their site live.

Here’s the TL;DR on building sustainable ways to get new web design clients with Marketing:

  • Build your agency to serve a specific industry
  • Create a free opt-in that will provide value to your clients and grow your email list
  • Build a consistent social media strategy (Need ideas? Here are 1001 Social Media Post Ideas for Businesses)
  • Design your business based on residual income from selling websites as a service

Build the brand of your web design agency to serve a specific industry – DON’T SKIP THIS STEP!

It’s way too tempting to keep scrolling and look for the ‘silver bullet’ that’s going to get you a new client this afternoon (trust me, that’s probably not coming), but if you want to start creating an engine of new customers so that you’re not regularly running into this problem, build a brand that allows you to serve a specific target market in a specific industry.

From here, being the “go-to” website designer for X niche, you can create blog posts, social media content, post on your channels that you’ve recently launched a website for a business in your industry, go to conferences and networking meetings for your niche, jump in the Facebook groups, LinkedIn conversations, or Twitter threads and offer free value to that audience, so they get to know who you are and what you do.

Please understand that I’m not talking about jumping in and saying, “Your website isn’t great, so start by redesigning your website. I can help with that!” That’s not going to get you clients, but rather a bad reputation of being pushy. If you wouldn’t do it at a networking event, don’t do it online.

Instead, if someone asks a question, find their answer from a source within your industry and post a link to a blog post or YouTube video, offer opinions that add to the conversation, and start to build friendships with people who own businesses that you’re trying to serve.

Now, when you have a lull in clients, reach out to some of the most common people you interact with on these social media platforms and see if you can make a connection to build them a new website.

Think “Web Design Niche Specialist” not “Cousin-In-Highschool Available Generalist.”

If you’ve built your brand around “I can help everyone, everywhere, all the time,” this downtime between clients might be a good break to reconsider that strategy.

Rebrand (or build from scratch) your web design portfolio that speaks directly to your client in your niche. Emphasize keywords and phrases that are common or specific to that industry and will speak to the business owners you’re trying to reach.

Make them think, “This web design agency understands my business, so they’ll be the best choice to design a site for us!”

Build An Opt-In That Will Provide Value To Your Clients

Since you’re rebranding to serve a specific industry, create an opt-in to provide value to the business decision-maker.

You could create Facebook or Instagram content that they can repurpose, an ebook with helpful ideas, a checklist that helps them with a specific process or put together some research, then provide and analyze the results in a PDF.

What is the value of an Email Opt-In?

An opt-In refers to clients giving you their email address in exchange for that freebie. From there, create a follow-up sequence that leads them through your blog content, ideas that you think could improve the industry, videos from YouTube, and eventually (once they know and like you) show them how working with your web design agency could benefit their business.

Sure, some people will unsubscribe, or emails will land in junk mail, but for people who track with you through the process, they’ll know who you are and what you do. When you hit a low spot in your business, you can send out an email offering a first-month-free coupon or a referral bonus if they refer friends to your business, or ask them, “How can I help you get more new business from your website?”

If that client is in the market for a new website, and you’ve shown that you’re the person to help with that, they’ll already know and like you (or they wouldn’t have stuck around).

Creating An Opt-In Is A Long-Term Play

While you may create an opt-in today, someone will download it, then contact you to start working together, it’s much more likely that you’ll build a list over a long time, and some of those regular readers will become clients, either by receiving your automated follow-up emails from opting into your ebook or by receiving your regular email newsletter after they’ve joined your list.

1001 social media post ideas for your businessMy audience is web designers or people who hope to start their own web design business. (hey, that’s you!) One of the opt-ins I created is 1001 Social Media Post Ideas For Businesses to help your freelance web design agency have a strategy to be consistent.. (You can opt-in here!)

Another benefit of an opt-in (like 1001 Social Media Post Ideas For Your Business) is that the automated followups run on auto-pilot, so whether someone opts in on the weekend, or in the spring, or 3 weeks from now, that system is in place to lead them towards doing business with you.

Use your opt-in to build your email newsletter where you’ll continue to provide value to people in your niche, not just a one-time “Want to buy now that I gave you something free?” follow-up email.

Build a Consistent Social Media Strategy

I’m under no illusion that the audience that I serve (in my case, web designers – hey, that’s you!) regularly visits my website to see what’s new. It just isn’t likely to happen. If you’re looking for something, then you’ll find me from the search engine magic at Google, but frankly, most of us aren’t spending our lives just Googling things to see what pops up.

Instead, we’re browsing social networks (Twitter feeds, Facebook groups, or Instagram stories) to see what pops up, so this is the place where I can actively get myself in front of people who know me and people who don’t yet.

A social media strategy is built around 2 major things: Content + Format. Understanding both is key.

I’ve dug in much deeper in this post: 5 ways to use Social Media to get more clients so I won’t rehash all of those ideas, but I will say that consistency is key; Consistency in your content, style, personality, frequency, and what you’re trying to communicate.

When people see you showing up on social media consistently, they’re more likely to get to know you and trust you when it’s time for you to help them redesign their website, and leave a link back to your site now and then, either for an opt-in landing page, a blog post or a link to your portfolio for business owners to checkout.

Get More Clients by Building a Residual Income Web Design Business

I know, this sounds like a bit of a stretch, and also, Adam is getting up on his “recurring income websites” soapbox, but stick with me for a moment.

Are you more likely to suggest a restaurant to a friend that you’ve eaten at once, or that you’ve eaten at many times and always had great service? Is your favorite movie one that you had only seen once a few years ago, or one that you can recite every line? How often do you turn up the radio when you hear your favorite song and air drum because you’ve heard it 1000 times? (just me?)

The thing about having your web development clients on a monthly service contract to keep their website updated is that you’ll have many interactions with that client over a long period of time, responding to emails, updating their website when they need a change, and answering questions like why traffic was up last month, but down this month.

Ask For Referrals From These Business Owners

Consistency in your business relationship with your web design clients over time will build trust and loyalty. This is exactly what is needed for your current clients to become your long-term advocates, and even more so as you build an industry-specific brand since people in your niche probably have peers that would be great referrals. You can always gently guide them towards word of mouth by asking for referrals.

 

Of course, the added benefit of recurring monthly income is that you won’t be so desperate when you have a month that doesn’t come with a single new client, but I suppose that’s a blog post for another time.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Ideas For Businesses

5 Ways to use social media to get more clients

The “Social Media Marketing For Business Mindset” road has ditches on both sides:

The “If I had more business social media followers, that would bring in more leads” ditch:

Instead of leads, depending on your organization, you might be looking for more donors, attendees, members. These ideas will still apply!

We all see “influencers” and brands with a million followers and think to ourselves, “If we only had THAT kind of following, we would be getting leads from our social media platforms all the time.” While having a massive following definitely gives more impact to your reach and more link clicks and video views, it’s an incorrect assumption that simply having a massive following automatically generates revenue for your business. That’s the first ditch.

The “Business Social Media Accounts Are Just For Brand Awareness, Not Revenue” ditch:

Consider a brand like ‘Coca-Cola’ which sells through retailers, and therefore, isn’t making direct sales. In their case, social media platforms are about brand awareness. Coke doesn’t want you to try to buy something on their Facebook page.

They want you to think of them and choose them first when you walk into a store to buy a drink. In the case of most other businesses, having this mindset can turn into thoughts like, “Having a social media strategy doesn’t really matter”, or, “I’ll get an employee to just post something.”

These ideas then don’t lead to any new business being generated through social media, so the owner says, “See! I was right. Social Media doesn’t gain our business any new clients.”

Don’t fall into either Social Media Marketing ditch: 5 tips to help

Probably 10% of social media channels land in the ‘massive’ category (which is not a set number – that number is always shifting as follower numbers grow), and 10% fall into the ‘Brand Awareness’ category, but for 80% of businesses, it’s not about ‘Getting Massive’ or simply ‘Brand Awareness.’ For 80% of businesses, you can drive the social media marketing road without allowing your mindset to fall into either ditch with these 5 steps:

Step 1: Determine Your Business’ Target Audience

Who are you trying to reach with your business’s accounts… please don’t say, “Everyone”, or narrow it down only one step to, “Everyone who drives a car.”

You need to be more specific – like a segment of a segment.

Understand the difference between “Potential Clients” and “Probable Clients”

Consider brands like Nike, Starbucks, and McDonald’s. Can you tell which is the audience for each of these 3 brands:

—– Potential clients: Everyone who wears shoes.

Probable clients: 18-35-year-olds who believe that a specific type of shoe can help them increase their athletic performance.

—– Potential clients: Everyone who drinks coffee or tea.

Probable clients: People who have expendable income that would make the choice to pay a premium for specific coffee or tea in order to engage with the Starbucks brand.

—– Potential clients: Everyone who eats food.

Probable clients: Someone looking for the convenience and consistency of a franchise, and willing to pay a premium for that convenience or type of food relative to going to the grocery store and preparing healthier meal choices at home.

Here are some questions that can help you narrow down your ‘Probable’ audience in your online marketing:

  • Who typically makes the decisions in the industry that you serve? Is it the hiring manager, the IT department, the person who does the grocery shopping, the parent who will register their kid for an event or league, or maybe the teenager with disposable income? If someone in an organization (business, corporation, family, church, not-for-profit) is going to make the step to find out about becoming your client, who is that person most likely to be? HINT: Check out your current customer base!
  • Where is your audience geographically? Are they within the US? In the Southern Hemisphere? European? Traveling abroad? Within 30 miles of a lake? Live on the beach or in the mountains? In an area where there is snow part of the year? In an area where there is never snow? In an apartment building downtown? In the suburbs? Within walking distance of public transit?
  • What kinds of topics do your followers engage with? Is your target audience engaging with funny videos, lifestyle content, aspirational quotes, ‘How-To’ information, purely entertainment, fashion, travel, finances?
  • What formats are your audience most likely to enjoy? Are your social media followers most likely to watch videos, read or listen in long-format, memes, gifs, share a quote image, engage with witty videos, watch videos of people living out a dream of travel or lifestyle, or watch a video from an industry expert? HINT: Check out how your competitors are using social media to get high engagement for ideas and real-life market research.
  • What age group or life phase are your typical followers in? Seniors have different purchase habits than teenagers. New parents have different goals than empty nesters. Young entrepreneurs have a different mindset than recently-retired entrepreneurs.

Step 2: Which Social Media Platform Does Your Audience Use?

Knowing where your audience is most likely to hang out means you’ll know where you focus your time and resources when creating a social media marketing strategy.

HINT: If you’re on more than one platform, then you have different segments of followers on each. Create custom content for each platform!

If you don’t have the time and resources to create relevant, unique content (or to at least modify your content for each different platform), then choose the one platform where your customers will most likely be and focus your efforts there. Laser focus beats a shotgun approach.

After identifying your business’ target audience on Social Media, figure out which platform(s) are most likely to reach them.

Where is my business audience using social media?

social media video for building your audienceFacebook: Male users (19.3%) and female users (13.2%) between the ages of 25 and 34 years are the biggest demographic group on Facebook, and 75% of online users with an income of more than $75K are on Facebook. Read the full article…

Pinterest: 34% of Pinterest users earn between $50,000 and $74,999 per year. 71% of Pinterest users are females. 35% of Pinterest users are 35-49 years old. Full Article…

Twitter: 32% of U.S. Twitter users have higher college degrees. The total number of Twitter users in the UK is 15.25 million. 38% of U.S. Twitter users are between the ages of 18 and 29, 26% of users are 30-49 years old. 77% of Americans who earn $75,000 or more use Twitter. Get all the stats…

YouTube: 51% of people over 75 watch videos on YouTube. 37% of Millennials aged 18 – 34 are binge-watching YouTube daily. 89% of YouTube users come from outside the US. Read the YouTube stats.

Snapchat:  61% of Snapchat users are female, and 38% are male. 69% of U.S. teens say they use Snapchat. 61% of female users and 38% of male users worldwide use Snapchat. Only 5% of U.S. 56+-year-olds use Snapchat. Full Snapchat user stats

Instagram: 67% of U.S. adults ages 18-29 use Instagram in the United States. 89% of users are outside the U.S. 73% of U.S. teens say Instagram is the best way for brands to reach them about new products or promotions. 30 million Instagram accounts tap on a shopping post to learn more about products every month. Get all of the Instagram user stats.

LinkedIn: After the US (171 million+), India (69 million+), China (51 million+), Brazil (45 million+), and Great Britain (29 million+) have the highest number of users. 24% of Millennials (18-24 years old) use Linkedin. 50% of internet users with a college degree or higher use LinkedIn. The average income of a LinkedIn user currently stands at $46,644 per year. See the LinkedIn user stats.

Tiktok: 41 percent of TikTok users are aged between 16 and 24. 56% of TikTok users are male, and 44% are female. Roughly 50% of TikTok’s global audience is under the age of 34, with 26% between 18 and 24. Chinese users account for 80% of the total time spent using TikTok in 2019. 43% of new TikTok users are from India. Read all of the Tiktok user stats.

Step 3: Define Your Customer Journey (the funnel), answering the questions, “How will they get to know us on Social Media”, and, “What’s next?”

This step comes even before building your social media content. You have to have a clear path of how your social media follower is going to become a customer. When working with a wholesale client recently, we mapped out a customer journey. Since end-users can only purchase through a dealer, their focus is on brand awareness, not ‘Click to purchase.’ Here’s the marketing funnel we came up with for their followers:

  1. Someone hears about our company and checks us out on Facebook or Twitter.
  2. Customer visits website to learn about our products (through a blog post link, link found in a comment, answering a question, or as a link provided by our team on someone else’s post).
  3. Our company gives visitors something for free on our website that provides value to them, even if they decide not to do business with us. This allows us to be seen as providing value, allows the client to get to know us, and gives us an opportunity to follow up. (An example might be: Tips for X industry, tools for success, ideas to generate X result, or a ‘How-To’ video).
  4. They see how the product fits their needs and can get them their desired results.
  5. Next, we help them find a dealer on our website.
  6. Requests our products from the dealer (in person or on the dealer’s website).
  7. They love using our products, so they tell friends (in person, on forums, social media posts, and recommendations) for FREE!
  8. We engage with mentions as endorsements, by liking, commenting, and sharing, to help more customers hear about us through organic reach.

Your customer journey may include a purchase on a 3rd party site like Etsy or Amazon. Maybe your journey includes a consultation, a phone call, an email sequence, or a free sample. Whatever your journey (or funnel) might look like, be clear on what those action steps are.

You might realize that, up until now, you’ve been trying to get them from Step 1 to Step 4, not realizing that 2 & 3 are being neglected. You might realize that you’ve got 3 or 4 different options for Step 3 (call us, send us an email, sign up for our newsletter, or click this button to shop online).

If so, which one of those is most likely to lead your customers through the endpoint of the journey?

What businesses often miss in their journey:

Many businesses imagine that their customers need to end with ‘Making a Purchase.’ In the example above, this leaves referrals, engagement, endorsement, and word-of-mouth on the table. Make it easy for your customers to share and endorse your product, and engage with them when they do. They’ll be much more likely to engage the next time they make a purchase, too!

Even if you’re not active on every channel, monitor each account so people can ‘tag’ you, and you can interact with their ‘tag’. When you send out your physical product or complete your service, include information on your social media handles, and ask people to share or leave a review! Oftentimes, people will respond to that simple request.

Now you can build a business social media strategy to attract clients!

Step 4: Build a Social Media Strategy for your business that leads into your customer journey

customer jouney with social mediaIf you haven’t already, download 1001 Social Media Post Ideas for Businesses. This will give you tools and tips on the content and format to post for your brands. Here are a few high-level generalizations that are helpful rules of thumb for social media content:

The Social Media 80/20 rule

80% of your content needs to be entertaining, informational, and meant to create engagement. 20% of your content (at most) is promotional in nature. Get this wrong and your followers will ‘change the channel’ on your broadcast.

Post a Consistent Frequency

A general rule of thumb is to post daily on platforms like Facebook, Linkedin, or Instagram. Posting weekly works on YouTube. Posts 4-5 times per day works on platforms like Twitter and Tiktok. If you have the capacity, it’s not uncommon to post 2-3 days on places like Facebook or Instagram, but if you have 7 pieces of content this week, it’s better to post 1/day than it is to get excited on Monday and post all of it.

Using a tool like coshedule.com (affiliate link) will allow you to build all of your content and pre-schedule it, so you don’t have to remember each day to stop and make a post. Instead, you can spend some time each day responding to comment or questions on the posts that have gone LIVE.

VIDEO WINS

On every channel, to some degree or another, video is a great way to get better exposure for brands. It’s one of the most effective tools available to connect and build relationships with your audience:

  • Turn a graphic into a ‘gif’
  • Go LIVE with a video instead of writing a blog post
  • Add a motion background to a quote graphic instead of a still graphic
  • Choose video over photos
  • Turn on your camera and answer a common question from clients

Here are some tips for using LIVE video in your social media strategy.

Keep a consistent theme to your social content: make it match your brand’s personality

Not necessarily in design, but in your personality as a brand – in the message your company portrays – consistency builds trust.

If you’re goofy one day, shined-up professional another day, trying to stir the pot another day, then endorsing the competition the day afterward, then post random questions like, “What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?”, when you have nothing to do with the ice cream industry, you’re going to lose your audience’s attention, and lose the opportunity to use social media to build relationships.

Answer questions like: What is your ideal client’s pain point? How do you provide a solution to that? What would make your clients laugh and recognize that you ‘get’ what they’re going through? What would make them drive past the competition to work with you? What about your business personality resonates with them?

Include outgoing links to your blog or products when applicable

Include the “next step” for your customers in the 20% promotional content, AND when someone asks a question, either publicly or privately. Don’t just answer with a model number, but send them a relevant blog post of someone using the product, tag a brand or influencer who has raved about using that product lately, or offer to get on a call to answer your customers’ questions.

Engage with other accounts on Social Media

I did a social media audit for a client less than a week ago. This company is great at sharing related content from the industry, but they’re simply broadcasting, even when sharing other people’s blog posts, tips, tools, videos, and ideas.

For example, they weren’t tagging the author of a blog post they shared on Twitter, even though the author had a huge following and could have extended their organic reach to a larger audience with a simple ‘retweet’.

It’s been said 100 times, and if you’re ever at a social media conference or seminar, I can guarantee you’ll hear it: Social Media is supposed to be social. Too many businesses use social media as broadcast media.

If every post sounds like ‘Here’s what we have to say’ more than they sound like ‘What do you think about this?’, you’re not asking your audience to be social.

To break out of that mindset, engage with accounts in the same way you might at a networking event. ‘Like’ and comment on posts from your dealers, suppliers, retailers, and complimentary products. If you share a blog post from someone else’s blog, ‘tag’ them in the share so they can share it with their followers, or comment on your post to create engagement.

Before posting anything, ask yourself the question, “Will this post sound like I’m being social, or like I’m broadcasting information?” Connect with your audience by being where they are! Join a free Facebook Group where your audience is, join the conversation as a helpful voice, and answer questions. It’s a great way to learn what questions and conversations are happening in your community.

Leverage audience engagement

Ask a question, create polls, do ‘Fill in the blank’ posts, share posts with ‘What do you think?’, or, ‘What would you have included on this list?’ Ask your audience if they prefer ‘A’, or ‘B’, or if they had to choose, then which end result of your product would they prefer (more efficient or more luxurious).

Paint a picture of the end results of using your products, and ask your audience what they think to get them engaged in the conversation. A trick to integrate your product or service into the conversation is to ask for feedback.

  • “Working on new packaging! (add in packaging pictures or video). Do you prefer green or blue?”
  • “We’re thinking of offering a package price for 2 of our best-selling items. (add in an image of each). Would you like to see Package A+B or package B+C?”

Create your content to sound like you want to learn from your engaged audience rather than insisting that they should give their attention to learn from you!

replying to clients on social mediaBudget time EVERY DAY purely for social media engagement in 2 ways: Social Media Management

1) Take time every day to reply to comments and answer private messages. If someone has taken the time to engage with your post, don’t ignore them! Imagine if someone sent an email asking about a product they wanted to buy from you, and you chose not to answer the email. Or imagine someone left you a voicemail asking about Product A or Product B for their situation, and you left the voicemail for a few weeks until you had time.

Make it a daily priority to check and respond to see if someone has asked for information about your products or services (either as a public comment or a private message).

2) Make a daily habit of 10/10/10: Like 10 posts from others, comment on 10 posts, follow 10 new people who are in your industry or fit your target audience. Do this for each channel your business is on. This can easily be done on a coffee break or lunch break, but skipping this step would be like going to a networking event, not starting conversations, but instead, just talking about your products to whoever will listen.

If you’re on Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, and Instagram, then this is 10/10/10 x 4 channels. If you don’t have time for that, then you’ll need to reevaluate how many channels you want to be on and be sure to be consistent on the channels you choose. One channel done well is better than watering down multiple social media accounts.

Step 5: Play the long game of investing in Social Media

Social Media Marketing is a long game. You can’t expect to get your online ordering to skyrocket the first month you start to post social media content, any more than you would give up on networking events if you didn’t land 3 clients in your first chamber of commerce meetup.

Simply put, these are tools in your toolbox to build your community and let them know about your brand, which leads to learning about your relevant products and services.

Social media is about building relationships. Relationships take time. Show up consistently, be helpful, and have a clear journey for someone to follow once they’re looking for solutions you can provide.

I would love to hear what has worked for you in gaining new clients from your social media marketing

Post ideas? Engagement questions? Strategies to get more comments? Leave a comment below so we can learn together!

Categories
Ideas For Businesses

1001 Social Media Post Ideas for Businesses

Social Media posts are ALWAYS made up of two components. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about social media marketing for your business, church, not-for-profit organization, or your personal brand.

The two components of social media posts: Content & Format.

Social Media Content…

is what your post is about, whether you’re talking about products or services, a giveaway, a case study in your industry that’s relevant to your business, or a new employee you’re introducing via social channels to your audience. It answers the question “What is this social media post about?”

Your content needs to resonate with your audience, so keep your content relevant to your business in a way that asks questions and allows your audience to engage in a conversation.

 

Social Post Format…

is how you’re posting your content to create engagement, whether it’s a text-only post, live video, a link to a blog post about trending topics, a vertical video on Instagram, an edited video on Facebook, or sharing photos to your Twitter timeline.

For format, it’s helpful to consider the channels you’re posting to. Instagram won’t allow clickable outgoing links in your post description, but Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook are great channels for outgoing clickable links.

Vertical video works really well on Instagram for either 15-second stories, or in longer form in IGTV feeds, but vertical doesn’t work as well on Twitter, for instance.

Here’s the secret to coming up with Social Media Post Ideas:

Content + Format = 1 post.

Content x Format = Multiple Posts.

Too often, businesses think of a post without considering both the content and format, but if you can come up with 3 pieces of content that your audience enjoys, and 3 different formats that they respond well to, then you’ve come up with a week’s worth of daily posts on your social media channels.

Content + Format (I posted a picture of our new product on our social media platforms)

= 3-4 posts from 1 piece of content + 1 format.

Content x Format = I posted our new product on social media: A vertical video on Instagram shared to Facebook, a picture of a customer trying the product on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Linkedin, a blog post from our supplier about the new product on all channels, and did 2 live videos on YouTube which I then shared to other platforms doing Q&A about your new product or service.

= 14 posts from 1 piece of content x multiple formats.

This ebook is full of content ideas as well as format ideas. Mix and match them to create limitless combinations of social media posts. As you keep your social media management schedule, regularly post on social media, and start to recognize which social media post ideas are resonating best with your audience, then you’ll be able to choose the formats that work best on each platform, and then the type of content your followers want to hear about.

Your social media strategy will evolve over time, but rather than getting stuck in analysis paralysis, jump in and try different combinations of format and content and see what works.

Included in the Ebook is a sample 4-week calendar where you’ll choose 5 pieces of content you’d like to include, and 5 formats, then the calendar is built for you. Simply check-in each day, and post that type of content, or use a social media scheduler and pre-build your content.

Don’t worry about repeating yourself. Most posts will only see a percentage of the people who engage with your channels but do try switching up the content and formats when you’re repeating to offer continued variety on your different social platforms.

Categories
Ideas For Businesses

How Do I Start A Website Design Business?

Whether you’re a designer seeing a need for websites in your local small business community, or you’re in an industry that has a need for a web designer, or you’re looking to start a new business from scratch and exploring options (from Multi-level Marketing to network Marketing, to Shopify or Etsy), keep one thing in mind:

What is Your Goal in Starting a Business (more specifically, a Web Design Business)?

I started Fresh Idea Websites in 2011 because I wanted to create recurring income, have no inventory, do no recruiting, and be location independent. Websites are the perfect business for that.

As a bonus, I figured out quickly that I could outsource the parts of tech or design that I couldn’t do or when I got overloaded now and then without too much effort.

Run a business while RVingWhile I started my business in 2011, it wasn’t until 2018 when we realized we wanted to travel all the time – not like vacation all the time, but buy an RV and travel full-time around the US and Canada (we’re Canadian, so we spend summers up there visiting friends and family).

We even spent a month in Mexico in January 2021 (not with the RV).

Fun Fact: I actually wrote up a business plan in 2011 to start my own takeout pasta buffet. Choose your noodles, choose your sauce, choose your toppings, then pay by weight. But, aside from the learning experience of writing my own business plan, I realized quickly that this didn’t really meet any of my business goals, so instead, I decided to launch Fresh Idea Websites.

It was easy for me to decide not to open a pasta restaurant based on my goals.

start a website design business online course
The online course you need to build your website design business

So what specifically are your business goals?

Why start a web design business (or at least consider it)? Sure, “make some money,” (and that’s a good idea) but more specifically?

Remote Work GoalsIs it to take control of your schedule and work 3 hours a day? Is it to only need to work 3 days a week? Is it take a month off every year? Is it to buy yourself a new car every year? Maybe replace your current income doing something you’d prefer? Is it to work the same as you’re working now but double your income? Take every Friday off to volunteer? Maybe save up for that dream house? Maybe you want to give away $10,000 per month to charity?

Is your business goal a Lifestyle? Material? Travel? Philanthropic?

What is that goal for you – more than “schedule-freedom and money” – What is the tangible result of having freedom in your schedule and money?

Can starting a web design agency help you reach your business goal?

My gut is to tell you that it can, although I’m sure I’m biased, it’s been working for me. Websites can offer a recurring-income, no-inventory, no-recruiting, and location-independent business with a massive audience; every business needs one!

While RVing, we find people running all kinds of businesses from consulting to Etsy shops, online education, and network marketing (shout out to the essential oil industry). After seeing all of those options, if I were to start over, I’d stick with website design, but I would change a few things to scale faster and build recurring income quicker.

Things I would change if I were starting my web design business over:

Pick An Industry and Build Templates For Them

Web Design Business GoalsWhen my business coach reads this, she’s going to roll her eyes. She told me this from the start, but it took a while to get it through my head. I wanted to say “Yes” to everything that came my way, but a custom business wasn’t in line with my goals.

Scalability isn’t in custom web design work; it’s in becoming the expert in an industry. People are more likely to trust experts than jack-of-all-trades graphic designers who build websites.

Pick an industry, figure out what they need in their website, build 2 or 3 templates, and then sell as many of those as possible; Be the “website” expert in that industry.

The restauranteur or plumber, or welder in San Antonio doesn’t care if his or her website layout matches the business in Orlando or the client in Toronto. 99% of the time, that’s not their competition anyway.

Building templates will allow you to scale quickly by reproducing them over and over again – it’s the Ford model of producing cars, the Starbucks model of selling coffee with add-ons, or McDonald’s model of selling burgers and fries.

Since you’re selling customization to templates, your upfront costs are kept low so that you can keep your upfront costs to your clients low. In addition, this allows you to offer them an ongoing service package (sell the website as a service rather than a product), so you can build monthly recurring revenue rather than only making money upfront.

Monthly Recurring Model vs. Upfront Custom Work:

It’s nice to build recurring income per month, BUT I NEED MONEY NOW! That’s what a lot of my internal conversation sounded like when I started my business. As in most businesses, there is an onramp – like on a highway, the onramp takes you from zero to cruising speed, a business onramp is the amount of time to go from $0 income up to a sustainable level of income.

A model of building monthly recurring income with websites as a service is fewer peaks and valleys and more steady growth – so grow quickly.

Here’s an actual example from my early days in my web design business. I sold 2 projects in the same month:

Website 1) The client insisted on paying for the website upfront and not paying a monthly service fee (someone inside their organization was going to take care of the website themselves). Admittedly, I was new to the business world and happy to make a sale. Still, I underpriced myself (because I only factored in design time, not “client hand-holding” time, revisions and reversals (really), approval through their board), and sold them their website for $3200.

Website 2) The client loved the service-based website model and was happy not to have to pay upfront. They were willing to model their website after one of the templates I had built. They paid $0 upfront and $99/month for their website.

Website 1 – completely custom took me about 100 hours with the initial design, revisions, approval processes with their board, etc. I made about $32/hour as an hourly rate, and it was done when we launched their site.

Website 2 – since I was customizing an existing template, I could write their text, resize and format their images, and adjust the color scheme to match their logo in 10 hours. Then the first month, I made $100 (or roughly $10/hour in that first month).

I’ve never seen another dime from site 1. Then, a few years after we launched, they asked for a quote on redoing the website. Knowing what I experienced the first time, they didn’t like my second quote.

Website 2 has been paying for their $99/month service contract for 8 years now. Every few months, they email and ask for a change to the site – add a product picture, or update their winter hours. It’s been evolving and doesn’t look much like how we started, and they’re happy to treat their website as a service or a utility for their business.

At this point, website 2 has paid me $1200/year for 8 years, or $9600 in service fees for their website service, and in return, they’ve never had to pay for a rebuild, and they keep telling me that the website generates more profit than it costs.

Now here’s the painful part:

What if instead of taking on Website 1, I built 10 ‘Website 2’s that month. My time invested that month would have been about the same, but I would have made a big difference for my bottom line in the long run – I would still be seeing the profit from that month.

Which Web Design Business Model would you choose?

Website 1 where you’ll have to scramble to sell another website in a month, or you don’t make anything, or website 2: Build a template that works for a specific industry and scale quickly to make recurring income and long-term business stability?

start a website design business online course

This is why you choose an industry and sell web design templates

In the example above, the only way I can sell and produce 10 of those websites per month is if I’m not building each one custom – I have to customize templates to make that work, and clients understand that you’re not needlessly building from scratch and then passing on those costs to them.

In my online course, “Crack The Code; Build a web design business without writing a line of code,” I talk about how to help clients understand the value of selling web design from templates and overcoming the objection that a template is a starting point is “going to look just like everyone else’s website.”

Usually, I recommend 3 templates: “Good, Better, Best.” This gives the client some more choice and gives you a few pricing levels to serve different clients; then, each template gets customized with the client’s images, text, contact info, and color scheme to match their logo.

How to choose an industry or niche for your web design business

design websites for an industry you loveIt’s not just enough to build templates, but you have to build templates that specifically serve an industry or niche. A template for a pizza restaurant won’t also work as a template for a shoe store, and a template for a summer camp, and a template for a hotel.

To truly become the expert in an industry, you have to know that industry inside and out; Often an industry that you grew up in, or you’ve worked in, or you have a specific interest in.

I would shy away from choosing an industry simply because you see a need. The people in that industry will see through opportunism if you don’t really get the industry or understand their needs.

Narrow your focus to a segment within a segment of your industry

That’s not a typo in the title. Figure out the industry you’re going to serve, then choose a segment of that industry, then chose a smaller segment within that segment, whether that starts as serving a small business, or going after one large company at a time.

Not just restaurants, or narrowed to pizza restaurants, but pizza restaurants that are not chains that sell an organic menu.

Not just the automotive industry, or narrowed to mechanics, but mechanics who work on European-made passenger cars.

Not just hotels, but hotels that are not chains, and are family-friendly and have an on-site restaurant.

Really focussing on who you want to serve will allow you to build templates that serve their specific needs and become the “go-to” person in the industry to get a website from.

Which Hats Are You Going to Wear in your web design business?

It wasn’t soon enough when I realized I couldn’t wear all 4 hats in my business. I would have grown a lot quicker earlier on if I’d made this realization. The 4 hats in a web design business:

  1. Sales & Marketing
  2. Design
  3. Technical
  4. Business Administration

My secret: Wear as few hats as you can, but max out at 2 hats. Eventually, you’ll want to grow to the point where you can oversee, explore new industry opportunities, and be in charge of the growth strategy for your business while everyone else is executing, but to start with, find a partner (or a white-label web design and tech support agency like ours) to outsource your other hats.

What do I need to start a web design business? Your Brand and Website

Now that you’ve figured out the industry you’ll serve and narrowed it down to a segment of a segment; you’ll be able to name your business in a way that resonates with your industry. There are 3 options:

  1. Consider something that is a keyword or catchphrase in your industry. “Rubber Sole Websites” might a cheesy name, but it will point to your industry clearly. (and I’m sure you’ll think of something much better than I can off the top of my head)
  2. Go with something obvious. One of our brands is “CoffeeShopWebsites.net” – it’s so obvious, and obviousness brings with it clarity.
  3. Choose something that is your name/partnership. If you’re already well-known in your industry, and your name is fairly recognizable, then consider using your name or your partnership and add something like “Creative” or “Digital” or “Web Design” after it to indicate what this venture is about. For example, “LastNameDigital” or “LastNameWebsites” may be the best way for people to remember your brand and associate it with what you do.

Next, find a domain name and build (or outsource the building of) your website for your brand.

Make sure that your imagery points clearly to your industry, repeatedly mention that you’re offering websites as a service so potential clients understand that before they call, and give a clear way that people can request a quote from you.

The checklist for your marketing website is included free in my online course: Crack The Code; Learn to build a recurring income web design business without writing a single line of code.

A few key points for a successful web design for your marketing site:

  • Be clear in many locations on your site and many different ways of reiterating that you’re offering an ongoing service, not a product that someone will purchase upfront as a lump sum.
  • Use images that clearly define your target audience (if you target mechanics, use images that instantly say “mechanic”, if your target is food trucks, use images that say “Food Trucks”- I like to get free stock photos from unsplash.com as often as I can find what I’m looking for). Anything else can look generic and confusing. Don’t think that because you’re a web design business that you should use all photos of people on their laptops.
  • Drive home your business name with something that matches your industry – something memorable!
  • Have a “Request A Quote” form on your website where businesses can request a quote for your services.
  • Highlight why YOU are an expert in the industry that you serve, the skills you have, and the value of working with you rather than other web designers.
  • As soon as you have portfolio projects and personal testimonials from business owners, highlight them on the home page.

How Do Web Designers Get New Clients? Most Don’t.

This may seem odd, but often the first clients are the ones that fall into your lap easiest. In many cases, running a web design business wasn’t even in the plans when the first client says “I saw you built a personal blog, or put together a website for your family business. Can you do that for me?” Next thing you know, someone who knows a thing or two (and often doesn’t even have business cards yet) is starting a web design business, even if that small business is a side hustle.

It’s sad but true. Most web designers find a few people they could connect with to be clients- maybe a friend who owns a business, or someone they met at a networking event – and end up closing up shop in less than a year because they’ve spent their time designing for the paycheck, then once they get paid, they have to start finding new clients, which isn’t profitable until you get that next deposit. They haven’t made a regular habit of cultivating new client relationships while building out the last client’s project.

While it’s rarely my goal to go a month without bringing on additional clients, even if I take it easy for a month, our business still has a stable income because of our monthly service-based model.

In the Crack The Code Course, my model points to be industry-specific which not only helps with the design and technical side of offering templates but also allows you to clearly define your target audience and how to get in front of decision-makers in your industry so you can keep the clients coming in as you’re getting existing client websites live.

Free and Paid ways to get New Web Design Clients:

Free Options:

  • Join Facebook groups for your industry to meet potential clients online
  • Volunteer to be a guest on industry-related podcasts
  • Write guest posts for magazines, blogs, or publications that are going to be read by your audience
  • Blog on your own business’ website to show credibility and expertise
  • Go to a networking event and create friendships with as many businesses as you can, even if they’re not your niche. They may know someone who is!
  • Register Social Media channels for your business and 80% of the time post content that people in your industry would find helpful. The other 20%, post about customers you’re working with, a project or a job you’ve recently launched, highlight successful testimonials where you’ve added value to a business, and talk about the process of using your specific tools to help businesses meet their online goals.
  • Have a business website that has foundational search engine optimization (SEO) in place.
  • Offer to build a website using one of your pre-made design templates for an influential person in your industry in exchange for promotion and marketing.
  • Ask friends and family if they know any businesses that would be a fit for your services and could offer a personal referral.
  • Offer your first clients an incentive for successful referrals to new customers – a free month of your web design service, a gift card to a coffee shop of their choice, or some other value or tool that businesses in your niche would appreciate.

Paid Options:

  • Pay for advertisement in an industry email newsletter in your niche
  • Purchase a banner ad on a popular industry blog for your web design business
  • Ask an industry leader if you can pay them to post about your services online through social media for other business owners to see.
  • Get business cards printed and rent a booth at an industry conference or convention.
  • Attend networking events for your industry
  • Start your own industry “Lunch and Learn” on Zoom and invite relevant speakers to promote their practice, blog, latest book, new product, or podcast. (Be sure to promote the lunch and learn on social media, and ask your speakers to invite their business audience to join also.)
  • Hire someone to use social media ads to reach decision-makers, business owners, and potential clients in your target audience.

Software Tools For Your Web Design Company

Project Management Tools

There are plenty of project management options if you want to start a business. I use trello. If you’d like to try it out for free, here’s a link: https://trello.com/adammclaughlin1/recommend (affiliate link)

You don’t have to use trello, but I would recommend using something. Some of the salespeople that we white label work for have 8-10 projects at various stages at any given time, so simply trying to keep track of all of that with your email inbox won’t work, and then involving our team could just make things more complicated if we didn’t have one centralized workspace that we could all reference.

Recurring Invoice Accounting Software

When choosing an accounting tool, be sure to select one that allows for automatic recurring invoices so you don’t have to retype every invoice on the first of every month.

There are lots of options. Iuse freshbooks.com (Affiliate link) as a personal favorite for how it integrates with an iPhone app.

If you’re a web designer, you’ll need web design software

Remember that you don’t have to be a web designer to have a company like ours ‘white-label’ your design and technical service, but if you ARE going to be DIY in your design business full time, then you’ll need to know a web design software inside and out to properly serve your clients.

There are many options like WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, or Joomla that can be used to create a website for your clients. If you’re really intent on being a designer, then our favorite recommendation is WordPress coupled with themes (or templates) from Elegant Themes (aff link), since you have plenty of customization, but it’s an established system, so you’re not always starting from scratch.

Unless you have a partner that is driving sales, it’s not efficient to spend time learning design skills at the same time as learning to grow your business. If you’re already running a web design business and wanting to transition to a recurring income model, or you know exactly what you’re doing with the design software of your choice, then wearing both the sales and the design hat may work for you and your customers.

Important Terms to Learn When Starting A Web Design Business:

Design and Development – are they the same or even related?

Web design is putting together the layout of a website, choosing colors, making sure the final product looks good on mobile devices, etc. Web Development is writing code that acts like software – an employee login for time tracking, a client login so they can see their project’s progress, or tools that do a customized function other than displaying text and pictures.

We’re designers, not developers, so we try to help clients find software that already does what they’re looking for rather than writing something from scratch. It’s better for the client to pay a monthly subscription to the tool they need rather than going through the process of project management and writing it themselves (or you could include a tool in your monthly services to the client so they just pay a single package to get your web design and the tool they need for the job).

Clients come up with all kinds of exciting ideas (especially small business clients who are excited about the process of getting their new web design). Instead of trying to figure out a way to be the project management and hire a web developer, stick with your templates, and have some recommendations up your sleeve (and maybe some affiliate links) to know what other tools and software are available for your niche.

What is a Domain Name?

A domain name is another word for a website address. It’s where you tell people to go when you want them to visit your website. Domain names need to be renewed (it’s not a purchase, it’s closer to a lease) and the registration can be for as little as 1 year which needs to be renewed yearly, or you can register the domain for longer like 5 or 10 years.

Register your clients’ domain names for them (Google is the simplest option for this), and include the yearly renewal cost in their service package. This allows you to be sure that the client isn’t going to forget and someone else takes the domain if it’s not renewed, and you get to assure that client that there are no costs outside of their services with you.

What is website hosting?

When someone types in a website address, the text and image files that they see are sitting on a computer somewhere (called a server) and the internet database knows that if you type in a certain website address that you’ll be pointed to that server to see those files.

This process is called hosting files on a server. Every website needs to pay for hosting – there is no free lunch, but again, you can include hosting costs into your client’s services. It’s also helpful for clients to recognize that if they go with the “other guy” who simply wants to charge a lump sum upfront for the job, they still have ongoing monthly (or yearly) services to take care of with hosting.

What is White Labeling Website Design?

White-labeling is like when an author has a ghostwriter. The client has the experience of working with you and your brand, and we put your name on the final product that we create.

At Fresh Idea, we will help build your marketing website, your templates, populate your templates when you bring on new clients, look after client change requests for you, and our tech team looks after keeping WordPress up to date and functioning at peak performance at all times.

In the case of the salespeople that we white-label our web design and tech services for, we also include hosting for them so they have a single “cost” that they can decide what profit margin to add on for their clients.

Throughout the whole process, the “white label” means that nothing is branded as Fresh Idea and everything is branded as your agency web design business. Your clients don’t realize they’re working with us – they only see and hear your business name. We wear that “design” and “tech” hats for you at a set monthly cost per client so you don’t have to bring on employees, and your costs only increase when your profit increases more.

Our white-label clients outsource their design and tech services to us for set wholesale costs each month (it varies by tech support requirements, design complexity, and industry needs) then treat that as their wholesale cost. From there, they retail those same services to the clients in their industry at a profit. We look after their design and technical aspects of the business. They focus on bringing in new clients to build their monthly recurring revenue.

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What is A Mobile Website vs A Responsive Website?

Clients ask all the time “Is my website good for mobile?”

Long, long ago in a galaxy far far away, I’m talking about 2014, Google announced that we hit a tipping point in web browsing experience. 2014 was the year when more websites we viewed on a mobile device than a desktop or laptop.

At that time, people needed their website to work on mobile devices, but didn’t want to rebuild an entire website when their desktop version was working properly, so WordPress, and other web software came up with “Mobile Websites.”

In its simplest form, this meant that the server would recognize if you were visiting from a phone or a laptop, and show you either a mobile site or a desktop site.

There were 2 challenges with this:

  1. You had to now maintain 2 sites. Information changed on one had to be updated on the other.
  2. New companies came up with new sizes of devices, from the iPad to iPad Mini to iPad Pro (and that’s only from Apple, consider the other manufacturers also!)

Now sites are built as responsive, meaning that a single site will identify the size of the browser and adjust the layout of the content to ‘respond’ to that browser’s size – no matter which device, or what resolution.

If you’re on a desktop or laptop right now, grab the lower right corner of the browser and change the size of the window – you’ll notice on this responsive site that text, titles, and images all adjust to match the new size of the window. That’s responsive.

Ready To Get Started On Building Recurring Income Through Your Own Web Design Business?

Here is your checklist to start a web design agency:

Once you register for the “Crack The Code Course: Build A Website Design Agency Without Writing A Single Line Of Code.” you’ll have all of the tools you need to get started and create a web design agency, and check everything off this checklist:

  • Choosing an Industry to Target
  • Build Your Brand in that Industry
  • Learn to Sell Websites as a Service
  • Determine Which Tasks You’ll Do and Which You’ll Outsource (which 2 of the 4 hats will you wear? Sales & Marketing, Design, Tech, and Business Admin)
  • How To Efficiently Outsource Design & Tech
  • Which Design Tools Do We Use To Get Started Quickly on New Projects
  • Common Objections Customers May Have with Service-Based Websites (and how to answer)
  • Understanding Paperwork and Software You Need to Run Your Business
  • How To Market Your Website Agency
  • Checklist to get your own marketing site live

Still not sure if a web design business is right for you?

Leave a comment below and let’s chat about it!

 

 

 

 

Categories
Social Media

7 Simple Ways to Improve Your Live Video on Social Media

With many work positions moving online, and recent recognition that online can be much more efficient for so many things that we thought HAD to be in person, a lot of businesses, churches, and organizations are growing to realize the importance of connecting with their social media followers online.

While I would emphasize the importance of getting it done rather than getting it perfect (now is not the time for perfectionism – never is), is it true that increasing the quality of your video to a minimum standard does result in longer viewing time and more engagement (likes, comments, and shares).

Here are 7 ways to improve your next live video on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram or Twitter

Be in a quiet space

Man doing live video on phoneThis may seem obvious, but it’s increasingly difficult from home. Sometimes your co-workers (ie. kids and pets) can’t just move to another space or know how to keep it down while you’re making a live video from the kitchen table.

Trying to address your audience while the dog barks in the background or your kids ask you to put new batteries in their favorite toy siren is just plain distracting, making your viewers switch away or keep scrolling.

It’s not always possible to be in a silent space (if an ambulance drives by with sirens, there’s nothing you can do about that), but be intentional about going live during your kids nap time, while on a walk, in the evening after bedtime, or in your own space.

The less obvious distractions are fans, vents, or wind noise if you’re outside. As much as possible, get into a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed and you can focus on connecting with people watching your video.

 

Use a microphone

This doesn’t mean you have to jump on Amazon and wait a few weeks before your mic arrives. Using the headset that came in the box with your phone or Bluetooth headphones with a built-in mic can reduce the ambient noise around you and make your voice clearer.

Your goal is not to sound like a radio announcer but to bring clarity to your voice so viewers can understand what you’re saying without distraction.

 

Lighting

No shame: I’ve gone live from the kitchen with a table lamp behind my laptop with the shade off. Don’t hurt your eyes stating into a 100-watt bulb (the squinting won’t translate well on video anyway) but be in a room with ambient light from the sun, open the curtains if the window is beside you or in front of you, and turn on ALL of the lights in the room as long as they’re not behind you.

Be sure light sources are in front of you, not behind you. Light sources behind you (like open windows or lamps) will cause your camera to adjust to the brightness from the window and turn you into a silhouette.

In these 2 shots below from the webcam built into my laptop, the only difference is that the patio door’s blinds are open on the left and closed on the right. The room lighting is the same in both cases.

On the left, the camera adjusts to the brightest point on the screen (the sun outside) and on the right, it adjusts to the brightest point (probably my forehead glare?)

Side note: I haven’t shaved for a few days… I’ll get that done once I’m done this blog post…

 

Ask for engagement

Every 4-5 minutes of your video, ask for engagement from your viewers. Engagement drives the organic reach of your post so more people will have a chance to see your video. Ask your viewers to like your post, or ask them a question so they can respond in the comments.

Good starter questions could be:

  • Leave a comment to let me know where you’re watching from today
  • I’m here enjoying my morning coffee. I take mine black. Leave a comment about how you like your coffee!
  • An A/B question that has 2 options: We’re talking about getting up early or staying up late. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Tell us in the comments.


Starter questions are purely meant to drive engagement. Don’t start out with something controversial or in-depth – just a simple question that’s easy to answer.

The longer the video, the more times you’ll want to ask for engagement. Some people will tune in late. Some people will watch later in the day, and some people will be happy to respond multiple times during your broadcast, so ask an engagement question at the beginning, and at the end, and every 4-5 minutes in the middle.

Middle engagement questions would be open-ended questions about your topic:

  • Do you have a question about our organization or service?
  • What would you like to see change with this topic moving forward?
  • How can we better serve you in this area?

 

Ending engagement questions could be about the next broadcast:

  • Next time we’re talking about that topic. What questions can we answer for you?

 

Respond to engagement as it’s happening

When someone responds to your question, read it out during the broadcast and respond back. Ask them a follow-up question. Answer a question they put in the comments about your topic. Create a conversation in your video with the comments rather than just a monologue.

 

Aim for longer than 10 minutes

In this article from VidYard, they notice that it takes at least 10 minutes for your online viewers to find out you’re doing a live video:

Don’t draw our a 60-second announcement to 10 minutes to hit this metric, but instead of 2 or 3 videos at 4 minutes each, for example, go longer on a single video with multiple topics.

 

Go live with someone else

For me, going live is about connection and conversation. Also, knowing that we want to hit a metric of 10 minutes in a best-case scenario, having a partner can really help the conversation feel more like a conversation, and less like a monologue for 10 minutes.

It’s also helpful if one person is ‘interviewing’ the other – asking questions, watching comments for more questions, and introducing the topic.

My personal favorite tool for this is Be.Live because there is no software to download so it’s always ready to go, you can ‘produce’ on the fly (meaning switching from shared screen to full-screen of you or your guest) and you can see comments in real-time and put them up on the screen like a lower third.

You can also add subtitles (like your website address) and now media to show during your broadcast.

 

Have an idea about going live on Social Media that didn’t make this list? Share it below so we can learn together:

 

 

 

Categories
Leadership Marketing Social Media

7 ways your church can be present during Coronavirus isolation

Churches: Be Present online through COVID19 / Coronavirus.

At the risk of sounding like an opportunist (both in recommendations to churches and in the timing of this blog post), I hope that churches understand that while we’re not attempting to capitalize on the COVID 19 / Coronavirus situation, we can optimize how we serve people in our community while it is taking place.

This is going to take a shift in mindset for a lot of us.

Too many times we think of ‘church’ as a building. It’s not uncommon to say “See you at church,” or “We’re going to help set up at church.” I’m not refuting the thought that ‘church’ can be used to represent a building, but I am suggesting that the Church is more than a building.

If NONE of us owned buildings, we would still be the church. Not just in the sense of meeting where available – like a library or a high school – but also that church is a group of people, and THE Church is many groups of people participating in 1 central focus: Going and making disciples.

While not every person is choosing social distancing, many are. We saw more churches than ever broadcast their service online this week, and many in lieu of having an in-person gathering; AND we still had church.

Small groups gathered, families gathered, neighbors gathered, and people who were bored tuned in just to see what this thing was all about.

It was incredible to see the number of churches adapting and shifting their mindset.

AND We’re missing a massive opportunity to bring hope to our community if we stay silent until next Sunday

Yes, your Sunday morning service probably takes a fair amount of production. I saw everything from Pastors doing a quick selfie video to full-scale edited productions (in one case, I know the production team was up REALLY late on Saturday making it happen).

BUT there’s plenty of opportunities to continue to make an impact online for people who are choosing social distancing and self-quarantines.

Here are 7 ways you can continue to serve your community online over the next week (7 ways, 7 days… hmm)

1.) Have Pastor follow up the sermon from Sunday with a live devotional/prayer

Pastors often have a gold nugget leftover they didn’t have time to fit in, a topic that they wish they could have dug deeper on Sunday, a scripture that reinforces their idea, or feedback – like a question someone asked them after service – that they could clarify.

Have your Pastor go live – all that’s necessary is a phone and admin access on the Facebook page – and talk about that extra tidbit, that follow-up idea, that additional piece of clarification.

Offer to pray for anyone who would like prayer by leaving a comment in the video.

If you’re not sure about the value of Live vs Pre-Recorded, Ben Stapley talks about it here:

 

2.) Have your Kids Pastor do a live video to talk with the kids at your church

Kids, especially right now, are feeling bored and probably isolated. Many are used to going to school with a large classroom filled with kids their age – everything from recess to lunchtime to group activities to evening sports are grinding to a halt in their world.

Did your church put all of your efforts on Sunday into recreating your main service? Did you have a time and place for kids who were watching this week?

If you didn’t, it may be worth considering for next Sunday, but in the meantime, have your Kids Pastor do a live video (Create a Facebook event, send out an email newsletter and announce it’s coming so Parents can get ready). Read a bible story, do an object lesson, play some kids worship songs, and then offer a follow-up, like a YouTube playlist of the worship songs your kids sing in church each week, so the kids can worship at home, and have a familiar experience to what they’re used to on Sunday.

 

3.) Decide what you’re doing next Sunday and send out an email/text message to let everyone know

As early as possible, decide what the future holds, and for how long until you’ll make the next decision. It’s really easy for us to go stir crazy considering the possibilities for a situation. Make a decision and announce it so that your team can understand what the strategy is moving forward and announce that to your church.

A simple email like “For the remainder of the month, we’ll be having church online only. By the last Sunday in March, we’ll let you know how we’ll proceed together for April. Join us on our Facebook page (or YouTube or your website) for daily updates this week from our team.

Side note: if you don’t utilize text messaging for your church, text messages have a much higher likelihood of being read than emails, and Text In Church is offering a free 30-day trial. This would be the perfect 30 days to connect with your church via Text Messages.

 

4.) Have your band/worship leader do mid-week worship

You don’t have to go overboard on multiple camera angles, lighting production, audio remixing and lyric overlays. Take the pressure off, and just go live with a guitar or keyboard and a singer. Sing familiar songs that you’ve sung recently.

Paste your song lyrics in the live video description so viewers have the words to sing along. After the live video is done, download the video and add it to your YouTube channel so you can send out the link to that song later in an email.

Done Beats None. Don’t overthink it, just do it.

 

5.) Youth night live broadcast

Your youth don’t want to just sit at home and practice distancing. They’re probably on their phones more this week than they’ve been able to with classes and homework at other times.

Run through a typical youth setup – if you usually have icebreaker games, figure out a way to do an icebreaker with an Instagram story poll, or voting system. Have 2 of your key leaders on video, and have the viewers vote on who has to eat different types of food, or use a system like Kahoot to do group quizzes.

There’s no question your teens are on their phone. Meet them there.

 

6.) Do some online leadership or volunteer training

You know how it’s difficult to get everyone in the same room on a Saturday morning now and then to do some vision casting/leadership training/volunteer training?

Well, that hasn’t changed, and probably won’t.

BUT we’ve learned that giving people online resources that they can watch at their convenience has become really effective, and not time-sensitive. Now would be a great time to create and publish some online learning opportunities.

Masterclass, Lynda.com, and many others have proven this method.

If you have volunteers willing to do some online video learning to help your church, my recommendation is ChurchMarketingUniversity.com, or if you’re more of a podcast learning, check out the ChurchMarketingIdeas Podcast.

 

7.) Focus on your people, not your church

Every time you’re ready to communicate something, be sure you’re asking yourself if your motivation is to help people or to help your church.

In a time of emergency, or crisis, or isolation, people’s sensitivity is at an all-time high. Instead of saying “Share this so we can get more views” consider “Do you know a friend this could help?”

Post ideas:

  • Highlight key volunteers in your church with posts on your channels.
  • Highlight a local business
  • Share a positive article from your local newspaper or blog post from your radio station
  • Take prayer requests and offer to pray for people in your community.

Let the community know that you’re part of the community. Keep the focus on the people you’re helping, not on what your church is doing, or how your church is helping.

This is really all about people.

 

I hope these 7 ideas help your church to make an impact this week in your community by staying present in a time when people are feeling isolated.

 

Have an idea that’s worked for you? Leave it in the comments so we can all learn together!

 

 

Categories
For Church Staff Leadership Marketing Overwhelmed

Maybe it’s time to close the doors to your church

Every now and then, I have to write a blog post that cuts deep. This may be one of those. Without using clickbait, or trying to stir the pot, I want to help you hear my heart and hear the hope in this blog post. If your church is on a path towards closing, please considering reading every word.

 

In this article by Thom Rainer, from Lifeway, he says that 6000-10,000 churches in America will close per year, which means that 100-200 churches that opened the doors last Sunday won’t open the doors this weekend.

It’s so sad to hear, and I wish that statistic didn’t exist. Honestly, I wish that there was only growth and not decline, but the reality is that’s not the case.

Here’s where it starts to hurt, and I’ll apologize in advance for how terrible this is going to sound: Objectively, it would be more helpful if the number of churches closing was higher.

Ugh. I don’t want that to be the case. I wish with everything in me that this didn’t make objective sense, but considering my experience with what I’ve seen and heard, first hand and through a network of people passionately hoping their church wasn’t on a decline, I know this to be the case.

Consider a business that’s in decline: profits have been down for many years, clients are decreasing, they are spending their available budget on staying afloat, taking on debt to pay salaries, or remortgaging their assets to drain their equity and pay the bills.

If this were the case for your business, it would be helpful for someone to come alongside you and say, “It may be time to sell while you still have equity in assets and find another source of income, or simply retire and enjoy your lifetime of work.”

We see this in outdated technology companies, retail stores that have lost out on a price war with big-box retailers, and restaurants that are in a ‘downtown core’ in small towns where retail is moving to the mall on the edge of town.

Where we don’t often see this strategy is with churches. Churches often hold on far too long to emotion, sentiment, and status quo beyond reason, in ways that businesses could never justify.

To be clear, I’m not talking to churches who have had a sudden upset in leadership, lost their building in a hurricane, or another catastrophic event. I’m also not talking to churches who have poor months financially or have gone through a split of some kind and your members are emotionally drained. I’m talking to churches who have a traceable track record of financial and membership decline over years or decades.

There are 2 paths for a declining church:

  1. Keep doing what you’re doing until there’s nothing left.
  2. Make a significant change and adapt in order to grow and make a difference in your community.

 

Path 1: Keep doing what you’re doing

Nothing is going to change. Insert the definition of insanity if you’ve kept doing what you’ve always done and expected different results, and then throw in a pile of other cliches.

It just seems so obvious to me that I can’t even justify boring you with the what, but I do want to dig into the ‘How.’

How is it that we can experience years or decades of decline, and still not be willing to change?

For each church, this could look different, but I believe any church can fall into this trap, either from success, indifference, or not knowing how to handle decline. This could be because:

  • We had a good month. A new family joined, and our finances were above our costs. Maybe this is a new trend!
  • We don’t want Pastor to lose his job, and he’s been doing this his whole career and he has a family, so what else would he do? We’ll continue to give a salary as long as we can.
  • From the Pastor: What else would I do? I don’t have a resume outside of working at my church and nobody will hire someone whose most recent track record is years of decline.
  • We’ve been in the community for many years, and our city just wouldn’t feel right without us here.
  • Maybe if we just pray more, this is just a season of difficulty we’ll pull out of.
  • We need to cut costs and remortgage assets, and now it looks like our cash flow is in the positive.
  • If we don’t reach our community, then who will? We’re here at whatever cost to be a light in our community.
  • Let’s just take it one step at a time. Let’s make sure that Sunday is good, then we’ll think about next Sunday.
  • People left the church because they saw a decline in the youth program, kids funding, social events, outreach opportunities, etc. We’re going to stick around and prove them wrong.

OR the case that I think most churches struggle with:

If we were to make a change, what would be the right change? What options actually exist? It’s easier to not make a change.

 

Either path means a change is coming.

Either you’re going to make a change, or you’re going to run out of people and money and a change is going to happen. You may be trying to preserve a building, or staff salaries, or your pride, but if you run out of people and money, you’re going to lose all of that anyway.

Ask yourself this question:

Based on our rate of decline (in attendance or finances) how many years do we have left at this speed?

Is holding on to hope without reason until our assets or membership hit zero the most effective way to help people in our community meet Jesus?

 

Path 2: Intentionally make a significant change

two men meetingOften, the biggest obstacle here is knowing what a significant change could look like.

Here’s where the logic of ‘Objectively, it would be more helpful if the number of churches closing was higher,’ takes effect.

Here are some options for making a significant change:

 

Option 1: Merge with a growing church

You may have assets like a building, or investments, or a community center, and committed members, so what if you partnered with a church that is still meeting in a high school or renting space at a library, or trying to get the funding together to renovate a space in a strip mall, or looking to plant a campus in your city. You bring your assets to the table, and they bring a fresh system of what’s working to impact the community.

Your church’s legacy would be adding fuel to the fire of a growing church by providing a building, committed volunteers, and mentors. They’re contribution is taking your legacy and continue to reach your community.

In this case, remember that you’ll need to embrace their systems. This doesn’t turn into a “my house, my rules” situation since your way of doing things has led to a decline. You need to hand over the reins to their system.

One way to approach this option:

Give them the building, change the building to their church name, and let your members know that they can join the new church if they would like. Alternatively, there may be other churches in your area that are the same denomination or style where your current members may feel more comfortable.

It’s important to not present it as “They’re joining us” or “We’re joining together” but rather “our legacy is going to be gifting our assets to them. Consider joining their church in this building, or here is another alternative if you’d like something more in line with our style.”

In some cases, the members of the church gifting the building simply join another church altogether and hand over their keys (obviously with the proper due legal process).

 

Option 2: Liquidate your assets and help a new church plant or campus plant

You might have a substantial amount of equity between your building and property, but if your building is in need of renovations or a design overhaul, then it may not actually be considered an asset to a smaller, growing church or a church looking to plant a campus – it might actually be a liability to need to fix the roof, remove the wallpaper and paint from top to bottom or fix the parking lot that’s home to a few ducks and frogs and completely unusable every time it rains.

Consider liquidating everything and find a growing church to invest those assets into. Leverage your assets while they can make a difference, rather than waiting until they vaporize.

It could be tempting to “merge” with another church in your denomination, or a church of a similar style to yours, and pool your resources together. While I’m not advising against that, I would want you to consider if they are a growing church with upward momentum, or if you’re simply pooling assets to prolong their decline.

 

Option 3: Bring in new leadership SOONER THAN LATER

may praying at churchI’ll just let this one simmer.

If your current leadership (staff or volunteers) have only been able to create a track record of decline, then they need to have the self-awareness to step aside and say “I don’t know what to do, and for the sake of our church and our community, someone else needs to step in.”

Again, I’m not saying this should be the case after a few months or even a year or two of decline, but after more than a couple of years without an upside, (and in many cases, more than that) it’s time to look at the business side of things and say “Would a major corporation allow their CEO to lead for a decade of decline without making a change?”

Our mission as the church is much more significant than inventing a new gadget or turning a profit. Our commitment to reach that significance has to be reflected in our decisions, no matter how tough they may be.

This decision has to be made sooner than later. Waiting until there’s only red in the bank account and nothing left of the membership is like setting fire to potential. If you have any desire to see the organization turn around, give “the new guy” something to work with.

 

I’m not pretending this is an exhaustive list, and there may be another option that is a fit for your church and community but making the decision to make a change is the first step.

Do you know of any great resources that would be helpful for a church looking to make a change? Leave it in the comments below so we can learn together!

 

 

 

Categories
Build a Team For Church Staff Leadership

Slow down staff turnover at your church

I’ve been hearing a theme lately at conferences, podcasts, blogs, facebook groups, published books, (and in private messages and emails to me. Side note: adam@adammclaughlin.net if you want to chat) and it’s been on my mind, almost to the point of concern.

It’s not a point of concern because I disagree or I think it’s misleading, but the concern is that it’s true, and relevant to enough people to come up in so many unrelated contexts.

The theme:

Maybe it’s time to consider moving on from your church job.

This theme comes up in different ways like:

  • Working at a church can be a terrible job.
  • Let me guess: Your “other duties as assigned” are taking more time than your actual job description.
  • If you leadership (read: Pastor, Manager, Supervisor, Board of Directors) doesn’t trust you to do your work, then find somewhere that allows you to do what you know to do.
  • We know that often church wages are sub-par compared to wages outside the church. If that’s causing stress, there are other places you can do similar work, clock out at the end of the day, and make more money.

To be clear, none of the speakers or writers were making a suggestion, and all suggested ways to work out the details, but they all had the message that it’s ok to move on if you need to.

I wish I had a magic wand to solve all of these statements, and if you haven’t noticed yet, I don’t.

I don’t even have answers to most of them, and definitely not blanket statements that you as a leader can apply at your church, because your culture and context is unique from every other church, however what I do know is:

Leaders: The problem is your culture. 

 

Like it or not, your culture, informed by your values, drives every decision, delegation, and experience that your church is known for, whether internally with your staff or volunteers, or externally in your community.

I won’t pretend to even make suggestions about necessary steps, but, for a moment, here are a few things to consider when adjusting or evaluating your culture so your church is a great place to work.

 

Why Having Clearly Articulated Values Matters:

Your culture is informed by your values. Being unclear about your values (meaning discussing, writing them down, and having them come up in every discussion where a decision is made) doesn’t mean a culture doesn’t exist. It means that your culture is a wide net, with ever-changing results where it can feel like anything goes, and then nothing goes.

Whether you realize it or not, every decision made is based on values: What you wear, how you do your hair, whether you brushed your teeth, what you ate for breakfast, what time you woke up, which brand of toothpaste you use, whether you made coffee at home or picked one up on the way to the office – all of these decisions were made this morning based on your values, even before you left your house.

When you don’t have values articulated for your church, then each person is making decisions based on their personal values, which, understandably, are going to vary from one person to another.

This is why we get church splits over how to spend money.

One person values reaching people in our community and wants to update the carpet in the entrance to improve the first impression. Another person values reaching people who haven’t been reached and wants to use that money to build a church overseas.

Neither are wrong, and both could be the best answer depending on the organization and the situation, but the head-to-head values where one person can’t understand the other’s side creates an impasse.

When you make a decision for your organization or your staff, you’re making them based on your personal values, and each staff member is making their decision based on their values, and mixed together, that’s where ideas and opinions collide – actually, it’s where culture can’t come to terms with itself and either collides or separates.

Making group decisions based on only personal values is like trying to mix oil and water. Nobody is going to win.

Having clear organizational values fixes this:

When a church (or business, or organization) has clearly articulated your values, then an interesting phenomenon happens: People will allow the organization’s values to override their values when making decisions on behalf of the organization.

The conversation when making a decision moves from “I think we should….” to “Since we value X, then we could…..”

  • Since we value reaching our community first, then we could spend that money getting the old carpet replaced.
  • Since we value family, we could have a conference focussed around parenting, rather than a business conference.
  • Since we value multiplication, we could build a new campus rather than expand our current building.

Unless you’ve clearly articulated your values, there’s no way these conversations can happen.

 

What does that have to do with church staff?

I get it. Having 3-5 values doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to pay your staff more, or that they’ll produce perfect work the first time and won’t get their feelings hurt if there needs to be a revision.

Values allow a framework for discussions, and can inform:

  • How staff can have a respectful conversation with a different opinion from the leadership so they feel like they’re being heard. “Would you help me understand your decision based on our values?”
  • How and when you evaluate compensation.
  • Discussions for interviewing and on-boarding new staff so they’re clear on your culture
  • People who thought your valued something, but realize you actually value something different can move on to create a more cohesive team.
  • How staff help those they manage to understand the decisions they’re making. “Since we value X, the decision is to…. – Do you have any ideas on other ways we can help people experience that value in this situation?”

 

Need help discovering your church’s values?

If you’re a DIY, consider picking up a copy of Patrick Lencioni’s book: The Advantage. which talks about 6 questions that every organization needs to answer.

If you’re looking for a more hands-on approach, I help churches use this framework to create a Community Impact Strategy where we’ll not only walk through how to discover your core values, but also how to make them practical in a 6-month marketing strategy to impact your community. Ready to learn more? Send me an email: adam@adammclaughlin.net

 

What are your church’s core values? Leave a comment so we can learn together.