Part of my job is consulting with web designers to help them make more money.
I get to hear about a lot of pain within the web design community.
It never fails. The #1 painful comment that I hear more than anything else is “we can’t get paid what we are worth.” Do you have this issue?
Business owners are infamous for putting downward pressure on prices for website projects, but its not their fault.
Prior to selling my web agency, HotPress Web, last year and starting uGurus, a new venture to help web professionals become more profitable, I pitched a lot of website projects. I got paid really, really well for the work I did. And my clients were happy to oblige.
Am I an anomaly? Do I have some secret voodoo magic trick?
Is Everyone Cheap?
When a business owner views a website as a commodity, your chances of getting paid well go out the window.
“The more specific meaning of the term commodity is applied to goods only. It is used to describe a class of goods for which there is demand, but which is supplied without qualitative differentiation across a market. A commodity has full or partial fungibility; that is, the market treats its instances as equivalent or nearly so with no regard to who produced them.”
More simply said: when your offer looks like all of the others, price is the only thing that matters.
Instead of building value for a unique offer, we fall into the trap of selling a ten page piece of brochure-ware that will be thrown away in twelve months because it didn’t solve anything for the business owner.
The problem is most web designers try to sell websites.
It might sound like I’m talking crazy. Why wouldn’t web designers sell websites? Afterall, we are web designers right…?
Websites Are Just One Piece of the Puzzle
For the millions of small businesses active in the United States, having a website is a requirement. But it no longer stops there. Websites are the hub for online strategies with countless spokes springing off of them.
It used to be just having a website was enough. Now businesses need:
- Email Marketing
- Social Media
- Local Search
- Content Development
- Mobile App
- Inbound Marketing
- Customer Relationship Management
- …and so on
I call this the Online Business Ecosystem. Businesses have a physical bricks and mortar existence, and then they have their online equivalent. Each business owner needs a point person to help them navigate these waters.
In my experience, web designers have the premier opportunity to take the reigns.
You Own the Hub
Any kind of Internet traffic and conversion strategy ends at the website. Rarely do you want to send traffic away from your website to another medium. If a business owner has a visitor on their website, they don’t want to send them to Facebook (world distraction headquarters).
But if a visitor is on a Facebook page or reading a tweet, the Holy Grail is for them to follow through to a website.
When a business owner sends an email to their list for a new offer, the landing page will live on their website.
Almost every social, search, and app strategy ties in a business’ website on some level. This puts you at the helm of the Online Business Ecosystem. The business owner is begging you to take the lead.
Website projects are much more powerful when they tie into other elements of an online strategy. There is no such thing as “build it and they will come” for web projects.
Yet every day web designers are pumping out proposals for website projects void of any mention about traffic or conversion strategies to tie in the other online components.
Time to Double Your Prices
“You are the most expensive company we are looking at, but feel we must move forward because no one else is offering what you are.”
– Quote from every client that signed a contract with me in the last three years
I stopped selling website design services and created online business solutions that solved real problems for business. On average, I would have eight meetings with a prospective customer before signing a deal.
I spent a lot of time deep diving into the business to find their root concern: usually the problem of getting more customers. Even though most businesses had the same concern, it was packaged differently.
I couldn’t just exclaim on my first meeting, “I, BRENT WEAVER, WILL HELP YOU GET MORE CUSTOMERS.” I would have been a fraud. Instead, I worked to understand what was holding them back from getting more customers. After I understood their issues, I could draft a plan to solve their problems using my skills as a web professional.
My average project went from $3,000 to $5,000 and then to $10,000. Then the average went to $15,000. I started closing deals that broke the $20,000 mark, and eventually $30,000.
Not only that, but I was slam dunking almost 90% of the deals I would draft a proposal for.
Some Pruning is in Order
Going from being a mere web designer to a full-fledged online business consultant will take some work. You will have to acquire the skills necessary to speak a language with your prospects that goes beyond HTML, CSS, and WordPress.
You will have to carve out some of the time you spend on web design to line up some expert subcontractors that can help you with certain services that are a requirement in an Online Business Ecosystem:
- Search marketing
- and so on
But it will be worth it. You will spend less time competing with other web designers, your clients will tell more people about you, and champagne will rain down from each of your deal-winning celebration parties.