10 Tips for Starting a Web Design Agency

Anyone who has made great efforts to learn all the skills needed to design websites will be itching to get their agency started, and earn money.

If this applies to you, I have 10 tips for success that you do not want to miss for starting a web design agency.

If reading this, you have probably already given a web design agency a great deal of thought. If so, you already know enough about the business and have a love for designing. This is a fantastic start in the right direction.

No one said it better than Mark Twain did when he quoted “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life. ”

You might even have already taken steps and already made yourself a website to show off your new skills. However, after this, you might be floundering over the steps to take next when starting a web design agency.

I wish that when I had started out, I knew the things that I know now about business. It is one thing to become passionate about something. In this case, web design, but another to see it to fruition and for it to become successful as a business. I have enjoyed success within business, but that success did not happen overnight.

With my top 10 tips for starting a web design agency, you will have more insight than I did when starting out. The tips include:

  1. Balancing work and pleasure;
  2. Establish revenue that reoccurs;
  3. Office space, virtual or brick and mortar;
  4. Working out the financial aspect;
  5. A Good business approach;
  6. Build up a reliable team/partnership;
  7. Importance of a website and portfolio;
  8. Promotion of your agency;
  9. Communication skills;
  10. Taking your business full-time.

1. Find a Balance between Work and Pleasure

When starting a web design agency it is easy to make the mistake of throwing yourself into the new business and neglect “you” time. I learned this is an enormous mistake.

Some people never set out to work 12 hours a day 7 days a week. However, when setting up any business it can be tempting to keep going. To try to meet the goal of getting the business up and running in the shortest time possible. Burning the midnight oil every night will wear you down and wear you out. I can testify to that.

You will become lethargic and are unable to think straight. This is not the way to launch a business. The more hours put into the day the less productive one becomes.

So with this in mind remember to take small breaks during the day to refresh your mind. I found that sitting back in my chair, hands resting on my knees palms down, eyes closed and concentrating on my breathing in and out for a few minutes refreshes the mind.

I cannot emphasize the importance of setting a balance between work and pleasure. Work – relax – sleep is the key to any successful business.

2. Establishing Reoccurring Revenue

I consider reoccurring revenue to the Holy Grail of business. Reoccurring revenue is income coming in each month on a reoccurring basis.

There are many ways to obtain a constant stream of revenue. In regard to a web design agency, the first way is to offer clients a care plan for the website you built. This means customers pay you each month to maintain their site.

Website support is an excellent way to bring in money each month. For instance, you might have designed customers a WordPress site. Customers would pay you to keep their site up, running, keep the site updated, and install plugins.

3. Choosing Office Space – Virtual Presence or Brick and Mortar

When starting a web design agency one of the choices to make is choosing office space.

Today, more and more people opt to work remotely from their homes. This serves to keep costs down and saves time, which benefits customers.

There is a downside to working from home.

I have often worked from home and I find I have to be far stricter with myself than when I am working in an office environment. Working from home can make you lazy. It can be too tempting to lounge around in PJs at the computer not even bothering to get dressed.

Another downside is the many distractions in the home environment. At home, it is all too easy to go into the kitchen at any time during the day to get a coffee or make a sandwich. While there is nothing wrong with taking short breaks throughout the day, you do need to remember you are working. You might not have the willpower to be as strict with yourself at home and keep working hours.

While there are cons to working from home, there are also good points.

As mentioned above you do not need to pay for rented space for a design studio, you can turn a spare room into the studio. This saves money.

You also do not have to travel to work, which again saves money and time. You can use the time you would have spent traveling to and from work, doing actual work.

If the weather is bad outside, you do not need to worry about how you are going to get to work if your office is next door to your bedroom. No more wasted snow days.

With the technology that is available today, anyone can work at home just as efficiently as if in an office, perhaps even more so. Team members can collaborate on projects remotely even on the other side of the world thanks to:

  • Email;
  • Phone;
  • Text;
  • Messaging systems online;
  • Online virtual meeting rooms;
  • Video conferencing;
  • The cloud;
  • Dedicated servers.

A virtual presence is my recommendation for the choice of office space when starting a web design agency. You can always change your mind and move into a brick and mortar office later if this is what you want to accomplish.

4. The Financial Aspect of Your Business

An important aspect to consider when considering starting a web design agency is finances.

If you cannot make the figures work, going into business may not be in your best interests. With this in mind, I recommend creating a financial model. If you need help with finances, take the advice of a financial advisor and let them look over your business plan.

In your business model, I recommend making a good estimate as to the customers you will be able to get. I mean making a sensible guess not just plucking a figure out of thin air.

Work out such things as how much you can charge for your services and any outlays you may have. When working out the figures consider the start-up costs for the business along with any regular business expenses related to the web design agency.

If you have previously been working in the web design sector, perhaps on a freelance basis, you may already have most of the equipment needed. If not factor this into the costs. Also, consider such as website hosting costs and domain name costs associated with your business website.

When you have worked out all the finances, you can then calculate the point you will break even. This simply means you make enough money to cover the costs, which is not much fun. Determining roughly how long it will take in order to reach this stage is essential. You need to know how long you have to rely on savings and income while starting a web design agency.

The ultimate goal is to make a profit by doing something you enjoy doing. Again, if you are not proficient at figures it may be wise to employ a financial advisor. You will have to factor this into the outlay costs.

5. Maintain a Good Business Approach

I believe a sound business approach is essential. Start on the right footing and continue in the same vein.

It is key to believe in what you do and you have a passion for what you are doing.

Do not get tempted into offering cheap designs while overcharging. The “get rich quick” way never works in the end. To build up a successful web design agency, you have to offer good work for a fair price and maintain a good business approach.

On saying this, it is also good business practice not to undersell yourself and leave yourself out-of-pocket. Feel free to check out the competition out there. You can get ideas as to how much other companies are charging for services similar to yours.

Customer service is another aspect of your business approach that needs consideration.

People who are paying good money for a service want a high-quality customer service and to know they are safe. Always have someone on hand to respond to customer queries, whether that is through email, pop-up chat or phone. Bear in mind that the customer is always right, even when they are not.

6. A Team or Partnership You Can Trust

When considering starting a web design agency, ask yourself if you want to to go it alone or get a partner and a good team behind you.

Working part team freelancing as a web designer is all good and well but if you wish to turn this into a full time agency, you are going to need others to rely on.

While you might be talented at what you do, web design, bear in mind there are other things associated with the business. There is the actual web designing, the development, deployment of the website and building up sales. It is going to become impossible to stay on top of things on your own.

If looking for a partner find someone who is as passionate about the subject as you are and who has the same goals.

Build up a team around you, with specialists in different genres, for examples sales and website deployment. Choose only the best of the best of applicants. You might wish to give some thought to going with a remote team, more so if you are just starting an agency.

7. Your Own Business Website and Portfolio

This may be common sense but I am about to point it out anyway. Your own business website has to be perfect.

As the owner or partner of a web design agency, your specific website says a lot about what you offer. You will be designing your website yourself so this is an opportunity to show off what you are capable of offering.

Show off your skills. Ensure your website stands out and shows potential clients why they should choose you over any other web design agency.

Your portfolio should be also be uploaded online and be easy to access through the website. New or potential clients are going to want to see examples of what you are capable of doing and good examples should be contained in your portfolio.

When starting a web design agency, you might want to give special offers to clients who are willing to recommend you or write a review about the website you design for them. Get in touch with website owners to find out if they want you to redesign their site free, if they give your company a mention.

In the portfolio, you might show off a range of different website designs and features, offering templates to would be customers.

8. Promoting your Web Design Agency

When starting a web design agency promotion is the key to success and attracting clients.

You can promote your web design services in many different ways. These include:

  • Using social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to advertise your services;
  • Attaching a blog to your design website and blogging with posts relevant to web design;
  • Become a member of GitHub, Dribble, Behance, and StackOverflow;
  • Word of mouth from satisfied clients;
  • Handing out business cards;
  • Advertising in local papers;
  • Ensure your own website is SEO friendly so people can find it in search engines;
  • Send out a press release;
  • Join communities related to web design;
  • Make YouTube videos related to web design.

9. It’s All about Good Communication Skills

Many people think of web designers as being people who sit in a small office being creative. However, good communication skills, people skills, are an important part of any business.

Master the art of communication or at least have someone in the agency who is a skilled communicator.

I have discovered that almost all of the issues that crop up in business are solvable by communicating. Countless issues also arise through lack of communication. Perhaps you and the client have a different design in your head for how the website looks. However, a lack of communication means it turns out different from what they want. A simple conversation could have avoided any stress and reworking.

Communication skills come into play in regard to such as if a project is running late. Instead of rushing to complete the project time and risking mistakes, pick up the phone and explain to the customer. Nine times out of ten, they will understand that in order to do a good job you need more time.

Even when things are going smoothly and there are no issues, you should communicate with customers. Maintain contact with them giving updates and information or new ideas.

While you may be something of an introvert and never love the communication side of the business, with time, you can get better at it and it does become easier.

10. Going Forward into the Future with Your Business

During the early stages of setting up and starting a web design agency, it will be very stressful and it will be demanding work. I am not going to sugar coat that.

At first, you will probably have a nine-to-five job or perhaps be freelancing as a web designer while setting up your own website.  Your intention will be to go full-time into business on your own. While it will be a lot of hard work, do not be tempted into quitting a job that is paying the bills immediately. Do this, and your business plans may be over before they have even begun.

Build your own website and do some networking when you have the time. Promote your web design agency and do all you can to get work coming in. If you have been working freelance, you can ask the people you have worked with for referrals. You could give them a discount to allow you to show off their website in your portfolio.

Starting a web design agency can be a prospect that seems scary and risky. However, always remember you can take things at your own pace. Take things as slow as you want and only move on when you and you alone are ready.

Only when you have worked out the finances and you are sure your web design agency is going to work for you, can you go ahead and give up your day job.

Does it matter how long it takes before you get your agency up and running to the point you can concentrate on it full-time? No, it does not. What is essential is that you are happy with how things are going and you get there in the end. I hope these tips have helped you when starting a web design agency.

Scroll to Top