Earn some cash
Simple question really, I have experience in web design and Im looking to make a little bit of cash on the side.
Does anyone think creating a web design business is a viable option or does anyone else have any ideas?
Supposse there always the p0r|/| site route....
Advice gladly recieved....
I run my own company, but I don't focus on website creation/design. It is a very competitive market. There are two sides to website creation - the programming and the visual aspects. Get both right and you're onto a winner.
Being innovative goes a long way and simplicity always works best. Initially making an investment in a computer(s) and the latest software may be necessary, but it's all offsetable against your final tax bill. After this the overheads are generally low, you could operate from home, so yes it is viable. It's all down to how good you are :)
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Depends how you mean by "web design" - that's a phrase that covers an awful lot of ground these days, and you won't stand out from the 1,000,000 other "web design" companies. Aim to cover a niche of some kind. What programming languages, APIs, frameworks, etc, do you have experience with? What industries have you worked in (education, for one)?
Originally Posted by danIT
If you're looking to work as a one-man operation, basically a contractor, you might want to use an umbrella company or start your own small business. Search for umbrella companies on Google - look for one that can handle IR35 (tax) details for you, save hassle.
Personally, I dislike contracting, it's too much like hard work - programming is easy, but trying to get across to people how/why something is possible takes effort. I'd prefer to go the "Micro ISV" route (i.e. very small independent software vendor) and actually make something that you can then sell. This is tricky these days as most things you can think of for the desktop already have an open source application available. I aim to go the route of creating an open source application then selling content produced with it.
The biggest problem with web design is simply that there appear to be 3 types of customer out there
1. Small companies that want the moon for a tenner
2. Large companies that want giant complex websites needing teams of people to build.
3. Companies that understand that web design is not as simple as it seems, and are willing to pay properly.
Number 2 will be out of your reach really. So you're stuck with 1 and 3. 3 are exceptionally rare. 1 are everywhere.
So, if you are willing to sort the wheat from the chaff, it can be well worth it. But it can be very hard work.
There are many many companies like 1. out there, I have worked for a few of them, but if you are willing to make something fairly basic you could probably charge a few hundred quid for a few days (weeks perharps) work. Its not that hard to install an opensource CMS, a basic template etc. or modify a few designs you have made. You can try and bump up your rate by offering training in how to administer the site, post news, pictures as an extra etc.
Originally Posted by localzuk
Remember most small companies will have absolutely no clue in either the work involved or how much they should pay for that work. It is up to you to come up with a figure of what you think your time is worth and how much you need to cover your overheads. I always believe it is better to work for 1-2 companies at a high rate producing quality work than to work for 6-7 paying peanuts and producing rubbish. Simply make them an offer and if they want it done instantly for a tenner, walk away. After a while you will get recommendations from previous clients and your clients should grow organically (hopefully).
The problem with companies like #1 is that they will change their requirements constantly, without actually thinking about paying any more. This comes with them not knowing what they want.
As someone who started out doing that as a sideline I can't recommend enough getting an overall understanding of the different technologies available and then choosing one or two that you enjoy and are most skilled at and specialising.
Trying to do ALL of them (ie: coding (ASP, PHP, RubyOnRails), design (CSS, Templating, HTML, XML, etc..)... and more (SEO, marketing, etc..)) is tantamount to becoming a JOAT (Jack of all trades) and you'll be useless in the long haul.
It is not the nirvana that many think (or thought) it is/was.
Used to call it spec creep when I worked for a web design company.
Originally Posted by localzuk
There was a time when if you knew your html and had a flair for design you could do the whole job, but unless you're the Universal Man you'd be better off concentrating on one field. There are a lot of decent CMS out there with thousands of professional looking templates. Royalty free (which doesn't mean you don't have to pay) stock photography sites offer loads of great images, unless you're such a good photographer (but then, why aren't you being a photographer?).
Create some dummy sites so that clients have something to look at.
Think carefully how much your time is worth. Imagine this is your sole income (a bit like closing your eyes and pretending you're blind, I know), but what does your income have to cover, rent, rates, mortgage, fuel bills etc. Have a professional attitude. If you start undercutting someone who scrapes a living doing web design full time by cross subsidising from your full time employment you're doing no one any favours.
Offer several levels of sites, starting at the basic html, through to the dynamic with shopping cart. And stick to them.
"Skip Intro" on Flash movies is there for a reason.
Get things in writing. Design a professional looking Word doc template, one copy each.
Be prepared to walk away.
Listen to what the customer wants. Does (s)he have any sites which they like the look of? What are they trying to achieve? Which market are they aiming for?
If they show you a site they like and you realize that it's a Joomla site, keep it under your hat. It may well be a ready made, off the shelf design, but you don't know how much work has gone into the backend.
p.s. your local plumber may think he needs a website, he doesn't.