Think you know it all because you have a degree in web design? This blog is about what to do and what not to do if you’re a new web designer.
You’re fresh out of college. The beer stains on your cap and gown are still slightly moist. You’re pretty sure, not positive, that you should be receiving an actual college diploma in the weeks to come. You’re also thinking about seeing your primary care physician for a low-dosage prescription of either Xanax or Kush N’ Cheese once seeing how much you owe in student loans — and you’ve decided to be your own boss using that oh so expensive degree in web or graphic design.
This is the first in a two-part series specifically for those of you who don’t know what the hell to do when it comes to starting your own business in the aforementioned fields of design. A do’s and don’ts provided for you by Jon Gicewicz of JEG DESIGN INC. A man who has created a comfortable living for his family in both of these fields. A masterclass, if you will, on what to, and maybe more importantly, what not to do.
You’re going to notice strong similarities to them both. The rules are ubiquitous. You could cut and paste these rules into any entrepreneurs area of expertise. But while these commandments may be easily applied, the lessons are varied in their specificity.
The focus of this piece will be web design.
With that, let’s begin.
Friends & Family
“Hey, you know who could use a brand new website? Your Uncle Jimmy. You should give him a call.”
In a minute I’ll get to how much work you should be taking on, but initially, the first people who may hit you up and/or refer you business will be friends and family. Be cautious. While this is a benevolent gesture by those who love you — there are times and plenty of examples where relationships can be damaged due to conducting business with the ones you love.
Why? They want may more than likely (definitely) want a discount.
This isn’t meant to belittle or poke fun, it’s just the way of the world. Don’t believe me? You ever heard of a “Friends and family discount”? If you haven’t…May God help you.
So, even though you’re starting out eating the same goddamn Raman noodles you were in college and your new roommates are also called mom and dad — you now have expenses. You now are a professional. And by offering a discount while you’re trying to establish rates can be counterproductive.
Our suggestion, do what you think is best. But hopefully you’ll have some other work happening simultaneously…
Because you’ll be…
Take Any Job You Can Get
Nobody gives a shit about the “A” you got in your 400 level Business Web Design class. They want to see work you’ve done and been paid for. The only way for you to create a portfolio is by actually creating a portfolio. If you have to bust your ass and hustle — then put on some padded shorts and go out and get it.
I remember getting a piece of advice from an uncle of mine before heading out to the bar one night, “No matter how much you want to get into a bar-fight, there is always one guy there who wants to get into one more than you”.
Moral of the story, no matter how much you want to go out and get a client to take a look at your website designs, there is someone out there busting their ass just a little more who is already in front of them.
Go out and get in front of as many people as possible and starting building your foundation.
Create A Niche
If this kinda sounds contradictory to what I just wrote, it’s because, well…Ya, it is.
Yet, if you’re specialty is Web Design for used auto car dealers, than damn man/woman, go talk to every single used auto car dealer out there and let them know just that. You don’t go to a dentist because your blood pressure is high, right? If you know you’re good, even excellent at one specific industry — you’ve just made your life a whole lot easier.
Granted, GRANTED, you may very well “pigeon-hole” yourself as you’re getting started. And eventually the well may run dry. But look at it this way, you’re just starting out. You have a client list of zero. (Except for Uncle Jimmy and his site about fishing bait: Igotworms.com) If you’re capable enough to know for a fact you can speak with a specific industry with great confidence and provide them a product unlike any other — than get out there and show them what the hell you can do!
The Client Is ALWAYS Right
This is going to be a bitch, but you’re going to have to do it… swallow your pride, put your ego in the closet, nod in an affirmative, smile and say, “Yes, whatever you want”.
“I couldn’t tell you how many times I put something in front of the client and thought they were going to be blown away, only for them to say no.” Gicewicz says.
This coming from a man who has an extensive track record proving his expertise. And here he is explaining that no matter what,
“…if the client is happy, at the end of the day, that’s all that matters”.
And if you’re starting out, you’re thinking, “well they haven’t seen what I can do, so screw them and what they THINK they know”.
What will end up happening is you’ll have a design you broke your ass on, no money, and a reputation for being a pain in the ass to work with. But hey, you’ve got your pretty design with its gothic font and hot colors…
Why would Jon Gicewicz want to help his competition…
“Tell me again Keith, why would I want to do this?”
Good question. Because Gicewicz has been through all of this. He knows what the clients want, what the clients expect, and equally as important —what battles are worth fighting. He walked out of college, had the black cloud of student debt hanging over him, found his way, took any job he could, lost friends, and fought with clients over design.
But, when the dust settled, he realized what to do, and what not to do. This type of experience will not only pay huge dividends for those just starting out. It will also benefit any of you looking to hire your next web designer.
If that’s you, if you’re looking to create a new site or update an existing one — contact Jon Gicewicz at JEG DESIGN INC today for your free estimate.
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Written By Keith Hannigan
Keith has over a 11 years of copywriting experience and has been blogging for companies in the advertising, design, boating, and marketing industry. For examples of his work or to contact him with any questions, please email Keith at [email protected]