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How to Start a Web Design Business In 6 Simple Steps

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So, you can create stunning websites but haven’t got a clue how to start a web design business.

You’re not alone.

Many in-house or freelance web designers struggle to bring their craft to the next level.

But here’s the scoop: You can build a booming web design business with the right tools and resources.

In this guide, we’ll help you transition into a full-fledged web design business owner in no time.

We’ll cover the steps, costs, considerations, and inspirations to give you a leg up on the competition.

How Profitable Is Owning a Web Design Business?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics pegs the annual pay of web designers at around $80,000.

The latest data also reveals it’s a couple of grand more than how much web developers make.

If that’s how much freelancers and nine-to-fivers earn, imagine how lucrative owning a web design agency can be.

Not to mention, the web design service industry in the US will rake in $58.4B this 2023.

The web design market hasn’t stopped growing in the last five years and doesn’t hint at stopping anytime soon.

Anyone with a concept, product, or service to sell needs a website to compete in the digital arena.

Web design alone commands 94% of a website’s first impressions and 75% of its credibility.

Creatives play a bigger chunk of the web development process than ever before.

There’s a lot of promise in the web design business, and the numbers say it all.

What You’ll Need to Start a Web Design Business [& Associated Costs]

Here’s everything you need and what each costs to get your web design business up and running:

  • Business License: If you plan to register your web design business under a fictitious name, securing a DBA can set you back at least $50. You also need another $50—or more, depending on your business size and location—for a business license.
  • Insurance: Insurance is a legal requirement for small businesses in many states. Set aside $50 monthly for General Liability Insurance, which already covers copyright infringement claims.
  • Domain Name and Website Hosting: Domain names cost around $10–$20, while the cheapest web hosting plan starts at $2 a month. Study renewal prices for domain names that cost dirt-cheap in the first year to ensure you get a fair deal.
  • Business Software: Streamline your business processes using tools like Trello ($0–17.50/user per month) and Zoho ($14–$52/user per month).
  • Web Design Software: Invest in professional web design software like Adobe Dreamweaver, which comes bundled with Adobe Creative Cloud. For $20.99 per month, you’ll have access to apps designed to create personalized websites for clients.
  • Hardware: Creative users need processing power, graphical capabilities, and massive storage. Expect to cough up at least $2,000 on a powerful desktop if you don’t have one yet. Or you can spend a few hundred dollars on upgrading your rig.

Do I Need a License or Certificates to Start a Web Design Business?

The kind of license you need to run a web design business depends on where you’re setting up shop.

As such, check with state resources and your local SBA office to determine all required permits.

Why You Should Consider Starting a Web Design Business As a Side Hustle

Besides the extra income, here are some excellent reasons to start a web design business as a side hustle:

  • Remote Work and Low Overhead Costs: You can run a web design business in the comfort of your home. This means no extra rent, utilities, office supplies, and elaborate insurance to pay.
  • Ever-increasing Demand: More and more businesses seek to optimize their online presence. That said, the demand for beautiful, easy-to-navigate, and responsive web design grows bigger by the day.
  • Flexibility: You can fit a web design business around your schedule. With such flexibility, you can take on a web design project during evenings and weekends.
  • Potential to Turn Into a Full Venture: As you grow your reputation, portfolio, and cash flow, you can turn your side hustle into a full-time business.

How to Start a Web Design Business in 6 Simple Steps

Starting a web design business doesn’t have to be complicated.

Follow this roadmap on how to become a successful web designer cum entrepreneur:

Step 1: Choose Your Web Design Niche

Instead of chasing diverse clients, decide on a niche to establish your unique selling point.

Based on your experiences, identify an industry you enjoy working in or feel passionate about.

A well-defined niche helps you target clients who fit your design style best.

Then, as you grow your business, you can expand your niche one industry at a time.

Identify your area of expertise and mastery of specific tools.

Is your strongest skill visual design or UX design? Are you articulate in WordPress, Adobe Commerce, or Dreamweaver?

These factors can also help you narrow down your niche and decide what services to offer.

Step 2: Determine Your Web Design Services and Rates

Study the competition within your niche and research what others are offering and for how much.

Explore what services are profitable and identify gaps in the market where you can position your web design business.

This way, you can offer a unique value to your target market.

For example, consider the list of services Finn and Gray offers:

Also, you’re competing against beginner-friendly website builder apps that allow business owners to DIY their websites.

So, highlight the convenience and extra value they can get from your services.

For starters, you can bundle services your audience finds the most valuable in affordable packages.

If you can’t offer a particular service, collaborate with third-party providers to expand your offerings.

Then, determine the pricing structure of your services with options for hourly rates and project-based costs.

Step 3: Create Your Brand

Choose a name for your web design business that’s unique, memorable, easy to pronounce, and relevant to your niche.

Next, run your ideas with your family, friends, and colleagues for feedback.

Once you’ve decided on a brand name, buy a domain name as soon as possible to ensure they’re identical.

After that, design a professional-looking logo.

Step 4: Complete Legal Requirements

Make your web design business official by obtaining all applicable legal documents on the state and local levels.

Accomplish the following before launching your business:

  1. Apply for a DBA (Doing Business As) to use your brand name.
  2. Obtain a business license and pay associated fees.
  3. If you plan on hiring employees, secure an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS for taxation.
  4. Get a General Liability Insurance.
  5. Open a business bank account to separate your personal and business finances.

Step 5: Develop Your Business Website

Create the official business website and feature past projects in your portfolio.

Here’s a recipe for a website that can drive traffic, encourage user engagement, and ensure better SEO:

  • Intuitive user interface
  • Seamless UX design
  • Mobile-friendly web design
  • Authentic client reviews
  • Social media buttons and lead magnets

Apply the latest web design trends to showcase your design chops.

Plus, use SEO strategies to boost your business website’s exposure.

Step 6: Find Clients

Try the following approaches to generate quality leads:

  • Target well-funded startups.
  • Make a simple contact form on the website to funnel inquiries.
  • Join relevant forums and online communities.
  • Partner with local influencers and offer affiliate discount codes.
  • Promote on social media apps.

Things to Consider When Building a Web Design Business

Consider these factors when setting up a web design business:

Can You Run a Web Design Business By Yourself?

Although you can run a web design business alone, there will come a time you’ll need help.

Don’t worry; you can hire project-based freelancers on zero-hour contracts while building your business from the ground up.

How Can You Protect Your Web Design Business?

Protect yourself and your client by drafting a contract that defines the project scope, timeline, and payment terms.

Then, seek advice from a legal expert to guarantee the legal soundness of the contract.

Do You Need a Business Plan for a Web Design Business?

Although not required, having a business plan is a good idea. It helps you map out your goals, identify your target market, and develop strategies for success.

Not to mention, you can entice investors and secure loans with a well-written business plan.

Inspiration: Web Design Business Ideas

Here are some inspirations to niche down your web design business:

  • Review Websites: Create a platform that allows users to leave reviews about products, services, and experiences. Target specific niches like restaurants, hotels, or tech gadgets.
  • Affiliate Marketing Websites: An affiliate website earns a  commission on sales generated by promoting products and services. Focus on particular industries, such as home improvement, beauty, and wellness.
  • Travel Blog Websites: Attract clients who want to share their travel experiences and monetize their content. You can include destination reviews, travel guides, and affiliate links to travel products.
  • Non-Profit Websites: Work with non-profit organizations to create websites that promote their cause and encourage donations.

Plus, you can help raise awareness about important issues, like animal welfare and environmental conservation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Web Designers in High Demand?

Yes, web designers are in high demand as businesses and organizations of all sizes realize the importance of online presence.

The current digital landscape seeks websites, which are appealing, responsive, and optimized for the search engine.

What Type of Website Is Most Profitable?

An e-commerce website is the most profitable type as it allows businesses to sell products straight to consumers.

Aside from that, the popularity of online shopping also contributes to the significant revenues e-commerce websites generate.

Similar Businesses to Consider Starting

Here are some business ideas if you want to explore alternatives to a web design business:

Wrapping Up

After learning the ropes about how to start a web design business, you’re on your way to becoming your boss.

You’ll get to work on projects that excite you and help clients achieve their online goals.

So, do you think you’re ready to dip your toes into the business side of web designing?

Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to share the article if you found it helpful!

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