Starting out as a website designer can be a bit overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. Following a few simple tips will help any designer get on the right track. It's important to build a portfolio, make sure you've got more than one computer, have all necessary software, conduct market research to determine a niche, develop the business website and list the business in directories before opening the virtual business doors.
1. Build a Portfolio
A portfolio is the most important part of any web design business, because it lets potential clients see what the company has done and provides a chance to sell the service. Don't rush through the portfolio, because it will be what the client will use to determine whether or not to use your services. Prepare to design websites on your own, or do a few for free, to be able to include them in the portfolio.
2. Have More Than One Computer
If one computer fails, it's always a good idea to have a back up computer in place to continue working. Store all client files with an online file storage service, or use an external hard drive, so the files needed are always at easy access.
If possible, use one PC and one Mac. This way cross compatibility testing can be easily done to ensure the websites will display the same on both platforms.
3. Purchase all Necessary Software
Get all the software you need before your business is open to the public so things will run more smoothly. If you can't afford industry standards such as Dreamweaver or Expression Web, try open source equivalents such as NVU Web Designer until you can afford the upgrades.
4. Conduct Market Research
Website design businesses are everywhere these days because designing websites is something many people can learn to do, and they can do it from the privacy and comfort of their own homes. The best thing to do before opening a business designing websites is to conduct a bit of market research. Look around the local area for website designers before looking on the national level. Find the major competitors, see what they are offering and see how your business can offer something new, different or better than those competitors to give yourself an edge.
5. Develop the Business Website
In addition to a well developed portfolio for inclusion on the business website, you'll need to design the business website to help establish a brand identity and give customers a point of reference to learn more about you as a designer and the business as a whole. Consider what information you'd expect to find on a website design business website and look around at others for inspiration.
6. List You Business on Freelance Websites and Directories
In the beginning while you work on marketing the business and developing a customer base, many of the projects for designing websites will likely come from freelance sources. Create profiles on the freelance job communities such as ScriptLance, eLance and Rent-a-Coder. This will help you establish yourself as a business and earn some cash while you do so. Eventually, developing a track record here will help bring in other customers.
Don't forget to search for directories to add your services to as well. This will heighten the chance of someone being able to find your business and then contacting you for more information.
These tips won't guarantee business success, but with a little effort and dedication to marketing your services (and providing excellent services to clients to help with word-of-mouth), designing websites can be a profitable hobby or career.