I started off my career in the digital industry as a web designer / developer, and I've seen many changes to the role over the years.

Whilst in many respects its a much easier profession now than it used to be, there are some challenges that will never go – and some new ones to overcome!

Businesses are looking for professionals with broader skills sets

I found that throughout the last recession in the UK, that saw me first move from print to web, that attitudes to working with web professionals changed. This hasn’t really evolved too much in the level of start up business clients.

 The recession certainly lowered marketing budgets, and those web professionals that thrived did so because they were able to bring something extra to the table. I recall on a personal level that one of the most common reasons people chose to work with me, heightened in the recession, was that working with me was favourable because I was able to help with many areas of design and development.

Attitudes still, are that you’ll find clients wanting to find someone who can support their web needs, marketing AND design. Whilst you can find these all-stars, it can prove especially challenging to web specialists who haven’t got as diverse a skill-set.

The best way to combat this is to partner up with other specialists who you can refer work to and partner up on projects. Generally it’s not that clients really want you to be everything to them, and you shouldn't try to be, but that they don’t have the time to assemble a dream team – do the work for them.

Marketing has become more sophisticated

“I just want to [design / code], I don’t have time to learn all these marketing strategies” The common marketing struggle of a web professional is exactly that! Having technical / creative ability doesn’t mean you have the time and energy to devote to marketing.

Having technical / creative ability doesn’t mean you have the time and energy to learn marketing so although you have talent you struggle to grow your business.

Learn more about why this is a common struggle for creatives here.

Having technical / creative ability doesn’t mean you have the time and energy to learn marketing so although you have talent you struggle to grow your business.

This means that many web professionals end up with an incredible portfolio of work, yet aren’t able to convert anyone other than referrals to clients. This is great if you’re happy to be a well paid solo web pro – but those that want to grow their freelance venture into a fully fledged agency struggle to do so because they lack many of the most basic tactics in their marketing strategy.

Either learn how to, and dedicate some time to marketing, or pay someone to do this for you! After all, its likely just moving the profits from one project to your marketing budget that will set the ball rolling for you.

Cheaper freelancers are forcing some web professionals to put their prices down

I think most web professionals at some point have heard “Thank you for your proposal, but I found someone on PPH/ Fiverr who was cheaper”. 

Please don’t try and compete with this. You’re going to lower your prices and deliver a lower quality product because of it and jeopardise not only your client relationship, but your professional reputation and work satisfaction. You also end up filling your diary with lots of poorly paid projects that will prevent you from clearing time to work strategically on your business.

But I DO understand. Getting started or progressing when the industry is plagued with this pricing problem can be so hard, so my best advice is don’t be afraid to niche down your offering to one specialism or one audience. Perfect your craft in that specialism / audience – charge a premium for it and get yourself out of the vicious cycle that many undercharging web professionals find themselves in.

Better to be a big fish in a small web pond!

Struggling to grow your creative business?

Here's a helping hand…

My Creative Kickstart: A guide for struggling creatives in business

Download it here

book

2 comments

Reply

This article really speaks to where I am as a designer/entrepreneur at the moment. 2016 has been a brutal year as I have battled with formalizing my creative business into an attractive product that businesses will see value in when purchasing. I am all too familiar with the pricing battle and the temptation to engage in a race to the bottom to compete with the cheap and nasty bracket that gives web designers in general a bad name. This article has given me motivation to stick to my guns and respect the value that my business and expertise can bring.

Reply

Thanks so much for sharing your experience Paul. I know its hard to actually put that into practice when you need to build your pipeline, but I do believe that you’ll be better off in the mid-term even if it makes the short-term more difficult.

It’s all about having confidence, which actually is just bravery in the first instance (confidence comes later), and getting yourself in front of the right people. Then just deliver a tonne of value in advance! WOW the right people and you’ll never have to pitch low again. Try high-level mastermind groups where you can join and share your expertise.

Best of luck

Laura

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *