It often feels like web design is a feast or famine type of business. Either you’re up to your elbows in work or you’re sitting there, twiddling your thumbs.
And while the busy times can be stressful, the slower times can be downright scary. Not only can you find yourself being bored, you might also wonder how you’ll make enough money to keep the lights on. A prolonged period without much work can be a matter of survival.
But don’t worry – we’re here to help! Here are some tips for finding new projects, along with ideas to help stabilize your design business during those doldrums.
Look to Existing Clients
Finding new clients can be a difficult and time-consuming process. The good news is that you don’t necessarily need a steady flow of them to keep you busy. That next project could actually be right under your nose.
Existing clients can in fact be a great source of new work. Websites are in a constant state of evolution. Therefore, you’re likely to find any number of items to enhance your client’s websites.
Older sites, for example, may need a lot of TLC when it comes to accessibility or responsiveness. Then there are cases where outdated or broken software are in use. And, let’s not forget about the good old redesign.
Each of these situations provides an opportunity to fill your schedule and earn some cash. In many cases, all it takes is your mentioning any potential issues to your client. It may be something that they have either had on the back burner or hadn’t even realized.
So, take a little time to review the websites you already maintain. See who could use a retrofit or redesign. This kind of proactive approach can be a revenue booster. Plus, it shows your clients that you are thinking of them.
Run a Promotion
A little marketing savvy can go a long way towards jump-starting your business. The right promotion can really work. It’s why retail stores, car manufacturers and service providers are constantly running them.
There are any number of different promotions you might opt for. Perhaps it’s a 10% discount for new clients, or a “redesign special” aimed at existing ones. Maybe it’s as simple as a free t-shirt. Just be sure that whatever you do, you won’t end up taking a loss. Be generous, but don’t give away the farm.
Where should you promote it? The ideal starting place would be your own website, of course. It provides an opportunity to spell out all of the details. From there, drive traffic to your site through social media feeds and maybe even promote your posts to gain some highly-targeted eyeballs. Other options include your email newsletter, local business groups or media outlets.
As for budget, that’s totally up to you. If cash flow isn’t great, take all of the free advertising you can get. Otherwise, even a small bit of spending could make a difference.
The most obvious benefit of any promotion is that it gets your name out there. So, even if someone doesn’t take you up on the offer immediately, they may well remember you down the road.
Beyond that, people love incentives. Maybe they’ve been putting off that business website for a while. However, knowing a discount is coming their way could help to tip the scales in your favor. A promotion can put that idea to the front of their mind.
Create Passive Income
Among the most common bits of advice given to investors is to “diversify”. The same goes for freelance web designers and small agencies. Create extra avenues for income and you’ll be that much better off during slow times.
The web is teeming with opportunities to build “passive” income – money you make through selling a premade product or service. Examples of this could be in offering up a WordPress theme or plugin, but there are other possibilities.
If you’re into photography, you might put some of your images on a stock photo marketplace. Skilled writers could self-publish an eBook or start a website where members pay to access your content.
The idea is that money can trickle in over time, without requiring a massive effort on your part. And while this type of situation may not be a great fit for everyone, it is something that could prove effective. All you need is an idea, a little talent and the gumption to get things started.
Best of all, you can use whatever downtime you have to work on your idea. Staying productive in itself is rewarding and great for building confidence.
It’s About Creating Opportunities
The overarching theme here is that it is up to us to make the most of our design business. Sometimes, opportunities can seemingly come out of nowhere. That’s wonderful – but not necessarily something we can count on.
What will sustain us, however, is being proactive. Things like reviewing our past projects for new ideas, providing incentives to clients and building other sources of income can help you take charge of your business.
This lessens the likelihood of a slowdown. But, should one occur, it also means you’re better prepared to handle it.