Some Final Thoughts – Ways to Rock WordPress Sites for Clients

by on January 3, 2017

Ways to rock WordPress sites for clients

Some Final Thoughts – Ways to Rock WordPress Sites for Clients

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< Back to Chapter 12 – My Story: Getting Started with WordPress Development

WordPress Development for Noobs has been an ongoing series for people who want to learn how to make WordPress sites, and be useful to others in that regard. You can check out all of the chapters here, or read on for some final thoughts and how to rock WordPress sites for clients. I’ve worked on around 50 WordPress sites so far – and have a crazy amount of positive testimonials if you want to see how my clients regard my work and process. 

What you will learn in this article:

Some final thoughts on ‘WordPress Development for Noobs’

Writing this book has helped me recognize the value in my expertise, and I’ve had several people reach out and ask for help in learning WordPress development during the writing. My site is very targeted for WordPress design and development, so if someone searches for WordPress Minneapolis they’ll likely see me. I do my best to help a little bit with every inquiry. WordPress is in demand, don’t get it twisted – as of 2015, 50% of the top one million websites are powered by WordPress, and a lot of small to mid-size businesses are familiar with it. WordPress, as opposed to budget do-it-yourself website builders, is highly scalable, both with e-commerce sites under 1,000 sku’s (with WooCommerce) and an unlimited amount of organizational systems with custom post types, taxonomies and fields. If you do WordPress web development right, it’s highly editable for clients as well – so study up and get busy.

small-blue-legoDon’t take my word for any of this – you don’t really learn it until you implement in the wild:

 

This is all a start – the field manual to start you on a journey. But your ongoing learning process will be guided by your Google skills, Stack Overflow, and getting around other talented designers and developers on your way to mastery. In development, the key is settling in for the long haul. The more speed bumps you get over on your way, the less competition you’ll have because half of the people who set out will turn back and take an easier profession. There’s always the chance that you really are not well-suited for web development, but don’t make that decision easily – because this stuff is tough for many, but worth it in the long run. The excitement will come in waves, as you jump one hurdle and see it working and feel the enjoyment of helping clients tell their story to the world. That’s my story. One kid who started early, came up against the difficulty of finding his way, experienced hard-fought elation as he conquered the resistance and started being useful for people in this devotion to helping people and clients. The time has come when I’m doing my best to share these experiences and perhaps your life will be better for it, too. That’s my hope.

How to get more WordPress Web Design clients

It’s not always easy when you’re just starting out. I do think the best way to learn is to make websites for REAL THINGS, not imaginary concept websites that will get tossed to the side, and never face the pressure of real-world constraints. At least this has been my experience. Start with a non-profit, modify a simple basic theme, but always look for the thing that you bring to the table that other web designers/developers don’t have. Look for that creative spark, that extra piece of value to make the project awesome.

If you find this individuality in your process, and start to emphasize it while you’re selling your services, you’ll have a lot more success gaining WordPress clients.

I’ll tell you the story of my first four clients to give you an idea how one guy got started:

1. I offered to create an HTML version website for very cheap ($500 and an Ipad) to my girlfriend’s mother in law’s non-profit. It was quite a bit of work for not a lot of pay, but I got some much needed real-world experience.

2. Knowing I didn’t want to have to make changes 10 times (on all the different templates) I wanted a CMS that made it easier to make sitewide changes, I connected with a friend of my girlfriend who owned a gym and offered my branding and web design help – modifying a simple responsive theme. I focused on little delightful touches that would set the site apart from many generic websites.

3. I joined a promotion for a local culture magazine where I traded my web design services that they auctioned off for $6,000 worth of advertising. I made an advertisement that emphasized my commitment to thinking outside the box and getting to the bottom of what makes people special (my differentiation is being a marketing consultant as well), and got two new clients by running the ad. One was a local music venue – I biked and bussed to that appointment, wiping off sweat on my way in. I told the person I was meeting with I was somewhat fresh to this but was 100% committed to making it worth it for them. 

4. The other client I got from this ad was a antique clock dealer and craftsman – who understood that I was new to web design and development as well, and was super encouraging because he was a single owner/operator and was adamant I would love freelancing. I was realizing that creating value for clients as an entrepreneur could be a legitimate business pursuit, with good energy coming from those I was working for, even if I felt a little fresh to the venture sometimes.

 

small-blue-legoYour story may be totally different, but hustle will be your friend. Go one step beyond the competition to get one more level of success. 

Yes, you’re competing with all the other web designers and developers in your area. This may not matter as much when you’ve been around for a little while, have 10–20 websites under your belt, testimonials to prove successful and positive results – but in the meantime, you have to work hard. I’m not the guy who’s going to tell you I have an algorithm to implement and you get to sit back and chill because that just isn’t my story. I worked longer hours than a lot of the people that were trying to do the same thing as me, and some of them are baristas three years later.

Nothing against service industry jobs – but that’s not where I’d be the most fulfilled. Those people likely get to get off work and go home and watch TV without even thinking about work again. That’s not what it’s like in my experience in web design and development when you’re hustling hard. I don’t resent it at all, I work harder and get more opportunities to do what I consider real, extremely useful, and powerful work that helps the businesses I’m assisting make more money and tell their story visually and in an interactive way.

To me, that’s bad-ass. I’ll take a little trade off of some work while other people are playing. I like my job, so work/life balance to me is ying and yang, not either/or.

 

small-blue-lego10 Quick ways to get more WordPress / web design clients now:

 

  • Talk with your friends and family, let them know you can help them if they need a website.
  • Post something on Facebook letting people know you’re fresh and looking to help people with creating websites.
  • Go to your local meetups (meetup.org is a good place to start,) UX – WordPress – Web Design – etc, and let people know you’ll be their cheap minion to learn more.
  • Google the top 20 WordPress web designers in your city and ask each if you could offer free work in exchange to learn as much as you can from them.
  • Change your other social media profiles to briefly explain that you’re looking for web design clients.
  • Write on a blog (ideally connected to a portfolio) where you can share the things you’re learning.
  • Look at local newspapers and culture magazines for places to advertise cheaply, and create an ad that emphasizes what makes you different.
  • Reach out to local small businesses you admire personally, try to make a meeting with their owner or the marketing decision maker.
  • Talk with people you know in the marketing or web design industry – see if you can be the person they give referrals to when they are too expensive for a client.
  • Talk to other designers and developers if you know any, and see how they got clients. Let them know you can be helpful when needed.

How to create an alignment of Expectations and positive testimonials and reviews

The most important thing in all of this for stoking business? It’s not to get as many clients and pop out as many websites as possible. It’s to curate a history of clients who loved what you did. You need to be able to get a positive testimonial from as many clients as you can, so focus on that as the outcome and not just getting the site done. This requires clear communication about what the expectations are on both sides:

  • Be clear about what your process is. Maybe it’s (Meetup, Design and development, Revision, Launch,) or (Discovery, Architecture, Design, Revision, Development, Revision, Launch) but you need to be able to share this as soon as you start finding your rhythm.
  • Let them know they get two revisions after design, three revisions in development, or whatever those numbers are, because this kind of clarity put in the work order or proposal will save you a lot of headaches later.
  • I would go so far as to say exactly what the website design and development process will include as far as functionality in the proposal. Doing this for me has allowed me to create a “change order” when something wasn’t in the proposal. I cannot tell you how important this has been for me in reducing ‘scope creep,’ the bane of web designers’ existence. Start now – include functional requirements – in the proposal that you both sign and agree to formally.

All of this might seem a little ‘hard’ or formal, especially if you are doing a website for an acquaintance (ideal to move away from doing websites for friends and family as soon as you can),  but it actually just sets you up with clear expectations and allows you to be more relaxed with everything else. If there’s two revisions in the work order, you can say, “I’d love to add a new custom post type” (let’s say press or something) “that will take some time and is not part of the existing agreement (but I’d love to help with it) – it would just be an extra $500, would you like to add it?}

It’s a super positive thing, trust me. If you just do something you didn’t agree to before, you’ll resent the person you’re doing the work for – and that’s not fair to them or you. Make expectations crystal clear as much as you can, keep on refining this process to your liking as you put out more proposals, and you’ll have it down after you experience any friction from not properly scoping things out a couple times. In the end, still always aim for making sure the client is a raving fan at the end of the process so you can procure those testimonials and reviews, and you can feel great about the whole experience.

I feel obligated to tell you all is not sunshine and roses. Some clients are a pain in the ass (sorry clients) and you have to live and learn. A great majority of my projects for clients have been very positive, but expect that you will have some issues that occasionally pop up when money is exchanged for services. Aligning expectations as much as possible helps, but you will learn more lessons and some of them hurt. Be prepared for that and stay resilient, and do your best to stay positive. Success is how many times you pick yourself back up, dust yourself off and live to help another client create an awesome website.

small-blue-legoSigning off, and thank you for reading.

Thank you for reading this. I’m happy if I even helped one person on the way to greater financial peace of mind, as WordPress web development has brought me, and a greater sense of being able to practically help people with their businesses. The biggest asset I have is my website, as it brings in 500 visitors a day and a good 3–5 client opportunities a week. Share your work with the world, put out content to help your tribe, connect with people on social, and write for other bloggers like you to get more visibility for your site. You can check out my podcast “It’s a Code World” on iTunes – the first episode is about getting found on Google for designers and digital marketers and it will help you on that journey as well. Don’t be shy – please tweet me and @timbdesignmpls if any of this was helpful to you, and link to the main chapter listing for this book at https://timbdesign.com/wordpress-development-for-noobs-free-beginners-wordpress-course/ if you want to pay me back :) I love links to my site! 

You’re the best! Your time and attention means the world to me, and I hope I did it justice. Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help.

-Tim

 


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