Open Letter to My Fellow Web Professionals
I listened to a podcast once where the host talked about his journey from website builder to consultant. I couldn’t help but laugh by the end because what he described was EXACTLY the journey I was about halfway through. It was such a relief to know that I wasn’t special, and so many people have done it before me. Also, I wished I had heard that podcast 2 years earlier!
This tale is as old as time and most of you (us) are too deep in the weeds to see the bigger picture so let me lay out it for you.
I’m new and excited to make websites! I undercharge because I’m inexperienced and not confident about my skills yet. I’ll take any client who offers me money cause I need cash like, yesterday. I talk a lot about WordPress and plugins.
You likely work too much for too little money. You never stop thinking about work (not in the good way). You can’t take weekends off. You had to back out of the summer camping trip and send your wife to the woods alone because something came up with the project and you can’t be away from wifi. #TrueStory #JustMe?
You don’t need experience to help clients, but you do need expertise, and the courage to go out and charge for what you do. If you don’t have that courage, your prospects will sense it and it will be hard to win them as clients. Most people at this stage think the answer to getting clients is to have really cheap pricing. The fact is, that’s a way to get bad clients that are going to suck you dry.
The good news? You’re not the only one out there doing what you're doing. Find your tribe, and borrow some courage from the results of those who came before you. The best communities of professionals who do similar work to you can also serve as a resource to help you when you get stuck.
Trust the process!
I’ve been at this for one or a few years and I’m starting to get the hang of it. I raised my prices from rock bottom and I’m making enough money to get by, but I’m still doing everything myself. I’ve encountered enough people who have this figured out that I know things could be better, but I’m not sure how to get there, and I struggle to find the time to work on my business instead of in it.
You likely still work too much but at least the money is better. You’re a little pickier about the clients you take on, but you might still be on the feast and famine roller coaster. You’re starting to look for ways to smooth out your income – maybe retainer-based services or an online course.
You probably still struggle with the urge to ‘save’ those low-paying clients because hey, they really need your help.
(Don’t do it!)
I’ve figured out the real value of what I do and charge accordingly. I’ve defined a process to filter leads, sign clients and take them through a project. I’m starting to finally enjoy my business and the clients I work with. I’m thinking about or have already hired some help so I can focus more on sales and growing the business.
You’ve identified a niche (took me 5 years!) and you’re more selective about the clients you take on. You’ve had a glimpse of the promised land and are actively working towards removing yourself from some or all of the day to day workings in the business. You’ve finally seen the value of having documented systems and processes and you spend time each week getting things out of your head and into a documentation system. You might have a day or two out of the week dedicated to working on your business.
Now you're getting there!
I’ve identified the role that correlates with my zone of genius (sales, marketing, design, strategy) and I spend 80% of my time on it. I have systems in place so that if I step away from the business, things don’t fall apart. Our business model is one that’s profitable without overworking myself or the team. Our marketing system is in place so that we can generate leads on demand via organic and paid ads.
Your main job at this point is leading the company. That might mean you remove yourself from day to day workings, or that you’ve hired someone to do it so that you can focus on the thing you’re good at that made you go into business in the first place. The feast/famine cycle is a thing of the past and you know how to create opportunities whenever you need them.
Time to schedule that vacation…
So…any of these sound familiar? Which stage are you in?
If you're moving slower than you'd like, you can schedule a strategy session to accelerate your progress.