FREE TRAINING: WRITE A BETTER WEBSITE
Nine lessons to help you write a website your customers want to read
You think you’re selling web design, but your customer thinks he’s getting a business
I set up my first business in 1996, offering web design.
I had one brand client (Suzuki) and a handful of homies (home–based businesses.) Back then, entrepreneur was a term reserved for people with deep pockets and serial business success.
WordPress wasn’t around and hand-coding
Despite all the hard work and intense learning, there was one thing I was failing at. And that was building a steady customer base. I was making lots of contacts but simply couldn’t get the sales.
I closed my business and got a real job while I tried to figure out what had gone wrong. (spoiler: my sales and marketing efforts had no idea what I was selling)
In 2000, I set up shop again, and this time I went in armed with knowledge and strategy. The ride hasn’t been flawless. But when you’re a lifelong student and your business is your lab, it’s not supposed to be.
Over the last twenty years:
If you’re a small business or freelancer, this is what I wish someone had told me in 1996.
When you know how customers feel about what they’re buying from you:
Position yourself to meet your customers where they’re most happy to see you.
You’re offering a smoothie but they want to be led by the hand into a new skinny-jean-rocking healthier life? That’s fine, you don’t have to shove a bunch of kale at them. You can offer packages with price-points for coaching, personalized menus and lunchboxes.
There’s nothing wrong with selling services even if you’re still on a learning curve yourself. There are people who need the skill level you currently have.
But don’t cheat people. Never promise more than you can do. Always do more than you promise.
You’re going to be learning for the rest of your life, so throw away the insecurity that makes you doubt you’re worthy of a decent income.
Otherwise, you’ll be grabbing everyone as a customer — mostly those who want your service for next-to-free to give you “exposure” or “practice.”
It’s fine to accept that kind of work if you’re strategic. Set clear boundaries that provide a tangible benefit, such as a testimonial or data for a case study. Otherwise, after a while, you’ll feel resentment and possibly end up losing pride in your work. Also, you’ll have nothing to pay your bills with.
It’s far better to identify a niche you want to work in that’s within the boundaries of your skillset, make sure it exists, and then set up your marketing to attract those people.
Your business needs you every day, no matter what mood you’re in or what stress drama is going on at the moment.
Even if you stay in the same field forever, you’re going to grow and develop as a person over time.
You have to because change is the nature of the world and what people want now isn’t what they’ll want in a few years.
Working for yourself is one of the most rewarding things you can do. You’ll learn from people whose words and actions resonate with you, but you’ll try your own thing too.
After all, you’ve got your own personality to infuse into your business. And your own vision that no teacher can see for you — our job is to help draw it out.
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