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WEB SCHOOL Growing A Web Design Business From Zero

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dmichaelmccann

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Hey everyone,

So I'm creating this thread to track my progress growing my web design business from zero.

First off a little background on me:

I'm an 18 year old high school student, and I have never made a single penny online, so I'll be learning a lot as I go. I started learning to code back in December 2017, and so far I have taken the courses on @Fox 's gold thread on web design that he recommended, along with the Fox Web School course, so I have a decent knowledge of HTML/CSS along with some sales.

Last week I decided that I was ready to start providing value to businesses and I decided to get on upwork to start. I read through @SinisterLex 's gold threads and watched his youtube video's on starting from scratch, and I managed to get approved on my first try two days ago. Over the last two days I've taken some tests, written a "you" focused bio, and have gotten everything ready to send proposals starting today.

End Goals:

My goal for this business right now is to create a full time income for myself so that I can become financially independent, and use the money I earn to start up a fastlane business in the future.

I'll be updating this thread pretty frequently as I go so that everyone can see the whole process, from never having made a single sale to hopefully soon making 6 figures/year with this business.

Although I've never made money online or outside of a job before, I'm doing my best not to let that scare me. It can honestly feel like a big leap to move ahead with something like this having never done anything like it before, so hopefully seeing the process in this thread will inspire people in the future who are having doubts about if they can be an entrepreneur.

Please feel free to ask me any questions or offer advice.
 

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Fox

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Great. Cool to see a new thread on web design from a beginners prospective.

Tag me if you need any feedback but I will be watching this thread closely.

Where are you at right now with sales?
 
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dmichaelmccann

dmichaelmccann

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Great. Cool to see a new thread on web design from a beginners prospective.

Tag me if you need any feedback but I will be watching this thread closely.

Where are you at right now with sales?
Right now not super far but I think I have a good base. Along with the material in your course I've read Cashvertising and Spin Selling. I have several other books lined up for the next few months on both copywriting and sales but I would love to hear any that really helped you out.

A big skill that I am focusing on in the near future is phone skills. I did some recordings and found out that I don't sound too great and get a bit nervous sometimes, which would hurt me on cold calls. I'm going to keep going with the calling exercises you gave in the course until I get good at them but I wanted to start taking action which is why I chose to get on upwork.
 
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dmichaelmccann

dmichaelmccann

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Quick Update:

This afternoon I sent out my first 3 proposals on upwork; I'll post here anything comes out of them. Also, about an hour ago I received an email from upwork saying that I had been welcomed into their rising talent program? I found this confusing as I have no work history on the platform, but I'll take the badge as I'm sure it's worth something when applying to jobs.

Another observation I had was that over half of the websites that show up on my job feed are for wordpress, so I think that will be a useful skill to add soon.

The rest of this week I plan on working towards getting my first sale and 5 star feedback, and possibly sending out more proposals depending on the response to the first three.
 
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Offer to make the Wordpress sites for $5. You'll make like $.50 an hour but you'll get great experience and a lot of five star reviews. Explain exactly why your bid is $5 and you'll get lots of people to accept your proposal.
In the future most of these people will need another site and they will likely come back to you.
Once you do this enough times you will need to turn away work or get help to fulfill your clients work.

This exact situation has happened to me on Upwork but on the purchasing side in another niche.
 
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dmichaelmccann

dmichaelmccann

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Hey guys,

It's been kind of a tough past few days. I did get my first job yesterday, did it pretty quick, and got a 5 star review. However, it wasn't related to web design but instead one of those customer service ones for 5 dollars that I got invited to.

I had a pretty brutal week in terms of work at school so I didn't have much time to send out new proposals until Friday (my first 3 got no responses). I sent out two Friday and two yesterday, really trying to focus on them and their needs. This time I also offered to do them all for 5 dollars and was very upfront about why. A few of them haven't checked their post since before I proposed so I'm hoping I'll get at least one response.

I'm also struggling to find jobs that I'm sure are a fit for my skills. My feed is showing a lot of jobs that require advanced knowledge in languages I don't know (I'm really only confident in HTML/CSS), and of course I want to make sure I can actually help everyone I send a proposal to.

I started on a udemy wordpress course Friday and have been moving through it pretty well. A large number of upwork clients want sites on wordpress and soon that will be a service I can also provide, which will greatly increase the number of people I can help.
 

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Reading your post was like reading a summary of my current position (except I work full-time). I have also gone through Fox's course, and am starting on Upwork to try to build up a decent portfolio before trying to cold call local businesses.

I would recommend going through both of Lex's freelance courses on Udemy if you haven't already.
 

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I am going to jump on a call tomorrow with @dmichaelmccann and go over some things. I’ll come back afterwards and make a bigger post here when I got some more details.
 
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dmichaelmccann

dmichaelmccann

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I had a good call with Fox yesterday afternoon. We went over some of the things I was struggling with and we decided that I should go in a new direction with the business.

To summarize the main points:

I'll be getting off upwork and will turn my focus to cold emailing and calling businesses. Although it is possible to make money on upwork, long term it will be better for me to start contacting real businesses that I can get results for. This will allow me to start charging higher prices after I complete my first few sites with proven results. I don't have any business owners in my personal network, so I'm starting with local businesses that have shitty websites.

To get those first 3-5 clients I'm going to offer my services free for the first few and then very cheap. My goal in the beginning is to build my portfolio, help these businesses out, and prove to future clients that I can make amazing websites. With these first few businesses I will be very upfront, letting them know right away that I'm new to web design but I'm a local guy that wants to help them for free. It's a simple pitch that should get some responses.

After those first few sites are finished, I'll have some good looking portfolio pieces that I can show to future clients. From there its all about showing the value a new website can deliver to their business. If I can communicate this effectively and then actually deliver that value, I should have no problem being able to charge premium prices very soon.

Thanks again Fox for getting on the call with me and helping me work through all of this. I think this sums it up but if you have anything to add feel free.
 
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dmichaelmccann

dmichaelmccann

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I got my first client this week! A few days ago @Crexty reached out to me through the forum and after some messages and a call I am now designing a free site for his commercial cleaning business. He had already done a portion of it but I am going in, adding some new pages, and making sure everything is optimized to get him great results.

I also made a cold email list of about 20 local businesses to contact when I run out of work.

I want to thank everyone who has helped me on this journey so far. This week has really been a breakthrough after all those months I spent learning code and sales!

Next goal:
Get my first paying client and build them a completely new, amazing site that gets them results.
 

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dmichaelmccann

dmichaelmccann

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Summary of the past week:

A few days after my previous post I finished building my first website for Crexty. While I did not follow the system I would normally use (fox web school style) since I was building off what he already had (and he provided the content), the website turned out nice and should help him get good results.

On Wednesday and Thursday I sent out cold emails to the list of 20 that I made earlier. From that group I got 2 responses saying they might be interested. However, when I sent a follow up to try to schedule a call, I think they may have disappeared on me. No word from either for the past 2 days.

I spent too much time waiting around thinking that I was going to close at least one, but oh well, lesson learned. From now on if I don't have any active clients I'm going to continually send emails.

I also set up an LLC for the business earlier this week, and yesterday I set up the bank account. I spent today making another email list and catching up on all my schoolwork.

Early this coming week I'm planning on calling the first 20 businesses I emailed, and then midweek I'll send out another round of emails to new businesses depending on call results. I haven't gotten my first paying client yet but I'm feeling pretty good and I think it will only be a matter of time.
 
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Maxboost

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Summary of the past week:

A few days after my previous post I finished building my first website for Crexty. While I did not follow the system I would normally use (fox web school style) since I was building off what he already had (and he provided the content), the website turned out nice and should help him get good results.

On Wednesday and Thursday I sent out cold emails to the list of 20 that I made earlier. From that group I got 2 responses saying they might be interested. However, when I sent a follow up to try to schedule a call, I think they may have disappeared on me. No word from either for the past 2 days.

I spent too much time waiting around thinking that I was going to close at least one, but oh well, lesson learned. From now on if I don't have any active clients I'm going to continually send emails.

I also set up an LLC for the business earlier this week, and yesterday I set up the bank account. I spent today making another email list and catching up on all my schoolwork.

Early this coming week I'm planning on calling the first 20 businesses I emailed, and then midweek I'll send out another round of emails to new businesses depending on call results. I haven't gotten my first paying client yet but I'm feeling pretty good and I think it will only be a matter of time.
Damn your kicking a$$ wish I had your focus at your age.
 

RobD88

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This is a really great thread. It is impressive to see your commitment to your business and the support you are getting from other forum members. Keep it up kid...you'll rule the world in no time.
 
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dmichaelmccann

dmichaelmccann

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It took a lot more hustling than I thought it would but I finally got my second client.

After my last post I spent another week and a half cold emailing and calling businesses, and although I got a couple of responses, none of them were really interested enough and I couldn't sell them on the value of the new website, even when I offered them for free.

Two days ago I changed my approach and began joining several business networking groups on facebook in my area. I then sent out a message saying that I was new to web design and I wanted to help local businesses increase their online sales for free. Earlier today I got a reply from a nearby painting company, and now I am building him a free website.

Even though it is for free I am pretty excited about this one as this is the first time I got a client using a completely cold method. I also am building him a website completely from scratch using the Fox Web School system, so everything from design to content to photos is all in my hands. I look forward to seeing what I can do!
 

Wo0dy

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Hey ! Congratulations !
You're only using HTML/CSS or you're learning JavaScript ?
Also would you mind sending me in private message what kind of design you can create after some months of code to see how it looks like ? I'm very curious about that and maybe it will me motivate to start for real.
Keep it going !!
 

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Don't do too many for free :smile2:

Say you want something simple in return ie How much business came from the existing website and what the change was when yours was implemented. That is still pretty much free isn't it?

It will give you an idea of the value you are providing in $ terms which will give you a shot of confidence and authority on reaching out to other similar operators in different locations.

Dan

PS: When I was 18 I was in The Upper VIth and simply came home from school; watched TV, read or went out to my friends. I am so impressed with people like you. :thumbsup:
 
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dmichaelmccann

dmichaelmccann

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Hey ! Congratulations !
You're only using HTML/CSS or you're learning JavaScript ?
Also would you mind sending me in private message what kind of design you can create after some months of code to see how it looks like ? I'm very curious about that and maybe it will me motivate to start for real.
Keep it going !!
Yeah right now I am pretty much working with just HTML/CSS. I have learned a bit of Javascript but I haven't used it in any of my projects so far. You really don't need a ton of coding knowledge to start building websites that can provide great value to businesses. The design is just a small part of the puzzle. Getting results for the business with the whole system (design, content, images, etc) should be the main focus.

If you haven't already check out this thread, it explains really well how you can start with only HTML and CSS knowledge and the types of websites you can build using HTML themes.

GOLD! - How to Learn Code, Start a Web Company, $15k+ per month within 9 months
 
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dmichaelmccann

dmichaelmccann

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I just took another free client on that I got through my Facebook posts. I wasn't sure whether I was going to do another free website but this is a very good client opportunity. They are a drywall repair company based in New Jersey, family owned with 5 employees, so a good niche and company size. Current website is very bad. They have also been in business since 1980 so I'll be able to easily measure the impact the new website will have. The owner also said if he was happy with the result he had people he could refer me to.

I'm planning for this to be my last free website. After I finish these two I'll be a lot more confident in my skills and I'll now have 3 real websites in my portfolio to show to potential future clients. This should all make it much easier to close my first paid website very soon.
 

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Nice progress. After this one you definitely have enough sites to go ahead and start charging. Keep us posted.
 

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dmichaelmccann

dmichaelmccann

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Do you plan on charging monthly for anything when you do start charging for websites? Revisions? Curious of your pricing model when you get rolling.
There are always exceptions but I am mainly looking to build websites that are just a one time charge to the client. Although this means I will probably miss out on some consistent recurring revenue, the clients I am trying to target right now generally won't need much maintenance anyways, since I am building static HTML websites. If for some reason they do need revisions later on I will do it for free if small enough, and if it is bigger I will just quote a one time rate.

Of course if I build an ecommerce store for example I would probably offer a monthly maintenance plan because those types of websites require much more upkeep than HTML.

As for hosting it can be a good source of monthly revenue but right now I'm not going to try to make any money out of it. It's totally personal preference though and I may decide to start offering this in the future, not sure yet. As long as you have a good system in place for getting the money from the clients, I'd imagine there is not much work involved.
 

Grenade7

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I just took another free client on that I got through my Facebook posts. I wasn't sure whether I was going to do another free website but this is a very good client opportunity. They are a drywall repair company based in New Jersey, family owned with 5 employees, so a good niche and company size. Current website is very bad. They have also been in business since 1980 so I'll be able to easily measure the impact the new website will have. The owner also said if he was happy with the result he had people he could refer me to.

I'm planning for this to be my last free website. After I finish these two I'll be a lot more confident in my skills and I'll now have 3 real websites in my portfolio to show to potential future clients. This should all make it much easier to close my first paid website very soon.
Good luck with this one - sounds like a great opportunity! That guy is probably friends with a lot of other small business owners in the area with crappy websites too. Not only that, but being that they've been in business for 38 years, he probably has a good reputation with the other guys around town.

Looking forward to following your progress!
 
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dmichaelmccann

dmichaelmccann

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The painting company website is now up and running as of two days ago. I spent nearly every free hour of my time building this since early last week when I got the sale, including two 12+ hour days last Saturday and Sunday but I had a lot of fun doing it and it was completely worth it. It's amazing how easy it is to put in the work when you have the end results and possible rewards clearly in your mind. The owner said he loves the website and I really hope it can help get him results.

Unfortunately I haven't heard back from the drywall repair company for a week. I sent them an email yesterday asking if they still wanted to go ahead but no response.

Whether they respond or not my plan now is to start contacting lots of people in residential painting and similar niches through email and calls that have bad websites. Now that I have a relevant portfolio piece I can show them I am going to start charging. I'm also planning on keeping an active presence in my facebook business groups. The fact that I have done one website for a guy that is in a lot of the same groups I am could help me build some trust with other members.

I can feel that first paid sale coming soon!
 
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dmichaelmccann

dmichaelmccann

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Are you coding these websites from scratch or using templates?
I have been using HTML templates like Fox suggests and then modifying them to fit my clients needs. Using the templates helps cut down a lot on the coding and I can spend a lot more time on the other things that also matter for getting sales for their business like copy, images, etc.
 

Grenade7

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Have you heard back from the painting company with any feedback? I know it's only been a couple of weeks since the site has been live, but I'm wondering if they've seen any results fron it.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
 
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dmichaelmccann

dmichaelmccann

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Have you heard back from the painting company with any feedback? I know it's only been a couple of weeks since the site has been live, but I'm wondering if they've seen any results fron it.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
I have not heard back from them since a couple days after I uploaded the website but I was planning on sending them an email around the one month mark after I built it to see how things were going. That way they get a little bit more time to see results.

Looking at their google analytics though it's not too promising. I don't know how many people visited their website before the redesign (although it definitely could not have been more than they are getting now) but they are only getting visitors in the single digits per day. They never ranked on google for anything but the company name so I was worried this might happen. Hopefully the new website is doing a great job converting these visitors.

Edit: I realized on 4/8 that somehow the analytics was deleted for all but one page. I put the codes back in and the traffic is pretty good now.
 
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I think the fact you're already getting out there, cold calling/emailing is excellent.

Few years ago I met some web designers who just started out. They had a very fancy expensive office, the latest macbooks including those super expensive apple monitors. Custom made furniture. Design books they never read but looked pretty on the shelves. Lots of debt too looking at their accounts. They spent most time taking pictures of their stuff to stick on FB.

They invited me to join them to do the programming side of things as I'm a web dev rather than designer. Gave it a miss but did give them some advice, that they should be spending 90% of their time doing sales (like you are). They thought they were above sales, that surely sharing some cool photos of their cool stuff on social media taken with their expensive DSLRs of their cool shit and showing how hipster they were would mean people would be beating a path to their door? They are now bankrupt.

Quick tip: make sure the sites your making, especially the free ones, link back to your site in the footer.
 

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