GUIDE: How To Make A Lot More Money Online Doing Web Design

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Web designers make an average of $40,000 per year. Some make more, some make less. The reason why most web designers do not make six figure incomes is simple: they are great web designers, but they are not great business people. As the owner of WebDesignDev, I want to share with all of my loyal WebDesignDev readers how you can make a LOT more money as a web designer by following 5 simple steps. Before I even list the 5 steps, I want to point out that if you don’t take action to improve your income, it will not increase. The sooner you’ll start thinking outside the box and doing something to increase your income as a web designer, the sooner it will happen.

Tools you should use:

1) People skills and a desire to succeed

2) Account on Elance (now migrated to Upwork)

3) Ultimate Designer Toolkit

4) HostGator Reseller Hosting

5) Seo Book

6) HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites , HTML5 for Masterminds, PHP & MySQL Web Development

Your website is not the only place to get clientsSTEP 1. Look for creative ways to find more clients.

Bring offline businesses online.

Tool you should use: People skills and a desire to succeed.

This can be an awesome way to earn a lot of cash. Do you know how many local business in your area don’t have websites? Hundreds! Do you think they don’t have websites because they can’t afford them? No! They are still doing business the old-fashioned way, so you will need to enlighten them. Go to your local businesses, call them, e-mail them, do everything you can to get in touch with them and tell them that you can bring them a lot of exposure and customers by bringing their business online and creating a website for them. I got a lot of customers this way, and I know you can too.

Freelance.

Tool you should use: 1) Account on Upwork.

Another great way to raise your web design income is through a freelancing site. I personally have been a huge fan of Upwork. When you look at the main page of the site you can see there are hundreds of jobs posted daily. The jobs posted are so diverse that any web designer can find a project to bid on. Do enough jobs on Upwork and get enough feedback and you’re almost guaranteed to be the winning bidder for the projects you choose. Once you get that client from Upwork and make them a website or design something for them, there’s a great chance they’ll come back for more business. Residual income is key in earning six figures as a web designer.

Case studies.

Check out some extremely successful ways in which web designers who read WebDesignDev found more clients:

Case study #1 from Charles Coyle:

” My best tactic believe it or not was direct mail.

Step 1. I chose a section in the yellow pages where the clients would be easy to handle and typically did not need much for their industry. I figured this would allow me to build sites pretty quickly and handle the volume I was expecting.

step 2. Once I chose my section I scraped the section for 1000 business names and addresses. I excluded all of the popular chains and those that really would not be looking for a freelancer. I stuck to the Mom and Pop types. I know that sounds like a lot but with the right tools you can do this pretty quickly.

step3. I designed a postcard layout specifically for the industry I was targeting. The postcard doubled as a coupon.

step4. for ease of use: I formatted the names and address in excel, exported them into word (Microsoft word has a label maker template for certain labels that you can buy at the store ( I chose the Avery version). I then printed the labels and slapped them (neatly placed) on the postcards…about 3 hours total.

step 5. I mailed 100 postcards a day for 10 days (not on Thursdays as it will get to the business on Saturday and get lost in the stack of mail and bills they receive on Monday.

step6. I prepared for a lot of calls by using and excel spread sheet to log each call. make sure you get the name, number and EMAIL ADDRESS. this is very important as you will let them know that you will email them or ask them to go to your contact page and email you. Let them know you will be sending them some info periodically. This way you can use mail chimp or any other email system to mail them newsletters and to drum up new business during slow periods.

step 7. I waited…and waited…and waited. By the following Friday after the last batch (2 and a half weeks) I had over 40 calls and got 8 new clients.

Keep in mind that it cost me a total of $472 to do all of this ( I now can get it done cheaper) but I charge well over twice that for one project. You do the math. This is what I am sticking to…

Oh…I forgot to mention that most of the clients I have at this very moment are referrals from the clients I obtained from the direct mail campaign.”

– Charles Coyle

Case Study #2 from Steve Robillard:

“The most successful thing I ever did was give a presentation describing how we developed the product and how they could do the same. I sold more than 80% of the room. One person even went back to her boss and said she would not build their own, because we were so far ahead and cheaper.”

– Steve Robillard

Case Study #3 from Nuno Barreiro:

“1 – Clients don’t come to you only because you work on this area. You’ve got to chase the clients. Create accounts on common social media like Facebook and Linkedin, but create also on networks that’s dedicated to your area of expertise. Get yourself a twitter account and start following companies and other freelancers to see what’s being done. Send emails directly to possible clients but make sure your presentation letter is well done and try to get a meeting.

2 – Don’t lie to clients. You have to be honest if you want no problems. Present your work and give tips to your clients that you might seem useful. Remember, it’s your expertise. Not theirs. If you lie to your clients, if you promise more that you can really do, then you’ll get problems sooner or later. Keep in mind that “mouth-to-mouth” is also a powerful tool. Don’t give them any reasons to talk trash about your work to anyone.

3 – Give fair prizes and development times. Clients will also try to pay less and want all as soon as possible. Without using “techies” that they don’t understand, explain them well why you’re charging that price and why you need that time for development.

4 – Be always available for your clients. You too have the right to free-times. Sometimes clients don’t understand that, but if you’re away from office, at least keep your cell on and be sure to read your emails sometimes.

5 – Continuous support. The job is done? Maybe not. Be sure to give your client all the support they need. If you show them that you care and that you’re a good professional, then the next job is yours, no doubt about it.

I’m sure that there’s much more I can do, but only with that strategy I acquired more than 10 clients in 9 months and those clients already got me the contacts for some friends of theirs that are in need of someone in my area.”

– Nuno Barreiro

Case Study #4 from Les F.:

“Within my 3 years of being an active freelancer, one of the most successful tactics I used was understanding my clients’ wants, needs and issues so that I can connect with them. Due to the lack of managing my customers’ relationship, I have learned that a freelancer should act out the role of a mentor in some cases. Some clients need that sense of concern for their business from the freelancer, thus far prompting the client to trust and rely on doing business with you. In a nutshell, our focus should be in serving the customer rather than the customer serving us.”

– Les F.

Case Study #5 from Brandon J.:

“My best tactic is creating a relationship and continuing to build that relationship into a client. I make sure head to the local Chamber meetings, Rotary Clubs, etc… These places are great for starting new business and personal relationships. By creating a true relationship with someone, I believe, you’re more likely to build a longer lasting client instead of a fly-by. Although there is value in fly-by clients, I’ve found I make more money off of my reoccurring client base, plus I have greater passion for making their company a success online, as I now have a personal interest in the matter!”

– Brandon J.

Case Study #6 from Stephanie Ritchey:

“My best tactic for getting clients lies in two things; using a free-lancing service and a customer referral program. I use a service called Elance that gets me about 30% of my clients. This service is cheap to use and has certainly more than paid for itself over the years. My customer referral program gives clients a small amount off of their next bill for referring a new client to me. This it has gotten me another 10% of my business. Most of my other business comes from various places; forums or blogs that I’ve linked to. Once in a great while I will actually get someone who has stumbled across my website and gets me that way, but I wouldn’t call it an SEO success by any means, at least not yet.”

– Stephanie Ritchey

Think outside the boxSTEP 2. Become the All-In-One Solution for your clients. Think outside the box.

Sell hosting to your clients.

Tool you should use: HostGator Reseller Hosting

If you’ve read my guide up to this point, you are ready to start thinking outside the box. One thing that most web designers don’t realize is that web design business does not stop at web design. You can sell hosting to your clients! Think about it. You just designed a great website for your client. The client wouldn’t just like to host his or her website, the client needs hosting to run the new website. So what I do is I sell hosting to my clients using HostGator Reseller Hosting. It is the most reliable hosting company I have ever worked with, and you will see in my other articles that I praise them whenever I get a chance. People love all-in-one packages and if you don’t take full advantage of that you are losing a lot of money on each client.

Sell SEO (Search Engine Optimization) services to your clients.

Tool you should use: Seo Book

Why is this so important? SEO companies make tens of thousands of dollars per month. What’s the difference between a web designer offering SEO services in addition to web design and an SEO company offering only SEO services? The web designer can make even more money than an SEO company when they sell both SEO, web design and code websites for their clients! (I will discuss the importance of coding in Step 5). SEO companies charge anywhere from several hundred to several thousand of dollars per month for each client to bring the clients good rankings with search engines and maintain those rankings. If you know SEO and can give clients results, they will stay with you for as long as their website is active. This means thousands of dollars of repeating income every month. This is why it is so vital for every web designer to know SEO. Why I recommend Seo Book is because it is the #1 training website for anyone who wants to learn SEO. It comes with videos, tutorials and even a private forum where you can get input from hundreds of global SEO experts.

More traffic means more moneySTEP 3. Get more traffic to your web design site

Tool you should use: Seo Book

You must have traffic to your website to have any clients. More traffic to your web design site means more clients. More clients obviously means more money. Not having traffic to your website is equivalent to having the talent of a professional singer but only singing in your own house. You must let the world know about your services. The problem is that most web designers don’t know how to build traffic to their websites. The sooner you learn how to build traffic to your website, the sooner you’ll be on your way of making six figures as a web designer. You accomplish 2 things when you know how to get traffic: 1) getting a lot of traffic and customers to your web design site, and 2) selling SEO services to your web design clients. As I just mentioned, the one website I recommend you use to learn how to do SEO is Seo Book.

Time is money

STEP 4: Don’t waste time. Time is money.

Tool you should use: Ultimate Designer Toolkit

We all know that time is money, but what many web designers don’t know is that they don’t need to create everything from scratch, and they don’t need to be tied to the default tools they have in Photoshop or Illustrator. There are terrific resources available that can cut your design time by 50% or more. The design tools package that I can wholeheartedly recommend is the Ultimate Designer Toolkit. It is a website that gives you instant access to more than 60,000 premium design resources such as Photoshop brushes, gradients, layer styles, thousands of vectors, stock photos, logos, business cards, mascots, high resolution textures and much, much more (too much to list here).

Think about how much time you will not have to spend on doing a design project for your client when you can do it in the blink of an eye using high quality resources and tools. That’s time that you can spend on doing projects for other clients. Invest just a little bit of money into getting the right tools for the job and you can have returns of tenfold or even hundredfold every year.

Don't just design, code!STEP 5. Don’t just design, code!

Books you should read:

1) HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites

2) HTML5 for Masterminds

3) PHP & MySQL Web Development

The road to becoming a successful web developer (not just designer) can be a long one, unless you know where to look to make it shorter. You should never stop expanding your skills and knowledge. That is why I recommend you read the 3 books above. The first 2 will help you become comfortable using HTML and CSS for creating static websites. The last book (PHP & MySQL Web Development) will help you become familiar with creating dynamic websites. Such websites are popular so in many cases knowing only HTML may not be sufficient.

I want to repeat what I have pointed out earlier – the sooner you become the All-In-One solution for your web design clients, the sooner you will be making a lot more money. You need to be fully comfortable coding websites and editing customizable templates and WP themes. You need to have a lot of traffic to your website in order to have clients. Read books that teach you how to build websites using HTML & CSS and learn how to use PHP and MySQL. Of course you should also read my tutorials 🙂

If you follow the steps in my guide, you will not only design websites for your clients, but you will also be able to Sell hosting, save a LOT of time by not designing from scratch, get many more clients by building more traffic to your site, and make thousands of dollars per month by selling SEO services to your clients. The sooner you start taking action, the sooner you can be earning a lot more money.

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98 thoughts on “GUIDE: How To Make A Lot More Money Online Doing Web Design”

  1. Great article. 🙂

    1) Any of you have sample contracts for clients?

    2) With squarespace and Wix now in the scene, has business slowed down for WordPress Web Designers?

    3) I plan to start my own Web Design business and hopefully get into digital marketing and host reselling. Any tips how much to charge for Digital Marketing a month? Please advise which currency in your reply.

  2. I have done Web Design Freelancing for a period and got tired of it, so I started teaching on bizanosa.com how to code and build sites. It is a better experience and I would suggest the same for other people too. Start with the skills you know and learn as you go. Others can also be things like creating and selling themes and scripts. Working with clients will wear you out, if you are not ready for it.

    @rwahowa

  3. Stay away from Elance. Crowdsourcing is ruining the web design industry. Most clients want something for nothing or work done for ridiculously low prices. You will never make any money this way. Even if you win a low bid, you will end up producing a low-quality website for the price they wanted to pay, which means you will not want to put it on your portfolio. In other words, a complete waste of time.

  4. Good information, really very valuable to any entrepreneur who wants to succeed in business online.
    Greetings and successes.

  5. Very interesting. Would love a direct contact . As i have a product and need a proffesional touch to bring it on net by developing a good and best web site and tube for it. A game like concept.

  6. Hi,
    I am a java server side developer. This writeup is highly useful
    to me particularly because I am weak on graphics side. the dream template looks highly professional and can be customized easily by a serverside developer like me. Just because of this information given by you I am going to buy using your affiliate link.
    regards
    vinodh

  7. Nice article.. RESELLER HOSTING:

    I’ve heard from other designers using Hostagor Reseller hosting that
    they’re basically on their own supporting their clients, and that it takes away from their time to support their clients’ hosting problems and questions. Most designers aren’t experts at web hosting.

    I’m know it’s blasphemous to jump off of the Hostgator fanboy bandwagon, but does anyone know of a hosting reseller that’ s known to support it’s resellers’ clients directly?

  8. this is really great. the one thing i haven’t gotten hold of yet is how to charge for seo services. it seems difficult putting my hand on something.

  9. I m agree with you about dreamtemplates. In my opinion its best place with premium templates – moreover it is not so expensive

  10. I stumbled onto this site just looking for webdesign profitability, and if I made the correct choice to pursue this as a career. I have a ton of ideas and resources for making this a success, and I definitely think outside of the box. We are in the process of finishing up the build for our design services site. Seeing the info here isnt really new info to us, but is good for newbies getting into web design and development. Social media is definitely key in getting more exposure, and helped our business tremendously.
    Lastly, there is soooooo much money out here in web development. Once i realized that service solutions are KEY in making money with web design, my entire approach to this business changed. Work smarter not harder, and youll make that six or even (dare I say) seven figure salary. Look at all the people that make $$$$$$’s almost daily when the Google Places boom first started! Anyhow, i really enjoyed this article, and Best wishes!!
    D.Benjamin from websitedesignbuild and websiteprosource.

  11. Good post. The web design field is flooded. That being said, there are sereral people out there with no passion or desire to learn the right way. Posts like this help alot to put things in perspective. Thanks for sharing!
    Like

  12. Thanks for this great information. I am a freelance designer but only part time. I do make some very good part time income doing this.

    This site alone has given me some very good ideas and thoughts on how I should make my freelance design into a full blown online career.
    Paul.

  13. Hi,

    That was a brilliant, awesome, and very deep words. It is an article that I have never seen something like before. I have just inspired from your words that was simple words motivated me to take a serious action about my work path.

    Thank you WebDesign

  14. I would also recommend using a service like Boxrockit.com to see digital goods through Twitter. Unused designs and doodles can make you some cash instead of just sitting in a folder somewhere.

  15. I’m agree with Jeremy, and think that “all-in-one” technic may kill additional, sometimes requested skills of designer. They shouldn’t think about the traffic of developed website. In other way, more skills you have, more money you can earn.
    What about coding? Think that knowing html, css, java script/ajax, and any server side scripting language is talk about that designer well.

  16. wow wow wow, i have no words to thank you for your 5 steps, but all i have to say is that i was blind and you have just opened my eyes.
    Thank you a million times

  17. I like the intro to your article. I guess, when you work for someone else you can only make a so much because the employer is only willing to pay so much.

  18. Great article. I liked the fact you made a separation from making money in this business, and doing great design. You don’t need one to do the other.

  19. Very nice article.You can also go to Freelancer or Ordesk instead of Elancebut it’s really a good choice

  20. Great Great article! Reading Charles Coyle’s case study was definitely a motivational read for me. I will look to implement that type of determination in my marketing strategies as I keep growing as a freelance web designer.

  21. The direct mail case study us interesting, I thought that would have had a very low conversion rate but now I am going to try it!

  22. I’ve enjoyed your 5 steps on how to make more money in webdesign world. The only difficult thing for me is the coding part of which through guidance i can do more better.So how can you help me in the coding part of designing?
    Thank you in advance.

  23. Interesting article, Apart from every thing good content i mean article and tutorials will give you wonderful traffic.thanks for wonderful article.

  24. I agree with elance and people skills. Not with don’t just design code. IF you want to be great at what you do, you should focus on that thing.

    I’m a graphic designer and if I go into coding I will start designing after my coding style: “Ah i won’t do this effect because i don’t really know how to code it or it will take to much time etc”

  25. Great article. Thank you for sharing. I loved all the tips aside from the crowd sourcing. I may be alone but I don’t do crowd sourcing. I think they kill freelancing, but I can see how they can be benign. I’m not heavy on coding as graphic design & illustration are the main things that I focus on. I do agree that the more you can be helpful, but I think it can be just as equally important to focus on a specific niche.
    Jeremy Darko | “Creativity Takes Courage”

    1. Very nice article.You can also go to Freelancer or Ordesk instead of Elancebut it’s really a good choice

  26. nice tips…but we (web developers) are doing 12 hours of job and after that doing freelance in evening or night, or on weekends.

    is this life?

  27. ” Don’t waste time. Time is money” Thats wonderful heading and Million dollar words…

    Wonderful stuff from you..thanks for sharing.

  28. it’s quite interesting article and useful as well. Thank for advice. Some may follow this post. And of course I can use it properly in my blog.

  29. Hi,

    Very good article! I liked it because…
    1. It was clear
    2. It was concise
    3. It was relevant to my needs

    I love designing especially when it comes in webpage. The more I explore things, the more I’ve been creative into it.

    Designing a webpage is not so difficult, it’s fun, really fun. If you have the 100% force on it for sure you can build a eye catching website and when the website is attractive, the content is well suited the more traffic you can get. 🙂

    Your article is fantastic. I will implement those steps of yours for me to gain more money online 🙂 and also I will bookmarked this so that my designing, marketing skills increase. Thanks for the tips.

    Warm Regards,
    blogger11

  30. Some really good tips there. Elance is definitely a good resource for freelancers and agencies alike. We’ve made some of our best contacts from Elance.
    SEOMoz – also great tip, probably one of the authoritative websites on SEO out there, the subscription is pretty pricey though, maybe you could suggest an alternative too. (although their free tools are really good also)

  31. Good shout! I’ve only just started making money from web design and already I have had my business head on. A lot of your points reinforce what I’ve been trying to do and has gave me extra motivation to nail SEO & code, don’t forget you can also make money from taking your design to print. I.e. Business cards, flyers, stationary, signs, logos, you name it, most of the small businesses I’ve delt with have a lot on their plate and don’t mind handing over the responsibility to someone else when it comes to printing and branding. good work man!

  32. I’m interested to know from all of the people who have previously commented and from the author how you find new clients and how you market specifically . . . business is all about making product and building product so you have to make sales for your business to stay afloat.
    Jeremy Darko | Darko Media Omniversal™ | Creativity Takes Courage

  33. The article has useful info. But while “STEP 5. Don’t just design, code!” is good advice in some cases, I wouldn’t extend it to all. Although it’s always handy to know CSS and JScript and have a solid HTML foundation, I think it’s perfectly possible to actually make good money without having to dive into PHP or SQL. They can be intimidating to many designers, and in fact may not be necessary at all depending on the kind of project.

    There are now several authoring environments out there that make it unnecessary to reinvent the wheel when it comes to the creation of DB-driven sites without the need to program much of what’s going on under the hood, while at the same time giving designers the freedom to not have to rely on themes or pre-made templates.

    That in fact liberates designers to work on more sites, focus on branding, strategy, their own self-promo, etc.

  34. Thanks, this article really help me, because I new in web designer and developer but I wish to be a great web designer and developer like you too.

  35. Yes, contracts are an absolute MUST!! If you don’t have your client sign a contract, then it becomes a “She said/He said” situation and it’s not fun!

    I’m curious what some of you guys suggest when it comes to marketing your skills etc. In this economy many people have tight budgets. If you’re a freelancer, then you’ve heard the “I have a VERY limited budget” about a million times! I certainly have heard it before! But, then I don’t cave in when they say that….I stick to my pricing structure!

    How would you suggest targeting the clients that will not take advantage of your skills for dirt cheap? How do you go after the big paying clients?

  36. This is any eye opener for me as well as rest of the coders. Tones of useful information. thanks for not being more practical. Excellent article ..!

  37. I feel like I click on this link every time I see it come through. i have already employed many of these tips and I always hope for something a little bit more…creative perhaps. But this certainly covers the basics and is great for targeting newbies 🙂 I still always appreciate the post.

  38. Very useful information. Thanks for your time. When I have a testimonial as a result of your efforts I will post it.

  39. like the article but i am still much behind(student taking computer tech).ope someone can send me comprehensive notes for dreamweaver and java scripts.

  40. 35k is way low for a web designer. That’s fresh out of school low. More money comes with time and experience. The best thing you can do is not sell yourself short. If you don’t value your work no one else will.

    1. Hi Dean,

      DreamTemplate simply states that “Each membership account permits you to design 50 client projects”. There is no additional requirement to state that the site is based on their template.

  41. Very interesting inside, however I think it will be a little pricey for a newbe to pay $500 a month for SEOMoz service, don’t you think.

    1. Hi Anton,

      Their least expensive option is at $99/month which is really not much for SEO, at all. Think of any money you spend on your business as an investment that will bring a lot more. You have to spend money to make money.

  42. That ‘s great resource…. To Make A Lot More Money Online Doing Web Design.this method is a great traffic generate…

    Thanks for sharing this message..

  43. thank you soo much – NOW i know everything about webdev, seo, hosting and such.
    Just received my first billion dollars today!

  44. This one sums it up .. good way to think about starting up & many people can use the same technique to start off right away 🙂 keep it up

  45. About STEP 5. Don’t just design, code!
    What do you think about using CMS for commercial project ? and please review some of the best CMS.

  46. Yup, I’m totally agree with all 5 points featured here. I apply most of them except joining “Freelancer” as my design biz focus on 1 market segment. Underground Traffic Blueprint will be in the list for SEO services. Thx 4 sharing.

  47. In Czech we apply the most important rule called 5 times YES. And in shortcut it means that you have to make your client to say 5 times YES for your 5 questions.

  48. Great Article!!! i love it, im trying to create my own webdesign business but im just a rookie in how to actually get clients. this article will really usefull to me. Thx a lot….

  49. Hi, great article… QUESTION though, from a newbie… I find myself being forced to rework 100 times because the client can’t figure out what they want, and then they keep asking for changes…
    how do you avoid this, or limit the number of changes, but still keep the client happy?
    Thanks!!

    1. Every web designer should have a written contract that specifies
      the number of changes allowed after the initial prototype or mock-up of the website has been approved by the client.
      I would look into web design contracts and making mock-ups or prototypes

  50. Interesting advice. So what you are saying is, be a great designer, buy a template? Or be a great designer, start programming? Your advice is original, that’s for sure.

  51. Very nice article. The All-in-one package you propose is really icing on the cake and anybody wishing to earn good money should follow them to the letter.

  52. Hey, the article is really nice. also useful. I am web designer, n always thinking of earning a money online with web design, thanks for sharing such a useful article.

  53. I am a freelancer my self and after reading to this post, i also came to know about some new things. Thanks for such a detailed article. you should also try posting about the problems faced by freelancers during work and how they should handle the. It will be a good article for newbies.

    1. You are so right.I`m i Freelancer to but i work not only freelance jobs because if you wanna make good money you ned to work for some big Web Company but they want too much Certification wich are too expensive and take too much time.And i perfer to learn all new with this way like freelancer.
      Also you cannot know all about WEB DESIGN,DEVELOPMENT,SEO etc.
      It is not posssible just you need to bookmark every day your searches and not only bookmark you need to write this bookmark how they are useful to explain to other people how to use it.
      When i read this article i try all of these
      and i will countinue but with my way just i learn a few good things here i think this is the point to share and learn.
      Nice articles nice web site
      good mans.

  54. So then I am at the right way to success, thanks for the tips, and keep up the good work! Your blog is really cool!

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