A Web Design & SEO Business Experiment
I have recently decided to start a web design and SEO business and had a great idea. Rather than taking the standard (boring) rout and showing off how many sites I have managed to rank, or the websites that I have created. Instead, I have published my site early to allow anyone to follow along with my progress starting and developing my new business.
Why I Am Doing This:
You will be able to see and learn how I go about my work and get to see first-hand any and all problems that occur during the creation and development process.
I also figured that being so open and honest about what I know, and how I do things will help to build trust and client relationships that otherwise couldn’t be built without working alongside clients for a given amount of time.
Some posts like this, will be quite long, and others will be basic updates on progress. I can not predict the future but I am expecting possible delays with updates due to picking up client work, plus I have my teaching business to run. But I expect to post an update at least once a week.
The internet is about sharing knowledge, connecting people &
businesses… and making money.
I figured that throughout the experiment I will also be able to achieve all three of these goals:
I am a guitar teacher and with that comes the fulfillment and joy of sharing knowledge. I have found that I really enjoy doing this and will be able to use this experiment as yet another output to share what I know by simply doing.
Connecting People & Businesses:
I will be connecting with people who follow along with the experiment and most likely sharing any questions, problems, and resolutions that occur throughout the process. I also aim to pick up clients simply by putting myself out there in the open with nothing hidden.
At the end of the day, I am creating a business. Now I am no Expert in business, but I do have enough experience to say that without it being profitable or cashflow positive after a given amount of time, it is essentially a failure. I won’t be sharing the money made throughout the experiment, but I will mention when things are becoming worth the investment in time that I put into doing this, as well as the clients I pick up through the process.
Progress So Far
Initially, I was going to build this site just like I would any other. But after a little while in, I had this experiment idea and thought it may be more worthwhile and interesting.
So below I will write about what I have done so far to get you up to speed as to what stage the site is at currently, and what has been completed so far. Just to note, some things may get a bit techinical, but for the most part I will aim to write for someone who has no idea about web design or SEO. When or if things get too techincal, simply move along to the next segment.
The first step to make is to stop thinking about something and actually jump in and start doing. I always had the thinking process of just doing something and figuring out the minor details later or as you go along. Now when it comes to designing websites or doing SEO, I do have a process I follow built from the experience I have. I don’t want you thinking I will just “wing it” with you or your business. This is my own business and I can allow for testing. If you are at the stage yourself where you have a great idea, or have stumbled across something that you think you will enjoy, don’t wait around, take action and get started!
Spending too much time procrastinating, researching or waiting for the right time is usually not helpful. It is important to do some sort of research, and you do want to be at a point where you can commit some time to what you want to do, but just don’t overthink things. Plus if you start now, you will look back and see how much time would have been wasted thinking about things instead of actually doing them.
I had a whole lot of questions when I decided to do this, which I’m sure a lot of people initially have when it comes to starting a business such as:
- How do I know it will be successful?
- I don’t have a web design degree, how do I compete with those that do?
- I don’t know if I have enough experience, how will people trust me?
- Do I have the time to manage two businesses and continue learning and developing my skills, while having some sort of social life?
- Can I really do this for a living?
There are many more but you get the point. Yes these are some valid questions, but if I was to just jump in and start doing this, what is the absolute worst that could happen?…
That is something to consider if you are in a similar situation. What is the absolute worst-case scenario that could come about from doing something you are interested in, or have a passion for? Not as bad as you are thinking I’m sure.
So what have I done so far to get to the point I am at writing this post?… Continue reading below.
Buying a Domain
This was a tricky one for me. I had created my teaching business as Hypermusic Studio, and really wanted to incorporate some form of the word “hyper” into my new business. After a good few weeks I decided to go with Hyperweb Solutions. It covers a broad range of things, is easy to remember, allows for growth into other industries and categories of working online, plus it includes the hyper brand name that I want to build – It was also getting to beyond the point where I was using it as an excuse not to get started!
As soon as I wrote it down a few times, I decided to go with it and purchased the domain name so there was no going back.
I have tried out a few hosting companies, and had been using OnlyDomains as a host for a while simply because they were affordable and provided what I needed with decent support. Recently I have made arrangements with someone I know locally in the industry who upon testing, provides a far superior experience and service. I am now hosting all my new sites with him as he is simply THAT GOOD!
CMS and Theme
CMS stands for content management system for those who don’t know. There are a range of ways you can manage your website, I mainly use WordPress.org and because this is not a tutorial on web design, I will leave it at that. For more info, you can make a Google search, the top result is usually the best – unless the results have been manipulated.
I have been doing a LOT of reasearch into themes and decided to go with a company called Elegant Themes. They offer a great service and a huge range of capabilities – especially the DIVI Builder, which others simply do not provide. I can now use my skills and creativeness without limiting myself to a range of bugs and errors found on most other themes that I have looked into.
Let’s Get Started!
With all the basics out of the way, I began work on building the site. My thought process with a web design site is to keep it simple. Upon my research checking out the competition, a lot of people over-do the design and the site eventually becomes a nightmare for user experience as the designer attempts to throw in all the flashy tricks that they can think of. This in turn, leads to a super slow website that isn’t very functional. I will leave it up to my clients sites to speak for the work that I do.
So I decided on a very basic layout to start with and have begun tackling each page, filling out the content. I like to get at least a draft copy so I can see what needs to be changed and what needs to be added. For clients websites, I like to discuss with them what they require and what purpose the site needs to fulfill. If they already have a site, I will usually look over it and make suggestions on what could be improved upon. Most of the time they are happy with the suggestions but it is important for me to keep in mind that it is their business and they should have final say on things that they want – even if sometimes it may not “technically” be the correct way to go about doing something. I will simply say something like: “this is the standard way to do ‘X’ and I do recommend it because ‘Y’ but I am more than happy to go with your suggestions and ideas.”
So I have created the main skeleton of my website: Homepage, Services, About, Blog & Contact. I usually aim to complete the majority of the content on these pages first before moving onto other elements. Also a note about SEO. I always keep Google in mind when creating pages and content, but initially it is not my top priority. To start with, having a site is better than not, so I like to get that stage complete, while following the best practices layout-wise that I know, and then go in after and SEO the heck out of my site. I find this easier than doing everything at once. You can concentrate a lot more on the task at hand rather than worrying about over-optimizing a keyword or forgetting to add alt-text to an image. These can all be sorted after and allow for less mistakes to be made when completing SEO for the site.
Currently the homepage has mostly been completed, as well as the About page which is a bit of a work-in-progress. I have also obviously began the blog to help report on my progress.
One other thing that is good to do right away is to create email accounts, social profiles and Google My Business Pages. These are off-page elements but are still very important to have. Depending on the business and niche, some will be more important than others, but figuring out what works best for you is a great start.
I currently have only created a Facebook business page which you can view here. It has very little content at this stage but I aim for it to grow into an important part of my site. Especially with this experiment which I will share within the page after completing this post.
To test the waters, I had also previously joined a bunch of local Facebook groups to promote my services. By doing this alone on my personal profile, I have managed to gain about 5-6 clients. It will be interesting to see how it goes when I start promoting using the website and my experiment.
That’s All Folks!
So to conclude, I have only made a small start, this is the perfect time to jump in and follow my progress as I turn this website that only about three people including me know about, into something that helps me and eventually others make a living.