How to Scale Your Freelance Web Design Business

If you own and operate a freelance web design business, the following two scenarios will be familiar to you.

  1. With over 200 million active websites on the internet, excellent web designers are in high demand. Not to mention, with the recent boom of new e-commerce businesses, you’ve probably already experienced an abundance of new inquiries. It may be difficult for you to keep your head above water.
  2. It’s challenging to manage every aspect of a growing web design business on your own. You may find yourself spending so much time managing your finances, outsourcing design elements, and onboarding clients that you hardly have any time to do what you do best—design.

If these two situations ring true to you, it means one thing—you’re ready to scale your freelance business and turn it into a well-developed business with several employees and clients.

But don’t worry. You don’t have to go it alone. This post will guide you through all the initial steps of growing, and teach you how to and why you should:

Let’s get started!

1. Define all your processes

The initial step freelancers trying to scale a web design business is to put processes in place. Processes help you work more efficiently, guarantee excellent outcomes, and save time and money.

“One reason processes are so important is because you can be paid by outcome, value, and deliverable—not time. If you have processes in place, it helps you focus on the most important information, tasks, and goals. More efficiency equals potentially better outcomes, results, and value for you and the client,” says freelancer business coach Matt Lady.

Not only does establishing processes help you save time, but it also takes your business to the next level. Freelance writer Kaleigh Moore says, “Having processes show you’re a pro with a workflow that works.”

It’s safe to say, you’ll end up getting more referrals and better business if your processes are clear and the customer experience is outstanding. 

2. Finalize client onboarding

One of the first processes to focus on when scaling your web design business is to build and finalize your onboarding process.

Onboarding includes giving everything your client needs (information and assets), so you can communicate clearly, hit goals, have an excellent experience, and create a web design that meets expectations. 

Typical onboarding tools include anything from creating a proposal and signing a contract to gathering assets and collecting payment.

Jasmin Williams, a freelance content marketing consultant, explains why onboarding processes are so important. “It helps build trust with the client. When you have clear, defined processes, then the client knows that this isn’t your first rodeo and that they’re in capable hands. It also helps make everything more efficient.”

3. Set up automatic billing

Before you take on your next client, decide how you are going to move forward with billing. This is especially critical if you plan on taking multiple clients at once.

When setting up your billing processes, consider the following:

  • What will your prices be moving forward?
  • Will you offer any packages?
  • Do you require payment up front or will you bill at the end?
  • Will you ask for a deposit?
  • What invoicing software will you use?
  • What payment methods will you accept?

When you worked as a one-person show, it was probably sufficient to handle billing on your own. Now that you plan to grow your business, it’s time to invest in invoicing and accounting software and maybe even hire someone to handle the books.

4. Hire employees or contractors

When you start experiencing more demand for your web design work, it makes sense to build a bigger team. Start by hiring additional web designers. Depending on how quickly you are growing or plan to grow, you may need to bring on other employees as well (e.g., an accountant, copywriters, programmers, etc.)

There are several ways to find new employees or contractors. Start by asking for recommendations within your own network. 

If you plan to scale your business quickly, it may make sense to hire a professional recruitment team to handle the ins and outs of hiring.

5. Use project management tools 

Part of setting up processes for a growing business includes investing in a project management tool. Project management tools are particularly important if you are managing several clients and multiple projects at a time.

The benefits of a project management include:

  • Time tracking
  • Client communication
  • Asset collection
  • A singular point of reference for all projects
  • Automated reminders
  • Visualizations of projects and project phases (e.g., Gantt charts)
  • Analytics and reporting
  • Workflow management
  • Tracking milestones
  • Resource capacity management
  • SaaS integrations
  • And more!

Alyssa Towns sums up why everyone should use a project management tool perfectly. She says, “When you use a project management tool, you’re much less likely to forget about any of the items on your to-do list.” 

Project management tools also help keep everyone on your team on the same page and moving forward to meet goals. Tyler Sellhorn, a remote team leader, says, “It’s easy for tasks that move the needle to get pushed by the daily grind. Using project management applications help you get back on track.”

Excellent project management also organizes your team, keeps everyone on track, and helps everyone stick to your established processes.

The team at WinningSolo explains why team processes are important. They share, “It’s a signal to the prospect that you know what you’re doing. It’s more efficient and keeps you from reinventing the wheel with every project. It sets expectations and keeps all parties tracking together.”

6. Own your web hosting

If you’ve been working as a freelance web designer, you may already have a pro hosting account to manage all of your client sites.

If not, it means every time you get a new client, you have to ask for your client’s login information at their respective hosting company. It also means you may have to work with 20+ different hosting accounts, which is a total nightmare. 

When you have your own VPS or dedicated server, you—and your team members—have full control over client accounts. You can work within a singular system every time you need to design a new website, instead of spending all your time tracking down login information. This will solve headaches, eliminate bottlenecks, and speed up your processes.

Good news! HostGator offers VPS and dedicated hosting plans that are perfect for people that own a web design business. 

7. Customize the back end for your clients

Now that you have a VPS or dedicated web hosting, you can officially customize the back end for your clients. 

In other words, you can create custom post types (CPT) that allow your customers to update their sites, without risking messing up your design. 

Customizing the back end for your clients is yet another way to avoid a potential crisis. I should know. I once deleted my entire expensive custom website trying to make “small changes.”

For more information on how to know when you should create a custom post type, check out this tutorial on creating CPTs.

Start hosting websites with a VPS or dedicated hosting plan

If you’ve been thinking about scaling your freelance web design business, there is no better time than now to invest in a VPS or dedicated hosting plan.

HostGator offers several different PRO hosting packages. Check them out now and find one that suits your needs. 

Machielle Thomas curates content for marketing professionals, small business owners, bloggers, and more.