How to run a web design business


I have a passion for web design, and I want to start a business to get my name out there. The problem is, I'm not really sure how it works. I have a few simple questions:

How should people go about hiring me?

What should I ask the people who hire me?

How much should I charge, since I'm a beginner?

When I've finished working on their website, how would I "give" it to them?

And also, some other tips would be nice. I really want to get this going. Thanks!

Business Web Design

asked Jun 30 '11 at 04:50
147 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll
  • Please consider makikng these separate questions. – Jeff O 13 years ago

3 Answers


How should people go about hiring me?

Have a portfolio site w/ contact info. Make an account on odesk or any other sites you can post a resume. If you have past clients/contacts, consider asking for a referral if you have a good relationship with them. Tell your friends to keep their ears open, give them some cards to hand out if they meet someone.

What should I ask the people who hire

As far as flushing out requirements? Pretty much everything. What kind of time frame they were thinking of. What does their budget look like? That will help you determine what you can accomplish in a given time, and how much time you can spend on each aspect, etc. Figure out if its a simple static site or a database driven site. They'll probably tell you most of what they want, but ask anything you can think of to flush out anything they may have overlooked.

How much should I charge, since I'm a

Do you have a portfolio? That helps leverage yourself and is your best marketing tool next to referrals. I've had jobs as low as $15 an hour when I was a student/beginner. People I know started out around 30/35 when they were in college. Whatever you charge, it needs to be enough to be worth your time. If you feel you're not being compensated fairly, you'll deliver a lower quality product and likely drag your feet.

When I've finished working on their
website, how would I "give" it to

Create a Letter of Intent/Agreement to state what services you are providing. Usually the client will provide a server/hosting account that the site can be built/launched on. Figure it out before you build the site with the client.
answered Jun 30 '11 at 05:26
Tom Harrigan
373 points
  • People have told me not to charge by the hour, but just give my clients a solid price point. I could increase it or decrease it depending on the amount of work I predict that I'd put into it. Would this kind of system work? Thanks for the answers, by the way. :) – Purmou 13 years ago
  • Purmou -- Welcome to Stack Exchange. If you have another question, click the "ask question" button... don't add it as a comment here. – Joel Spolsky 13 years ago
  • Um, okay. I just put it there cause it was pretty much a follow-up question. I'll remember that for the future. :) – Purmou 13 years ago
  • Fixed prcices for more than a days work RARELY work. Requirements change. You end up in negotiating hell. I do IT for 20 years and I have never seen a fixed price hold for more complex things like "3 days of training". – Net Tecture 13 years ago
  • I agree w/ @NetTecture, I think it's best to charge hourly, it's ok to give an estimate of the total project cost as long as it's understood that it's an estimate and total price will reflect the hours spent on the project. – Tom Harrigan 13 years ago


Personally free websites have only gotten me into trouble. When you commit, free or not, people still expect you to do 110%. Favors seem to just get me into trouble, so I don't do favors anymore.

Always charge 50% before starting the project, then the other 50% before releasing the final product. If you can do that, then you willn't go through the growing pains of 75% of freelancers in this industry.

Plan on spending a week on each website and charging a reasonable rate that will allow you to pay your bills and buy some food for the family.

But most of all, don't quit your day job.

answered Jul 2 '11 at 17:58
Jonathon Byrd
260 points
  • +1 : "Personally free websites have only gotten me into trouble" - same experience. And I was only a prime time designer, not seriously working on webdesign. Just a bit of fun. I told people, but they have ignored that fact I am a bit guy and thought they would get 150% porsche design – Christian 13 years ago


my advice for you is to go free on a few projects to get your portfolio on its feets, once you have live websites with satisfied customers they will spread the word about you and your services.

I am statrting in the same business, and this is the only marketing tool that worked for me. I did my first project in exchange of a service, I was paid $99 for the second one and $150 for the third.. but I have generated leads from these tiny projecs and I am working right now on bigger ones

answered Jun 30 '11 at 19:08
16 points
  • I've actually done a few free websites already, but they were all very quick jobs and aren't visually appealing. I'd rather not include them on my portfolio. I'll poke around for some jobs that can hopefully bring out the best of my abilities so that I can put them on my portfolio. Thanks for your help. :) – Purmou 13 years ago
  • @Purmou it might be worth it to take those designs and touch them up to be visually appealing so you have a portfolio. If the work is already done, minus some css or a couple of images, it seems like the value to work ratio is more in your favor than going from scratch to build up the portfolio – Tom Harrigan 13 years ago

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