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Tips for running a successful web studio


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Slides from my webinar for WebDesign.Com on 12/15/2010

Slides from my webinar for WebDesign.Com on 12/15/2010

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  • 1. Tips for Running a Successful Web Studio @LisaSabinWilson
  • 2. Lisa Sabin-Wilson: Intro
    • Owner: E.Webscapes Design Studio
    • Designing web sites since 1998
    • Been getting paid since 2002
    • Author: WordPress For Dummies
  • 3. Tools for Success
    • Client Communications
    • Project Management
    • Billing/Invoicing
    • Website Updates
    • Social Media Marketing
  • 4. Tools for Success: Client Communications
    • Plan to keep records of everything
    • Web-based ticket system
      • BaseCamp:
      • Kayako: http://
      • NEW: ColabPress:
  • 5. Tools for Success: Invoicing/Billing
    • Payment Gateways
      • PayPal
      • Google Checkout
      • Internet Merchant Accounts (pricey!)
    • Invoicing:
      • Professional looking invoices
      • Easy itemization
  • 6. Tools for Success: Web site updates
    • Keeping your web site updated is important in communicating to your clients
    • Maintain an up-to-date portfolio
    • WordPress used as a full Content Management System (CMS) makes it easy
  • 7. Tools for Success: Social Media & Marketing
    • Maintain an active presence in social media:
      • Twitter
      • Facebook
    • Look at marketing opportunities that make sense for your targeted niche
    • Determine your ROI for marketing opportunities and events
  • 8. Building Your Portfolio of Work
    • Prospective clients like to see samples of the work you have previously done
    • Offer free themes and products to build a portfolio and following
    • Be picky – 6 really good pieces of work is better than 10 mediocre pieces of work
    • Don’t display work you’ve done just because you’ve done it – make sure it is a reflection of your best efforts
  • 9. Building Your Portfolio of Work
    • Consider adding case study notes to your portfolio offerings
      • Demonstrates your expertise
      • Good for SEO
      • Chance to show off your passion and excitement for your work
  • 10. Expectation Management
    • Every project has expectations on both sides  Yours and the Clients
    • Client expectations trump yours, every single time.
    • Set expectations from the beginning
    • Do not promise the world because you won’t be able to deliver it
  • 11. Expectation Management: Clients
    • Publish a comprehensive TOS ( http:// /terms )
    • Gives potential clients the chance to get a feel for your work and practices
    • WARNING: 99% of people who visit your web site will NOT read your Terms of Service
  • 12. Expectation Management: Clients
    • Consider publishing an FAQ
    • FAQs are living documents born from experience with managing client expectations
    • Answer the questions you think they’re going to ask
    • WARNING: 99% of your clients will NOT read your FAQ!
  • 13. Expectation Management: Clients
    • Clients basic expectations:
      • You will do the work they pay you to do
      • You will meet deadlines
      • You will answer questions
      • You will be available to support them after the project is complete
  • 14. Expectation Management: Yours
    • Your basic project expectations:
      • Your client will tell you exactly what they want and need
      • They will pay you (on time) for the work you do
      • Your client will not stray from the original agreement (??)
    • Reality: Maybe 1 out of 20 projects will go the way you expected it to.
  • 15. Setting Expectations Up Front
    • No plan ever
    • survives first contact intact
  • 16. Setting Expectations Up Front
    • For projects, it typically takes me up to 10 instances of communication back and forth with my client before I am ready to quote the project for a price and a timeline.
    • Take your time to get the details right the first time – it’s easier than absorbing the pain and cost later.
  • 17. Setting Expectations Up Front: My Process
    • Client answers some simple, basic questions ( )
    • Back and forth communication takes place to clarify
    • Phone calls with clients are always recorded (important: inform your client they are being recorded)
    • I use Skype with the PrettyMary Call Recorder – stores my client calls as .mp3 files
  • 18. Setting Expectations Up Front: My Process
    • Records of communications including emails, ticket updates and recorded voice calls are kept in individual client files.
    • Keep records of absolutely everything as it relates to the project – you may need it someday!
  • 19. Setting Expectations up Front
    • Basic Web Design requirements:
      • Logo, color scheme, layout and features
    • Clients do not always know what they want, or how to explain it:
      • Ask for examples
      • Ask questions for clarifications
  • 20. Setting Expectations Up Front
    • Don’t settle for adjectives – count them
    • Client says: “I want it to be classy, trendy and bright – but not too noisy or busy”
    • There are 5 adjectives in the above statement….
  • 21. Setting Expectations Up Front
    • Classy
    • Trendy
    • Bright
    • Noisy
    • Busy
  • 22. Setting Expectations Up Front
    • What does classy mean to you?
    • What about noisy, or busy?
    • Adjectives are born from your own personal frame of reference and life experience
    • Your adjectives will not match your clients – so clarify
  • 23. Setting Expectations Up Front
    • Be sure your client is aware of the project expectations
    • Have them review and agree to your Terms of Service
    • Set terms for deadlines and payments
    • Provide details on what the project will entail (installation, plugins, theme, design, logo, etc)
  • 24. Setting Expectations Up Front
    • Leave your ego at the door – not every request from a client is going to be something that is visually appealing to you.
    • Remember: it’s their site, not yours.
    • The more elitist you are about it – the less projects you will get paid to do.
  • 25. Managing Scope Creep
    • Project expectations = the scope
    • Any request the client makes outside the original scope is something you need to consider
    • Will you do “extras” for free?
    • Or will you bill for them?
    • Let the client know, up front, what your policy is for scope creep so they are aware how you will handle it.
  • 26. What does Scope Creep look like?
    • When you are 3 weeks into a project and the client says soemthing like:
    • “ I saw this web site the other day and they had a Flash video gallery and I thought I’d really like to have that. Can you make sure I have something like that on this site?”
  • 27. What does Scope Creep look like?
    • If the Flash Video Gallery was not something you agreed to in the beginning - - you’re looking at scope creep.
    • You make the decision if it is something you’re willing to do at no extra cost
    • Be aware if they get you to do it once – they will ask for something else
    • Clients will push you as far as you allow – don’t let them push you over the edge!
  • 28. Know Your Limits
    • Starting your business, you probably already have an idea of what you can and cannot do.
    • Know where your strengths are and where your weaknesses lie
    • Consider collaboration to make up for areas where you are weak
  • 29. Competition is not your enemy
    • Not always…
    • Do not isolate yourself from those you perceive to be your competition
    • Competitors can be great contacts and collaborators
    • I collaborate with my competitors all the time
  • 30. The Project is Done. The Client is happy. You’ve been paid. Now what??
  • 31. Closing Projects
    • Consider support agreements for ongoing technical support
    • Ask for a testimonial
    • I use PollDaddy:
    • Follow up in 2 weeks – ask them how its going?
  • 32. Extra Special Touches
    • Keep track of your clients via RSS Feed; stay involved with their online activities
    • Follow your Clients on Twitter
    • Create an e-mail newsletter to provide additional value and keep your clients a part of your community
  • 33. Tips for Running a Successful Web Studio Thank you for your time! @LisaSabinWilson