Tips for running a successful web studio


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

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Tips for running a successful web studio

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