I've been doing PSD to HTML work (both emails and websites) for more than 5 years now, mainly for 2 UK agencies, but I think it's time to move forward and transform these skills into a business. I've started outsourcing some of the work when needed, but I'm eager to start getting clients of my own to make this grow as a business.
psd2html.com is my model, where my clients could order directly and then follow up with them via email and skype. The price schedule will be similar, probably around 30% cheaper.
I've really mastered these skills and have 600+ jobs to showcase, but I'm not sure how to get more clients. To be honest I don't like the selling part, so I really want to focus on what I'm good at which is coding and managing my own team, so I can provide a quality service.
Bear in mind that my target markets are UK and USA mainly, I'm not interested in doing this locally. I'm from Argentina and dealing with customers here is worst than in other parts of the world.
The ideal customer would be agencies, since this would provide a constant stream of work, wouldn't have to deal directly with the final client, and from my experience of working with agencies they're far easier to deal with since they know the business. Graphic designers could also be my customers.
I've thought about a couple of ideas, but I'm not sure about their effectiveness and how to properly implement them. If you have any experience with any of the following and if they did work for you, please share your tips with me.
-website adverstising: buying banners on blogs, maybe through buysellads.com or contacting blogs directly. Maybe I could offer them a couple of giveaways for their readers.
-forums: advertising in web design forums or similar. Or even advertising in the warriors for hire in warriorforum.com, although I don't know about its effectiveness (has anyone tried for something similar?)
-hiring sellers, giving them a nice % for each customer
-getting in touch with web agencies directly, although I'm not sure what would be the best way to approach them
I'd love to hear ideas and from experienced business owners, how you did it, how do you think I should pursue this, etc
Doing PSD to HTML is a skill, not a business, so if you want to build a business around it you need to put together a service/product that is profitable and has market viability. Unless you call freelancing a business, the one thing that you can't really do to make this a business is the actual PDF to HTML work itself - you have to do something else that can grow the business.
So, you should ask yourself what it is that you could contribute to a business. If you want to open a business that does nothing but slicing PSD's then the skills you'll need are management, sales, marketing, advertising, etc. Being an expert at the work is helpful, but really it's not what will make the business fly. I consider myself to be a decent developer but I would never hire a developer who wasn't way better than me - my skill is in management.
What is is that you are BEST at besides slicing and dicing? That is probably the skill you should leverage to build a business.
I agree with your comments, and maybe I didn't make myself clear. Of course I'm planning to outsource the work, it's the only way to grow, but till I get a decent volume of clients will have to do part of the coding myself. I have a small staff that i can use, but only when needed.
So basically my question is how to get clients. Later when it starts to grow I will move to dealing with clients requirements and checking the work has good quality before delivering to the client. And on a later stage if it grows even more I can hire people to do those things.
But I need to get things rolling first. I choosed this model because I know there's a demand and still will be in the future, plus I don't want to diversify that much and focus to provide a very targeted and quality service.
So, does any have experience on starting a similar business?
There are so many ways to start that kind of a business (a generic services business, really) so I would reiterate my comment about looking for what will work best FOR YOU.
For example, my old partner is a master at marketing and he's able to drum up business without even trying! He does it by word of mouth and has never spent a dime on advertising - a real rainmaker with that gift of making potential clients feel interested. So, his technique of getting business is to go to events and network, and he works his rolodex to get new business through word of mouth.
I am the total opposite. I can't seem to talk my way into a deal ever! I tried different ways of new business development and finally realized that I hate marketing and suck at it. So, I hired a marketing manager who put together a PPC strategy and it's worked pretty well. Whenever I think I might be slowing down, I have him turn on my Adwords campaign and a few thousand dollars later I have 50+ new leads to go through and I can usually close 2 or 3 new clients within 2 weeks. So, the ROI on that advertising money is really, really good and it works well for me.
There are so many strategies - what will be your differentiation ? Price? Quality? Can you develop partnerships with a design shop? etc? For each business, there is a low-hanging fruit that matches their unique skills/benefits with their marketing abilities and finding that is the path ahead.
For me, it was just a matter of realizing that I was useless at marketing and getting used to spending a lot of money to get clients.
That´s my case too Sagewing, I suck at marketing, that's why I came to this forum for help.
Regarding differentation, it's definetely quality. I always make sure that the end result is 100% perfect and the client is happy, whether I code the template or outsource it, but the only way to proove it is to actually get the jobs.
So...what path do you suggest in order to get this started? Hire a sales person to work on commision, give PPC a try? My main goal with be to partner with more agencies in a similar way I'm doing it now, since this would provide a constant stream of work. However, I got these agreements through worth of mouth, haven't pursued directly to find new agencies.
Would be great to hear your ideas on this since you already have experience, and thanks for the suggestions so far!
I think I am just repeating myself, but I will turn the question around one more time.
What are YOU GOOD AT? What do you have going for you alread?
If you have cash to spend, try PPC. It's expensive but works.
If you can know a great salesperson that will work on commission, go for it but that is risky and expensive.
If you have relationships with agencies already, then approach them for partnerships.
If you do well via word of mouth, start networking.
The answer is specific to you.
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