Becoming a Freelance Web Developer (Get Long-term Web Development Contracts)
Looking to Become a Freelance Web Developer?
So you’re thinking of becoming a freelance web developer. And you're wondering, what should I sell? What's currently more in demand? What's currently going to bring you the most profit? What's going to allow you to get your business up and running in the shortest amount of time possible, without having a portfolio yet? Well, in this video, we're going to cover all this:
- How to get started
- How to choose what to sell
- How to get started with lead generation
- How to build your business from there, what are the different business structures and business models that are available to you as a potential freelance web developer to get started in the most efficient way possible.
So for those who may not know who I am, or why you should listen to me, I started with freelance web development in 2008. And I've built a successful agency. Since then,
If you're watching on YouTube, there are timestamps in the description below the video that will allow you to skip to the part that's most interesting to you. However, I do recommend that you watch the entire video because it'll give you the context that you need to make the right decision for your business, which is a very high leverage.
So the first thing we're going to talk about is: should you focus on platforms? Should you do custom? And which platforms or which types of freelance web development should you offer?
Ecommerce Has Exploded!
In the last year and a half, what's been going on is there’s certain industries within the big giant web development industry that have been growing, because people are sitting at home, they're buying online. They're buying through e-commerce. They're going into websites and clicking the “Buy” button. So what's been going on is a lot of web agencies have been heavily focused on delivering e-commerce web development.
What are some of the best ecommerce web development platforms, as of right now? The number one in terms of profitability. And the number one, in terms of what we like to focus on, is currently still Shopify. I have quite a few videos about that. Outside of Shopify, there are actually other platforms that are available, like WooCommerce (WooCommerce is part of WordPress, by the way), Wix, Squarespace and other such platforms. They're very popular alongside Shopify.
Shopify Tends To Perform Best
However, Shopify tends to come on top when you're making a choice. If you do have a lot of experience and a great portfolio already, with things like WordPress, maybe WooCommerce is a better solution, just because it'll be easier to start. However, we found that the best-paying clients tend to be Shopify buyers, because for whatever reason, those are the e-commerce stores that have a lot of potential and people are really focused on Shopify from day one almost.
Wix Offers Paid Partnerships
So if that's not the case, and you're finding a lot more leads in other platforms like Squarespace or even Wix (if you're not even a developer, you can do Wix). For platforms like Wix, they even offer partnerships where they send you leads, if you pay them $700 per month, and you apply to their partnership program and get approved, they send you leads, hundreds of leads per month. If you're an established agency, if you can prove to them that you're an established agency. So those are just some of the opportunities out there. We'll also discuss other ways of getting leads later in this video.
Buyers Want To Save Time
But should you do custom? Or should you use platforms if you're offering web development? In my opinion, you should definitely focus on offering platform-based solutions and not try to do, you know, HTML, PHP, whatever custom web development, because no one really does that anymore. And buyers don't have the patience of sitting there and waiting forever for you to finish a fully custom website.
By the way, the custom people that are watching this, you know, I'm sorry. You can still offer custom and some clients will buy it. It’s just not the main thing to sell, right now. It's not the main thing that's in demand. Buyers have become savvy, to the point where they have a preference for one of these platforms. You can move them from one platform to another platform, but getting them from a platform to fully custom from scratch. That's not really a thing anymore. That was a thing like 20 years ago.
How Do You Get Long-Term Clients?
So as I promised in the title of this video, how do you actually get retention with web development? There are several ways of doing this. The best way that I found is to offer partnerships to clients.
Partnerships Are Based On Value
What is the business plan you're going to follow over the next 5 to 10 years that is going to allow them to get to their business goals? And who are they going to partner up with for their tech and marketing needs that will allow them to grow to that level? How can you build a multi-year partnership with your buyers, so they spend 10s or hundreds of 1000s of dollars on your services?
That's the type of question you should be asking yourself when selling web development packages because you can build long-term relationships, not just “here's a website, see you never.”
You Can Buy In Bulk Then Resell
You can even upsell them things like hosting, although that's not usually what I recommend. But I've been told by some of the people that I work with that 20% of their multi-million dollar revenue comes from hosting. You can buy hosting in bulk and then resell it as managed hosting and then do very minimal monthly maintenance on hosting platforms that will allow you to take a very large profit on hosting.
People have become savvy and they know they can go to Hostgator or name cheap or any of those hosts platforms. But to be honest, it is quite annoying to deal with hosting platforms. It is better to just deal with a human and pay more and know that your website is going to be a 100% of the time almost. And you always have someone to call on a phone or email and get a response from someone who's on your team, and not on the hosting platforms team, so you don't even know who they are. So sometimes it doesn't make sense for clients to pay 5-10 times more just to have someone on their team, that takes care of all the system admin work.
That being said, there are other services like marketing services, lead generation, also conversion rate optimization (CRO). and UI/UX that needs to be improved over time. Those are the types of services you can upsell and keep selling to clients to maintain relationships, and to have long retention cycles with clients and long lifetime value cycles.
Contractor vs. Long-Term Partner
So to summarize, you can sell one-off solutions like web development, or you can position yourself as someone who's going to work with them long term, provide them or help provide them a business plan, and then work with them as a partner. As a technology partner, or a web development partner, or web marketing partner, if you will.
You Can Whitelabel Your Services
Another solution you can use, which I usually don't recommend, but this is for some types of agencies out there that have access to a wide range of talent that they can easily source, preferably in a real-life office, although you can also do this remotely. But the solution that I'm suggesting, sometimes to some people is to white-label themselves. To offer their service on a white-label basis.
Basically, you have a team of people. And there's a constant flow of developers, of designers. of marketers. And you're selling their time. They're sitting in an office. You're paying them for their time. Usually it's going to be in countries where it's a little bit cheaper to hire them. And then you sell their time to companies in high, net worth countries, to high net worth businesses who don't want to deal with tech. They just want to use your company as a remote department for tech and marketing.
You Sell The Time Of Your Team
You offer what's called outservicing services, where you sell the time of a group of freelancers or staff members as a remote team for companies on a partnership level. How is this white-label? Well, it's white label when they resell it to other companies. When your service is being resold under a different company's brand name, then it's white labeling.
Leverage Services Of Other Agencies
So another thing you can do is actually the opposite. As a small business owner, or as a freelancer, or a small agency, with a very small crew, or sometimes no crew at all, no staff members at all, you can actually use larger agencies that offer whitelabel services to offer any amount of services you want to your clients. Now, these white label agencies, if you have the right deal with them, if you have the right relationship that you maintain with the right contract will deliver a number of services to your clients.
So your business becomes a middleman that sells multiple services out of whitelabel agencies, under your own brand, where the contract is under your brand, the invoices are under your brand. But all the delivery, claims maintenance, and client communication for 95%+ of the time is done by the whitelabel agencies. You can contact larger agencies that will be happy to whitelabel their teams to you. So you don't have to source teams, client management, or anything.
They're just really good at this stuff. And you just basically pay them whatever it is, usually it's like 50%/50%. And they'll do the work with your clients, where you collect 50% of the money being made. Just a quick disclaimer, using whitelabel agencies has its own set of problems. And it's hard to control quality. You really need to know how to negotiate and maintain relationships with the white label agencies you use, because essentially, they're almost like your clients. Because you're maintaining relationships with them instead of with your actual clients that are paying you.
So it's a different business model. And it's a different level of complexity, which is usually more than just offering the service yourself. So be careful with this.
Make Sure You Have a Strict Contract!
Even though it sounds easy, you don't do the work, someone else manages the client for you, it needs to be done where you maintain the right to build your clients, and to get referrals from your clients and they don't. Because otherwise they'll just take all your clients.
So be very careful with using whitelabel agency. You need to know exactly what you're doing. Don't do this if you're a beginner.
You Can Offer Multiple Services
So the benefit of using whitelabel agencies to help you with delivery is it just allows you to scale really fast. Once you have a few good partners, you could offer three, four or five services that you upsell one after the other. Actually, the agencies help you with that as well. They'll tell you when leads are ready to buy the next service. And you're able to scale really fast because they have large teams. You can scale from you know, $25,000 to $80,000 in eight, nine months. I've seen this happen already in BMI.
How To Find Leads
So next up, we're going to talk about how to do lead generation for beginners because for all the things that we talked about in this video, you need to have access to leads that are ready to buy. That are serious about buying. That have money. And, you know, 20 to 30% of those leads need to be high quality. For this, we use a platform called Upwork. There's also Fiverr and other platforms. Upwork has actually recently grown to be a fairly large company. It's close to $10 billion, right now. They're not there yet. This is not financial advice, by the way, I'm also not affiliated with Upwork in any way.
But what you can do is you can register an account on Upwork. And you'll find there's a huge amount of leads. These guys do an amazing job generating leads for their platform clients through their platform. And if you can get an account on there, and you can start offering services as an agency, you'll find that it's fairly easy compared to other places on the internet, like having your own website to get leads and sales on Upwork.
So I highly recommend checking in Upwork and checking out how you can get leads on there- For this I have a whole video sequence, which is in the description below this article. Check it out. It'll teach you how to use Upwork properly as a lead generation tool, which is very different from using it as a freelancer, by the way. So definitely check out those videos.
There's a distinct difference and you'll definitely want to do it the right way. And not just try to get on there, get disapproved and, you know, not get any sales. So definitely check out the videos in the description below on how to generate leads as a freelance web developer
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