What is taking up most of your time in your web design business? Too much business, not enough time? I hope that’s your answer. There are often many bottlenecks in web design business.
If so, know that it’s fixable, and with just 3 decisions I did just that. See the process I went through and how you can help identify your bottlenecks.

It seems as though a lot of us sort of stumble into the web design business in one way or another. Maybe you started out in Social Media Marketing or Graphic Design and were able to figure out how to put together a website on WordPress. One common occurrence once you’ve built some type of operation is identifying bottlenecks in web design business.

Personally, my journey began spending hours and hours trying to build out my college band’s myspace page. It took a long time and a lot of frustration, but I was sort of on my own to learn.

That frustration we’ve all experienced can be an excellent learning tool for you personally and professionally. Maybe it leads you to a path where you own your own business.

Or maybe it gives you a skill where you can have a side hustle to make ends meet.

Now, the downside to this is we get to a point where our business is just a combination of different skills learned, sort of thrown together just to make things work without any thought or process to it.

As the business grows and grows, for whatever reason, we ignore the bottlenecks in web design business that are keeping us from really turning our business into a profitable machine that can make us $10K, $20K, or $50K/month.

I’ve been through this in a web design company I’m a part of and it’s stressful, to say the least.

Fixing what’s broken

We went through a massive change to get our business in order. It was A LOT of work, but we’ve made it through the clouds and can now see the pretty blue sky. Too cheesy?

It doesn’t have to be that hard if you can identify the bottlenecks that are keeping you from scaling your business while working less. Crazy, right?

Simply asking the right questions and taking action can help get you on track to achieve those recurring revenue goals.

Let’s dive into some questions and examples on how to achieve this zen-like feeling.

Working Backwards

It’s really hard for some of us to admit our faults. We either ignore them or try to elevate our strengths to cover our faults.

Life isn’t all sunshine and roses, and neither is business. It’s hard, frustrating, liberating, and rewarding all at the same time.

That doesn’t mean you have to beat yourself up about what you’re good at or what you’re not, it’s simply identifying pieces of your business that you may not be as good at, and hey, it’s ok to not be so good in some areas.

We can’t wear all the hats forever!

Ask yourself some tough questions and be honest with your responses.

  • Are you better at design?
  • Getting customers?
  • Do you prefer managing servers?
  • What are your strengths?

Starting with your strengths will help you identify how you want to run your business, followed by tasks or operational pieces that you can either improve or outsource.

Scan the Business

It’s important that we take a look at what is the most time consuming (or annoying) to deal with. Pick one piece of your business that could improve. If it makes sense, do it. Make the change.

From there, you will notice a domino effect. It’s always hard to change, but once you get the ball rolling, it’s going to get going. Duh.

I’m going to list out the pieces of running a web design business and make a few notes. These were my thoughts when going through this process initially, in no particular order.

Service Notes Priority
Hosting Currently spending a lot of time troubleshooting Digital Ocean servers. Maybe a managed host is the better option. How much time could I save by paying a little more? Highest
Domains Easy part of the business, no real need to change. Low
Maintenance Not updating sites as regular as I should, ManageWP now has a cool scheduling feature. Use that? Also, need to make use of the reports more. Set up a support ticket system? We need one place to go for this. Can’t find anything in emails. High
Security Can’t seem to get rid of these malware issues on a few sites. I’m tired of trying to chase them down. Should I look into Sucuri or is there a host who handles this? High
SEO HAVE to find a better reporting software. I feel like we’re wasting money here. Also, the on-page and keyword research need to be outsourced. It’s taking too much time to manage all these clients and do a great job. High
Mockups & Builds I really like building websites, but we’re getting backlogged and turning these websites around and launched by our deadline is getting difficult. I still want to have creative control, but maybe the actual building can be outsourced? I’d really love a vacation… High
Partner Meetings Usually run smooth, but I feel like we waste a lot of time. If there’s a question that needs answering, ask in Slack. If that’s not possible, I’ll set a time limit for calls. “Phantom  Meeting” in 10 min. Low
Incoming Leads Really need to figure out how to qualify leads coming through the form. Tired of getting on calls with folks that have unrealistic budgets.   Medium
Client Intake This is a mess. Nothing standard about it. Always seem to be tracking down information from clients. Maybe we can create a form for them to fill out? Would be cool to create a PDF upon submission. I’ve heard automation is pretty awesome. Note: research automation. Medium
Proposals I think we’re ok here. Could improve, but not the highest of priority. Low
Unnecessary Charges Need to go through all the subscriptions we have and cancel any that we don’t need. High
Billing I hate tracking down open invoices, but we’re missing quite a few payments. Devise a plan to get this done. High

 

Start Your Engine

Whew! That’s a lot to think about. Where do I even start?

Well, for me, I realized my biggest problem at the moment was hosting. I’d get notifications on slack all day about website A is down, or website G is maxing out the server. I was killing processes and trying to figure out how to secure the sites from this crypto hack.

It was exhausting.

No longer was I focusing on what I enjoyed (designing websites), I had turned into a Server Manager, monitoring sites, rebooting servers, and scanning for malware.

Basically, just trying to keep our clients from leaving or freaking out, or both.

So I knew the first step was to fix this.

Step 1: Fixing hosting headaches

Probably one of the biggest pains in web design business is hosting. From hackers to slow shared hosting, it can become really frustrating to find the right company to work with.

Managed WordPress hosting is ideal for this situation. If you’re like me, you don’t want to have to bother with managing servers or troubleshooting issues that come with hosting.

After hours and hours of research, I finally settled on Cloudways. Here’s why:

1) Easy Migrations: The last thing I wanted to do was spend days migrating these sites over. That would be a huge time killer. The migrator plugin makes this process super easy.

2) Site Cloning: I really liked the idea of setting up a standard install with all the plugins and theme loaded and simply cloning that install. This is a good way to jumpstart the build process by saving the time it takes to load all the plugins and theme after spinning up the install.

Cloudways Clone Site

Clone Site in Cloudways

3) Security: Cloudways is proactive when it comes to security. With solid server firewalls and regular security patching, your stress level will significantly decrease. Should you need to add in malware scanning, you can sign up for Sucuri and get an account credit.

Depending on how big your sites are and which cloud you choose, you can get really solid and secure hosting for less than $50/month. It really depends on how many sites you’re hosting and how much traffic they get, but Cloudways is a very solid and secure choice for hosting your and your client’s sites.

So after I went through this whole transfer process, what did I accomplish?

  1. Fired the server manager (me)
  2. Easy Migrations to get up and running quickly.
  3. Save time in the building process by having the ability to use the cloning feature.
  4. Security: solid server firewalls and security patching with the option to add Sucuri at a discount.
  5. Maintenance & Troubleshooting: Cut down the time spent managing hosting.

With one decision, I was able to improve the business by finding the right hosting company for me. Yeah, it may cost a little more than shared hosting, but it is WELL worth it.

It was the first domino!

Step 2: I need help…please

With work piling up, I knew I needed an extra hand to help me take care of some of these new site builds that kept coming through.

Now, I’ve been researching outsourcing for quite a while, and after a failed attempt, we kind of scrapped it.

I just couldn’t get it out of my head though.

Since the work we do is more on the wholesale side for other agencies, we needed labor costs to reduce.

The only way was to outsource, and this time to the Philippines.

We hired a full-time worker to focus solely on building websites and generating mockups.

I tell you what, there are some very talented people in the Philippines! We were able to find a very skilled worker for a very great price in USD.

I’m not going to get into pricing or what we pay. If you want to learn more about outsourcing to the Philippines, check out this article. They’ll walk you through the process, the culture, and best practices.

Double your working hours

The great thing is they work during our night. So I’ll send a task in by the end of the day and it’s typically done and in the daily report by the time I wake up!

It’s been very liberating, honestly.

Extending the hours at which our operation is working to almost 24 hours a day has skyrocketed our efficiency. What used to take 6 weeks to build, now takes 2 weeks.

Need a mockup done? Have it done tomorrow morning.

I would highly suggest looking into outsourcing if you need some help. It will allow you to focus on other areas of the business.

Let’s check back in on our checklist…

  1. Fired the server manager (me)
  2. Easy Migrations to get up and running quickly.
  3. Save time in the building process by having the ability to use the cloning feature.
  4. Security: solid server firewalls and security patching with the option to add Sucuri at a discount.
  5. Maintenance & Troubleshooting: Cut down the time spent managing hosting.
  6. Outsource building websites
  7. Outsource mockups
  8. Double daily working hours

Holy cow, two decisions and look what we have accomplished.

Don’t get me wrong, it was and is hard work, but it’s much better than having to work on everything by yourself.

The second domino has fallen!

Why stop there?

Step 3: SEO & Reporting

We’re on a roll now! Let’s keep it going.

As mentioned in our business scan, our SEO reporting, on-page, and keyword research were lacking effort. With all the time freed up from fixing hosting and hosting related issues, and outsourcing certain tasks, I COULD spend more time on SEO, but I just freed up time! I don’t want to fill it back up…

Enter SEO Virtual Assistant from the Philippines. Enter Agency Analytics. Great reporting and great talent at a reasonable price.

We’re able to provide more value than before with our reports, and the fancy dashboard Agency Analytics just redesigned is amazing.

Agency Analytics Dashboard

Agency Analytics Dashboard

 

At the same time, we’ve had our SEO VA go through our SEO client sites and fix all the issues that may have come up such as missing ALT tags, titles, descriptions, missing keywords, etc. She optimizes the content for us, eliminating another time-consuming portion of the business.

Conclusion

This is just the tip of the iceberg, folks. If you’re stuck in a rut or burned out, these simple changes can change your whole thought process and get you going in the right direction.

If you’re like me, you enjoy designing sites for clients and helping them grow their business. Guess what? You can do that without exhausting yourself. Once you are confident in what you have to offer and your services are in place, you’ll notice a big shift in your mindset.

My goal is to work less and make more. Maybe you share the same goal, maybe not. Either way, let loose of the reins a little bit and you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish.

If you’re here, you’ve made it past the frustrating parts before, it just may be a little different than the first time.

Keep on crankin’ that engine. I’m going to find more stuff to fix.

Cheers,
Cameron

PS. If you haven’t signed up for my PDF, “5 Steps to a Better Web Design Business”, you can do that here.

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5 Steps to a Better Web Design Business

Key components to scaling your web design business. You deserve to be happy in your career. I've put together a few critical steps for scaling your web design business and decreasing your time spent troubleshooting.

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5 Steps to a Better Web Design Business

Key components to scaling your web design business. You deserve to be happy in your career. I've put together a few critical steps for scaling your web design business and decreasing your time spent troubleshooting.

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