How To Make Money Building Websites: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners

Make Money Online - Last Updated on February 8, 2024 by Jussi Hyvarinen

How To Make Money Building Websites

Jussi Hyvärinen

I'm Jussi, with over 25 years of expertise, I help entrepreneurs navigate the online business world. My services include tailored recommendations, step-by-step tutorials, and insightful reviews to help steer your business aspirations. Please reach out if you need assistance with your online business plans or have any questions.

If you have website development skills and are looking for ways to make extra income, building websites for clients can be an extremely lucrative side business.

In this comprehensive guide, I'll cover everything you need to know to get started and build a successful web design business.

Why Building Websites is a Great Side Hustle?

Freelance web design has many advantages that make it an ideal side hustle:

Low Startup Costs: You likely already have the necessary hardware, software, and internet access. Any additional tools or assets like themes and plugins have low monthly fees.

Work From Anywhere: As long as you have your laptop and an internet connection, you can work from home, in coffee shops, or anywhere that inspires you. No commuting is required.

Choose Your Own Hours: Set your schedule and work at times that fit your lifestyle best. Nights, weekends, or whenever you have free time.

Variety of Work: Designing websites, optimizing sites for SEO, writing content, managing social media accounts, and more. You can offer a range of services to keep things interesting.

Scalable Income: Take on as much or as little work as you want. Go from a few extra hundred dollars a month to thousands. The opportunity to scale is there when you're ready.

Creative Satisfaction: Seeing your finished product help a business succeed is extremely rewarding. You get to flex your creative skills and help others.

Build Your Portfolio: The websites you create make excellent additions to your portfolio. And happy clients often provide testimonials, reviews, and referrals that help generate more business.

With such great benefits and relatively low risk, there's no reason not to give web design a try if you have the skills. Follow the strategies covered in this guide, and you can build a successful web design side hustle.

Step 1: Make Your Services Known

Before you can start making money, potential clients need to know that your services exist. The good news is you likely already have connections who could become your first clients.

Here are some proven ways to get the word out about your new web design side hustle:

Tell Friends and Family - Chances are you know other entrepreneurs, small business owners, bloggers, artists, or creators who could use a website. Let them know you're available. Offer friends and family an introductory discount.

Contact Past Clients - If you've built websites before, get back in touch with previous clients and let them know you're available for more work. Offer them a discount on their next project.

Email Marketing - Send an email to your contact list letting them know you're now taking on web design clients. Include a link to your portfolio site.

Networking Events - Attend in-person and virtual networking events related to business, marketing, design, tech, etc. Bring business cards and be prepared to pitch your services.

Social Media - Promote your web design services on your social media accounts. Share examples of your work and offer introductory deals to new clients.

Small Business Outreach - Identify types of businesses you want to work with, like gyms, restaurants, boutiques, etc. Reach out to explain how you can help with their website and online presence.

The goal here is to tap into your existing network first. As you complete projects, ask happy clients for reviews, testimonials, and referrals to grow your business through word-of-mouth.

Niche finder gpt logo transparent

Niche Finder

Niche Finder GPT helps you find and identify profitable, low-competition niches aligned with your interests and skills. Niche Finder makes discovering your ideal business niche simple (requires ChatGPT Plus subscription).

Step 2: Pick Your Web Design Niche

Rather than being a generalist, choosing a niche for your web design business has many advantages:

Become Known as an Expert - When you specialize, you can position yourself as an expert in that specific type of site. For example, an expert at WooCommerce sites for e-commerce businesses.

Clearly Communicate Your Offering - You can create tailored services, packages, and pricing around your specialty. This makes it easy for ideal clients to see exactly what you provide.

Improved Marketing Efficiency - When focused on a niche, you can target your marketing and find clients more effectively. For example, advertising on Facebook groups popular with your niche audience.

Higher Income Potential - Specialists can charge higher rates than generalists. When you're the go-to expert for a certain type of site, you become more valuable.

Pick Something You Enjoy - Choose a niche you find genuinely interesting, not just the one that seems most lucrative. You'll produce better work when you're engaged and passionate about the topic.

Here are some web design niches to consider for your side business:

Local Small Business Websites - Help local businesses in your city get online with simple sites. Position yourself as the local web expert.

E-commerce Sites - Build online stores for businesses selling products through platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce.

SEO Site Optimization - Improve website speed, on-page SEO, technical SEO, etc. to help businesses get better rankings.

Landing Pages - Help businesses maximize conversions with optimized lead capture and sales pages built in platforms like Unbounce.

WordPress Sites - Create customized WordPress sites for blogs, businesses, artists, and more using plugins like Elementor.

Website Maintenance - Offer ongoing maintenance and management services to keep existing sites optimized.

Choosing a niche allows you to really master one area of web design deeply. Pick an area you're passionate about that also provides great income potential.

Step 3: Set Your Rates and Offerings

With a niche chosen, it's time to decide what services you'll provide and what to charge. Productizing your offerings with set packages and pricing makes it easy for clients to understand your services and choose the right option.

Here are some tips for creating web design service packages:

Offer Tiered Packages - Create multiple package options, like a Basic, Pro, and Premium package, with each tier including more services for a higher price. This makes it easy for clients to pick the right level for their needs and budget.

Be Specific On Inclusions - Clearly lay out exactly what each package includes, like the number of pages, custom graphics, stock photos, hours of revisions, etc. This manages client expectations.

Consider Flat Rates - Rather than hourly billing, provide a flat rate for each complete website package. Clients love knowing exactly what they'll pay upfront.

Offer Add-Ons - Additional services like writing content, managing social media, or ongoing site maintenance can be added to any package for extra fees. This allows you to earn more from each client.

Highlight Value - Don't just focus on features. Explain the results and value your services will provide, like increased visibility, credibility, and sales.

Offer Intro Deals - Consider discounted introductory packages to win your first few clients to build up reviews and testimonials. You can raise your rates as you gain experience.

When setting rates, research what other web designers charge for similar services. Aim for at least $50 per hour as an entry-level rate, increasing to $100+ per hour as you gain experience.

Productizing your niche web design services with set packages and pricing structures will make selling and closing deals much easier.

Step 4: Have the Right Tools

You don't need much to get started, but having the right tools will maximize your productivity and efficiency. Here are some web design assets and software worth investing in:

Website Platform: This will be the foundation for building your client sites. Popular options include WordPress, Wix, Squarespace and Webflow. Choose one platform and get to know it deeply.

Page Builder Plugin: Tools like Elementor or Thrive Suite for WordPress make creating custom layouts and designs easy and code-free.

Theme Marketplace: Sources like ThemeForest provide quality themes for WordPress and other platforms that can be customized for clients.

Stock Photos: Affordable subscriptions like Shutterstock allow unlimited downloads of stock images, videos, illustrations and more to use on websites. There are also free options like Unsplash.

Graphic Design Software: Programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, Canva, and GIMP help you edit images and create custom graphics, logos, banners, and other visual assets.

Project Management Software: Tools like Trello, Asana, or ClickUp help you stay organized, track tasks, and manage your client projects smoothly.

Email Marketing Software: Send tailored offers, invoices and other client communication professionally using an email marketing platform like MailChimp or ConvertKit.

Accounting Software: Keep your finances and tax preparation organized with bookkeeping software like QuickBooks or Xero. Wave provides free accounting software for businesses.

When building websites, invest in the tools you need to maximize productivity, organization, and efficiency. Quality tools can greatly amplify your earning potential.

Step 5: Provide an Exceptional Client Experience

Websites are an important investment for most businesses. Your clients will have high expectations, so you need to wow them with an exceptional experience at every stage.

Here are some tips for delighting clients:

  • Be Responsive - Reply to all client emails and calls within 24 hours, even on weekends. Being readily available builds trust.
  • Set Realistic Deadlines - Don't rush projects. Give yourself a cushion so you can deliver early. Under promise and over deliver.
  • Solicit Feedback - Check in regularly during projects to get approvals and feedback. This prevents late-stage changes.
  • Be Transparent - Explain your process clearly and keep clients updated on progress. Lack of communication causes frustration.
  • Ask for Reviews - Happy clients are usually excited to provide online reviews, testimonials, and case studies to help promote your services.
  • Go Above and Beyond - Look for small ways to surprise and delight, like sending handwritten notes or referral bonuses.

Delivering incredible customer experiences will turn one-time clients into lifetime brand advocates who continue to use your services and refer others.

Step 6: Expand Your Skillset

Invest in continually expanding your skills and knowledge to provide the best results for clients and maximize your earning potential.

Learn Marketing - Take online courses to better understand digital marketing, conversion optimization, and how websites drive business growth. This knowledge makes you more valuable to clients.

Expand Technical Abilities - Keep learning new technology, platforms, page builders, plugins, and other tools to improve your skills and capabilities.

Practice Design - Even basic design skills like layout, typography, color theory, and UX make a big difference. Watch tutorials and experiment to get better.

Learn Sales and Pitches - Strengthening your sales abilities will help you close more deals and earn higher project rates. Practice pitching and learn consultative selling techniques.

Learn Business Operations - Get knowledge on operating a service business profitably. Take online courses on topics like effective client management, productive systems, pricing strategies, and successful marketing.

Continuously investing in developing new skills ensures you can provide immense value as your web design business grows.

Step 7: Stay Organized and Productive

Staying on track with tasks and deadlines is essential with multiple ongoing client projects. Organization and productivity systems keep your web design business running smoothly.

Use Project Management Software - Platforms like Asana or Trello help you create projects, break down tasks, set due dates, assign work, and track progress.

Schedule Blocks of Time - Reserve blocks on your calendar for deep work on client projects with no distractions. Protect those blocks to maximize focus.

Send Recurring Updates - Automate sending regular progress reports to clients through your email marketing software to keep them in the loop.

Create Systems and Checklists - Standardize repetitive tasks like onboarding new clients into streamlined systems and checklists. This improves consistency.

Schedule Meetings Strategically - Block meetings and calls together on certain days to maximize focused work time on other days. Clustering meetings maintain long blocks of uninterrupted work time.

Outsource When Possible - Consider outsourcing tasks like bookkeeping, content writing, and graphic design to focus your time on more strategic, high-dollar work that only you can provide.

Organization and productivity habits will help your web design business run much more smoothly and profitably.

Step 8: Continue Growing Your Business

Once you have a smooth-running operation generating consistent income, you can focus on scaling up.

Raise Your Rates - As you gain experience, positive reviews, and an impressive portfolio, increase your rates for new clients. Don't undervalue your expanded expertise.

Get More Referrals - Wow your clients and ask for introductions to others who could use your services. Referrals are the best source of qualified new leads. Consider referral incentives.

Expand Your Team - Take on subcontractors or even employees to serve more clients. You can manage the projects and client relationships as others handle the production.

Promote Your Brand - Run targeted ads showcasing your services. Guest post on relevant sites. Pitch yourself to be featured in web design articles and interviews.

Specialize Further - Double down on your chosen niche by getting ultra-focused credentials, certifications, or designations to stand out.

Create Info Products - Sell things like video courses, ebooks, tutorials, and design templates related to your niche to generate passive income.

Host Events - Run live or virtual workshops related to web design and digital marketing to attract new clients by establishing yourself as a thought leader.

Get Published - Pitch and write articles for online publications read by your target audience to build your reputation and credibility as an expert.

The opportunities to scale your income are endless if you consistently over-deliver for clients and continue nurturing your personal brand.

Frequently Asked Questions

What skills do I need to start building websites?

Basic skills in HTML, CSS and graphic design are helpful, along with experience actually building a website yourself. Most important is being willing to learn and improve over time. Many successful freelance web designers are self-taught.

Can I build websites for clients with no formal training?

Absolutely. While a degree or certificate in web design is great, it's not at all required. Building up a portfolio of professional sites you've created is much more important. Proving you can get real-world results matters far more than formal credentials.

How much should I charge for building a website?

It depends on your level of experience, services offered, project complexity, and the size of the business. Most freelancers charge between $500 to $5,000+ for a complete small business website. As you gain expertise, aim for at least $50 per hour.

What's the best platform for building client websites?

WordPress is the most versatile and scalable option for most websites. However, Squarespace, Wix, and Webflow are also excellent for certain types of sites. Pick one platform to master deeply rather than spreading yourself thin.

Should I build custom websites from scratch or use templates?

I recommend starting with quality pre-made themes and templates. These allow you to create professional sites much faster for clients vs. building fully custom sites. As your skills grow, you can offer more customization. Today, there are also AI website builder tools available to make things very easy.

How do I get my first web design clients?

Leverage your existing network by telling friends, pitching local businesses in your neighborhood, and contacting past clients. As you complete projects, satisfied clients can become ongoing sources of referrals to quickly grow your client base.

How much can I earn doing freelance web design?

Most side hustlers can earn $1,000 to $5,000 monthly working part-time. With consistency and hard work, you can scale up to earn well over $10,000 per month. The income potential is massive if you become an expert in a lucrative, in-demand niche.

Ready to Start Building Websites?

We hope this complete guide provided an actionable game plan for starting and growing a successful web design side business.

With fairly low startup costs, huge earning potential, and tons of ways to scale, offering professional website design services to clients is one of the best possible side hustles.

If you have the skills and passion for web design, there's no better time to get started! Use this comprehensive guide as a roadmap and reference. Then go out there, land your first few clients, and start bringing your web design projects to life.

You may also like

Let AI Make The Perfect Business Plan For You!

✅ Based on Your: GOALS, SKILLS, INTERESTS AND BUDGET
✅ Takes Only: 60 SECONDS