Starting a design company... where to start?

  • Matthew Chase
  • Newbie
  • Newbie
  • Matthew Chase
  • Posts: 14
  • Loc: Michigan, USA

Post 3+ Months Ago

I want to start a webdesign company to make a little bit of money. I've been designing basic stuff for years, but I really don't know anything beyond HTML and CSS. I know I can't do anything big and amazing, but I know I can make sharp looking, simple websites.

I use Dreamweaver now and I'm capable of making real basic graphics in Macromedia Fireworks.

I guess the big questions I have are...

- How do I start?

- How much do I charge?

- When you design a website, does the person that pays for it have full rights to the files (i.e., if you're making it for them do you retain any copyright?)

- I'm not offering hosting services, so how do I actually go about setting up their website? Do I just make the files and give it to them to put online, or do I need to gain access to their server to set them up? or is this up to them?

- Maintaince: After I set up the site what kind of maintaince should I offer and how much should I charge for said maintance?

- This probably ties into the copyright question... can I use templates of previous sites I've made for future sites?

- Are there any other questions I should be asking? :D

Thanks in advance :)
  • Anonymous
  • Bot
  • No Avatar
  • Posts: ?
  • Loc: Ozzuland
  • Status: Online

Post 3+ Months Ago

  • digitalMedia
  • a.k.a. dM
  • Genius
  • User avatar
  • Posts: 5149
  • Loc: SC-USA

Post 3+ Months Ago

:shock: You've asked a huge number of questions

I don't think any of them are specific to web design itself though.

//moved
  • Matthew Chase
  • Newbie
  • Newbie
  • Matthew Chase
  • Posts: 14
  • Loc: Michigan, USA

Post 3+ Months Ago

Oh :oops: Sorry. I had noticed someone else posted a thread about starting their webdesign company with no actual questions in the web design forum... so I thought one with questions would be fine. Sorry :)
  • digitalMedia
  • a.k.a. dM
  • Genius
  • User avatar
  • Posts: 5149
  • Loc: SC-USA

Post 3+ Months Ago

No problem.

If it's a little sideline, and you're not planning on putting any money into it I would think your best way of getting a client would be through word of mouth.

If you're just selling a design + HTML + CSS it's going to depend on your skill level and how fast you can work and what the client is willing to pay, as to what you can charge.

I would try to make contacts in small companies who need those services, but can't hire someone in house. You can build some recurring revenue that way. If you want it to grow.

I freely give my source files to my clients. As far as I see it, that work belongs to both of us. I think that's how the contract sees it too.
:)

For your hosting question...
http://www.ozzu.com/forum11.html :D

Maintanance: I would charge one of two ways. A predefined hourly rate, or a block of hours per month at a discounted rate, for 6 months to a year.

You should never misrepresent anything you're giving your clients. If you're going to sell it as a template, you should make it clear to them what they're buying.

Hope that helps. Good luck.
  • Matthew Chase
  • Newbie
  • Newbie
  • Matthew Chase
  • Posts: 14
  • Loc: Michigan, USA

Post 3+ Months Ago

Okay, ty. That does help. Yeah, I'm just doing it to earn a little bit of money.
  • musik
  • Legend
  • Super Moderator
  • User avatar
  • Posts: 6893
  • Loc: up a tree

Post 3+ Months Ago

Matthew Chase wrote:
I want to start a webdesign company to make a little bit of money. I've been designing basic stuff for years, but I really don't know anything beyond HTML and CSS. I know I can't do anything big and amazing, but I know I can make sharp looking, simple websites.

I use Dreamweaver now and I'm capable of making real basic graphics in Macromedia Fireworks.



I guess the big questions I have are...

- How do I start?

Design yourself up a website and put on it your examples of work you have done already, if you havent done already, make some up for charities or not for profit agencies in your area. This is what I did to start off when I had no clients, this way your making a fully functioning website, or brochure, poster or flyer etc and its not going to waste ;)

- How much do I charge?

It depends on the job your doing. I charge generally one upfront charge because I know roughly how much time is involved in each service I provide. Remember you still need to pay tax so keep that in mind when your quoting.

- When you design a website, does the person that pays for it have full rights to the files (i.e., if you're making it for them do you retain any copyright?)

They maintain full rights to the webpage after you have designed it (thats why they pay you) ;) You can of course ask them if they dont mind you using their website as an example of the work you do on your own business website.

- I'm not offering hosting services, so how do I actually go about setting up their website? Do I just make the files and give it to them to put online, or do I need to gain access to their server to set them up? or is this up to them?

You can still offer hosting and domain services and simply purchase them on their behalf (i would keep domains & hosting in their name though) for example I can buy domains from godaddy for roughly AU$9.60 and I sell them for AU$30 so I make AU$20.40 - which isnt bad for 5 minutes work ;)

Hosting packages you can buy cheap from places like http://www.powweb.com (I prefer larger well known companies only because its not my stuff im putting on them but you can find cheaper I guess if you wanted to but powweb is proven to be the best for me) you then charge them more for the hosting as well.

You upload the content onto their website and maintain it for them.

- Maintaince: After I set up the site what kind of maintaince should I offer and how much should I charge for said maintance?

If they want changes down the track you charge them for that too. Once again it depends on how involved the changes are as to how much you charge. Which is why I dont set a flat fee for it.

- This probably ties into the copyright question... can I use templates of previous sites I've made for future sites?

My take would be no. Keep all your designs fresh for each customer.

- Are there any other questions I should be asking? :D

Visit websites of those already providing the services you want and get ideas from them (dont steal them of course) however you can get a good feel for how that feild operates its business.


I've had my own advertising company for 3 years now, I get all my business word of mouth. I also work full time doing the same thing, so I can pick and choose the kind of work I want to do. I started my company with the following:

Business name registration
Business trading number
Hosting package
Domain
Website to go on it
Business cards

That was it and now its doing really well ;)

Good luck with everything!
  • Matthew Chase
  • Newbie
  • Newbie
  • Matthew Chase
  • Posts: 14
  • Loc: Michigan, USA

Post 3+ Months Ago

Alright, ty.

With the domain and the hosting. I would buy it in their name, and then I'd charge them for the hosting and what not. Would I tell them through whom I'm getting the hosting? Also, they'd pay me monthly or however for the hosting and yearly for the domain?

I guess these are probably obvious questions, but before I start asking people for money I want to make sure I get everything straight.


digitalMedia wrote:
Maintanance: I would charge one of two ways. A predefined hourly rate, or a block of hours per month at a discounted rate, for 6 months to a year.


The first one makes sense, but I want to make clear on the second one. They'd pay for a certain amount of hours for a certain period of time? Like they'd pay for me to work 12 hours a month for 6 months? And if so, what if I had to put in more or less than that? I'm probably not understanding that part right.
  • musik
  • Legend
  • Super Moderator
  • User avatar
  • Posts: 6893
  • Loc: up a tree

Post 3+ Months Ago

Matthew Chase wrote:
Alright, ty.

With the domain and the hosting. I would buy it in their name, and then I'd charge them for the hosting and what not. Would I tell them through whom I'm getting the hosting? Also, they'd pay me monthly or however for the hosting and yearly for the domain?

I guess these are probably obvious questions, but before I start asking people for money I want to make sure I get everything straight.



You can easily sign it up under their name if you would prefer. They are not going to see it unless they decide to take it over themselves anyways. I personally purchase the hosting under my name with powweb and also claim the $15 referral fee for each client I sign up on my main business account I have with them. Then the client pays me to host it for them and upload their site and maintain it.

I would have them pay yearly upfront. This saves you hassles and time in invoicing them each month, waiting for payments etc. The cost of hosting isnt very much anyways so they can expect to pay for a full year. Same as the domain, yearly or however the domain name level you are purchasing is structured.

Domain names I would DEFINETLY put under the clients name as the owner and then list yourself as the technical and administrive contact.



Hope that helps,
Rose
  • Matthew Chase
  • Newbie
  • Newbie
  • Matthew Chase
  • Posts: 14
  • Loc: Michigan, USA

Post 3+ Months Ago

Yes that helps, thank you.

So it is rather easy to provide hosting services too.

Yeah, that makes sense with the domain. They go do a whois and find my name they probably wouldn't be happy considering they are the ones who own it.



With paying for the design... do they pay a certian amount before you do the work? Like a deposit? Then pay the rest afterwards. Because I could see people having me do the work, and then they decide not to pay for it.

Also, about the design. Do I just see what kind of services they have and just make a website using my own creativity or do I ask them as to what exactly they want or both? How do I manage charging them if I make something that seemed to fit their description but they aren't satisifed and want something else?

Also, graphics... do they provide the graphics? I have Macromedia Fireworks so I can do limited graphics creation, enhancement, etc, but I can't do anything spectacular. I'd be forced to primarily find free graphics. How does that work with credits and what not? Do I stay away from that?

I have a nice digital camera, I suppose if it was a local buisness I could actually take a picture of their building (if they have one).
  • musik
  • Legend
  • Super Moderator
  • User avatar
  • Posts: 6893
  • Loc: up a tree

Post 3+ Months Ago

I usually do 40/60 - 40% upfront and 60% upon completion.

Before you start doing anything go meet with them and look at their current brochures, business cards, logo's etc and go from there. Ask them what colour schemes they had in mind. Usually most clients will have already thought about how they want it to look they just lack the skills in actually getting it into a website form, which is where you come in.

Make one page to begin with and show them, if they are happy with it get them to sign a contract to say what changes are allowed within their budget. When I first started I had a client want 4 colour changes and I couldnt really do much about it - he thought it was a simple task but in actual fact is was hours of extra work... so be clear about what they get for their money. Another time I got caught scanning about a hundred images and I had set my scan price too low and ended up not making anything from the excersise. You learn as you go along... just BE CLEAR in what you will do and what you wont.

Usually you are expected to provide images for the website, backgrounds etc etc. They may provide a logo, sometimes their logo is just in a gif or jpg they have from ages ago and you need to recreate it... this is why you need to be clear on what you can and cant do and set your prices accordingly... *ie dont charge too much if you have limited experience)

Yes a building shot is ok. I did one of those on my first paid website and it looks good with the rest of the design, it just depends on that the client wants.

Cheers,
Rose
  • Matthew Chase
  • Newbie
  • Newbie
  • Matthew Chase
  • Posts: 14
  • Loc: Michigan, USA

Post 3+ Months Ago

Okay, and what if the buisness I'm doing is over the internet solely? Like if they are on the other side of the country it'd be difficult to get them to sign anything or look at brochures.

Yes, I have every intent on letting them know what I can and can not do. I don't want them to expect more than I can do (though I have every intent on doing more than they expect :D).

Since I'm only doing this to do this for some side money, and I'm quite skilled in making simple pages quickly I'm figuring I'm going to charge about $10 USD an hour. If my work is better than that I'll increase the price for future client.

The price I have them pay me. How do I determine what that price is? What if it takes more or less than that? Is there an advantage to paying per page instead of per hour? What would I charge per page?
  • musik
  • Legend
  • Super Moderator
  • User avatar
  • Posts: 6893
  • Loc: up a tree

Post 3+ Months Ago

yes you can do it over the internet, a number of my clients are from interstate to where I am based. I just got him to mail me the things I needed from him, then the rest we did via email and telephone.

how much you charge is upto you :)
  • Matthew Chase
  • Newbie
  • Newbie
  • Matthew Chase
  • Posts: 14
  • Loc: Michigan, USA

Post 3+ Months Ago

Awesome.

One last question... for now :wink:

with registering a domain name: How do they pick it out? Do I ask them what they want and go see if it is available? Or is there some way for me to give them a way to find if it is available themselves?
  • musik
  • Legend
  • Super Moderator
  • User avatar
  • Posts: 6893
  • Loc: up a tree

Post 3+ Months Ago

easiest way is to do it over the phone with them. it doesnt take too long most places just want their business name or a variation of it depending on whats available :)
  • Matthew Chase
  • Newbie
  • Newbie
  • Matthew Chase
  • Posts: 14
  • Loc: Michigan, USA

Post 3+ Months Ago

Okay, thank you. This all seems pretty straight forward if you're smat and honest about it. Sounds like my kind of thing :). Thanks for all the help. *cracks knuckles* Time to do some researching. :D
  • musik
  • Legend
  • Super Moderator
  • User avatar
  • Posts: 6893
  • Loc: up a tree

Post 3+ Months Ago

*smiles* yup

good luck with everything!
  • FusionDesigner
  • Proficient
  • Proficient
  • User avatar
  • Posts: 282

Post 3+ Months Ago

I just wanted to add something important. They don't have any exclusive rights to anything you design unless you exclusively hand over the rights in the form of a legal contract. This must be written by an attorney or someone who specializes in internet law. If your part of a work made for hire agreement then they have the rights, but there are strict rules regarding wmfh.
You have to be made aware that it will be a wmfh agreement, when you sign one you hand over the rights. You might not want to do that.

Post Information

  • Total Posts in this topic: 17 posts
  • Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 79 guests
  • You cannot post new topics in this forum
  • You cannot reply to topics in this forum
  • You cannot edit your posts in this forum
  • You cannot delete your posts in this forum
  • You cannot post attachments in this forum
 
 

© 1998-2014. Ozzu® is a registered trademark of Unmelted, LLC.