6 Important Things to Do While Working with Your First Web Design Client

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Once you’ve landed your first web design client, it’s vital to make sure they have a great experience working with you.

Great communication, timely delivery, and, of course, a quality product all contribute to your reputation.

Building a great working relationship with your clients will help you get repeat business and referrals, so follow these simple steps to give your clients a fantastic experience.

1. Create a Proposal

First off, you’ll want to put together a proposal.

This ensures that you and your client are on the same page.

You’ll want to define the scope of the work clearly, as well as the time frame for completion.

It’s a good idea to break a project up into milestones in your proposal, and meeting these milestones will demonstrate your reliability.

There are tools like Bonsai that will help you create simple proposals.

It can also help you with other aspects of your client relationship, like contracts and invoicing, so it’s a great tool to check out if you’re looking for an easy way to handle all the “paperwork” aspects of your business.

Here’s an example of a proposal that I used to land a client: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1bx2WBDBG0pR_7w8mGTLpEi_xMbGI3zSA

With your early clients, I recommend starting your prices a bit lower than in my example, around the $500 – $1000 mark.

Don’t undersell yourself, but keep in mind that you’re just starting out.

As you build your business and your skills, you’ll adjust your prices accordingly.

2. Show Examples to the Client

If you went with the mock-up approach outlined in my How to Get Your First Web Design Client article, then you may be able to skip this step.

Otherwise, choose a few demo themes from sites like Themeforest that you think will work well for your client and use the preview button to see a full-page preview of the theme with working links.

Next, send them these links so that they can see how their site could look and feel.

Point out any specific features that you think will really make their new site stand out.

I recommend only sending them 3 of the best themes you can find so they won’t feel overwhelmed.

If your client is unsure, or if they’re getting caught up on small details like fonts and colors, remind them that these themes are customizable, and let them know what specific kinds of changes you’ll be able to make.

Once your client has made a decision, you can purchase the theme and get started on their site.

3. Have the Client Pay Half Upfront

It’s good practice to have clients pay half upfront once they’ve agreed to the proposal.

If you’re just starting out, this is an especially helpful practice because it gives you some money for the WordPress theme you’ll be using and any other tools you may need.

You can use PayPal, Freshbooks or Bonsai to easily create an invoice and send it to your client.

You may feel hesitant to ask for half up front if it’s your first client, but it’s standard professional practice and it will ensure that your client is really on the same page as you are.

4. Build Your Development Site on a Subdomain

Once you have your theme chosen and downloaded, you’ll want to set up a development site.

This is a temporary location for the website while it’s being built so that you don’t disrupt your client’s current site.

The easiest way to do this is by setting up a new subdomain on your own domain.

A subdomain is a separate section of a domain that functions as its own site.

You can set up a subdomain through cPanel in your hosting account by clicking on “Subdomains” and adding your client’s name as a new subdomain for your site.


Siteground Subdomains

Once you’ve done this, you can set up a new installation of WordPress on the subdomain.

In the WordPress Installer, choose the new subdomain from the dropdown menu when it asks you where you want to install WordPress.

Add all the site information and complete the installation.

Now, when your client visits clientname.yourwebsite.com they’ll be able to see the site’s progress.

5. Figure Out Who Will Host the Site

One important thing that you’ll want to get settled as you’re discussing your proposal with your client is hosting.

You can host their site yourself through your own hosting account, in which case you’ll help them transfer their domain and charge them for hosting, or you can transfer the site to their own web host, and they’ll continue to maintain their own hosting account.

You Host the Website

If you’re going to be hosting their site yourself, you’ll need to change their domain’s nameservers to your hosting account’s nameservers.

You can provide them with the nameserver information and walk them through the process of updating them with their domain registrar.

Your client can also contact their domain registrar’s customer support for assistance with this if you don’t have all the details they need.

Before your client changes their domain’s nameservers, you’ll want to make sure you’ve added the domain to your web hosting account and transfer the new website.

You can do this through cPanel if you have an account that supports multiple domains.

Click on “Addon Domains” under the Domains section of cPanel.

Siteground Addon Domains

Add the domain name to the first field, and set a password (the other fields will be auto-filled, and you shouldn’t need to change them).

Click the Add Domain button, and the domain will be added to your account.

Now that you have a directory for their domain on your host’s servers, you can transfer their new site from your development subdomain to the new domain directory.

The easiest way to do this is to contact Siteground’s technical support through their live chat and have them transfer the website for you.

As soon as the nameservers are updated, the new site will be live.

If you are going to host your client’s site, you’ll need to include hosting in the contract and explain the entire process beforehand to make sure that your client understands the ongoing costs of hosting.

You can generally charge the client about $50-100 a month for maintenance and web hosting fees.

They Host the Website

If the client will be handling their hosting themselves, you’ll need to access their host’s server in order to transfer the website.

The simplest way to do this is contacting Siteground’s support team and they’ll walk you through what to do.

Another option, if you’re feeling adventurous, is to go at it on your own with the Duplicator pluginYou can only do this if the client has a hosting server that uses cPanel or if you have FTP access to their account.

Follow the steps outlined here in order to transfer the website using the Duplicator plugin.

6. Keep in Touch with Your Clients

Even if you just build a one-off project for them, it’s great to keep in touch with your clients in case they may need extra work in the future.

Plus, if they’ve had a positive experience with you, you’ll definitely want them to give you reviews on your Google My Business or Facebook page.

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An SEO expert, web designer, and writer, Thomas blogs on his website ThomasFAdams.com where he teaches people how to start successful online businesses involving topics ranging from web design to affiliate marketing and eCommerce. Since 2014, he's worked with countless business owners to help them improve their organic presence online. When he's not writing about online business or geeking out about the latest Google algorithm update, he spends his free time playing the piano and working out with his wife.

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