A lot of developers I speak to are interested in earning a side income.
The extra cash could be a necessity, a comfort or to go on vacation. Regardless of the reason you want an additional income, the steps you’ll learn in this article will help you get started in the right direction.
How much could you potentially make each month?
I can tell you about people making very good additional incomes using these strategies, but to be conservative: $500 – $1,000 per month is definitely realistic and attainable.
Let’s get started…
Here’s what you need to do:
- Service: Figure out what service you can sell to businesses.
- Clients: Determine your ideal clients that you’d like to work with and help.
- Website: Create an effective website outlining your services to your ideal clients.
- Marketing: Reach out to your ideal clients using online marketing and outreach.
- Improve: Analyze, learn and adapt your approach to keep improving.
The Freelance Designer Toolbox
Unlimited Downloads: 500,000+ Web Templates, Icon Sets, Themes & Design Assets
Service: Figure Out What Service You Can Sell to Businesses
Examples of services may be:
- Frontend Development
- Backend Development
- Digital Marketing
- Content Writing
In this article, I’ll only focus on Frontend Development and Digital Marketing as services, but you can apply these principles for other services as well.
Clients: Determine Your Ideal Clients That You’d Like To Work With And Help
No clients = No income = No vacation
So, how do you get clients?
My viewpoint is that anyone can get ‘clients’ but what you really want is the ‘right clients‘.
So, how do you get the ‘right clients’?
First, figure out WHO they are.
It’s much better to align your services that you offer to a particular niche and industry rather than offering services for every business out there.
Being the web designer who ONLY helps Chiropractors or [insert niche] is better than being a web designer for whatever business you can find.
I often get a lot of replies like:
- “But I’m saying no to 99.9% of businesses out there then.”
- “But my market is so small.”
My reply is generally:
If you experienced a severe injury at work and you knew you could potentially sue your employer for damages worth 1 million dollars, who would you hire?
- Option 1: General Law Firm Business that offers dozens of legal services quoting you $20,000.
- Option 2: Injury Lawyer Specialist that only offers injury law services with hundreds of successful cases quoting you $60,000.
I’d be surprised if you don’t choose option 2 in this case.
Here’s another way to think about it:
You are essentially fishing for salmon in a small lake with a few other boats versus fishing in the ocean amongst the thousands of other boats trying to catch the big fish.
Enough analogies, here are a few ‘real-life’ examples:
- Smile Marketing – Website design and marketing for dentists.
- ChiroMox – Website design and marketing for chiropractors.
- Paperstreet – Website design and marketing for lawyers.
- GolfWebDesign – Website design and marketing for golfers.
If you are not sure about which niche to target for your ideal client, here are a few examples:
- App Startups
- Coffee Shops
- Health Shops
- Fitness Trainers
- Pilates Instructors
- Beauty/Hair Salons
Website: Create An Effective Website Outlining Your Services To Your Ideal Clients
The next step involves a portfolio site that you need to create.
Here’s a guideline:
Can you notice that this looks different to most other ‘portfolio’ websites?
This portfolio site is different to others which focus on primarily getting a full-time job that highlights your skills. In this example, it focuses on getting clients and how you can help their business.
The best way to think of a Portfolio website is like a ‘Mini-niche Agency Website.’
It showcases your knowledge, expertise and how you can grow the business in the niche that you are targeting.
Here are a few actionable steps to take from here:
Create Blog Articles
Blog articles are important because it benefits you and it benefits the potential client.
It benefits you because the client will trust your expertise more and this will encourage them to work with you.
It benefits the client because they can learn something about how to grow their business.
3 articles are good enough to start with before you start approaching clients.
Here are 3 article ideas:
- 8 Ways to Grow Your [insert niche] Online
- 3 Actionable Tips To Potentially Double Your Revenue in 12 Months
- Why Every [insert niche] Needs A Website
- …and more.
If you are not a good writer, just outsource this to writers on Upwork or Fiverr.
Get Client Testimonials
One of the first things clients will ask you when you approach them is:
“Can you show me previous work you’ve done?”
How do you get around this? What’s the solution?
I have two solutions that ALWAYS work in any niche I am in:
- Solution 1: Do two projects for free in exchange for testimonials.
- Solution 2: Buy two domains and create the websites (you just don’t get testimonials of course).
Solution #1 Requires Two Steps:
Step 1: You need to email the business owner of the niche that you’ve chosen.
Here’s an email template to send:
Hi [name], I recently came across your [niche] business and I noticed you don't have a website. I am a web designer and I would love to create your website for FREE (no catches or hidden fees) in exchange for a testimonial from you that I can use on my website. I'm looking to get a few testimonials as it will help me in the future. Would you be willing to take me up on this offer? If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Regards, Your Name Your Contact Number
Step 2: Create the website.
You can either do this quickly by purchasing a template on Themeforest.net or TemplateMonster.com (often for under $30)or you can code it yourself – whichever you feel more comfortable with.
Solution #2 Requires More Explanation:
What is the purpose of a prospective client asking to see your work?
All they want to know is if you can deliver quality work.
Think about it…
If this is all they are concerned about, why can’t you just buy the domain, create a website and add it to your Portfolio?
It’s a different story if they are asking for case studies on how you’ve helped businesses increase sales.
You don’t have to tell them you actually own the website either.
Remember, all they want to see is previous experience. Owning the site is something irrelevant and not a priority for them. They just want to see if you can deliver quality work.
I’ve never had any issues with this strategy before. It’s a secret weapon that works every time!
Pricing Your Services
Pricing is vital to your success.
Overprice and that means you won’t get any clients. Charge too little and you might get clients who question your credibility or you may be overworked with small profits.
Pricing is relative to the niche you are serving.
For example, if you created a website for a small local florist vs a 100+ employee accounting practice, your pricing should be significantly higher for the accounting practice.
So, if you charged the florist $1,500 for a website, they might say that’s too expensive for them.
Whereas if you charged the accounting practice $3,000, they might think that’s too cheap and may question your expertise.
If you’re interested in delving into pricing a lot more, I created a detailed video about it that you can watch here.
The following is a practical example:
- My Niche: Coffee Shops
- My Services: Web Design, SEO and Social Media
Pricing Once off:
- $495 for a professional one-page website
- $595 for a professional one-page website + SEO submissions + Google Map submission
- $350 – Social Media Management (posting on Facebook and Instagram twice per week).
- $495 – Social Media Management + SEO
You might think my pricing is low, but remember to view it in context.
The goal is not to make a good full-time income here. A side income of only $1,000 per month is the realistic goal to aim for.
Why this pricing model?
I want to appeal to the budget of most coffee shops. Charging $1,000+ for a website might get me a few coffee shop clients, but most of them are on tight budgets and marketing is often seen as an expense and not as an investment.
This pricing model is affordable for most of them and you will get a lot more clients with this pricing structure compared to more expensive alternatives.
You are also more likely to get a few clients paying you a monthly fee which helps you earn a more predictable income each month.
For a more advanced understanding of pricing (Value vs Hourly), read this article.
For this price, the client can’t expect a detailed website with multiple pages. It must be professional and to the point. If they want a website that is more advanced, they need to pay you more.
In this case, the website needs to have the following:
- Good images
- Information about the coffee shop (history, what makes them different)
- Trading hours, location and contact details
- Any promotions/events
Refer to Awwwards or even Themeforest for some inspiration, or to even buy a website template if you are struggling to get started.
Social Media Management
I generally prefer Instagram and Facebook for business profiles as the engagement is much better.
All you will be doing is posting on Facebook and Instagram (or others) twice every week for the business.
Make sure to create and adapt the social media channels depending on where your client’s target market is.
Read this guide on social media platforms to help you get started.
The posts can be informative, funny, giveaways, promotions, helpful and asking questions.
The bottom line is that the purpose is engagement. If potential customers can see engagement and a good looking social media profile, it helps them trust the business more and they are more likely to visit and recommend it to friends.
Your goal is to get the business to rank higher on Google. This is where SEO comes in.
If you’re not familiar with SEO, read this guide.
Make sure to optimize the on-page SEO as well.
SEO is considered to be more of a long-term marketing tactic. You can start seeing good results between 3-12 months depending on the industry.
The bottom line is that SEO should be seen as an investment. It’s just about getting started.
This can be done. It’s seriously not something that is unrealistic and it doesn’t require a lot of time to keep it going.
The hard work is initially upfront with creating your site, building your portfolio and improving on some marketing things mentioned below.
Marketing: Reach Out To Your Ideal Clients Using Online Marketing & Outreach
What I’ve mentioned may sound all nice and fluffy, but without the clients it means nothing.
Here are the three best ways to get clients:
- 1. AdWords
- 2. Facebook Group
- 3. Outreach
AdWords are the ads that you see at the top of all Google searches.
Every time someone clicks on the ad, the business (or you) needs to pay for it.
Let’s say you sell a small website to a client for $800. Would you be willing to spend $100 to get a confirmed client with the potential of them signing up to your monthly marketing packages?
Would you be willing to spend $500 to get a client to buy a $800 website?
It’s all about figuring out what you are willing to pay in comparison with what you will earn.
Searches your ad should display for are (depending on your niche):
- “Coffee shop website template”
- “Coffee shop website theme”
- “Web designer for small business”
- “Web designer for coffee shop”
- “Website design for coffee shop”
In this case, each click might cost $2 on average.
If you don’t have any AdWords knowledge, take this course on Udemy.
All you need to do is create a Facebook Group relating to your niche and focus on getting the owners of the niche you are targeting to join the group.
In this case, I would want coffee shop owners in ‘XYZ’ city to join my Facebook group.
Then I would just add value to the group. Post awesome articles on how coffee shops can grow their business, psychology tips, productivity tips, funny memes, etc.
The next step would be to message each member directly or post occasionally to the group about how you can help them grow their business.
You don’t need 1,000 members here. 50 members are a good start. Remember, it’s super niche and these are the exact clients you’d like to work with.
More targeted members = More clients in the long-run.
It’s an excellent way of gaining new clients and it helps position you as an authority in your niche.
There’s no shortcut on this part. It requires some research and work.
You need to do the following:
- Look at Yellow Pages
- Look at local online business directories
- Look at local print media (newspapers, pamphlets, flyers)
- Look on Google for their business in their niche
In each of these examples, you need to find out the following:
- Do they have a website? If not, carry on with the next step.
- Do they show up on Google when you search for their niche services?
If the answer is no to both questions, that’s good news. Now it’s time for you to sell your services.
Before I go further, you can’t be sensitive when it comes to this.
You must mentally prepare for over 90% of your outreach being completely ignored or you might receive a straight “NOT interested” reply.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still go ahead with it, but I don’t want to paint a fairy-tale picture here because it doesn’t work out like that.
Many of you will face a mental barrier because I said the word “sell.”
I also faced this barrier, but then I came to this realization:
I am providing the coffee shop (or business niche you decide) with an effective marketing tool that will help them appear more professional and it will lead to more customers.
I’m HELPING their business grow and they are just paying me to do so.
It’s an exchange of value for value.
Once you understand that it’s in their best interests to partner with you, everything will fall into perspective and you will feel way more confident to “sell.”
The next step would be to find their email and/or contact number from the media mentioned earlier.
Here’s an email template you can use:
Hi [name or company name], My name is [insert name] and I am a web designer based in [insert city]. I came across your [insert niche] business in the [insert media] and noticed you don't have a website yet. I have experience in working with [insert niche] businesses to help them create effective websites for only $495 (with no hidden fees). Would you be interested in discussing this further? We can set up a call or I'd be happy to discuss this via email. For more information about my expertise, here is my website: [www.mynichewebsite.com] Thank you and I look forward hearing from you. Regards, [your name]
If you don’t receive a reply after 3 days, follow up or call them.
Improve: Analyze, Learn And Adapt Your Approach To Keep Improving
After 3 months of actively applying these strategies, it’s important to see where you can make improvements.
By this point, you’ll get an idea of how clients respond and then you can adapt your marketing, pricing and services accordingly.
These strategies may seem simple, but if you are willing to stick it out and improve along the way, it’s only a matter of time before you start seeing the results.
I hope this has helped you on your journey to creating a side income.