Why Fixing Websites Is a Growth Opportunity for Freelancers

For years, freelance web designers have been encouraged to book new projects. It’s how I built my business. I’m betting that many more have done the same.

There’s great appeal in building a new website. It’s a chance for a fresh start. You can use the best tools for the job. The experience is even better if you are unencumbered with technical debt.

It can also be a lucrative business – but there are challenges. You’ll need to book clients with a sizeable budget. You’ll also need to find a way to stand out among competitors. That’s one path to success.

There are other ways to make money, though. The growing complexity of the web creates a different opportunity for web designers.

Think of all the websites out there. Consider how many of them are “broken” or poorly maintained. An enterprising freelancer could train their focus on these clients.

Let’s examine the pros and cons of fixing websites.

An Opportunity Years in the Making

There is no shortage of virtual fixer-uppers. You don’t have to look far to see outdated and neglected websites. But why?

I believe much of it stems from content management systems (CMS). Tools like WordPress offer plenty of possibilities for a great website. However, they also require education and commitment.

Sometimes, an entrepreneur may attempt to build it themselves. But, they will soon find that they’re in over their head. Or they don’t know the ingredients of a stable and performant site.

Even those who hire a web professional can run into problems. That web designer may have done a terrific job. However, they may not have communicated the importance of maintenance.

Continued care is required to keep things running smoothly. Outdated themes, plugins, and core software will turn any site into a bucket of bolts.

Website owners aren’t likely to call for help until something is wrong. It appears to be a common issue these days.

There is no shortage of websites in need of some repair.

I’m Not a Hero – Just a Web Designer

Longtime freelancers know the drill. You receive an email from a panicked website owner. They’re not a client. However, their site has crashed, been hacked – or maybe both. They need to get it fixed right away.

How do you respond? It’s easier to say “no” if you’re busy. Perhaps you have enough clients. But if not?

There’s an opportunity to play the part of hero. It’s also a chance to make money and establish a relationship.

Fixing this person’s site could lead to bigger things. Since you have their attention, you can use that time to make recommendations.

For example, their site may have other issues that need fixing. Things like accessibility and security could be lacking. Maybe they need a complete overhaul.

Helping a client in a difficult situation can create trust. It may be just the motivation they need to level up. You have a chance to guide them in the right direction.

Website repair is a way to establish new client relationships.

What’s Lurking Inside That Website?

Website rehabilitation is not without risk. What you see on the surface is one thing. What lies beneath is another.

It’s among the downsides of inheriting a website. You’re stepping into uncharted territory. That often leads you down the proverbial rabbit hole.

Maybe the site was built using unfamiliar tools. Or it’s so riddled with malware that you can’t find the root cause. These issues aren’t for the faint of heart.

There are also questions about the client. How did their website get into this state? Did they have a poor relationship with their last designer? Did they pay their bills on time?

Sure, people can change. But you’ll want to find out why their site is in disrepair. You may find some red flags that scream, “Stay away!”

Perhaps this is the biggest hurdle for freelancers. The willingness to accept risk and dive in headfirst are musts. Not everyone will have the stomach for it.

Pricing is also a concern. Estimating the cost of a fix isn’t easy. So, develop a formula that protects you from taking a loss on a messy site.

You won't know the depth of a website's problems until you investigate.

Is This the Right Path for You?

Website maintenance services are popping up all over the place. They often consist of teams of developers ready to get to work. There’s a good reason for it. The market needs experts who can turn online garbage into gold.

It’s not as simple a path for freelancers, though. You’ll have to weigh the potential benefits against the drawbacks.

Signing up for these types of projects may take away from other opportunities. But they could be a steady source of revenue. You might also turn them into yearly maintenance clients. And you’ll also be in line to handle the inevitable redesign.

Still, looking at broken websites all day isn’t for everyone. The remediation process can be stressful. Meanwhile, clients are waiting with bated breath for a solution.

There’s plenty of business for those interested in this type of work. It’s unlikely to go away any time soon, as the way we build modern websites almost guarantees it.


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