You pulled another all nighter. Third time this week. (And now the kids want their Cheerios and you just want to crawl into bed).
Your client is texting you because they’ve changed their mind about the copy THEY wrote last week.
You’re all ready to start designing your client’s website - the branding’s all done, you’ve helped them source stunning images, but you don’t have any of their copy yet. And it was due 2 days ago. And you’ve got several other design jobs coming up.
You’re looking at another all nighter. Again.
What’s going on here? Why is your business designing Squarespace websites so hard to make work?
Make your Squarespace Web Design Business Work for You!
You’re good at what you do? You come highly recommended. Clients seek you out. You’re booked out till March 2018.
But you’re struggling to keep up - and stay awake.
You consider hiring a Virtual Assistant but then that means going through a whole hiring process and then having to manage the VA’s work. And you don’t even know what to outsource to a VA at this stage. You may not even want to scale your business either. The idea of managing a team of subcontractors makes you want to curl up in a little ball under the duvet (except, THE CHEERIOS).
You need to get control over your daily life and your work process.
And you need to do it today! (which is why you’re reading this blog post).
Here are 5 things you can do RIGHT NOW to figure out whether you need help or you can continue your lone wolf ways - and still get a good night’s sleep and ka-ching in the bank.
STEP 1 - Answer the 3 most stressful things to do with your work.
- What is causing you the most stress in your web design process?
- What is causing you the most stress in your relationships with clients?
- What is causing you the biggest delays that keep you from launching on time and that affect your cash flow?
Write your answers honestly. This is not a blame game either - it’s a chance to write (just for yourself) where your biggest problems lie.
Do you see a pattern?
STEP 2 - Brainstorm 3 - 5 ways to improve your web design process, better your client relationships and prevent delays and cash flow problems.
Need some help brainstorming. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Squarespace Web Design Process
- Create videos to show clients exactly how to organize their content so that you can build their website.
- Set up your workflow to include a design day - like Sarah Moon & Co does for Design in a Day - (Design in a Day happens to be a fab partnership - ahem!) - or brand and design a site over a couple of weeks - like Paige of the Paige Studio does - I love her biz model and have mentioned it to Squarespace Designers as a possible solution to their workflow issues. Dedicating a day or a couple of weeks to one client at a time rather than booking 3 - 4 design projects all in the same week can simplify your process and boost your cash flow (especially if you're not looking to scale or build a huge team.)
- Walk your client through your contract and/or onboarding package and highlight areas that most clients struggle accepting. (You don’t have to tell your clients that these are ‘problem areas’, just make sure they’ve read the section you want to highlight - such as your office hours or how to book a call with you.)
- Spell out - early in the relationship - what will cost your client money such as asking you to make design changes (thanks to Aunt Mabel’s opinion) after they’ve approved the design or not using your project management system. If they want to keep emailing or FB messaging you instead of using Google Drive or Asana, fine. But you’ll need to add an admin fee to the project.
Project Delays and Cash flow issues
- List your own weakness - do you love starting projects, but find it difficult to wrap them up at launch? Do you multitask on several projects at a time and don’t know which to prioritize? Then write down 1 or 2 things you can do to help you overcome your own weaknesses, such as partner with someone who can check your client’s website prior to launch and make sure it’s in tip-top condition or schedule time for each project you have to do and just focus on one at a time.
- Ensure your contract and onboarding document mentions clearly that final payment is due not on launch day but by a certain date, so that if a client holds up a project for any reason - such as delaying getting you content on time - you still get paid for the website by your agreed upon deadline.
STEP 3 - Know where you’re really losing money.
Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of where you’re losing money. If your client doesn’t pay, well, that’s easy. Sucks. But it’s easy to keep track of.
But even when they pay on time, you might be losing money in small ways that add up.
Here are 5 common areas where you’re losing money (and much of it is related to YOUR time).
- Your client’s feedback is dripped to you in emails or random text messages - or not at all! - rather than in a single document to be completed by a specific turnaround time.
- Your client struggles to use your project management system, so emails you instead and you have to dig through long threads over a couple of months which means missed design revision requests and other edits.
- You allow an already-paid project to extend too long while your client takes time to create content or provide feedback. So when you finally get the information you need, you have to spend time refreshing your memory about what the project was all about. (Let me be blunt - for many smaller scale, lower-budget Squarespace projects, a lengthy timeline is completely unnecessary. Heck, you can build a fabulous site - and sales machine - in a day, a week or a month, if you have the right systems in place and / or the right partner. Hey, wouldn't it be great to get your client's copy on time!)
- You let your clients dictate the project workflow rather than following your tried and true process, so you find yourself reinventing the wheel each time. Keep in mind - YOU’RE the expert as far as YOUR web design process goes.
- You’re not charging enough. Period. Yes, it’s ‘just the Squarespace platform’ (sigh, I have an opinion on that, but not right now) but keep in mind, you’re not just building a website, you’re designing a strategic marketing/sales tool for your client that achieves their goals. This ‘tool’ or ‘solution’ (not just a website) will generate leads, build relationships, and sell products and services. So you need to see yourself as a strategist, not 'just' a web designer and start CHARGING for that skillset.
STEP 4 - Figure out what you HATE doing and if it’s holding you back.
There’s a lot of stuff I hate doing, and most of it doesn’t hold me back. I usually just do it and set a timer, as I find that I can get ‘hateful’ things done quickly if I give myself a time limit.
Bathroom cleaning, anyone.
But there are times when doing what you hate doing - or avoiding what you hate doing and then ending up having an out of control project - can hold you back.
Write down all the things you HATE about designing websites. Let's face it - you can love the overall process, but hate parts of it!
It can be anything from ‘talking’ to clients on the phone to proofreading the site after the final design has been approved.
Once you’ve written everything down, write down 1 or 2 solutions for each ‘HATEFUL’ thing.
- Is it something you can outsource?
- Would working with a partner to do that part of the project help?
- Can you ignore it without it hurting your projects?
- Is it something your clients can do as part of the process?
- Can you write down the process of this ‘hateful’ thing so that it makes it easier for you to do quickly?
- Can you find an app or resource that can duplicate this hateful thing so you don’t have to do it every.single.time?
STEP 5 - Listen to What Your Clients Are Asking For
And give it to them. Or not.
Keep a record of what your clients are asking for. Decide if what clients are asking for is something you want to offer.
If yes, then...
- Determine if you need a partner or a VA or an employee in order to do that.
- Figure out if you can offer online courses or in person or online workshops rather than doing the work for your clients.
- Create products -such as blog content calendar templates - that will help your clients grow their businesses after their initial website is set up.
So much depends on your ideal clients, your niche and how most of your clients tend to grow their businesses. Listen carefully. You may be surprised about what you can offer that will help you grow and scale (if you want that.)
You did it!
You read through this blog post and, I hope, jotted down some ideas to improve your web design process and make it easier for you to get a full 8 hours of sleep.
If, after completing these 5 steps, you think partnering is what you’re after, get in touch! Can’t wait to learn how we might work together.
Hi, I’m Kath - author of this blog post (and others like it) and copywriter, editor, keyword researcher and website setter upper for Squarespace web designers and service-based entrepreneurs and freelancers. Team up with me to get your web design projects done, like yesterday.
Click the button below to get in touch.