View Full Version : How to sell?

04-01-2003, 02:52 PM
Ok, I have a little web development venture www.m5interactive.com ..

Now my problem is that I have almost no traffic and not one client!

How can I turn up some revenue? I've got until December to get a client or I will not renew my webspace and domain, not if it seems this will be yet another in a long line of failures in my life.

I've enlisted in heaps of search engines but I'm yet to actually get a referal from a search engine.

Any ideas?

04-01-2003, 03:02 PM
Firstly I noticed a typo - "anything from a signle page"

I couldn't tell you a guaranteed way of getting customers, except that word of mouth is more powerful than anything.

I would also say, don't offer price guarantees up front; don't mention money at all anywhere on the site, and don't make any reference to a choice of flat/hourly deal packages. Sure, offer those packages, but let your customers come to you without preconception, and base your charges on what they think they should be paying (down to a minimum, obviously).

It would also be nice to see some stuff in the your "portfolio" ...?

04-01-2003, 03:07 PM
Ok, will fix typo now and get rid of the money bit ;) .. makes sense to me!

Word of mouth is good but I don't know very many people lol.
As for the portfolio, I've no work to put in it. I've only done a logo for www.acjavascripts.com and well I don't want people thinking I designed the site (No offence AC!).

04-01-2003, 03:10 PM
It's difficult - but customers will want to see what you've done.

If I was a potential customer, your portfolio is the first thing I'd want to see; I'd look at some of your work, run it through markup and accessibility validators, and then, if it looked good and validated, I might drop you a prospective email.

Maybe make some templates with Lorum Ipsum text - just to show a range of things you can do. You never know - the templates themselves might start making cash for you ;)

Case in point - I never planned to run my dropdown menu as a commercial entity; it was originally just because I wanted a script like that, and I published it because I wanted more traffic to my site and more people listening to my tunes.

But now it's 75% of my traffic and brings me around $1000 a month.

What I'm saying is - be prepared to change your plans - make it easy for people to contact you, and be responsive to what they say.

04-01-2003, 03:14 PM
Well I am working on a "Ready 2 Go" website which is basically a template with a database backend so no code skills required. Should I put that in my portfolio?

04-01-2003, 03:15 PM
I would, yes :) Depending on the angle you wanna take, you could flag it as a product, or an example of how you can make sites which are easy for end-clients to maintain themselves.

04-01-2003, 03:18 PM
Ok, I'll do that when I've finished it. :)
[edit:]Removed redundant links, fixed spelling mistake by removing text about money. Added "Under construction to portfolio (or lack thereof) page"

04-01-2003, 05:08 PM
As brothertwinkie said, word of mouth is the most powerful advertisement medium. I haven't advertised in 4 years but I have an endless flow of clients just from word of mouth.

If you attend a university or are near one try to get a few design jobs there. Usually departments at institutions like that will look for 3rd party web developers to handle some things. And once you are in, assuming they like your work, then word spreads around quickly both on and off campus.

That is what I did 4 years ago. Got one design job and now I do regular work for like 4 different departments at the school plus several orgranizations affilitated with the school. And often times businesses call up a school's computer science department looking for people to do web development and if they know your name it can get passed on to these businesses as well.

Quiet Storm
04-01-2003, 06:54 PM
What about posting flyers around the neighborhood?

04-01-2003, 07:20 PM
I would start small...I would approach some local small businesses with no website, and either volunteer or charge a discounted rate to put something together for them.

I would then ask for reference letters and also if they knew anyone else that might be looking for my services.

I'm not sure what type of experience you may have, but when I eventually break away and start my own business, this is what I'll do.

Also, if you have a business card....hand it out. Everywhere!!

04-01-2003, 08:09 PM
Maybe do a site for a local organization or company gratis. It sucks doing a site for free but it will definitely get your name out there. Make sure to include a link to your company too! Not to mention it will be another site on your portfolio. I've done 3 sites for free over the past year and a half and I've gotten 3 paying refferals from them.

Help start the word of mouth!

04-01-2003, 09:38 PM
I have a few suggestions for you though some have been said already.

I can't stress enough how much your portfolio sells. People don't care what you type on your website saying you can do, they want to see results. They want to see your past work to see if it's the style/quality they like. You need a solid portfolio with at least a few good examples of what you can do.

Word of mouth is another huge plus like mentioned above. I started doing some sites for free to get my name out there and then slowly started charging as my skills got better. I started out doing a few jobs with no website showing off my work. Then I put those sites in my personal website to show off which got more exposure to me. Now I plan on opening a design site dedicated to my services in a more professional way because I'm getting so much work I think now would be a good time to really push it.

I'd say make free stuff for now while you have time which will showcase your skills. You could make templates and sell them cheap with a 'design by link' in the footer which will help promote your site and get your name out there. Find webmaster forums that offer a forum to sell services such as templates and what not. I know sitepointforums.com offers this along with many others. Search google to find some other webmaster forums.

04-01-2003, 10:42 PM
Thanks peeps :).

I'll go and start trying to sread the word, I'll try to get a few free things or cheap things done to put in my portfolio as well. Thanks :D

04-02-2003, 04:26 AM
post in the advertising forums over at webhostingtalk.com and yaxay.com

Look fow work. Dont let people look for you. Reply to threads in those forums. Also develop a few templates and try to sell them at the above forums.

I think you would also have more chace of getting clients if you offered scripting or something?

04-02-2003, 04:32 AM
There are agencies to help people get going. They basically pont you at jobs that suit your skill level. It's the route I'd take if I wanted to be a web developer.

04-02-2003, 01:42 PM
hmmm, I feel so weak. I want to be a web developer as a hobby, not as a real job. I am barely 13 so....I can't really go around town. I am planning on doing first 10 sites free :p

04-02-2003, 03:39 PM
I know you are just trying to make conversation but please don't hijack my thread.

I did have the same idea, but as such I have no potential clients to offer free websites to.

04-02-2003, 04:45 PM
Hmmm, where to start.

word of mouth
It's true. Business from past business continues to lead my 'new business' stack of work. Plant seeds wherever you go. Casually talk about what you do for a living (even if you really don't do it for a living). Most people won't care, but some will. I 'planted seeds' six months ago that are bearing fruit today (a $4000 job, :D) I was at a photographer last Xmas for some pics of me and my fam. We chatted a bit and told him I make websites. He never had one but as it turns out, wanted one. Another $2000 gig I start next month right there. But most importantly, though, you must deliver. Doing a truly great job for your clients will guarantee repeat or referred business. Remember, website design is a service business, not a product business.

Good places to hit up for free (pro-bono is a better term ;) ) work are any non-profits, charities, or other places that don't have lots of money (example: where I live there's a tiny Zoo. They do a lot of community stuff and whatnot, but rely heavily on community contributions and such). My daughter takes gymnastics classes at a non-profit gym here. I'm making them a new website in trade for her class costs.

Also, find places in the community in which you can expose your capabilities. Let the ISPs know you do web development. Almost all of them have yellow page listings and regularly get hit up by people looking for website construction (because few webdev companies advertise the the yellow pages, but ALL ISPs do). I've gotten a few jobs from the ISPs here. Newspapers that have online ventures usually offer website design too. Let them know you can be part of their team. In other words, leverage other people's advertising for yourself.

Know your competition. Find out who else in the area is doing what you do. How well do they do it? What are their prices? Do they have a lot of local clients? Maybe they're busy and you can arrange to take their overflow.

04-02-2003, 04:55 PM
That's so great info beetle. :D
I think I'll start "planting seeds" as you put it. I just thought of a small profit organisation that my mother is in, maybe I can start there? Will have to try considering the current site is well, free geocities page style if you know what I mean. ;) Plus they have a news letter, maybe the breeders (it's a horse associtaion thing) would want sites?

I never even thought of that until just then.. :)

04-02-2003, 05:21 PM
Also, clean up your copy. Just an excerpt from the homepage
M5 interactive provides quality, value-for-money website design and development services. We can provide almost any service you require to build a high-quality website.

M5 interactive specializes in dynamic, data-driven websites. That means we develop in a way that allows you to manage your own website with the click of a button.

NEW! : Custom Message Boards -
That's right! M5 interactive will now develop a custom message board system for your website!
It's difficult to not use a conversational-style writing technique for your copy. I know, it's something I struggle with myself, as I'm no copywriter. But, it's best to avoid heavy use of it. However, don't trip up on the grammar!

04-02-2003, 07:26 PM

It makes me sad to read this thread.
I can't believe you've got nothing to show for in your portfolio. I've read about 100 of your posts, so you must have been coding. No?

You really need to code some app's and put them on.
I'm working for free now (a work fulltime for the moment) and i've done 3 complete app's and participated in developping a few sites. They didn't generate a lot of work for me (don't have time neither), but i've had some people that were really intrested and wanted to work with me + you build up a portfolio like that + you learn the most from practicing + you learn how a customer thinks.

He's not thiking in bits and bytes and tables. He's got a problem or a dream and he want a sollution or someone that realises his dream. By showing a portfolio, can can communicate. You can show how you handle problems, you might even inspire them.
Clients want to see something and think, "that's what i want".
I've been to your site, and it says: "i want to program. anything". Clients search for someone thas syas: i've got some expertise. both content/business an coding. (Just being able to code isn't enough to build an app.)

If i had the time, i'd write out a competition to select the worst site. The winner would get his site redone by me.
Or i would contact sites that were porely designed (not site from big companys or hobbycoders that made their personal site, but sites from small companys where the son or whoever mixed some gifs and some text) and offer my services (or confront them with a redone page an Mhtml-style.)

About your site. I like its simplicity. But for me, the gifs don't have the same look and feel as the header. (but i'm not that great with layout myself)
Since you take a basic approach, why not mix a blank page into it (just as a humoristic wink). Ad a link to your site that says: "Your site!" and then show a blank page for 3-4 seconds and the print:"This could have been your site. Designed by logo". You know, just something small, catchy, personal.

You need to make yourself noticed. If someone would mail me: "Your site could be improved. Check this out", I might not be offering him some work, but i would remember him.

Also, you don't always need to know/have a client. I'm working on some stuff now and the whole idea is that i offer some functionalitys that they can attach to there site. Going to call it an @on (add-on). For instance reservations, calendars, ... These litle nice-to-have features where you need a db and server sidede scripting for (you do the math, what it would cost them just to have a host with sql support). The insert all the content and define the style but it's displayed in there site. Doesn't cost them much and they will be easier convinced to try it. Once you're in, they'll contact you for customtailored stuff

Big companys don't work with freelancers (unless youre really good or specialized or know oracle and java ) I've been working as a projectmanager now for some years, and i've seen it more then once: a freelancer want's to code it customtailored for half the price, but they pick a well-know companys standard package ...


04-02-2003, 08:13 PM
It is hard to get your virtuaFoot in the door when starting out but if you just keep committed it will pan out if your good. This thread offers some great ideas and if you jump on all of them your bound to pull in some business. Here's a couple more ideas for ya.

Try to find a local online business directory and make a list of all the businesses that don't include a website link. If they listed online, they already know the value of an online presence and more than likely already want a website. You'll find that a pattern will emerge on what businesses need sites. In my area it's within the medical field. None of them have sites and when I did a search for medical websites I found that in other cities most doctors have websites so it's easy to sell the idea (here's a good place for template sites as doctors don't want to worry about designing their site, they just want a presence :D ) Mainly my point is to think local first.

Hand pick your niche. I love working with photographers and artists because they want something creative and original and in my hometown they are always checking out eachothers sites making the word of mouth thing pretty active. I did one free site and now I have a reputation within the photographer community for quality design. Also photographers tend to do alot of updating which is great if your doing the updates for them. (that free site has made quite me quite alot of money in the end through updating)

Oh and remember that local business directory I mentioned? GET LISTED ON IT! If someone lists on a site, they will usually use that site to find other businesses.

I would totally suggest you pay for another year for your URL and space. It's pretty cheap anyways and these things take time.

Best of Luck!