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  1. #1
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    Starting a Very Small Business

    Hello,

    I'm working on a website for my dad's accounting business. He got a couple of his friends interested in me building one for their businesses/personal use as well. And possibly a couple of his friend's friends. So it's possible I could start a very small business here just to make some money on the side. The thing is, I don't really know the best way to go about setting them all up with their own .coms.

    I use geocities for my .com, and I was gonna snag my dad's credit card info to buy him his own .com through geocities as well. Now, I live out in Phoenix, AZ and everyone who wants a site lives in St. Louis, so I don't think they'll feel comfortable for me to handle their credit card infos to start all their geocities accounts. And I don't want all these geocities accounts on my credit card, because what if they are late on payment to me for me to pay the bill every month.

    Second, how much should I charge to make a website? I don't expect to stick around and monitor it for them everyday. More like, create it, adjust it to their liking and leave (create it at a flat rate?). I would be more than happy to change some things/fix some things they find if they wanted in the future of course for a small price (flat rate?).

    Any info would be helpful, thank you in advance!


    ~Tim

  • #2
    Master Coder mlseim's Avatar
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    My personal opinion only here .... don't use Geocities.

    Pick a host like cleverdot.com (you get hosting and domain name for $30)
    They have tons of stuff just like most other hosts. I just mention them
    because I've used them before. Ipowerweb is OK too. I'm sure others all
    have their own personal favorites.

    You have them go to the host and register. They can also pick their own
    domain name and use their own credit cards. They then email you the
    account information that the host sends them. Each year, they re-apply
    by themselves with their own credit cards.

    You could create their sites using PHP with a simple CMS, Content
    Management System so they can update page content themselves.

    Do your dad's site for free, charge for the others. Price is all dependent
    on how well it looks, operates, and your experience. Just to start out,
    charge them $150 up front and $150 when finished. If you realized that it
    took much longer to do, increase it the next time. With experience and
    some rather in-depth PHP scripting, you could be charging people
    $500-$1000 for a site ... it all depends on the type of site and business.

  • #3
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    Yeah, if you go the flat fee route, always get some of it up front. Otherwise the customer doesn't feel as committed to it and if they do back out, you aren't left empty handed.
    OracleGuy

  • #4
    Regular Coder Graft-Creative's Avatar
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    Hi Tim,

    This needs to be in the Career, jobs, and business sub-forum really.

    Anyway, with regards to how to pay for domain registration: the simplest way is just to build the cost into your initial quote then pay for it from the 50% deposit.

    Some clients can be ok organising their own domains and hosting, but a majority, in my experience, will see that as your job.

    Always get a deposit, trust me, it only takes you getting your fingers burnt with this a couple of times to figure that out

    Always guarantee to return the deposit if things don't work out - minus of course payment deducted for any work you've done so far - charged at an hourly rate.

    Be flexible with payment plans: depending on the client it doesn't always have to be 50% upfront and 50% on completion. For high value projects you could break payments down into thirds or quarters - paid by the client at key milestones in the project.

    How much to charge is kind of a how long is a piece of string question, and it's something that falls into place with time and experience - but as a yardstick - you'd be hard pressed to find a decent web design firm in the UK charging out a web designer's time at anything less than about 20 per hour, usually more - programmer's time at even more (we designers are so undervalued )

    That's all I can think of right now, hope it helps.

    Kind regards,

    Gary

  • #5
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    Hey Tim.

    I'm doing pretty much the same thing as you. I completely agree with the upfront fee, I got burned my first two times and realized it just wouldn't work.
    What I recommend is getting a PayPal account and doing your own hosting. For $100 a year you can get a reseller account at www.wildwestdomains.com (GoDaddy). That way you can be making profit on the hosting too.

    Dont forget to register with the state too...
    DBA's (sometimes called trade names) usually cost around 50 bucks
    varies by state tho

  • #6
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    Nah my original reply was too nasty and rude and long.

    Business model
    --------------
    One good website brings custom, one bad website doesnt

    SEO and database work is more important than clumping together a pretty looking ebay template.

    Sometimes simplistic is best, but sometimes it isnt. (for example look at www.play.com basic but functional and now becoming a major brand)

    You cant really charge professional rates if you dont really have 100% expirence.

    You can if there stupid and dont know what there doing and just got more money than sense which some people do.

    Really your not even talking about a small business as chances are you wont pay taxes etc etc.

    Basic is if a design needs to be made, its free, if they like it 20% or 25% non refundable, then 50% and the rest on completition.

    If someone asked me for 50% I would laugh in their faces and go elsewhere, enough freelancers on the net especially from India, so a buyers market.

    Best advise, do it for some beer and a shag, as well as I say, your not really turning it into a small business, overprice and they will go elsewhere, so you wont have a business anyway.

    P.S if your going to have a porfolio, make sure its a good one as well

    Regards

    Mark

  • #7
    Regular Coder Graft-Creative's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScorpionWAsM View Post
    Basic is if a design needs to be made, its free, if they like it 20% or 25% non refundable, then 50% and the rest on completition.

    If someone asked me for 50% I would laugh in their faces and go elsewhere, enough freelancers on the net especially from India, so a buyers market.

    Best advise, do it for some beer and a shag
    Nice business model Mark, good luck with that

    Must remember to put the beer and.... proposition to the CEO of that trucking company I'm meeting with next week, sure to go down a storm!

    Then again, maybe I'll tell him he's on his own, go find an Indian company.

    Gary

  • #8
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    You're right, it's more money on the side than a very small business. It takes me about a week to crank out a decent custom site, and I already have a few different people who want their own (one is for an small time accountant, and another is for a private grade school) and the list will probably grow in time because it seems every person knows another person who needs one or might want one. I would of figured all of these small businesses (based in St. Louis) would have their own sites by now. I figure now would be a good time start and finish them all since I'm in between jobs right now. Just trying to figure the best way to go through with it as far as money and setting up their domains go.

  • #9
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    Gary,

    Without meaning offense, but obviously you realise that I was taking a dig as both Englishmen, even though your a Northner.

    I'm very very critical of my own websites and believe me, I am a very basic html programmer, but have purchased scripts etc, which have looked nice but dont do the job.

    So I end up putting html as a sublink as well, basic but presentable, not 100% Seo work as in some respects I hate websites that you visit and youn find that its all google adverts.

    Too a more professional eye, I wouldnt show him your website when its not even finished, it also hasnt got any links and the portfolio being honest, out of 7 websites on show only two were any good.

    The art of which in respects was the same basic formula, and the bar one, which personally is your crowning glory.

    There was one blue one which for a website developer, had fonts so small I would have had to slum it and drop resn to 800 x 600 just too view it.

    I was talking regarding the person who was asking regarding his fathers websites regarding him not sounding as if he is committed enough too make a full time job out of sitting at a computer and working.

    The Indian market is 9/10 very cheap and reasonably very good if you get a good company and they understand English.

    Personally I my pet hate is when a web developer advertises for work, but uses 1001 templates that you can download from ebay for about 5 looking at the source your fault is that you have technical stuff in there, which is a good thihg as shows that you care about your work, but I can use templates which I have got from ebay and say hey I'm a developer.

    In some respects I could be as I'm not too technical and go for the SEO approach unless a company or name is well known which is when you can goto town on design.

    This is a mates bands website, http://www.the-graduates.co.uk/ it's reasonable too look at, cleverly done in flash and reasonably trendy BUT

    if you want too book them, or find out where there playing next and use a search engine.

    There is no SEO work, so if I was a record producer wanting too sign them, how can you find them?

    Anyway 1:28 and I was up all last night pissing around with a site, I may try and sleep.

  • #10
    Regular Coder Graft-Creative's Avatar
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    No problem Mark, and no offense taken

    I'd be the first to admit that my personal site is a big POS, but to be honest, being lead web designer for two companies - one in the US and on in the UK - plus a fair amount of freelance on the go - is taking up way too much of my time to even worry about that.

    I was just trying to pass a bit of my experience on to the guy that's all.

    It's all subjective, take it or leave it advice at the end of the day - but that's the best advice I can give.

    But, I got pretty close recently to pulling in my first 1000 weeks wage as a freelancer (with all the clients happy as Larry) to at least think my business advice could be worth sharing.

    Kind regards,

    Gary

    P.s. 'the blue one' - I think that's a now defunct site I made, that now re-directs to the hosting company's site.

  • #11
    Regular Coder Karen S. Garvin's Avatar
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    Don't get stuck in the middle

    Hi, I've done graphic arts both as a freelancer and as the owner of my own company. I can't give you feedback on web design or programming rates, but about handling other people's charge cards and domain registration -- don't get yourself caught in the middle! You'll end up paying for all of it if your customer's don't pay you.

    Believe me, I've brokered printing and translations, and I've been really burned. Get money upfront, most especially for anything that costs you money (domain registration, CDs, paper, anything). Put everything in writing -- as anal as it sounds -- it clarifies the whole process and prevents misunderstandings later. Plus, its a good habit to develop, especially if you get busy with several projects. Later on, if you go full-time, it will also help with tax stuff. Yes! it's income...

    Finally, don't sell yourself cheap. If you do, you'll only end up with a reputation as the "cheap web designer." I know it's really easy to say that something is just going to take a half hour or so, but those projects end up being the most problematic. I've had business card designs that took 5 hours to get working, and newsletters that take half of that. You can't predict computer problems, code issues, or weirdness with new browsers. Leave room in your pricing so you can get paid for all of your time.

    Remember, you don't really want to be Wal-Mart Webmaster the rest of your career, do you?
    Last edited by Karen S. Garvin; 01-03-2007 at 03:47 AM.
    ----------------------------------------------
    Karen S. Garvin
    http://ksgarvin.wordpress.com

  • #12
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    Fantastic! Could not of put it better myself

  • #13
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    Thankyou, all of this advice is very helpful.


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