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How to Start a Successful Web Design Agency

How to Start a Successful Web Design Agency

If you want to start a successful business with low risk in 2021 and beyond, creating a digital marketing agency is the way to go. 

Almost every business owner has learned from the pandemic and lockdowns that the best way to move forward and create a recession-free business is by having an online presence. 

The pandemic has forced people to get comfortable shopping online. 

From now on, more people will buy products online. Therefore, businesses will look for someone who can help them navigate and scale the complicated world of online marketing. 

The first thing they will look for while getting started is a web design agency to set up a website from scratch or optimise the one they already have. 

If you have a web design agency now, you can be sure there will be a ton of work. This is why I have shared a step-by-step guide for starting a successful web design agency.

Zone in on your audience

If you want to achieve quick results with your web design agency, I recommend zoning in on a specific target audience. 

Most people like to go very broad and target everybody as they think that if they target everybody, they will build a bigger business and generate more clients and revenue. 

But it can have a contrary effect as business owners usually look for experts who specialise in something particular. When they find this expert, they are okay with paying them more. 

You could focus on an industry like doing web design for law firms or eCommerce stores or blogging, or you could be an expert in a specific page type like the about us page, homepage, or landing page. 

It could also be on a specific platform like Shopify or BigCommerce, or WordPress. This will help you niche in and establish yourself as an expert quickly. 

If your dream is to offer the whole thing, you can think about it after building a foothold in this niche. 

If you want to do the whole thing, I recommend that you start a separate web design business/brand that focuses on this. This way, your leading company can specialise in the niche, and you can upsell more products and services with your sister company and ring in more sales. 

Start small

Millennial Freelancer Tools

It might seem like a good idea to get a ton of funding right from the start. 

It’s also pretty easy these days as there are so many fast business funding options and investors out there. But is this the route you want to take? 

When you accept funding and try to multiply, you increase the chances of risk. Also, there will be a ton of stress on you to perform and get results quickly. 

On top of that, are you okay with giving away equity of a business that will be much more valuable in the future? 

This is why it might be a better option to start small just by yourself or with one or two employees. 

You might also want to look into outsourcing some of the excess work through platforms like Upwork and 99Designs. 

While small, focus on underpromising and over-delivering. 

Make a name for yourself in the target audience you serve as an agency that cares and does exceptional work. 

When the time comes, people will be reaching out to you for projects because of the positive word of mouth, and your proposals will get signed much faster. 

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They know you’re in demand, appreciate the culture you’ve established at your agency, and are confident in your ability to deliver. 

As your business begins to grow, you can invest most of what you earn back into it. 

Once your business is worth a lot more, you can raise funds by giving away a small percentage of your company. 

Find a mentor

I learned later on in my career that the best way to learn something is to find a mentor who has already achieved what you’ve achieved. 

No book or course will help you learn things as quickly as a mentor who can watch you and give advice and constructive criticism. 

This is why you should look for a mentor before you even start your business. As you want to build a successful design agency, you should look for a mentor running a successful web design agency or did so in the past. 

Remember to set aside a significant amount of money as top mentors will charge thousands of dollars to teach you. An alternative would be to work for them. 

You can either dive in full-time and shadow them or work part-time, and in the meantime, you can run your agency. 

Set up the best website for your agency

Website Design Trends 2020

When potential clients visit your website, they will be judging every bit of your website. 

If you design a quality website for yourself, they will be sure that you can make one for them. This is why before you look for any clients, take the time to create a powerful website for yourself. 

Try to avoid WordPress themes, even though it might look like the easy way to go. Using a theme made by someone else will lower your website, creating credibility. 

Try to make it as fancy as possible to show all the different skills you possess. I usually wouldn’t recommend this, as a fancy website can kill conversion rates. 

But in your case, it can have a much more positive one as you are a designer. 

Also, make sure you use a good hosting service as your website needs to load quickly. 

Look for clients

The most demanding clients to get are the first few as they have no idea how good you are. 

Once you have a few good ones and show examples and case studies detailing your work, getting clients will become a piece of cake

This is why it is essential to set up a quality website for yourself in the beginning. You can use it as an example. 

If you struggle to get clients initially, be prepared to offer discounts or even do it for free. And do the best job possible as you can later use this as an example. 

Just be careful about the clients you pick as some people might take advantage of your generosity and give you much extra work. 

You can find your first clients through various methods like cold calling, guest blogging, cold email outreach, and teaming up with a more prominent agency. 

There’s a lot you can do, even when you’re working with a startup marketing budget.


Setting up a web design agency can be a struggle in the early stages when trying to work things out. 

But after you get how the industry works and have a system in place, getting clients and scaling won’t be an issue. 

Just prepare yourself for the hardships at the beginning. After that, you will need to only worry about making room for the new clients who are knocking on your door. 

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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