chloe standing next to a brunette woman at a table with two other brunettes

How to Start a Web Design Business (if I were starting today)

In 2018, Chloe Creative was established. Shortly after that, we filed for our legal documents to become an LLC. Since then, we’ve pivoted, built and expanded into a team of 5 women serving private practice clinicians worldwide. In this blogpost, we’ll walk you step by step on how to start a web design business if we were starting it today.


How to Start in Freelance Web Design

chloe standing next to a brunette woman at a table with two other brunettes

I’ve been asked multiple times where exactly my journey into freelance web design started. To spare you time – and the purpose of this blogpost – it started as a sophomore in college when majoring in Information Technology. I had just closed a co-owned Christian clothing company with a friend and found myself craving more creativity outside of school.

My classes were already difficult enough, but I was determined to better myself with self-taught design work. I spent nearly my entire sophomore year of college learning, taking free courses that my school provided and started Chloe Creative. My first ever client found me off of Google and the rest is history.

For the purpose of this blogpost, let’s back it up to crafting a business name.

1. Choose a name for your design business

how to start a web design business by establishing your business name

Figuring out how to start a web design business starts with choosing a name. As you can tell, 19 year old Chloe didn’t think too hard on crafting a name for the design business. In the grand scheme of all the other things you’ll be thinking through when starting a business, it truthfully isn’t that important.

I put this at step one because once you have a name created, you will really start focusing on important things.

To choose a name for your design business, consider:

  • Your own name / maiden name / married name
  • The desired growth (will you stay by yourself or hire on team members?)
  • The types of services you’ll provide
  • Who you are targeting
  • Availability on website domains, social media and legal declarations

I would always recommend sitting on a name for a couple of days and coming back to it to see if you still like it. Often when you are creating something new – it comes with excitement and anticipation. You don’t want this to cloud your judgement!

2. Understand your target audience for success

With the information I know now – I learned that knowing your target audience is the foundation to anything you do within your business. As said above, even naming your business has to do with who you are speaking to!

To understand how to start a web design business, you have to understand WHY you are starting your business to begin with. Likely, it’s because you love web design, but you also see a gap where individuals need help in creating their websites.

Instead of going into business with an open-mindset on who to work with, I would consider the following:

  • Who are the type of people you enjoy being around?

From there, I would ask:

  • What do they do for fun?
  • What do they struggle with?
  • How will your services help them?
  • What income do they make?
  • Where do they shop?
  • What do they value?

With that information, you are able to specifically select a subset of individuals to target your services to. When I first started my freelance web design business, I decided to target women-owned businesses because I loved working with women. However, this is way too broad when trying to craft a brand message.

There are many types of women-owned businesses that cover many income levels, pain points or preferences. That said, in 2019, I declared my niche of dietitians. After working with a few dietitians directly, I learned that I loved the type of content AND the type of person they were.

3. Pick your web design platform speciality

This might be an uncommon step to take, but if I were starting my web design business TODAY, I’d pick only one web design platform to specialize in.

When I first started my business, I focused on WordPress because that’s what we were learning in our classes. As I began to research, I found that many individuals thought this platform was super hard to grasp. Thus, I found Showit and also dabbled in Squarespace a bit.

Although this was a fine method (and we still work in all of these), I’d recommend finding the one platform your ideal client prefers and making yourself the best web designer possible. For our ideal client, that’s WordPress.

To find what platforms your ideal client prefers you can:

  • Ask them directly
  • Look at competitor websites and find where they are built via url here
  • Review social media profiles

I was blessed at the time to receive free access (by being a college student) to where I took courses to learn these platforms. For Showit in particular, it was more self-taught by trial and error. Youtube is also a great way to dive into education! These are all great ways to diversify your understanding of how to start a web design business.

4. Brand your small business

We might be biased, but creating a brand for your new small business is a vital next step. I could craft a whole blogpost about why you need a brand for your small business, but for now – here’s a few pointers:

Branding your business is more than just creating a logo. While there are many free resources out there to create a logo for your business (like Canva), this isn’t always the best path to follow. There are strategic decisions involved in creating a logo such as:

  • Who your target audience is
  • The feelings, likes and dislikes they have
  • What they struggle with
  • Their income levels
  • Your offer suite
  • How they speak

Because of this, this is why we recommend doing a complete deep-dive into the who, what, how of your business prior to developing the brand.

A great way to outline this information in an easy-to-understand way is via an intake questionnaire with a design team. If you are a brand designer yourself, you can easily create a Google Document filled with this information. If not, go online and search around for free branding questionnaires.

Once complete, strategically select around 5 colors, a cohesive type suite and THEN craft your logo suite. We recommend at least having a primary logo, submark and an alternate logo. You’ll be using each of these variations on your website, social media or other marketing avenues to establish your brand awareness as a web design business.

5. Launch your own web design via WordPress

I say WordPress because it’s the best platform. If I were to redo this, I would have always kept my website on WordPress.

I had started my company’s website on WordPress, moved it to Showit and now it’s back on WordPress. Reason being: my ideal client loved the ease of Showit and I wanted them to see I also loved Showit. However, as my business and my target audience has evolved, WordPress is the BEST platform to be on for multiple reasons:

  • Organic growth potential
  • Plugin capabilities
  • Blogging with ease
  • Page builders
  • Different themes
  • Speed and Google Search Console scores

As you learn how to start a web design business, you need your own website to market your service suite. I’d recommend investing in the Elementor page builder, learning it, and launching your website.

There aren’t many designers/developers out there that know this platform from head to toe, so it’s key to set you apart. When designing your website, consider creating:

  • Home page
  • About page
  • Services page
  • Blog page
  • Contact page

6. Build your online portfolio of clients

As you grow over time, you’ll continue to build your online portfolio of clients. In the design world, this is a requirement to have on your website.

Most potential clients want to see that you are who you say you are and that you can do the skills you say you can. We all do that with service-based businesses! With that in mind, place every design project onto a page labeled “Portfolio“. You can choose to make this gallery-styled or blog-styled. Either way, showcase your skills!

Tip: At the end of your projects, consider asking your clients for a testimonial. People love to see tangible, real clients with feedback. Place this on your portfolio page!

7. Continue learning for design growth

Just because you now know the key steps on how to start a web design business doesn’t mean you are ready to quit learning.

Candidly, this is something I’ve fallen in the cracks on and really hope to focus more on education during my maternity leave. I’ve invested in courses, masterminds and 1:1 business coaching during my 6 years in business. Each of them has helped me in a specific season of my business and I highly recommend.

My biggest tip for learning is to find a method that works for you and stick with it. For me, investing in courses ended up being a waste of money – not because the content wasn’t helpful, but because sitting down and watching hour-long videos didn’t serve me.

Instead, I find joy in reading articles and quick-to-learn video tutorials. Show me once, and I’ll implement next!

Learn How to Start a Web Design Business with Confidence!

Following the steps in this blogpost will help you craft the necessary action items to understand how to start a web design business with confidence.

To connect with us for more business tips, you can follow us on Instagram or join our email list. We send a weekly newsletter just chatting it away on all things business and life – because we believe in both!

Checkout our guide that gives you an inside scoop on our intake questionnaire to help you discover more about your ideal client.