Building Your Web Design Company: Finding the Right Niche
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The single most-important piece of advice we could give when building your website design company is not about software or apps to use or anything like that.
It’s about finding the right niche.
Niching down is tough for a lot of businesses to do because it means you turn away some clients.
If you start doing web design for restaurants, you’re going to have to tell startups and law firms looking for a website to go somewhere else.
It can be tempting to want to build a website for every type of client that comes in, because, if they’re paying then why not?
But, once you find the right niche, a lot of things can fall into place. And, it can help you grow.
Here are a few reasons you should consider finding a niche.
Easier process to streamline and replicate
It’s harder to quote a price for web design when you don’t know what will be in the scope.
You will have to spend time researching different types of websites in the client’s industry and come up with a proposal for that client.
The project might involve unique plugins or website features specifically for that industry or type of client.
Every project you do would be unique, so you may not be able to take what you’ve learned from previous projects and use that in the future.
It makes quoting and working on new projects a bit of a process.
You’ll be more likely to need to start from scratch with new projects.
You won’t find much use for a particular website layout or theme in very different industries.
But, if you have a niche and an industry you focus on, every website you build is going to have things in common with other sites you’ve done.
You will have the opportunity to reuse certain themes and templates.
You will be able to take the knowledge and experience from your past sites and show them off in your portfolio.
You may find that new clients love your past work and want a site exactly like that. That would make your life so much easier, since you won’t have to reinvent the wheel.
With a particular niche or industry to build websites for, you can create a very narrowly-defined scope of work.
For example, for a restaurant:
- Your industry typically only needs a website with 5 pages, including a Home page, About, Contact, Menu, and Photos
- The website will have a PDF menu page, with the ability for the client to upload new menus as needed
- The website can have an OpenTable or Yelp integration
Here, there are no surprises, and you can give your clients exactly what they want.
Easier to market and build a brand
Finding a niche allows you to present yourself as a master of a particular industry.
And, it is easier to market to people in that industry by showing that you only work with that industry.
For example, a company called Clio makes software for specifically for lawyers to help them manage their practice.
That’s all the company does.
And they’ve been able to build their brand around that.
They don’t do anything else, and it has allowed the company to build a brand and get a customer base by owning that space.
And they’ve received tons of VC funding, have hundreds of thousands of users, and an extremely successful business.
If you don’t work in the legal industry, you probably have never heard of them. But they don’t care about that.
It doesn’t matter to their company that their product is not relevant for other professionals or restaurants because they can have success in their market that has demand for their products and services.
With an industry niche, you can create a company brand and market hard to that industry.
Also, you can name your company something evocative of that space.
This will make you stand out from more generic competitors.
It will make businesses in your space trust you more and more likely to want to work with you because they will understand that you “get” their market.
It won’t be like working with a general-purpose web design shop, where they have to explain to you how their business works.
You will already have that expertise, and even more expertise since website design for that industry is all that you do.
And, you can get more business and web traffic by doing content marketing related to your industry.
You can write blog posts related to websites in your industry, or even tangentially related things about your industry but demonstrate your knowledge of the space.
You can share your expertise with your audience to become a leader in the space.
Easier to find partners
If you are an authority in your particular industry, there are opportunities to partner with other companies serving your industry.
You can co-market with other service providers that do not directly compete with you.
You could do webinars to provide value to their audiences, and they could do the same for yours.
You could even develop your own website plugins that integrate their services and tools to your websites, to further build out an ecosystem for clients in your industry.
With partners, there is a lot you can do in your industry.
Easier to build a business you can sell
Lastly, if you have built a web design business serving a particular industry, you have a business that can eventually get acquired by another company.
Having a general-purpose web design business would most likely only be acquired by another web design business, should you be looking for an exit.
But, a web design business serving a particular industry has more options. You could sell to another web design company that serves different industries, or you could sell to a business that serves your industry but doesn’t do websites.
One good example is a partner.
If you do websites for restaurants, for example, and a partner does restaurant marketing, there might be an opportunity for them to acquire you to get into the web design space and have a larger portfolio of services to offer clients in your market.
Finding the right niche can help you build a business that you can grow.
Though the idea of having to turn away business because you don’t serve other industries might be nerve-wracking, finding a niche is key to streamlining your services, building a brand, finding great partners, effective marketing, and building something you can eventually sell.
Has your web design business found the right niche?
Please share your feedback in the comments below.
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Offsprout was founded by two former college freshman roommates. Drawing from their experience building their web design business, JurisPage, which was acquired in 2016, Offsprout is singularly focused on being the best white label website building tool for web design businesses.