I don't believe freelance web design is going to remain viable as a full-time source of income as we move into the new year – and there are a lot of reasons why.
Who Is Going To Get Hit The Hardest?
Web designers who need to make a full-time income working on their own or in a small team are going to get hit the hardest.
Have you seen what's going on with Upwork and Fiverr?
Freelancer platform Fiverr released its Q1 figures on Thursday, showing a 100% year-over-year growth in revenue of $68.3 million, one of the highest Q1 revenue figures reported in the company's history.ZDNet.com
Fiverr is reporting 100% year-over-year growth and Upwork is reporting similar numbers. If you thought it was hard to get leads last year now it's at least twice as hard because there are so many more people competing for your clients.
The point I'm making is not that Fiverr is booming. The point is that because of all the changes to the global economy over the last year there are many more people trying to do exactly what you're doing. In other words, there's a massive increase in competition.
That means at least two things:
- It's harder to get leads
- Downward pressure on prices
How Do You Plan To Get Leads?
A mentor of mine told me something years ago. At the time it knocked the wind out of me and actually made me mad, but it was totally true.
If you're not in control of your leads, you're not in control of your business. In fact, you probably don't even have a business.My Business Mentor
Without leads, you're just waiting for jobs to pop up – usually through word-of-mouth referrals. The feast-or-famine problem is one of the main signs that you don't have a marketing plan. You're just relying on other people to do your marketing for you.
Doing Work vs. Building A Business
Most web designers are just doing work without building a business. In other words, they are waiting for people to hire them for short-term projects.
That means, web designers have:
- No offer (just availability)
- No consistent lead flow (just referrals)
- No measurable differentiator (just a portfolio)
- No target market (works for anyone)
- No market depth of knowledge (just tech skills)
- No recurring revenue (except maybe hosting)
- No growth strategy (just trying to stay afloat)
- No exit strategy (all the value is literally just you working)
The dream is to have the freedom, wealth, and lifestyle that comes with owning your own business at the cost of giving up the stability of a 9-5 job.
Sadly, the reality is you got the short end of both sticks:
- No job stability
- No wealth and a lifestyle with virtually no freedom and a lot more stress
The Silver Lining
The growth of these freelance communities is a good sign in that it shows that business owners are spending a lot more money with smaller/independent web designers.
Here are some other interesting stats from Fiverr's Investor Report that give us insight into how the web design market is changing:
- Active buyers as of June 30, 2021 grew to 4.0 million, compared to 2.8 million as of June 30, 2020, an increase of 43% year over year.
- Spend per buyer as of June 30, 2021 reached $226, compared to $184 as of June 30, 2020, an increase of 23% year over year.
Summary: There are a lot more buyers (business owners looking for help) and they are spending more.
What's The Solution?
There's one thing that will make all the difference. We've already found this to be true over the last few years. I think it's going to be even more important moving forward into 2022.
You need to build a Solution First Agency.
Solution First Agency
A Solution First Agency is founded on three principles called the Triangle of Value.
- Target Market
Who can you serve the best?
What measurable and specific result do they want?
How confident are you in being able to create that outcome?
When you combine all three of those points together into one system you have a Solution First Agency.
You develop the solution FIRST, then you wrap your marketing around the outcomes of your solution. This is how you attract clients away from garden-variety web designers who only have their availability to offer.
You will be able to charge more, develop massive recurring revenue through monthly marketing plans, and your business itself will have value.
All the problems we listed above get flipped on their heads when you put the solution first because everybody else is running around fighting for leads with a solution LAST mentality.
Solution Last; Finish Last
The traditional approach to web design is:
- Get a referral
- Meet with them to figure out what they want
- Go figure out some solution to do that stuff
This is the solution last mentality. Without a solution, the only thing left for your marketing is a dry list of skills and your availability. That's what everyone else is doing and it just doesn't work anymore. We all know it doesn't work too. That's why most web designers don't even bother and instead just wait and hope for referrals.
How To Build A Solution First Agency
I've developed a step-by-step system for building your own Solution First Agency.
We cover five steps:
- How to select a booming target market
- How to package your skills into a high-value solution
- What to say on your website
- How to price your solution
- How to generate more leads than you can accept (without buying ads)
Best of all, I'll personally coach you through the whole process to make sure it all comes to life for you.
Schedule a time and we'll talk to see if this is the right fit for you.