If you’re an experienced web developer looking to branch out on your own, there are a few things you need to know about starting a business. It requires a lot of background work including getting your business plan and budget ready as well as organising your legal documents.
This guide will take you through all the elements you’ll need for a successful web developer business.
What’s in this guide?
What skills, knowledge or requirements do I need to start a web developers business?
Firstly, you’ll need experience as a web developer. You won’t be able to build a successful business without the skills and experience to hold it up. Make sure you’ve have learnt the necessary programming languages and skills in search engine optimisation (SEO) will help as well.
You will be dealing with clients, so make sure your interpersonal skills are up to scratch as well as your negotiation skills. You will also need basic business skills, for example, the ability to market your business and business budgeting.
What courses or qualifications do I need to complete?
You don’t need a specific qualification to work as a web developer. You do need experience in building and managing websites as well as debugging technical issues with websites.
While useful, coding is not a required skill when starting. As you work with new clients, you can help build websites with the use of pre-built themes. Of course, as your work grows, you will need to upskill. If you don’t already have a well-rounded skill in web development, here are some free online courses you can consider:
Equipment and software needed to start a web developers business.
You can start your web developer business from home or at an office. You might also consider signing up to a coworking space. The main piece of equipment you need is a computer. You might also need:
- A comfortable chair and desk
- A computer with an external monitor
- A printer and a scanner
- An ergonomic keyboard and mouse
- A second computer for backup
- External hard drive for backup
Your work developing websites will require some investment in software that will help make your job go smoothly. You may want to consider the following:
- Adobe Creative Cloud
- HTML editor
- Graphics editor
- Antivirus software
- Subscription for stock photos
- Web domain
- Project management apps
Related: Compare business software online
What business structures do I need to consider before starting a web developers business?
Before you start networking with clients, you will need to consider what kind of business structure you need. The three most common in Australia are:
- Sole Trader. This is a common structure for small business owners and is relatively simple to set up. With this structure, you are personally liable for the business.
- Company. Setting up a company means your business will be a separate legal entity from you. This structure requires more paperwork and can be expensive and is usually used for larger-scale organisations.
- Partnership. If you want to go into business with two or more people and want to share income, you might choose a partnership. All partners are responsible for business debts and actions against the partnership. Each partner is individually liable for debts incurred by the other partners.
Do I need any legal documents written up before I start operating? What about online legal services?
As a web developer, you will not only need to protect your business but also the creative work you’ve done. The legal documents you’ll need are:
- Web design agreement. This agreement details the legal provisions relating to the writing of a new website or the improvement of an existing site. This document should define the scope of your work and what is not included, the review and approval process, number of revisions, project termination.
- Custom code development agreement. If you create a code and need to reuse it for multiple clients, then you will need to license it. By licensing it, you own the code.
- Website Terms and Conditions. It is a legal notice that informs users of the services, use and limitations of your website.
Get access to legal services and documents online
How much should I charge my customers?
Depending on the website’s features and level of customisation, a web developer can charge anywhere from $30 to $60 per hour. A whole website might cost between $1,000 to $5,000, but it can be more depending on the number of web pages, flash animation and video, extra features such as e-commerce and website maintenance.
The average cost for a web developer differs by state, so take a look at your competitors’ rates and their services. Some services offer a website package to provide customers with a fixed price. Remember to consider your time, skills, education and the hard work you put into your project when setting a price.
How can I build my customer base?
There are a few ways to market your business and build your customer base. You can consider using email newsletters, collaborations and online advertisements. Your business portfolio carries a lot of weight and will speak for your work, so make sure clients can find it on your website.
If you don’t have a large portfolio, create website mockup templates to show potential clients. You can also offer a discount or affiliate program to bloggers, influencers and clients.
You can also post your specialised skills on online marketplaces such as hipages, Airtasker and Oneflare.
Frequently asked questions
When can I expect profits for my business?
This depends on how much pre-business setup work you’ve done. If you already have some clients and work they need doing, then you could see profits quite quickly. Just make sure to remember the costs you will have to set up.
Do I need social media?
It’s a good idea to have a social media presence for your business, but you don’t need to be on every platform. Take a look at what social presence your competitors have and decide whether you should be there too. If not, consider alternative platforms.
What are the disadvantages of being a web developer?
Developing a website requires long hours of sitting in front of a computer screen. Without the right equipment, you could end up with nerve damage in your hands. There will also be weeks or months where you might have even to juggle several projects at a time. If you’re working from home, you will need to be strict with setting a boundary between your work and home life.
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