Don’t have experience as a web developer? Don’t let that stop you! This guide is going to show you how to go from no coding skills at all to owning a web development business that will generate income and a home for all your personal websites in no time.
I’ve had a web development business for about 6 years now and I barely had any idea how to make a website at the beginning. Over time I’ve had to switch hosts 7 times because of horrible downtime, I’ve dealt with constant hack attempts since 2016, and I’ve learned how to use AI to our advantage so we can sit back and relax.
What are the benefits of owning a web development company?
The list is endless, but let’s go through my favorite benefits:
- Tax Write-Offs! Did you know that if you have a conventional job you’re actually working for the government until April? That’s right. Your hard work is going straight to taxes. However, if you have a business you can lower your taxes by buying something you already need or even going out for dinner can lower your taxes. How do you think Jeff Bezos gets away with such low taxes?
- You have a home for your own personal sites! This one is huge for me. I am constantly coming out with business ideas and this gives me the ability to host them for free!
- You can always expand a technology company. Feel like flying drones? That’s technology. How about photography or filming? Want to get into robotics? The list is endless.
- You get recurring income from clients for doing practically nothing. People don’t want to take time to learn things, so that’s where maintenance plans come in to increase your profit.
- Need some extra cash? Get your bots set up and you have a sales force that will find you jobs.
The Game Plan
Here’s a quick overview of what we’ll go over.
- Legal – Business Name, incorporation, and business license
- Tax benefits
- Basics to Web Development and what to learn
- Setting up your first website
- Getting Clients
- Website Monitoring for your clients
- Upselling and possible expansions
- Automating your sales force
- What not to do
Legal – Business Name, incorporation, and business license
I have to recommend that you get legal and accounting advice from a professional. Sometimes it makes more sense to incorporate your business, but sometimes it makes more sense to stay as a sole proprietorship. This is something I, unfortunately, can’t help you with because all locations are different and everyone’s personal situation is different.
Personally, I incorporated. It helps protect your personal assets, enhances your business credibility, might lower your taxes, easier to get government grants, and gain anonymity.
Hold on… let’s talk about a couple of those points quickly.
Corporations have lower tax rates unless you are an extremely low-income earner, but we want this company to make the big bucks. Corporation tax rates in Canada are currently a net tax of 15%. Check here in case it has changed when you read this.
Government Grants. If you have a corporation then you may be eligible for grants. Most countries seem to have these abilities so you’ll have to check on your countries grant process, but in Canada, you can check out this page to see what you’re eligible for. canadabusiness.ca/grants-and-financing/
Let’s talk about your business name. You’re going to want it to be something catchy and if you’re registering your business name you’ll need to have a descriptive element. For this I use Technologies. So for me, I used the name Web Limitless Technologies. This gives me the ability to expand to all different fields in the technology realm. This leads me to the tax benefit.
Say you just made $10,000 in one month. If you use this income as personally you might pay close to 40% taxes. This means that you’re going to pay $4,000 to the taxman and you’ll pocket $6,000. Now say you get incorporated and that lowers your taxes to 15%. That means that you’re going to have to pay $1500 in taxes if you don’t spend anything leaving you with $8,500.
Now let’s say you really want a faster computer that’s going to cost $2,000. This lowers your net income to $8,000 where you’re taxed 15%, so you’re taxes are now $1,200. But lets make a bigger shopping list.
- Dinner with your business partner a couple of times a week- $500. Your business partner might be a spouse, friend, advisor, etc. You just need to talk a bit about business and log it. Personally, a big part of my life is the numerous businesses I have and I always talk to my girlfriend about it, so dinners practically always a write-off. Sometimes you can only use 50% off your bill as a write-off, but other times you might be able to stick it in a category for employee benefits where the corporation is covering your meal cost as an employee benefit. I personally don’t take a paycheck from the corporation so the least it can do is pay for a meal! You are not the corporation, the corporation is a separate entity that employees you. You can almost look at a corporation as a completely new person you put into this world. This is the reason why I may refer to the corporation like it’s a totally different person.
- Now I’m wanting to add photography and filming as a service I can add to clients. Plus, I’ve always wanted to learn! So we’re going to need a few items
- Time to get educated – Parker Walbecks Full-Time Filmmaker will teach you how to make amazing videos and the cost is $799
- DJI Mavic Pro Drone – $1500
- Drone school and licensing – $500
- Canon SL2 – $500
- A wide-angle lens for real estate videos – $700
- $250 – Let’s also head to AppSumo (we’ll talk about this site later) and go on a shopping spree! Time to get a chatbot, accounting software, or whatever else they have for the day!
- Phone bill – $75. You can’t run a business without a phone
- Internet – $50 – Again…. you need internet
- Home office – $500 – You’ll have to talk to your accountant about this one. In this example, we’re saying that we use 1/3 of our $1500 house as an office
- Dr. Ho – $200. My back is killing me from sitting at the desk all day so I need a massage!
Now with the computer, we have spent $7,575 on things that have greatly enhanced our life and our business. So now you have only made $2,425. Now you owe the taxman $360. You have now saved over $3,600 on taxes!
Make sure you use accounting software or excel to organize your expenses and income. It will save you a lot of headaches when it’s time to do your taxes. Taxes are a lot more difficult for businesses and can get expensive if you’re not organized, so stay organized and maybe even take a few accounting courses online so you can understand it a little more.
Basics to Web Development and what to learn
Websites are really really easy to develop these days! It’s not like the olden days where we had to code a website. All we need is the right tools and we’ll have a visual builder that does it all.
Check out this quick 5-minute video I did to show you what you’ll need
To start your journey to building websites you’re going to need to purchase a few things.
A domain name, which can be bought from GoDaddy for only $3 for the first year if you’re a first time user, is like your address for being online. It can be something like hello.com or example.com. Your best bet is to keep it short and easy to spell. If you decide to register a business name then go for what your business name is, but keep out the descriptive element. ie – technologies.
The next thing you need is a big one and I suggest you follow everything I say here. You’re going to need something called Web Hosting. This is like your home. You need to pay rent or property tax to be online and this is that. You either pay monthly or yearly and it’s very important that you go for a great host. That’s why I choose SiteGround. If you get Web Hosting with GoDaddy it’s almost like you’re parking your website in a sketch area of town. SiteGround is like your site is living in a gated community. SiteGround provides fast support, an SSL certificate for free which protects your site and increases your chances of being seen on Google, and they provide a bunch more techy features that I won’t scare you with yet. When you go to SiteGround you’re going to want to click “WordPress Hosting” and then “Grow Big”. Why I choose “Grow Big” is because you can have lots of websites on one account. It says unlimited, but I found the resources can only handle a maximum of 10 websites.
Now that you have web hosting and a domain name you’re going to want to set your nameservers on your domain name to point to your SiteGround server. You can find your nameservers on the left hand side of your Cpanel. Then to change your nameservers with GoDaddy you can follow this guide https://ca.godaddy.com/help/set-custom-nameservers-for-domains-registered-with-godaddy-12317
Once your nameserver is set follow this guide to add the SSL certificate onto the domain name within SiteGround with this guide https://www.siteground.com/tutorials/getting-started/install-a-certificate/
Setting up your first website
Now it’s time to work some magic!!! First thing you’re going to do is head to your cpanel within SiteGround. Now install WordPress with this guide – https://www.siteground.com/tutorials/wordpress/softaculous-installation/
Now that WordPress is installed you should really invest some money into a theme called Divi theme by Elegant Themes. Themes are what makes your website look the way it looks. Divi Theme uses a visual builder that is so easy to use that you can learn it in under 2 hours. However, if it’s not in your budget then you can play with Elementor which also has a visual builder.
Watch how to make a website with Divi below
Now that you have your website made you’re going to want to add some plugins to increase functionality. Until you have some clients it’s okay to use some free plugins, but make sure you upgrade when you start landing clients who pay monthly (more on that later). The plugins you want to use are the following:
- Yoast SEO – https://en-ca.wordpress.org/plugins/wordpress-seo/
- WordFence Security – https://en-ca.wordpress.org/plugins/wordfence/
- WP Smushit for Image Optimization – https://en-ca.wordpress.org/plugins/wp-smushit/
You’ve built one website, how do you get clients from that?
I know you think you may not be a pro yet, but that’s okay. You don’t need to be! All you need is to be better than some and there are a lot of people in this world who would rather just say that they can’t do something than take a day to learn it. It’s a crazy world we’re living in where people would rather turn on Netflix, read a fiction book, take some selfies, or down a couple of beers then use their brains. Now let’s target these people!
How I do this is by targeting small cities. Big cities may have a lot of potential customers, but they also have lots of competition that is probably better than you at web development. The business owners in big cities may have embraced technology already as well. Small Cities have lots of small business owners you can target and usually the bigger companies that are pros are too expensive for them.
You’re going to be working for barely anything at the beginning, but at least you’ll be making money while learning instead of paying a university to teach you. You’ll also be growing a client base and a residual income.
I priced my websites at $99 for a 5-page website. This is just fine for small businesses who just want a web presence. I make sure I write in the contracts that I will only do 2-3 revisions and if they want more I charge $100/revision. The client has to buy their own domain name through GoDaddy (can’t compete with their prices) and they have to get their web hosting through me. They don’t receive access to the cpanel because it’s going to be through your my account. If they want to host somewhere else then I charge an additional $200 transfer fee. They also have to contact me if they need any changes and I charge $40/hour with a minimum of an hour charge.
When I first started I charged clients $5/month to host the account. This makes it so we can still compete if they decide to go shopping for prices, but I suggest you charge $10/month because they are also receiving a free SSL certificate which usually costs up to $100/year anywhere else. I also point out that all the other companies have low introductory rates, but after the first year, they’ll be paying far more then if they stick with me. Now I charge $50/month and I include 1 hour of support that no one ever uses. If that’s not in the budget for the client then I don’t want to deal with them anymore.
Make sure you charge your clients before you make the website. Say to them that the full payment is required for you to start and it takes up to 3 months for the website to be made. Aim to get it done within the first couple of weeks so you can over-deliver. If you’re like me and charging $1000+/website then I suggest just taking a 50% deposit and collecting the remainder when the clients happy.
This is where people seem to get discouraged, but I have never had trouble landing a client. If I wanted to I could probably land 10 this week by following these methods if I still wanted to make websites for cheap.
Classified Ads – I like to check out Kijiji and Craigslist and contact the small businesses that are posting ads. Make sure you check out the services section and contact the tradesmen. They can build stuff but are completely lost when it comes to computers. Also, contact anyone else on there who you think might benefit from using a website. We’re trying to help their business while increasing our client base.
Daily Deal Sites – These are starting to die off, but it might still be worth a try. Try to locate Daily Deal Sites in small cities and see if they want to add a promo. Make sure you don’t put down how much you charge on your website because you’re going to say that you usually charge $400, but you’re giving an amazing price of only $99. There are advantages and disadvantages to running daily deal site promos. You have to usually pay a commission to them, which can be as high as 50% sometimes! However, I find that only 50% of people who purchase the promo actually use it. Once they realize they have to write the content they go back to their lazy selves. I also make sure I through all those terms in there that we talked about earlier. Must host with me at $5-$10/month (whatever you decide), they need to purchase their own domain name, only 2 revisions, 5 pages maximum, etc. You don’t have to pay the daily deal company a commission for the up-sales you make once they get in the door.
Managing Your Clients
Now that you have a few people who want you to make them websites, it’s time to figure out how to organize your customers.
First, you’re going to need something that will bill the clients. I have a rather complicated system that uses Woocommerce and is linked to the site (free eCommerce plugin) plus the subscription add on which is expensive. It’s really hard to show someone how to create the system I have, so I’m going to redirect you to this page https://fitsmallbusiness.com/how-to-accept-recurring-payments/
You’re also going to want to start setting up newsletters. For that, I head to MailChimp. The free option is all you’ll need for now. Depending on what program you used above for billing you’re going to want to add an IFTTT (If This Then That) service. IFTTT will make it so when a new customer sets up billing it will automatically add their information to MailChimp so you can send them newsletters down the line. I know you may be thinking you don’t have enough customers to even think about a newsletter, but the earlier you do it the easier it will be down the line. Your mailing list is also one of the most valuable things you can have in any business, so don’t overlook it!
Website Monitoring for your clients
This is where the real money’s at! I never ever get into a business if I’m not going to be making a residual income. Residual money is money you make while you sleep and that’s the goal I always have when creating a business.
Say you work for 5 hours making a website that costs the client $100 and that’s it. You’ve made an average of $20/hour… better than the average job, but we’re not going for one-off income here. Now let’s say you add on a monitoring plan for the client that plugins manage and let you know if anything wrong. You’re not putting in any time and let’s say you charge your clients $25/month for it. After 2 years this client is now worth $700. Now your 5 hours of work is worth $140/hour. What happens if they remain your client for 6 years? Now we have a client that has made you $1900 which equals $380/hour for those original 5 hours you put in.
Website monitoring will require a bit more of an investment. There are many options you can use to monitor clients. One that is great if you don’t have any budget is ManageWP. The free option will do monthly backups, but you’ll have to update plugins and do security checks my physically logging into ManageWP and pressing the update button and then going to each individual site you manage and pressing the security check button.
The option I suggest if you’re planning on taking this seriously is by going to WPMU Dev and signing up to get the best plugins and management solution you can imagine. They sometimes offer up to 6 months free, so keep your eye on that. What you can do with WPMU Dev is set up their hub and Manage, update, monitor, scan, backup and improve unlimited WordPress sites, in one place. https://premium.wpmudev.org/hub-welcome/
Another benefit of WPMU Dev is their list of plugins that come with the membership. These plugins will be very beneficial if you start blogging or creating niche websites. Some benefits include an SEO plugin where you can set keywords that will automatically link to pages within your website or external websites, this is great for affiliate income as well as Google loves it when you have links. The other plugins will protect your site from viruses and hackers, make your website load faster, create an eCommerce platform so you can sell stuff online, create popups and so so much more.
Upselling and possible expansions
Getting bored with basic websites? The benefit of having a technology company is that technology is everywhere! Now that you have the client base you can pitch them your new service in a newsletter.
Here’s an example. Say you want to learn how to become a filmmaker and create amazing videos of your travels. This is also something that can benefit your clients because it can help them with advertising and marketing, so why not add this as a service? Now camera equipment can get expensive so what we’ll do is send out a newsletter saying that you’ve added video creation as a service and a 2-minute video on youtube will cost say $200 (if you have no experience). Now say 10 of your clients jump on board. You’ve now made enough to offset the Full-Time Filmmaker course and camera equipment. Remember to charge these clients upfront and give them a time frame that’s longer than it will actually take you to do it.
You can also expand to online marketing, AI, robotics, etc. The biggest bonus you receive from this is once you’ve learned these things you have a new skill that few possess. This will benefit all the companies you have in the future. Every single skill I pick up is something that is leading me to my ultimate goal of helping millions around the world.
Automating your sales force
Need to make some sales fast? Learn to work with Artificial Intelligence!
Back in 2013, I decided to hire people to help me with different aspects of the business. Turned out that people don’t normally have as much drive as I do, especially the people stuck in the employee mindset. It was an expensive lesson that I do not wish to go through again, but thankfully there is AI that can replace these people.
One of my favorite sites that I check out almost every day is AppSumo. This is like the Groupon for techies. You can find programs that will use AI to design a website, collect email addresses, send sales pitches and follow-ups to the collected email addresses, automatically post on social media accounts, create chatbots, and so much more. These deals are only available for a couple of days so you have to act quick. The programs are usually only $50 for lifetime access. They also have other useful tools for your business including audio licenses, stock photos, accounting software, and more.
To get more information about how I automate my businesses check out my blog post on Automating Your Business With AI
What Not To Do
There’s a lot of things not to do and if you’re new to the world of business you’re in for a lot of learning. There will be lots of failures and a few successes. The key is to stay consistent. Here’s my list of a few things not to do.
- Don’t waste weeks coming up with a business name. It can always change down the line if you decide to change it. If you have trouble then check out this person on Fiverr. She usually comes up with business names for me if it’s a business I want to put effort into and she’s really nice – fiverr.com/techconsult. If you don’t know what fiverr is, it’s a website where you can get things done for as little as $5. People do random things – voiceovers, logo design, impersonations, fake testimonials, backlinks, etc. This girl does charge a little more than $5, but she’s a pro and is worth more than the $15 she’s charging now.
- Don’t get lazy! If you’re going to have the mentality where you have to go get paid for the hours then don’t read any further. Go get a job and work for someone your entire life. Entrepreneurship is for the go-getter who wants to achieve more in their life and is sick of being tied down by a 9-5 in order to make other people money.
- Don’t get deterred from the fact that you don’t enjoy making website. I personally hate making websites for people and that’s why I’m now extremely selective of websites I create. Look at websites as a way to offset your expenses of being online by creating a residual income stream (More on this later)
- Don’t stop educating yourself. I spend a minimum of 2 hours every day educating myself in a range of topics. It has led to many different skills that are beneficial to the companies clients, skills that have created lots of other income-generating businesses, and I know that if I lost everything my brain is filled with enough information to pick myself back up again. However, you have to put your practices to use. If you’re just going learn something and not implement it then what’s the point. Knowledge is only useful if you’re going to do something with it.
- Stop thinking you don’t have the skills to do something. You don’t need to be the best, you just need to be better than some. My trick is to approach small cities because they’re usually lacking technology knowledge.
- Don’t let web development be the end of your journey online. There is even more money to be made with other online businesses! Let your web development/technology business be the beginning. You now have the ability to make as many websites/businesses as your imagination can handle. There is nothing that I do in my life that doesn’t generate income. However, I enjoy it all, so it’s not really work. I see myself as retired since I was 25 (2010) because all I’m doing is having fun and making money with my different activities.