If you’ve been building websites for clients for a while, you’ve probably reached a point where you have turned away clients who can’t afford you. It’s actually a great position to be in. It means you’ve come to the realization that your time is worth something and you’re not willing to sacrifice that worth for clients with low budgets.
But if you’re like me, you don’t feel quite right referring them off to some do-it-yourself website builder with a curt “goodbye and good luck.”
That’s a little harsh right?
What if there was a better way? What if there was a way to serve these clients, keep them happy, and still earn a healthy living?
Before I dive in to answering these questions, let’s explore some myths around the magical “high-budget” clients that we are all seeking.
A large budget doesn’t always mean MORE profit.
As a solo-preneur web consultant I’m constantly hustling to find those “golden” clients. You know the ones. Those clients that say “I need an awesome website, ongoing support, and I’ll pay whatever you tell me to pay.”
These folks do exist, though sometimes they can feel more like a mythical creature than an actual real-life person.
When I sense a good client like this has approached me, I fight tooth and nail to earn their business and keep them happy.
I carefully craft the perfect proposal. I have phone calls and meetings with them to fully understand their needs. I design mock-ups and send emails, gently holding their hand through content gathering and rounds of revisions. I customize icon sets and buy stock photos, purchase and install premium plugins and develop custom functionality.
Sometimes I’ll hire contractors to help with the bigger projects or when I reach a design or technical road block.
No problem. This client is paying me thousands of dollars for this website. I can splurge to ensure they’re happy.
Yet at the end of the process I look back at the time I tracked, the software I purchased, the help I hired and the research I did. I soon realize that at the end of the day my profit (you know that nifty chunk of money that’s left over after all the bills are paid and my time is compensated?) is barely a blip. It’s not much more that what I would get from a much smaller website.
Sure, the client paid a healthy sum for the website project. Seeing all those zeroes gave me a rush and made me feel proud of my accomplishment. But at the end of the day I still struggled and hustled to convince them that I’m worthy.
And a low budget doesn’t always mean LOW profit.
On the flip side, there are plenty of struggling small businesses out there that need a simple, but effective web presence. They’re successful business owners and they understand that quality marketing requires an investment. But they, like me, also have bills to pay and are trying to make a profit. They don’t have the thousands of dollars in up-front capital to spend on a shiny new custom-built website.
These clients don’t need anything fancy. They just want a website that represents their business well and converts visitors into clients.
In a few days I can set up a template, optimize the site, and implement some best practices that I’ve learned over the years. I can charge a couple grand or less for this site and make a good profit, and the client will be happy.
And I’d make nearly the SAME amount of profit from these clients when all is said and done.
What’s more, as their business grows and they become more profitable as a business (in no small part due to their awesome website) they’ll look to me to continue to add value, improve the website, optimize for search engines, set-up their newsletter, integrate eCommerce, the list goes on.
Yet I wouldn’t benefit from any of that had I turned them down for not having thousands of dollars in hand from the get-go.
So why not just jump on Craigslist and start pumping out a constant stream of $500 sites?
There is a catch.
I’m obviously not the first person to realize there’s a market for clients with lower budgets. Enter the bargain “website builders” like Squarespace, Wix, and WordPress.com. Not to mention every host has its own cheap web-builder platform aimed at small businesses.
They capitalize on the “shock” that businesses feel when they realize how much a custom built website really costs. Then they offer a one-size-fits-all solution. That’s tempting for a small business on a budget.
Also, keep in mind that while you may end up making the same profit from low-budget clients, you still need to spend the time to find them, qualify them, set expectations, send a proposal. The up-front work is the same. That can end up eating into your profits as well.
So WIIFM (what’s in it for me)?
So why chase these low-budget clients? Shouldn’t we just send them to places like Squarespace and Wix? Those places offer beautiful websites that seem to kinda get the job done. And the price is right.
Not so fast!
These clients would be willing to spend a bit more to have a website platform that helps them with their specific needs instead of the one-size-fits-all approach of the aforementioned website builder platforms.
These folks may have a low-profit-margin business and may not have the thousands of dollars up-front to pay for a custom solution. They do, however, have some money to invest into marketing every month, and they’re willing to pay that money indefinitely if they see results.
If you sit down and think about it, would YOU be able to afford one of YOUR websites? Would you be able to hire you?
I’d venture to say the answer for most of us is no. Yet there are many of potential clients, clients that are like us, that may be a great fit for us, that we’re turning away because of that.
Many of us still want to serve these clients. We feel a connection to these scrappy start-ups and struggling mom and pop shops. We want to help them.
If you can provide a solution for these clients that meets their specific needs and you can still be profitable, you’d probably jump on it right?
Enter turnkey websites.
Turnkey websites are a win/win.
If you’re not quite sure what I’m talking about when I mention turnkey websites, check out the about page for a quick primer. Suffice it to say that turnkey websites are a great solution for your low-budget clients.
How can a turnkey system serve your low-budget clients and still make you a profit?
- You set it up once and let it run on virtual auto-pilot. You’re not putting all that effort to write a proposal, interview the client, design or configure a theme, and go through rounds and rounds of revisions. You simply do the development work once. Then use that one theme to serve dozens or hundreds of clients that pay you every month. That equals more profit for you.
- You can charge a competitive monthly rate so your clients aren’t breaking the bank. Only you know what the sweet spot is for pricing. Just keep in mind that you’re now competing with the Squarespaces of the world. Your offer is obviously more valuable so keep the pricing in perspective. Know that you’re in it for the long game. That equals more savings for your clients.
- These clients will be loyal and are likely to purchase more from you in the future. The real profit starts to come from add-on services. This is where you can start to really address your client’s needs with specialized services like content writing, SEO, and lead funnels. Your clients will be more likely to purchase these services because they’re saving so much money on the website. Then you can systematize it all to reduce the burden on your business. This equals a true win/win for both you and your clients.
Avoid your website consultant tendencies and have fun!
It’s tempting to want to bring some of your website consulting habits with you to your turnkey websites.
There are certain things that cannot be a part of your turnkey platform if you ever hope to target the low-budget clients and earn a profit.
- Long on-boarding sequences
- Live client calls
- Custom development
You want to treat your turnkey solution more like a product than a service. Those white-glove features are great for your boutique consulting business though, so keep doing them! This is not an either/or scenario. You can do both.
The beauty of turnkey websites is that you can run it on the side of your design/development business. It’s a great way to supplement that income with a steady and reliable stream of monthly recurring revenue.
Plus you can feel good knowing you’re giving clients of every budget the awesome website they deserve.
Want to learn more about how to put together a turnkey websites solution? Download the free Technical Handbook below and you’ll be put on the list to receive updates and new resources as they become available.