Starting a business

As I mentioned in my previous post, I haven’t been able to update the blog in a few months. Creating the blog led to me getting my first ever website building contract, and I decided that this would be my mummy-money-making direction for the future. So what has it been like starting a business from scratch?

My Mum has been self employed for most of her life and I remember as a teenager I asked her what it was like running your own business. She told me that it was rewarding, but very tiring, as you ended up working at all hours and very rarely had a day off! She was right. It is very hard work, especially when you are the only one wearing all the hats of business owner, sales, marketing and accounting!

How much to charge

My first challenge was coming up with a price for the work I had been asked to do. I had no idea! I was also on holiday at the time so it was difficult to do the research. I came up with a cost based on what I was able to find and sent it to the client, along with a detailed email about the work I would carry out for him.

I was really surprised when I got a reply back saying he would pay more than what I had asked for! He wanted to give me fair payment based on what he thought it should cost. What it had come down to was that where I had thought I would create the website from an existing theme template, he wanted a full custom design.

How to deliver the work

I had to go back to the drawing board and not only decide what the new price would be, but also find out how I could create a site from scratch with my limited experience. It was then I started researching page builders. I found out these would let me design professional quality webpages without needing to be an expert at coding. There were 3 viable choices – Beaverbuilder, Divi, and Elementor.

After watching a LOT of YouTube videos about page builders, I decided Elementor was the best choice. It also had the most affordable pricing structure that would allow me to extend my licence as my business grew.

Next I had to figure out how to actually use Elementor. My first attempts were, to say the least, clumsy. I went back to YouTube to help me figure out how to use it properly. There I found lots of tutorials, and after following those I had built 2 really lovely looking webpages from scratch. I found the principles weren’t too dissimilar from using Computer Aided Design software which I had lots of experience of. I had also learnt how to build websites offline – another useful skill to add to my collection.

Writing my first contract

Now I was confident that I could actually build a website myself, I put everything I had agreed with my client into a formal contract. He had asked whether I wanted to send him one and I felt like it was in both of our interests to do so. Luckily, I had a good amount of experience writing proposals and reviewing contracts so I felt relatively comfortable with doing it. I was excited to be writing it for myself as opposed to doing it for someone else!

As far as terms and conditions went, I felt more out of my depth with this. However, I was able to find some good templates online specifically for website designers and used those as the basis for my own Ts and Cs. My favourite template was the Killer Contract because the language they used was so easy to understand.

Off the contract went, and when it was signed and returned my husband and I went out to enjoy a celebratory drink! My new business was officially born.

Creating my first invoice

Next I had to create my first invoice. This was relatively straightforward using the free online accounting platform, Quickfile. However, I found that actually doing my accounting with Quickfile was quite fiddly. I ended up switching over to Wave further down the line. My invoice was paid, and I was able to purchase the starter licence for Elementor and get going.

Building the site

Building the website was a whole learning process all on its own. It was still taking me a while to get to grips with using Elementor. I managed to get the first few pages done though and was really pleased with how they looked. More importantly, so was my client! I kept up communication with him via Skype, phone, and by sending videos of the pages being used using the free screen recorder by Screencast-O-Matic.

Everything was going great, until it came to building the blog page. That had me stumped for quite a few days! I wanted the page to automatically update with new blog posts but it wasn’t playing ball. Google was my friend, and a few hours and few forums later I had found the answer and got it working.

My final task was to make sure the website was responsive, meaning it would look good on whatever device it was viewed on. Elementor made this process pretty straightforward. It just involved tinkering with the sizes of the text and the positioning and size of the page sections.  

Celebrating after finishing the project

I sent the final invoice to my client and went for another celebratory drink! The website was finished, albeit waiting for the final content to be sent over and uploaded before it could go live. I had a very happy client, and I had a nice confidence boost that yes, I could do this for more people!

So that was the very start of my journey. Going on from there I needed to create my brand, launch my own website, and start some marketing. More on that in my next post!

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