It’s entirely possible for you to build your own WordPress website building business if you come from a graphic design background. Don’t be put off by anything you might read. You can do it.
I see many graphic designers on our WordPress training courses that want to move from print design to digital.
Quite a few of the graphic designers I see have been outsourcing the digital element of projects to third parties, but now they either want to understand more about the technical side, when speaking to their outsourced partners, or they want to bring the website build in-house and do it themselves.
There are thousands of ways to approach a WordPress project and the following is just one approach. But it’s core aim is to provide you a route that will enable a graphic designer with no technical background to be able to create a sustainable WordPress website building business, with minimum support and happy customers – which is a good thing :)
So here we go – here’s my 6 easy steps to building your own WordPress website building business if you are a graphic designer.
1) Get some basic training on the fundamentals of how to build a WordPress website
Getting the basics in place should only take one day.
A basic WordPress course should cover things like
- How to install WordPress onto the domain you are going to use
- How to build a website in development mode and make it live
- The core concepts of WordPress content management
- How to change WordPress from a blog to a website
- Changing the design with WordPress themes
- How to back up and secure your website
- The difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org
I see many graphic designers that have spent hours and days struggling to learn WordPress, either with books or on Youtube. There are many great books out there and tutorials on Youtube but many frankly are over complex for what you are going need for the majority of your website builds. So either jump on a WordPress training course from someone that actually does this day to day or check out my WordPress quick start guide videos.
Once you have the basic’s in place then your WordPress journey can begin. Later on when your confidence grows, you might want to consider digging a bit more into some aspects of tweaking designs with css. But you don’t need to do that from day one if you choose good themes to work with.
2) Choose a few ‘flexible’ WordPress themes to work with
Choosing the theme for a WordPress website if one of the most important decisions you will make for you clients.
It’s really important that you choose tried and tested themes to work with, that you know will work for every project. There are some really beautiful themes out there, and some amazing demo’s, but be really careful. Often those amazing demo’s have taken hours and hours to put together and only look beautiful because they have used amazing photography.
For that reason, I’m going to warn you against using theme sites like themeforest if you are just starting out. There are some great themes on there, but there are some terrible themes on there, and it’s almost impossible to tell which is good and which is bad. I’ve seen many designers that buy a theme on theme forest and then get completely stuck.
For me the most important criteria for you when choosing a theme to work with is going to be ‘how flexible is the theme?”. Because you are a graphic designer being able to change the design aspects of the theme, without have to get into code is going to be really important to you. So choose a theme where you can change things like the layout, the colors, the fonts, without having to touch a line of code. There are a few very customizable themes out there, some free, some commercial, and here’s my list of some of the best.
- Make – Theme foundry (free and pro versions available)
- 18tags – Pootlepress (free and pro versions available)
- Divi – Elegant Themes (pro version only)
- Customizr – (free and pro versions available)
- Storefront – (free version only) – great for e-commerce websites
All the above themes are built by proper companies, with proper coding standards, where you can get support.
3) Use a page builder plugin
Being a graphic designer you are used to laying out page designs in an intuitive way – and this is what page builders will give you.
Most of the good page builders let drag and drop elements into your pages and design them visually.
Here’s a list of some of the best
- Site origin pagebuilder (free only)
- Pootle page builder (free and pro versions)
- Elementor (free and pro versions available )
- Beaver builder (free and pro versions available )
4) Don’t skimp on hosting
Choose a really good hosting company and don’t just go for the cheapest deals. Here’s a list of some good ones that won’t let you down.
If you are building many sites for customers then hosting companies also offer reseller accounts, where in some cases you can host unlimited websites for approximately £50 ($60) per month.
5) Choose an easy to use back up solution
To minimise the pain if anything ever goes wrong (it will definitely go wrong at some point) then choose a super easy backup solution.
A back up will enable you to restore a customers website to a point in the past when it wasn’t broken.
Hopefully this will never happen during your WordPress website building career but it probably will. There are many back up solutions for WordPress, but the easiest is Vaultpress.com ($3.50 per month per site) . This is something that you can probably charge to your customer. What’s really nice about Vaultpress is that there is nothing technical for you to worry about if the world breaks. You just have a long list of dates and a nice big restore button next to each date. You’ll find free back up solutions out there, but in my view it’s worth the investment for the ease of use of Vaultpress.
6) Be strict with your workflow and your customers
One of the most important things for you to do is to minimise the variables you face and keep sticking to your limited toolset of themes and plugins.
You’ll most likely have potential customers who will approach you with their own designs or will ask you to use unknown themes from third party sites (like Themeforest) . My advice is to avoid these projects, or try your best to steer your customers into what you know will work. They will probably thank you for it later on, because they’ll have reduced support and pain costs.
One good tactic here is to provide your clients with two costs. One for what they can have ‘out of the box’ and another for a bespoke build.
If you do take on bespoke projects then be prepared for the extra time and support it will take you.
My advice is to try and build a WordPress website building factory where you can build sites, quickly with minimal pain and cost.
The majority of the websites you build as you start out will probably be quite small sites, where you customers have limited budgets, so creating a profitable workflow if going to be essential for you.
So there are my six steps for a graphic designer to build a WordPress website building business. Have fun and good luck.