Archives For Web Development

In my consulting business I currently enjoy a 75%+ conversation-to-client ratio, which means that more than 7 out of 10 of the folks that contact me (or that I contact) about work become clients. If you look at the projects where I’ve spent more than an hour on in the sale process, that number is closer to 90%. When I submit a proposal I am usually certain that my offer will be a match for their needs.

How is that so? I follow a four-step process. Let’s look at the steps now.

  1. Qualify your potential client – Before I look deeply into the project and definitely before I make an offer, I qualify the client to make sure that were a match. While budget is a definite factor, requirements, personality, subject matter, and timeline are equally important. I work to make sure, before the relationship grows, that it will be a mutual match.
  2. Establish a personal connection – I care a lot about the clients I serve and the work I do for them and, consequently, establishing and growing a personal connection is a priority for me. At the most basic level, it means caring and taking the time to show you care by paying attention to personal details, by asking questions, and by showing the initiative to share appropriate personal details of your own.
  3. Educate and share value freely – As I get to know the client and their project I offer ideas and recommendations, focusing on giving my very best, without holding back. I look for ways to teach them about concepts and technologies, shedding light on areas that may be new or confusing to them. Oftentimes, the knowledge and recommendations I’ve shared before the sale ends up working its way into the project. I cater the depth and detail of what I share to what I quickly learn of the client’s personality and interests and it makes a difference. Clients have continuously referenced and shown appreciation for the time I’ve taken to educate them and share value.
  4. Ask for the sale – Once I have a clear sense of what the client is trying to accomplish (i.e. their business objectives) I prepare my recommendations and an offer. At the end of the offer (presented via a formal proposal or via email, depending on the size and scope of the project), I ask them if my recommendations are a match for their needs (I expect that they are yet I always leave myself open to the fact that I may have missed something). If so, they give me a “Yes!” and we get started!

And those are the steps! In my free course, Four Weeks To Your First Client, I expand on those steps in even further, so be sure to take a look at that lesson (Lesson #4) if you haven’t already.

Now, with those steps in mind, here are a few additional thoughts:

  1. Don’t rush the process – Building quality relationships takes time. Focus on getting to know your client and their needs before you make an offer. This is important for a lot of reasons. Until you have a clear sense of their needs and what they’re trying to accomplish, how can you make a good offer anyway? A lot of folks are quick to throw out a price and see if sticks – this is a dangerous strategy. Take your time and make sure you’re on target.
  2. Offer options – I rarely offer one price for a project. Instead, I offer a base and “add-ons” as options. This gives the client control over pricing and it also helps to make sure that I’m not making any false assumptions about what they can and can’t afford. I work hard to make sure that each and every combination of options is a match for both them and me.
  3. Narrow the possibilities – When I submit a formal proposal (which is definitely an investment of time), I do so only after carefully narrowing down the possibilities and being as certain as possible of the outcome. My goal is to ensure that the only reason a client does not go with me is that I misunderstood their objectives (a mistake on my part). It won’t be because they couldn’t afford it (I qualified them in the first step).

And that’s a wrap! Did you find that helpful? Do you have any questions? Leave a comment or send me an email and I’ll get back to you!


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It was 2004. I was 17 years old. I had enrolled in a “Graphic Arts” class in Central California. As a part of the class, I had learned to use Photoshop and expanded on my knowledge of Dreamweaver. Near the end of the semester, shortly before my 18th birthday, I got my first web development client. The El Dorado County Democratic Party needed a website and one of their members asked if a friend and I would be interested in building the site. We jumped at the opportunity and that began my entrance into the world of web development.

That first site was $300, if I recall correctly. It was a lot of work to build, stretching my then limited knowledge of web development, and challenging me in more ways than I had imagined. It was fun, though, and I was ready for more.

My second web development client came shortly after. Our local newspaper, the El Dorado County Mountain Democrat, had published a column I wrote, teaching folks how to avoid viruses delivered by email. A gentleman contacted me after reading the column and asked if I built websites. He worked at UC Davis, a California University, and needed a website to represent a school project. We worked out the details and I began my second development project.

Since then, I have worked with over a hundred different clients (I haven’t done an exact count yet), with projects of many different shapes and sizes. I have learned a lot over the years, through a lot of pain and a lot of success.

For the first client, I was the right person in the right place at the right time. The second client was a lot more work. From those two clients and the many that have followed after, I’ve learned a lot about getting new business.

Your First Web Development Client

So you’re wanting to get started in web development, but you’re not sure where to begin. The good news is that there are three universal principles I’ve learned that, diligently applied, will lead to your first client.

The Three Principles

  1. Making Yourself Available
    People need to know that you build websites. If they don’t know, how can they ask? First, you tell the people you know. “I’ve started making websites! If you know of anyone who needs a website, let me know!” Keep it simple and get the word out. Next, when you meet someone new, let them know! If you’ve already got a job doing something else, say, “I work at so and so.. and I do web development on the side!” Get business cards with your name and contact information and share them with friends, family, and folks you meet.
  2. Give Value Like Crazy
    This has been the key to my success. I wrote my first WordPress tutorial back in 2006 and I gave it everything I had at the time, with no strings attached. I wrote articles, gave advice, and made it a habit to share what I knew with others. As people read my tutorials, some of them would contact me and ask me to do work for them. I built my first business around the value that I had given away. As you give, conclude with a call to action and invite them to contact you if you can be of service. The more you give the more opportunity you have to reach someone who will ask for your services.
  3. Answer The Question
    As you make yourself available and give value like crazy, potential clients will start asking for your help. When they ask, say yes! Make sure that you focus on a “win” for your client and yourself. This means that you start by asking for a budget or by telling them upfront what you charge. If they don’t have a budget, feel them out, “$500? $1000? $2000? $3000?” They’ll let you know how much they’re comfortable with. From there, determine if their budget and your services are a match. Once you’ve worked out a win, pour yourself into giving that first client the best experience possible.

Getting Started

Now, let’s go get that first client! You’ve got 30 days. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Make The Decision – Decide that you are a web developer and you are committed to learning and mastering the trade and providing the best service and experience that you can possibly give. Write it down where you can see it every day.
  • Build Your Website – Create a website on WordPress (learn why I recommend WordPress) using a pre-built premium theme. Offer it as an example of the types of work you can provide.
  • Spread The Word – Contact at least 10 people closest to you in the next 5 days. Keep it simple. Just let them know that you are now doing web development and that if they know of anyone (including themselves) in need of a website that you would be thrilled to be of service.
  • Give Value – In the first 10 days, figure out a way to contribute something of value. Here are a few specific ideas. If none of them are a match for you, spend some time thinking and come up with something:
    • Contact your local newspaper with an article outline and work with them to get it published.
    • Offer to build a website for a local ministry at no cost with no strings attached. When the work is done and the client is thrilled, ask for an endorsement and referrals.
    • Write a tutorial explaining how you built the site for that ministry so that others can do the same for theirs (it might seem counterintuitive, but it works).
    • Teach a free workshop at local library, community center, or church on the basics of starting a new blog on WordPress.
    • Give your time, no strings attached, sharing ideas and suggestions with business owners on how a website could help their business.
  • Report Back – Use the comments below and tell me how you’re doing. If you’ve got questions, let me know! If you get stuck, keep moving forward!
  • Stick To It – Review your decision each day. If you’re a believer, pray earnestly about this new endeavor. Do something to move towards that goal of your first client each day.

New! How I Can Help

I’ve decided to offer a free course called “Four Weeks To Your First Client“. I’m developing the course to take you in greater detail through each of the steps I’ve outlined abovewith particular attention given to the “Build Your Website” section and “Give Value”. There are no strings attached. The course is completely free and my goal is simple. If I can help you get your first client, then you will more than likely want to buy my premium course and let me help you go beyond that first client. Ready to get started? Scroll up and fill out the form just above this post or visit the course page and I’ll send the first lesson your way!

Credit Due

About a week or so ago, I was working on a WordPress project that called for an above average contact form. It needed to give visitors the ability to upload photos, receive auto responses and notifications, have built in spam blocking, and track submissions in the WordPress database.

After a bit of looking, I found cForms II, a WordPress contact form plugin developed by Oliver.

I began working with the plugin and was very quickly satisfied that I’d found a winner.

Now, in setting up this plugin, I made a mistake and was reminded of an important lesson, which became the inspiration behind this entry.

The contact form for this particular project was being used as an extensive questionnaire. As such, we decided to split it up over multiple pages to encourage people to make it all the way through. I came up with a way to do it, but it wasn’t working quite as nicely as I wanted it too.

So, I went over to the cForms II support forum and posted my challenge to see if anyone had any ideas or suggestions.

Oliver replied, letting me know that my request, though possible, was outside the scope of what cForms was meant to do. He also (and this is where the lesson comes in) pointed out the trend that people, developers especially, who’d been using and benefiting from the cForms plugin, had taken to the habit of removing credit for the work.

..And that’s what I had done.

Without even thinking it through, I had chosen to remove the credit link back to cForms from the client’s site. This seemed natural to me. The option was there; Oliver had been nice enough to provide an easy way to add or remove his credit link, and without stopping to think, I’d taken it off.

Now, sure, it’s all open source, we’re more than entitled to add or remove credits as we see fit, right?

Well, we certainly have that choice.. but is it fair?

In my case, there is no excuse. I’m a full-time web developer. I get paid for the work I do and I benefit directly from the work of guys like Oliver who’ve put their time and energy into developing a solid product. If it weren’t for him and guys like him, I’d have had to go and build the same thing from scratch.

Which brings me to the lesson that this served to remind me of, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” Luke 6:31 As a Christian, no matter what I’m doing, whether it be work or play, I’m to treat others as I would be treated.

Now, being thus convicted, I began to give the situation some thought and was blessed with an idea. In my redesign of JonathanWold.com, I had finished up the work by adding a colophon. Traditionally, colophons were used in print media to provide details about the publication of the book. In the web, we’ve begun using it to provide details about what goes on “behind the scenes” of a website.

I’ve decided to start making the addition of a colophon a habit, in which I’ll provide a list of the resources and technologies used in the architecture and design of a website.

So, a big thanks to Oliver for his work on the cForms II plugin and for being very professional about the entire situation. It was a timely lesson for me to be reminded of and I thank you for it my friend :).

And finally, last but most important, I give full credit for my work, the good work I’ve done, to God. Were it not for Him, my conscience would have never been pricked and my sense of integrity would be non-existant. The things I’ve been blessed to learn and the people I’ve been blessed to meet, have all come as a direct result of His hand in my life. The mistakes I’ve made I take full credit for, but the lessons I’ve learned from them and the victories I’ve gained by applying each lesson learned, all are due to a God who’s been forever patient with me and never given up.

Have a wonderful day my friends. Remember, give the credit where and to whom it’s due.

Until next time,

-Jonathan Wold

P.S. Credit for the awesome illustration up top goes to my brother Joshua, who, in addition to his work with me and the rest of the team, does freelance illustration on the side.

Cheers to the WordPress team on another fine release :).

I’ve been holding off on the tagging feature on a few client projects for this release and now that it’s in beta I’ll be looking forward to playing around with it and giving it a healthy test run or two before it’s ready for public consumption.

Also, thanks to Dean’s Permalinks Migration plugin, I finally made the switch from my old-school permalinks to something a bit cleaner this evening. With quite a few pages indexed and pulling traffic, setting up 301 redirects was important to switching URL styles and there’s no way I wanted to go through and do it manually. Dean’s work brought it down to less than 30 seconds. We’ll see how it affects traffic (if at all) over the next few days.

Have a wonderful rest of the evening my friends.

Until next time,

-Jonathan

P.S. I started up a WordPress Tumblr awhile back. It’s still a bit small, but it has some good resources for anyone interested in WordPress development. Grab the feed and pass along any additions you may have.

Learning jQuery

I was first introduced to jQuery, oh.. somewhere around a few months ago. Having a strong background in niche marketing and then front-end web development (design/xhtml/css, etc), my “programming knowledge” had been limited to a basic ability to editing basic PHP, etc, and “making things work”.

A few client projects were calling for a bit of extra user-side interactivity, though, and I knew it was time to do some learning. I did some research and discovered jQuery. It looked really interesting and, being completely new to Javascript from a developer’s perspective, it offered me the ability to give my clients what they wanted without having to spend a whole lot more time than I had to learn how to do it from scratch.

After a bit more research and the discovery that WordPress, my current development platform of choice, now comes packaged with jQuery, I was sold. I began scouring the web for tutorials and started putting into practice what I’d learned.

Happy with the results and eager to learn more, I checked to see if there were any books available on the subject. A quick search on Amazon (at the time) left me disappointed. I kept looking, though, and not long after discovered that there was a brand new book on the horizon, appropriately titled, “Learning jQuery”.

I emailed the publishers and they graciously agreed to send me an advance copy of the book. It arrived not too long after. I had planned to set aside a few days to pour through it, but life had a few other ideas and a couple of trips, along with some rather big business moves, took away any spare time I had.

As such, I haven’t been able to review the book in detail, yet, but I’ve skimmed it through and am fully satisfied that it will be just the hands on experience I need to open up the jQuery platform to some healthy experimentation.

Once I’m situated in the new office, I (or someone else on the team) will be going through the book in detail and we’ll be sharing our experiences then.

Meanwhile, full credit to the jQuery team for developing an excellent platform. Keep up the good work guys! Also, full credit to Jonathan Chaffer and Karl Swedberg for their excellent work on the book and to PACKT Publishing for another fine release.

To get your copy of the book, buy Learning jQuery on PACKT’s website or on Amazon (a tad more expensive, but nice if you have Amazon Prime).

Until next time,

-Jonathan Wold