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“My clients have TINY budgets! They can’t afford a $10,000 website. They can’t even afford a $3,000 one!”

Does that sound like you?

It sounds like a lot of web designers I know.

While I could (and often do) tell them to target clients with more money, sometimes the people you want as your clients don’t have money, but you WANT to help them, and choosing a new audience just is NOT what you want to do.

I get it.

Sometimes those low-paying clients are non-profits you’re passionate about helping, small business owners you want to help get their businesses started, or some other worthy audience that just can’t pay a lot for a website.

So how can you serve them, and help the people you want to help?

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Create templated websites

If you’re passionate about helping a certain type of client, you probably know a lot about their needs. If not, you need to get clear on your niche and target audience before offering this type of service.

For example, if they’re a non-profit, their website probably needs a way to donate, a way to volunteer, and a design that helps visitors get clear on the mission immediately.

If your clients are small business owners, they probably need a clear outline of their services and a way for visitors to book their services.

Get really familiar with your clients’ goals and needs, and list out what their website should include.

Then, template it.

With a low price point, you can’t afford to spend two months (or more) working on a custom website for each client. But you CAN choose an amazing WordPress theme, swap out a few colors, add your client’s logo and some free stock images, put in the necessary features, and get them launched.

Instead of taking months to get your client’s new site into the world, you can take a day (or up to a week) and get them online.

This means you can work with more clients and make the money that you need to make while giving your clients what they need at a price they can afford.

Just be really, really clear about what’s included and what’s not and that any additions outside of your pre-determined package will cost extra.

This way, you can keep your sanity while serving a market without a lot of cash.


Target clients with more money, and donate your services to those you’re passionate about helping

If selling a bunch of templated websites isn’t your thing, that’s okay. You can still help those you want to help.

Target clients with money.

Restructure your business, re-position yourself, and get those high-paying clients. They may not be who you’re 100% passionate about serving (but you should still enjoy working with them), but they’ll help fund the projects for those you want to help.

Let’s say you need to make $50,000/year. If you take on five high-paying clients at $10,000+ and make them killer websites, you hit your monetary goal.

Now, you can help the people you want to help at a discounted rate they can afford or pro bono.

This method is great because if you can donate your services, you can reach out to specific organizations or businesses that you want to help.

But remember, even if you’re doing it pro bono, create a contract and clear scope of work so that you’re donating what you’re willing and able to donate and not damaging your business.

Being able to donate your services to causes you’re passionate about is a great feeling. 

Tl;dr:

Not everyone wants to work with clients who have a ton of money. Sometimes, you want to help the little guy. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Create a business where you can template the work, streamline everything, and provide your clients with a website they love without doing a ton of custom work.

It sounds impossible, but it isn’t.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of web design agencies work this way. It’s just out of the realm of what most freelancers do. That doesn’t mean you can’t.

Or, get those clients with all the cash and use their projects to fund the projects where clients can’t pay you enough. Just ensure you’re providing your high-paying clients with the value they deserve.

Originally published 2/28/2018. Updated 10/9/2023.

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