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Where you position your business in your market says a lot about you and your business.

Do you want to be the Walmart of web design and churn out lots of cheap websites?

Or would you rather be a Louboutin, with a signature style and high prices?

Or maybe you want to fall somewhere in between?

There’s nothing wrong with any of these models–even the Walmart one–if you can do it in a way that works for you and your clients. Pre-made themes, perhaps?

But you need to choose a position that matches your income goals and fits the life you want–while being true to yourself and your brand.

A little tricky, huh? Let’s talk about how to position your business like the pro you are.

Evaluate the competition

There’s this idea that you should keep your head down and not worry about what everyone else is doing.

That’s true, to an extent.

Worrying too much about what others in your industry are doing can pull your business in directions you don’t want to take.

Not to mention, it makes you feel like you’re failing every time the “competition” has a success.

Which I think is silly, by the way–you shouldn’t be competing. You should be learning from and helping each other. But that’s a blog post for another time.

When positioning or re-positioning yourself in the market, it’s essential to evaluate others in your industry. This means going to their websites, checking out their social media presence, etc., and looking at what they’re doing right–and what they’re doing wrong.

Because none of us is perfect.

Questions to ask yourself about your competition:

Who do you see as your competition? Who is on the same “level” as you? Visit three competitors and list what they’re doing right and what they could do better.

Who do you wish was your competition? Who would you love to be seen as a peer to? These are your ideal competitors. Visit three of them and list what they’re doing right and what they could do better.

While you’re checking out your competition and ideal competition, make note of their pricing and what they offer. Can you tell who they target?

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Who do you want to work with?

Figuring out who you want to work with is a huge part of positioning your web design business.

Who you work with says a lot about you.

Maybe you’re passionate about nutrition, so you want to work with nutritionists and help them spread the word. Or maybe you’re really into saving animals and want to work with animal shelters to create websites that help animals get adopted.

There’s a simple formula that helps you pick your focus or niche:

Your Passion + How you help people = Your focus/niche

For example:

Saving animals + Making websites = Creating websites for animal shelters.

Combining your interests with helping others is the best way to create a strong brand and know who you want to work with. And that makes work waaaaay more fun!

Do the formula! What is your focus?

Target clients who can afford you

I hate to burst some bubbles, but whoever you target needs money to afford your services.

Or, you’re going to need to get creative.

If you’re currently targeting new business owners or bloggers, you may need to re-position or restructure your business.

I used to target new business owners–when I was a new business owner. This seems like a good idea, and I LOVE helping people get their businesses off the ground, but the fact is, they didn’t have much money.

And that meant that I didn’t have much money.

If you know me, making vast amounts of money isn’t my goal. I’m not all about hitting arbitrary numbers that serve primarily as something to brag about.

But I do have bills to pay, and I enjoy being comfortable in my finances.

So when you pick or re-pick an audience to target, it’s crucial that they either have enough money to pay you or that you create offerings that require little work on your part and sell them to a larger audience.

For example, maybe you want to target those newbie small business owners. Instead of offering custom designs that will suck you dry as you try to pump out 10+ a month to pay your bills, you could provide pre-made themes. And then, you could have the option of adding on some theme changes, like colors or adding a logo. These are small things that you can offer to many people without a significant time investment on your part.

But if you want to do custom work, you’ll need to find people who can pay. Because, believe me, it’s no fun to work on a project for two months and not be able to pay your rent at the end.

Consider who you are targeting and how you can make your business work for them and you. What does that look like?

What sets you apart?

You’ve gotten the lay of the land, and you know what others in your industry are up to. Awesome. You’re well on your way to position your business.

Now, why are you better?

Not better as in, “OMG, I’m the best designer ever!” but a better FIT for your clients. What makes you the perfect designer for your target audience?

(Psst! Have you niched your business yet? Niching is what helps set you apart!)

What do you do amazingly? I’m sure you’re great at something, so don’t be humble about it. Own it, and use it to your advantage.

You may have thought, “Erin’s not really the best designer, and there are better developers out there.”

That’s not very nice. But it’s true.

The reason my clients hire me isn’t because of my design or development skills. At least not entirely.

Clients hire me because of my communication skills. I’m willing to go into in-depth explanations and ensure they understand what’s happening at every step of the process. Very few designers or developers do this.

And for the design and development parts that are over my head–I outsource. And it ends up working out for everyone.

Brainstorm your abilities

YOU have something that sets you apart. A unique skill that, in combination with your design or development, makes you stand out from the crowd. What is it?

Sit down and write down at least five abilities you possess. I know you have them. If you get stuck, ask a friend or two. Just say, “Hey, I’m working on a project. What natural talents do you think I have?” A Facebook post like this will get you answers you probably never thought of!

Once you’ve gotten your abilities written down, brainstorm how you can use them in your business. Some abilities may be more beneficial to your business and clients than others. Choose one or two to focus on.

Apply these abilities to your business. Tweak your website copy, adjust your design, and do whatever it takes to make your unique abilities shine through.

How much money do you need to make?

I don’t mean this in an irrelevant, “I want to make six figures!” way.

I mean, if you broke down your monthly expenses, added in how much you want to save, and included a little extra for taxes and a buffer, what would that number be?

Yes, it’s math, and it can be scary, but it’s necessary. Without knowing how much you need to be making, you won’t have a real income goal. Setting a goal that is realistic and attainable gives you something to work towards. You can always raise the bar higher later.

Figure out how much money you need

Sit down and total up all your expenses for the year and divide them by 12. Don’t forget to include savings, taxes, and a bit of a buffer just to be safe.

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Price your packages

Once you know how much money you need to make, and where your competition and ideal competition are positioning themselves, it’s time to price your services.

There are about a million ways to price your services—probably a million and two. There’s no right or wrong answer. You need to find what works for you.

Here’s my favorite way to price:

$$$ I want to make each month / Number of websites I think I can sell and make each month = My price.

Easy, right? If I want to make $7,000 a month, and I think I can sell two websites per month, my base price would be $3,500 for a website. Meaning, that’s where my prices start as a bare minimum to cover my expenses. I might make more if the client requests more features, but I will make at least that amount on each website I sell.

Remember, it’s not enough to sell them–you need to make them too. If you can realistically only work on one website at a time, to hit that income goal, you need to sell one per month at $7,000.

But that’s entirely possible.

The trick to selling higher-priced websites is that they’re not really that much harder to sell than lower-priced websites. There’s a market for any price point. You have to position yourself as an expert with abilities that set you apart from the crowd.

Tl;dr:

Positioning yourself in a crowded market can be tricky. You need to look at how much money you need/want to make, where your competition is positioned, who you’re targeting, figure out what sets you apart, and price yourself accordingly.

There’s no right or wrong answer for where you should position your business as long as you choose what works for you and put it into action.

Free Income Calculator!

Get the FREE income calculator so you can input your numbers and know exactly how much money you need to make, where to price your services, and how many services you need to sell each month.

Get the Calculator!

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Originally published 1/13/2016. Updated 11/6/2023.

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