Digital Masters - Growing Your Web Dev Business

Are You the Expert or Not?

November 03, 2021 Marisa VanSkiver, Captain Coder Season 1 Episode 27
Digital Masters - Growing Your Web Dev Business
Are You the Expert or Not?
Show Notes Transcript

There was a younger developer in one of my Facebook groups a few weeks ago. She was expressing frustration that her clients “didn’t understand” that they needed to provide her the copy and tell her exactly what they wanted her to build. She’s just the web developer who’s going to build it for them.

Oh sweet honey child, if only that were true.

In today's episode, I'm going to break down what your responsibility as "website builder" really is and what you can do to get there.

I love Facebook Groups. They can be a great place to connect, find resources, and just generally commiserate with others in the marketing and developer communities.

There was a younger developer in one of my groups a few weeks ago. She was expressing frustration that her clients “didn’t understand” that they needed to provide her the copy and tell her exactly what they wanted her to build. She’s just the web developer who’s going to build it for them.

Oh sweet honey child, if only that were true.

You see, the problem with thinking that your client is going to provide you everything is well, they aren’t the expert at building websites.

This woman’s frustration was that her clients are the experts in their businesses, and they should be able to tell her exactly what they want because she doesn’t understand their businesses.

I suppose I can see that angle – but want to know a secret? Your clients are the experts in their business, but that doesn’t mean they have any clue what they need on a website. Or what to make the design. Or how to write effect copy for the web that will lead to conversions and improved SEO.

All of those things, my friend, land on your shoulders as the website builder.

I’m not saying that you as one person need to be an expert on everything websites. But if you’re relying on your client to tell you exactly what they want, then you’re doing them a huge disservice.

In fact, that’s the main reason I started this podcast to begin with. I knew a lot of web developers who wanted to build better websites for their clients, but they didn’t know what to do when it came to the copy. Or what to do when it came to the design. Or how to select images or tell a brand story through code in general.

I know that it can be frustrating to be a single person in charge of a business’s entire marketing foundation (their website), but the fact of the matter is, you’re the expert hun. You’re client is relying on you to know the right questions to ask them, the right things that they’ll need on their website, and to have recommendations for what works best.

Do You Need to Know Every Niche?

Some web developers and web designers approach this issue by learning one niche really well and sticking within that. They think that the best way to be able to dive in and know “what’s best” is to stick to a single industry or type of business.

This approach can definitely work, but you honestly don’t need to do that if you don’t want to.

In fact, let me just break down the websites I’ve launched in the last 6 months to give you a glimpse:

  • An online magazine for the 60+ crowd
  • A local physical therapist
  • An online newspaper for the 55+ crowd (it is weird there were two, non-competing ones of those)
  • An urban winery and wine maker
  • An accounting firm
  • An attorney focused on helping online businesses
  • An private aviation company

And those are just the full websites that I’ve launched, not all of them that I’ve worked on for updates or am currently working on.

For most of these websites, I built the full website. For one website another copy writer took charge. For a couple I used an outside graphic designer. For most, I did most of the website myself – copy through design through development.

None of them are in the same industry, and yet, the same best practices more or less apply across the board.

And that’s kind of the secret here – you don’t need to be an expert in a specific niche to know what’s best for a service-based or product-based business. You just need to make some tweaks to the overall method and marketing strategy for those websites to fit in what works best for that business.

How Do You Become an Expert?

The next question here is – how do you get to be the person who knows all of these things?

Well, honestly, it’s a lot of learning. If you don’t want to learn at least the basics of the best practices for building a website but you want to build websites, then I suggest finding a partner who knows the marketing or the design or the copy side of things. Wherever you’re lacking, you can hire that out and get help! In fact, the more people that you bring into a project, the more you can charge overall because your value is increasing.

But if you want to learn the basics to making a killer marketing-machine, lead-generating website on your own (or at least get a good picture of what all that includes), then you’ll need to research. You’ll have to study copywriting for the web, on-page SEO basics, digital accessibility, universal design principles, and even work on writing cleaner code. Luckily for you, those are all topics we cover here on the podcast so you can make that easy on yourself by tuning in each week.

And I want to ask – what else do you want to learn about? What do you think you need to become more confident in being that expert that your clients want you to be? Drop me a DM on Instagram @digitalmasterspodcast and tell me what you want to learn!

I’ll be honest that this doesn’t happen overnight. It takes continued learning, keeping up with trends, and learning to read people a bit (I know, I hate people, too, but I can pretend). I’m coming from a place that I’ve been doing this for over 16 years and so it’s almost second nature for me anymore. But it doesn’t have to take you 16 years to get there. You don’t need 16 years to be an expert website builder, who knows exactly the questions to ask your clients to get them fantastic websites.

Follow along here, message me on Instagram, and let’s learn together.