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should I do web design for free to promote my business?

should I do web design for free to promote my business?

     
3:17 am on Jun 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I've been having a hard time trying to get my new web design business going. The biggest problem that has come about for me is marketing my company. So, basically I wanted to send out postcards to let other small businesses know I'm out there and to let them know that I'm willing to "work for free for a limited time".
I'm hoping this will bring in business and build clientele. Is this a good idea? Please let me know what you all think. I feel so clueless. Thanks in advance.

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3:23 am on June 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I'm not in the biz, but it seems to me you'd be better off doing free work for a not-for-profit organization.

The for-profit small businesses you subsequently market yourself would be less likely to consider freebies for a NFP as an open invite to suggest you work for them for free. On the other hand, if you've done their competitor for free and then approach them for fee based work, you'll probably be shown the door rather quickly. Or worse, your freebie work is for someone in another niche whom they can not stand in the least.

7:34 am on June 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I think you may have better success with doing your first websites for *cheap* rather than doing them for *free*. I did my very first site for $50, and I did the next few for very little. It got me experience, and it built my portfolio. And oddly enough, people are sometimes more receptive if your offer is that they have to pay *something*. Sometimes when you *give* something away it seems worthless.

I agree with the other suggestion, approach non-profits, they're more used to be offered stuff for free or cheap. If you can't find a nonprofit without a site, find one with a *crappy* site and then re-do it. Then you not only have something for your portfolio, you have a priceless "before-and-after" comparison.

6:10 pm on June 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

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If you can't find a nonprofit without a site, find one with a *crappy* site and then re-do it

Just don't tell them that's why you selected them... It may just be the president's/chairman's pet project and they think it's an *awesome* site, not a *crappy* one.

12:40 am on June 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I don't think you should "work for free for a limited time". This is like begging for business, which gives you a bad reputation.

I would recommend a book that would help to boost your web desgn business. It's called " Making Money in Cyberspace: The Inside Information You Need to Start or Take Your Own Business On-Line
by Paul Edwards, Linda Rohrbough, and Sarah Edwards". Good luck!

1:23 am on June 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I GOT my start doing free sitework for non-profs. Some of it is a tax write-off. Some of it is good will. A LOT of it is the networking.

But I don't do ANYTHING else for free. And I now limit the number of freebies I do. (This is my 4th year in business.)

3:56 am on June 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

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You guys are right you've convinced me that working for free is a bad idea. So, I got a copy of this book called "the book of list" that has some local charities that I'm going to try to contact for work at a reduced rate. But how should I approach them? I don't think they would appreciate me saying "Hi, I need stuff for my portfolio to get paying customers, can I do your site for free?" I don't want to offend them by not doing it out of genuine concern for their cause.
4:30 am on June 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

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You could try nonprofits that are LOOKING for someone to help them with web design. There is a virtual volunteering section at volunteer match at [volunteermatch.org...] where there is a list of nonprofits who need web work.

The nonprofits that post there are already looking for help, so I don't think you'll be offending anyone.

10:27 pm on June 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Maylin, you beat me to it! I have that bookmarked, though I haven't had to use it. We have enough non-profs around here, and this area is SO MANY YEARS behind the times, web-wise, that all I had to do really was say to people I know who are active: "Y'know, you could get the word out a LOT faster and better with a website".... I couldn't have walked away without having the work if I'd RUN!
11:23 pm on June 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

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If you can't find a nonprofit without a site, find one with a *crappy* site and then re-do it.

Yeah! Just be sure that the owner of the crappy site isn't the mother of the crappy web designer. It happened to me!

To answer your qustion, having a robust portfolio with a variety of sites is the way to get more business. Doing freebies or cheapies (have I just invented a new word?) for friends and family or a local church or club is a good portfolio boost.

11:29 pm on June 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

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jo1ene: nope, not a new word. At least not for someone who was a State of Nevada welfare eligibility specialist in Las Vegas, and had to deal with hookers, johns, et al....
12:01 am on June 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

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shucks!
12:23 am on June 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

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s'okay - probably new in regard to THIS business anyway!