Domains & Hosting
What is Hosting
What is hosting? Using the same analogy that we used in ‘What is a Domain’, if the internet is the hard drive, and a domain is a folder on that hard drive, then the your hosting is the bit of hard drive space that holds the data for that file. Just like your domain you have to purchase hosting space, so essentially you are buying a little bit of hard drive space on the internet to hold all of your website files. The way this works is that when you purchase hosting, you will purchase it from a hosting provider, and once purchased you will have a dashboard with a variety of different tools and some dedicated servers (nameservers). These nameservers are your hard drive space. So when purchase your domain, you will point it to your nameservers, and once pointed you can then build your website and the data will be saved on your allocated servers that are owned by your hosting provider.
As mentioned above, beyond just getting some allocated servers you will also get an assortment of tools from your hosting provider. The amount of tool you get will depend on your hosting provider and the type of service you buy from them. These tools, typically managed through the ‘C-Panel’, will allow you to manage you servers and the domain(s) on them. This can range from installing SSL certificates, transferring files, installing WordPress, and more. Personally, I am an big fan of SiteGround as they are very affordable, have a lot of support, and include a lot of tools to easily manage all of the sites I have hosted on my servers. However there are a ton of great hosting providers out there, so just find one you like and go with it. During these courses we will be using SiteGround, but you should be able to accomplish everything using someone else. My only advice would be don’t use GoDaddy. While many of your clients will use them and you should know how to navigate their platform, they will always try to up charge you and they are not a great choice for personal use.
1) Design Style
Your design style is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the style that signifies it’s you. Now this can obviously change depending on how specific a customer is regarding what they want, but most likely they will choose you because they looked at some of your designs and liked what they saw. In this regard you really just kind of have to trust yourself and go with what you think looks best. There are best practices and in these courses I will go over what designs and styles I think work the best, but as you design more and more sites you will find that you like this particular layout more than others and that this design just looks better. Don’t be afraid to embrace those feelings. While at the start you may want to rely on what you’ve learned and copy designs more. As you grow your particular style is what will draw customers to you. They also will like the way it looks and you will be better at it than most because it is your signature. Once you reach this point you can market it. It can become your little section of web design that is your specialty.
2) Size Of The Business
Another major way you can narrow down/target a specific audience is to specify what size of business you specialize in. The needs of a larger company are going to be a lot different than the needs of a smaller one, which will also be a lot different than an individual. This doesn’t mean that you don’t also do work for those other businesses, but you need to pick one to market your site and brand to. An individual is going to be a lot more interested in what you offer if they come to your site and see that your businesses is explicitly targeted towards who they are, and this goes for any size. In this regard ambiguity is not your friend. When you first start out you make take what you can find which will most likely be individuals or very small businesses, so I would recommend starting there. You can always rebrand as you grow but as you take on more projects you will see you have a variety of clients despite the direct marketing on your site. You will discover you like working for a particular type most and from there you can make that size business what you primarily focus on.
Type Of Client
The type of client you market to is another excellent way to carve out your section of the web design community, and by type of client I mean marketing yourself to a specific industry. If you market yourself specializing in building sites for artists, then not only does that narrow down the users you market to (which is a good thing) but when they come to your site they will be much more likely to be interested in you because you specialize in their field. Again this does not mean that you don’t do work for people in other industries, you just only market yourself as specializing in one. While you may be afraid of losing a bunch of business by only targeting a specific industry, this is simply not the case. A large target audience does not mean a large amount of business. Customers want something that is target towards them, and you will get a lot more business from that targeted market than you ever would by generally marketing yourself to everyone.
The Work You Offer
The last way you can find your niche and separate yourself is by being unique in the services you offer. I don’t mean, logo creation, marketing, branding, custom development, etc. Though you will obviously want to highlight the capabilities of your business. No, what I mean be the work you offer is the specialized services that you offer that make you unique. Every designer is going to know some digital marketing. That is not unique. What is unique is the way you sell it, and this will depend heavily on the type of client you market to. The type of client, which was covered above, will always have a particular unique need, and this is something you will probably have to learn as you do more and more work in your chosen industry. Let’s take the artist example again. Say as you continually build sites for these artists who love your design style, you learn that most of these artists tend to need to upload two or three new pieces or artwork to their site every month. Now this isn’t enough work to get them to sign as a yearly client and they don’t have the budget to continually purchase the new work on a monthly basis. However, you realize that you can charge a base price for your general sites you make for these artists and then have a second option that is more than the base price but cheaper than the hourly cost of two monthly uploads that includes two additional product uploads a month for a year. Now the customer has an option that is directly target towards their needs which sets you apart from other designers in their eyes. You will make more money than you normally would and they would spend less and also be more satisfied.