We learned how to create a web-studio from scratch and turn it into a successful IT-company.
The Internet has evolved so rapidly and rapidly over the past few years that even today, the normal operation of an enterprise without it is impossible: it is the easiest and most inexpensive way to tell about yourself, find customers and partners, to the extent that traders can organize selling their products and services exclusively through the website. In addition to commercial organizations, they need their own Internet representation and public people (athletes, politicians, musicians, and so on), public and political organizations, educational institutions, the media and even ordinary people who want to declare themselves to the whole world.
This market is now only at one of the first stages of development, which means that having consolidated on it now, you can get a highly paid job for life.
According to the calculations of a well-known western futurologist from Cisco company Dave Evans, within 10–15 years the number of Internet sites and Internet traffic will grow 100 times. And the full existence of human society without the Internet will be impossible at all – with the help of websites we will work and study and buy food, as well as goods in stores and even communicate. But this is understandable, is it possible to earn money on this without being a programmer?
“Today,” having surveyed more than 10 different web studios, found out quite. This work requires serious and intellectual, and time-consuming, but they are fully justified. The main advantage is that to get started you do not need serious expenses such as renting an office, hiring a large team of employees and buying expensive equipment, and you can earn in a few months after starting work. However, success is possible only with the right organization and proper approach to business – any mistake can lead to rapid ruin.
BENEFITS AND MINUSES OF BUSINESS ON SITES
- The minimum cost at the “start”. To create a website, all you need is Internet, a computer and your own head – you do not need to spend money on the office and any equipment.
- Demand. The Internet continues to grow rapidly – it is already difficult for enterprises without representation on the Web to work. Meanwhile, 80% of companies need to either create a website from scratch or upgrade an existing one.
- Additional work. The maintenance of sites and the provision of “cloud” services can earn more than site building.
- Low taxes. In the Tax Code for IT-activity privileges are prescribed – as legal entities (are the main clients of web studios) can pay for such services from the expenditure, but not the revenue part (they do not need to pay about 25% of income taxes, as in the case of FLP that provide any other services), they do not require major discounts from site builders.
- Perspectives. A small design studio with the right approach can develop into a large IT company.
- Undeveloped market. Customers are often not able to understand the difference between the site for $ 100 and $ 1000 – any novice website builder, dumping, constitutes a serious threat to the business as a whole.
- Dependence on performers. If the designer or programmer “went into hard drinking” (as an option – on a spree or just got sick), and even steeper – quit in the middle of the project, the losses immediately exceed the expected earnings.
- High intellectual loads. Implementing a project from “A to Z” means understanding the client, creating a competent technical project and bringing it to the designer with the programmer, controlling the project, and educating the client is very difficult, because often up to 10-20 people are involved in the process.
- Large salary costs. In the cost price the salary fund is up to 90% – any interruptions in the receipt of money can lead to the collapse of the team.
- Difficulty in finding customers. Advertising in the media is too expensive, on the pillars – ineffective, and the Internet is too high competition.
Organizational expenses for 1 year, €
Registration of an individual entrepreneur – 34
Taxes – 2600
Internet – 1200
Literature, documentation – 500
The cost of a full-fledged business site for 1 year, €
Domains – 100
Hosting – 500
Design – 1000 – 10000
Layout – 2000 – 6000
Programming – 2000 – 4000
Copyright – 1000 – 10000
Testing – 1000 – 1500
Total: 8600 – 34000 €
START WITH A TEAM
If standard business plans for traditional activities (for example, trade) begin with business registration, equipment purchase, office rent and other rather costly activities, then in the case of a web-studio organization, the experts we surveyed recommend starting with creating a project team.
HUMAN FACTOR. First, someone must look for clients, communicate with them and lead general project management – this is the role you assume. Secondly, you need a designer who draws the appearance of each element of the site. Thirdly, there should be a web-maker who will turn the designer’s idea into a website template. The fourth member of the team is a programmer who creates the necessary set of site modules for the order.
“In some studios, all these roles are performed by a single talented person with the necessary knowledge,” says Yana Nikitina, director of Real Site Studio. However, according to her, this is a road to nowhere: after 2-3 months of such work, the multi-station gets so tired that it just leaves the business. In addition, it is estimated that he will not be able to do more than 2 full-fledged business websites per month, and if there is a client for 3 or more Internet projects, he will simply frustrate all deadlines and lose clients and reputation. Naturally, for development, he will begin to hire subcontractors for himself, however, if these are untested people, their quality of work may turn out to be so low that rework will take too much time and resources. So it is better to create a team at the first stage.
PREPAID AND CALCULATION. Project business also includes project financing: that is, the client makes an advance payment in the amount of 40-50% of the project cost, and after completion of all phases of work, it is fully calculated. This is perhaps the most slippery moment in the business chain. If for some reason the customer does not want to pay the remaining amount, despite the signed agreements, to sue him for too long and expensive. Most web studios do the following: they make a website on their server, and after receiving the full amount of money, transfer it to the customer’s server.
The second solution to the issue – the price for the production site should be such that the prepayment will be equal to the cost. For example, if your margin on each site is about 30%, the prepayment should be at least 70% of the project cost. However, the new web studios are unlikely to pay money in advance: at the present time, no one believes in the word.
HOW TO “UNDERSTAND” THE CLIENT
According to the experience of the web studios we surveyed, the majority of clients are legal entities that need a website for a specific purpose – to help in working so that the company makes more money. Accordingly, the studio manager (submission manager) is faced with the task of understanding the needs of the customer at the negotiation stage and proposing a solution. The result of the project and the studio’s earnings depend on how successful this mission is.
The businessman Igor Cherepanov, who has been working in this business for 5 years, tells.
- Our first customer was the owner of the trading network, who wanted an online store. The budget was relatively small – $ 1.5 thousand. We agreed to meet with the customer. Having got acquainted and having drunk on a cup of coffee, we went deep into conversation about online stores, about their role and opportunities. I managed to convince him that web technologies can give a serious impetus to further development.
Agreed that I will make a model of an ideal online store and we will meet again. The week went on to complete the task. The site’s functionality was significantly expanded and improved: a built-in social network appeared in which customers exchanged impressions about the product and communicated with each other, commissions, advice on product selection and consumer tests, as well as a separate closed section for suppliers related to accounting and transport department . The customer was delighted, I even noticed how his eyes lit up. He enthusiastically adopted a new model, despite the fact that the cost of work has grown to $ 23 thousand. And since then, orders are constantly updating.
This example well shows that the customer agrees to pay big money in the event that he understands – costs are perceived as an investment.
DETERMINING THE BASIC LIST OF SERVICES
Portal. On its development, you can earn from 20 thousand UAH.
In order to properly sell the services of their team (and their cost), the project administrator must be well aware of the capabilities of his people and the complexity of performing a particular task. To do this, you must immediately create commercial offers (price list) for several types of sites, each of which consists of a well-defined set of modules. Plus prices for the development of standard add-ons. These standard offers are well worth posting on their website for customers. For example, one of the successful Kiev web studios, upon our request, sent such an offer with prices that you can rely on. In large web studios, the price is tied to standard hours (an hour costs from $ 20 to $ 150 depending on the qualifications of a specialist): the amount of time that your IT specialist needs to spend to complete the task. But in this case, the work must meet the standards approved in the web studio.
SITE-BUSINESS CARD. It contains general information about the company, as a rule, this is information about the company, price list, details, and travel plan.
Price – from 3 thousand UAH.
PRODUCT CATALOG. There is a detailed description of the goods / services, certificates, technical and consumer data, expert reviews, feedback form, reviews.
Price – from 6 thousand UAH.
ELECTRONIC STORE. A website with a product catalog through which a customer can order the products he needs. Different payment systems are used: from sending goods by cash on delivery or automatic fax invoice sending to payments using plastic cards.
Price – from 10 thousand UAH.
THEMATIC (PROMO) SITE – a website that provides comprehensive information in the field of the company. For example, it can be a site about a specific brand or product, it contains comprehensive information about the brand, various promotions (contests, quizzes, games). The price for it depends on the number of pictures to be drawn by the designer, and the functionality that this site has.
Approximate cost – from 10 thousand UAH.
THEMATIC PORTAL. A great web resource that provides comprehensive information on a specific topic. Portals additionally contain means of interaction with users and allow them to communicate with each other.
Price – from 20 thousand UAH.
CONTENT – EVERYTHING HEAD
A frequent problem faced by both web-studios and their clients is the content (texts and pictures) with which to fill the site. Meanwhile, this part of the work is one of the most important. The potential visitor, in the overwhelming majority of cases, first comes to the site after a text request in one of the search engines. And she will offer to visit the site on which the keyword query occurs a certain number of times.
Repeatedly, the user visits the site usually in the event that it regularly updates information on the topic of interest. But someone must write these texts! To do this, the web studio should cooperate with freelance writers and copywriters – its services for the client cost, depending on the qualifications and complexity of the text, from $ 3 to 10 / thousand characters, of which 30% goes as a web studio fee.
Of course, you can steal other people’s texts from other sites, but the site, consisting of text copies, is badly “friendly” with search engines, in addition, a client can be sued for copyright infringement.
START A BUSINESS CARD
The most popular and fastest way to make money on websites is to make a bet on a large flow of customers, created at the expense of low prices. For example, on the posts now hang ads ads, offering sites for 500-800 USD. – several pages with a photo gallery and contacts. You can “rivet” several such sites a month by the strength of one or two specialists. Yes, it will be a primitive site, which is later easier to completely remove and make a new one than to refine, but there are many customers who are satisfied with the minimal presence on the Internet. The main problem with such a business model is competition. There are a lot of web designers who follow the path of least resistance on the market and explain to the client how your studio is better than those guys doing the same thing for 20-50 hrn. cheaper difficult. However, by implementing 3-4 small projects, you can get a good experience for serious projects, passing the path of trial and error.
In addition to external sites designed for clients and partners, large companies often order corporate portals, which can also make good money. The peculiarity of such sites – they are associated with e-business email, calendar, organizer and corporate social network.
True, the earnings here most often occur not on the development of the system from scratch, but setting up on one of the existing platforms, for example, Microsoft SharePoint or Bitrix — setting up and adapting the corporate portal system to customer needs costs from 10 to 100 thousand UAH. (depending on the complexity of the task).
In addition, software development companies pay a fee for the sale of licenses for their systems – from 10%. For example, if a corporate license for an average company in which more than 100 people work costs about 100 thousand hryvnias, of which 10 thousand the software manufacturer will give the web studio, which has led the client. Naturally, the studio will bring customers, the greater the discount will receive – up to 50%. For small companies, you can offer a portal and its own design – for 10-15 thousand UAH. – with less functionality.
“ENGINE” WEB SITE
One of the main tasks of the web studio is to make the site convenient not only for the end user – the visitor, but also for the client – administrator. To do this, it connects to one of the CMS-systems (content management systems, or “engine”), with which to add text and picture to the site should be so simple that even a child can handle this task.
For interest, having phoned 2 dozen web studios, we found out that in most cases they build websites based on one of the free CMS – Joomla, Drupal, WordPress, and so on. And only some studios use their own CMS.
However, the sites on them, firstly, are more expensive (the studio must repel development costs), secondly, own solutions are rarely more convenient. Thirdly, websites on free CMS are easy to configure, remake and develop. Most sites are now written in PHP using Java scripts.
60% of earnings go to wages
Representatives of absolutely all web studios surveyed by us say that the demand for their services is now stable – the standard monthly load on a team of 4 people is 3-4 business sites, each of which costs about 15-20 thousand. Directly to the performers (designer , typesetter and programmer) in this case, you need to give 60-65% of earnings – 30-40 thousand. If you manage each project independently (communicate with the client, issue bills, monitor the progress of work and their quality, fill with primary content), minus taxes and spending on in ernet, earnings will be about 15-25 thousand -. taking into account the fact that each of the participants in the project home runs (pros prefer to work remotely). But if you need to bring in another 1-2 specialists (a photographer, a copywriter), we still take about 5-7 thousand more. Still, not bad: you will not earn $ 1.5-2.5 thousand a month at the market.
Yuri Sivitsky, board member of the international IT consortium Intecracy Group:
Practice shows that in 1-2 years the “site-building” business comes to a standstill – entrepreneurs do not have enough human resources to work with large projects, and there is no money (with which to risk) to hire a large number of specialists. In this case, I advise you to attract an investor – today, many Ukrainian and Western companies want to invest in an IT business that is developing.
But the investor needs to offer a clear business plan – then he will gladly enter into a share, which will expand the capabilities of the studio. This will provide an opportunity to try their hand at serious tenders, where they consider proposals only from large companies.
The second development option is cooperation with large IT companies. Often they need contractors to work on international Internet projects: they can earn 4-5 times more than on regular websites.