The secret to success that agencies charge big bucks for

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When you think about what web design is, what comes to mind?

A WordPress theme, 5 or so pages of content, a few plugins, giving the client what they want and getting paid a few grand for your hard work?

For most, including clients, that’s what it is.

But to me?

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You’re building a business.

Agencies get that.

Which is why they can charge the big bucks.

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But sadly, a lot of designers haven’t yet figured it out… yet.

It’s not their fault, but it’s why they’re caught on this hamster wheel of price rejection, getting compared to every other WordPress web designer on the planet, and struggling to differentiate what makes them so good.

It’s not because you’re not any better than Sally, the fully-booked digital designer from down the road — in fact, I bet you are.  

It’s not because you can’t be as good, if not better, than the agency that charges $1000 for a discovery meeting and $20k plus for a basic website with a nice simple design.

It’s simply because (perhaps) you haven’t learned how to speak the language that gets clients excited.

Like I mean, that kind of excitement when the first time the tooth fairy came and you thought all your Christmas’ had come at once, excited.

That language?


Return on investment.

Also known as simply…


The way I see it, and I’ve had plenty of practice with Web123 over the years, is that clients only really want two things when they come to you asking for a new website design.

(Most clients anyway, I’m not counting not-for-profits for example.)

  1. To make money.
  2. Or reduce costs.

Think about it…

What is the most common pain for 99% of small business owners today, including me?

Finding new customers.

Clients may tell you that they just want a new website because their old one is a few years old now and looking a bit tired, but it’s your job as a designer to read between the lines and uncover what’s really keeping them up at night.

And to do that?

You need to get good at business!

(And, know this secret formula that big agencies charge big bucks for!)

We developed this formula years ago through trial and error and have used it in over 1,000 website projects since and counting. It’s become the foundation for everything we do — so much so that we’re now building an entire SaaS platform around it with Foxley.

A typical web design needs three things to be successful online these days:

  1. Traffic
  2. Conversions
  3. Nurturing

web design success formula foxley


You can’t really have one without the other either — they all need to work in tandem to be effective. There’s no point sending traffic to a site that doesn’t convert. There’s no point having lead magnets plastered everywhere if the site get’s no traffic. And there’ll be no customers that pop out of the funnel eager to buy if you don’t have a nurturing campaign in place.

But when you get all three nailed?

Your clients will be generating new customers on autopilot and you’ll most likely never have to worry about finding new clients yourself again.

Oh, and you can probably double your rates. Just a minor detail. 😉

Now wouldn’t that be nice?!

Next time, I’ll walk you through the line of questioning we use to uncover HOW to get your clients an ROI. It’s pretty neat stuff.

Until then, sound off in the comments. What formula or process do you use when talking to clients about web design? I’d love to hear. 🙂

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About Bianca Board

Co-founder of Web123, Australia’s small business web specialists, creator of ‘The Ultimate Web Business Bundle’, and CEO founder of Foxley, a new designer-only SaaS platform that puts all her web, UX, strategy, design, marketing and business experience in the one place, Bianca is passionate about reinventing web design for small business. If you’re wondering how to start a damn good website business, or you’re ready to give the middle finger to mediocre web design — register for Foxley’s Mountains of Clients here.
Foxley-Website-Software-Logo More about Bianca’s Business: Bianca is co-founder of Foxley, the world’s first universal system for building an awesomely profitable web business. Deliver high value sites for clients that capture the leads, make the sales and bring in the dollars – a lot of dollars. Get the 411 on Foxley here.

Leave a Comment



  1. Thought this was brilliant . I agree that a business site definitely needs results otherwise there’s no point of having it . Thanks for the read and look forward to the next one

    • Thanks Benjamin, I had a great time writing it.

      We totally should be invested in getting an ROI for clients. It pays to do the homework upfront about what they ideally want, and how they define success. For some, it could be 2-3 new clients per year if each one is worth $10k. In cases like that, it’s not hard to convince a client to spend $5-10k with you to get back $30k. Once we put it into those terms, they get it. And getting the confidence to get to that stage merely takes hard work, learning and practice. 😉 Hope you enjoy the next one!

  2. This was an excellent article! It effectively summed up many things I’ve been looking all over for in just a short blog post!

    But I’ve been searching for something else like this, too- How do you apply this to graphic design?

    I’ve been noticing the high importance and usefulness of ROI in the web development business, but I’m both a web developer and a graphic designer (with a strong preference toward the design side if I can manage it), and I want to be able to apply the principles of it to graphic design. That way I can guarantee customers they’ll make back everything they pay me and then some, just like this article said.

    But I’ve been struggling to find a way to do so. Is there a way to use graphic design to drastically increase my client’s business? I doubt their sales will triple just because I gave them a nice-looking package design. (but maybe I’m wrong?)

    • Hi Arik, thanks so much for reading. And great point! Graphic design ROI is somewhat more difficult to define. There is a great thread in the Millo Mastermind Facebook group that discussed it a few weeks ago, that will surely help.

      Tread carefully about guaranteeing results as a lot of success does rest on the client’s shoulders. What if you do a great logo identity and they never market it like they promised? There are just way too many ‘what ifs’ for my liking.

      Try getting them to define what it would mean for them to get an ROI. Just ask them. You’d be surprised what they tell you and in most cases it’s way less than you think and easily achievable. “What will a great brand identity do for your business?” That should get the conversation going. Get good at asking business questions about objectives and outcomes and you’ll find the answers you’re looking for intuitively. 😉

  3. The frustrating part is that it is rare for one person to be good at development, design, client management, SEO, copywriting, social media, and marketing strategy.

    The key is to realize this early on and to team up with others so that you can offer the whole package and all of you on the team can benefit. When you’re creating a better product, you’ll have no problem charging more either.

    • You hit the nail on the head Margie! I completely agree. It’s the sole reason I’ve put my everything into building Foxley too because there is no other platform out there that helps you bring all the pieces together. With Foxley, we’re building a Marketing & SEO scorecard so you can bypass the marketer, the SEO team and the developer and do it all yourself. All whilst slashing your build time and cost by up to 90%. I haven’t yet figured out yet how to get a robot to write great copy but I’ll let you know when I do then we can all collectively conquer and take back control of an industry that is desperate for disruption!

      I’ve had a huge amount of success over the years also by partnering up. It’s a great strategy when it works and my personal preference is to remain transparent in the arrangement so the client is always kept in the loop. Thanks for your suggestions, spot on!

  4. All clients expect a measurable ROI. No one will be willing to throw a huge bucks without assurance that this will actually work. Differentiation for me is not offering what our competitors do at cheaper price, this will never work well in the long run (well maybe we can get some clients, but not the ones that trust you but the ones who prefer because you offer something more affordable than the others). This kind of customer has a higher chance of NOT becoming a recurring one.

  5. Looking forward to the next post Bianca. While I can completely understand the concept and importance of ROI I’m interested to see/know how it can be guaranteed (do you offer money back to your clients if they don’t achieve a certain number of conversions in a given time frame?). I am primarily a print designer and like Arik would love to know how it can be applied to print collateral/marketing too.

  6. Here is the good and the bad…We as travel agents get paid a small percentage from the vendors that we work with. Many travel agents also charge a small fee to put the trip together. If you are on a tight budget sometimes it’s just not worth the travel consultants time to put a trip together. So the bad is that it just might be a lose/lose. Travel agent is doing a lot of work for pennies and the client is not happy with the travel agent because they might be pushing you to hotels that only work with agents or not wanting to help out with components of the trip that don’t pay commission.


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