There comes a point in every web designer’s journey when we ask ourselves how we can start making our business work for us?

You might be one of the best web designers in your area, with a killer portfolio that would woo even the most hard-to-please clients. But unless you are the real cream of the crow, with referral clients queued out the door, you will likely be looking for strategies that allow you to spend less time finding customers and more time making money.

That’s when the question arises: How can I upsell my website services to make more money per client?

The benefits are obvious:

  • You can make more money per client
  • You will improve your brand image by providing a more comprehensive range of services
  • You will create new business opportunities

‘More money per client’ is the key here. You may be making thousands for every website you build, but having to continuously source clients along the way can prevent your growth machine from truly taking effect.

By optimising your upsell strategy, you can substantially increase the lifetime value per client, while creating more lasting income through monthly service fees.

Upsell services to consider:

Web and email hosting

Web hosting services naturally go hand-in-hand with web design, making this one a no-brainer. Once your client’s site is complete (unless they have already set up their own hosting account, which is unlikely), you can charge them a monthly or annual fee for hosting their site. The amount chargeable is totally up to you. Including regular backups and ongoing software updates allows you to charge them more per month.

On-page SEO

Everyone who has a website wants more traffic. And without performing on-page search engine optimisation on key landing pages (such as popular products and services), you are not giving these pages a change. By optimising factors including meta titles, descriptions, images, content, keyword use, and internal linking, we you make it clear to Google what each page is really about. This task should be completed for every page that you hope to drive search engine traffic. This could be seen as the most worthwhile SEO investment, since it is a one-off task that provides timeless benefit.

Note: Yoast is not a suitable alternative for SEO! Adding a few relevant words in the ‘title’ and ‘description’ fields will not do much to help a web page to rank. On-page SEO requires a lot more work than this.)

At Prime Digital we provide white-label on-page SEO services for web designers to provide to your own customers. You simply pass on the required information to us, we perform the work, and you bill the client from your own company.

Ongoing Maintenance and Updates

This is most suitable for clients with regularly changing websites, such as those frequently adding new products or posting articles to their blog. If the client is likely to ask you to make changes to their website every month, charge them for it. The best option here is to sign them up to a recurring monthly fee, covering X hours of updates per month. (This might be 1 hour or 5 hours; it depends on the client)

For business that feels that their required changes will be too infrequent for a monthly service, you can simply charge them at an hourly rate and invoice them at the end of each period.

Pay Per Click

Many clients like the idea of pay-per-click adverts on platforms such as Google and Facebook, since they know that they should be able to start getting return on investment from the get-go. This value is particularly evident when comparing PPC to SEO, which in most cases requires a little more initial investment.

Email Newsletter Design

Email marketing provides a hugely effective method of reaching customers, and to this day remains one of the most cost-effective forms of marketing. Email updates allow businesses to remind customers of their products and services, and inform them of new ones. Propose to your clients that you send out a newsletter every month or two, and that you’ll take completely control of email design and campaign management.

Once you have identified the skills you have that you could upsell to your existing web design customers, you can begin to approach the client.

Hint: Do not focus on the services you can provide. Focus on the problem that you can solve.

Products as an Upselling Tool

Sales experts recommend that you should treat products as a tool when upselling to your clients. You key focus should be the concerns faced by the client, and having a real interest in finding a solution to them.

Your upsell process should have a simple formula; ask the right questions and listen intently. Once you master these simple skills, your clients will begin to upsell themselves.


You:  Before you go Mr. Bloggs, I can also offer you high-quality SEO services.
Client:  Thanks – we’re okay at the moment, but will keep you in mind.
You:  Ok thanks.

That seemed like a simple process. You did not impose on the client and they seemed like they might get in touch in future. Highly unlikely. What went wrong? You focussed on the product, not the underlying problem.


You:  Before you go, Mr Bloggs, I would like to ask you, is there anything that really frustrates you about your web presence?
Client: Well, I would love it if we could generate more business through our website.
You:  Driving more traffic to the site would result in more business, and this could be done using search engine optimisation (SEO). I’ve noticed some obvious room for improvement on your existing site, such as a lack of popular keywords and a really slow page load time.
Client:  Now you mention it, I have noticed a slow load speed. Could you help us to optimise our pages and increase our visibility in Google?
You:  Absolutely. I’m an expert in SEO and have a comprehensive understanding of on-site SEO principles. You need to get some eyes on your products, and I can makes sure each of your pages is optimised to drive maximum potential customers. Doing this will allow you to rank higher in Google search results, resulting in more visitors reaching your site. In result, this will generate more business, solving your initial concern.
Client:  That sounds great! When can you get started?

This dialogue is a perfect example of how you can identify a client’s problem relevant to you skill set, without sounding like you’re trying to push services on them. Most clients do not even know what they want since they are out of touch with their own problems. It’s your job to identify these problems and, more important, a solution to them.

It is essential not to focus on what you can provide until you have identified a problem to solve and had a genuine conversation with your client about it. Then, and only then, can you introduce how you can solve it.

Be Persistent

Always be persistent, but be persistent about your customer’s problem, not your services. If you constantly push your services without much regard for the problems being experienced, your customers will quickly start to resent you.

Your clients care about one thing and one thing only: What can you do for them to make their life easier? The more you learn to identify with that, the more valuable, lasting relationships you will build.

The key point to take from this is that relationships are key to upselling. Ask the right questions, identify a problem, and propose a genuine way to solve it.

What works best for you when it comes to upselling to your web design clients?  Share your experiences in the comments.

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