Screw Web 2.0 – Make Money with Simple Web Design

When I was in high school, EVERYONE had started a “Web design company” at one point.

It’s such a simple way of making money that seems to have been lost in all the talk of “AJAX” and “user generated content.” Web design is simple. You make a website, someone pays you…done.

A lot of people are caught up in this Web 2.0 mentality crap where you create a massively popular social website or widget, then start making money somewhere down the line. The chances of success in this case are astronomically slim. People also get caught up trying to start some lame business which I think Ramit explains very nicely.

I have never learned how to program or even fully use HTML, but thanks to Frontpage, Dreamweaver, WordPress etc. you don’t really have to know too much detail. Any kid with some simple web design experience can make good money like this.

I used to utilize a guerilla marketing method for web design, and it would bring in pretty good cash for a relatively simple service. Nowadays with content management systems, CSS and all that other dynamic content stuff, it’s easier than ever.

Here is an example of what I would do:

1.) Find restaurants /businesses with no webpage. CitySearch.com is a great place to start. I generally focused on restaurants at the time.

2.) Scope out the restaurant and obtain one of their menu’s.

3.) Buy a domain name with the restaurants name in it.

4.) Design and host their website, including their full menu and some pictures, information about the restaurant etc..

5.) When finished with the website (They still don’t even know I’ve done this)…Contact the person in charge of the restaurant.

6.) Give them the one line sales pitch……”If you like www.TheirWebsite.com, pay me $XXX.XX and $XX.XX for hosting.”

Charging $15/month for hosting would often make me more money than the actual webpage over a few years.

7.) COLLECT CASH.

Designing an entire custom webpage for someone who may not buy is just crazy, so to streamline the process I made a templated page that could be outfitted with a different name for each different restaurant. Just change the name, contact info, opening/closing times etc. and I was done.

Nowadays you can go to

www.TemplateMonster.com and just pick out a fantastically designed web page specific to your field (Real estate, restaurants…) for less than $50 and outfit it with the business name and content….EASY! Like this…

THE BEST PART is this method can be used with mechanic shops, restaurants, lawyers, law firms, dentists, doctors, retail stores, real estate agents…you name it. MOST small businesses don’t always need a crazily complicated website. They often just want SOME online presence to state their location, contact information, rates, menu, open hours and such.

This way of getting web design contracts is MUCH easier than putting out ads on Craigslist or hunting for business….because the webpage is ALREADY made, meaning the buyer sees it, likes most of it…and only minor changes are generally made…..and if they want more changes, then you charge them accordingly. You can upsell services such as search engine optimization, hosting, custom design, changes. This method of selling also doesn’t require you to have an established portfolio of websites.

If the owner totally rejects the offer, ohh well….the only thing lost was $9 for the domain name and a few hours of work (if even). I’d say I had over an 80% success rate selling websites like this.

Essentially this is very simple web design, but it’s ACTIVE SELLING rather than passive.

———————–

Instead of trying to jump straight to opening an online retail store or some other scheme to make money online, this is a GREAT way for someone young or old to get started, and you will learn tons along the way.

Blog posted on: November 29, 2006

33 comments on “Screw Web 2.0 – Make Money with Simple Web Design

  1. Chris

    I don’t really think it’s smart to buy their domain name, perhaps host it on your own site first and if they like it transfer it to the domain. That way you save the 9 dollars and they wont be angry that you bought a domain with their name in it.

    Reply
  2. Fuser

    I used to do this, got started by doing what g said. However I built each site from scratch. It isn’t hard to build a simple site and once they start to utilize their site and make changes you have better control over it. Also by actually learning HTML you can do more with it and keep them as a customer much longer. Say hello to $40/hour residual work.

    I would agree with Chris. Why spend any money. You include the cost of a domain name in the pitch and of course associated fees with setting up the domain and name servers…

    I use a webhost that costs me about $250 a year but allows me to host 100 domains. I charge $100 a year for hosting.

    Reply
  3. Johnie

    Nev,

    Basically, you’re idea is to squat on their domain and use copyrighted materials.

    I would be very careful about doing this process. It is very easy for the restaurant, store, law firm, etc to sue you for this. Not only are you out the cost of domain name registration, but according to the “Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act“, you may be liable for actual damages and statutory damages of minimum of $1,000 up to $100,000 per domain.

    You would very easily lose the lawsuit based on the following clause: “the defendant’s offer to transfer, sell, or otherwise assign the domain name to the mark owner or any third party for financial gain without having used, or having an intent to use, the domain name in the bona fide offering of any goods or services, or the defendant’s prior conduct indicating a pattern of such conduct;”

    Basically, if you register a domain with intent to sell it to the trademark owner, you are automatically liable.

    That is the worse case scenario. Another scenario would be that the restaurant refuse to pay for your services but file a request to transfer the domain to them. At this point, you’re out the domain registration fee.

    I used to do what you described when I was younger in HS. It was ok back then because no restaurant or business will waste their time and money to sue a kid with no assets. But now that you and I are much older and have assets, I would be very wary about starting businesses without looking at the full ramifications.

    An even better idea would be to go the MenuPages.com route. They haven’t fully expanded to all cities so there are a lot of open markets out there. In addition to revenue from advertising, they offer restaurants to be highlighted when you make specific searches.

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    This is not a first time Nev here has come up with some copycat & infringing, has-been-done, borderline illegal idea and tried to sell it in his blog as somekind of brilliant concept and money making idea of his own. The guy has no ethics and no shame. Enwon, my arm, more like another Enron guy in making.

    Reply
  5. CollegeGuy

    People who say this won’t work more than likely have never started a business before. Most businesses are simple ideas, not earth-shattering original concepts. Really, the main difference between an entrepreneur and someone who wishes they were is simply the balls to try.

    “Some will, some won’t, next?”

    Reply
  6. Johnie

    CollegeGuy,
    I’m not saying it won’t work. I have done this before and it did work….when I was in HS.

    I’m just saying that there are legal ramifications in this as I highlighted in my comment. These ramifications could potentially leave you with more liabilities than profits. If you want to take the risk and overlook these ramification, you just have to be ready to deal with the possibility of the end result.

    Also, Nev mentioned law firms as potential clients. Don’t think that a law firm won’t send a first year associate to go through the process of filing an ACPA suit against you.

    Since you disagree with me, please argue all the points that I have highlighted in my prior post.

    In addition, I have offered an alternative that will profitable with very little work.

    Reply
  7. Anonymous

    Of course it is true that most biz ideas are simple. No one can tell me that this blog is anything but much ado about nothing. I have checked this blog on and off for more than a year and have suggested to Nev few times that it is his critics he should b listening to, not his juvenile admirers. On more than one occasion Nev has come back months later and more less agreed with his critics. Anyway, I do want Nev to succeed and wish him all the best, I just wish I could see some more redeamable traits in him than those he has exhibited so far.

    Reply
  8. Filipe G.

    Hey, there’s a nice tip! Thanks!
    Ah, and also thanks to Peter, there’s a nice site of free templates, great link!

    Reply
  9. Johnie

    There is a website called MenuPages.com that list all the menus for NYC restaurants. Instead of keeping a binder of local restaurants that do delivery, you can look it up on menupages.com.

    Features that they have:
    1) Standard listing of restaurants
    2) Menus from each restaurant
    3) Allows users to rate and comment on the restaurant
    4) Revenue from Google Ads
    5) Revenue from Featured Restaurant placement ads – like this

    Reason it will work for you:
    1) Easily duplicated.
    2) Content is highly localalized

    MenuPages.com has only expanded to 7 large markets in the US. Because the content is highly localized, this means that there are a lot of niche markets that are still open. That you can take advantage of. It is much easier for you to get all the menus from your local town than for the people at MenuPages (based in NYC) to get the menus. In addition, localized content eliminates the power of their brand. Why would someone in Boise, Idaho go to menupages.com vs (say) boiseMenu.com? To them they both have equal branding. Lastly, it would be much easier for you to advertise in your local town than for them to advertise.

    If you’re the first to get it out in your town, you’ll most likely lock in the lead.

    I see a huge potential for this market. The demand is also there. If you’re in college, this would be quite easy to accomplish. College students tend to be highly technical. College campuses are surrounded by places that will deliver. College students tend to order delivery more so than families. In addition, it would be very easy to advertise on campus.

    Anyways, just throwing it out there. There was an article in either this month or last month’s Business 2.0 about how localized content is the next frontier.

    Reply
  10. Jon

    nev, i’m sure we’ve had this conversation in person… but there’s only 24 hours in a day. Granted you can make some decent $$ making small-medium static websites but there’s not great potential. You can only design so many websites in one week.

    I think you have a valid point that there’s a lot of web 2.0 hoopla… some is legit, some isn’t. But i think reverting back to making static websites isn’t the key, but maybe look beyond web 2.0 instead of backwards. Do I have an answer of what that is? I wish, If I had that answer I would be doing it.

    Reply
  11. Eddy

    Good post on how you don’t have to do anything revolutionary to make good money.

    I might give this a go and post up my results some time Nev.

    Cheers,
    Ed

    Reply
  12. Tyler

    Trademark? They don’t have a webpage still, are you seriously going to say that the restaurant in question has a trademark in place? If so, you can do a simple search for it. I think the type of restaurant Nev is targetting is much smaller and probably has no trademark protection, or even a unique name for that matter.

    Though I have not really found many of Neville’s ideas or experiments to be something that make me want to do them, he does present them in a very straightforward way. He also has the tenacity to try stuff that I probably would never have the guts to do. At any rate, I typically enjoy reading his posts and seeing what he has to say. Hence why I come by every once and a while to read the posts…

    Reply
  13. Jenning

    Cool post Nev, I just found your blog.

    Some of the naysayers of this idea are definitely correct, but maybe missing the point of the post.

    I interpreted this post as:
    People just getting started on the web may be benefited by this method rather than taking the big step towards more advanced commerce methods.

    Reply
  14. Fuser

    Tyler,

    In order to get an assumed name (sometimes called a DBA) you have to have a unique name for the area. They may not have a fancy logo but they are gonna have something. If you really want to sell it to them you are going to have to include that. With Nev’s idea you grab a menu from a restaurant, if you don’t use that logo then you are shooting yourself in the foot. Make a new one and you probably just wasted a lot of time since their nephew probably made the first one and they wouldn’t feel right using someone else’s.

    When it comes to trademarks it doesn’t take a piece of paper to officially have one. Proprietary rights in relation to a trademark may be established through actual use in the marketplace, or through registration. To go along with Johnie, you are infringing on their trademarks and intellectual property.

    In the world of business there legal ramifications for almost anything you do. Knowing the law before you start any business will only make things easier.

    Reply
  15. Anonymous

    Although I’m sure it might’ve worked for you, it’s a bad idea all together. For the facts that have already been explained. Not to mention your not doing anything that some other person could do just as easily.

    A true web designer goes for creative, effective, and the WOW factor when designing a webpage. No one would take me seriously if I didn’t code all my sites from scratch, and because of this, I make an incredible amount of money, and get the respect from my clients knowing that I took the time to build a website designed for there needs.

    Don’t even get me started on FrontPage, I’m just so glad it’s not being continued any longer. If your building sites in FrontPage good luck trying to go Standards Compliant. FrontPage….What a joke.

    Reply
  16. noah kagan

    dude you stole my idea. it is such an easy concept and could make a killing. not sure about the domain thing but pick some vertical in your area. make 4 templates. charge $10 a month. get 100 clients in that vertical move to the next and you can easily be making $KKKK’s a month. Even easier than that is to hire some high schooler to go do the work for you=)

    great minds think alike.

    Reply
  17. Web Enterpriser

    This idea is flawed because you are laying out money on something that is not a sure bet. If you are a new web designer/developer and want to expand your portfolio, then this might be a good idea. However, if you are looking to generate some serious money, this is a bad idea.

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    Reply
  18. Jason

    how would you go about billing people? Paypal? Your own merchant account? cold hard Cash in hand? Woudl you charge yearly or monthly?

    Reply
  19. Sell Your EyeBalls For $$$$

    Here is another crazy idea, get paid to surf the web programs are making a come back in this web 2.0 era.

    Reply
  20. Anonymous

    He’s not giving any advice here, he’s affiliated with templatemonster check out richjerk.com. Every comment you make plays into this scheme of building hope, and every click to purchase lines his pocket.

    Reply
  21. Anonymous

    This is a great idea. Who wants to sell their company for $1.6 billion and contribute to the forward progress of humanity when they could rip off the IP of other people’s businesses and make $40/hr building restaurant websites?

    I have an even better idea. You could take this idea one step farther by buying the land across the street from the restaurant, putting up a building, and turning it into their restaurant.

    Reply
  22. work from home on line

    Nev, now that really is a great business plan. I’m 100% sure that if anyone follows it they will come out with a nice income from this.

    Like you said, any kid can create websites, and nowadays people seem to forget how easily you can earn good money like this.

    But don’t forget, you still have to work hard and never give up !

    Reply
  23. Anonymous

    Places like menupages are struggling badly. There is too much management to start up a whole menu site and this post is great because starting them locally would work better. Buying the domain name and hosting is still tricky since food restaurants are owned by old-school managers who still have a negative view of what the internet can offer. It is more of the genre of the elite that might hold you back, regardless of the sales pitch. That is why paper menus are still dominant in cities that have millions of them.

    Reply
  24. N

    If you want to avoid the cybersquatting issue you can offer to sell them the domain for the same price you paid.

    I don’t think it is illegal to do that. I think it is illegal to make a profit from the domain.

    If they make a huge fuss then just give to to them for free. done.

    Reply
  25. Paul

    I would have to agree with N. I read the web page cited by Johnie, and it looks like you can offer to sell them the domain for NO monetary gain (exactly or less than you paid for the domain name), and then OFFER to sell them the hosting and use of the web pages you already designed.

    Let's be honest, what restaurant owners that don't have an online presence have the money, time, or legal knowledge to take you to court?

    True, Neville sometimes brings up some business ideas that are on the edge of legality, but sometimes you have to take risks. If someone were completely afraid of the law, then they would probably never have the balls to start a business. Don't go selling alcohol to kids under the guise of "well, I'm selling them the bottles, I have a warning not to consume the contents" because that will get you in trouble…picking up a domain to help as a sales tool to get your foot in the door with a restaurant……go for it.

    That said, if you are still afraid, design the page, show it to them, and tell them they can get "www.theirrestaurant.com" for $10, and you will host it for XX a month. If they don't have an online presence yet, odds are they won't go snatch up the web page and design a website immediately.

    Thanks for a fun, entertaining, and inspirational blog, Nev.

    P.S. I notice most of the naysayers are anonymous…pussies.

    Reply

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