There are right ways and wrong ways to start your own web business. Some are obvious, some you can learn from others and some come only from experience. Here are four smart ways to start a web design business.

Stay Cheap

When I first started building websites as a professional endeavor I was using a $600 Dell PC from my college days, a free open-source text editor called Notepad++ and a free open-source graphics editor called The Gimp. Notepad++ was slick but the Gimp was kind of clunky. Together though they got the job done.

You don’t need to spend money on software right away. Trust me, I’ve seen it done the other way. You end up with thousands of dollars of software that you a) don’t know how to use and b) don’t even need in the first place. Grow into your software needs, don’t try to buy your way to experience.

Be Passionate

Yeah, I know, nothing new here. But sometimes you need to hear it more than once. Don’t start a web design business unless you absolutely love working on the web. Because I can tell you some days you’re going to hate the internet, and you’re going to hate building websites, and it’s going to be the last thing you want to do that day but you’re going to have to do it.

That’s the difference between a job and a hobby. When you start a web design business it ceases to be a hobby and turns into a job. Make sure you love it before you do it or you’ll hate it quicker than you started it.

Go Long

Working on the web is thankless. You’ll spend eight hours writing a blog post and no one will care. And it will probably be that way for years. That’s the reality, sometimes you get lucky and you’ll always have 15 minutes of fame here and there, but for the most part it’s an unrewarding endeavor in the beginning.

But keep at it because eventually people will start caring. However, as a word of advice, care less about your perception and clout in the web community and care more about your quality of work. The former comes with the latter, but not the reverse.

Be Human

Up to this point, in my experience most work comes from people you know. I’ve received a few jobs via my website, but the majority of the work comes through relationships. So network. Go to local web and tech meetups, get to know other free-lancers and web-workers in your area, email people whose blogs you follow and don’t be a loner. This will enhance both your professional and personal life.

Also, put your phone number on your website! Big deals are made over the phone, not through email. (And, of course, in person.)