Website building is an incredible side hustle when you have the necessary skills. When I built my first WordPress website, I was scared out of my mind. I was working as a newbie marketer and I was given a project to build a WordPress website. I knew it was coming down the pipeline and I needed to prepare for it.
I built a personal blog for myself with WordPress and spent dozens of hours attempting to master WordPress design and research finicky plugins. My website failed multiple times. I researched, I learned, I refined, and I grew.
The project came and I was ready to dive in. I was terrified.
The project was completed in two weeks and it was fraught with errors and performance issues, but I did it. It wasn’t perfect or aesthetically beautiful, but it worked. And my confidence soared.
That day I realized something—I could actually do this.
Since that day, I’ve turned this skill into a serious side hustle. I’ve built websites for many companies with great success.
If you know how to build websites or are a quick learner, you can make thousands of dollars with this side hustle. Small businesses, family members, friends, and acquaintances would be happy to pay you for this skillset.
Let’s dig a little bit deeper to see what it takes to turn your website building idea into a full blow side hustle.
How to start a website building side hustle
So you want to build websites for a side hustle? You can do it! There are plenty of people who need your service.
How do I know this? Well, according Agency Spotter, there are well over 500,000 agencies around the world doing something similar. Crazy right? Everything from full blown web design firms to PR firms, businesses require your help.
And while that might sound like a lot of competition, it validates just how much need is out there.
“But I’m not a professional?” I get it. You’re not a major marketing agency and your worried about your skills being compared to bigger agencies doing the same thing.
My advice? STOP WORRYING! There is a need for you.
The truth is most small businesses that need your services can’t afford a marketing agency. Agencies often require retainers, upfront contracts, and a certain spending level to even get started. You can cut the red-tape right from the start.
On the other hand, smaller local agencies that are cheaper than big agencies still lack the flexibility and speed that you can offer. Not to mention, many local agencies are as expensive as larger agencies because their bottom-line revenue is generated through fewer clients—they need to make more money per client.
A side hustler has major advantages in the website building game.
Advantages of being a website building side hustler
- Speed. If you only have one project to work on, you can work really quickly. You can work in the morning, on your lunch break, at night, and on the weekends. Speed is suddenly your friend.
- Exclusivity. Your first client will probably be your only client. That works to their advantage. You won’t be juggling multiple projects or client requests; suddenly your service is viewed as PRIMO!
- Price. Your services will be cheaper—at least in the beginning. And that’s a selling point. You don’t have large employee overheads, building expenses, server expenses, and other costs associated with owning an agency. Agency owners have to factor in the hourly rate of their employees, health insurance, business insurance, taxes, PTO, and 10% margin for slacker employees. Go ahead, steal some business baby.
- Time. The agency life is usually 9 to 5 and then work stops. But you… you can burn the midnight oil and make great side income. Work anytime you want, anywhere you want. Make money at Starbucks or your comfy home office.
- Skills. Every time you build a new website, you’re building an employable skill. Sometimes you’ll get out over your skis, but you’ll figure it out. And you’ll come out a smarter, faster, and better website builder.
How much money can I make by building website?
Disclaimer: Prices vary. If you live in a big affluent city like New York, you can charge a ton. If you live in a no-where farm town in Idaho, you may not be able to charge as much.
When I first started side hustling, I couldn’t have dreamed it would be in web design. My first side hustle was mowing lawns around town. I charged $25 per lawn and it took me about an hour. I paid for gas, travel, food, and sunburns. I probably averaged around $20 per hour. Not too shabby. But I wasn’t buying a yacht anytime soon.
I then graduated to flipping exercise equipment on Craigslist. I made some decent cash. A few hundred bucks here and a few hundred bucks there. I probably made $50 per hour, but it was sporadic. And if I guessed wrong, I broke even or kept the equipment (much to the chagrin of my wife).
Again, a good side hustle, but not great.
And then it all changed…
I began teaching myself WordPress design. My skills developed really quickly—not because I was especially gifted—but because I realized I this was the major leagues of side hustling.
I could make really good money with this skill; see ya later lawn mowing.
How much money can you make building websites?
That totally depends on a few factors. I put together a table to help you price yourself. The higher ranges are based on your experience, speed, and the quality of your portfolio. Don’t be scared to start on the cheaper end or even work free for a while to build up that portfolio.
|Skills||Project Pricing||Hourly Pricing|
|Building WordPress sites from a theme||$500-$3000||$35-$100|
|Custom WordPress site/theme||$3500-$10000+||$100+|
|Per page pricing||$300-$500||–|
Opportunities to increase revenue
There are always opportunities to increase revenue when building sites. Here a few tips to get you going:
- Hosting affiliate. Become an affiliate for a hosting company like SiteGround and earn money every time you setup hosting for a client there.
- Monthly maintenance. Websites need to be updated. Themes, plugins, and servers become outdated which poses a security risk. You can easily charge $25-$50 month for website maintenance.
- New features. There are tons of premium plugins and softwares that can do amazing things. I know when I first bought Paperform, I emailed my existing clients with suggestions for additions. You can do this if you learn Google Analytics, digital marketing, or purchase premium softwares with agency pricing.
- Content. What good is a website that sits idle? If you have a little Hemingway in you, offer blog writing services. Along with monthly maintenance, this is the best route to create long-term clients. Check out my article on pricing your blog posts.
These are but a few ways to make more money when building websites and increasing the lifetime value of your clients. Once you get going, you’ll find dozens of ways to generate more revenue from simple technologies and a little hustle.
Building websites lighting fast
The lowest hanging fruit in website building is learning to build them quickly. The reason is because when people need a website and have no idea how to build themselves, they assume one of two things: A) they are impossibly hard to build or B) they are simple to build and should take no time at all.
The “impossibly hard” website buyer
Most of the clients that assume websites are impossibly hard to build have a general respect for the skills it takes to build great looking sites. They have no idea where to start—and because of this—they are more than happy to pay you to do it for them.
For this type of buyer, learning to build a website quickly will put them at ease. They generally have low-medium expectations and are fun to work with. They’ll marvel at every update you make and will shower you with praise. And because you are building quickly, you can update them more frequently.
The faster you build websites for this type of buyer, the more respect and money you’ll earn. It might be enticing to cut corners, but I urge you to keep your quality high.
It’s these clients that are often your biggest referrers.
They’ll talk up your work to other business owners like them. Go above and beyond and knock it out the park…but quickly.
The “simple to build” website buyer
This is the type of website client that assumes anyone can you do what you do. They’ll tell you how they’ve built a site a WIX, SquareSpace, or GoDaddy and that they could “figure it out” if they had the time. They’ll haggle your price and bully you.
Don’t take their jabs. They can’t do what you do and you have value. Keep your Superhero Cape on and confidently stand by your proposal.
Roll your eyes (on the inside), smile, collect your money, and begin work. It’ll feel painful, but the pot of gold at the end of journey will be worth it…usually.
This type of website client will make up a small percentage of your portfolio, but will make up a larger percentage of your problems. They’ll be demanding, suggest additions that are outdated or flat out wrong, and push you to the edge of your sanity.
But there is hope; your lighting fast website skills will enable you to devote more time to massaging their shoulders and less time building their website. I know, it’s not an ideal situation, but it’s the trade-off for difficult clients.
I hope your getting excited. You can do this!
What are the best tools to build websites fast?
I am going to focus on WordPress here because it’s what I know—and in my opinion— the most flexible platform. The following are some great tools that you can use to build WordPress websites extremely quickly.
- SiteGround (hosting): The is for web hosting. I like SiteGround because you can have a website up and running really quickly. They are reliable, pretty fast, and their customer service is amazing. You can also buy the domain name directly from them which can save 24-48 hours.
- WordPress (content system): WordPress is great because you can build content really quickly with drag-n-drop editors, pre-made themes, saved template pages, saved components and rows, and more. It’s super easy to update and pages can be built in minutes, not days. It’s also a great system for admin access control—both you and your client can have access as the project moves forward.
- BeaverBuilder (page builder): BeaverBuilder is where the true speed happens. You can drag and drop entire content blocks on the page. Need an image? Drag it in and line it up. Need text? No problem, click-click-drag. You can build pages in minutes.
- Elementor (BeaverBuilder alternative): Elementor is a Beaver Builder alternative and darn good one. They do essentially the same thing and they both have a demo to play with.
- Builder add-ons (fast building tools): There are two great Beaver Builder/Elementor add-ons that I love: Ultimate Beaver Beaver and WP Beaver Builder Add-ons. Both of these are INSANE. I love using these add-ons because they make the design process lighting fast and you’ll look like a million dollars. Think of BeaverBuilder and Elementor like the cake and frosting and think of these add-ons like the fondant, decorative icing, and candles—it’s the wow factor.
- Astra Theme Pro (WordPress Theme): I love Astra Pro because it’s really fast for loading, easy to customize, and works seamlessly with BeaverBuilder and Elementor. They are constantly updating the theme with clean code and new features. You won’t be disappointed. I discussed more about Astra Theme here.
- WPForms (FREE forms): You’ll need forms to collect website visitor information (emails, names, numbers, etc). Your clients will expect it. WPForms is the easiest “freemium” plugin. The basic features are usually enough to get you by, and the add-ons aren’t terribly expensive. Some people like Contact7 and others like Ninja Forms, but for an easy to use free form–I prefer WPForms.
- Paperform (Best forms for $): I love PaperForm. It’s the best form builder on the market. The reasons are too numerous to list out here. But in short, you can build any form, quiz, shopping cart, product page, mini-landing pages, branches logic forms, and more. It blows everything else away. It also loads through an HTML code which means one less plugin to slow or break your website. What’s not to like? I wrote about the many benefits of PaperForm here.
- GetStencil: GetStencil is a premium design software that enables you to design images, modify photos, and make cool graphics directly inside of WordPress. It also has a great image repository. I talked about my love for GetStencil here.
There are more plugins that can help speed up your website building side-hustle, but these are a great start. I’ve tested hundreds of plugins and WordPress softwares and I swear by these. I’ve build dozens of website with this stack alone.
Side note: If you are wondering what my lighting fast WordPress stack is, check it out here.
Should I build rebuild websites for clients with existing sites?
If you are new to website building, NO!
Look, some people will disagree with me because a large number of small businesses will want this service. And yes, you’d be passing on perfectly good business. But trust me dudes, I’m saving you misery.
Here is the thing, if you haven’t built many websites, and you’re most likely a novice with SEO as well. If you aren’t sure what SEO is, check out my SEO article on what SEO is and how to do it yourself. But that’s just it, SEO can make or break a business.
The idea behind is SEO is that your clients websites will rank for search terms. Some clients will have minimal presence and rank for less than a dozen search terms while others may rank for tens of thousands of keywords.
So what’s the big deal? Well, if you don’t have an incredible SEO transition plan, you can royally screw up website traffic. Sure, the website might look better, but Google isn’t handing out rankings based on beauty. They are handing out rankings based on thousands of data points within your website code.
You better know exactly what an SEO transition plan is before ever going down the road of a website rebuild. If you don’t know how to handle redirects, meta, tags, HTML heading matches, and more… don’t even think about it Jack!
Caveats to website rebuilding:
- No traffic: If the business has confirmed to you that they aren’t getting any traffic from their website or you’ve confirmed it yourself through their Google Analytics account, then a rebuild is probably fine. The client doesn’t have anything to lose.
- Wrong traffic: If a business is getting some traffic, but no conversions, it’s probably okay to rebuild. The reason is because their content isn’t driving the right traffic anyway, so a new content strategy is in order (up-sell anyone?).
- Abandoned site: If a business has an old site that hasn’t been managed for years, a rebuild is fine. Even if they are getting traffic, it hasn’t been capitalized or monetized. I’d first do a traffic audit to understand what’s at stake by rebuilding.
For a more in-depth guide on SEO transition, take a look a Vertical Measures video.
How do I find clients to build websites for?
Ah yes, finding clients. The hard part. The necessary part.
Remember, this is a side-hustle and so finding clients doesn’t have to consume all your time. There are a few steps that I would complete to start to market side clients:
Step one to finding website clients
- Incorporate a legal business entity: It doesn’t matter how you incorporate, just do it. Choose an LLC, S-Corp, Sole-Proprietorship, or whatever entity you decide, but at the very least protect yourself.
- Business insurance: Yes, you will want business insurance. You will be helping people scale their business and if you accidentally mess up their site or brand image, they may come for you. This isn’t likely and this isn’t meant to scare you, but it’s something to think about.
- Portfolio: If you don’t have five or six great websites in your portfolio, build them. It’s not only great practice, but it’s necessary during the proposal process. People aren’t going to trust because you look cool, they’ll trust you because your work speaks volumes. Build five or six completely different and unique sites.
- Website: Build a company website. You’ll look established. And if you’ve followed the portfolio step, you’ll be able to link to your work. Even better, if you build sites with AstraPro, you can download their portfolio plugin to really show your talent. 🧁
- Contracts: You may need a few contracts on hand if you land the job. Here a few ideas to get you started.
Step two to finding website clients (autopilot)
- Upwork: Create an Upwork account and upload your portfolio. You may not find work here, but it’s worth the trouble.
- Fiverr. If you don’t have a portfolio or clients yet, you can work for free or at least very low cost on Fiverr. If you aren’t willing to work for free to build your portfolio, don’t start an agency…just being honest. Fortune favors the bold.
- Toptal. Toptal is a freelancer marketplace that lists the top 3% talent. If you can get on here, that would also be a great start. There are multiple rounds of vetting to be considered, so prepare yourself. Newbie website designers should probably get their skills up first.
Step three to finding website clients (the grind)
Google Maps. Yes, that’s right, you can use Google maps to find website clients. Think of a service based industry in your local area and see who comes up in the Google map. For example, I can type “Barber” in Google maps and see a list of every barber in my area without a website.
Keep in mind that they might actually have a website and never updated it with Google Business. But, that’s also a sign that they could use marketing help because who doesn’t want free website traffic from Google maps?
Cold email. Yes, cold emailing works really well. You can find local business owner email addresses and write personal emails describing your services and how you can help them. Remember, they don’t know you. Keep it short, sweet, and ALL ABOUT THEM. There is a right way and a wrong way to do this (Legal vs Illegal). My cold email article goes over all the details.
My favorite cold email tools are VoilaNorbert, Hunter.io, Lemlist, and MailShake.
This video demonstration from Alex Berman is pure gold
Door Knocking. Hit the pavement and find businesses in need of your service by visiting them. In the beginning, I’d go to low-volume service-based businesses first. For example, if you are trying to convince a local family physician (high volume) they need your service, good luck ever talking to them with a waiting room full of patients and pharmaceutical reps booked months in advance for their time.
On the other hand, a service like heating and air conditioning may be a good door to knock on during the spring and fall when their customer volume is lower or a landscaping service in the winter months.
And, before you cross door knocking off your list, consider this: All your competitors are digitizing their marketing through paid ads and social media (impersonal), so you stand alone by offering something they aren’t—a smile, handshake, and in-person contact.
Social media. If you have a decent network established on a social media channel like Facebook, blast a message out to your network that you are now taking on new website clients. Make an irresistible offer to your family and friends and ask for referrals. And when someone says, “I think I know someone who needs your help,” follow up like your life depends on it.
Youtube. This is like a 401k strategy—it’ll pay off in the future. Start today. Like right now. Create a channel and start uploading helpful videos. Give information away. Teach people why they need a local website.
You won’t get any clients anytime soon from Youtube, but overtime, it’s a snowball. There is no better organic traffic reward than a well-fed Youtube channel.
Paid ads. Nah bro, don’t do it. Not yet. Unless you have deep pockets or a ton of PPC knowledge, you’ll lose your buns in a hurry.
Building websites for small businesses is an amazing side hustle. This is truly a skill that people need. The trick is leveling up your skills and hitting the pavement to find clients.
You can easily make $1000+ on the side. You can pay off debt, save up for that boat you’ve always wanted, or pay-down your mortgage with a vengeance. I even know of people who use this skill to fully fund their retirement investments.
Lastly, one of the biggest reasons to begin the website building side hustle is because it makes you a more resilient human. You’ll have one more arrow in your quiver to put on your resume, one more artistic ability to teach others, and one more way to drive money into your bank account for rainy days.
Now go and BUILD!