Being a freelance web designer or web developer doesn’t mean you need to go it alone. There are businesses out there looking to work with you and support you.
You might already have a relationship with these businesses as a customer. By joining their partner program, you’re moving yourself from the category of “I buy from you” to “I work with you”. And that opens a whole new set of opportunities.
Partner programs help you through revenue, resources, credentials, promotions, leads, and discounts. While the value of these benefits varies, depending on your business and the specific program, they’re all worth serious consideration.
Adding multiple revenue streams to your business mitigates risk. More income sources makes you less dependent on any one source. That gives you more negotiation power in dealing with clients, and it can help alleviate the “feast and famine” cycle of chasing the next big client or project.
Partner-provided resources, like free training or higher-level support, improve your business. The skills and capabilities developed through continued learning can help you take on bigger projects and raise your rates. Dedicated or exclusive customer support can help you resolve issues faster, giving you more time for billable work.
Credentials, like partner-exclusive certifications, set you apart from your competition. They display your expertise and bolster your credibility. Potential clients may not recognize you, but they’ll recognize the endorsement of Google or Facebook.
Partner promotion lifts your visibility and puts you in front of potential clients who might never find you otherwise. A basic example of a partner promotion is a partner directory. Additional levels of promotion may include sending you leads, or featuring you in marketing campaigns.
Discounts will either reduce your costs or, if they can be passed on to your clients, used as leverage. Imagine having a prospective client on the fence and being able to sweeten your proposal with a discount that tips the deal in your favour. You’re not eating the discount, but your client doesn’t need to know that.
So, with those benefits out of the way, let’s look at five types of partner programs you should join as a web developer or web designer.
5 partner programs you should join
There are five broad types of partner programs you should consider joining:
- Affiliate programs
- Reseller programs
- Certification programs
- Referral programs
- Reward programs
Let’s dig into each one in more detail.
Affiliate programs are a source of revenue. You’re paid you to promote a product or service. They’re performance-based, in that you’re only paid a commission if someone makes a purchase through your link, or uses your affiliate code during a transaction. Your commissions are either a one-time payout or an ongoing percentage of revenue, aka revenue sharing or “revshare”.
If you’re building websites with WordPress, you might be missing out on some easy affiliate commissions. Many popular plugin and theme developers operate affiliate programs for their premium products. If you’re already encouraging your clients to buy, say, a license for Gravity Forms, you could join the Gravity Forms affiliate program. Then get your clients to make the purchase through your affiliate link, so you earn a commission on that sale.
You could also turn your blog into a revenue stream by monetizing the traffic it receives. Think of it as another way to capture value from leads that don’t convert to clients. If they click on your affiliate links and make a purchase, you’re still making some money.
So how do you get started with an affiliate program?
First, look at what products or services you’re already encouraging your clients to purchase, and see if they offer affiliate programs. Check with your domain registrars, web hosts, WordPress theme & plugin authors, email service providers, and email marketing tools. Join their affiliate programs and get your clients to make purchases through your affiliate links.
Next, look at what products or services you’re using to run your own business. There’s likely some overlap between these and what you encourage your clients to purchase. But you’ll also have other tools and services, like project management or billing software, that you can refer other web designers & developers to.
Finally, look at joining major affiliate marketplaces like CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction), Rakuten Marketing, and ShareASale. These marketplaces include tons of vendors that you may have never heard of, but might be a great fit.
Three important things to note before we move on:
1. You need to disclose your affiliate relationship with these businesses. It’s a requirement under the FTC in the United States and to varying degrees in other countries. (Not to mention that, ethically, it’s the right thing to do.) The disclosure needs to be clear and prominent – you can’t bury it in your site’s footer or on a hidden “disclosures” page.
2. Most affiliate programs will require you to go through an application process. Becoming an affiliate puts in you in a business relationship, and each affiliate program will have their own set of policies outlining the terms of the arrangement. When you apply, they usually want to know how you intend to drive referrals, how many referrals you expect to make in a given period, and what websites you intend to link from.
3. Payouts have a minimum threshold. While one program might cut you a check for $50, another program might wait until you’ve hit at least $100 in referral commissions before paying out.
Reseller programs give you discounts and resources. They typically offer a reduced per-unit price on their products. But as the reseller, you’re be responsible for covering your own marketing and support costs. Your clients will come to you when they have a problem – you can’t refer them to the company you’re reselling for.
White-labeled web hosting is the most common type of reseller program for web designers and developers. Your clients won’t see any mention of the hosting company anywhere. As far as your clients know, you have a dedicated team of IT professionals managing your own servers.
But you’re not left high and dry as a reseller. The best reseller programs offer a higher level of support and free resources to help you succeed in business.
To get started as a reseller, check out your existing hosting provider(s) and see if they offer a reseller program. For example, the GoDaddy reseller program includes more than just web hosting – you can also sell domain names, business email, SSL certificates, website security, and managed WordPress plans. (And you can do it all from a super-simple WordPress plugin on your own site!)
Certification programs provide training and credentials. They typically come from companies who sell complicated products or services, or from specialized institutions that teach technical courses.
Web design, web development, and online marketing are unregulated industries. Anyone can claim that they’re a web designer. That’s why it’s so competitive — clients have so many options to choose from — and why it’s easy to get caught in a race to the bottom on pricing.
Credentials and certifications are a way to differentiate yourself from competitors, and to justify charging higher prices for your work. Even course completion certificates show that you’re invested in professional development and ongoing improvement. Showcase your credentials on your own site alongside testimonials from your best clients and case studies from your successful projects.
To get started, look at the type of services you’re already offering, or plan to offer in the future.
If you’re interested in improving your code, check out courses from sites like Team Treehouse, Codecademy, or Pluralsight. If you prefer in-person learning, look for local programs, like those offered by General Assembly.
Referral programs reward you for getting others to try or buy a product or service you’re already using. They usually do this with incentives, like tiered discounts or free upgrades.
To get started, check on the products and services you’re already using, and see if they’re offering a referral program of some kind. Even though it’s not additional revenue, the discounts and upgrades can add to your bottom line by reducing your overhead costs.
Don’t just think about your customer-facing products, either. Are there tools or resources you’re using that other web designers or developers in your network could benefit from? Are there tools you’re using that other businesses (not just web designers) could use?
Like referral programs, reward programs incentivize behavior by offering perks. Unlike referral programs, rewards programs are about your loyalty and repeat business.
Consider something as simple as a stamp card at your local coffee shop. Every time you buy a coffee, you get a stamp. After ten stamps you get a free drink.
That’s a basic rewards program, incentivizing you to make repeat purchases by accumulating points. Every time you get a coffee elsewhere, you’ll think about that missed opportunity to earn a stamp from your usual spot.
To get started, look at what purchases you’re already making on a regular basis. Would you benefit from a rewards program that adds extra perks to something you’re going to buy anyway?
Get started with our GoDaddy partner programs
If you’re in the business of building websites for paying clients, we have all the partner programs you need.
We have an affiliate program that pays you a commission when someone makes a purchase through your affiliate links. We have a reseller program that lets you sell GoDaddy products through your own eCommerce storefront.
And then there’s GoDaddy Pro.
GoDaddy Pro is a collection of tools and resources created specifically for web designers and developers who get paid to build websites. As a GoDaddy Pro member, you receive exclusive perks and discounts, a central dashboard for managing all your client sites, and reward points for every purchase your clients make.
Best of all? It doesn’t cost a thing to sign up. Interested? Join GoDaddy Pro for free.