We talked to Tiago Lavis-Fernandes of Freelance Web Design about digital marketing services, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Tiago Lavis-Fernandes: Surprisingly, my family and I survived pretty well during the chaotic 2020. And I have to give all the credit to my Search Engine Optimization efforts. Being on top of Google has helped me bring a monthly income without stepping outside for the vast majority of the year.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Freelance Web Design.
Tiago Lavis-Fernandes: I founded my company “Freelance Web Design” in April 2019, after working for multiple digital marketing companies as a website designer and discovering that the industry was lacking an important factor for every industry: customer service. Many were the times when I tried to help my customers, but my employer’s decisions limited me. I saved up enough to help my family survive while I was working day and night on my website while improving my new brand all over the web, to reach the top of Google. Luckily, before my savings dried out, my website was starting to bring me new enquiries. It was January of 2020 when my monthly income started covering all my monthly outgoings, thanks to the traffic Google was bringing to my website.
How does Freelance Web Design innovate?
Tiago Lavis-Fernandes: I would say the best way I innovate in web design, is to focus on my customer’s happiness a lot more than I focus on my profit. Most of my customers came to me after having bad customer service experiences in the past. That helped me building 50+ 5 star reviews in less than a year, and just by responding pretty much instantly to every customer old and new, the word got out, and I started receiving a lot of recommendations exactly at the same time as the world went into lockdown because of the new coronavirus! I could try innovating by bringing new ideas into the business, but if my industry is lacking the very basics, the moment you cover that specific need, it becomes innovation to boost your business to the top!
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Tiago Lavis-Fernandes: Sometimes I feel bad about saying this, but the truth is, COVID-19 brought me over 50% of the enquiries I was getting before the lockdown. The number of business owners trying to build a website quickly to sell their products online and have better chances of survival was enormous! However, I know a lot of freelance web designers who had to give up their business to become employed by someone else again as they couldn’t afford to pay their bills due to the lack of new enquiries. I can’t complain though, being on top of Google nationwide made it very easy for business owners to find me, but all my efforts on Social media groups, LinkedIn connections and Business Directory listings, also brought me a small percentage of new customers.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Tiago Lavis-Fernandes: The most difficult choice I had to make was to hire more freelancers to work with me, as I wanted to keep the same level of quality and customer service as my customers were used to, but I’ve learnt that no matter how many people you hire to work with you, you should always keep a close relationship with every single customer, especially in the web design field.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Tiago Lavis-Fernandes: It’s probably unusual for most business owners, but I listen to Black Metal music with my earphones on and my eyes closed for at least 10 minutes. All the negative emotions seem to vanish after just a few minutes. It is truly refreshing! This can also work with intense classical music, such as Dies irae (Requiem in D minor) from Mozart, or Carmina Burana: O Fortuna from Carl Orff, just give a few examples.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Tiago Lavis-Fernandes: I would say my biggest competitors are Pixel Kicks and Made By Shape in Manchester. Sarah Evans and Andre Armacollo Nationwide.
Your final thoughts?
Tiago Lavis-Fernandes: If you really put all your efforts into your business, you will succeed. But before you do so, it is very important to watch YouTube videos during your free time, even if you’re doing the dishes, for example, watch a YouTube video to learn something new which could help you grow your business, such as SEO or other digital marketing topics for example. Subscribe to newsletters like startup.info and keep an eye on their content to find articles which will truly help you improve your skills. Then, you are ready to give your heart and soul to your entrepreneurship! It is very easy to give up when things are not doing well, but the ones who keep trying, failing and learning, are the ones who will do well in the end.