I am surprised at how many people have messaged me and asked for advice on starting a business around digital accessibility. And usually the idea is starting some type of consulting business where audits are offered, etc.
So I’m making this video, I’m sharing the split screen with a document, and I’m going to read through five of my recommendations for starting your own business.
First, you need to have your own website. And I know there are so many different social platforms where you can have a page and that page can act as your hub, but I think you need to have your own website, and I would feature a portfolio on that website. So this is a way that a prospective client can immediately jump and get a feel for your quality of work and your experience.
So if you have that portfolio, or at least have a portfolio available upon request, I think that will be helpful.
Now, you do need to be extremely sensitive to your clients’ privacy, because many clients don’t want to have their work in progress, be publicly available, especially since website accessibility is such a litigious space. So you need to be aware of that. So you need to make sure that your portfolio is completely redacted or maybe even create a sample altogether, just where it’s a generic sample of perhaps an audit or whatever the case is. But if you have a portfolio, it immediately establishes some sort of connection or gives the prospective client an insight into the level of the quality of work that you do.
Similarly, I would have testimonials, and for the reasons already stated, it can be difficult to ascertain testimonials. But what you can do is you can ask for testimonials from fellow colleagues and other accessibility professionals. So that’s one way to do that.
I also highly recommend that you set up your LinkedIn to be inviting and to have all of the relevant information that someone would want to know if they were potentially going to contact you about services. So having a LinkedIn, I think, can be highly beneficial. I receive so much communication, there are so many messages that come in through my LinkedIn. I think it’s a must have.
And of all the social platforms, it’s benefited me the most. And so with all of these different social platforms, it’s important to know which ones can actually yield business. And I’m not going to discount any because they can all be extremely powerful in certain ways and in certain niches. But with digital accessibility, what I have found is that LinkedIn I think, is the single most powerful. And then Twitter hasn’t I haven’t used Twitter enough to disqualify it, but I don’t think Twitter is where it’s at. I haven’t used Facebook a lot. I despise Facebook, so Facebook could be promising, I just don’t know.
I tried TikTok briefly. My videos got a lot of views, but I didn’t see a lot of results from that of course I’m on YouTube, so I think YouTube is worthy. But starting a YouTube channel is an endeavor in and of itself because just putting out a few videos wouldn’t be. I think it could be helpful, especially if you were going to display your portfolio. You could do so in a sense through YouTube and you could also help people understand better who you are and who they’re hiring.
So I think that leads to my next point, which I didn’t include on this document, but publishing content has worked out very well for me. Now, the way that I really accelerated my progress was that I was ranked number one at one time for ADA website compliance, and that was through an article that I wrote on Medium. And so that article got read by so many different people and it was an extensive article. I’ll link to it below. It’s got over, I think it’s over 267,000 views at this point. But most of those views came not like at least a year and a half ago. So that article did really well for me and so writing really helped me, especially when people were trying to sort out this space. And most of the content was unhelpful and it was vague, unclear and again, unhelpful.
So I think if you have content that you are posting and you may want to try Medium, Medium just doesn’t have the same, it doesn’t resonate the same in Google anymore. But through your own blog, you could try your own blog and publish five to ten articles and see if those do okay. Now, if you have a new website, google is not going to rank you on the first page anytime soon. But if you do see that, you are getting good traction in Google. So if you’re on the second, 3rd or fourth page for some longer tailed keywords for your articles, that’s a really good sign. And that’s encouraging because there are some very specific searches that don’t have a lot of competition in this space.
So there are people that look specifically for their niche. So it could be restaurants, I made a video on restaurants recently. It could be banking, it could be financial institutions. Whatever it is, some people are looking specifically for their niche, even though digital accessibility is going to apply the same way despite their niche, or mostly the same way. Just keeping that in mind could help.
But the point here is that if you are publishing content, it gives a way to demonstrate your expertise and knowledge. That is something else that I would do. I don’t have that on the document.
The next bullet point is to tell colleagues. So why is this helpful? Well, because there are a number of people in accessibility that have more work than they can even handle and they are turning away work. And when someone comes to them for work, they act like you are encumbering them and I know because I’ve asked certain people for help with some projects and they have so much work or it’s not what they want to do, that they’re just not interested. And so if you just let them know what you’re doing and what you’re offering, they may refer clients to you. And I think that is one of the best bullet points on here, or maybe the most surprising bullet points is that colleagues have a way of referring to you. And it’s been said to me that the accessibility professional community is relatively small. I don’t know that. It certainly seems that you see the same names repeating over and over again. But if you let other accessibility professionals know what you’re doing, I think it can be very helpful to you, especially if you establish some sort of rapport or there’s a partnership. Because if someone’s continually referring you clients, it’d be a good idea to say hey, thank you for referring these to me. Here is 15% or 10% or whatever type of margins that you’re working with on whatever services. But I think this could be very helpful to you because there are so many different niches that you can be in or so many different ways that you can be specific to accessibility. And if you have developed this niche, then if someone else isn’t doing that, then they may refer somebody to you. Sometimes I get work or I get asked about document accessibility. Now, document accessibility isn’t something I want to do, but I do source out document accessibility, right, because people ask me for it. So I get all sorts of requests. But the point is that you never know when someone could send someone your way. Maybe it’s a client that’s work that they already do, but they know this person can’t afford their rates and so they send them to you.
Also you need to state your proposition and your price clearly. So this could be on your website or it could be dealing with clients. Now, some people won’t put price on their website. I do for one reason, because I don’t want to deal with prospective clients who don’t have the budget to pay for my services. So for example, on accessible.org, my price for an audit starts at $3,500. Why do I do that? Well, because if someone is only going to be able to pay $1,500, it makes no sense to have any sort of discussion with them. It’s just going to be a waste of time because in this case the market, the buyer and the seller are not going to agree upon a price. So there’s no point in it. And that’s one reason I highly recommend it. Of course, you see many accessibility providers not state their price. I’m sure there are marketing and sales reasons for that. It’s like maybe well, maybe I can talk them into a higher price, I don’t want to deal with it. So that’s just the way I operate. But I do recommend being very transparent into exactly what you are offering, why it is beneficial to the client. Because you have to keep in mind that there are a lot of people that do not understand exactly what they need and or what you are offering. So you want to make sure that you are educating your clients, prospective clients, throughout the process. And one way you do that is by explaining your proposition and what it does.
And then the last sub bullet point I have here is, how much does it cost? And to start with, another recommendation is you may want to lower your costs, and so you may want to price your services at less than you would like to. So let’s say you would like to charge $100 an hour for consulting. You may want to price at $75. And so the reason why that is, is because it is helpful for you to gain experience and gain momentum. And then if you do an excellent job, the referrals have a way of coming in. I get referrals a lot, and sometimes it’s from people I don’t even know. I never even talked to them before. But referrals have a way of coming because you have done that work and you’ve gained that experience. And when you gain momentum, then you’re more experienced in dealing with clients, etc. And sometimes it’s strange to me how I won’t have an email for ten days and then all of a sudden, in the next four days, I have five emails asking about different things. So there’s something to be said for momentum and just gaining clients. And I think it will lead to referrals because the more people you deal with, the more you never know when someone could potentially open up the door to dozens of more clients.
I’ve had a web development agency. They’ve referred numerous clients to me. I recently had someone who was the director of an association, and that association had many, many websites that needed to be audited. So it was one person, but it worked its way into being enough to be over 50 clients. So you just don’t know how once you’re getting exposure and working with more clients, then it could lead to other clients. I wouldn’t price it too low, but you do want to make sure that your price is not to the point where it makes someone uncomfortable. And then especially at first when you need those initial clients, I would keep my costs lower.
And then the last bullet point I have here is fiverr. So that leads right along to this fiverr. I have actually seen them advertising ADA compliance services to their they’ve advertised their marketplace on Google. So that’s good. And then that also tells me and the number of sellers offering ADA compliance gigs tells me there are people looking for services on fiverr. And you can really stand out from the crowd by offering legitimate services and talking and discussing why some of these other providers that are offering audits, they’re really offering scans and how if they’re installing a plugin, then there’s no instant accessibility.
So distinguishing yourself on fiverr could easily lead to you gaining a number of clients. And then, like I said, once you get that base, then just people have a way of finding you through that. So I could go on and on and on about this. There are so many things that I think specific to accessibility work that I’ve found out. But these are some of my best recommendations if you are starting a consultant business or some other type of business around digital accessibility. And if I do have any updates or if there’s more information, look at this YouTube description for this video. And if I have updates, I will add those to there.