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How One Designer Used Squarespace to Create a Design Business (and you can too!)

10.28.16 | By
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Dylan Seeger was a 19-year-old with $6 to his name when he decided to start a design business powered by Squarespace. It seemed like a long shot even to him, but he had just attended a Squarespace Developer’s Meetup (in the pre-Squarespace Circle days) and learned just how seriously the platforms takes supporting Squarespace professional designers. “It clicked in my brain while I was sitting in the audience that I finally had a real strategy for getting a studio off the ground,” said Dylan. He had long dreamed of starting a web design business, but the big stumbling block was always the client acquisition portion of the equation. Knowing that he could align himself with Squarespace, Dylan founded Lovably that night and by the end of the weekend, had a fully functional site ready to go. The rest, as they say…

Just two short years and 100 Squarespace sites later (whew!), Dylan’s client list has grown so quickly that Lovably has become his full-time job and he was able to move out of the suburbs and into New York City. Dylan says that basing his business in the world of Squarespace was a no-brainer. “As more of a designer than a programmer, I was immediately drawn to the platform because it felt like one of the first services to strike the balance of being tastefully opinionated software while still allowing for vast customization, from a design point of view.” These days, Squarespace now has an entire community devoted to support emerging and veteran Squarespace designers called Squarespace Circle.

Site created by Lovably for Jenny E. Balisle

Site created by Lovably for Jenny E. Balisle

For Dylan, the platform has been hugely helpful in allowing him to create work that he otherwise wouldn’t be able to code. “Each template is a canvas for us, and behind that canvas is a vast amount of highly technical code. I wouldn’t be able to code those templates from scratch. That’s the beauty of the platform. They provide an amazing jumping off point for designers.” The fact that he doesn’t have to manage or build a back-end has been a huge plus. “It’s also wonderful to be able to hand off your work to a client and be confident that they’ll be able to add new blog posts, change out photos here and there, and will never have to worry about managing hosting or installing security updates,” Dylan said.

I'm a huge fan of the DIY aspect of Squarespace and designed the website for my non-profit, A Reading World, myself but was curious to see what a designer would do so Dylan showed me what his approach would be to the home page. My favorite part is how the navigation is now on the front page rather than buried. (New logo designed by Shannon Grant)

I’m a huge fan of the DIY aspect of Squarespace and designed the website for my non-profit, A Reading World, myself but was curious to see what a designer would do so Dylan showed me what his approach would be to the home page. My favorite part is how the navigation is now on the front page rather than buried. (New logo designed by Shannon Grant)”

“Squarespace has supported me, and I feel like I have a responsibility to support other designers,” said Dylan. He actively participates in the Circle community to help other designers get their businesses off the ground, and then also features other designers in The Digest, his monthly newsletter (and on Instagram). “It doesn’t matter how well known they are. We’ve featured both the well known like Pentagram, and we’ve featured folks like Jonathan Toro, a pretty unknown designer from Yonkers. We don’t care if you have fan-fare all around you. If the work is brilliant, it’s worth featuring.” It’s that sharing mentality that has made Circle a key community for Squarespace designers. Dylan now uses the Circle forum as a way to give back—he makes an effort to be available to other designer, answering questions and providing insight.

Website designed for Ice Cream Cafe by Lovably

Website for Ice Cream Cafe designed by Lovably

Tips for Starting a Web Design Business

  1. Focus on the experience for the customer. (This is where Circle’s documentation would have come in handy!)
  2. Educate your clients without being pretentious. As with all relationships, communication is key. You need a good starting point on the site that describes the process and your style. Keep in mind that not everyone has worked with a designer so make that first experience a great one!
  3. Focus on building a company that you’re proud of. One that will last and one that you’ll still want to be working at 30 years from now. Don’t let the passing trends of the design industry keep you from doing what you think is right.

Try out Squarespace with a free trial and all their apps, and get 10% off your first purchase using offer code DESIGNMILK.

Amy Azzarito is the author of "Nest: The Secret History of Things that Make a House a Home" forthcoming in 2020.