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Siteswan CEO Justin Gerena On How Web Design Can Be The Easiest Business To Start

Siteswan CEO Justin Gerena On How Web Design Can Be The Easiest Business To Start

Bethenny Carl
In this interview series, Website Planet is talking to executives from the best online companies, to learn from their remarkable stories and reveal the untold truths of what it really takes to build a successful online business that starts from their website.

Our guest today is Justin Gerena, Co-Founder & CEO of SiteSwan, a White Label Website Builder that helps everyday people start, run, grow, and scale their own web design business, by utilizing their proprietary technology, tools and training.

Founded in 2011, SiteSwan is now helping tens of thousands of local businesses thrive online thanks to the relationships they have built with resellers across 15 countries.

Justin is a lifelong entrepreneur who has always created products and services (mostly software) to solve major problems that he, and many others like him, have faced. While actively running several different businesses, his main focus is on running SiteSwan.

What problems are you solving for your customers and audience?

In the past 10 years, there has been a huge shift to working from home amongst people from all walks of life. They want to start their own business that they can operate on their own terms, that doesn’t require additional schooling or certifications. But they have no idea what they could or should be doing.

At the same time, they also don’t have the funds or desire to invest in a franchise, nor do they want to get into multi-level marketing or dropshipping or affiliate marketing. They want a legitimate business with recurring revenue and maximum flexibility – And that’s hard to come by.

If these ambitious folks with deep entrepreneurial needs don’t find the ideal solution, they’ll end up wasting their time, money, and effort on a risky, unproven, and/or undesirable business opportunity. If they choose wrong, they’ll end up in worse financial condition than where they started. They’ll end up with less freedom of time and space, and a failure hanging over their heads that will discourage them in the future.

Many believe that buying into a franchise is a good idea. You get to operate under a national or regional brand, and all the thinking has been done for you – you just need to make an investment and get to work, right?

Unfortunately, there are so many disadvantages of choosing a franchise besides the steep upfront investments required. You have your hands tied with your creativity, pricing, policies, and offerings, and you’re ultimately not the one in charge…you’re still serving a higher power who’s putting their hands in your pockets, getting a piece of all the revenue.

Others will watch people on TikTok talk about starting work-from-home businesses, oblivious to the fact that the videos they’re watching are severely over-simplified, with inflated earnings. When it comes time to do the thing they watched the videos on, they are then met with the harsh realities that it’s nothing like what it seemed in the video.

SiteSwan offers aspiring digital entrepreneurs a real business model that they can start under their own brand name, own 100% of it, but still get the tools, resources, training, and support that they need to be successful. They can offer a high-demand service to local businesses, meeting and interacting with locals, all while earning both upfront and recurring monthly revenue with every site they sell – right from the comfort of their home. It’s an extremely flexible, low-impact, yet rewarding line of business to be in, that also opens up lots of other opportunities to offer complimentary services that businesses need.

Which types of companies benefit the most from what you offer?

Stay-at-home moms are a great example of the types of folks who deeply appreciate what SiteSwan has to offer. They’re looking to make money on a schedule that they can manage around caring for their family and their home. They don’t have the ability to make a big investment to get a business off the ground, and they need to operate 100% at their own pace. SiteSwan sees lots of parents of young children working from home so that they can dictate exactly how their schedule looks.

But also men in their 30s-60s are joining SiteSwan every day. Gary, a 41 year-old pastor with 4 kids, who moved to a new state to run a local church, realized he needed better control over his income potential, so he joined SiteSwan to bring in an additional stream of income that is helping his family big time financially. He’s even getting his kids involved in the business, which is a great way to get the whole family rooting for him. Instead of ignoring his entrepreneurial instincts, he’s embracing them, and reaping the rewards.

Even those folks who are nearing retirement age – they see all of their needs met with SiteSwan. They want a slower pace of work, something they can do from home part-time. Today’s retirees, despite pension plans or retirement accounts, are finding that they need to supplement that income, and there’s no better way than to start a web design business, which comes with recurring revenue and great tax benefits.

What makes them eventually choose you over your competitors?

SiteSwan is constantly taking on new resellers who decide that the web design industry is right for them, after exploring other things that just don’t work out the way they thought. Some of our clients come from having started or considered starting a franchise, or failing at affiliate marketing, or duped by some other “Make money from home” scam they found on the internet.

At the same time, SiteSwan also sees many folks who have built websites on other platforms before, like WordPress, shift their focus (and any existing clients) to the SiteSwan platform. Upon doing so, they quickly realize that running a web design business is much easier like this than with any other methodologies they’ve utilized before.

When first getting started with SiteSwan, it becomes immediately evident that unlike any other website building platform, no actual web design experience is necessary to build stunningly beautiful sites for small businesses. Not only that, but when they uncover the power of SiteSwan’s Local Prospecting Tool, which takes all the guesswork out of finding which businesses near them need a website, it become immediately evident that SiteSwan has truly thought of everything when it comes to all the necessities one has to build a scalable web design business.

Because of SiteSwan’s extensive Training Program, combined with our exclusive 14-Day Launch Plan with personalized coaching, the path to winning your first web design client is clearly paved – complete with an all U.S.-based support team that truly cares about each of our resellers, and intimately understands the challenges they come across and help them overcome them.

When SiteSwan resellers continually find success, selling dozens or hundreds of websites to small businesses, and they’re billing each and every one of them with SiteSwan’s Client Billing feature, they reach out to us and thank us for “changing their life,” as Pam from Florida put it, when describing the impact SiteSwan had on her.

Users like Pam, who recommend SiteSwan to others, often emphasize the platform’s ease of use, cost-effectiveness, and the unique opportunity it provides to start a web design business. Additionally, they highlight the flexibility it offers, allowing entrepreneurs to adapt and scale their web design ventures according to their specific needs and business objectives. The platform’s comprehensive suite of tools and resources, coupled with its user-friendly approach, makes it a standout choice for those looking to establish a professional online presence or venture into the lucrative field of web design.

“This was my first time doing web design, and the SiteSwan staff provides fast, robust support to make me look like I’ve been doing this for decades! After starting this business, I moved across the country TWICE and took this business with me wherever I went. The flexibility and simplicity of this business model is superb. I would recommend SiteSwan to anybody who likes meeting new people and helping them with their business.”
C. Jackson (Tampa, FL)

Since you started, what helped you grow and retain your audience?

When asked about how we achieved the growth and success that we have, it’s easy to point to the advertising dollars we invested to get our name out there, or the marketing effort we put into communicating how special the SiteSwan platform is.

But the reality is that any and all marketing efforts would be fruitless without a platform that actually does what it promises to do.

At SiteSwan, we’ve invested more time, money, and energy into our platform, our technology, our training, and our support, than any and all marketing we’ve ever done. We tirelessly listened to the feedback our clients gave us, and facilitated an evolution of our platform that looks very different today than it did back in 2011.

Adding in functionality to not only build better websites faster (Instant Site Creation), but find prospective clients (Local Prospecting Tool), charge clients for their sites (Client Billing), get access to all the growth and sales techniques you might need to be effective at selling (Training Program & 14-Day Launch Plan), and sell additional add-on services for more revenue (Reputation Management) – all of these things elevated the offering and enabled our resellers to find more success faster, and keep them using our platform longer (as they grow) which has in turn helped us grow.

When we see our SiteSwan resellers collectively bill out millions of dollars in web design setup & maintenance services, it gives us the satisfaction that people are completely changing the landscape of their financial futures to create better lives for themselves, their families, and their next generation. It’s an incredibly rewarding endeavor.

What tools are you using to run your business and daily activities?

In the daily operations and management of SiteSwan, we employ a variety of essential tools to ensure smooth business functioning. For email marketing campaigns, we utilize MailChimp, leveraging its robust features to reach our audience effectively with targeted messages. SimpleTexting serves as a valuable tool for Text Message Marketing, enabling direct and immediate communication for enhanced engagement with clients and prospects. We also use Zoho CRM for keeping track of all of our leads as we usher them through the process of getting to know SiteSwan and what makes it so special.

In terms of collaboration and document management, we rely on Google Workspace. This comprehensive suite offers a unified platform for creating, editing, and sharing documents, fostering real-time collaboration among team members. Collectively, these tools play a crucial role in our business operations, contributing to the efficiency and effectiveness of our day-to-day activities.

What perspective do you have about where your industry is headed?

Contrary to the common belief that web design demands extensive technical skills, our platform challenges this misconception by providing accessible proprietary tools and strategies.

We believe in empowering individuals, irrespective of their technical background, to kickstart a career in web design.

Our intuitive interfaces, step-by-step guidance, and comprehensive resources make the design process inclusive and approachable, eliminating the need for advanced coding knowledge. With tutorials, templates, and a supportive community, we break down barriers and invite everyone to explore and succeed in the dynamic field of web design.

That’s for the present, whereas the future of our indsutry holds in my opinion challenges and opportunities.
  • Rapid Technological Advancements: Staying ahead of technology trends and ensuring our platform remains relevant in a fast-evolving digital landscape is a constant challenge.
  • AI Integration: The integration of artificial intelligence in website building could revolutionize the customization process, making websites even more tailored to individual business needs.
  • Global Accessibility: Opportunities lie in expanding our platform’s accessibility globally, catering to diverse markets and countries.
Industry data shows a significant increase in the number of small businesses establishing an online presence. The demand for user-friendly website building tools has surged, indicating a shift towards empowering individuals and small businesses to take control of their digital presence. Furthermore, data on the growing freelance market supports the idea that more people are seeking flexible ways to engage in web design and digital services.

📈 Around 18 million websites on the internet use simple website builders, and the global website builder market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 6.9% from 2022 to 2032, reaching $3.5 billion over the next decade.

Sources:
https://mycodelesswebsite.com/website-builder-statistics/
https://colorlib.com/wp/website-builder-market-share/

Challenging the status quo involves acknowledging that while DIY website building platforms have empowered many, they may not be the ideal solution for every scenario and small business. Small businesses need to recognize the importance of having a professional website and strong digital presence.

In conclusion, the website building industry is undergoing a shift towards democratization and user empowerment, but challenges such as the need for ongoing innovation remain. Recognizing alternative paths and addressing potential concerns ensures a nuanced and adaptive approach to the industry’s evolution.

What’s in the roadmap for your future?

Our expansion strategy encompasses a multifaceted approach aimed at enhancing our platform’s capabilities, empowering users with new educational tools and resources, and implementing a diversified marketing strategy to maximize brand exposure. By focusing on these key pillars, our expansion strategy aims to not only broaden the functionality of our platform but also enrich the user experience through comprehensive learning materials and personalized training.

In the short term, our goals involve enhancing the user experience, optimizing platform performance, and expanding our customer support capabilities to ensure seamless onboarding for new users. Long-term goals revolve around becoming a global leader in the website building industry, with a strong focus on user retention, continuous innovation, and strategic partnerships. The aim is not only to provide an easy-to-use platform but also to empower users with increasingly sophisticated tools and support as their businesses grow.

We closely monitor emerging trends and technologies, particularly those related to artificial intelligence (AI) and the evolution of user experience. The integration of AI in website building can streamline customization processes, providing users with more intelligent and personalized design recommendations. As the industry moves towards greater automation and personalization, we plan to incorporate these technologies into our platform to enhance the overall user experience and maintain our competitive edge.

Where can we follow your work?

Website: https://www.siteswan.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/justingerena

X: https://x.com/j_gerena

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/siteswan/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/siteswan/

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