BizCraft Episode 5 – Working With Agencies

BizCraft Ep05

Play or Download this Episode (Recorded live on 08/10/2012)

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About the Show

This is BizCraft, the podcast about the business side of web design, recorded live almost every two weeks. Your hosts are Carl Smith (@carlsmith) of nGen Works and Gene Crawford (@genecrawford) of UnmatchedStyle.

Episode Overview

Discussing web design business basics, working with an agency and the state of the industry.

If you guys have any experience or intel on what it’s like to work with agencies outside of the US South East please leave us a comment or send in a question or audio comment. We’ll love you forever for it!

In this episode we take questions from:


I run a one man web shop part-time. I’m trying to get to full time and I have a theory that I’d like to bounce off of you guys.

Right now I have quite a few of what I would call “Agency” clients. They are typically ad companies or graphic designers that don’t have web skills in shop.Because the work I do for them is often protected under NDA’s, my portfolio doesn’t showcase anything new, and I am missing up on even hearing about local web projects until they launch.

I’m thinking about turning down some of the future guaranteed Agency work to focus on finding and cultivating clients that would be more likely to refer other business owners my way. Is that stupid?


Hey Carl, what are you wearing 8^)

Nah, this is all in good fun. After talking with Carl about Ngen Works “Jellyfish Model” at UXMad and hearing him speak about it a bit… then seeing the email newsletter about it, etc. I was wondering if other companies other than Github or Valve have surfaced with this as their practice (or at least close to). Also, what kind of feedback is he getting?

Stuff in the news (FWIW)

Web consulting doesn’t have to be a struggle (Link sent in from: Aaron Grizwold):

1. Income is incredibly choppy. Some months you make out like a bandit, others you’re on the soup line.
2. The percentage of your income that comes from your top few clients can often exceed 50%.

Beers from the end of the show

Gene: Summersault – Summer seasonal – New Belgium
Carl: Virgils Rootbeer


Huge thanks to everyone who checked out the live show. We’ll be back on in 2 weeks to kick it up again. Don’t miss getting your question sent in for the next show too! OR you can call in on the Grasshopper phone # (888) 668-6110 and leave an audio question we can play on the show.


Gene Crawford

With over a decade of experience in the industry he has overseen the design and architecture of hundreds of web sites and applications. An active member in the design community, he's the editor & producer of, the ConvergeSE, ConvergeFL, ConvergeRVA and the Breaking Development conference series.

  • Great show guys.

    My approach is to mix my own clients with a bit of agency work. Ideally one or two agencies where we have laid out the terms or the relationship and we work well together. Basically a long term contract.

    I also do a bit of video production because I have a lot of experience in that field, but video production is a whole different ball game when compared to web, just like you guys said about print and web. It is tempting to branch out, but spreading yourself too thin can cause all of your work to suffer. My focus is 80% Web and 20% Video and that’s it. I like being known for a specific skill set and market and sell that. Then within Web specialize in RWD, or WP or Front-End, then learn other things as best and fast as I can. Seems to work for me right now.

    I am glad to hear about some of the warnings with agencies and I hope this show will help me avoid some of those same issues.

    Thanks again guys.

    • Dude, thanks for the comment! I think you’re right about the agency stuff there, as long as you lay out clear terms and keep things clean you should be okay. It’s the parts where you let things slide when you start getting into trouble. The old “give us this project at a reduced fee and we promise to keep you in business on the next one…” it’s slippery isn’t it?

  • I was curious if you could expand on why working with Blackbaud, or more specifically, Raisers Edge can be such a pain in the ass? The non-profit I work for uses it, but I don’t ever have to deal with it from a development standpoint. I have no attachment to it whatsoever, so please feel free to be brutally honest.