The true business of every company is to make and keep customers. – Peter Drucker
Every business needs a constant supply of clients to remain afloat. As a freelance web designer, you must be able to get and retain clients to be successful. In today’s post, we will reveal more than ten (10) ways of landing freelance web design clients. Additionally, I will show you what doesn’t work so you can concentrate your efforts on what works. Get a pen and some paper and get ready to have some fun and learn. Let’s begin with the most obvious…
Start a Web Design Blog/Website
And maintain it. You need to let potential clients and the entire web design industry know you’re available for hire. What better way to do it than to create a one of a kind website showcasing your mad design skills alongside a portfolio.
With awesome tools such as WordPress and great services such as Squarespace, you can launch a state of the art web design website by nightfall. Add a blog and maintain it by posting web design tips regularly. A blog enables you to tap into the power of content marketing, which establishes you as an expert in your field. A website will help you to create an online brand you can be proud of, and once you have this going on for you, you’ll never run out of work. Don’t forget to highlight your areas of specialization (strengths).
Build Great SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Once you have a website ready, its time to tap into Google’s huge traffic. The most motivated customer will go to search engines when looking for your service, so it’s in your best interests to always appear first in search results unique to your business.
If you don’t know the first thing about SEO, you can learn or hire SEO help. If you use WordPress, you can improve your ranking using SEO plugins such as WordPress SEO by Yoast and All In One SEO. An effective SEO campaign involves a number of things including:
- Captivating SEO content
- Image and video SEO
- Meta tags
- A little social media fuel
Take advantage of SEO to drive potential clients to your hire page. Speaking of taking advantage of SEO, let’s talk about taking advantage of your network.
Taking Advantage of Your Network
When you start blogging and driving traffic to your web design business, you will meet other people with similar interests. These people (other designers, illustrators, writers etc) will form your network. Your network can be a great source of referral business. Some of your fans will hire you directly. Another portion will refer friends to you. Others (brand ambassadors) will promote your business freely. Everything here works in your favor, so don’t just be happy to have a massive following, utilize the numbers well.
Word of Advice: Play smart, don’t drive the hard sell – nobody likes that. Create meaningful connections with members of your network. Promote their businesses and refer clients to them as well. Pay it forward and you’ll reap generously.
Job Boards and Listings
Before your freelance business picks up, you will need to keep food and drink on your table. You will also need cloth on your back and sandals on your feet. People are always looking for web designers on web design job boards. Job listings advertising web design vacancies are posted everyday. You just need to know where to look. I will give you a head start in that endeavor:
Just search “web design jobs” on Google and be diligent because getting the clients is half the job. Keeping them is the other half as discussed in our next tip.
Become an Expert at Maintaining Clients
What’s the use of getting clients fast and losing them in a similar manner? Any particular client could have multiple projects, and if they like you, you won’t have to worry about work for a while. But, how do you become an expert at working with clients? How do you satisfy your clients? It’s quite simple. Start by giving their project your all. Over delivering is the quickest route to earning your client’s trust hence repeat business.
The best business is repeat business. – Unknown
Endeavor to strike the perfect price-value balance. Provide value. Provide measurable results. Offer free after-sale services. Buy your clients coffee, do anything – just give them more than they paid for. Then become a personable individual. Be kind, be understanding but remain professional. Your client is human, treat them as such. Don’t treat them like a quick way to a means – a quick check.
Market Your Business Locally
When you start out as a freelance web designer, you’re tempted to market yourself online almost exclusively. Well, you spend most of your time online, so it’s understandable. Sadly, this marketing approach locks out a lot of potential business. Your local grocery store might need an online presence to boost business but you won’t get the job if they don’t know about you.
While you can make a substantial living working online, wouldn’t it be great to market yourself locally as well? That local church, that NGO with offices in your area, that upcoming musician who rocks away your nights at the local pub, that artist – anybody can be your client.
Print out a coupla business cards and brochures. Leave the brochures at the mall, cinema, bus station – everywhere! Visit your local chamber of commerce and become the go-to web designer in your community. Then do your work and let word of mouth sell your wares. Um, designs.
Contact Businesses Directly
On your journey as a web designer, you must have come across great websites and then poorly-done websites that could use a total makeover. This is money lying around. Make the internet a beautiful place by giving these sorry websites an extreme makeover for a fee.
Approach these businesses with an offer they can’t resist. These are people who are sold on the idea of having an online presence, so your work shouldn’t be challenging. Just don’t let them down like their previous web designer. Always over deliver is the mantra.
Use Social Media
Unlike a few years ago, many people spend a staggering amount of time on social media sites. Google knows this and that’s why they factor social media in ranking websites.Don’t come across as salesy on social media. Instead, use social media to engage people. Drive conversations as opposed to the hard sell. Check out some of these social media profiles and you will have an idea of how to use your social media presence:
Web Design Forums
Before I say anything about getting web jobs on forums, you must always remembers to carry yourself with decorum. Don’t spam and only contribute to discussions when you have something valuable to add to the conversation. Don’t comment just to drop your link, comment to provide real value.
Some forums have dedicated sections where you can advertise your services. Web design clients flock these forums, and beside scoring a few gigs, you can use forums to show off your expertise. Search “webmaster forums”, “web development forums” etc on Google.
Attend Web Design Webinars and Conferences
1stWebdesigner offers great (and free) webinars on getting your first web design clients. I have attended a couple and they were all jam-packed with useful tips. 1stWebDesigner is not an isolated case, many other web design professional host webinars and conferences that could benefit you greatly in terms of getting clients.
Network with other Web Designers
No man is an island. No man can stand alone. Network with other web designers by going to networking events in your area. If no such events exist in your area, you can start one and bring together web designers from all walks of life.
When you attend these events, you should endeavor to know people first. Be sociable and don’t worry about talking shop. And never ever shove your cards into people’s faces – it’s rude and a little desperate. Let your personality shine through instead. Once you know people, everything else will fall into place. When you’re pleasant, they will remember you if they have plenty on their plates to go around.
Don’t be a jerk. Don’t try too hard either. Be cool. Chill out, have a drink (not too many) and just engage people in good conversation. And since people love talking about themselves, be a good a listener and show real interest. Give out your card only if someone asks for it and attend as many networking events as you can.
Build Relationships as an Employee
Are you currently working for a design agency and would like to break out and do your own thing? Start early and build a relationship with your current boss. When you’re in friendly terms, you can ask them to hire you on a freelance basis. You can proposes cheaper rates and the many other benefits of outsourcing and they will swallow the hook.
Don’t steal their clients or you will earn yourself a foul reputation. Yes, it’s a cutthroat business, but the pie is big enough for everyone. Wherever you work, create strong relationships with your bosses. Check out this video:
Offer to set up social media profiles free of charge. Offer your clients free guides. Offer deals. Discounts too are deals, just use them wisely. Peopel love free stuff, and they’ll remember you for it if it’s something valuable to them.
At the end of the day, the client want value for their money. Learn how to over deliver and you will never run out of work. Then you won’t need to read an article like this – you will write your own story. Another thing, success takes time, so just do your part but don’t expect overnight success; be kind to yourself. Please share how you get freelance web design clients in the comments. A toast to your eminent success!