How To Get Web Design Clients Fast [Practical Tips]
Almost anybody can start a web design business and learn how to get web design clients fast. All you need are some basic web design skills and suddenly you’re offering your services and going freelance.
You are on the steps to becoming a professional web designer. And let’s be clear, you are not the only one, the competition is fierce. Whether you stay freelance or want to build up an agency, the issue is the same. How do you get clients through the door, quickly enough to start making the money that will keep you going?
The clients are out there but how do you find them before someone else does? How do they find you? What makes them choose you over all the others? The hardest part is to get the ball rolling, build up some momentum and get enough work to justify your decision to become a web designer. You can’t afford to simply sit back and wait, you need to be proactive.
And here are the best ways, to entice those potential clients.
Start with your Website
You may think, and it’s a fair argument, that spending time on your own website when you could be hustling to get design clients fast is the wrong priority. But you should have started your own website and got it up and running even before taking the steps to become a pro web designer.
You can be sure that if you are going looking for clients, they are going to want to check you out. How is it going to look if they can’t find you? You know the answer.
At the very least you need a basic site, in terms of content. Get all the essential details, your services, your skills, your experience, and contact details, and get them live. It doesn’t have to be a potentially award-winning site, but it does need to look professional and attractive. Make it look good, any web designer’s site is automatically a show for not only your design abilities but also your attention to detail and professional business competence. The site is selling you as a business and as a designer, if it doesn’t do both jobs it isn’t working for you and will drive potential clients away.
Later you can and should add more to your site, hopefully adding a portfolio and testimonials singing your praises. In the beginning, cover the basics but concentrate on certain areas.
It’s going to be the first impression so make it a good one. Creative but functional, personal but professional, beautiful and usable.
It’s no good hitting a home run with a stunning landing page if the client has to work hard to find you. Make finding you an easy, natural step.
Get Yourself Noticed
1. Social Media
The statistics on Social Media are quite staggering and you simply can’t be in this line of work without using this method of getting the word out about your services, quickly and for free. The perfect platform for designers, presenting you with the opportunity of sharing your work with potentially millions of clients all around the world. Social media helps build your brand and show your personality, and as a designer, you should be able to reach out with a global showcase of your skills.
By building up an audience and followers you are sitting on a ready-made source of advertising. Social media is proven to build you the trust you need to get your business established, people feel like they know you, and are friends with you, in a surprisingly short space of time.
Remember different social media platforms should be used in different ways, to reach out to different audiences and for different reasons. There’s no reason why you should use all of them but bear in mind that the best social media accounts are the ones that are regularly updated, and this takes time if you spread yourself too thin.
Whereas Facebook is great for spreading your name and getting shares from your already established network, it isn’t a professional platform that is likely to attract a wide range of clients. However, it is a good way of getting some early interest in your business and also of sharing content and enticing people to your website.
LinkedIn is more focused on business relationships and should be treated as an extension of your about page from your site. There are tools for potential clients to find the kind of people and service they are looking for. There are also designer communities to join to boost your profile and share information and discussion threads.
Pinterest and Instagram are both very popular sites for showcasing your design work.
Don’t forget Social Media Ads
Another great value-for-money way of attracting a potentially huge but targeted audience to your services.
Quite simply one of the most effective ways of getting clients quickly is to get out and about and spread the word. you may not like it but Networking works. The more hooks you have in the water, the more chance of getting a bite.
Use everybody you know to get the word out that you are a starting up and don’t leave it to them. Your personal network may all know what you are doing but they might need a push to actually be active in putting out feelers and directing people to you. You may be lucky and someone you know wants to offer you work -of course at special rates, but more likely it’s their extended network that will be your client source.
The thing is, tell them that you are looking for clients, ask them for help in finding clients. After all, they already know you and presumably want you to succeed, so they’ll become your flag-bearers. But don’t let them down, it’s their reputation on the line too.
Once you’ve exhausted your personal contact list, it’s time to spread your wings. Get out there and meet people. Carry your impressively designed business cards, even have a portfolio close at hand, and get talking. You might meet someone in a bar or coffee shop and get talking, it’s an opportunity.
Facebook or other social media groups for local businesses are a great way of getting your foot in the door. We aren’t talking the hard sell, offer advice and suggestions, enough to get you remembered and be a go-to option in the event of needing a service. This is building a reputation and you might get lucky and stumble on someone immediately -you’d be surprised how often this happens. It’s also good for longer-term awareness and growth.
There will be events, locally and nationally, physical and virtual that you can attend. These are often targetted events for small or medium-sized businesses. They are valuable sources of information as well as an ideal chance to pick up some business. If you are at an event for start-ups, just think of the web design possibilities that they need.
Again these are not strictly events to sell your service, but the soft sell works, and even if it doesn’t you going to become a familiar face in the business circles.
A growing area of work is the rise of coworking spaces. Whilst it may be more convenient and certainly cheaper to start your business from home, a coworking space gives you the opportunity to feel the buzz of a joint working space and to meet people like you. They may be interested in your services, they may be able to offer advice for someone like you, and very importantly they are a potential source of referrals. They will be working for businesses and clients that could one day become your clients.
It’s important to remember that referrals are good for both sides. don’t think they are just doing you a favor, referrals reflect well on the person who gives – but only if you do a good job. The referee gains valuable kudos from the deal -win/win.
3. Freelance Marketplaces and Showcase Sites
Whether you class yourself as a freelancer or a start-up agencies freelancer sites are a top-class source of clients. You are working in a specific area of business, web design and you want access to clients searching for web designers. Clients that are already reaching out and searching for your services. And there are specific marketplaces that attract clients like bees to honey. Equally, there are sites like Behance, where you can show off exactly what you can do, to clients who are already looking.
There are generic freelance sites such as Upwork, FreeeUp, or Fiverr, or specialized sites for design such as Coroflot, or Smashing Jobs. Each site has its own idiosyncrasies, some will charge you, and others are free. There are open markets, and others need proven quality. Some are client-driven project offers, others allow you to offer services. You could always just Google web design jobs, what’s the worst that could happen?
4. Targeted Marketing
This is not cold calling, or at least not freezing cold calling. This is about finding the leads that fit your service. The idea of just calling or emailing random businesses is enough to send a shiver down most people’s spine. But it’s a whole lot more enticing if you think you’ve got a chance because you are offering the right thing to the right person.
First, you need a list of the types of clients you are looking for and how to find them. The internet is the greatest source of this kind of information, then you need to do a little research. Check out their site, and make a personalized call or send an email explaining what you are offering and why they need it. Try to reach out to the decision-makers if possible, there is a far better chance of getting somewhere.
You are still going to get a lot of “nonresponses” which can be discouraging, to say the least, but the responses you do get are more likely to be ready to go with you.
5. Finding Your Niche
You are not going to be unique but it does help to specialize, especially at first. Of course, you are usually unwilling to turn down any work when you need clients, but this is a short-term approach. You need to build a reputation for doing things well, completing them on time, and with great results. Risking this by doing a project that you haven’t got the skills or resources for will at a best set you back, at worst ruin you.
So decide what kind of web designer you want to be, what you are experienced at, what you know, and what you are happy doing. This helps narrow down your targetted marketing strategy too. You can focus on finding the clients who fit the bill and not wasting time on those that don’t.
There are many aspects of web design, and whilst it doesn’t mean you have to choose just one, you are never going to be the master of all. You may be a specific problem solver -great, target clients with those problems, if you are a landing page specialist, then look for suites with poor quality landing pages.
A further option is to target a specific industry. It is a much quicker way of establishing a reputation in one field and word within an industry soon spreads. Plus your portfolio is way more targeted.
6. Free Work
This might not sound like great advice for getting your business off the ground, and we certainly aren’t advocating doing voluntary work just for the sake of it.
Free work is about raising your profile and getting your foot in the door or giving a potential client a taster of your skills and abilities. Many clients are taking a risk to employ a new kid on the block, so you’ve got to guarantee it’s a risk worth taking.
Showing them what you can do, is the best demonstration. Most people are not looking for free work, they expect to pay and are willing to pay, but they want value for money and not to waste time. Offering a taster shows confidence and willingness to please a potential client.
Something demonstrating web design skills needs only to be a small element of the overall work involved but it is a sure-fire way of getting attention without costing you much in terms of outlay or time. Free work may also involve things like advice or analysis or audit of the present site, a proposal for improvements, and an example of what you have in mind.
Free work plays a role in targeted marketing and networking, but it needs to be directly related to the problems and offer value -even if it’s free, it’s costing a potential client time to look at and review and nobody wants to waste time.
Also remember that free work needs to be limited and with an ultimate aim, giving free work away randomly or offering ridiculous offers will seriously undervalue your skills and therefore your reputation and is not the way to create a sustainable business model.
Devaluing your service and in many respects your image and ethos. There are many good reasons why see To discount or not to discount? That’s not even a question.
7. Explore Partnerships
Linking up with other individual specialists, and small businesses or providing partnership offers for bigger firms is another great way of broadening your client base quickly. The idea is to provide value for both sides.
Partnering with other freelancers, or micro-businesses, especially ones that are involved in the same area but not necessarily the same specialisms is a great way of expanding your services without having to employ others or taking on work that doesn’t suit you. You pass on clients to each other as and when, share existing clients and widen your market considerably.
Establishing a partnership with a larger agency might take more time. Often it results from doing some initial work and proving your worth. The idea is to fix an agreement wherein you give this client preferential treatment, rates, or prioritized work and they give you the projects. This benefits both sides not only in the number of projects but also in improved communication and established knowledge of the roles, routines, and processes of both companies.
The settled relationship should smooth any rough edges, whilst providing you with some financial stability to grow your business and start scaling.
8. Get Testimonials, and Get Them Out There
The best way of getting web design clients fast who will give you a go is by increasing your reputation, and the best way of showing this is by getting testimonials from clients that are happy with the service.
A good testimonial is worth its weight in gold. It provides a statement of trust, an assessment of the work, and proof that you do the job that you claim to do. For every piece of work, you do you need a testimonial, even if it’s only a quote or a sentence long it matters. Sometimes you’ll have to work to get one, but it’s worth it. If you haven’t got one ask, then ask again, beg if needs be.
Make it easy for the client, they don’t have time to waste writing a novel to sing your praises but they may be happy to fill in a questionnaire, tick some boxes, or provide a quote. You can even ask to use quotes or parts of emails and other communications, this way you’ve already got what you want and you don’t need to trouble them anymore.
Another option is to incentivize testimonials. By offering a discount on further work you are not only more likely to get a testimonial, and a good one but also more likely to receive further work, as they’ve already got a discounted offer. Promoting yourself and your business but retaining the value of your work.
Once you’ve got a testimonial, you need to get them noticed. A specific testimonial page on your website is a must -it’s one of the most important and view pages. But it’s not enough to feature quotes throughout your website and publish extracts on your social media. People want, what others have. Testimonials are a big deal, give them the attention they deserve, and they’ll pay you back tenfold.
9. Provide Valuable Content
In the slightly longer term, adding content to your website is a superb way of attracting an audience and keeping them coming back for more, engaging with past, existing, or potential clients, proving and highlighting your skills and professionalism, and boosting the numbers all around.
Blog articles, newsletter emails, and how-to videos are all ways of promoting yourself and your services. They help provide content for your social media posts, they provide leads and inquiries, and they also keep you in the picture and remind people you exist.
10. Provide Quality Services
Last but perhaps the most important step on your way to getting web design clients fast is to provide top-quality service and fulfill the promises that you’ve made. Without this, all the tips in the world about attracting clients fast won’t help make your fortune.
If you want to get the testimonials, and the vital referrals, establish partnerships, and become a big name in your network, you have to back it up with a quality product and quality business service. One without the other is not good enough. A fantastic design delivered late after weeks of miscommunication and arguments will not bring that client back, and bad news spreads much quicker than good.
Concentrate on the basics of business, good open channels of communication, deadline meeting, politeness and professional demeanor, prompt responses, etc.
Utilize the resources and tools available for businesses. The correct tools or platform for communications will means that you have more time to concentrate on the product, rather than the admin. You are not just a web designer, you are now a business person and you have to show it, from day one and consistently onwards.
Your time is now!
These are the tips that can get you noticed and start you winning clients from the earliest days. But tips are only as good as the person using them, they are not a magic wand to guarantee success.
Will these tips help you, and set you off on the right track on how to get web design clients fast? The rest is up to you, your efforts, your work ethic, your abilities, and your business process – all combined together. Use these tips like tools, take what you can, and adapt them to your own needs. Then grab the bull by the horns and start doing!
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