Finding clients as a web designer can be tough. It's definitely true for freelancers or those just starting out.
There are several ways to find web design clients. Some involve some local, face-to-face work and others can be done online.
Networking with businesses can be daunting, especially if you are introverted. If you're nervous, start slowly and work your way towards being more confident. Make sure you have plenty of business cards ready and an "elevator speech" about what you can offer. Some local resources you should consider are:
Business Networking Groups
Business Networking International (BNI) specializes in local networking groups focused on building a referral base within each group. Your local Chamber of Commerce also helps businesses network with each other.
Service and Common Interest Groups
Service groups such as Rotary Clubs and church and volunteer groups are a potential source. Find an area that fits your interest to meet people and talk to them while doing something you enjoy.
Meetups are locally organized groups found on the Meetup website. Some are business groups where you can meet people who either need your services or know people who do.
Don't hesitate to join Meetup groups of other web designers and developers. When you have an overload of work or a request in a niche you don't cover, having a list of people to refer clients is smart. They're likely to return the favor with referrals to you.
Finding clients and networking online would seem like a natural fit for website designers. If you're open to finding clients who aren't local this is a good option.
Social Networking Groups
There are many Facebook and LinkedIn groups dedicated to web professionals. Don't think of other designers and developers as competition but as a resource to find leads when they need help or know of people who do.
Another type of group to join are ones focused on business or your niche. For example, if you specialize in photography websites, look for professional photographer groups. Many Chamber and BNI chapters also have Facebook or LinkedIn groups.
If you join non-designer groups one of the best way to get clients is to "not" sell yourself. Instead, be helpful when people ask questions about web design, SEO, and anything you have expertise on. This can pay off when they are ready for a designer.
Having a well-written LinkedIn profile can help you get clients as well. Developing connections on this site can help you find clients. People in your network can find you when searching for a designer. LinkedIn also offers a ProFinder service where you can post your resume and receive client requests.
Some freelancers find success using online job sites dedicated to connecting clients with professionals. There are several of these to choose from and many have jobs internationally. Some of the most popular are:
- Upwork tends to focus on lower paying jobs but it's a decent source if you're just starting out.
- Behance is a portfolio site where clients can find sites they like and contact you about your services. There is also a job board.
- iFreelance and Freelancer are similar sites where clients needing a website and designers can connect.
You can place ads in local magazines as well as CraigsList. Another idea is donating your services to local non-profits for silent auctions, which results in giving a service away but can increase your profile. Most let you place business cards on the auction table and donors to the non-profit tend to favor a designer with the same commitment.
Another form of online advertising is your freelancer or design firm website and social media. Make sure your website is up to date, provides compelling information on your services, and is optimized for search. Creating a Facebook page can increase your visibility in searches and it's a place for you to showcase your services and present client success stories.
Cold Emailing and Calling
Designers who are comfortable doing sales can find success with calling and emailing businesses to inquire if they need your service. One method is to look at their site and do a quick audit to provide the business with information on what their site lacks and what you can help them achieve. Or, if they don't have a site, focus on telling them how a website can help their bottom line.
Getting Web Design Clients
Find places where your ideal clients congregate and be ready to present your services effectively. Putting some time and effort into your search can yield results. Don't forget to ask your new satisfied clients for referrals in the future!