If you are a web studio owner or an individual web developer, perhaps, you have already faced the problem of a lack of clients. Finding web design clients is typically the biggest concern on any freelancer's mind. Heck even established web design agencies sometimes struggle to find a steady stream of work.
Don't worry if this is the case.
Between us, it happens to the 70% of those who are involved in web design business.
The competition in this market is pretty tough. And there are basically two categories of the web design studios: big influential companies and all the rest.
The former usually don't have problems with clients. But don't take any offense with that. Don't identify the lack of clients with your proficiency level. You may be great at what you do, it's just a question of lack of exposure most times.
Essentially, such a lack of clients speaks volumes about the recognition (brand awareness) of your company and the ability to present yourself at the right time in the right way. You can be a excellent designer, but when it comes to selling your services, this requires a different set of skills. If you don't have the skills to sell yourself well, you may finding yourself not knowing where to begin when pushing for more web design clients.
Big companies usually have professional PR managers who strive to improve brand awareness and an excellent reputation, which is key to attract new clients.
So, as you can see, the most successful companies in the market are not necessarily the ones who have the highest level of professionalism and solid experience, but those who have built a solid marketing strategy, aimed at making it easy to win new clients (because most clients are ALREADY aware of their capabilities).
For the rest of us, we need to think outside the box:
So, we have prepared a list of the top 7 ways of how you can get new clients for free.
1. Get Yourself Included in TemplateMonster's Web Studios Catalog
There is no need to introduce TemplateMonster.
The company has held a leading position in the web design market for over 15 years. Offering a collection of 25K+ ready-made templates they have gained the confidence of thousands of clients. At last, it has something to offer not only to its customers but to web studios and freelance developers as well.
Now, you can be included in the TemplateMonster Web Studios Catalog.
In reality, this project was launched to kill two birds with one stone.
TemplateMonster cares about its customers.
So to make sure that after buying the template their client would have availability of high-quality customization services if they needed it.
For this reason, they decided to gather all web studios and freelancers with the high level of experience in one catalog or directory.
With the level of client that TemplateMonster has, the Web Design Catalog is a great opportunity to increase your client base and get new web design and / or customizaton orders on regular basis.
The beauty of this directory is that you can be included in the catalog at no cost.
The only requirement is that you pass a test to confirm that you meet the level of quality and expectations of the catalog.
While some may worry about such tests, you really don't need to worry, especially if the web design niche is your bread and butter.
Help is also at hand:
To help you prepare you for the test, TemplateMonster launched its Certification Center. The center provides a knowledge base with good emphasis on basic web design and development topics.
Those who are already proficient, or those who have good confidence in their abilities, can take the test right away. It is not difficult for those in the biz and won't take long to complete.
Once you pass the test successfully you will receive a certificate, which is a proof of your experience.
Once you are included in the catalog, you can create and customize your own profile within the directory.
Creating a great portfolio and profile is going to help you win more web design business.
You can, actually, you should include your company's history, your best projects, and as many contact details as possible. There is also space for reviews from TemplateMonster and your customers. In fact, reviews go a long way towards converting new clients, so do strive to get positive reviews from your past clients.
Prospective clients can use advanced filters to search for the closest web studio.
2. Get Listed on Freelance Marketplaces
Of course, the web design catalog from TemplateMonster is not the only directory you should be on.
Freelance marketplaces, by their very nature attract companies and or clients which are looking for web design and are literally in "buying mode".
Given the volume of clients and the fact that they are looking to hire, you should always endevour to create your own profile on the popular WordPress freelance developer marketplaces. We've looked extensively at how to hire developers from marketplaces here.
While marketplaces may be competitive in nature, they are still one of the best and sure-fire ways of finding new clients.
Take the time to create a highly detailed profile.
Check out the following profile which discusses the difficulties of creating a good profile and how to achive this result:
Describe all your skills and experience, attach examples of your projects, especially the ones which can show your most proficient capabilities.
Be sure to include te value that your projets have brought to your clients.
For example, if you've implemented "extra functions" or implemented specific value added functionality, ensure that you list these. You mention such differentiating factor as:
- built a full sales funnel
- implement email marketing or drip marketing campaigns
- implement a full conversion and / or CRO exercise
- full eCommerce setups including such stuff as Cart Abandonment, scarcity tactics and ways to increas the total value of purchases
- site structure implemented using keyword research which is optimized for SEO
- landing pages optimized for PPC campaigns
- specialize in certain niches or markets
- etc etc
Given that you are competing with thousands of other profiles, ways to differentiate yourself from the rest will go a long way towards converting new clients.
It's not just important, creating a profile and application which is different, and helps you stand out from the crowd is key to winning business.
Moreover, you should not sit and wait until the client comes across your profile. You can need to methodically sift through submissions and regularly apply for jobs yourself.You need to dedicate time to find projects which make sense for you, then craft a proposal or application which pushes your strengths with regards to that specific project.
It is critical that you customize the application towards the specific project, so that your application stands out.
Freelance marketplaces offer lots of opportunities to take on a short-term projects. But you need to take the process seriously and dedicate enough importance to it.
If you are still getting started, there is another way to differentiate yourself. This is by bidding lower that most other projects, such that you can improve your portfolio. Not only that, you need to dedicate extra time to the project, such that the client is 200% happy with your services and would be willing to post a good review.
As your portfolio improves, you can then start to increase bids and use other differentiating factors.
The great thing is that most of the marketplaces are free to join.
Here are the most popular ones which you should consider joining:
If you are highly skilled, and are ready to pass a number of high tests, to get included in the very exclusive top talent marketplace, you might want to check out and register as a freelancer with Toptal.
3. Use Social Media to the Maximum
Social media plays an important part in the life of our society - there are no two ways about it, if you are not strongly present on social networks, especially in a niche (web design) which is a crucial part of the whole digital marketing effort.
It would be foolish not to use this opportunity for the benefit of your business.
But the number of social networks out there is signficant. And dedicate time to keep all of them up to standard could eat up a lot of your time.
So, do you need to join all of them?
First of all, you need to analyze who your clients are and which social networks they use. Here are some useful tips:
- LinkedIn is a must-have for those who are searching for partners and potential clients. Here you can build a professional profile rich with keywords associated with your specilizations (especially for those who operate in specific niches). LinkedIn allows you to create strong relations with your colleagues and clients. It also allows you write great article with industry-leading insights and though-leadership posts.
- Facebook is, perhaps, the most popular network. Unlike LinkedIn, it is better for laid-back content and relaxed communication. Just remember, don't sell, build an online community which shows how your services will bring value. Video and animated content, and human based imagery are winners on this platform.
- Pinterest is an ideal choice for a web designer, as it provides a great opportunity to showcase your works. This is also great if you can couple this with ancillary photography skills you may have.
- Twitter will help you to keep your clients updated about the latest news regarding your company. We believe that posting occasionally, just showing that your profile is not abandoned is more than enough, unless you already have a strong following.
- Instagram is similar to Facebook, where clients want to be entertained and stunned. Strive to keep them engaged and wowed.
- Google My Business is important because if you are able to generate good reviews on your profile, you will rank better for organic and location-based searches for your services.
Choose the social networks to focus on depending on your needs. If we had to chose 2, we would opt for Facebook or Instagram and LinkedIn.
Create a detailed profile (use the same concepts we discussed for marketplaces), stay active, join communities and groups related to the web design niche.
However, remember to use social networks not to sell, but to build relations with your audience.
4. Pay Attention to Your Own Website
No one would trust his website to a company that can't optimize their own online presence.
It goes without saying that the design and functionality of your website should be 100% on point. Make it as user-friendly and intuitive for the user as possible. However, this is not the most important factor.
To be able to review and "convert" via your website the clients need to be able to find it first.
So optimize you website to show up in the SERPs. If necessary, set up a few PPC campaigns on Google Ads, particularly to show up for local based searches around your niche.
Remeber that to influence your position in search engine results you need to have your name (or brand name) mentioned throughout the web. Here are several simple steps you can take right away:
- Use portfolio websites like Dribble to set up your account.
- Ask your friends, colleagues and acquaintances who have their own blogs, websites or accounts in social networks to link to your website. You can use this as opportunity to focus on though-leadership blogs or showcasing your specializations.
- Outreach to popular web design blog owners and write guest posts for them which share some expertise you have so you can become reknown for specializing in specific techniques or strategies.
- Join online communities, groups and forums relevant to the web design niche. Be helpful on such groups and establish a reputation for being helpful. Once you are known as helpful, you will automatically get recommended when people are looking for work.
To be aware of how the things stand you can Google yourself. It is a good practice, which can also indicate your weaknesses. Moreover, it is always interesting to know what other people find when searching for your website.
5. Provide Killer Content with Unique Insight
The phrase "Content is a King" sounds pretty hackneyed nowadays.
Still, it doesn't make it any less essential, or true.
A well-written article will assist in creating a positive image for your brand, showing you as a real web design professional. This also increases your chances for higher rankings in search engine results.
If you take a look at the articles in this website, you can see that we always try to come up with highly-actionable articles which make sense in the context of what the content is searching for. We also typically go long-form with the content, making sure that each topic is covered from as many aspects as humanly possible.
Besides, you don't necessarily need to limit yourself to the textual content only. The more creativity you would put in, the higher will be the response.
Here are several ideas you can use:
- infographics based on original data inisghts
- videos with actionable advice
- checklists or templates for your eventual clients
- free tools which provide value (think calculators, or other online tools which can be easily programmed)
- podcasts with influential or knowledgable people in the industry
- newsletters which focus on adding value
Done right, with enough effort, your blog could be an excellent source of clients, particularly if you target specific keywords which are close to the intent of creating websites.
On the other hand, even if your blog doesn't bring you many new clients at once, it will surely help to create credibility and recognition of your brand on the web. It will also complement any other initiatives which you are taking such as posting your site on freelance marketplaces above.
The reality is, when somebody arrives at your website, they need to feel confident that you are able to deliver.
This is one of those long-term strategies, but it very important nonetheless.
6. Offer Free Stuff
This magical word "free" can do you a good turn.
Offer special deals, promos and discounts. If you are able, offer free imagery, PSD files, templates, themes, even whole plugins. Whether they are complex, or fairly simple targeting a very specfic need is not so important.
The critical part is that they are there to help attract links and actual traffic.
For example, if you are in the niche of website or WordPRess templates, make sure that you have a number of free offerings.
Of course, make sure that the freebie is a showcase of your capabilities, not something which is done quickly just for the sake of it.
Pay attention to detail and let the prospective clients test the quality and functionality of the product they can expect to get from you. If the user enjoys the free product he will most likely want to buy the premium version with extended functionality and customization options.
The main advantage of offering free resources is traffic: it's an easy way to get people through the door. Plus, these esources allow you to show your skills and expertise; it's as much a sales pitch as a service.
If your strength is in design, you can hook them with designs which will complement their business website.
Such stuff as business cards or flyers, mockups or design for SWAG, anything that doesn't take too much of your time to create, but would be very much appreciated by the client. A satisfied client is more likely to recommend you to the others.
7. Find Your Anchor Client
The term "anchor store" is typical for the retail trade.
In a shopping mall, an anchor store serves as an attraction that draws the clients to the smaller stores. It is not the anchor store itself that generates the main profit for the owner, but the small shops.
This principle can be applied to the web design niche as well.
One anchor client in your portfolio is enough to attract dozens of smaller profitable clients.
How can you catch such a big fish? First of all, you need to identify a company that is well known and carries weight in your region.The niche doesn't really matter in this case.
Now, you need to work to hook them in any way and by any means. A good idea would be to meet them in person, and offering them a redesign of their website giving valid reasons for every suggestion for improvements you make.
This will show you as an expert in your area.
Or you can offer to create a brand new website for them with a huge discount. You can even do it for free if you think it makes sense for your long-term business and referrals.
While we don't like doing this in general, in certain cases, the referral business more than makes up for the initial loss you make.
When other potential clients see such a big brand in your portfolio, they will be more willing to pay premium prices to have their website created by your company.
As you see there are plenty of ways to attract new web design clients. Some of them will bring instant results, some work better over the long term. Try several of them together, so you will have higher chances of achieving a positive outcome in the shortest possible period of time and over a long period of time.
You should not be afraid of experimenting and trying new things. Your main goal is to learn to sell your services in the best way possible. This is your key to success in the web design business.
Please leave a useful comment with your thoughts, then share this on your Facebook group(s) who would find this useful and let's reap the benefits together. Thank you for sharing and being nice!
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