“Where do I find web design clients?”
“How do I keep my sales funnel full?”
“What can I do to get more qualified leads?”
At some point, every freelancer or agency has asked themselves these questions. Because the truth of the matter is, as passionate as you are about what you’re doing, financial stability is nice—it reinforces your skillful work and justifies your decision to be your own boss (or a boss to many).
But to achieve financial stability, you must have clients.
Below, we’ve outlined seven tactics to find web design clients for your business.
Then, you've won clients, learn how to write an effective design brief to keep your project on track.
How to find web design clients fast
There are two types of people in this world: those who enjoy writing proposals, and those who don’t.
Regardless of how you feel towards them, proposals are a critical component to finding new web design clients, and can be an effective selling tool — especially if you have a great conversation with a prospect and you’re looking to seal the deal.
You can also use proposals to pitch new business to cold leads, too. Businesses often issue Request for Proposals (RFP) online, meaning your business can bid on larger projects, get bigger contracts, and earn more visibility.
You just need to know where to look for them.
We won’t go into the anatomy of a proposal — Kyle Racki’s article, The Ecommerce Proposal Guide for Shopify Experts, does that quite nicely. Just remember: good proposal writing is equally as important as finding good RFP opportunities.
Good proposal writing is equally as important as finding good RFP opportunities.
Below are two of the most popular websites you can use to find, and respond to, RFPs:
Let’s start with this freebie.
The RFP Database (RFPDB) gives users the ability to browse RFPs from a variety of industries, with no monthly subscription fee — and has a pretty robust web development section.
You can even save searches and set up email alerts, making RFPDB a great option for businesses looking to start bidding on RFPs, or looking for an inexpensive way to find more RFP opportunities.
If you’re looking for contracts specific to the government and public sector, FindRFP is a service that allows both US and Canadian agencies to post their RFPs online.
FINDRFP offers a free trial, if your business is interested in trying it, with a low monthly price tag if you choose to continue with the service. For $19.95/month for up to four states, or $29.95/month for US and Canada-wide searching, there are plenty of web design and development opportunities to be found here.
BONUS: More Government and Public RFPs
This isn’t a single website, per se, but if you’re looking for more government and public service contracts, and don’t want to pay a subscription fee, visit their respective website and find the procurement section.
You should be able to find a variety of RFPs that your business can bid on. You can also use the same methodology for associations and membership organizations, like the American Automobile Association (AAA).
You might also like: Why You Should Stop Responding to RFPs and Do This Instead
- How to Create Fast, Impressive Proposals That Sell
- The Statement of Work: How to Move Past Proposals and Win More Clients
- The 10 Things You Need to Know When Responding to RFPs
- Writing a Winning Response to an RFP
- Latest Public Sector RFPs, Bids, Tenders (Canada)
2. Job boards
Though responding to RFPs can result in great contracts and new project opportunities, they’re time intensive. And for most businesses, time is of the essence — especially if you’re looking for multiple new clients to grow your monthly revenue.
You might prefer to use a third-party marketplace instead.
These platforms list potential client projects and allow freelancers to bid on them. Alternatively, web designers and developers can post their hourly rate and be approached by clients for specific project types.
If you’re really eager, you can do a little bit of A and a little bit of B — scope client projects, while clients scope you.
Sound like an approach you’d like to try? Have a look at the following platforms, you’re bound to find one (or many) you like.
Upwork, formerly known as Odesk, is one of the more popular marketplace platforms. Unlike similar websites, Upwork only allows web designers and developers to bid on client projects — not post their own services. Which is fine, really, because there are an abundance of projects listed here, especially in the field of web design and development.
And, if you’re in good standing (or considered premium talent), Upwork may even start handpicking you for client projects.
This type of access to quality leads does come at a price, though. Pricing tiers for freelancers are as follows:
- 20% for the first $500 billed with the client
- 10% for lifetime billings with the client between $500.01 and $10,000
- 5% for lifetime billings with the client that exceed $10,000
If the numbers scare you, keep in mind that you can find new and even recurring clients for your small business here, leading to the financial stability you’re after.
Similarly to Upwork, Freelancer is a job market that allows web designers and developers to browse relevant work, and bid on projects they’d like to pursue.
However, Freelancer works a bit differently than traditional marketplaces by allowing potential clients to choose between two different job types: projects and contests.
Projects allow web designers and developers to place competitive bids on a certain job, where as contests allow web designers and developers to submit work with a payment amount, and the potential client only accepts (and pays for) the work they like.
Regardless of which job type you consider going after, Freelancer is free for, well, freelancers. You can easily sign-up with your Facebook account, or you can opt to create an account using your business email.
Also like Upwork, there’s a commission fee placed on each project — 10 percent or $5.00, whichever is greater.
PeoplePerHour allows web designers and developers to post jobs that they’d like to do—and dictate how much per hour they’d charge to do it. Projects can also be posted at a fixed rate, allowing freelancers to specify exactly how many hours a project requires ahead of time.
This job board website differentiates itself from others as it allows freelancers to attract clients based on their expertise, instead of freelancers bidding on client projects. Though this can happen, too, potential clients are invited to post their projects and allow freelancing experts to bid on them.
Like Freelancer, PeoplePerHour is free for freelancers to create a profile and post jobs. However, commission fees apply depending on the cost of the work.
Find new clients and develop your web design and development skills with Guru — which houses over 1 million active job postings for web, software, and IT services.
This website allows potential clients to search through Guru’s database of freelancers and businesses, sorting them by speciality. Alternatively, potential clients can post jobs and have freelancers and agencies bid on their project.
Guru has various levels of membership — Basic, Basic+, Professional, Business, and Executive. As the levels increase, they offer decreased project fees, increased bidding capabilities, and premium features.
At the free, Basic membership level, projects incur a 9 percent fee.
- How to Bid on Freelance Writing Jobs Through Online Marketplaces
- Top 5 Tips When Bidding for Freelance Work
- 3 Secrets to Winning Bids on Freelancer Sites (from a Client Perspective)
3. Cold pitching
We’ve talked about proposals and online job boards, but remember you have the ability to pitch a potential client in a more direct manner. No, we’re not talking about cold calling—though you can try that, too, if you’d like.
Email and in-person pitching are go-to approaches for businesses that can’t afford to be on the phone all the time. But, like their cold calling counterpart, there is an art to doing both successfully.
Let’s review how you can use email and in-person cold pitching to find new web design clients:
The ability to contact prospects over email is both a blessing and a curse—a blessing in that you have direct access to your ideal clientele. But email can also be a curse in that your carefully selected prospects may consider your outreach spam.
It happens. It’s no one’s fault—unless your emails actually look like spam or use clickbait subject lines. Then you might be in the wrong.
If you’ve never sent a cold pitch via email, or you’re looking to buff up your current template, here’s an example you can build off of:
Subject: Chat about your website? (I’d love to help out)
Hey (prospects name),
I hope you don’t mind me reaching out — by way of introduction, my name is (your name) and I (job function) at (your business name). Over the last year, we’ve helped (number) companies like (company name), (company name), and (company name) solve their web design pain points by (your solution).
I thought we could help (prospect’s business) do the same!
Upon first glance, there are many things that your website is doing well:
- (compliment 1)
- (compliment 2)
- (compliment 3)
But there are also things that could be better:
- (suggestion 1)
- (suggestion 2)
- (suggestion 3)
This is where (your business name) comes in. If you’re interested in rebuilding your website, please let me know and I’d be more than happy to help you out! To get you started, I’ve attached a case study for (company name) — a company in a similar position, so you can see the benefits of this type of project.
Thanks for your consideration and please do reach out if you have any questions.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Say you just found someone on LinkedIn, and from what you can gather they are the living incarnation of your perfect client. You have the opportunity to meet them in person, so you’ll need a pitch that really wows them — or they may not give you the time of day. Ouch.
This is where an elevator pitch comes in handy. If you’ve never heard of it, an elevator pitch is a 30-second explanation of who you are, what you do, and why the person you’re pitching should listen. It’s based on the theory that, if you’re in an elevator with someone, you only have 30 seconds to get your point across.
According to MindTools, there are four components of a great elevator pitch:
- Introduce yourself and your objectives
- Explain what it is you do
- Identify what makes you unique (think USP)
- Engage your audience with a question
Put together, your elevator pitch might look a little something like this:
Hi, my name is Tanya Smith. My business uses web design and development to create custom ecommerce websites, and content management systems. This means business owners spend less time tracking orders and inventory in their online store, and more time focusing on crafting great products.
Unlike other companies, we take the time to survey our client’s target audience and user-test our end products. Because of this, our client’s see 20 percent more sales year-over-year than their competitors.
So, how do you manage your online store?
After the first contact
So, you’ve written your email, or practiced your elevator pitch, and you’ve reached out to your prospect. Now what?
Well, one of two things will happen.
If you emailed your prospect:
- You’ll hear back.
- You won’t hear back.
If you pitched your prospect in-person:
- You’ll get a positive response with a prompt to follow-up regarding your services.
- You’ll get polite conversation, but no real interest (identified through conversational “blow offs”).
If you hear back, or get a positive response, great! That’s the warm lead you need, to get more web design and development clients and work. Now you can move towards identifying if they’re a good fit, or at least qualify their potential as a lead.
But, what do you do if you don’t hear back, or get the cold shoulder? How can you be persistent about the benefits of your services, without being annoying to your prospect?
It’s all about timing, personalization, and patience.
You might also like: The Counter-Intuitive Approach to Getting Your First Client.
So, you sent out your first email, or you just met your prospect in person. Regardless of how you initially pitched the prospect, you should default to email for your follow-up — this gives you a paper trail that you can use for maintaining contact with this person.
So, what’s the appropriate amount of time to wait before you follow-up (considering you haven’t heard back, of course)?
The general rule of thumb is to give your prospects one week to respond. If you still haven’t heard back in that time, touch base every couple of weeks — if you know your prospect hasn’t been opening your emails, that is.
Now you may be asking: “how is that even possible? How will I know if my prospect is opening my emails?!”
Well, if you’re going to be cold-pitching via email, you should consider integrating HubSpot Sales, an email tracking tool that will give you desktop notifications when a prospect has opened to your email.
Ta-da! A new tool for your cold pitching toolkit.
However, if your prospect is opening your emails, and choosing to ignore them, you might want to take a different approach to follow-up. (Skip down to "patience.")
In your follow-up emails, make sure you’re still personalizing your content — address known pain points, offer customized solutions and resources, and always push for a meeting time to further discuss how your business can help their’s.
Also, if you know your prospect has a digital presence, do a little research — adding a suggestion that relates to one of their hobbies or interests, or connecting on a more personal level, can strengthen the odds of receiving a reply because it shows that you’re attentive, and interested in more than just their money.
Connecting on a more personal level can strengthen the odds of receiving a reply because it shows that you’re attentive, and interested in more than just their money.
If you still haven’t heard back from your prospect, or you know that they’re ignoring your outreach, set a reminder in your calendar to reach out again in six months, and again after a year. The timing just may not be right for them, and your pitching resources could be allocated to warmer leads.
Use this time to continue researching your prospect, and to keep up-to-date with changes in their business — you never know when an opportunity might present itself for you to offer your web design and development services again.
- Cold Outreach: How to Build Warm Relationships with Potential Clients
- How to Write a Business Email Prospective Clients Will Never Forget
- 5 Free CRM Tools That Will Help Keep Your Web Design Business Organized
- Pleasantly Persistent: 5 Rules for Effectively Following Up
- How to Follow Up Without Being Annoying
Want to practice your in-person cold pitches? We have the perfect place.
If you’re looking for new clients, attending events can give your business the visibility it needs to continue growing. Plus, conferences can be a lot of fun — who doesn’t like traveling, meeting new people, and learning new things?
Whether the event is free or paid, nearby or across the country, events are an investment in yourself and your business. Here are three ways that you can maximize these experiences:
Attend web development conferences
Conferences specific to your industry can help you identify new business networks, potential partnerships, and co-marketing opportunities.
It’s all about making connections, really.
For example, you’ve probably gone to a conference (or a local industry event), met tons of interesting people, and thought, “wow, I should add them all on LinkedIn!”
Follow that instinct. You never know who might lead to a new client. Your new connection might pass along smaller projects if you’re a freelancer, or refer to your expertise for more in depth client projects.
If you’re really serious about networking, consider creating a spreadsheet that you can update after each event. Write down who you met, what their specialty is, and why you should keep in touch with them.
That way, if you’re looking for new web design clients, you can refer to your external network for leads.
You might also like: Building Partnerships: Shopify Partners Share How They're Creating Long-term Value
Attend client-focused conferences
In addition to industry-specific events, you might want to invest in client-focused conferences — the places you know your ideal clientele will be. If you specialize in ecommerce, this may include events like Shoptalk.
Regardless, client-focused conferences offer the perfect opportunity to pitch new business directly to potential web design clients.
Client-focused conferences offer the perfect opportunity to pitch new business directly to potential web design clients.
It’s that face-to-face time where you can identify pain points, offer solutions, discuss trends in your client’s industry, and gather important intel to grow your business.
Again, consider creating a spreadsheet to update after each event. Log the contact’s name, their business name, their role in the organization, a pain point they’re experiencing, their business objectives for the year, and an email address you can use to get in touch with them.
Use this data as a powerful outreach tool when you’re looking for new web design projects for your business.
You might also like: The Power of Community: How Business Networking Can Nurture Your Growth
Become a public speaker
The more conferences you speak at, the more clout you’ll have in your industry. It’s simple: Public speaking creates brand recognition for your business. So when it comes time to hire someone for a web design and development project, you’ll be top-of-mind for new clients.
For most, this tactic sounds easier than it actually is.
Public speaking is one of the most common fears in America. Greater than the fear of death, even. According to Statistic Brain, 73 percent of Americans report having speech anxiety — if you’re one of them, getting started on the conference track can feel daunting.
Even if you aren’t afraid of public speaking, figuring out how to pursue a speaking career can be difficult if you’ve never actually spoken at a conference before.
Just remember: you’re great, and your business deserves visibility.
Conference speaking is a great way to promote your business, meet new people, and reap promotional opportunities before, and during, the event — so take advantage of it.
Don’t know where to start? Cat Hunter offers helpful tips for beginning your public speaking career in her article, Kickstart Your Speaking Career: How To (Metaphorically) Drop The Mic. Cat also includes some amazing templates that you can use to pitch your talks to event coordinators — when you’re ready, of course.
If you’re looking for more resources, Catt Small, a web designer and developer (and coincidentally another 🐈) has written a blog series outlining how you can become a public speaker in one year. It has great introductory tips, and outlines multiple steps you can follow to become a seasoned public speaker on the conference circuit.
- 16 Web Conference Talks You Need to Watch
- 4 Overlooked Tactics to Find New Clients Offline
- 20 Web Designers and Developers You Should be Following on Twitter
- 5 Tips on Hosting an Epic Shopify Meetup
- Your Network Is Your Net Worth: The Basics of Networking as a Shopify Partner
- Grow Your Freelancer Network: Solve Problems, Get Clients
- How to Get the Most out of Shopify Pursuit: A Conference for Growth, Connection, and Community
Branching off of external networking, let’s dive into internal networking: using your existing clientele to find new web design clients.
Have you established a referral process for your web design and development business? If you haven’t, it’s about time you considered it—word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools available to your business, and you should take advantage of every opportunity you have to get people talking about your work.
Because your work is good, and the world should know it.
People tend to surround themselves with like-minded individuals, after all. So who better to help you find new business than someone you’ve already established to be a desirable and compatible client?
That’s why, when it comes to finding web design clients, it’s important to have a referral strategy to leverage these existing connections in a way that grows your business.
“The most lucrative clients came from referrals. An active referral system allows you to tap on clients’ friends of friends. Word-of-mouth is still unbeatable in gaining the trust of future customers,” Christiaan Huynen, CEO and founder of DesignBro, explains. “There are several strategies we implement to build this network, such as regularly keeping in touch with referral sources. Identify influential people (usually they are past clients), and maintain friendly communication with them. Make them feel valued, and keep them updated on the changes in your business, such as launches, sales, and services.”
The most lucrative clients came from referrals. An active referral system allows you to tap on clients’ friends of friends. Word-of-mouth is still unbeatable in gaining the trust of future customers.
The end product might differ from business to business, but a sustainable, scalable referral system keeps the following considerations in mind:
When will you ask your client for a referral? Is there such a thing as a “perfect time”? Well, it all depends on what makes the most sense for your business. There are three schools of thought when it comes to identifying an appropriate time to ask:
- Mid-project: Let’s say you’ve finished the prototyping of your client's new ecommerce website and shared it with them, and they’re beyond excited about it (learn how rapid prototyping can help this process, and take a look at some great prototyping tools). You’ve strictly followed your workback schedule, and have consistently contacted your client to reassure them that everything is on track. You have a good working relationship thus far, so why not leverage your client’s excitement by asking them to refer business to you?
- End of the project: There were some hiccups, but you finally made it. You reduced your client's bounce rate, and they're impressed by your work, and have already complimented you on one skill or another. If you think the client is completely happy, and you’ve successfully alleviated their web design pain points, you should consider asking them to refer your business to their professional network.
- When you start a new project: So you’ve already completed a project with your current client, and you’ve cross-sold them on another. Using what you learned working on the first project, you’ve adapted your workflow to really cater to your client. You understand how they work — what makes them tick. And your client also has a better understanding of working with you. Now would be the perfect time to ask them to refer business, given you’ve already established a trusting, productive working relationship.
You don’t always have to ask at the same point in a project — it all depends on your relationship with your client. Identify the right time, based on when your client is most likely to be satisfied.
How many new clients can your business afford to take on? Monitor your WIPs and upcoming project lists to estimate how many referrals you’ll need to maintain (or grow) your current monthly revenue — this information will ensure that you’re able to keep up with the demand generated by your referral program.
Will you offer some kind of reward for a client referring new business to you? This is an important question to answer, because though you may receive more referrals, the quality of your referrals might suffer (i.e., your client may refer anyone to get the bonus, instead of carefully considering who might be a good fit for your work).
Referral Rock, a referral marketing software provider, goes over the pros and cons of an incentivized referral program. Have a read and decide which type of program works best for your web design and development business.
To make it easier for your clients to provide high-quality referrals, you can provide them with a basic email template to use in their outreach. That way, you’re sure they’re sharing the proper information that you feel will best position your services (and quality of services).
Here’s an existing template that you can work off of:
I recently hired (your name), a (your title), to (summary of objective of project). They suggested (summary of project), and I’m very happy with the solution and quality of work they’ve provided — especially in (area that you’ve received positive feedback on).
When (your name) asked if I knew someone looking for web design and development work, who’s (description of ideal customer), I thought of you.
If you’re interested in acquiring an estimate, or more information, reach out to (your name, your contact details). I’d definitely recommend working with them!
Note: Mentions of “your” in the above example refer to you and your business, not your client’s.
Remember, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know if your client is willing to give you a referral—so don’t hesitate to reach out to your best clients. Worse comes to worst, you’ll get a response like: “Sorry, I don’t know anyone in the market for web design services at the moment.”
In this case, you can ask your client for a testimonial—a form of social proofing you can use on all your sales collateral and owned properties (like your website or portfolio). Kai Davis offers some actionable advice for getting powerful client testimonials using six simple questions.
Keep in touch
Regardless of whether you want a referral or testimonial, it’s incredibly important to maintain good working relationships. This includes being timely in responding to your clients, being considerate of their needs, and going above and beyond to ensure they’re happy.
At the end of the day, you never know where new web design clients might come from.
Put into perspective, here’s some low hanging fruit to fill your sales funnel with: Always keep in touch with your clients.
Who knows? Your point of contact at an organization might leave their role to pursue greener pastures — if you gave them an easy, pleasant working experience, they’re likely to recommend your firm to their new place of business.
You might also like: 4 Crucial Steps to Building Strong Client Relationships.
- 7 Ways to Get More Referrals for Your Web Design Business
- How to Get More Design Referrals
- Using Referrals to Get More Web Design Business
- 7 Ways to Garner Local Clients and Referral Business
6. Inbound marketing
You’ve tried all of the above outbound efforts: proposals, job boards, cold pitching, events, and asking your existing customers to refer new web design clients to you.
But wouldn’t it be much easier if these potential clients came directly (and passively) to you?
This is why inbound marketing is important for your business. You’re probably already using inbound marketing tactics and have a solid foundation to build on (like a blog). So let’s maximize your efforts to reel in those desirable web design clients!
You might also like: The UX Writer Role Has Arrived, But Is It Here To Stay?.
Start (or continue) blogging
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
If you haven’t started a blog for your business, you should consider devoting some time to identifying your niche and writing about it. Not only will it help secure your position as a thought leader in your industry (backed up by your killer conference speaking skills, of course), but it will also give you a platform to start building your inbound marketing efforts on.
Still not convinced it’s worth the time, effort, and resources? Here are a few reasons you should maintain a blog on your business' website:
Search Engine Optimization
You’ve heard the term “SEO” floating around — heck, you’ve already optimized the rest of your website for it.
You want Google to recognize your business as being the top choice for potential web design clients, looking for similar services. You want to be number one… or at least, in the first few organic results of a search.
A blog will help you continue building this clout, and allow your business the opportunity to rank on more diverse, closely-related keywords — without resorting to black hat SEO tricks, like keyword stuffing (please, don’t do this).
And while we’re on the topic, here’s a quick tip for blogging excellence: Conduct regular keyword research to see how you can expand your audience and draw new web design clients to your website.
Conduct regular keyword research to see how you can expand your audience, and draw new web design clients to your website.
Some of the most popular websites to do this are Moz and SEMRush. Both do come with a subscription fee — but it’s well worth the investment to simplify the research process. If you’re looking for a free resource, check out Google’s Keyword Planner.
Brush up on your digital marketing and SEO skills to be able to expand your repertoire. Understanding the skills used in search engine optimization and digital marketing is helpful in designing a successful website. SEO is a marketing process focused on increasing website traffic. If you design a website that is SEO-friendly, you will create a website that is more likely to be seen. This will help your business or your client’s business reach its goals.
Defining your niche
Having a blog on your business’ website also allows you to define a niche—that area of expertise that differentiates you from your competitors.
This differentiation could be the industry you cater to. For example, your business might specialize in web design and development for the fashion industry. So much so, in fact, that you’re an expert on the wants and needs of this particular segment and its audiences.
Or maybe you’re the only Shopify-focused business in your area. If a potential web design client needs an ecommerce solution, you’re the go-to for all of their theming/app development needs.
Not only will picking a niche help you be more successful in your SEO efforts, but it will also dictate the type of clients you attract and the content you choose to publish on your blog. This will make it easier to come up with topics relevant to your audience, as well as pre-qualify your prospective web design clients.
Once you have a niche, you’ll start building an audience that responds to that niche.
Going back to our fashion example, if you start producing content that addresses the pain points and opportunities found in web design for the fashion industry, you’re more likely to build an audience of potential fashion clients — all following your blog for more advice.
You might also like: Why and How to Improve Your Writing as a Web Designer or Developer.
Now, how will you convert this newfound audience?
As you’re working, you might identify common pain points that recur from client to client, project to project. Or maybe you get asked some questions more frequently than others, and find yourself offering similar solutions to many different clients.
Write down all of this precious information. Keep it safe.
It’ll come in handy, we promise.
This information will help your business create valuable content—guidebooks, templates, and other resources—that current and potential clients can download in exchange for some basic information and their email address. Content can be long-form or short-form, as long as it provides value to your prospects and aims to solve a problem.
Below is an example of how Shopify Plus Partners WeMakeWebsites use content downloads to encourage blog sign-ups:
Think of it this way: your blog and publicly available content will attract visitors. You’ll then use downloadable content to collect their information, convert them, and nurture them into being a new web design client for your business.
If you’re producing content, be it in the form of resources or blog posts, your business should create an email newsletter. It’s an opt-in experience that passively educates current and potential clients on your area of expertise.
They’re also really easy to automate.
Using your RSS feed and an email automation client, you can collate blog articles into a daily, weekly, or monthly email newsletter to your list. This will save your business both time and resources, and provide your clients and clients-to-be with valuable content. And as you build this list, you can include promotional content and more information regarding your services.
Shopify Plus Partner Kurt Elster, founder of ecommerce consultancy Ethercycle, shares his favorite email newsletters in his article, The Counter-Intuitive Approach to Getting Your First Client. Here, he also provides some actionable advice for creating your own email newsletter to existing, and potential, web design clients.
You now have all of this great content that you can use to convert your blog’s visitors — but have you considered how you’ll get them there?
SEO aside, you’ll want to consider using social media to extend your blog’s reach.
Not only is it another avenue to continue building your audience, social media is also a channel that you can use to nurture your community (of clients or like-minded professionals), participate in industry-related discussions, and grow your brand outside of your owned properties (like your portfolio site).
Use free social automation tools like HootSuite, Buffer, and Tweetdeck to schedule a few social media posts a day — that way you’ll stay top-of-mind for your followers, and consistently expose them to your new content.
You might also like: How Social Media Can Help You Grow Your Freelance or Agency Business.
- Create a Facebook page for your web design services or web design agency. You can use the page to post videos and materials to educate your audience and showcase your abilities. Use your page to reach these 2.9 billion Facebook users.
- Organize events using Facebook. Once you gain a following, you can host networking events, like meetups, or host seminars and webinars. These events will educate your audience and make them appreciate what it is you can do. Though it may be a lot of work initially, this method can lead to some real web design leads in the long run.
- Join web design Facebook groups. You can find out what your target market wants and needs. And the advice and expertise you offer to the group discussion can result in lead generation. Listen to 1,000 True Fans: Tapping Into Facebook Groups to Generate Sales for more tips on how to effectively use Facebook groups.
- Create Facebook ads for your services. You can target the audience you want to reach and track how well your digital marketing campaigns are working. This method brings the leads to you.
Webinopoly is a web design company that specializes in working with Shopify stores. They do a stellar job of using their Facebook page to educate, advertise, and cultivate their target demographic. They also host webinars from time to time to get their name out there.
According to Super Founders by Ali Tamaseb, most startups are started by people in their twenties. The median age of all startups valued at $1 billion or more in the last 15 years is 34 years old.
And what does every startup need? A website. So your ideal clients are using Instagram.
- Create a business Instagram account. This will allow you to promote your posts and get your account more visible to those ideal clients.
- Post regularly. By creating regular content, you’re keeping your company and services visible to your target demographic. You can use the social media automation apps we mentioned earlier, like Hootsuite and Buffer, to make it easier.
- Follow and tag businesses/people you’d like to work with. Following them means you’ll stay updated on their body of work and their needs. When you tag them in your own posts, you’re more likely to get them and their followers to pay attention to your work.
- Use hashtags wisely. Make sure to use hashtags that will target the audience you’re trying to reach. You can check out Get Seen on IG: 370+ Top and Trending Instagram Hashtags to Increase Likes and Follows to learn more about hashtags.
Have a look at reactjs1, who does this really well. They regularly post educational material and follow other web developers and use hashtags sparingly. Their social network platform is a way to show off their expertise so as to gain web design leads.
- Fill out your profile completely. When people come across your LinkedIn profile, they will take you more seriously if you have a complete profile. This is also their first impression of you, so make sure it accurately represents you and your skills.
- Endorse, engage, and be active. The more engaged you are, the more likely people will engage with you. So make sure to endorse people you’ve worked with, and post regularly.
Robin Clapp is an example of a web designer using LinkedIn to its full potential. She has a comprehensive profile, posts regularly, and has a slew of recommendations and endorsements she’s both received and given. It’s no wonder she has more than 500 connections.
Portfolio and case studies
Content marketing is great, but your portfolio is one of your most valuable marketing assets. It demonstrates the beautiful web design and development you do on a daily basis, and allows potential web design clients to decide if your business is the one they’d like to work with.
It’s also an area that you can optimize to capture valuable information from prospects.
Though we can spend all day discussing this topic, we’ll refer you to a handy article: How to Create a Compelling Web Design Portfolio. In this, Shopify’s Simon Heaton goes in depth about what makes a good web design portfolio, and how you can make it accessible for your potential clients. Use his tips to spruce up your current portfolio site and prime it for your inbound marketing efforts.
And you know what they say: Behind every good portfolio is a good case study.
Okay, that might not be the exact saying, but there is truth to it. Alongside your portfolio, your website should showcase actionable, data-driven case studies. This is the tangible proof that potential web design clients need to make concrete decisions on whether or not they’ll hire your business. And, if written well (and optimized for search engines), this landing page can be a goldmine of new clients.
Follow the advice outlined in How to Write a Web Design Case Study that Lands New Clients to make sure your case studies page is in tip-top shape.
Speak on podcastsIn 2021, there were an estimated 120 million podcast listeners in the United States alone, and that figure is forecast to continue to rise by 20 million every year. People are listening, and there are podcasts for just about everything.
Before choosing a podcast to lend your voice to, be sure to do your research. Make sure it’s in line with how you want to represent yourself and that its listenership is your target demographic.
If you can, practice what you want to say, but most importantly, have fun. If you sound engaging, knowledgeable, and personable, people will be more likely to absorb what you’re saying and trust you. That can also lead to you being asked back by the hosts. More airtime for you can mean more sales leads for your company.
You can also host a podcast yourself. It’s a tactic that Chase Clymer, co-founder at Shopify web development and marketing agency Electric Eye, uses. “We've been running Honest Ecommerce for over three years now, and I've been using it as an easy way to break the ice and get to know merchants,” he explains. “Through these conversations, they naturally learn who we are, what we do, and if they currently have a pain point, they absolutely let us know.”
Create a lead magnet
A lead magnet is a free item or service that’s given away by a business in order to get potential clients’ contact details. A lead magnet can be anything from a free consultation, to a coupon, to a trial membership.
Around 96 percent of visitors to your website or social media page aren’t ready to buy; they’re simply doing research. But they might be willing to give you their contact details if the offer is tantalizing enough. And when lead magnets are used well, they can become sales leads that turn into sales.
Remember that a lead magnet must be cost effective for you, attractive to potential leads, and a good representation of your services. You’re trying to show people one, how good you are, and two, how much they need and want your skills.
Do not abuse lead magnets. There is a temptation to trick customers into quasi free trial memberships or even to spam people who’ve volunteered their information. Though those may still turn into sales leads, they will most likely not turn into actual sales—or if they do, you won’t be getting repeat customers.
Designs Raptor offers a clear example of a lead magnet. When you click on their website, you’re immediately presented with an offer for a special discount in exchange for either a chat or an email address. This allows Designs Raptor to get potential customers’ contact information while also getting the opportunity to answer any questions a visitor might have.
- Paul Boag on Content Marketing & How to Start Your Blog
- 7 Content Ideas That Will Drive Revenue for Your Agency
- Web Design Experts Share Their Advice for Attracting Your Next Client
- HubSpot's Free Inbound Marketing Certification
- How to Start a Blog: 11 Pro Tips
- 7 Freelance Writing Podcasts For Those That Love to Create and Convert
- 4 Common SEO Myths and Tips to Avoid Them
- Finding a Balance Between SEO and Amazing Website Design
- Off Page SEO: 3 Quick Fixes and 3 Long Term Strategies
- 10 Technical SEO Tips to Get the Most from an Ecommerce Website
- How to Make SEO and Paid Social Work Together to Drive Traffic and Revenue
- How Social Media Can Help You Grow Your Freelance or Agency Business
- How To Find New Clients Using Social Media
7. Client relations
Generating sales leads and marketing yourself is important, but client relations are a big part of gaining and retaining your clientele. According to a Forrester report conducted by Khoros, 83 percent of customers cited good customer service as their most important criterion for deciding what to buy.
To drive the point home further, in a survey conducted by Hubspot, 68 percent of consumers said they were willing to pay more for products and services from a brand known to offer good customer service.
Become a niche expert
A niche expert is someone who is considered an authority on a specific subject. Becoming an authority in your niche will help you do your job better, generate sales leads, and allow you to up your rates.
Becoming a recognized expert isn’t easy, but it will pay off in the long run. First you have to learn everything you can about your niche. Read everything, attend conferences, listen to podcasts, follow other experts on Twitter—consume it all. Social media is your friend. Post regularly, use hashtags and tags wisely, and engage with your demographic.
The next step is to connect with people also interested in your niche. Through them, find opportunities to guest post, appear on podcasts, and create content that will engage with your audience. You’re trying to build up your credentials and show people that you know what you’re talking about.
This one is going to take time, so make sure you’re interested in this niche of yours. You’re going to be centering a lot of your time and energy around it.
Know your good client types
In order to market to your ideal client, you need to know who that is. So before you start putting in all that time and energy into generating leads, figure out who would be in the market for your services.
If you already have some clients, take a look at who they are and what they’ve asked of you. Then, if you feel comfortable, ask them to either fill out a survey or see if they’ll answer some questions. This way, you can see who you’re attracting. If these are the clients you want, awesome! If not, then you can use this opportunity to pivot and change tactics.
If you don’t have clients yet, look at companies offering the type of services you’re planning to offer. See what sort of clients they’re bringing in, and take note of what it is that company has done for them.
Then, see if you can do a similar version of that on your own. Take a look at their lead magnets and read any reviews you can find; that way, you can find out what did and didn’t work for their clients.
Solve your client's problems
Your client is coming to you because they have a problem and they believe you can solve it. That’s the gist of this relationship.
One thing you can do to help accomplish this is to stay up to date on web design trends and advancements. That way, you’ll have access to all the latest tools to solve whatever problem may come up. Vetted resources are tech magazines like Wired and blogs like Shopify that write articles such as The 25 Best Website Designs—and the Creative Businesses That Power Them to keep web designers up to date on the latest trends.
Something else that helps is to stay connected to other web designers and developers so you have a network of people to help if you get stumped. Keeping a healthy social network not only helps generate sales leads, but it also gives you support. And remember, if you can solve your clients’ problems, that can also lead to referrals and endorsements.
OverdeliverIn 2021, the Pew Research Center conducted a study on the U.S. public’s trust in government, and since 1958, it has fallen over 50 percentage points. A large part of that is the tendency of politicians to overpromise and underdeliver when running for office.
Don’t do that.
A much better option is to overdeliver. Doing the bare minimum won’t win you any points or recognition from your clients.
Take note of anything particular in your correspondence or consultation with your clients. Any personal touches you think they might like will go a long way toward making them feel appreciated.
For example, let’s say your client is trying to set up a website for her raw dog food business. She mentions that she has two corgis and loves them to death, and that’s what got her started in this business. She then says that she wants interesting icons for the menu buttons, so you make them corgi faces. That is a simple and effective way to overdeliver.
Another way to overdeliver, while also protecting yourself, is to be realistic with your timeframes and deadlines. Especially in web design, it’s a good idea to give yourself a day or two of cushion just in case something unexpected happens. And if you happen to deliver your project ahead of schedule, that’s a surefire way to impress your clients.
You might also like: 20 Ways to Set and Manage Client Expectations During Onboarding.
Follow up with leadsAccording to Invesp market research, 70 percent of salespeople stop at one email, but if they sent more emails, they’d have a 25 percent chance of hearing back. If you have a sales lead, take it.
The reason you put in all that work with lead magnets, sending out cold emails, and marketing your services was so you could turn these leads into sales. Just because someone may not have been ready to take advantage of your skills last month doesn’t mean the same is true this month.
But don’t be pushy. Find unobtrusive and friendly ways to keep yourself visible and remind people that you’re here.
A great way to do that is through social media. Staying active on your social media accounts keeps you visible. If you want to take it a step further, tag sales leads on posts you think they would be interested in.
Another way to follow up on sales leads is by sending newsletters, updates, and special offers to the email list you’ve compiled. This will keep them in the loop and give them the opportunity to take advantage of any deals, which can encourage them to enlist your products and services.
Get more clients for your web design business today
How you decide to find new web design clients for your business will depend on a lot of things—primarily, time and resources.
We hope this guide has helped you find new ideas and explore new options so you can continue growing your web design and development business.