Finding new clients for web development agencies isn’t always easy, and creating beautiful websites is sometimes not enough. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to branch out and find more clients, whether you’re just starting out or a veteran of the business. Here are 6 tips web development agencies can use to find new clients.
Use social media
This might seem obvious, but having a social media presence is a great way of getting free publicity and a potentially wide reach. And believe it or not, you can be picky with your channels. You don’t have to be on all of them, but make sure you pick the right ones for your business; in other words, pick the ones where your clients are likely to be. Pinterest is great means of showing off the fantastic websites you have created while LinkedIn is a powerful tool for networking with peers, potential clients, and partners. Create a profile that’s rich with keywords and try to remain active and engaged with other users to build strong relationships.
You also want to develop a consistent social media presence to get your branding across. Dedicate some time to creating a solid strategy which you can realistically maintain over time. Think about what content is right for what platform: Facebook is great for more relaxed, laid back content; LinkedIn is best for professional or business related content; and Twitter is perfect for short, snappy updates and anything that’s currently a hot topic. Think about your branding, what you stand for, and what tone you’re going for. If you strive to be quite serious and professional, stick with LinkedIn; if you’re more edgy and hip, maybe try something like Twitter or Instagram. But remember: use social media to engage with people and build relationships, not to sell.
Finally, join appropriate groups related to your skills (Google+ and LinkedIn are great for this). Interact with other users, engage with them, and answer questions. By connecting with people on a regular basis, sharing resources and answering questions, you may find that work starts to come to you.
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Writing your own blog is a great way of building your credibility as an expert designer. The key is to show potential clients that you really know what you’re doing, so you are going to need to create content that demonstrates your knowledge of web development. Writing guest posts for respected blogs in your industry is also a good idea — this way you can get more exposure, build relationships, and get backlinks.
The focus here should be on developing name recognition and improving your credibility, but you want to write content that’s interesting, engaging and helpful — i.e. stuff budding developers are actually going to read. Try and strike a balance with your content, for example a “Tips for Web Developers to do X, Y and Z”, or an instructional series for those new to the business. Humour is good, but use it sparingly, and write in a way that developers of all skill levels can understand.
To search for guest bloggers, try looking through Twitter to find web development bloggers with lots of followers, or simply try Google, searching for keywords like “web development blogger” + “guest post” to find bloggers that accept guest content.
Then send out some emails, something along the lines of:
“Hello, I’m a web developer who has been in the industry for X years. I’ve been reading your blog and would love for you to consider me as a guest blogger as I think I have some content which would interest your audience. Please get back to me so we can discuss this further.”
Make sure you actually read their blog to get an idea of the kind of content they accept, and include links to some of your previous content so they can see some examples of your work.
As your name becomes more well-known, you’re more likely to find new projects falling into your lap with little or no marketing effort, simply because people have read and liked your articles.
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Network with other freelancers
Networking and building relationships with freelancers is one of the best ways to get client referrals. A number of freelance web developers find themselves in a very fortunate position where they have more work inquiries than they can handle. It is also possible that they might frequently be contacted for work that is beyond their capabilities. The good news is most of these web developers are willing to help their peers out because even if they can’t do the work themselves, they want to help the would-be-client by referring them to someone they trust. And chances are, you might be in a similar situation where you can one day recommend them to other would-be-clients. It’s important to remember that these people aren't necessarily your competition; they are actually your community and building relationships with these people could benefit you.
How do you network with other freelancers? There are plenty of networking opportunities and events both offline and online, and social media is also a great means of making contact.
Once again, social media can be a great tool for finding other developers to connect with. You can use these sites like LinkedIn and Google+ to join groups where you can meet other like-minded individuals, engage, share content and ideas, and so on.
Forums are another great method of meeting developers. Try sites like Web Design Forum, Freelance Gossip, and Digital Point. You can even find information on meet-ups, expos and conventions for developers and designers. Try going to ecommerce expos to meet potential new clients as well as meeting potential partners. Just make sure you take some business cards that include your contact details, website, and information on what skills you offer.
The same thing goes for web designers. These guys are just as useful as other web developers when it comes to building relationships and getting more clients. Having working relationships with web designers can be especially helpful to web developers as a lot of web designers aren’t strong coders or have reached a place in their business where they want to outsource the work. This can be a great opportunity to build a longterm relationship with a web designer where you partner up on projects, or refer clients to one another for work that the other party is not capable of completing.
Again, try social media and forums to get in touch with designers. Search on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, as well as forums like Designerstalk, Graphic Design Forum, and Web Pro Cafe for designers who are looking for partnerships.
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Look at existing sites
Redesign a popular website with your own unique take, send it to the head of the company, and explain why you've made the changes you've made. This is a great way for web developers and designers to get work, and also allows you to get creative as a designer to demonstrate your skills to both your peers and potential clients. You're showing that you have specific ideas to make someone else's business better, and that you can actually create these ideas.
Start for free
This one is for the designers who are just starting out. Free work has a poor reputation, but for designers who are just starting out, it can be necessary in order to gain valuable experience, build your portfolio, make connections, and pursue any opportunity that you can get.
Working for free is tricky and controversial, but it has it's place. You have to be cautious and strategic when working for nothing: make sure it's in the niche you want to do more work in and it's the type of client and project you want to do more work for. Another good idea is to approach charities who have poorly designed websites and offer to improve them. This not only helps yourself, but also benefits those truly in need of free work.
Another good idea is to approach charities who have poorly designed websites and offer to improve them. This not only helps yourself, but also benefits those truly in need of free work.
Just remember to make sure the client understands that they're hiring you for your vision and expertise, and to talk to the client before the project starts about potentially getting a few referrals and testimonials as goodwill when the project is finished. Also ensure you ask for a testimonial from them when the job is finished.
Take a look at your own website
You need to make sure your own site is absolutely gold standard, or no one is going to want to use your business. You should have a gallery of any past work you’ve done and client testimonials in addition to contact information, a list of your skills, and a list of any qualifications and credentials you have.
Try out these tips and you’ll find yourself getting approached for work more often. If you’re creating great work and putting yourself out there, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get the clients you deserve.
Finding Clients: Building a Strong Portfolio Website
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