Every web designer knows the drill: one month you’re filled to the brim with client projects, and in the next, you‘re hunting for new projects to ensure you can pay your bills.
Tack on the market being saturated with web design agencies facing the exact same problem, and you’ve got a pretty competitive landscape in which your business must strive to succeed.
So, how do you maintain a steady supply of clients to ensure your business not only stays afloat, but thrives?
Well, first off—most of the advice available on the internet regarding client acquisition doesn’t really apply when you’re crunched for time. After all, bills can’t wait to be paid. There’s a slump to break, and you need to do it pronto.
In this guide, I’ll show you a few proven ways to attract more clients (and projects) for your web design business—both in the short-term and long-term.
Ready? Let’s dig in.
1. Create an Amazing Portfolio
This should be the very first thing you do if you want more customers.
Your clients will always ask to see a few samples of your work before they even think of hiring you. Therefore, building a portfolio of your web design work is a must.
While you’re creating an amazing portfolio, you must also take the time to ensure your pages are optimized for search engines and include keywords potential clients might search. This way, you can attract more organic clients or people who are searching keywords that imply high intent for hiring a web designer.
Understandably, you might not have a ton of work examples to display in your portfolio if you’re new to web design and development. And you know what? That’s completely okay.
Just keep working and adding more samples to your portfolio, as you can. If clients ask about your portfolio size, be confident in communicating that you’re just getting started—they’ll understand.
Note: Once your portfolio is live, research proper SEO strategies and share your website content with others to score more clients through organic search.
2. Leverage Word-of-Mouth Publicity
Word-of-mouth publicity is the oldest form of marketing and advertising. It’s still one of the most popular tactics, and this isn’t without reason.
You see, a satisfied customer is one of the most effective marketing tools a web designer can ever have. When a customer is happy and satisfied with your service, they tend to share their experience with people in their circle of trust and influence. This can include their friends, family, and sometimes even strangers.
Think of them as your foot soldiers and your biggest advocates.
In fact, word-of-mouth publicity is so powerful and effective that many successful businesses rely on it solely to advertise and market their products and services.
Here are a few tips to leverage this publicity to your advantage:
- Provide a great customer experience. Even if you don’t have the budget to advertise your services on a large scale, you can grow and attract more clients by providing great customer service. People prefer buying services from someone who treats them with respect, so all you need to do is give your clients the required attention and treat them well to make a good first impression.
- Provide great value to your clients. An efficient service does more than anything ever could. So make sure you deliver on your promise and provide your customers with quality service always.
- Provide them with a (good) reason to advertise and market your business. Thinking that word-of-mouth advertising will come automatically is the biggest mistake you can make in the web designing business. You have to encourage and incentivize your customers to do it for you. Having a referral or reward program for your existing customers can be the best trigger to encourage your clients to take action. They get extra services and discounts, and you get more customers. It’s a win-win!
3. Become Active on Social Media
Think from your customer’s point of view: Who would you hire as your web designer—someone you know and trust, or a random stranger?
Now, you can’t go on personally calling every random person to sell your service, which is why you need to make most of your social presence and develop your personal brand on social media platforms. Sharing your expertise, showing your work, and branding yourself as an authoritative figure can help you build an audience on multiple channels, letting you attract more clients.
The biggest advantage? Social media is already a visual platform.
Treat your social media accounts as a portfolio, where you add tons of personality. Also, don’t be afraid to share your beautiful work, write great captions, and make yourself seem more approachable.
These are a few of the best social media platforms for web designers looking to generate more client leads:
- Facebook. This is best for reaching out to your immediate circle of family and friends. I recommend creating a professional-looking company page, uploading examples of your work, and then asking your network to like and share the page with their network.
- Pinterest. Create beautiful boards of your design to attract clients and build a loyal following. Moreover, if your content is original, other users may even re-pin your work, resulting in increased exposure of your work.
- Instagram. I feel this is the best platform for a web designer as not only is it visual, but you can literally create a quasi-portfolio of your work and illustrations to show off your work in its full glory. You can also use niche-specific and industry-specific hashtags to expand your reach.
- LinkedIn. LinkedIn offers LinkedIn Recruiter, a tool that lets companies find talent for their work and runs based on keyboard logic. You can use crucial keywords like ‘freelance web designing’ and ‘web designing’ to make it easier for companies to discover you.
The other way to add more clients to your base is through regularly posting statuses and starting discussions with the design community.
The only way to become more successful on social media is by being consistent. And the best way to do this is by creating a schedule and make sure you stick to it diligently.
Your efforts should also be in line with your brand and suit the nature of the social media platform you use. For instance, you can be more laid-back on Instagram, while a business-like tone would be more apt for LinkedIn.
4. Work on Your Websites to Get More Clients and Quality Leads
You must have a web design website, irrespective of the stage you are in your web designing career. It’s hands down one of the best ways to get more potential clients and generate quality leads – provided you do it right.
Below, I’ve compiled a list of steps you can implement to make your website do all the hard work for you.
Design a Good Landing Page
Web designers are often perfectionists when it comes to designing – whether it’s a website or your landing page.
I won’t emphasize much on how even the little details count as you already know that. But you should definitely ensure your landing page is unique and shareable enough to appeal to potential clients.
Need some inspiration? I got you.
You’ll find several landing page templates on the internet that can be customized to represent your personal brand. You can use them to capture contact information, collect payments, and showcase your portfolio as well.
Make Your Website Navigable
If there’s one thing your website should be, it’s navigable. This way, your prospective clients – and even your current clients – will be happier because of an enhanced user experience.
The idea here is to guide your customers to ensure they take the action you want them to. For instance, if you want your potential customers to contact you, add a ‘Contact Me’ page. If you want them to subscribe to your newsletter, design a pop-up asking them to type in their email address to become a part of your email list.
And while you’re at it, make sure your website is optimized for mobile phones, especially considering that 52.2% of the global map traffic is mobile.
Extend Your Website’s Capabilities
You can extend your website’s capabilities by adding specific plugins that help you in your effort to get more clients.
For instance, Yoast SEO can help your website rank well on Google by letting you effectively optimize individual pages. This way, Google will know what your webpages are exactly about and then index them for your searches.
Similarly, Simply Schedule Appointments can add tons of functionalities to your website. You can create contact forms to set up an appointment with potential clients, translate the plugin into several other languages, and accept payments through PayPal and Stripe integration.
WP Smush is another fantastic plugin that can easily handle the vast bandwidth adding images typically require. It resizes your images, ensuring they take up as little space as possible, which, in turn, prevents your website from slowing down. And yes, your pictures retain their high-quality despite being compressed down.
Basically, you should try to install and activate plugins that can assist you in your endeavor to get more customers.
5. Offer a Portion of Your Design Services for Free (Seriously)
Offer a small part of your full services as a free lead generation tool.
Hear me out: When you offer certain services for free, people will be able to see your potential as a web designer. Even the prospect will be more eager to try you out without having to face any financial risks.
So how do you do this?
Take your core service, and offer a part of it that takes you less than 30 minutes, cutting out any fluff of extras. Then offer the service where your clients typically hang out, such as Facebook groups, email newsletters, and so on to arouse people’s interest in your offer. Likewise, you can also give free advice and answer questions.
That said, I also want to prepare you for the downside: Fierce competition.
You won’t be the only web designer looking to offer a part of your service for free, but don’t let this deter you. Offer free advice before they start looking for help so that when they do want to design their websites, you’ll be the first one to turn to.
6. Team up With Other Freelancers and Agencies
Having a solid and powerful online presence is on every business owner’s agenda – whether it’s through web design, content marketing, or SEO. They are also more willing to explore options when they get all the required services from a single place.
Precisely why you should reach out to freelancers, agencies, and other established companies who offer related services to your target clients and suggest they team up your services with what they’re already offering.
Don’t worry, they will be interested since this is a mutually beneficial partnership.
You see, while you get access to the partner’s existing clientele, your partner can offer your services to their clients to create additional value. In the end, you both can split the profits, but the fact that you’ll get more exposure in front of your target audience will be your bigger win.
A good tip would be to search Google for local freelancers or agencies that share the same target client as yours. Then, you can use tools like Norbert to find their email addresses for pitching your partnership proposal.
Remember, make the cold email about your partner – what they and their clients would get out by entering into a collaboration with you.
7. Learn (and Master) Content Marketing
Content marketing is an excellent tactic for building credibility and letting people see what you can create.
Why do I say this? Content marketing today has become mainstream, with user attention being oversaturated. Just look at the stats: About 500 million stories are shared on Facebook every day, with over 7 million blog posts being published daily.
What’s more, people’s behavior has also changed. Now that they have different sources of information, they don’t follow content like they used to. Despite these facts, I still recommend guest posting or appearing on podcasts as you get to reach out to a broader audience.
This isn’t easy, of course. But if you have a unique angle to get your target audience’s attention or know the owner of a well-established podcast or a successful blog, make sure you make the most out of this tactic.
The Bottom Line
You can use the tactics above to generate new web design leads. Whether it’s publishing content to bring organic traffic to your website or offering free services to let prospects experience your designing capabilities, there’s so much you can do.
Some of them will take effort and time, yes. But you will see success if you stay determined and persistent.
Make a plan, and stick to it, and do your best to make it work for you. Trust me, you’ll get more business and will have clients knocking at your door eventually.