shannon side hustle to self-employed

3 tactics for getting your first (or next) web design client

Are you a web designer who’s always wondering how to find web design clients?

 

Do you struggle with how to market your web design business and get clients consistently so that you’re not living that feast-and-famine freelance web designer life?

One of the most common questions I get from web designers is not only how to get clients consistently, but it’s also how to get dreamy clients that are willing to pay what you want to charge to create a full-time living as a web designer.

That’s why I’m sharing my 3 best web designer marketing tactics for not only getting your first (or next) web design client, but also a web design client that’s willing to pay you what you’re worth!

Web Designer Marketing Tactic #1 – Ask for Referrals

This one sounds super obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people are afraid to do this – and we’ll talk about that fear in just a second, but first…

You probably know some people in your life. You might have some friends, you might have some family, you might have some colleagues.

And while these people are likely not your dream clients, they also have friends, family, and colleagues. And chances are, someone knows someone who is searching for YOU.

When you’re super clear on who you serve and what problems your websites solve for those people, it’s easy to say,

“Hey, I help this kind of business solve this kind of problem. Do you know anyone who…? Would you mind passing my info along?”

The mistake I see most people make when they are asking for referrals is to say “Hey, I’m a web designer. Do you know anyone who needs a website?”

And sure, that works. But it’s gonna bring you the people who think they should only be paying you a couple hundred dollars because you’re “just a web designer” and you’re “so and so’s daughter who’s looking for clients” and they’ll “help you out.”

Ask for referrals with the caveat being that you’re really, really clear on who you serve and what results they get from working with you beyond just a website.

For a lot of people, it totally scares the crap out of them to reach out to their own network and ask for referrals.

It just taps on this insecurity inside of us. We think that we're like putting people out or inconveniencing them, so I want you to think about it like this:

If a friend of yours came to you and said, “Hey, I am starting this new life coaching business. Do you know anyone who struggles with the specific type of client I serve? Would you be willing to make an introduction?”

Wouldn't you be more than happy to reach out to your friend and say “Hey, remember when you were telling me about x,y,z? My friend so-and-so just started a life-coaching business helping people with that exact same issue. Would you like her info?”

You would absolutely do that for your friends!!! So don't discount the people in your life that love you that want to help you succeed and who would be more than happy for you to spread the word.

Because you have got to take action, in the beginning, to go out there and find those first several clients.

I always tell my Web Designer Academy Students that at the beginning of any new business that it takes effort up-front to get momentum going. You get to take a lot of action, plant a lot of seeds, build a lot of relationships and put yourself out there in a lot of different ways.

And eventually, those seeds start to grow bear fruit, and the momentum flips at some point where you’re doing less work to market yourself and the referrals just start coming to you without you having to ask –  but you gotta put yourself out there first.

So ask for referrals from your network, let people know what you're doing, and let the people that love you help you!

Web Designer Marketing Tactic #2 – Market Research Interviews

This tactic is not my brainchild. It’s from my friend Sasha Korobov of the EntrepreNotYet Podcast.

Sasha is amazing, she spoke at my Side Hustle to Self-Employed Summit about how to get clients when you are brand new and you don't have social media or a website.

Now, as a web designer you probably already have a website, but you might not if you’ve just been doing little projects on the side here and there and haven’t decided to go all-in on web design as a business – but either way, market research interviews are a fantastic way to connect with your ideal client and start gathering some valuable information and building a relationship, whether that leads to future work or referrals or some other unexpected opportunity.

To implement this tactic, you just gotta again figure out who you want to work with, what problem that you solve for them, and then go talk to people and pick their brains about their business, what’s in the way of their success so you can start thinking about how to position what you do as a SOLUTION instead of a THING.

And in exchange for that conversation, offer something of value, like your advice on something  – but not your TIME. 

This is a big mistake I see people make is that in exchange for these market research conversations, they offer to do some free web design work. Please don’t do that. Your time is reserved for paying clients. You can, however, offer your expertise on that call that is just as valuable to them as them being able to pick their brain was for you.

You know how to design a website, you know how to build a website that converts, you know way more than you think you know, so let them ask YOU questions for 20 minutes about their website and give them as much info as you can in that time period.

So these market research interviews are very reciprocal. They are answering some questions for you that are going to help you hone in on who your ideal client really is, what their problems are, and what challenges people have with their website. And then you're going to turn around and you're gonna answer all their questions.

The key here is after that conversation to move those people out of the friend zone in a really authentic way, and we teach our Web Designer Academy students the exact process of how to do that market research interview, exactly what to say to get people to book an interview, how to conduct it, and then move them out of the friend zone after it’s over.

Because there's a rapport and trust that gets built during the process. You're establishing your expertise, you're learning a lot about the client, and so the natural next step becomes, “Hey, you said you were struggling with that. I would love to help you. Here's how I can help you.”

And it's that follow-up after the market research interview that's key to turning conversations into clients.

Web Designer Marketing Tactic #3 – Follow Up

If you're in the early stages of your web design business, you’ve probably said things like, “Oh, we had a conversation about working together, but they never got back to me. It didn't go anywhere.”

Follow up with those people!!!

Reach back out to those people, see where they're at, see what's changed since you last talked!  Even if they told you, no, even if they told you they went with somebody else, even if they told you it wasn't the right time, go back and follow up with all of those old people.

And follow up with past clients. 

If you've already worked with clients, see if they need any new work. You know, we can't just assume people are sitting around thinking about us. We have to show up and show up where they are and offer to figure out where they're at and see how we can help.

So you get to be the one to do the outreach. You get to be the one to initiate.

Bonus Web Designer Marketing Tactic – Get Uncomfortable

So I have one last bonus tactic for you, and it’s the one that makes all the other tactics easier. It’s like the first domino in the domino line of tactics that you can knock over to make all the other ones easier…

Because the things that I am telling you to do are not the things you were hoping I’d tell you to do, right? 

You want me to tell you something like, “If you, as your introverted self, go build this website and make it gorgeous and create this awesome funnel, and spend all this time creating all this content behind my computer and SEO optimizing, because I'm so talented as a web designer, you’ll never have to put yourself out there and actually talk to anyone because all that tech you put together will magically result in people just stumbling upon your and finding you, filling out my your consultation form and booking a consultation with you.”

That is not how that works! Not in the beginning anyway.

I’m not gonna lie, it’s amazing when that momentum flips and people start coming to you and finding you, but it’s just not gonna happen with a lot of effort upfront on your part.

You get to get uncomfortable and do things that really make your heart pound and make you sweat and make your face hot and make you super nervous.

Inside the Web Designer Academy, we support each other through that. We understand that that's part of the process.

I could give you 20 tactics in this blog post, but if your mindset is not in the right place, you're still not going to do it. So if you…

  • Don't believe that you're qualified and capable, you are not going to ask your network for referrals.
  • Feel like a total imposter, you are not going to put yourself out there for market research interviews.
  • Feel like a total fraud, you are not going to follow up with people that you have talked to before.

And that's the stuff that we need to fix first to make all of the other things happen for you.

We help you get comfortable with being uncomfortable when you're not beating yourself up. When you're not thinking you're a fraud, when you're not thinking everything's going wrong. When in fact it's actually going right for you and you just don't, you just don't know it.

So if you’re feeling super uncomfortable about implementing any of the tactics I just shared with you, please sign up to watch my free Pricing Mindset Workshop!

After watching you'll:

  • Know exactly how much you need to charge to make a full-time living as a web designer.
  • Understand how to apply the Rule of 10 to figure out the true value of a website to your clients.
  • Have an upgraded belief system around all the reasons you think you can’t charge that much, you know… things like “I need more experience… I'm self-taught… my clients can't afford to pay more…”
  • Be aware of the 3 most common places web design businesses break down and leak time and money (and what to do to prevent or fix it).

It's a totally free training where we talk about all of the mindset stuff that keeps you undercharging, overdelivering, not doing outreach, not booking clients, working for free, working for way too little, and fix that…

….because you don't even know how valuable you are. You don't even know how many clients out there need you to be charging sustainably so that you can serve them at the level that they deserve to be served.

So go sign up for that free training now!

And here are some other posts you might like!

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Hi, I'm Shannon!

If you want to learn how to build a website (or a web design business), market yourself online and get traffic + customers so that you can go from side hustle to self-employed, you’re in the right place!

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