Just starting out in web design? You can have all the skills honed to perfection, but without clients you cant make any money. But why do you want to make money from your design work? Why the hell not. You can work from home, work your own hours and set your own rules. Freelancing is becoming a lot more common place, and will continue to grow in 2018 - the opportunity to be your own boss and make money that goes straight in you pocket is hard to ignore.
Lets take a runthrough on some of the options for getting your first client, or increasing your number of existing clients in website design.
Online Freelance Marketplaces
The number of marketplaces available now that help to automate the lead generation process for freelancersby putting your portfolio and skillset in front of potentially millions of people is increasing, with Fiverr, Freelancer and Upwork taking some of the top spots. Depending on your skillset (and how much you are willing to work for), you can advertise your services on these marketplaces, bid for client work (depending on the platform), show off your skills with portfolios and even manage client communication all online.
A downside with these marketplaces is that they are easy to join, which means competition is huge and you will be competing with thousands of competitors - I was literally declined access to one marketplace because they had too many web designers. Although it is tempting, do not get drawn into bidding wars and offering your premium services for next to nothing - getting clients is important, but you don't want to end up offering the world to someone who is paying you peanuts. You may also find that clients who pay the least are usually the most demanding with their requirements, so you can easily have a nightmare client on your hands for next to no income. Be careful.
Door to Door Sales
This is one of the more common techniques employed for getting your first client, especially when you haven't got a strong portfolio to showcase on marketplace websites. Its not uncommon to offer lower cost work to local businesses in return for testimonials or social media posts about you to spread the word, so if you do want to offer a lower cost website to your first few customers make sure you get something in return, like a long testimonial for your website or a mention on their social media (if they have a lot of followers).
Door to door sales is my least favourite method personally - I always felt like a scammer cold calling local businesses to try and get a sale, but unfortunately that is just part and parcel of growing your client base. Don't be afraid to bring up your services in casual (although targeted) conversation in your local salon or restaurant to make yourself known. You may even get a client directly through this, or at least have grounds to follow up at a later date now you have broken the ice.
Using Your Social Or Personal Network
Networking in business generally is a must. Whether that be going to your local business group meetings and networking personally, or developing your personal brand on LinkedIn or in designer communities like Dribbble or Behance. Harnessing your personal network is a great way to spread the word about your design services, and always ensure you have a business card on hand to give out to prospective clients and contacts. Most people have a few hundred friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter, so a good way of letting people know about you is buy simply posting about what you are doing and what it can do for potential customers. Creating value for your followers is also important, so try and post daily and enhance your brand image as an authority in the industry.
I hope these tips are helpful to getting your first design client! How did you go about getting your first client if you are further down that line? Let me know in the comments.