In this day and age, there are so many ways to get web design clients that it can feel absolutely overwhelming.
And in this sea of tactics, tools and strategies, it’s easy to feel like you’re nowhere closer to choosing the right method.
That's exactly why I posed one very simple question to 29 expert web designers and developers:
“What are your top tips for getting new clients?”
Let’s take a look at how you can use their tips to land your next clients!
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Expert Advice on How to Get Web Design Clients
The 29 designers I spoke to all shared the aces up their sleeves.
Some methods will completely blow your socks off, while others will make you stop and say: “I should’ve thought of that sooner.”
1. Benjamin N. Spak: “Under-promise and over-deliver.”
Benjamin N. Spak is an experienced web designer and entrepreneur who has worked with companies such as Wells Fargo.
And when it comes to sharing how to get web design clients, he’s got more than a few words of wisdom:
If you want to get web design clients, under promise and over deliver. If you offer value to your clients even before they’ve signed the contract, you’ll get plenty of referrals.
Doing things like offering a free SEO audit that the client didn’t ask for and delivering the results a week early made a huge difference for customer satisfaction. And by providing that kind of value, he often got job offers out of the blue.
After all, referred clients spend 200% more than average clients.
2. Mitchell Lembke: “Attract web design clients with your work, and win them over with your personality.”
Mitchell Lembke isn’t just a web developer. He’s also a US Navy Veteran with background in quality control, aircrew safety and flight readiness. He took his naval attention to details right into his web design work.
People eat with their eyes, and clients look for devs who produced beautiful and intuitive UIs.
Mitchell definitely advocates putting your work front and center, as well as your certifications and degrees, and then winning over your clients by being punctual and personable.
Answer phone calls the same day, meet up for coffee, and show that you’re a real person supporting your clients.
After all, people will be more willing to hire someone they can enjoy dinner with, and not someone who’s hiding behind their computer.
3. Gabriel Macedo: “Show value and address potential issues”
While we’re all hustling, Gabriel Macedo reminds us that sometimes it pays to stop and think.
This web developer, who has been working in the industry for over 5 years, has something to say on how to get web design clients:
Answer all doubts that a client may have and set up memorable consultations. After all, if you make a sale, you’ll make a commission. But if you make a friend, you’ll make a fortune.
Gabriel goes on to further emphasize the importance of addressing problems that clients may think of.
For example, if your clients are often worried about a certain aspect of web design, you can address the issue with new ones and show that you can think from their perspective.
You can even set up your consultation over coffee or at the bar!
4. Timothy Preut: “Help others succeed, and so will you.”
Timothy Preut of TickyboomDesign has been working in web development and similar areas since 2011 and currently runs a company with his wife, Nicky.
And when it comes to attracting new clients, Timothy has one important tip:
Web Designer & Developer
Share your knowledge with the only desire of truly wanting to help others succeed.
If you start reaching out to clients with the idea of helping them, you could double your success rate.
Additionally, Timothy advises against putting on a façade or spamming.
When your potential clients interact with you, be yourself – the same goes for interacting with your followers on social media.
5. Megan Vaughan: “Consistency, activity and networking will help you get web design clients.”
Megan Vaughan of Prolific Banana is a well of wisdom for attracting clients. So far, she’s helped her clients land six-figure contracts and achieve 167% ROI within two weeks of launching their site.
And if you want to get web design clients just like Megan, here’s what she advises:
Connect with other people in your industry who provide different services, be active on the platforms your clients use, and be consistent in your tone.
According to Megan, you should connect with copywriters, SEO experts, brand strategists, advisers and financial lenders. They can refer you to their clients and in turn, you’ll have someone to refer, too.
And when you reach out to clients on places like Quora, Alignable and Reddit, put value first.
Answer business questions your clients are asking and soon enough, they’ll notice your expertise and reach out.
If you share more about your process through content marketing, you could also improve your conversion rate!
6. Chris Castillo: “Network and refer your way to success.”
Chris Castillo of Propel Digital Media Solutions is not just a web designer. He’s also a CEO who knows a fair bit about marketing your services to clients.
Helping other freelancers, designers and agencies through knowledge sharing and setting up a great referral program goes a long way towards getting new web design clients.
Chris uses knowledge sharing as a key component of his sales system. It helps others grow while he establishes great relationships which generate referrals.
And speaking of referrals, Chris says a referral/affiliate program creates win-win-win scenarios. The end-client gets connected with the best company for their project, the affiliate gets a healthy commission, and the agency generates steady revenue.
These two strategies helped him close over $38,000 in sales this month.
7. Nicole Grinsell: “The more things that pop up under your name on Google, the better!”
Nicole Grinsell is a prolific web designer and a previous venture coach. And when it comes to getting new web design clients, she encourages having a strong web presence, but here’s what she found to be the best method:
Front-End Web Developer
Friends, family, technical & entrepreneurship events generate plenty of web design clients. But once you land the client, keep them hooked with organization and transparency.
While the majority of her clients have been referred by her friends, family, or met at events, Nicole made sure the key factors of her process were easily organized documentation and transparency.
8. Troy Glancy: “The best way to generate leads is through networking and Facebook Groups!”
Troy Glancy is the man behind WP Pro Fix – a WordPress development company.
And not only is he a web designer, but he’s also been an entrepreneur since 2011 so he knows exactly what his clients are feeling.
Fortunately, he knows what you are feeling too, and he swears by using your current relationships to generate leads.
Instead of asking your clients for referrals, ask them for their vendors and partner with them. And if you want to save time, build relationships through Facebook as well.
Troy has been helping others for free in Facebook groups, providing value before anything else.
And this content marketing approach is not only 62% cheaper than other methods, but it also results in 3 times as many leads.
9. Albert Hu: “You may be a web designer, but you have to become a salesperson, too.”
Improve your sales skills. It’ll be very useful when you’re networking, asking people for referral work or cold calling.
The truth is: if you’re a web developer who wants to get clients, you can’t just write the code and call it a day.
Instead, you have to focus on actively marketing your skills.
A great way to do it is by building a portfolio first, and then promoting yourself on social media.
10. Rishad Quazi: “Give before you get.”
When I asked him how to get web design clients, he emphasized four things:
Web Designer & Developer
Network in-person or online, know if you and your clients can work well together, choose a niche, and offer something free to show your expertise.
Rishad particularly emphasizes choosing a niche and then figuring out where the people are most likely to gather.
When you’ve zeroed in on your potential client, offer them a free evaluation of their site, a free consultation, or another offer of value which will show your expertise.
And finally, know your client and know yourself. Don’t blast out emails to masses if you don’t know how you can serve them best.
11. Kelsey Cossifos: “Be prepared and be professional.”
Kelsey Cossifos is a web designer who has worked with a variety of companies, and brought a dash of creativity to every single one.
And when we asked Kelsey to share her two cents on the topic, she emphasized the two things we’re often quick to forget in a sea of client generation methods:
Be professional, prepare for the meeting in advance, and listen to what your client is saying.
Make sure you act professionally, listen to what the client needs, answer any questions, and stay proactive.
Tell them how you’ll accomplish their goals, and be flexible about payment options (hourly rate or a project breakdown).Finally, come with a contract prepared.
12. Kevin Phillips: “Keep creating, even if you don’t have clients.”
Kevin Phillips has been working with computers even before they’ve invented the mouse, so he’s a verified expert if there ever was one.
When I asked him what advice he could share with people who want to get web design clients, he emphasized one thing:
Always keep creating new sites, even when you don’t have clients.
You need to have a strong portfolio for a variety of different sites.
And when it comes to leads – quality over quantity. Getting a few valuable clients (over plenty of clients with low ROI) is much better for your business.
13. Nathan McKay: “Cast a wide marketing net.”
Nathan McKay has been working in web development since 2006 and his diverse experience in other sectors has allowed him to be one of the most creative web devs today.
When asked about getting web design clients, Nathan says:
Cast a wide net. Social media advertising, search engine marketing… Don’t forget about Craigslist, too!
While many marketers and web devs scoff at the mention of Craigslist, Nathan claims that he gets a great lead or two every once in a while from that very site.
You have plenty of options to pick from when it comes to marketing your skills:
- Social media
- Message boards
- Search engines
- Email marketing
It’s up to you to choose which one you’ll use first!
14. Andrea Raynor: “Use your friends and their friends to spread the word.”
Andrea Raynor isn’t just a UX designer – she’s also worked in sales and marketing since 1995. And while the times have changed, the one method of success hasn’t.
Use friends of friends.
This idea, which stems from the idea of six degrees of separation (we’re only six people away from every person on this planet) is tried and true.
Your friends can already vouch for your credibility and if they pass your information along to their friends (who’ll then pass it along to their friends), you’ll have come a full circle with plenty of clients to show for it.
15. Anthony Milia: “Create connections in person.”
While digital marketing is effective, nothing’s more effective than meeting your potential clients in person.
Anthony Milia of Milia Marketing has been helping small and mid-sized businesses get results fast, and here’s what he has to say on how to get web design clients:
Meet with your clients at their office or grab a coffee or a lunch. It’ll help you establish trust. If you also frequent networking events, people will be more comfortable doing business with you.
And while giving your clients the best services on the market is (and should be) your number one priority, you’ll only be able to get there if your clients trust you in the first place.
So become a well-known name in the community, socialize with your prospects, and soon enough, your phone will be ringing 24/7!
16. Paul Taylor: “Niche is key.”
In the sea of web designers and even more clients who need their websites properly designed so they can in turn attract clients, it’s hard to stand out.
Choose a specific market you want to focus on.
Then, do everything you can to reach clients in that particular niche. Email marketing, social media, paid ads… Everything is fair game. And if you have a niche, you’ll have a better success rate.
Personalization is key. According to Evergage, 63% of consumers said they’d think more positively of a brand if it gave them content that was more valuable, interesting or relevant.
And when you’ve found your niche, you can also look for clients within freelancer sites like UpWork, PeoplePerHour or Fiverr.
You can also get in touch with large development companies who frequently hire freelancers for their overflow work.
17. Dan Stefan: “There’s nothing like word of mouth.”
Word of mouth is one of the oldest tricks in the book of promoting your business to potential clients, and it’s still effective. 92% of people trust recommendations from friends, family and partners over any kind of advertisements.And that’s something that Dan Stefan of Asistent PC knows well. When asked about advice on getting web design clients, Dan says
Referrals and word of mouth are everything.
Just one of the numerous ways you can set the referral wheels in motion is by offering a discount to your client and the person they refer to you.
18. Izwan Rusli: “Be there for your clients when they need you.”
Izwan Rusli is a web designer that prides himself in creative work that goes above and beyond the demands of his clients.
And that drive to support his clients is something he recommends as a way of marketing yourself:
Always be available for new clients.
When you’re onboarding a client, it’s important to do it properly.
Make sure that the expectations, outcomes and deliverables are clear to both sides, and that you’re on the same page. Clarify anything that the client may be struggling with, and have a lot of patience.
New clients need support, and if you give that to them, they’ll love you for it.
19. Angela Bronson: “Don’t be shy – get your name out there!”
I remember my beginnings. No one but my family and friends knew I was developing websites.
And knowing what I know now, I wish I’d shouted it from the rooftops.
Angela Bronson agrees.
With over 12 years of experience in the field of web development and her own company – Code Dragon, Angela is a veritable expert at finding new web design clients.
Clients aren’t going to hire you if they don’t even know you’re in business!
Her business finally took off once she began joining clubs and organizations. Previously, she was marketing in every possible way – except locally.
Then, she visited her local Chamber of Commerce and landed plenty of gigs by simply letting people around her know that she’s in business.
20. Shelley Easter: “Start showing up and asking.”
When you’re first starting out as a web designer, showing up and putting your skills front and center can seem pretty daunting.
Show up at live events, show up on your social media of choice, and ask for referrals.
It’s that simple.
The point, after all, is letting people know that you’re in business.
When you show up at live events, you’ll be able to connect with your potential clients in person. They’ll get a sense not only for your skills but for your personality.
You’ll both be able to gauge how well you’d work together.
And if that doesn’t sound like the start of a beautiful partnership, I don’t know what does.
21. Kenny Lamidiaux: “Don’t just network – maintain true relationships.”
Knowing a lot of people doesn’t do much, just like having a lot of leads isn’t a guarantee of success. What you should always be looking for is the quality of your contacts and your leads.
Kenny Lamidiaux, who has been in software and web development since 2005, highlights that true relationships are key, as well as…
If you don’t have a portfolio or can’t share it publicly, don’t stress. Create your own samples. And never rely on only one client or pretend to be able to do everything.
Kenny’s seen a lot of people who pretended to be Supermen of coding, and it backfired right away.
22. Michelle Scott: “LinkedIn is more powerful than you think.”
Michelle Scott has over seven years of experience working with key clients like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under her belt.
And since she has a lot of experience, I couldn’t help but to ask her how she got her web design clients.
Use LinkedIn to reach your clients.
LinkedIn is definitely a network that’s not mentioned often enough.
With a strong LinkedIn profile, you’ll be well on your way to getting more and more clients. Just some of the things you can do to improve your chances are:
- Add keywords to your profile
- Create an interesting summary and headline that makes clients feel like you’re talking to them
- Ask for recommendations from people you’ve previously worked with (even if it was in a different field)
- Actively look for your clients with LinkedIn’s advanced search functions
- Connect with your clients over shared interest
After all, 75% of B2B buyers use social media to make purchasing decisions.
23. Rhonda Marie: “Keep your current clients happy.”
The value of referrals cannot be overstated. Referred customers convert better, they spend more, and they stay happier longer.
So when Rhonda Marie, a web developer from Orlando, Florida, tells us that keeping our current clients happy is key to getting new clients, we can’t help but to agree enthusiastically.
If you’re proficient in your work and keep your current clients happy, you’ll get new web design clients in the blink of an eye.
24. Andrew Martinez: “Answer questions and offer financial incentives for referrals.”
When you use your skills and your knowledge as a marketing tool, you’ll go far.
As an experienced web developer and consultant (he’s been in business since 2012) and a dedicated techie, he constantly helps his clients stay ahead of the game with new technological solutions.
But I wanted to know how he gets clients in the first place. Here’s what he advised:
Get involved in entrepreneurial FB groups and answer website-related questions. Over time, you’ll become an authority, and you can invite others to PM you if they want to learn more about your service.
Andrew also likes to encourage word of mouth referrals with a referral program.
He tells his current and past clients that he’ll pay them a 10% referral fee if they refer someone to him.
And it works like a charm!
25. Boyce Poleon, Jr.: “There’s nothing like a solid portfolio and good friends.”
Boyce Poleon, Jr., a full-time front-end developer, has been working in IT since 2013.
And when I asked him how he gets web design clients, he shared his point of view:
Boyce Poleon Jr.
A solid portfolio of past work goes a long way when it comes to actually landing a job. In the beginning, I did a couple of friends’ websites for free and asked them to refer me. I’ve been in business ever since.
So if you don’t have a portfolio, don’t despair.
Everyone needs a good site, and who can promote you better than your friends?
26. Ira Sigman: “There’s no substitute for good communication.”
Ira Sigman, a web developer proficient in everything from Ruby on Rails to DevOps, says:
Product owners are always going to worry about your reliability so make sure you send emails regularly, call your clients, and make your presence felt.
He’s also in the under-promise/over-deliver camp, and claims there’s nothing like an Agile development schedule to get and stay organized.
You can even share your Kanban board with your clients.
And when talking about your skills, market yourself as a specialist. Don’t use a generic “web developer.” Instead, be specific.
Finally, Ira recommends knowing your market and reading up about a company and their competition before you get in touch with them.
If you can produce familiar names and terms to the client, their trust in you will increase.
27. DavidPaul Sullivan: “Communication is key!”
When asked about tips on how to get web design clients, DavidPaul Sullivan, senior web developer at Pro Gear and Transmission, says:
Balance confidence with strong listening skills, keep your answers simple and relate with the client whenever possible.
It’s easy to get nerdy and explain things in detail as a developer. But all clients want to know is they can easily get ahold of you.
Finally, DavidPaul says that developers are a dime a dozen today.
If you set yourself apart with effective communication, you’ll impress the socks of any client.
28. Ronald Forcier: “You don’t have to go digital.”
You may be thinking that the only way to get clients is through digital channels. After all, everyone’s using Facebook and Google.
But Ronald Forcier, a web developer with plenty of experience in the retail and tech industry, says that doesn’t have to be the case.
The easiest way to “land” new clients is by going out and talking to them.
He’s had plenty of freelance projects without ever using Fiverr or UpWork. All he did was go out and start talking to people.
For beginners, Ronald says the best course of action is starting with smaller local businesses who need their first website (or whose site needs a facelift), and start building your portfolio from there.
29. Ryan McHenry: “Get your work out there.”
Getting web design clients gets a lot easier once you’ve gotten your work out there.
Ryan McHenry, a front-end web developer and designer with over six years of experience, says that it doesn’t have to be as complicated as setting up ad campaigns.
Web Designer & Developer
Submit your portfolio to design and development award websites. This way, your clients will easily identify that you can help them create what they’re looking for.
Ryan used websites like OnePageLove and Awwwards.
You should also stay active on social media and keep an eye out for the plethora of opportunities presenting themselves.
Conclusion: How to Get Web Design Clients
Our experts dipped their fingers in many marketing pies but overall, I couldn’t help but to notice the majority of them talked about the value of three things:
- A strong portfolio
- Referrals and networking
- Free value
If you can’t start working with clients who’ll let you share the work in your portfolio right away (and very few of us can, really), you can create mock sites or websites for your friends.
When it comes to marketing, there’s nothing like referrals and networking.
Make sure you’re networking both locally and digitally. Your Chamber of Commerce can be a great starting point for making sure everyone knows you’re in business.
And when networking online, don’t forget about LinkedIn, Reddit and Quora.
Finally, strive to provide value even before the client has signed the contract.
Demonstrate your expertise within niche communities, answer questions, and put your money where your mouth is.
You’ll be getting web design clients in no time!
Now It's Your Turn!
I hope this expert roundup showed you how you can get web design clients.
And now I’d like to turn it over to you:
Which tip are you going to implement first?
Are you going to talk with small local businesses?
Or maybe you start asking for referrals.
Either way, leave a comment below right now.
Author’s Note: This article has been edited for length, clarity, and context.
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