So you want to know how to get web design clients?
Perhaps you are new to the game and you’re just looking for your first web design clients. Or maybe you already have existing web design clients and you’re just looking to get more.
Either way. You came to the right place. This article will help you how to:
- Let the world know you’re one hell of a web designer [Awareness]
- Get people to approach you for a new website [Acquisition]
- Get people to set up a sales meeting with you [Activation]
- Sign the contract and close the deal [Revenue]
- Get clients to pay you a recurring income [Retention]
- Get a passive stream of new web design clients [Referral]
- Conclusion – How to get more web design clients
As you can see we’ll be using the AAARRR funnel, also knows as the pirate funnel.
It’s a growth hacking methodoly which allows you to increase growth in each stage of the funnel.
How To Get New Web Design Clients?
1. Create alternative mockups for famous existing websites
How cool is it to take a well known website and redo it – but better! Take the homepage of a well known company in your area and shred it to pieces. I’m sure you’re able to figure out at least 10 ways to improve the existing homepage of your chosen company.
Redo it, and let the world know you’re one hell of a web designer. Submit your design at every website out there:
- And so on..
Don’t forget to include to mention you’re for hire 😉
2. Build a free website and share it with your network
This one is a bit similar to the first one. However, doing a free website for a real client has one big advantage – they have a network.
Tell them you’re willing to build a website for free, as long as they mention you as the designer.
3. Do free projects in exchange for sharing them with their network
If you want to take tip #2 to the next level, get your (free) client to commit to introduce you to at least 3 potential web design clients.
I’m 100% sure if the client loves your design, they’ll definitely share your work with way more than 3.
4. Establish yourself as the web designer for [Niche]
You know what’s funny? People like to hire people with ‘experience’ in the scene.
Once you’ve built a website for your first client, it’s time to establish yourself as a web designer specialized in [niche]. Emphasize this on your own website and I’m sure this will increase your credibility overnight.
5. Use a LinkedIn Bot
Allright. You’re now probably thinking one of two things:
- That sounds spammy. I’m not going to do that.
- A bot? How does that even work? I’m not a scientist.
Trust me, I thought the same as you. But it’s not as sketchy as it seems.
Dux-Soup is a LinkedIn tool which allows you to ‘look’ at 100 LinkedIn profiles per day.
This tool automatically visits LinkedIn profiles of people of your choice. In the past, I’ve used this a lot to get in touch with business owners.
I would have Dux-Soup open the profiles of 100 business owners per day.
It’s actually pretty simple:
- Download the Dux-Soup tool
- Open your LinkedIn account
- Search for ‘business owner’ or any other job description’
- Click the ‘Visit profiles’ button.
Now here comes the important part: Make sure your LinkedIn profile is optimized. This means:
- A good looking profile picture
- A good tagline which describes what you do
- A great profile description which demonstrates your skills as a web designer
- Some nice portfolio websites on your profile
Let’s say 20% of every profile visit converts into a ‘return-visit’. That will mean 20 potential business owners who look at your LinkedIn profile every day.
That’s 600 potential leads in a month.
6. Send website-review-decks to attract web design clients
This is one of the growth hacks I used when I wanted to attract my first few clients – all the way in the beginning. It’s pretty straight forward:
- Find websites which are outdated
- Screenshot the website and paste it into a powerpoint/keynote presentation
- Give constructive feedback on what you see
- Tell the business owner you’re able to help out
- Draft a nice mail and add this this document as an attachment
- Wait 3 days and call the business owner to get an appointment
Works like a charm!
7. Reach out to local design agencies
While starting out it can be a nice shortcut to leverage the networks of existing design agencies.
Reach out to 10 design agencies in your area and ask them if they need a helping hand. Chances are they work with freelancers more often if their workload is too high.
8. Do a viral give-away
If you want to jumpstart your career as a web designer with lots of potential new clients at the same time, a viral give-away is a good idea.
There is a tool called Viral Loops is a referral marketing tool which helps you to explode your website with new visitors.
We’ve used Viral loops to create virality multiple times. It allows you to build a sustainable referral scheme which helps you to flood your website with traffic.
9. Build your own website and ask friends to share them with their network
As you’re reading this, this is a tip which you’ve (hopefully) already executed. Probably this one doesn’t even need a mention, but hey – just to be sure!
- Build your website
- Make it awesome
- Make it even more awesome
- Ask all your friends to share it with their friends
10. Include your website in the footer of websites you made in the past
You’ve probably seen the sentence ‘Designed by [your name]’ showing up in the footer of good looking websites many times.
It’s a great strategy, because it allows you to collect web design leads without doing anything for it. Alongside, it’s great for SEO as well!
11. Send cold emails to business with outdated websites
Allright. You’re now probably thinking one or two things:
1) That sounds spammy. I’m not going to do that.
2) Everybody hates cold emails
Well. I agree with both of them. Except if you do it right.
There are tons of articles written about cold email selling so I’m going to keep this one short. But! There’s one hack I absolutely love. Here goes:
Did you establish yourself as a web designer for [niche]? If not, scroll up and read that tip.
For this example, let’s say you established yourself as a web designer for architects.
Here’s what you do:
- Scrape a list of email addresses of architects
- Send them an email similar like this:
Subject: I just built this architect website and thought you’d like it 🙂
You’re probably getting way too many emails – so I’m going to keep this short.
I just finished this architect website : [link to your portfolio website].
And here are some other websites I recently built:
- [example URL 1]
- [example URL 2]
- [example URL 3]
If you’d like, I can build a similar website for you too. Since I’m experienced in architect websites it won’t take me as much time as it would usually.
Give me a call at [phone number] or reply to this email.
12. Cold call business with outdated websites
This one is quite similar to the one above. With the one exception that it’s painful. Very painful.
I honestly wouldn’t recommend you to cold call businesses unless you’re really comfortable with it.
That being said, calling business owners AFTER you mailed them once or twice before is actually a good idea:
“Hey, this is [name] speaking. I had some email contact with [business owner] about a [niche] website I just created.”
Additionally you can use this phone call just to make sure the business owner replies to your email.
13. Use paid advertising to attract web design clients
If you have a little budget to spend on your web design business, it’s great to speed up things with paid advertising.
I’d recommend using Facebook advertisements, as it’s super easy to do and brings in amazing results.
Want to get some inspiration for your facebook ads?
- Use Facebook’s Ad Library and search for web design agencies.
- Look at their advertisements to see what’s working
14. Pay your friends 10% for every lead they bring
Now your friends wouldn’t be your friends if they didn’t help you to get new web design clients. Right?
Your friends probably have many things going on in their life and aren’t naturally ‘trained’ to promote your business.
But there’s a way to change that.
Give them a 10% commission cut on every web design client they bring in. Now suddenly they have something to gain. Therefore they’ll remember to promote your web design agency.
They earn a nice side income, you build your business. Win-win!
15. Use local SEO to attract local clients
SEO is a great way to attract local clients. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and helps you to get free website traffic through search engines.
Check out these articles about local SEO if you you want to learn more about this:
16. Send handwritten letters to local businesses
Here’s one I absolutely love. Where cold emails achieve an average open rate of 20%, physical letters are more like 90%.
Now I don’t want you to write the entire sales letter by hand, simply the name+address on the envelope will do.
Bonus tip: I’d recommend you to buy coloured envelopes, as they get noticed better and will increase your open rate.
17. Use Job boards
There are many job boards you can leverage to find web design clients. I’m sure there are many local ones in the area where you live, but here’s an overview of the main big ones:
So you managed to attract people to you or your website. Now it’s time to set up a ‘sales’ meeting. Personally I don’t like this definition, as I just see it as a casual introduction meeting. That being said – the goal of the meeting should be to get the client to say yes to working with you.
But how do you get the client to meet you for the first time?
18. Attach a contact form to your own website
Use a contact form on your website which allows visitors to schedule a meeting with you. There are many ways to go about this, but I prefer to use Typeform as a contact form.
It’s a playful way to get visitors to answer questions. Just make sure that the Typeform replies are automatically sent to your email, as you don’t want to wait too long with reaching out to your potential client. Set up a meeting as soon as you can.
19. Use retargeting advertisements to people who visited your website
A business owner is looking for a web designer and found your website. But after scrolling through your website for 30 seconds, he or she got a phone call from a friend. After calling for 20 minutes they forgot about your website and they close down their computer.
That’s why I use retargeting advertisements to bring back these lost leads. Just install a Facebook pixel on your website to target all your website visitors with an advertisement on Facebook or Instagram.
Awesome. You’re almost there. The money is about to hit the bank. Well – almost.
I’ve seen many web designers screw up the final stage of closing a deal. Basically there are 2 ways web designer screw it up:
- They don’t close the deal
- They do close the deal, but agree to one hell of a discount
Please don’t let this be you. If you want to get further into negotiation tactics I’d recommend you to read ‘Never Split The Difference by Chris Voss’. That being said, there are a few ways which will set you up to close the deal AND get the maximum return for it.
It all comes down to framing you as a highly desired web designer.
20. Create urgency: Inform your client your calendar is filling up rapidly
Gently informing your potential client you’re calendar is filling up rapidly does 2 things:
- It creates urgency, which puts time pressure on your client
- It shows social proof, as you’re apparently fully booked by other clients. Apparently you’re good at what you do.
Now please don’t overdo this, as they’ll be able to tell you’re full of shit.
You don’t have to mention this in every conversation with your potential client, just drop it once or twice.
21. Create urgency: Inform your client you’re about to increase your pricing
This one is a little bit more tricky, but it can be very effective. If you tell your client you’re about to increase your prices they’ll sign your proposal sooner. That being said, make sure it’s a legitimate reason:
- You’re increasing your price as per the start of [month X]
- You’re increasing your price as your calendar is booked up for months in advance
- You’re increasing your price as other web designers told you you’re way too cheap
22. Create urgency: Offer a 2 months free maintenance if they sign this week
Who doesn’t like a good bonus? I know I do.
If you can tell your potential client is going back and forth about your proposal, just give him an incentive to make a fast decision. Just make sure to explain why you’re offering this bonus:
” I’m offering you this bonus so I have more clarity about my schedule for the coming months. I want to help you to make a fast decision.”
23. Offer a monthly maintenance package
If you’ve had web design customers before, I’m sure you’ll know that clients will call you every now and then.
‘Hey, can you please change this picture’ or ‘Hey can you please change the color red to blue’. And basically every other thing which they changed their mind about.
Now it’s a good thing to make an agreement about these kind of things in advance. Here’s what I usually do:
- I charge them a monthly fee of X euros per month, in exchange for Y hours of maintenance.
- Every hour above the contract will be billed at Z euros per hour.
24. Offer an SLA with a 24 hour response time
Let’s make a bet. I’m willing to put 100 euros on the table that your new client is going to call you on a sunday evening at least once per year. Or when you’re on holiday. Or both.
Now if you’re a nice guy (or girl) you’ll pick up the phone and fix it for them. But this flexibility does come at a price.
I usually promise my clients I’ll fix any important bug within 24 hours at a monthly fee. They’re basically paying you to be stand-by for any potential issues.
As you’re slowly building up your portfolio, it’s time to put your existing clients to work. Sure, they’ll tell about you organically when a friend asks ‘who built their amazing website?’. But that’s not enough.
If you really want to stimulate your clients to promote you as a web designer, you need to give them an incentive.
25. Offer 3 months free maintenance for every referral
It’s pretty straight forward. Tell your client you’ll give them 3 months of free maintenance for every client they bring in.
26. Offer a financial incentive for every referral
Alternatively you can pay your client a fixed fee or a percentage of any web design deal they hand over to you.
27. Record your clients when you show the final version
I’m going to be honest, I haven’t done this one yet. But while writing this article this idea popped in my head – and I’m going to execute it ASAP.
Assuming the web design you made for your client is awesome – it better be – it’s very cool to get the reaction when they see the website on video. Ask the client if it’s okay to publish this video on LinkedIn and you’ll have a good shot of getting lots of free publicity.
28. Add an outstanding footer referral to your clients website
I assume you’re already adding credits in the footer of any new website. But why not make it awesome? Depending on the style of the website you built, create something cool which pops out. A simple ‘built by designer X’ just doesn’t stand out in 2021 anymore.
Just make sure your client is okay with the footer credits, as it shouldn’t ruin the design of the website.
Conclusion – How to get more web design clients 🚀
After reading this article I hope you’ve learned that there are many unconventional ways you can use to get new web design clients.
I’ve tested every single one of them and I know they work. As you’ll understand getting new web design clients isn’t an overnight project. You have to work for it, but hey – that’s okay!
Let me know if you found these tips to be successful for you. I wish you the best of luck!