Recently, someone sent me an email and asked me to share tips about how to find clients as a freelance web designer or small web design firm. I’m happy to share my experience and some tips on finding more clients. However, I really think it’s better to think about how clients find us.

Here is how clients found me over the last few months:

How Web Design Clients Found me
1. 55% Personal Referrals / Word of Mouth
2. 27% Google
3. 18% Social Media
When I look at these stats and reflect on the individual encounters I’ve had with prospective clients and their process in finding a designer, it leads me to think about a few principles.

1. When people need a website, they look online and ask others for recommendations.

No, your potential clients are not looking in the phone book to find you. We ought to spend time making our own websites excellent and improving our own SEO so that when our clients decide they are ready to hire a designer or developer, you are one of the first options that they see when they hit the search button on Google. In social media, this means having good timing, networking, and being presentable. On Google, this means using Google Adwords strategically and maximizing your SEO.

2. Instead of “finding clients,” make yourself easy to find and desirable.

I personally have never fought for clients on a freelance site. Frankly, I’m not sure the people who post on these sites are my target audience. Instead, I had spent time plugging into the audience that I would like to serve on social media, working on my own professional image, and guest blogging on other sites (which also builds my SEO). This isn’t time wasted. It is time invested into making myself easy to find and desirable to hire.

3. If you are doing this and still aren’t finding clients ask yourself if your target audience is big enough or if you need to target different businesses.

I am blessed to live in a town where entrepreneurship and small businesses are booming! There are plenty of clients to fill up my schedule and other web developers in town are turning business away. That may not be the case for you.
When I first launched my web design business I had the benefit of making a business plan with my Dad, who is a great salesman and marketing expert, although in a very different scientific field. He helped me think about my audience and compare myself to my competitors. I decided on a product emphasis (professional, affordable, mobile-ready) that was decidedly different than what others were offering. Also, it lines up with my values and principles as a designer.
If you don’t have the amount of work that you desire, maybe it’s time for you to step back and reevaluate how you are presenting your services to your audience. Is your price too high for the market or your skill set? The fact is, there is a lot of business out there for web designers, WordPress developers, and branding experts. Instead of fighting over it, figure out what you do well, who you want to do it for, and then make yourself as presentable as possible.
Questions, comments, or other frustrations? Let me know in the comments.
Meg Farrington
Owner, Web Designer at Meg Farrington Web Design