Starting Up

How to find & secure your first web design or development client

Here are some tried and true ways to get you that first client (and many more to come) for your new Web Design & Development agency!
Yelena Petic

Globally we have come to a point in time that remote work has exploded and every business has some form of an online presence. Many people have found freedom in starting an online business, with that comes flexibility and financial freedom in many cases. This all takes hard work and dedication but in the end, the payoff can be so worth it! That being said, one type of business that has really taken off is web design and development. It has given so many people a second (or first) chance at making a name for themselves and has opened doors that may have been otherwise closed before. Regardless if you are looking to work for an agency (or hey, maybe start your own) or if you want to stick to the freelancer route it takes one specific thing to get started. And that is finding and securing your first web design/development client.

Now, what If you don’t have clients? Well, then you are at a major impasse. No matter how good you are at web design or development and even if your website and branding are on point. Without clients (especially that first one) you might as well be working at an IKEA (I know a bad example).Without clients, you basically do not have a legitimate business. But, when you do find that first client, and you get that first paycheck your heart will soar (I know sappy but true). There is no better feeling than knowing someone believed in you and your sweat, blood, and tears and decided that you were the one who could get the web job done right!

So, I would like to give you the opportunity to find that first client and secure them so you can have all the feels too! Here are some tried and true ways to get you that first client and many more to come!

1. Work For Free Or At a Super Discounted Rate.

I know, I know nobody wants to work (or do anything really) for free or at a discounted rate but trust me this can open a huge window of opportunities for you. How can someone hire you in good faith and put their money where your mouth is? Without any proof of the pudding in your portfolio, how can anyone truly know what you are capable of and what type of skill set you hone? It is justifiable when you really think about it. So by offering to do some free web or very discounted web design/development work can be a great way of building that portfolio and getting referrals for new clients. It also can show potential clients your humanity and humility. It takes guts to put yourself out there like that.

Nowadays many people only think in terms of  "you pay for what you get or don’t sell yourself short". But in some cases when you tell your genuine side of the story it will really show a special side of yourself that appeals to people, which is seeing the fight and hunger within your hustle. It may seem really awful not being able to charge what you really want but you need to start somewhere and work your way up for free (or pretty close to it) will have benefits for your future as a web designer or developer.

2. Use The Power Of Social Media.

Social media can garner you new clients like crazy. There are many ways to put you and your web design/development work out in the social media world without just putting out posts on your Instagram and Facebook page. You can use Twitter to both find clients by using smart hashtags like  "looking for a web designer or developer" ,  "anyone knows of a good web developer" or  "web design solutions". There really is a huge array of hashtags and comments you can leave and when these end up hitting up people's attention send a DM and you can offer up your web services to them.

Linkedin is a great option too, you can find agencies and other freelancers who need subcontractors to complete web design /development for time sensitive projects. You can combine Linkedin with lead generation tools such as FindThatLead, VoilaNorbert and Snov.io. Tools like these can cost a bit but being able to send out emails to such a vast amount of people is worth the investment. These tools can help you manage leads and even verify quality email leads. Just dont be spammy! There is no one on this earth that wants to read an email that is not genuine. Consider who you are sending emails and messages to, and what solutions they actually might need and offer that solution to them. This adds value to you, your work and your brand. When you nab your first web client you can use some of that income to leverage a solid social media marketing plan to keep your web client funnel pouring in.

3. Use The Network You Already Have.

There are plenty of people in the exact same situation as you. You are sitting on a potential goldmine of clientele you simply just don't realize. You already have a network, both personally and professionally. If you have worked as a web designer or developer for an agency or have helped on someone's web project that connection is already there to be used. You can always hit that agency or person up and see if they need to outsource work or if they have any clients they can refer to you. Many of these people may not have the capacity to take on more so you can be that support system that can after help upi build your own portfolio and gain your own paying clients.Now if you're new to the web design or development game you must have friends and connections in this department as well, offer up your services for quick fixes or low end web work to get your foot in the door with that type of clientele as well (hey you gotta start somewhere).

You need to start DM-ing, calling and texting your best connection because ultimately these people know your work and will take to hear that you are a serious pro! This is a technique that really does work. You will be pleasantly surprised at how much opportunity can come from reaching out to people you already have a connection with.Now, if your current network is small (the professional one) use your personal network you have close to home. There is no shame in the game to ask friends and family to help out. Many people have small businesses, charity or school events ,etc. Even if you provide your services, it can be used in your portfolio and that can attract clients on its own when advertised properly. You just have to put yourself out there and once you get your client you can adjust pricing for future projects and continue to build your brand around your work. The Takeaway.

There are a lot of ways to get the first web design/development client, all the above mentioned are practical ways of doing that. You need to remember it is all about getting that first first and keeping them coming back for more. After the initial hustle you will have more than just that one first client more will follow because hard work and determination always pay off. Referrals will come in before you know it, new clients will start seeking you out work work and you will be shifting your focus from outbound sales to inbound promises. So get on it and go find your first web work client!

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