Someone who is starting a freelance web design business recently asked me for some advice on finding clients and selling web design services. Web design is a very competitive market and it can be difficult to succeed if you don’t have the right tools. But with these five simple ways for web designers to make money, you can quickly become very successful! So whether you are a freelance web designer, starting your own web design company, or working at promoting one – this is for you!
1. If you are talented and your work is good, you can start by signing up for one of Envato‘s marketplaces and submit your work. Your work can get very quick exposure to a relatively large pool of designers who are buying and selling on these digital marketplaces. Some of the authors even accumulate pretty large payoffs! So check it out! And be sure to use your work intelligently. For example, you can design a great WordPress theme and submit it to ThemeForest. You can submit the psd for that theme as a photoshop website template on GraphicRiver, and you can also submit separate design elements you designed such as icons, menus, buttons, etc… In addition you can also submit a simple HTML version of your website. By selling colateral material, your work will get a broader exposure, and you’ll make more money. Signing up is free so that’s a great way to start!
2. Envatoalso has a nice website for freelancers to find clients for free: Freelance Switch. There, people who are looking for freelance web designers can post job adverts for free – and you can browse through them and contact relevant clients. You can also read their blog for some advice, tools, and in general read more on freelancing. And the resources page lists a number of great resources to help you run, manage, and grow your freelance business. Don’t ignore those by thinking that all you have to do is find clients! In the end, you’ll get only as many clients as you are able to handle, regardless of how much effort you invest in promotion and in finding clients. (In a similar way, a restaurant will get as many customers as it can handle based on space and staff, regardless of location and quality of service. If it wants to grow, it will have to rearrange the space or move to a bigger setting.)
3. 37signals is another great company with a relatively large community of followers – and they just launched a really great website for web designers and web design companies who are looking to promote their web design services: Haystack. You can post your business there for free and for $99/mth you get a premium listing which enables you to post several images and gives you a number of additional advantages, including a larger display on the site. I recommend paying the $99 and giving it a shot – this is an investment that can return much more than , say, if you were investing $99 in Google Adwords!
4. If you are interested in finding local clients for your web design business, make sure to regularly post great ads on good old Craigslist. Don’t waist too much time trying to post more than your local competition, or opening multiple accounts to post more. It’s not a good practice and it’s not efficient. Also remember that Craigslist is built for people who are looking to deal locally only so play by the rules and post in your area only! You’ll get a much greater return on the time you invest as most people who are looking on Craigslist for web design services, are interested in finding a local web designer.
5. Last but not least – “enhanced” word of mouth! People tend to forget that word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to get freelance business. So make sure to let your friends and family members know what you are doing! Everybody has a friend or a cousin who is a “web designer”. You can be that person for all the people you know – and if your work is professional, they’ll be more than happy to give you some business, or even only refer someone to you. Now, like anything, promoting yourself via word of mouth requires work! Here are some quick tips:
- Be available on gchat and make sure your status message includes a link to your website – over time, a growing pool of people will remember that you do professional web design, and they’ll have your website in the back of their head.
- As you communicate with your friends and family via email, make sure all your emails include a nice signature with a link to your website! Again, with time this will have a significant effect.
- Why not share a Picasa or Flickr album with everyone you know, featuring your design work?
- Use Twitter and other social engines to regularly post interesting updates that relate to web design. Over time, this will expand your word-of-mouth network. The key here is quality and continuity!
Once you actually get inquiries, make sure you know how to respond properly, how to write a web design proposal, and how to draft a contract of service! And remember that good customer service will go a long way!