Being a freelance web designer or developer is tough! Long hours, hitting mental roadblocks, and perhaps the scariest part… inconsistent income!
If you’re like 99% of freelancers, you’ve probably felt the effects of not having a consistent paycheck. There are few things as tough as having your biggest month of income ever followed by a big $0 paycheck the following month.
But freelancing doesn’t have to be such a roller coaster.
In fact, earning an income that can support you and your family through freelancing can be easier than you think.
Most freelancers are creative people who like to bring website visions to life so businesses can grow. Unfortunately, the vast majority of freelancers can’t sustain their side hustle because they have a hard time turning their hobby into a high paying career.
In this resource, I’m going to break down 13 ways to get freelance web design clients.
One of the simplest ways to get freelance clients is through Linkedin DMs. If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, do yourself a favor and sign up now.
Once you have your profile built out to share your skills and some of your work, it’s time to prospect!
With LinkedIn, you can search for literally anybody. A great starting point is to search for local people in a niche you know a bit about. This will help you find a common ground.
As you connect with people, engage with them! As you like and comment on their content, they will start to see your name pop up. This is what I call “warming up your prospect”.
When you have something genuine to message someone about, it’s time to hit the DMs. For example, if someone shares something personal, a LinkedIn article, or some cool social initiative you can reach out and strike up a conversation. Make a friend and have a real conversation before you even think about pitching. More often than not, people will actually get uncomfortable talking about themselves and will actually ask about what you do.
Similarly to LinkedIn, Twitter is a great place to prospect. Unlike with LinkedIn, Twitter requires a LOT more content creation on your behalf to get your name out there. Instead of a direct prospecting tool, think of Twitter as a reputation building platform to get your work, opinions, and behind the scenes work out in the open.
A lot of people in the business world also use Twitter as a place to find recommendations for websites. This means that if you can become the “go-to website freelancer” then you’ll start to earn recommendations from fellow tweeters.
Lastly, Twitter is also a great way to build your personal brand and help people get to know you beyond your business. In fact, some of the biggest deals I’ve closed have been because I’ve leveled with people’s hobbies and interests outside of work.
At the end of the day, Twitter is an excellent place to position yourself as an expert.
If you’re comfortable with making videos, TikTok is another great way to share your opinions and expertise. TikTok is very similar to Twitter in the sense that it’s a great place to position yourself as an expert.
With quick videos and excellent hooks, you can help people understand why they need your help. Although it’s always best to sell people on the long-term vision and the benefits of working with you, this best practice is very apparent with TikTok.
Thanks to its unique algorithm, it’s important to get as much view time as possible so your video is shown to more people that might be interested!
Switching gears a bit from social, agency referrals present a massive opportunity for earning clients.
The concept is simple… tap into other agency’s client lists to sell them on websites.
As the marketing world gets more and more competitive, agencies are becoming more specialized than ever. As we all know, websites are the core of any business online, so having a great website is crucial for growth.
By partnering with agencies that don’t offer website creation (ex. Facebook ads agencies) you can earn red hot referrals that are actively looking for what you’re selling and you can help them get better results for their clients.
It’s a win-win-win situation.
Although SEO for your agency is incredibly competitive and takes a LONG time to really provide an ROI, it will be a huge lead source in the future.
Think about it… people who are actively looking for what you’re selling are going to land on your site, learn about your business and how you can help them, and then fill out a lead form or schedule a call right then and there.
Although these leads aren’t usually as hot as an agency referral, they are definitely in the market and need what you sell so they are usually pretty solid leads!
If you don’t add a link to the bottom of your website projects, you’re missing out on a ton of opportunities. Not only do backlinks help your agency SEO, but they can also help guide people to your website.
More often than you'd think, marketing managers who are tasked with building a new company website will actually find websites they like, follow those backlinks, and submit quote requests.
This is why every project you touch should be your best work yet. You never know who is going to see it!
Remember, trust is one of the most important parts of a sale. If someone comes across your work, sees that you can build something that is exactly what they are looking for, then you have already earned their trust and they will know that you can get the job done for them!
There are a ton of design websites out there so get started and get your name out there!
Many website building platforms offer partner programs. For example, Webflow and Shopify both have expert programs that act as lead sources for agencies and freelancers. These programs are exclusive for platform users that have qualified and have proven that they know the platform inside and out.
Once you become a member of the program, then you’ll be listed as a preferred place for people to get help with their website project.
In addition to the lead flow, becoming a partner is an excellent way to position yourself as an expert to other prospective clients as well!
Don’t let anyone tell you that cold email is dead or overrated! This strategy is one of the tried and true methods to get clients, especially for beginners.
When it comes to cold email, it’s crucial to do a few things to find success. First off, it’s a numbers game. It can take a LOT of cold emails before you land a meeting, so don’t give up. Next, make sure you are using a burner domain just so you don’t blacklist your primary domain and definitely take some time to warm up your domain
Rarely will you book a meeting off the first email, so make sure you build a sophisticated email sequence that’s spaced out and has clear calls to action. Leading with value is incredibly helpful as well to help position yourself as an expert without making prospects feel like they are committing to anything right off the bat.
Although this is an advanced strategy and probably unnecessary for most freelancers due to cost and because other strategies can be just as effective up to a certain point, I wanted to include it because paid ads can be such a powerful tool to get you new leads relatively quickly and consistently.
Paid ads can include Facebook/Instagram, Google, YouTube, TikTok, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other platforms. There are a TON of strategies around growing with paid ads, so do your research and learn what works best for you and your clientele specifically.
If you’ve been in the marketing industry for a while, you’ve probably seen people talking about Facebook groups. Joining specific groups that your ideal customers hang out in can be a great way to meet prospects.
Just like with other aspects of social media outreach, tread lightly with pitching, however it's especially important with Facebook groups. Most groups will have rules against self promotion and solicitation so be careful, otherwise you might risk being banned!
The best thing you can do here is provide information and resources that group members can use… all while positioning yourself as the expert.
Local Networking Groups
Don’t underestimate the power of local networking groups! Most cities have some sort of local group of business owners who are there to bounce ideas off of each and grow together.
These groups are typically made up of a very wide group of people who run all kinds of businesses and they are all at different levels of business from people who just have ideas to people who run larger businesses.
A lot of these groups also have Facebook groups where people can post about what they need help with.
If anybody tells you that cold calls are dead, turn the other way! Although they are tedious and can be tough mentally, cold calls can also be a great way to prospect.
A great strategy for making effective cold calls is to prepare a list of businesses and contact info, ideally with the name of the decision maker that you think will be a good fit to be a client
As you’re making cold calls, remember, the goal is not to sell on the first call. The goal should simply be to progress the prospect into an awareness and interest phase of the sales cycle. Typically, we’ve made it a goal to collect an email address and get the go ahead and send over some kind of resource to help them. Remember… lead with value!
As you’re going through these different lead generation strategies, make sure you stay patient. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as an overnight web design millionaire! Prospecting good clients takes a lot of time.
Lastly, before you get started with your lead generation, always remember that you need to stay consistent. Don’t be like the vast majority of freelancers who spend a couple days prospecting, don’t close a big deal, get frustrated, and give up. These things take time, and when consistently done correctly, work incredibly well.
Now go get some leads!!