We’re so glad you’re here!
We don’t want to get all sentimental, but we’ve been waiting for you for a long time. We know how hard it is to be a freelance web designer—how much competition there is out there, how many people are trying to undercut you to get the job, how hard it is to find clients who actually pay their bills on time. We also know how rewarding and fulfilling it can be when you finally connect with a client and see your vision come to life.
What we have in store for you in this guide is a collection of tried-and-true tips and tricks that will help you grow your business and increase your income as a freelance web designer. It’s a no-fail guide, free of fluff and packed with actionable information that will make or break your business.
We hope you’ll read this guide thoroughly, then follow every single one of our recommendations as if your livelihood depended on it (because it does). Because if you do, we promise things will never be the same for you again!
1. Start A Blog
Blog about your experiences, your ideas, and your skills. Write useful articles that will get people to read/follow your stuff on a regular basis. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, advice, or a referral/introduction because most people are more than happy to help out someone who’s just starting out.
Make an amazing collection of web design work in an online portfolio. This can include websites you’ve done pro-bono work for or mockups of websites you’d like to build one day.
2. Make Time
So you’ve decided to take the leap and go out on your own. You’ve got tons of great ideas, a super-solid plan, and a whole lot of confidence. Sweet! Now it’s time to get started…right? Well, not quite. There is one very important thing that you need to do before you can even think about contacting clients: You have to make time for them.
As a freelancer, your time is precious and it needs to be treated as such! Your schedule will be constantly changing depending on what projects you’re working on and how many clients you have at any given moment (not to mention all of the other things in life that require your attention), so being able to successfully organize and manage your day-to-day life is absolutely essential.
Make sure that your account for any existing commitments well ahead of time knows exactly when each project will begin and end, who is involved in each project, how much work there is left to complete before the project can be considered finished, etc. This way, when it comes time for new clients/projects/etc., you will already know exactly when they can start/how much work they will require/how long they need to take/etc.
3. Be Honest
Not only does honesty speed up your workflow and make you a better designer, it also makes you a better person. When you mess up, don’t try to cover it up. Own up to your mistakes, apologize as needed, and learn from them so they never happen again.
In a similar vein, don’t go around claiming expertise in things you know nothing about. Don’t claim that React is the greatest thing since sliced bread if you haven’t even touched it yet (actually this one is more of an opinion than honesty). Being honest about what skills you have and which ones need work will help build trust with your clients and other collaborators. It will also open doors for learning new things and improving yourself as both a designer and a human being.
Above all else, be respectful when others are honest with you. Don’t take criticism personally or lash out when someone calls out one of your design decisions or critiques your code. Instead, consider their point of view objectively and see if making some changes would actually improve the project for everyone involved (which usually happens).
4. Be Tenacious
You’ve heard it said that 80% of success is just showing up, and I believe that to be true. In fact, you could even push it to 90% or 95%. The key is not to quit at the first sign of failure, or the second sign of failure. You may have to send out 200 emails before you get a response from someone who’s interested in your services.
You may have to submit 10 proposals before you win a client. You may have to publish 30 articles on Medium before people start recognizing your name and your expertise. If you want to be successful as a freelancer, then you absolutely must be prepared for the long haul. That means being persistent in your efforts to win clients and build a business.
5. Keep A Schedule
If you want to work like a professional, you need to act like one. One of the best ways that you can do this is by keeping to a schedule when it comes to your work hours.
This will keep you from working too much and burning out on the job, but it also lets your clients know that they can expect results in a timely manner.
And don’t think for a second that this doesn’t mean anything—many clients are happy to pay extra if they know they can get their projects completed on time and with regular updates along the way.
6. Be Incredibly Nice To Everyone You Meet In Your Business Life
Being nice to the people you work with is essential in your business life. I have a friend who worked in sales for a Silicon Valley software company. He was an excellent salesman and his clients loved him. He was so good that his co-workers started to resent him, as he seemed to steal all the glory.
Unfortunately, this resentment started seeping through into every interaction they had with each other, turning what used to be a friendly workplace into a toxic environment. Eventually, my friend quit due to the horrible atmosphere at work.
Treating people nicely has many benefits:
When people know you well enough and trust you, they will refer their friends and family members to you if they know someone is looking for your services
You are an expert and people should respect you for it; however, if they don’t like working with you because of your attitude or behavior, they won’t hire you again
People like working with someone who makes them feel positive about themselves; if something goes wrong on a project (and it most likely will), things will go much smoother if everyone has respect for each other
7. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help, Advice, Or A Referral
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, advice, or referrals. No one expects new freelancers to know everything. We all need a little help sometimes. Never be afraid to ask someone you know who is already serving the kind of clients you want for advice.
There are also plenty of people on Twitter and other social media outlets who are happy to help you if you just ask them nicely and give them a reason to respond (they’ll probably ask how they can help). You can find many groups on Facebook that offer similar support for new freelancers like this one here.
This is especially useful when starting out because when you’re first beginning it really does feel like no one knows about your business and it can be discouraging when you don’t see any results from all your efforts despite working so hard. But please remember, even if no one seems interested, people are interested in what’s interesting, so make sure what you’re offering is interesting!
8. Make An Amazing Collection Of Web Design Work To Show
Having a great collection of work to show is really important. Your portfolio is going to be the first thing that people see when they consider working with you, and it will continue to leave a lasting impression as you work together.
Your portfolio can take different forms, depending on your preferences and what you have available to you. Some designers prefer an in-person presentation of their work – either a physical copy or something digital on a tablet or computer.
If this is the case for you, make sure that your samples are relevant to the client’s needs, interesting, and easy to comprehend. If your portfolio exists online and will be the first thing that potential clients, there are two main ways that you can present it: through social media platforms like Behance or Dribble or through your own website.
9. Tell People About Yourself
Now it’s time to market yourself so that you can start getting freelance web design clients. You need to spread the word about what you do and what type of services you have available so that people know to hire you. This is a crucial step in getting freelance work because if people don’t know who you are, they won’t hire you.
Consider creating a website or portfolio where people can see examples of your work. Make sure to include your contact details on any web properties that you have so that people will be able to reach out and contact you if they want to get in touch with a freelance web designer. Make it easy for potential clients to find out who you are and how they can hire someone like you by listing relevant information on popular websites such as LinkedIn, Freelancer, Upwork, etc.
10. Find Others Who Are Interested In Working With Designers
If you start a relationship with them, they’ll be more likely to keep you in mind when someone asks them, “Who’s a good designer?”.
You can find others interested in working with designers on social media—just search for hashtags related to your niche or industry.
For example, if your ideal client is a marriage counselor, search Instagram and Twitter for #marriagecounselor. Look through other posts that use the hashtag and follow people who might want the services of a web designer.
Your clients will also be able to see your posts when they look at that hashtag!
Follow other designers too. They might be looking for work themselves, or they may know of an opportunity you don’t!
11. Look For The Opportunities That Fit The Client You Want To Work With The Most
When you’re starting out, it’s easy to get excited about any opportunity to land a freelance client. As time goes on and your experience grows, you’ll start to realize there are clients you’d much rather work with than others. This is normal; we all have personal tastes and preferences in people, just as they do in us.
When you start freelancing, though, it’s crucial not to fall into this trap—at least at first. You need clients more than they need you when you’re starting out (as was discussed above), so pretty much any offer that comes your way should be accepted gratefully and immediately! If a potential client is willing to pay anything at all for your services, say yes!
12. Ask For Feedback About Your Website/Designs/Proposals Etc
so that you can tweak and make them better (and more effective) at winning clients over
One of the most powerful things you can do to get more freelance web design clients is to constantly tweak, change and test your website, portfolio, and marketing materials to see what kind of results they give you. It’s only by doing this that you’re going to be able to see what makes your ideal clients tick and get them interested in working with you.
Getting feedback from people who aren’t in the same field as you (such as friends) is a great way for this but it’s not enough. You need to ask for actual feedback from the type of people who are most likely going to hire you – these are your potential and existing clients.
So how should you go about asking them? Well, there are many ways but here are my favorites:
Hey [client name]!
I’m so glad you decided to start working with us. This is a really exciting time for us and I want to make sure that we’re giving you what you need.
I want to do a better job of making sure that you understand the value we can provide because we provide it to everyone, but I think I could be doing a better job of showing you how it’s relevant to your business.
So I’d like to ask you three quick questions, just so I can get a sense of how we’re doing:
1) Do you feel like our communication is clear? If not, which areas could be improved?
2) Have we helped increase your customer base? If not, do you have any suggestions on how we might be able to achieve this?
3) How likely are you to recommend us to someone else?
Here’s my advice: start a blog, make time for your writing, be honest in what you write, be tenacious about reaching new readers and followers, keep on a schedule so people know when to expect new posts from you, and above all else: be incredibly nice to everyone you meet in your business life this includes anyone with whom you network or who might refer work your way.
Lastly: don’t be afraid to ask for help! It’s ok if you don’t have all the answers; we’re all learning together here!
People Also Ask
How do I find freelance web design clients?
The first step is to get your business cards and start handing them out. Tell people that you’re looking for freelance clients. Put up flyers around the area you live or work in. Join websites related to freelancing and market yourself there. Get involved in forums related to freelancing.
Hone your skills as a designer, so that people can see that you’re professional and hardworking. Then, once you’ve got some projects under your belt, ask for referrals from your happy clients! You’ll soon be getting calls from people who want you to work with them on their sites.
When do I ask for payment?
You should ask for payment once the client has approved everything on the site (including design elements, colors, layout, and fonts). If they aren’t quite sure what they want at first, but they’ve already signed a contract with you (which is highly advised), then send them mock-ups during each stage of development. That way they can approve or deny each element before it’s finalized.
How can I avoid getting ripped off by clients who won’t pay me?
It reminds me of when I was doing freelance work for a newspaper. There were a lot of people who expected that I would work for free because I was “getting exposure.” At first, I thought this meant more clients would hire me and pay me more, but it really just meant that more people thought they could take advantage of me.
If you feel like a client is taking advantage of you, stop working with them. Explain why you’re stopping work—and make sure it’s professional while still being honest. If they don’t back down, move on to the next job!
How do I deal with difficult clients?
Here are some tips for dealing with difficult clients:
-Try to get the client’s contact info from someone in their company and talk to them first before reaching out to the client directly
-When talking to the client, keep your tone friendly but professional
-Acknowledge that even though the client is difficult, they may not know it and may just need some help
-Tell the client that you’ll need a short break from working together for a little bit, so you can both cool down and think things over.
-Remember that if this is an ongoing issue, it’s okay to walk away. It’s better to say no than get taken advantage of.
How can I overcome my fear of hard work?
It’s totally normal to be afraid of hard work, especially when you’re starting out in business for the first time. That’s why we’ve created 13 How To Get Freelance Web Design Clients 101—a step-by-step guide that will help you overcome your fear and finally get the clients you deserve!