How to Get Web Design Clients [11 Foolproof Methods]

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The key to stability as a web designer is netting high-quality clients that offer you good rates for the work you enjoy.

The issue though, is that with so many website design agencies across the market, your design firm or freelance web services can get lost in the crowd or drowned out by bigger ‘one-stop-shop’ agencies.

Luckily, the call for website design services is on the rise, and the market demands experts.

Tightening your target group by catering to a niche within the web design services industry positions you as a specialist.

To understand how to capture high-caliber clients as an expert in your field, you must understand what drives value within your niche, and provide it.

Firstly, however, to get web design clients, you need to define your niche. This guide is here to teach you foolproof methods to find top-grade clients in 2020 by harnessing your design expertise.

How To Get Web Design Clients, Method #1: Position Yourself as an Expert

By carving out a niche, you position yourself as an expert. Rather than offering a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ menu, ditch the full-stack suite for a more specialized list of services.

There are two approaches:

  • You can define your niche vertically by selecting an industry sector and offering web design services to associated businesses — such as web design for the construction industry.
  • You can define a horizontal niche by offering a particular skill or design method across a spectrum of industries — such as responsive web design.

Take 3D Web Vision, a web design agency that has positioned themselves as the experts of 3D web design. For customers seeking three-dimensional graphic design for their website, 3D Web Vision has all aspects of this design element covered.

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In fact, to niche down even further, 3D Web Vision offers ‘expert services’ to deal with emergency 3D web design fixes.

How To Get Web Design Clients, Method #2: Practice Your Craft

Niching down isn’t enough to gain a reputation as a specialist in your web design field. You need to practice your craft to provide the high level of service your niche target market demands.

Those with niche preferences are often high paying compared to those who are happy with standard web design. However, this audience often holds higher standards for the finished product.

In this sense, to attract the high paying clients, you will need to hone your skills in your chosen area of specialism.

How To Get Web Design Clients, Method #3: Know the Standards of Quality

To perform best within your target niche, you need to understand the ‘industry standard.’

Find out what your niche considers to be high quality and the attributes that denote that quality.

Then, be sure you understand the value attached by your target audience to the particular web design service you’re offering.

For example, web development firm, bradgood, specializes in Squarespace website design. To surpass the industry standards, bradgood is endorsed by Squarespace as an ‘Expert’ designer and an ‘Authorized Trainer’.

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This demonstrates to the prospective client that the design agency is a certified expert validated by the website platform they want to use.

How To Get Web Design Clients, Method #4: Investigate What Clients Are Looking For

What is it that makes your target audience choose your agency over another web developer within your niche sector?

Imagine that you are a freelance web designer offering Motion Graphics website design on Upwork. When comparing freelancer rates, there are significant discrepancies between candidates:

So, what makes the difference between the $35 web guy and the $180/hour professional Motion Graphics Designer?

Ask yourself what your clients are looking for and what their pain points are, then double down on what makes them tick.

Are your potential customers looking for…

  • A verifiable high level of skill
  • Proven project experience
  • Noteworthy past clients
  • Stellar recommendations and ratings
  • A wide variety of services
  • A particular skill or set of skills

How To Get Web Design Clients, Method #5: Ask for a Testimonial After Each Job

One of the most transferable ways to demonstrate your level of service is to request testimonials from satisfied customers.

This form of ‘social proof’ can increase conversions by 58%.

Here’s an example of client testimonials from Silicon Valley design agency Eight25Media:

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Since written testimonials are easy to fake, video recommendations are widely regarded as more effective and trustworthy.

Equally, videos have better sharing value and can be used multiple times across marketing channels.

Show future customers your value by adding testimonials to client project proposals.

How To Get Web Design Clients, Method #6: Enhance Word of Mouth Marketing Through a Referral Program

If you have a satisfied client, ask if they know anyone else who needs your services.

Studies show that 83% of Americans are more likely to make a purchase following a word of mouth recommendation from a friend or family member.

Not only that, but clients that choose your services due to a word of mouth referral have a 37% higher retention rate than those not referred and are four times more likely to refer your services on.

However, when passing your details along, an existing client stakes its reputation against your brand. While some clients may be willing to do this, others may need to be incentivized.

Not only are referral programs highly effective, but they are also one of the most economical marketing tactics.

Offer discounts, money back, account credit, or free services to both referrer and referee to see the most fruitful returns.

How To Get Web Design Clients, Method #7: Direct Clients to Endorse You on Social Media

Social media reviews have a wider reach than word of mouth referrals. What’s more, clients who fit your niche are likely to have like-minded acquaintances within their social media circles.

Ask your clients to leave a review on your social media platforms and share this review.

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Since 76% of customers trust online reviews as much as a personal brand recommendation, it is worth encouraging authentic reviews from satisfied customers to bolster your social media reputation.

How To Get Web Design Clients, Method #8: Focus on the Best Platforms

By focusing your attention on your social media marketing strategy first, you can build a social presence while simultaneously niching down to target the audience most applicable to your brand.

Don’t spread yourself too thin. If you’re on too many irrelevant social media platforms, you will find that you’re spending more time updating content than working on website designs.

Instead, pick the social platforms that most appeal to your target niche and focus your efforts on building a strong community on these networks.

That way, you can leverage your community to share your content, which will create a snowball effect within your target market.

Take Dream Co, an award-winning video game web design solution and marketing service, for instance.

Dream Co only has social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter because their target clients (gamers) are more likely to frequent these platforms than LinkedIn, Pinterest, or TikTok.

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In this sense, it’s more fruitful for Dream Co to invest in these two social media platforms than wasting time and advertising budget across all channels.

How To Get Web Design Clients, Method #9: Use RFP Databases

Request for Proposal databases are lists of individuals and organizations seeking out professional assistance.

Where potential clients often ignore marketing tactics such as mass email campaigns, institutions respond to more than two-thirds of the RFPs they receive.

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Web design projects are frequently advised on the following RFP databases: 

If you have no luck, try googling ‘Website Design RFP.’ You’ll find many organizations post private RFPs on their company websites.

How To Get Web Design Clients, Method #10: Use the Good Old Gig Economy

The gig economy can be a useful place to gain new clients, find your first client, and boost your business portfolio, especially if you’re a new freelancer.

Generic gig sites like Upwork, Freelancer, and People Per Hour, are stacked full of web design jobs.

If you’re looking for a more sophisticated web design opportunity, head to web design-specific job boards such as Awwwards and Design Job Board. Both of these platforms will require a comprehensive portfolio, though, so make sure you have one ready — complete with client testimonials!

How To Get Web Design Clients, Method #11: Upsell to Existing Clients

Upselling is a stellar route to growing the profitability of existing customers. If you consider that 80% of business comes from 20% of clients, it seems sensible to offer your existing customers more than the basic package.

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Consider companies like WordPress who bolt on extra features to increase pricing plans and upsell to existing customers. While new customers may choose the cheapest plan, the lure of additional tools encourages returning clients to up their subscription.

While you may have already built your customer a website, nothing is stopping you from tacking on a maintenance package.

Another way to offer your existing clientele more is to diversify your skillset. Take an advanced or specialized web design course to add extra services to your bag of tricks.

Alternatively, widen your offerings by tacking on complementary products, such as branding, digital marketing, and SEO optimization.

Final Thoughts

Since the web design market is very competitive, your best route to securing new clientele is to niche down and target a specific subset of potential clients.

Capture these clients by understanding their needs and expectations and tailoring your services to meet these demands with high standards of workmanship and strong customer service.

Once you have your foot in the door, lay the breadcrumbs for your ideal clients to find you.

Strong referral programs, positive customer feedback, and a solid portfolio all work to enhance your position as an expert in your niche. The gig economy and RFP databases will also provide routes into new opportunities.

And if all that fails, upsell to the clients you already have by teaching yourself new skills!

Posted by Jason Bayless