If I have heard it once, I have heard it 100 times.  “How do I get clients?”.  The problem is that those who are asking, really don’t want to know the answer because the answer requires sacrifice on their part.  But if you really do want to know how to get more clients, . . . many more clients, read this article.

If you apply the advice found in this article, you will have more clients than you know what to do with.  Think I’m kidding?  Read on, and you’ll see.

Below are the topics of discussion in this article. Feel you free to click on any one of the following links to skip to that section.

Build 10 Sites for FREE

I know that this goes against everything you have ever been taught. I understand that. But if you will give me a few minutes to explain, I am confident that you will agree that this is a brilliant strategy, one in which will not only gain you one client, but five clients FROM that one client.

When you purposefully choose to commit to building a website for FREE, your character is exposed.

Attitudes that you carry are exposed.

Your pride is exposed.

You see, when you build these 10 FREE websites, you will find many issues that you need to address, issues that you have not thought of before. Issues that will serve as your life-coach.

  • Why does it take so long for clients to provide content?
  • How do you deal with a client that is never happy, no matter what you do?
  • How do you deal with a client to is not engaged at all in the building of their FREE site?
  • How do you deal with a client is over-engaged in the building of their FREE site?
  • How do you handle a project that you clearly underestimated?

These are just some of the questions that you will have to answer when building these free sites.

I can already hear you thinking, “Why would you want to waste so much valuable time?” Because if you choose to be teachable, if you allow the issues that you will face, the opportunity to train you, not only will it be a pleasure to work with you, but you will be far more successful than you otherwise would. Yes, you will earn far more money. In a few paragraphs, I’ll show you how.

Remember, if it was easy, everybody would do it. But it’s not easy. Who wants to invest one’s time and energy with no foreseeable return? Nobody, . . . . But there is a return, and I’ll show you what that looks like in a few minutes.  But first, if you are still reading this, let me go a step further and address some aspects of your character.

You need to develop a servant’s attitude

A servant’s attitude?  What does that look like?  When you carry the attitude of a servant, you find yourself putting others first.  For example, as a Web Designer, you will meet your client at their convenience.  You will end up editing copy at your expense.  Having a servant attitude is more of a way of thinking than anything else.  A servant attitude doesn’t complain about the client, but instead, celebrates the client.  Celebrate their victories and assist in helping them achieve those victories.

Building a site for FREE will force you to address your own pride.

You realize you have pride when you begin to think that your client does not appreciate all that you are going through in order to deliver their outstanding FREE website.  What’s wrong with pride?   Pride is like bad breath for your character.  It’s repulsive.  Pride smells and it turns people away.  Pride does not take direction, or correction.  You won’t go far in this business if you will not take direction or lay your design at the feet of your client.  Your design may be better than what they have in mind, but they are paying you to design what they want, not what you want.

You will be tempted to settle for less than 10 FREE sites.  I don’t even know you, but I can hear you thinking, “I see what he’s saying, and I get his point, so I’ll just do one or two sites, but definitely not 10.  10 is crazy talk“. Find someone, anyone, . . . who will let you build a website for them.  Surely you have friends who are in business.  Tell them now that you will build them a website.

Let them pay for the domain name, but get a hosting plan that will allow you to create as many websites that you want on YOUR hosting plan.  Don’t skimp, give these 10 website everything you’ve got. Put everything into the design. Put everything into the copy.  In fact, interview them and write the copy for them.  Own everything about the site, as if you were being paid ridiculous money for it.

After you have created 10 sites for FREE, you will be able to use these websites as part of your portfolio.  You will be able to demonstrate to potential clients what you have built, and what you are capable of.

There you go again, I can hear you saying, “OK, I can see how this will help me develop character and address unforeseen issues that I was not aware of, but to quote Jerry McGuire, ‘SHOW ME THE MONEY!’

Let me ask you a question.  Do you think that these 10 new website owners won’t tell all of their friends just how awesome you are?  If you follow this plan, you could gain anywhere between 25 and 50 clients from these 10 selfless acts.  Show me the money?  They will show you the money.

Reputation Is Everything

I can not overstate just how important it is to value your reputation.

Your reputation is all you have, and it is the only thing that people will remember you by.  Let me ask, would you want to do business with someone who has a poor reputation?  Would you want to do business with someone who is lazy, deceptive, or someone who is incompetent?  Neither do your clients.

When people hear your name, do they think, “used car salesman”? (no offense to the honest used car salesmen out there).  If so, you can change that.  People will talk about you.  Good or bad, people will talk.  Make sure that all they have to say are positive things.  But remember this:  YOU determine your reputation.  Even if you are falsely accused, you determine how you will respond.  If you show yourself faithful and consistent, your reputation will rise to the top.

Don’t think that you deserve the benefit of the doubt.  You don’t. 

You have to earn your reputation. Let me share a few ways that you can build your reputation.

You can build your reputation by doing what you say you will do, and not doing what you say you will not do.  If you say that you are going to meet your client at 7:00 pm, be there at 6:45 pm sharp and wait.  Your client will be impressed.  Your client is looking for reasons to trust you, so give them reason to trust you.  It’s the small things like being on time to an appointment, or delivering on a promised deadline, that will build your reputation.

When you have invested time and energy on developing a good reputation, you can rest assured that it will pay off.  Here’s how I can I can prove it.  Remember earlier when I asked if you would want to do business with someone who was lazy, deceptive, or someone who was incompetent?  What type of person do you want to do business with?  Would you want to do business with someone who is proactive, honest even when it hurts, someone who is extremely competent and dependable?  Of course you would.

If you make it a point to genuinely care about your client as a person, they will see your true motives.  If you show concern about their business and look for ways to help them obtain their business goals, they will appreciate you.  When you aggressively work to anticipate their business needs and offer suggestions on how you might be able to meet those needs through the website, that will not go unnoticed.

Your reputation is by far, your best sales representative. 

People will tell their friends about the great experience they have had with you, and who do you think their friends are going to want to build their websites?  You.  Because it’s hard to find someone who has a really good reputation, that person really stands out.  When you stand out, you attract clients.

One final note.  It takes time to develop a reputation, so give it some time.  If you are consistent, it won’t be long before your reputation precedes you.

Follow up, Follow up, Follow up

Unlike a football game, the point is not to get to the end-zone and score a touchdown.  The point is to serve your client all through the web-development process and beyond.  Let’s talk about the “beyond” and what that looks like.

Most (I would venture a guess at 99%), of web-designers think that their job is over when the site launches.  Contractually, you very well may have no obligation to your client beyond the launch of their website.  That may be true, but it would be very foolish.  By far, the majority of web-designers leave a thousands of dollars on the table.  How?  Let me explain.

When you think you are done, you are done.  Simply by carrying the “I’m done” mindset, you have already finished.  It’s like the football team that is loosing 49 to 7 in 4th quarter.  If the losing team quits in their thinking, they have already lost the game, the clock just doesn’t know it yet.  If you don’t see the launching of your client’s site as an opportunity for potentials projects, it’s because you already quit.

Below are some things that I recommend that you every time you follow-up with your client.

  1. Every time you follow-up with one of your clients, plant a seed.
    This will look different each time you touch base with your client.  Each seed will look different, and produce different results.  But every time you touch base with them, plant a seed.  You might offer to refresh some of the images on their site, or you might show them the benefits of offering an e-mail marketing campaign.  These don’t have to be long conversations, in fact, it will probably be something that you say in passing, but be purposeful in planting seeds.  Seeds grow, and produce trees, in this market, those trees grow money.
  2. Every time you follow-up with one of your clients, ask if any of their friends could use your services.
    It amazes me just how much money is left on the table because the web-designer did not ask their client if they had any friends who were in need of their services.  This is a HUGE money-maker, and you can’t afford not to ask this question . . . frequently.  Even if they said no the first time, they may know a friend who needs a website 6 weeks later.  Don’t leave this money on the table, ask your client for the sale.  Remember, the client wants to share their experience with their friends because they will end up looking good in their friends eyes.
  3. Every time you follow-up with one of your clients, offer them a service.
    The service might be a maintenance package that they initially said no to.  The service might be adding more images to their site, or maybe even adding additional pages to their site because they have a new product line.  Do your homework, and be creative.  Again, they may say “no” this time, but they may say “yes” next time, so always ask.

I recognize that what I have offered here in this article may not be popular, but the principles laid out here do work.  They work because people like free stuff.  They work because they like to be served and cared for.  Remember, clients like to give business to those who care about them.

Related Questions

How do freelancers get clients?
As a freelancer, your reputation is by far the most valuable asset you have. As such, you should take great pains to continually develop your reputation, not just your portfolio. Your reputation will get you clients, not your portfolio. You may have a great portfolio, but if your reputation stinks, you will not gain clients.

How do you attract new clients?
The key word here, is “attract”. If you want clients, you have to offer something they want. Clients want quality, clear communication, honesty, and they want to be served. If you can find creative ways to proactively give potential clients a taste of each of these element, you WILL attract new clients.