How to Find Web Design Clients

Posted on June 12, 2024 | Updated on June 13, 2024

Setting up your own web design agency is fairly simple once you have enough coding knowledge and experience to set up websites and manage them. Finding customers when you’re starting from scratch can be challenging. Let’s chat about how to find web design clients and get your business off the ground for pennies. 

Web design can be a rewarding career or side hustle. You can choose a specialization, such as working with nonprofits or branch out and design a variety of websites. Here’s how to get started and find your first clients:

1. Inform Contacts

Your best advertising will come from people you know. Word-of-mouth marketing is powerful. People trust their peers when they recommend someone. Let everyone in your life know you are now designing websites and actively seeking clients.

Ask them to share info with everyone they know who might be interested. Nearly every person can think of at least one small business owner in their circle. It’s a good idea to have a business card or postcard you can give them to hand out. A postcard allows you to share some screenshots of your work. A business card will suffice to give your freelance design business a professional edge.

2. Work with a Charity

The Internal Revenue Service recognizes 1,365,744 nonprofit charities in the United States. Nearly every mid-sized town has at least one nonprofit. Go in person and talk to them about their web design needs. If you can donate your services, you’ll reach some of their supporters. It will also give you another example for your portfolio so you can share it with potential clients.

If the charity already has a website, ask if you can design a landing page for donations or work on some other design for them. The more connections you have, the more chances of finding web design clients. 

3. Cold Call Local Businesses

Dress professionally and go to local businesses. Give them a flier, postcard or business card and let them know you’re looking for people who need a website. Many may do their own sites via places like Wyx or WordPress.com. A few will want a more customized solution or need to set up an online presence.

Collect contact information while there. Follow-up the next week by phoning each business you visited. Business owners talk to the other establishments around them. You might sell a package to someone they mention your name to.

4. Use Social Media

Social media reaches your exact target audience. Facebook has 2.94 billion active monthly users. Paying for display ads can ensure you reach the exact people you want as clients. Come up with ads that stand out from the competition.

Consider your unique value proposition. What do you offer that no one else does? For example, if you are competing against large agencies, you might want to talk up the personalized experience you offer. 

Look for opportunities to share your expertise. Join groups geared toward business owners. Never spam the group or break rules, but keep your website in your profile and offer insightful comments. Those who are curious will click on your profile to learn more. 

5. Visit Job Boards

Business owners sometimes post to job boards looking for a freelance designer. Take the time to look on sites such as LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Monster and smaller sites. If you wish to specialize in an industry, go to their organizational forums and see if anyone is looking for help with their site. 

You can also find gigs through sites like Fiverr, UpWork and Toptal. Make a profile showcasing some of your work. You may want to set prices fairly low in the beginning. You can raise them once you have a few clients. 

6. Set Up a Portfolio

A design portfolio showcases your best work and lets potential customers see your style. You can set up a website but you may have better luck on sites geared to designers, such as Dribble and sites like it. 

Your portfolio should include your photo, bio, samples of your work and contact information. Keep it short and simple to grab attention. You can sell services once the lead messages you. 

7. Attend Local Events

When you first start, you need to make one-on-one connections in how to find web design clients. One way to accomplish this is setting up a booth at local craft fairs and industry events. The cost for a table is typically minimal. If you gain one client, you’ll pay for your presence. 

Use a theme and strong graphics. You’ll also need a hook to get them to your table. Give out a freebie, play a game or do a presentation. Selling a service may be more difficult than selling a do-everything kitchen gadget. However, with the right hook, you’ll gather contact information and can reach out to people later.

Find Your Dream Web Design Clients 

Finding clients may be your only goal in the beginning of your web design career. However, as you gain experience, you can also be choosier about who you take on. Dream clients appreciate the work you do. They may brainstorm with you on how to make it better fit their needs, but they are good communicators. They will tell you what they want the first or second time rather than sending endless changes that eat into your time.

The best clients pay on time, refer others to you and appreciate your effort. They are raving fans and will come back time and again for additional work. They will be tech savvy enough to understand limitations in what a website can do. However, they’ll also know paying an expert to design their website is worth the cost. 

Grow From Where You Are

Once you have a few clients, ask them to refer you to other people. You could start a program where you reward them when they tell others and that person signs up for a service. A strong referral program eventually puts you in a position where you no longer need to advertise and can work off clients sent your way by other clients. 

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About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her exploring the outdoors with her husband and dog in their RV, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or curled up with a good book with her cats Gem and Cali.

You can find more of Eleanor's work at www.eleanorhecks.com.

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