Whether you're operating as a freelance web designer or working to build a web design agency, getting web design clients can be a real struggle. Here's five steps to take if you want to get more web design clients online (and on autopilot).
Web designers are a dime a dozen. It's one of the noisiest markets there is, especially since the dawn of visual page builders that allow non-developers to sell "web design" packages to anyone and everyone.
Not only is the market saturated with competition, there appears to be a feverish race to the bottom with designers charging less and less for their services.
And let's not forget, lots of businesses think they can build their own sites with the emergence of platforms like Wix and Squarespace.
You know all this, you're just not sure what you're supposed to do about it, right? You're wondering, "How can I possibly complete?"
Well, you can most certainly compete. In fact, if you follow the 5 steps below you'll get some of the best web design clients you've ever had, you'll get paid more for each project, and you'll have a steady stream of clients that never dries up.
Sound good? Let's get started...
If you're a web designer for anyone and everyone, you're going to get lost in the shuffle and you're going to be part of the race to the bottom.
I don't think it's necessary to get hyper-specific with your web design niche (such as only building websites for lawyers), but you definitely need to niche down a bit.
Choose a market segment to focus on. For example, a type of business.
Someone that specializes in SaaS clients or e-commerce clients is going to find it easier to locate and convert new clients than someone who builds websites for everyone.
This isn't just about getting new clients, it's about making your life easier and making your workflow faster as well. It's tough to design a sleek, clean, modern website for a SaaS company only to then have to turn around and design some ridiculous artsy fartsy website for some mom and pop local business.
Then there's legit areas of specialization which might be required, such as with e-commerce. Building a robust e-commerce site is a completely different workflow than building a website for a dentist.
By specializing just a bit, you can onboard clients faster, complete projects faster, and move on to the next client in your list ASAP. Faster cashflow means a healthier business.
Raise Your Prices
After you've gotten a little more specific with who you serve, raise your prices. Almost all freelance and small agency web designers I've worked with are making two huge mistakes:
- Undercharging in general.
- Saying "Yes" to projects that clog up their pipeline but don't really pay the bills.
Charging too little won't fly when it comes to getting new clients on autopilot because you're going to need extra money to spend on advertising (like a real business).
I know for a fact you're not going to spend on advertising if it means the ad spend needs to come out of your pocket, so we're going to increase your revenue without increasing your workload in order to afford it.
All you have to do to make more money as a web designer – in 99% of cases – is decide to charge more.
That's it. It's a decision. Nothing special has to happen.
The only thing that's stopping most people from charging more is fear and a lack of confidence. They're afraid that they won't be able to attract clients at higher prices and they have imposter syndrome with regard to how much they're worth.
Block out that noise. You need to be charging more and you need to be charging more now. Here are some tips...
- Read this article on value-based pricing so you understand the economics of pricing your services correctly.
- Set a project minimum. For example, declare that you'll agree to another project that's less than $1500 (just throwing a number out there – choose something that fits your business).
- Price projects as you always do, but add 20% to all future proposals before you send them out. Force yourself to increase a little bit at a time to help you get more and more comfortable with it.
If you're currently doing $5k/mo with your current prices, a simple 20% increase (not huge by any means) will give you an extra $700 or so to spend on advertising. That's PLENTY.
Stop Selling "Web Design" as Your Service
"Kevin, what the **** are you on about? How am I going to get more web design clients online if I stop selling web design?"
I get it, it's confusing. I have two questions for you, though:
- If everyone and their mom is selling "web design," how are you possibly going to stand out by selling the exact same thing?
- Do your clients really want web design or do they want something else?
Let question #1 go for right now. It's question #2 that should worry you the most because the answer is going to demonstrate that you've been selling the wrong service this entire time.
Here's the easiest multiple choice test you'll ever take. What result do your clients want?
A: Customers, revenue, money, leads, profit, exposure, etc.
B: A website that looks pretty.
If you didn't say, "A," then you're officially dismissed from this discussion. If you acknowledge that "A" is the correct answer, then what are you doing selling web design? You need to shift your marketing and sales strategy.
It's not that you can't actually offer web design, you just have to stop selling it as "web design." Anyone can build a website. Very few people can build a website that converts. Which group are you in and which group are you advertising that you're in?
Here's the reality: clients look for web designers because that's what they think they need. What they really need is someone who specializes in marrying design with a strong understanding of buyer psychology, sales, and conversion optimization.
That's what you need to sell them, but there's still a problem. Shifting people's understanding of what "web design" needs to be and do requires having their attention in the first place and attention isn't exactly easy to come by in a noisy market.
So, instead of doing what everyone else is doing – trying to get their voice in people's ears – I'd highly recommend you focus on getting your foot in the door...
Develop a "Door Opener" Offer
There was a kid named John that I went to elementary school with. He also went to the same middle school and high school with me.
We weren't best friends or anything but we definitely hung out on occasion and knew each other well.
Back when I was heavy into photography and digital photo editing I introduced him to Photoshop and all that can be done with it. He's an amazing artist, but wasn't doing anything digital at the time.
That little photo editing session actually inspired him to learn Photoshop, Illustrator, and more. He became an amazing digital graphic artist and started his own graphic design business.
At the time he was doing that, I was busy building websites for people. I told John about this and we both learned an important lesson in how doors open for people.
John referred all his graphic design clients to me for websites and I referred all my web design clients to him for branding, offline graphic design projects, etc.
Best of all, I pre-sold prospects on why they should use John and he did the same for me. Once he told them, "Yeah, Kevin doesn't just design websites, he's an expert in building websites that get you customers online on autopilot" they were already as good as money in the bank by the time they actually spoke to me.
John was my "door opener." A source of know, like, trust, and attention that converts like crazy into clients and money.
Here's the thing, though: you don't need a person like John to open doors for you. You can open them yourself, you just need to know how to knock.
What's a "Door Opener" Offer?
A Door Opener Offer is an attention-grabbing offer that allows you to get your foot in the door, get a quick win, and then shift the conversation to next steps.
It's typically an offer that's different from all the standard offers your prospects are inundated with. When prospects see it, they tune out your competition and tune in to what you're saying.
An example of a Door Opener Offer is a Google Reviews package. Let's say you create an affordable package to get your clients X number of five-star Google reviews and you start leading with that.
It checks all the boxes, doesn't it?
What's not to like?
So, you sell your Google Reviews package for a fantastic price (not even really wanting to make much money from it), you get your foot in the door, and then you get the client great results.
The amount of know, like, trust, and attention you're able to achieve through this process is just what the doctor ordered for getting web design clients. As soon as you're doing loading them up with Google reviews you can shift the conversation to their website.
Review Step #3, though. You don't shift the conversation to "web design," you shift the conversation to the real selling points.
Run Paid Ads to Your Door Opener Offer
Remember that extra money I helped you make back in Step #2? You don't get to keep it. You need to use that money to go out and get you more money.
How? Paid ads.
Let's talk strategy, though. You can definitely try to put together an ad campaign for your new Door Opener offer, but I'd encourage you to pump the brakes on that for just a moment because there's an even better strategy.
Reach out to your existing network and past clients and offer them the Door Opener offer. While you don't need to "get in the door" with these people, that's not the point. All we're looking for is someone to say, "Yes" so you can test your process, get the results, and have a case study and a testimonial.
Document the entire process of getting results for this client and package that up into a case study. Then, ask them to record a testimonial.
Between the case study, the testimonial, and some half decent ad copy, you should have a winning ad campaign on your hands.
Put the extra money you earned in Step #2 behind that ad campaign and let her rip. Before long, you should be getting leads and booked calls related to your Door Opener.
At that point, my friend, you're off to the raises with getting new web design clients.
Key Takeaways for How to Get Web Design Clients Online
Okay, let's recap...
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