Marketing for Freelancers: 3 Tips to Find Clients for Web Design

by 58 03/21/2014

What’s your number-one need as a freelance Web designer—or as any business, for that matter?

Is it better marketing or better skills? No. To be successful and profitable, you must be able to find and keep clients.

Recently, I was reviewing a new program from 1stWebDesigner’s resident evil genius, Spence Forman. I liked it so much, I dipped into some of his other programs as well.

One of the things that impressed me most was the practical business and marketing tips he sprinkles throughout them all. So I took the liberty of gathering a few of his best advice, mixing them with my own, and put together this list of 3 tips for getting and keeping clients.

Let’s begin with the ground rules

It goes without saying, your business model must be solid.

You need a market that’s big enough to provide plenty of work. The people in that market must have a pressing need that you can fill. And they must be willing to pay you to fill that need.

Of course, as a Web designer, you’re in a good place. Especially if you work with WordPress websites. It’s the world’s largest CMS with more than 70 million sites, and 20% of Internet sites use WordPress.

What’s more, many of these people aren’t experts on website design or technology. They just want a website that works, so they can focus on their business. In most cases, they’re more than willing to hire someone to make that happen.

So the market is strong, and the opportunity is great. Clearly, you have a market here.

All that’s left is to connect with your potential clients and make an offer they can’t refuse. Here’s how.

1. Have the right tools in your toolbox

Finding and getting clients doesn’t happen by itself. You need the tools and connections in place to make prospecting as automatic as possible.

A few basic marketing tools I recommend:

A well-optimized website

webdesigner 1

It can be simple and have as many or few pages as you want. But when your ideal clients search for your services, you need to show up in the SERPs.

Focus on providing a strong value proposition and customer-oriented sales copy. Make it as professional as possible—your website should showcase your skills.

Social media

You don’t have to use every social channel. But you should be present on the channels where your clients hang out most. If that’s Twitter, start tweeting. If it’s Pinterest, create some boards that show off your brand.

Your goal is to develop a consistent social media brand. So take time to develop a solid strategy that you can maintain over time. Remember, use social media to engage with people and build relationships, not to sell.

A blog

To build your credibility as an expert designer, you need to create content that showcases your knowledge. I recommend starting your own blog and, whenever possible, writing guest posts for respected blogs in your industry.

Focus on developing name recognition and credibility. As your name become known, you’ll likely find that new projects come your way with little or no marketing—simply because people have read and liked your articles.


Similar to content marketing is networking with your peers and potential clients. For this, there’s no better resource than LinkedIn.

Create a keyword-rich profile, optimized with a professional image and description. Then get involved.

Join appropriate groups related to your skills. Interact. Engage. Answer questions. By connecting with people on a regular basis, sharing resources and answering questions, you may find that work comes to you.


webdesigner 2

SearchTempest is a terrific research tool, allowing you to search for jobs on Craigslist, eBay and more. All you have to do is set the geo-distance (up to a 4,000-mile radius) and you can find listings in your area that match your skill set.

Make it a goal to spend time each week reviewing job listings and connecting with prospects. By combining this with inbound marketing efforts (social media and blogging), you should be able to keep a steady work flow.

2. Become an expert at working with clients

Most of the time, you won’t close a sale on first contact with a prospect. Be prepared to take time building relationship, credibility and trust, so they feel confident hiring you. Here are a few tips:

Be personal

Prospects want to feel you understand their problems and have the skills to solve them. But your skill set isn’t the only criteria for hiring you. When prospects are weighing two freelancers who are equal in every way, they’ll hire the one they like most.

When dealing with prospects and clients, make sure you’re likeable.

Every conversation, whether on the phone, by email or direct message, should show that you “get” your prospect. If you know their location, reference it. If they’re getting unusual weather, ask about it. If they’re in a different time zone, schedule calls relative to their time zone.

You don’t have to be chummy, but you should be personal when dealing with clients.

Stay in touch with

webdesigner 3

Regular contact can go a long way to staying top of mind. (Just be sure not to make a pest of yourself!)

RightInbox makes it easy to follow up with prospects and customers and even to verify that emails made it to your intended target. Best of all, it integrates with Gmail to give you professional CRM system at little to no cost to you.

Make it all about them

Above all else, make every touch-point customer oriented. Whether people are reading your website, corresponding through email, or working with you on a project, focus on their needs, not yours.

If it’s appropriate, take time to chat and get to know clients. Ask questions that help you understand their business goals. Then let them know how your services will help them achieve those goals.

3. Master the fine art of pricing

Pricing is always about value. If value outweighs price, people don’t mind paying. So your job is to deliver more value than people expect. Always.

How do you add value?

It can be little things, like giving progress reports during the project, asking for input at various stages in the project, or following up afterward to make sure there are no issues.

I heard of one freelancer who sent cookies to clients upon the completion of a project. With that strategy, if the cookies are good, the client may dream up more projects just to fill their craving for cookies. J

I heard of another who sent an email with additional tips for getting the most from the work he had just completed.

However you decide to do it, make sure clients feel they got the better end of the stick. And be sure to communicate that extra value when talking to new prospects.

Want more?

If you like these three tips, you’re going to love the materials at 1stWebDesigner.

Visit their main website, to get a free private training course that teaches you the techniques you need to succeed as a freelance Web designer

Visit to review a variety of programs for building your design skills and helping you succeed as a freelancer.

Now you

What are your best strategies for getting and keeping clients? Share your winning ideas in the comments below.

Read other Crazy Egg articles by Kathryn Aragon


Kathryn Aragon is editor of The Daily Egg, founder of Top Marketers Only, and an award-winning marketer/copywriter. She is committed to helping businesses communicate, connect, convert... and capture their market. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

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Altaf Gilani

Fantastic Tips on freelance webdesign from base to not just three you cover all the main points.Thanks!

June 11, 2014 Reply


Thnks but give more ideas

June 18, 2014 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    Your welcome, Santhosh. You can get more ideas at They offer tons of useful tips for Web designers.

    June 18, 2014 Reply

    Neil Patel

    Santhosh, is there anything in particular you need help with?

    June 18, 2014 Reply


Found it helpful

June 21, 2014 Reply


Great post Kathryn! I especially like your point on mastering the art of pricing, it really is the deal breaker for clients and you have to be weary that they will be shopping around and getting quotes and unless you offer competitive and fair deals you’re going to struggle

June 25, 2014 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    Thanks, Maria! Pricing is a strategy all its own. It’s true that a lot of clients are shopping by price, but you want to be careful not to set your fees too low just to accommodate them. Frankly, low prices communicate poor-quality work. If you need some guidance, let me know.

    June 25, 2014 Reply

John Calvin

Very AWESOME advice! Never though of sending cookies but helping clients after the job is complete is the best way to get more future work. Always take care of the clients :)

July 7, 2014 Reply

    Neil Patel

    John, glad you liked it. Thanks for the feedback :)

    July 7, 2014 Reply


Really great tips .Keep coming up with the content like this.

July 15, 2014 Reply


The question is where to find them? Linkedin is alright but can you suggest more sources?

July 20, 2014 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    Great question, Kasim. The key is to know where they hang out online and then get your name in front of them. Do they read a particular blog? See if you can write a guest post. When searching for a web designer, what keywords are they using? Create a page for your website that’s optimized for that keyword. Start sharing useful content for these people–in Twitter, to your email list, and wherever else they hang out. Focus on building name recognition and credibility. Then your customers will come looking for you.

    July 20, 2014 Reply


      Thanks for the suggestion. What you are suggesting is absolutely great and will need some time to get returns.

      I was wondering if there is a way to build a great list of emails ? So if we send 1000+ email a day and get atleast 3-4 replys.

      So, I have a question is there a way to find that much amount of emails?


      July 20, 2014 Reply

    Neil Patel

    Kasim, guest posting as Kathryn mentioned is a valuable source.

    July 20, 2014 Reply


      Thanks Neil. I am definately going to try it out.

      Thanks Again for your inputs.

      July 20, 2014 Reply


Whenever I finish WordPress website for my clients, I follow up by providing security tips. Sending cookies is a good idea. Thanks for the wonderful article.

August 1, 2014 Reply

    Neil Patel

    Atish, glad we could help. Looking forward to hearing more from you :)

    August 1, 2014 Reply


That was some good useful info you have given. Thanks for sharing. We are going to start a webdesign firm and these things will be definitley handy….

August 3, 2014 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    Your welcome! I hope you have good success.

    August 3, 2014 Reply

    Neil Patel

    Vivek, glad we could help :)

    August 3, 2014 Reply


      Hey Neil. I’m an experienced Google Adwords specialist and I am Google Adwords Certified. I am trying to start my own freelance business, but I have a hard time obtaining clients for myself. If you have any tips or can get me started with any businesses, I would really appreciate it. Thanks!

      August 4, 2014 Reply

        Neil Patel

        Sunny, do you have any specific questions I can help you with :)?

        August 4, 2014 Reply


          Do you have any tips on the best way to capture clients for Adwords & Local Seo? I have tried emailing a lot of businesses, but no business has ever contacted me back.

          August 4, 2014

          Kathryn Aragon

          Sunny, I hate to break it to you, but I’ve never found it profitable to email businesses looking for work. Focus on getting your name out there as a credible resource. Write high-quality articles for the blogs your prospects read. Use social media to share useful information. Focus on becoming a recognized authority in Adwords and SEO. Then blog on your own site (and optimize it so you show up on the SERPs). Over time, people will come to you. It’s a long-range plan, but it’s been proven to work.

          August 4, 2014


Great article.
In my role as Business Development Manager at our growing Web Agency I’ve used some of the strategies mentioned.
If you have a talent for writing, blogging is definately a winning strategy for building your “authority” in the market.

Web Design is also a very wide field.
I’d suggest narrowing your focus and building deep specialized knowledge in one or two specific niches. Either a technology type or a client industry type. e.g. become a leading developer of Drupal or Car Industry Websites. You get the idea.

August 14, 2014 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    Great tips, Paul. Thanks for the input.

    August 15, 2014 Reply

    Neil Patel

    Paul, glad you found it helpful. Please let us know if you need help with anything at all!

    August 15, 2014 Reply

Umar Khan

Definitely see how you can apply these techniques as a freelance copywriter, too. Solid advice. Will come back to this.

October 15, 2014 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    Glad you found it useful, Umar.

    October 15, 2014 Reply

    Neil Patel

    Umar, glad you found it helpful. I look forward to hearing much more from you.

    October 15, 2014 Reply


Way solid advice for sure! I remember a few years ago someone told me that the art of freelancing isn’t actually about your skillset as a designer or creative. It’s about your ability to find clients, work with clients and manage projects.

So, I love when you said “Prospects want to feel you understand their problems and have the skills to solve them.”

While you should be good at your craft (whether design, copywriting, etc.), the real art of freelancing is in finding the right kind of clients and then helping them understand how you can help them grow their business, organization, etc.

Nice post. Thank you!

October 24, 2014 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    Exactly, Preston. You nailed it. It doesn’t matter how talented you are, if you can’t find (and keep) clients, you’re going to be a starving artist!

    October 24, 2014 Reply


      It’s just so crazy how many freelancers don’t know that yet. Or never learn that. Thanks for pointing it out here!

      October 24, 2014 Reply


Great tips, thanks for sharing! I believe one of the hardest thing for me as a freelancer was to learn how to deal with the clients impossible requests.

November 28, 2014 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    You’re welcome, Attila. And I agree. Working with clients is truly an art.

    November 28, 2014 Reply


This is the first time I have heard about this tool, Search Tempest. Can’t believe I never knew that such a tool exist. Searching jobs from so many platforms, this is awesome.

Also, your advice “Be Personal” is spot on and something I prefer. Exactly defines my style of dealing with clients. We are more open and friendly with clients and, as a result, they are more open to discuss new ideas and suggestions with us.

Great article. Good Work, Kathryn.

November 28, 2014 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    Thanks, Prestop. Sounds like we’re on the same page. ;) Good luck!

    November 28, 2014 Reply


Here are some videos of some helpful tips to find clients. They’re worth the watch and they’re free.

Powerful Stuff

December 1, 2014 Reply


Kathryn, Thank’s a lot, I realy learned a lot just by reading this article,
I believe it’s long term goal,

December 6, 2014 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    You’re welcome, Gil. Glad it helped. Finding clients truly is a long-term goal, but tips I shared here should help–as should many of the cro tactics we talk about on the blog. Good luck!

    December 7, 2014 Reply


Thanks for the article! It was quite helpful.

I was wondering if you knew or could tell me like a really brief list of some well-known respectable blogs in the web development/design industry. You mentioned writing guest posts and that sounds like something that would be cool. Just if you knew of any off the top of your head.

December 14, 2014 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    Rob, I don’t know any off the top of my head. A great strategy is to Google “design blog guest post” or “web development guest post.” This should turn up some blogs that publish guest posts in these two areas. Best of luck!

    December 14, 2014 Reply


Love the article and I’m working on my own marketing strategy which will definitively include Facebook and Pinterest.
For Facebook I like posting tips on facegroup groups for business owner that allow that.
Question: I like to write, how do I get my articles published at a reputable site?
Thank you in advance

December 20, 2014 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    Hi Paula. Glad you lied this article. Your Facebook strategy is a good one for building your reputation. To get started as a writer, you need to start your own blog, producing the best-quality content you can. That will give you some links to share with reputable sites so they can evaluate your work. When pitching to blog editors, make sure your focus is on helping them with their content, not on getting yourself published. lol. It’s an easy mistake to make when you’re starting out, but that “all about me” attitude can hurt your reputation. Good luck!

    December 20, 2014 Reply


thanks for tips

January 3, 2015 Reply

Adwait Gogate

Hi Kathryn,

We are web development experts from Vancouver, Canada and we have office in Pune, India as well. We are looking out for new business opportunities and we are constantly searching and replying to suitable ads on Craigslist. We have also listed our business in some of the US and Canadian cities local business directories. We also searched web development companies of big cities around the world and contacted them by email looking for outsourced work or partners in web development. Inspite of all the efforts there is no result coming out of it so we are planning to implement a new strategy. Would like to know your opinion about our approach and any suggestions are most welcome.

January 28, 2015 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    I feel your pain, Adwait. It can be frustrating to use standard promotion tactics and have them fall flat. Email me, and we can talk further.

    January 29, 2015 Reply


My Company is struggling to land contracts in IT software projects. We are based in canada and recently started in USA.we have an employee strength of about 72 Specialized in Java & .Net

We did couple of projects from one of our Client Pen Groups. They outsourced 4 projects for us but, as everyone knows, if we have to grow and expand, we need find overseas clients.

Any advise? Any direction would be helpful.


March 14, 2015 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    Ankith, marketing gets hard if you can’t concisely tell customers what you do for them. By that, I don’t mean “IT software projects,” but something like “save XXX dollars in XXX months” or another end outcome your customers already want. I recommend that you identify your ideal customer: what type of business they have, how big, their specific needs, etc. Then identify the final outcome you give them that no one else can give them. This will be your value proposition, which should guide all your marketing. (It sounds easier than it is. You may find a couple of end outcomes and have to test to figure out which one works best.) Good luck!

    March 14, 2015 Reply

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