Posted Wednesday, March 18th, 2009 at 9:30 AM under Web and Graphic Design.
Finding clients, especially when you are new to the web design business, can be both incredibly easy and difficult. It is easy because there are actually a lot of people out there in need of web design services. Small businesses are leaving the yellow pages en masse for the web, and most of them aren’t very web savvy. However, because most of them aren’t web savvy, they can be incredibly difficult to work with. So really, the better question is, how do you find good web design clients.
First let’s figure out some places you can look for any web design clients at all, and then we’ll tackle weeding out the bad ones.
- Craigslist: That’s right, depending on the city you are in, you’ll probably see several posts a day related to web design and graphic design. The other good thing is that you don’t even have to limit yourself by city if you are alright working remotely. The only warning I give for that is that not being able to meet clients in person can cause some issues.
- Guru.com: Guru is an online marketplace for freelancers and employers. I personally have never used it, and it does have a few fees mixed in there, but if you are looking to do contract work for the majority if your income, you’ll need all the help you can get, and this one is definitely worth it. There are other sites out there like this one too, just look around a bit.
- An Online Portfolio: Make sure you have examples of your own work available to people. Then advertise this by passing out business cards, purchasing online advertising spots, or linking to it from sites you’ve already worked on. Just having something ready to go shows potential clients that you are viable, and will encourage them to reach out to you instead of you reaching out to them.
- Business Cards: Making as many connections as you can is always a great idea. The more clients you meet, the more people in the web business you deal with, the better. So go mingle, and pass out a nice business card to everyone you can. They might pass it on to someone they know. A majority of my clients have come through word of mouth and other connections I have, as compared to searching myself on websites like Craigslist and Guru.
But that is really only half the problem. You’ve really got to be able to weed out the bad clients, the ones that will be a pain to work with. Trust me on this one, for every good client you find, you’ll run into two or three bad ones. So now just a few suggestions to clean out the grime.
- If your client tries to swindle you down to a pay rate way below your average, or is incredibly surprised at “how high” you charge for your services, then keep in mind they don’t seem to value your work enough. Web designers can charge anywhere between $30 and $100 an hour in my experience. If they think that $30 is absurdly high, make it clear to them that is isn’t, and if they don’t understand, then drop them!
- Make sure they have an idea of what they actually want. When clients don’t know what they want, then it’ll be very difficult to produce anything they like (at which point they blame you). Then let’s pretend you magically figure out what they want, they are just as liable to change it up on you and request alterations all the time. Either don’t sign with this client, or if you do, make sure you are charging an hourly rate instead of a flat rate, so you get paid for your iterations.
- Often times, small business owners are looking to get on the web, but they have little expertise with computers or the web at all. This will make communication difficult, and you’ll often find them nitpicking over minute details that in reality are not important. You probably won’t get screwed over here, it’ll just be a huge hassle.
- If a potential client doesn’t email you back for 5 days, then that means they are probably disorganized or bad at communicating. Either way, this could be quite dangerous. Set up a strict communication schedule, or ensure that if anything falls to the wayside, that they’ll recognize when it is their fault.
Those are just a few suggestions for weeding out the bad clients, so you can keep the good ones around. Got any other questions? Let me know, and maybe I’ll have a few suggestions for ya!