HTML Writers Guild Guild Operations Newsletters Tips Mar00b

HWG-News Tips Late March 2000

Finding Web Design Clients

HWG-News features member-submitted "tips" in each issue, in the space between articles and announcements. These were the tips submitted for the 18 March 2000 newsletter, for the following category:

Finding Web Design Clients

Many members of the Guild are freelancers or run web design shops. One of the biggest challenges is acquiring new clients. What ways have you found that will attract new business? How do you get the best clients? What is the value of networking and how do you do it?

This issue's winner!

Starting out as a freelancer I volunteered my services to several local, high profile, non-profit organizations. I promoted this involvement with press releases to local media and offering to speak on behalf of the organizations to other local groups. This has lead to several jobs and brought me to the attention of a local ISP. That ISP now provides me with 70-80% of my web design business.

-- Submitted by Leo Haggerty <>

Other Tips for Finding Web Design Clients

As in most businesses, the best way to find new clients is to please existing clients. :)

90% of my web business comes from referrals. If I didn't please people and treat clients well, I wouldn't have a business.

Why spend money on advertising when you can spend time on making sure your clients are happy. A monthly tweak of their site, notes to let them know of any advice or changes going on or a call just to see how they're doing. I like my clients and they refer people like themselves, so I tend to have a good clientele. It takes longer, but works much better in the long run and that's what I'm here for. The long haul. :)

-- Submitted by Cindy Fox <>

I find this especially true for sites such as for churches and other non-profits, but is a good idea for any site. Check your site on a regular basis and check the guestbook entries. Prompt response with a "thank you" to guestbook entries show you care. Also, address any concerns or questions the visitor may have expressed in his/her entry. Also, if you allow visitors to post links, check out the link. I once had an exhibitionist post a link to her web site from a church site I master. Such entries you may want to delete or edit to avoid offending anyone. Be on the lookout for pranksters (i.e., eliminate any that have suspicious names, especially if invalid or no links are posted).

-- Submitted by John L. Hoh, Jr. <>

Network, network, network! Get out and go amoung the people that you would like to produce web pages for. Even with great advertising in lots of publications, people will use the talents of someone that they know and trust. Don't make the mistake of underestimating "word of mouth" advertising.

There it is, short and sweet. You wouldn't believe how many people I know that would like to have more web design business and yet never go out and make themselves available to the people they'd like to work with. So, go talk to people! Get out there and get to know people! If they trust you, they will work with you.

-- Submitted by <>

The eyes gets the nod.

In the web world our eyes are the first to capture the essence of a web site. It is that simple. Art catches the imagination. The web is an extension of the platform. If your web site is an artistic feat with quick download your clients will come to you. We do not even advertise and our palette is full.

-- Submitted by Ron Youmans <>

I barter services (mostly proofreading) with other successful webmasters in exchange for them putting my banner on their sites. My most successful client seeking attempts have been when I sponsor contests for other websites. The contest usually requires the viewers to enter where the contest originates, and in order to answer the questions on that contest page they are required to visit one of my sites for the answer. This is also the least expensive way I have found to advertise.

-- Submitted by Joanna Wright <>

Unless you're a well-established company just entering into the web design biz, chances are you don't have the capital to do the volume of advertising that will bring in significant business. I know I don't. I have relied entirely on three means of getting business:

1. WORD OF MOUTH - it sounds unimportant, but if you keep your clients happy, they'll come back to you for updates and face-lifts, and they will bring friends! There are always problem clients, and if you can't work with them, don't. But be careful not to burn bridges. Negative rumors spread altogether too fast thanks to this newfangled thing called the internet.

2. NETWORK - it doesn't matter who you talk to. While you're getting your hair cut, mention what you do. Start a dialog about the web. Everyone needs a site (or four). We all know that. So convince them. Or let them convince you. Just make yourself available. Also, if you have a specialty (a programming language, a certain type of design, html ultra-geekiness) you can play that up with other people in the business. I'm the ultra-geek. And I use other people for the intricate programming, photo-rendition, technical illustration, and copy writing. And they send their fancy coding to me- either to write or to fix. Collaborate with the competition.

3. CONTACT ISPs - if you can befriend ISPs, life is good. The servers that haven't gotten into design themselves are certain to be looking for people to point their clients to or sub the work out to. Make yourself available to the local servers. Work out a commission or sub-contracting arrangement. They're a great resource.

-- Submitted by Emily Godfrey <>

Postcards are a great way to make businesses aware of your services and find new clients. There are many design shops that will print the postcards for you, or you can do it in-house and save money. Capture the opening page of your firm's website and print it on the back of the postcard with contact info and what makes your firm unique. Mail them out to local businesses. Don't forget doctors, lawyers and accountants.

-- Submitted by <>

I joined a weekly business breakfast group last fall of about 20 people. (Only one person per occupation can be a member of a chapter of Business Network Int' We learn about each other's businesses and then work to give and get qualified referrals. It truly works. The best new business I've received this year (about 60% of my total) has come from this group, and has more than paid for the yearly fee of $250. Through the group, I've also been invited to give group presentations, which may generate additional business. Networking with other business people is the way to go!

-- Submitted by Patsy West <>

Find yourself a few small advertising agencies, and pitch yourself as an outsourced solution. Many of these firms have great print design folks, but they are clueless when it comes to the Internet. This is where you can come in, and design a great site using some pre-existing graphics and content. Then you can dazzle them with some Flash animations.

I know this will work - it is how I ended up working for an Ad firm full time!

-- Submitted by <>

Best ways of finding new clients...

1) Use a Marketing System which allows you to find your clients by category, ie; engineering. Prevents driving one side of a city to the spend your time doing meetings and not driving. These systems de-engineer the telephone books

2) Hire a direct phone sales person to use the information in 1)

3) Follow-up. Most businesses waste the leads they have by not following up.

Hope these are of some use.

-- Submitted by Ian Greening <>

The big guns go for big go for the small business..look in your local papers and look for the stupid ad, EG one woman is selling acres of the moon, so we phoned her and hey presto! she wants a website. Get in first, then when all the big companies have a website the web designers will be stuck for work...the work you already have taken...they want to charge the Earth, you give them the Earth...basic knowledge. Have fun with it...we do.

-- Submitted by Ross Mckinnon <>

Besides registering your business with various search engines and indexes, it is important to develop your own niche and focus on why your business services should be utilized versus your competition. We believe that the best source for creating new business leads is through networking and word-of-mouth. Our focus is high quality site development, which in turn, generates a lot of leads in itself. We are also fortunate to be located in a heavy media gulp, allowing easy contact and networking at the many functions held around the Bay Area. Get involved in community events, attend seminars and multimedia parties, and most importantly, talk with your clients about new leads and suggestions.

-- Submitted by Jesper Krejsbol <>

Repeat are our best clients becasuse they already know our value. And they're our best resource for new clients because they talk about us to others. The professional relationships we've developed take time to develop. Many hours of earnest work on the client's behalf without compensation. Sweat equity. The trick is choosing a client who appreciates the value of what you provide before you invest in them. And knowing where to draw the line.

-- Submitted by Gregg Banse <>

These past two weeks I went to several different businesses, in person, and just started talking to the owners about being online, having their own web pages or domain, and really enjoyed myself. I picked up 2 new accounts, and one of them even gave me a number for a relative of theirs in San Francisco. I believe I have to try different approaches, just as I do with my web designs.

-- Submitted by Janet D. Major <>

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