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
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 <email@example.com>
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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. <email@example.com>
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"
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 <email@example.com>
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 <email@example.com>
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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'l.--www.bni.com.) 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 <email@example.com>
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
-- Submitted by <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 other...you 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 <email@example.com>
The big guns go for big companies...so 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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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
dot.com 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 <email@example.com>
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 <email@example.com>