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Starting a web design business is hard.

Even after choosing a niche and establishing your pricing, you have to actually GET web design clients into your business and paying you.

But here’s the thing: If you’re just starting out, you’re unlikely to work with your dream clients. In fact, being super-picky about your first clients may hurt you more than it helps.

You certainly don’t want to take on any nightmare clients, but it can benefit your processes (and bank account) to take on clients who may fall a little short of a perfect fit.

Why? Well, even if you’ve established your ideal client in your head, set some boundaries, and think you’re squared away, you might realize you missed some big holes.

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Working with less-than-ideal clients can help you tighten up your processes OR even make you realize the niche you originally chose isn’t the one you should be working in, and instead, you might shift your niche to something else.

The point is, you’re new to this, and you don’t know what you don’t know yet.

Working with a variety of clients can actually help you niche better, establish better processes, and create a better experience for your ideal clients when they come along.

So, how do you get web design clients for your business when you’re just starting out? In today’s post I’m breaking down a few ideas that will help you land your first clients.

Use your network

You might think you don’t have a network at this stage, but you do. You know people in real life, right? And possibly online?

These people might need websites.

Or they might know someone who needs a website. So, even if your mom is not your target market, she might have a friend who needs a website, and that friend can be your first customer.

Ideal? Maybe, but probably not. Good experience and some money in the bank? Yup.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you know and ask them to spread the word about your new business.

You can email family, friends, past co-workers, old classmates, etc. People are happy to help.

In fact, I still get family and friends referring people my way all the time. And I haven’t asked them to in 10+ years. But I did ask them when I was starting out.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you know. The worst they’ll do is delete your email, and you’ll be right where you are now. But chances are, they’ll be more than happy to help you get web design clients.

By the way, even if your Aunt Suzi is your first client, you should have a contract. Treat any clients, be they friends or family, as an actual client and establish boundaries and a clear scope of work.

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Get social

Social media is a great place to pick up clients. But it takes a little longer than a referral, so be sure to use your network and not skip that step.

But if you want to be a little more focused on who comes your way, social media is a great place to find clients.

You can get web design clients through pretty much any type of social media, and I could (and probably should) teach a whole class on each of these options, but I’m going to touch on a few platforms very lightly.

X (Twitter)

I love X because you can have actual conversations and make quick connections.

Create a list of people you would like to have as your client and interact with them often.

I don’t mean to spam people with your website packages, but actually interact with people you wish were your clients.

Pay attention to what their problems are, write blog posts that address those problems (and share them on X), and be helpful. They’ll notice, and even if they don’t need a website from you, they might know someone who does.

Facebook

Join Facebook groups where your target audience hangs out.

If you want to create websites for fashion bloggers, join some Facebook groups for fashion bloggers. Again, don’t spam, but be helpful when they’re struggling with their website, and be active in the community to be seen.

You’ll become their hero, and they’ll want to hire you.

Pinterest

As a designer, your work is very visual. You can create and share demo projects that appeal to your target audience. But you can also pin blog posts that address the problems your potential clients face and offer a solution.

Let’s say you’re targeting fashion bloggers. You could write a blog post called “10 Things Every Fashion Blogger Needs on Her Website” and share it on Pinterest. Your target audience sees the pin, clicks through, and is introduced to your expertise and web design business.

Pinterest isn’t very social compared to most platforms, so the goal is to get someone to click through and go back to your website–and then have a clear call to action at the end of the post about what they should do next, that leads them to booking with you.

Instagram

Instagram is another great platform for designers because of how visual it is.

You can showcase your design work, testimonials from past clients, and even give clients tips on how to get the most of their website.

Make sure you are consistently calling your followers back to your website and that you’re making use of the limited linking options available.

Follow your ideal clients and interact with them–and their followers! You’ll discover new people in your target niche and start to pick up followers that you can convert to clients.

Use email

Whether you’ve reached out to your network, gotten social, or both, do your best to encourage your potential clients to join your email list.

Why?

Because emailing them regularly keeps YOU top-of-mind for them when they need a website or know someone who does.

And with an email list, you don’t have to fight with an algorithm for your subscribers to receive your posts. You are far more likely to get in front of your potential clients if you’ve gotten them to invite you into their inbox.

Email doesn’t have to be complicated. Create an email sequence that automatically goes out to everyone who joins your email list and encourages them to book your services.

Of course, you can send timely updates too!

Your email list will be your most valuable asset for communicating with your potential clients and getting them to hire you.

Tl;dr:

Getting web design clients when you’re brand new is the biggest struggle. Don’t be too picky about who you work with at first. Just make sure you avoid actual nightmare clients.

Think of everyone else as an experiment and experience.

Put your network to use. Someone you know needs a website or knows someone who does. But they can’t hire you if you don’t tell them that you’re in business and accepting clients.

Social media can help you get web design clients who better fit your niche, but may take some time. Focus on 1-3 platforms at most, and be consistent. Help out where you can, and people will start to recognize your name, and associate you with web design for that niche.

Encourage everyone to join your email list, where you can automate your newsletter and lead them to book your services.

What are you waiting for? Go get your first clients now!

Raise Your Web Design Rates by Creating a Luxury Client Experience

Get your step-by-step checklist to create a luxury client experience that you can charge more for.

It’s FREE, so grab it now!

Get the Checklist!!

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Originally published 4/19/2017. Updated 11/7/2023.

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