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Oh. Em. Gee. It can be SO hard to get web design clients. Believe me, I know. It’s something I used to struggle with too.
Whether you’re brand new or have been at this a while, every month, it’s the same story: clients are nowhere to be found.
You KNOW they’re out there, but it feels like they’re hiding from you.
And they’re REALLY good at camouflage.
So you go searching, looking under the proverbial couch in all your Facebook groups, poking your head into the closet at your local meetup, and shining a flashlight through the forest that makes up your extended network.
No clients. Anywhere.
You’re totally losing at this game of hide-and-seek.
Where do all the clients go, and WHY is it SO hard to get web design clients?
No one knows what you do (or that you’re accepting new web design clients)
Call in Captain Obvious, but if no one knows what you do or that you’ve got availability, they’re not going to hire you.
I know, I know! It feels icky to always be talking about what you do, but here’s the deal: if you’re going to run your own business, you have to tell people about it.
There’s no way around it. If you want to get web design clients and you’re not down for some self-promotion, then you should work for an agency where you can just do the design work.
But when you run your own web design business, you HAVE to tell people about it. If no one knows what you do, how can they possibly hire you or refer others your way?
Now, I want you to think about Facebook for a minute and all your friends (or “friends”) from high school who have jumped on some MLM train and are constantly talking about what they’re selling. You probably KNOW which friends are selling leggings, which are selling lipstick, which are selling essential oils, etc. etc. Right? Now that stuff may or may not be your jam, but you KNOW who you could buy from if you needed patterned leggings, unmoveable lipstick, or oils to cure every ailment under the sun.
And how do you know?
Because they talk about it.
I’m not saying you should message people you haven’t talked to in 15 years and try to sell them a website, but I am saying that something the MLM trains do right is consistent promotion.
The way they do it may not be your jam–it’s fine if it is–but the thing you can learn is that you need to be constantly putting yourself out there so that people know what you do.
Show off your work, talk about how you helped your clients, and announce when you’re booking next.
You have to TELL PEOPLE what you do so that they know.
Tell them so that the next time they need a website or someone they know needs a website, they think of you.
Being generic will make it hard to get web design clients
I love vanilla milkshakes, but being vanilla online is a death sentence to your business.
I’m not saying you need to dye your hair blue, start dropping F-bombs like you’re at war, or punch your clients in the face with loud marketing–unless that’s authentically you, in which case, you do you! But you DO need to stop trying to appeal to everyone.
Here’s the deal: you cannot appeal to everyone.
I’ll say it again for the people in the back: YOU CANNOT APPEAL TO EVERYONE.
It’s just not possible.
And when you try? You become boring. You can’t create a connection, and people pass you by.
Once you narrow down who you’re targeting, you’ll actually get more web design clients. And the reason? Because you’re able to speak directly to them. You’re able to become an expert in their industry and an expert at solving the problems they’re facing.
And they want to hire an expert.
When you’re generic, not only are you competing against every single other web designer out there, you’re unclear about how you can help your clients. Because every single client is different.
Think about it this way: you know that clothing that says it’s one-size-fits-all? It doesn’t really fit everyone.
Sure, it might fit some people, but on most of us? It’s gonna look weird. If you needed to invest in a pair of jeans, would you trust the one-size-fits-all pair, or would you choose one that specifically explains how it will fit YOUR body type and hug every curve exactly the way you want it to? You’d probably choose the second pair. And you’d likely even pay more for it.
Websites are no different. Sure, there will be an audience who doesn’t care that much and will potentially hire your one-size-fits-all solution–assuming it’s cheaper than the other one-size-fits-all solutions out there from all the other generic designers. But the better audience will be looking for a website that specifically meets their needs, a person they WANT to work with, and will actually be willing to pay more for it.
Niche down, and get specific about who you help and how you help them. And don’t be afraid to inject your personality into your marketing. People want to hire PEOPLE, and your best clients will want to work specifically with YOU based on how you present yourself and your website solutions.
Selling websites will make it hard to get web design clients
Besides not telling people what you do, this is probably the biggest thing holding you back and making it hard for you to get web design clients.
Only cheap and inexperienced clients want a website. They want one because they heard that they’re supposed to have one, and that’s about it. They can either drag and drop one together themselves or pay someone a low sum to put one together for them.
And yes, a low sum. Websites are no longer worth much of anything.
Without going on a long tangent, websites used to be worth a lot. Why? Because they took a lot of knowledge to create, and not everyone could make one.
That’s no longer the case today.
Today, your grandma can drag and drop a basic website together.
So if you’re still focused on selling the tech, not only are you competing against all the generic web designers out there, but you’re also competing against all the page builder platforms too.
That, my friend, is a losing battle.
Selling the solution to your client’s problems has to become your focus. That’s a huge reason you have to niche down and understand your audience so that you can create solutions for them.
Not just code and graphics bundled together.
When you understand your clients and their problems, you can design websites that solve those problems. For example, if your clients struggle to make more sales, you can use design principles that lead website visitors to make more purchases.
If your clients are drowning in admin work, you can design a website that answers questions and streamlines their processes.
It’s really hard to do these things if you’re not niched because you’d be starting from scratch each time and trying to become an expert while building the website.
So instead, get that niche locked down and truly understand your clients and their problems, and create websites that are the solution.
Clients are looking for a solution to their problems. So focus on selling that, not the tech.
When you sell the solution, clients see you as an expert. They’re more likely to hire you, respect you, and pay higher prices. What you’re selling is worthwhile to them and offers a return on investment that just a website can’t do.
No one can hire you if they don’t know what you do. Create a consistent plan to show off your work and invite people to hire you.
Stop being generic. Not everyone is going to hire you or like you, and that’s okay. Focus on a niche you want to work with and be yourself. The right clients will want to hire YOU.
Stop selling websites. Selling tech is so 2002. Sell the solution to your clients’ problems, and you’ll attract more, and better-paying clients.
Originally published 4/17/2019. Updated 6/27/23.