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How to Find the Clients That YOU Want

Many web designers find that they don’t have trouble attracting clients, but they do have trouble attracting the right clients. The work that you do can be far more rewarding, fun, and profitable if you are able to work with the types of clients that are a better fit for your services. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to make yourself and your services more noticeable and more appealing to the right kinds of clients.

In this post we’ll present some tips that you can implement to help you to attract the types of clients that you want.

1. Identify Your Ideal Client

The first step in attracting the right kinds of clients is to identify specifically what types of clients and projects you want. If you’re struggling with this, think about the clients that you’re currently attracting and why they are not right for you. Once you know the types of clients that you would like to work with you can develop a plan to promote your services specifically to those people.

Some examples of the types of clients and projects that you might want to target could include e-commerce websites (or more specifically, Magento, Shopify, etc.), WordPress themes, Drupal development, band websites, photography portfolio sites, church websites, and so on. You may also want to work with clients in a particular budget range, geographical location, or company size.

How you identify your ideal client is up to you, but the more specific you can be the easier it will be to target that type of client.

2. Target Them with Your Portfolio Site

One of the most effective ways to attract the right kinds of clients is to make your portfolio welcoming and appealing to those people and projects that you are targeting. This could include any number of things, including use of effective page titles, headlines, graphics, testimonials, work samples, and even calls to action.

As an example, let’s assume that you want to target clients with e-commerce projects. In this case you could include e-commerce development in your page titles and headlines on the portfolio site. This could help to improve your site’s rankings for searches related to e-commerce, and once on the site it will help these types of clients to see that you would be a good fit for their project.

You may want to showcase your work samples from other e-commerce projects over your other types of work samples. You could also include testimonials or case studies from past e-commerce projects.

All of these things will help to align your portfolio site with the specific type of client that you want to attract. Taking it a step further, you could also include a blog on your portfolio site where you publish articles about different topics that would be relevant to this audience. This content would help to attract more search traffic and it could help visitors to feel more comfortable about hiring you for their design or development project.

3. Showcase Your Most Relevant Work

As was mentioned in the previous point, you should showcase the work that is most relevant to this target audience. You may want to showcase other items from your portfolio that are not specifically geared towards this target audience, and that is fine because quality work can still show your talent without being directly applicable to their project. However, what you don’t want to do is to not showcase any past projects that are relevant to the clients and projects that you are targeting. So if you don’t already have some quality work samples on those types of projects you will need to get some as soon as possible.

Case studies often help more than just visuals from your past projects because with a case study you can provide details about the project, what was accomplished, and how it impacted the client. When clients in your target audience read case studies about successful projects that have a lot in common with their own project they will be naturally more drawn to your services.

4. Use a Teaser to Attract Attention

One option that some designers use very effectively is to give away a free product or resource as a teaser. For example, you could write a detailed article about the keys to successful e-commerce websites and give it away from your website as a PDF download. Those in your target audience are likely to be interested in this article/report and it could be very helpful to them while also branding yourself as an expert on the subject. Of course, somewhere in the PDF you could include your contact information (or a link to your contact page) and a call to action for readers to reach out to you regarding their own project.

You could require that visitors opt-in to a mailing list in order to get the download, which would allow you to have contact with these people going forward. If the free teaser product is of high value you may even be able to get bloggers who reach a similar audience to mention it, increasing exposure and hopefully leading to more clients.

I’ve seen a few examples of this type of teaser in use by designers and developers who specialize in working with membership websites. Visitors can get a free report or e-book about running a membership website, but most of them will need to hire someone to help set up their membership site, so the author would then be a natural choice for them. As you can see, this approach has a lot of potential for attracting the right type of clients. Of course, on the negative side it will take some work to develop the teaser, but you’ll probably find it to be well worth the time.

5. Demonstrate Your Expertise

If you want specific types of clients to hire you for their projects you should strive to position yourself as an expert in that particular area. There are a number of ways that you could do this, and some will depend on the type of client or project you are targeting. For example, if you are looking to work on projects related to a specific e-commerce system or CMS there may be some type of certification that you can earn. As a certified partner you would bring a great deal of credibility to any related project.

In addition to certifications, there may be associations that you could join. Any certifications or associations should be mentioned on your portfolio site so that potential clients see that you are an expert.

Other options for demonstrating your expertise can include blog posts, books, and podcasts. Blog posts and podcasts could be published at your portfolio site, or you could get involved with large publications in the industry that would provide some added exposure and credibility.

6. Get a Connection

If you don’t have much experience working with clients in your target market you will need to find a way in. This could involve doing some work for free or at a deep discount for a client that would provide you with valuable experience and some work to showcase in your portfolio. Obviously, this isn’t something that you would continue to do going forward, but if it helps to get your foot in the door it could be worth the time and effort.

If this is something you are going  to do, look to find a client and a project that will have an impact on other potential clients. Look for a client that is well connected and well respected, and maybe they will be willing to introduce you to other potential clients in exchange for your work.

If you do already have sufficient work samples in your portfolio, getting a connection could involve collaborating with someone who provides related services to your ideal clients. For example, if you’re offering e-commerce design you may be able to find a developer that handles the coding of e-commerce sites but doesn’t like to handle the visual design. A collaboration could be mutually beneficial.

7. Advertise in the Right Places

If you have an advertising budget you will want to make sure that you are getting the most bang for your buck. In order to do so you will need to be placing your ads where they will be seen by those in your target audience. Some possible examples include sponsored reviews on highly relevant blogs that your audience would read, banners on those blogs or other websites with the same audience, a well-managed pay-per-click campaign that targets the right searches, and sponsored tweets from influential Twitter users in the industry.

8. Socialize in the Right Places

In addition to advertising, you should also strive to get involved and socialize in places where your target clients could be found. This could include guest blog posts, blog comments, forum participation, relevant social networks, and even face-to-face networking at events and conferences.

A lot of designers spend time on social networking, but if you think about the types of clients you want to work with and make an effort to socialize in the same places as them you will be closer to attracting the right types of clients.

9. Consider Packages

Although I am not a big fan of package-based pricing in general, if you are targeting a very specific audience or type of product it may be effective. Packages work best when your projects are often very close to each other in terms of time required by you and what is needed by the client.

Back to our e-commerce example, you may want to offer packages for setting up e-commerce websites. The packages could include a new design, development, and set up of a specific number of products. For details that may vary significantly from one project to another you can also offer upgrades or add-ons to the base package prices.

Package-based pricing can help clients to have a more concrete idea of what to expect in terms of pricing, as opposed to having to get custom quotes from several different designers. Also, from your perspective, packages can help to save time on proposals since most projects will ideally fit into a package.

In terms of attracting the right clients, packages show exactly what you are most interested in offering, and if a client’s project fits within one of your packages it is clear that this project may be a good fit for both parties. In terms of pricing, if your ideal client has a specific budget range you can reduce the number of inquiries that you get from clients outside of this budget range by pricing your packages accordingly. For example, if you feel that you are wasting a lot of time talking with clients who have budgets much smaller than you are able to work with, packages will discourage those clients from contacting you because they will see that your packages are higher than they can afford.

What’s Your Experience?

If you have your own tips for attracting the right clients please feel free to share them in the comments.

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