Marketing For Web Design: How To Get More Business

Posted by in Featured, Marketing, Tips, Web Design | 18 comments

Marketing For Web Design: How To Get More Business

How to get more clients for your web design business is THE big question and is often a freelance web developer’s greatest worry.  Designing websites is a dream job, but if you don’t have clients paying you money then it doesn’t seem much different than my kids hoping to find work as video game testers.  I promise you, it is different, and you can make a very good living designing and developing websites.

The Key to Web Design Marketing

You can find a hundred articles that tell you a great place to start looking for business is through a job posting site like or  These websites do have their place, but if you are just starting out and hoping to make a real living by designing websites, then this is like jumping in a shark tank to learn how to fish.  Those sites are extremely competitive, and you will work yourself to the bone with very little results unless you have a lot of experience, know what you are doing, and live in a very low cost-of-living country.  The secret to marketing your web design business and getting more business for yourself is not following the pack.  Don’t go where all the other web designers go!

Local Web Design Marketing

Rather than going where the competition is high and the payoff is low, go where the NEED is high and the competition is low.  Especially if you are just starting out, think local and go where the businesses are going.  I know this is hard, but it will require you to actually step away from your computer and go out into the daylight — be sure to take a second to let your eyes adjust.

Ok, but where are the businesses in need?  That part is easy:  join your local Chamber of Commerce, or depending on what country you live in, your local business association, and start going to the meetings. Check for other small business meetings. Make sure you bring business cards and are ready to tell people what you do in 8 seconds or less.  BUT don’t make it about you.  You are there to meet people and network, not just drum up more business.  Actively participate when appropriate and think of how you can help others in the community.

When people sense that you are genuine and not some fly-by-night vulture, sweeping in for an easy kill, they will want to do business with you.  The beauty is that small local businesses WANT to do business locally because they want people to shop from them or use their services locally, too.  This puts you at an advantage over anyone outside of your immediate market area.

Build Your Web Design Portfolio

Of course you need to have your website included on your business card, and potential clients will expect to see your portfolio.  If you are just starting and don’t have a portfolio, reach out to local charities and organizations and tell them that you are just starting as a web designer and don’t have a portfolio yet, but you would like to create a website for them at a steep discount.   This is mutually beneficial, and you can help a good cause while getting your business off the ground.  Make sure to include a “Designed by…” link of some kind at the bottom of the site.

Not only can you use this method to truly help others and build your web design portfolio at the same time, but charities are very active in your local community and are always trying to attract the attention of businesses to sponsor them.  Be sure to attend some of the charity events that will no doubt be teaming with other small businesses, and again, bring plenty of business cards.

But I Don’t Want to Leave My Cave!

I understand, some may not like the idea of having to go out and meet people, but the truth remains that networking is one of THE BEST ways to to get your business off the ground.  Without a portfolio or track record of some kind, or a good reputation already established, people are unlikely to hire someone they have never met. What reason would they have for even considering your services, let alone actually hiring you?

However, don’t fear, there are ways to build trust with potential clients without having to go to business meetings or charity events.  So for those of you unable, or more likely, unwilling to brave the daylight, then I have more proven methods coming your way!  Keep an eye out for my next few blog posts where I will go over

  • Direct Marketing for Web Design
  • Using Referrals to Get More Web Design Business
  • Using a Newsletter To Get More Business Out of Your Current Customers
  • Maximizing the Lifetime Value of Your Web Design Clients
  • Social Networking Strategies to Attract More Web Design Business

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What marketing strategies have you used to get more web design business?

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  1. Door to door, face to face contact speaking with the owner of the small businesses I walk into has been the best way for me to get work. You are exactly right. There are so many small brick and mortar shops out there that want a website but don’t know where to begin. It might take a few return visits, building a relationship with these folks, but it has given me my best return on investment of time and minimal printing costs for promotional materials.

    Referrals have done well for me too. Again, I am usually referred by someone who I’ve built a relationship with, even if they haven’t used my services yet.

    • Micki, exactly. Good business is all about building a relationship of trust. This is a strength that independent web designers should maximize because the larger firms, or the big online CMS sites, will never be able to replicate that level of relationship. I agree, if you do things right referrals will become a large percentage of all your business.

      Thanks for the insightful comments.

  2. I never really thought of the Chamber of Commerce, but now that you mention it I have gotten a few clients from there:) I also believe referrals are a huge part of gaining clients. More than half of the the clients I currently have are because of referrals.

    Thanks for the post and I’ll be looking forward to the “Using a Newsletter To Get More Business Out of Your Current Customers” post coming soon!

    • Thanks Jamie. There is a big multiplier effect when you start combining all of the different aspects of the strategy I am putting forth. For example you may see some added business from putting some local ads on Facebook, but combine that with email marketing, a facebook page, twitter and even some face to face contact with a potential client and suddenly you are everywhere they look and the first thing on their mind when they think of needing something done on the internet. This leads to exponential growth, and things start to really get exciting.

  3. Thanks, this is another good article. Recently I feel I have been spending to much time on SEO and should go back to networking at the local business associations. SEO has got me mainly nibbles and no bites! Networking and word of mouth has got me concrete work.

    • Thanks Paul. SEO is of course very important, but it only helps in driving traffic, like you just said it doesn’t easily turn into new business. You have to have a conversion system that builds a relationship with visitors and that will turn them into clients. I will talk more about those strategies in my upcoming blog posts.

  4. Thanks for the good post. You make some really good points regarding elance type sites and competition. Elance isn’t going to pay your mortgage unless you live in india.

  5. Nice article Heath!

    One other thing that I recommend is being part of a Business Network International (BNI). I started my website design business at the beginning of 2011 and joined BNI shortly after. I have met tons of great people as well as secured 3 large website projects. Just Google BNI and your town, and I’m sure you will be able to find a local chapter.

    • Thanks for the extra tip Dustin!

  6. Some good advice

  7. Identifying a nonprofit you like and doing work for them is a good way to do good and showcase your work while expanding your referral network. It’s a good way for beginners to establish credibility too. (And hone client management skills for paying jobs.) Ezxcellent karma!

  8. This all seems like good advice but the problem I have had in the past is that the very second somebody knows you are there to sell something, they switch off! When you walk in the door of a shop, a hotel or any other business, what tips do you have for keeping the potential client interested. “Hi, I’m Michael …do you want a website?” doesn’t usually bode too well!

  9. This all seems like good advice but the problem I have had in the past is that the very second somebody knows you are there to sell something, they switch off! When you walk in the door of a shop, a hotel or any other business, what tips do you have for keeping the potential client interested. “Hi, I’m Michael …do you want a website?” doesn’t usually bode too well!

    • Try offering them free useful information that will catch there attention. In other words give before you ask for anything, like a pamphlet on improving their search engine rankings and it should all be things they can do themselves, not something you are trying to sell them.

  10. Been in business for 10+ as a web designer. We’ve built our business by networking in person. Been most successful with BNI, followed by Rotary and the Chamber of Commerce. Also send a newsletter out 4-6 x’s a year to past clients. I have a few other things that I do marketing-wise. Currently, I’m learning to use LinkedIn to get to know people I might not meet otherwise.

    • Karen, Linkedin is a great way to make business contacts. I have a marketing friend who uses Linkedin a great deal for getting business. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Thanks for your post. I really like the information which you have shared in your post. Responsive web designing is going to be a force to reckon with in coming times. It essentially websites to adjust them in accordance with the resolution of site on which they are being used.

  12. My friend, wordpress as just made web design cheap and easy. And there will be more of those software to come. trust me. If you ain’t working for a mid to large company, it’s gonna be hard.


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