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How do you market your Web design business?

By November 2, 2007

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ODesignz asks:
I'm wondering if anyone can help me with some marketing tips. I'm going through a 'dry' time in my freelance projects. I have an e-mail list of about 150 people and use it to keep former clients, friends, and prospects up to date. What other ways can I use that e-mail list? what other things can I do to get my name out?

My thoughts:
Marketing for freelance Web designers can be a challenge. If you're like many of us, you'd much rather be working on a new design or programming project than telling people why they should hire you. But in order to keep the cat in catfood or the kid in shoes learning how to market and promote yourself is vital.

I believe strongly in planning before going out and embarking on a solution. So the first thing I would do is come up with a plan that addresses both your goals and what you want to accomplish with your assets. Ask yourself the following questions, some you've already partially answered:

  1. What are your strengths? Why should someone hire you over another Web designer/developer?
  2. What are your weaknesses? How can you mitigate them?
  3. What area do you want to focus on? You should probably come up with 5-10 different fields, rather than limiting yourself to just one. Do you know anyone in those fields?
  4. Why do you want to focus on those fields? Do your strengths match the needs of companies in that field?

If you don't know anyone in the industries you want to target, that is your next step. You need to find and make contacts there. Use your list of 150 people to find out if they have contacts. If you're a member of LinkedIn or Facebook or some other community, ask for contacts there as well. You need to be selective. It doesn't help if you know 150 people in the building industry if you want to focus on veterinarians.

Then, taking the answers to those questions, I would email or even phone your target market contacts. Ask them for information on what they look for in a Web designer. What is important to them? What do they need? This will help you to verify that your beliefs about your matching strengths to that industry are correct. You can also use this as an opportunity to mention your services. But I've found it's more effective to start out with informational interviews, rather than trying to sell yourself cold. Once you know what they need, you'll be able to tailor a solution just for them.

The challenge is that when you don't have a lot of contacts in the field you want to target, it can be hard to stay motivated - especially when the bank account is getting lower and lower. But the more effort you spend in preparing and planning, the better your ultimate sales pitch will be.

More Marketing Resources

November 5, 2007 at 11:10 am
(1) Scott Adie says:

An e-mail marketing list is only a small part of any marketing plan. If you’re going to be successful as a freelance designer, you need to ‘Hit the Road Jack’ and don’t come back until you’ve bulked up your contact e-mail list with some one-on-one contact. You shouldn’t rely on word of mouth ever unless it’s YOUR word of mouth. Your web site standing alone in cyberspace is any better than a lawn sign for a political candidate unless you develop ways to get traffic to it and then offer substantial content relevant to client needs. Having achieved that, you still MUST follow-up with additional communications to close business deals. Retail sites selling merchandise are pretty much the only ones that can start and conclude a piece of business on the web.
I freelance and several aspects are much harder than marketing with an established bricks and mortar business with a staff. The most obvious is that you have to be everything to everybody you market to. ‘Wow’ design abilities have little value unless excellent Customer Service and Active Client Relationships are at the forefront of your business.

September 9, 2011 at 8:51 am
(2) Navneet says:

Nice guide. There are lots of online market places in which we can apply for the jobs.

November 6, 2007 at 5:43 am
(3) Jarek says:

SEO in Google is the most important!!!

August 16, 2009 at 5:41 pm
(4) Coulee Creative says:

I find link building is very hard with web design companies. You have to get creative – but there is no shortage of benefits when you finally reach the first page of Google.

January 11, 2012 at 1:44 pm
(5) Back2DLab Web Design says:

SEO, SEM, DM. That’s the ticket! Back2DLab Web Design

June 20, 2012 at 4:20 pm
(6) Ben Smith Design says:

To market your business most effectively you need to use various channels, don’t rely on just one method. Examples include, email marketing, guest blogging, giving advice on forums thus making good connections, cold calling, offering your services to charities, cold calling, speaking at events, local business networking, referrals with rewards, direct mail / flyers, linkedin groups…

Stay positive, work hard and you will be rewarded.

June 21, 2012 at 3:42 am
(7) Ben Smith Design says:

And I forgot to say, always follow up your direct mail, flyer, email campaign with a phone call, youll be surprised how the conversion rate increases….

February 19, 2013 at 3:23 am
(8) Cyril says:

Nice thoughts…really..me right now facing some of these situvation…me planing to focus on adding more concts

February 26, 2013 at 4:35 pm
(9) Jennifer Kyrnin says:


Contacts are a good place to start. You can also focus on things like guest posts, commenting on blogs, and other ways to get the word out.

January 23, 2014 at 4:03 pm
(10) Richard says:

I think the hardest part in marketing yourself as a web designer is the client education – most clients cannot distinguish from a college kid who can put together a html page and an experienced web designer who can make you a converting website.

January 28, 2014 at 2:55 pm
(11) Jennifer Kyrnin says:

@Richard – I completely agree with you. That is a very difficult sell. Especially if you are competing with a college (or High School) student who charges some insanely low amount. One book that helped me was <a href=”http://webdesign.about.com/od/books/fr/breaking-the-time-barrier-review.htm”><em>Breaking the Time Barrier</em></a>. It’s more about charging hourly vs. per project, but it helped me think more about how I charge for my business and how to describe what I do in a way that was palatable to my customers and made them want to use me as their designer.

Good luck!

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