Getting Your First Client
Creating Your Portfolio
Creating your portfolio is essentially taking everything you learned in establishing your starting point and finding you niche and putting in into your own personal website. As a web designer your portfolio isn’t just the website you have worked on before, but your entire site. It needs to pretty much look flawless. No one wants to hire a web designer whos website doesn’t look well designed. Besides looking flawless your website, just like most other sites, should have an about section, a list of the services you offer, a section to showcase your work, and a way for users to contact you. You can have other sections as well such as testimonies or a blog but they are not essential.
This is the section where you talk about your brand and who you are either as an individual or a business. If it is on your homepage you need to keep it short. You can always link out to a dedicated page but users don’t want to see a whole page of text about you and they aren’t going to read it. If they really want to they can visit the dedicated page.
When it comes to the homepage what you want is to convey exactly who you are as a brand and what type of clients you specialize in. We will get into it more as we get into branding, but what you want to do is give an honest representation of who you are. What are your values – what is the mission of your company.
If you do decide to have an about page, you can then dive into more personal details about you/your business. Maybe you have a paragraph about how you got started or a section that talks about what inspired you to become a designer. If someone is visiting this page they are genuinely interested in finding more about you since they had to intentionally go to the page, so if you are going to have the page, make it say something meaningful, otherwise leave it out.
A List Of Services
The list of services you have should obviously be featured on your homepage. It is the list of all of the things you do for your clients so you want to make sure that it is highlighted and one of the first things they see. It is a section that should stand out. At the same time the user should be able to see everything you offer and get a good understand with a single glance. This isn’t the place to extensively talk about the services, you just want to show what they are. The user should then be able to click on a service and learn more about it.
Once the user clicks on a service they should then be taken to that service’s page. This is the page where you talk about the service. You should give details as to what it entails and then have a section for the user to contact you about that specific service. Once a user is on this page they are looking for information. You aren’t trying to draw them in anymore. You have their interest, now is the time to be informative and convincing. Don’t overthink it. Explain what the service is, how it works, and provide the user a area to either buy the service or contact you.
Showcase Your Work
Much like the list of services showcasing your work is exactly what it sounds like, highlighting the work you have done. If you feature some on your homepage then you will want to showcase your best ones there and then you will want to have a dedicated page with all of your projects. There isn’t much more to say about this section except that you should only have the projects that are relevant to your target market. As we have discussed previously, you will want to choose a type and size of client to market to, and while the size isn’t really relevant here you will want to make sure that the projects you show are relevant to your brand. If you market yourself as specializing in building websites for real estate agents and companies, then those are the projects you should show. You might be tempted to feature all of your projects even if they don’t apply to your brand, but I would advise that you don’t do this. You want to send a clear message and projects that aren’t in line with who you are will only detract from that.
If you don’t have a lot of projects to show, which may be the case if you are just starting out, then you will have to work with what you have. However, it can be tough to market yourself if you don’t have any projects to represent your work. From a customer’s perspective, they will want to see what you have done, and they will definitely be sceptical if only have one or two projects featured on your site. To fix this you may have to create ‘demo’ sites. Essentially building websites for the sole purpose to showcase what you can do. You can then feature these sites and even market them as templates that customers can pick from.
A Contact Section
When it comes to the contact section there is a large variety of choices and ways to implement this on your site. Realistically, you should give your users as many options to contact you as possible so they can reach you in the way that they prefer. I would suggest doing this especially when you first start out so you can see what avenues of contact your users prefer to use and which ones are most likely to result in a sale. Some popular ways to allow users to contact you are
- contact form (email)
- booking calendar
- web chat
- registration form
The phone and contact form are pretty straight forward. If you are going to have a phone number, I would recommend having a list of information that you need to gather from a potential client, which you will need anyway to build your contact form, and to craft a rehearsed script that use can use when a customer calls. For the calendar, you are essentially combining the contact form and the phone number, where a customer will book a time and fill out a form to schedule a time that you will call them. The webchat is a great way to reach users while they are currently on the site, as well as a great way to gather leads to market to later. You will be happy you have a webchat on your site. Users are increasingly becoming less and less interested in starting with a phone call and the chat feature is an excellent way for them to get to know more about your product without having to talk directly to you. Finally, the registration form, which isn’t really a ‘contact’ form, is still something you should have on your site. A user may not be ready to fill out a contact form, make a phone call, etc. but they may still be interested. You will want to have a form that a users can fill out, usually just a name and email, that you can then use to send them marketing material down the line. This is usually done in tandem with some promotion or offer, but we will get into that later on.
Testimonials & Blogs
A lot of people will say that testimonials and a blog are essential to have on your site, but I am going to say that they are something that are optional. Especially the testimonials. Nobody is going to post bad reviews of their business on their site, obviously, so if a user wants to find actual reviews of your site they are going to look at Google or Yelp. It won’t hurt you to have them on your site, but they take up space and personally I don’t think they add anything to your portfolio. As for blogs, they can be incredibly useful. Consistently creating content is a great way to get users to your site and generating traffic. They can really help your SEO and a great outlet to share promotions and your brand journey. The Catch is you actually have to have something to say. Content for contents sake will do you more harm than good. So if you have the content, then by all means have a blog section on your site. It’s a great tool. But if you are only using it as a way to create traffic then leave it off. There is no faster way to turn off a customer than by tricking them onto your site with click bait.