Getting Your First Client
Establishing Your Starting Point
When it comes to landing a client, the way you approach the situation has a lot to do with where you currently are at with your business. If your business is already successful then you may not necessarily need to worry if you land every client, and clients may even come to you. However when you are first starting out that is probably not the case and in order to land your first client you will first need to establish your starting point. This will involve taking a hard, honest look at your financial situation, the quality of your portfolio, your skills as a designer, and the available contacts you have. After analyzing these three factors you can then build a strategy to finally land your first client.
Your Financial Situation
The first thing you need to look at is your financial situation. This isn’t the total amount of money you have, but the money that ‘your business’ has, or the amount of money you are willing to dedicate soley you becoming a designer. There is no particular recommended amount to have, but obviously the more you have the easier things will be. Once determined, at this point you don’t want to use any of your own money for your business. All money your business spends should come from the money it makes.
Assuming you already have a computer and a premium wordpress theme like we mentioned in our article about the tools you will need, it is possible to get started without having any additional money. The difference is in the way you will approach landing clients in particular with marketing. While as we mentioned above there is no recommended amount to get started as a designer we do recommend that you have at least a $3,000 dollar budget soley for digital marketing before you actually do any of it for yourself. Anything less than that you will probably not see the return you are looking for and may ultimately end up wasting your money. If you are starting out with the capability to finance that then you are in a great place, but if you do not then you are better off landing clients and using the money from those projects to start financing you marketing budget. In order to land those clients, since you aren’t doing any marketing, you will have to utilize the contacts that you have a lot more and essentially do a lot more ground work actually interacting with people face to face.
Your Available Contacts
The contacts you have available is very directly tied to your financial situation. As we mentioned above if you have enough money to set up and run some marketing campaigns then you may not necessarily need to rely on using connections to land clients as your campaign if successful may bring in enough business on its own. However, if you don’t have the capability to start marketing yet, and even if you do it doesn’t hurt to have another outlet of bringing in business, you will need to establish who your viable contacts are. These contacts are people who who could potentially buy a site from you or know someone who may. They could be friends, family, people you know at work. When you are first starting out you can’t really afford to be picky. So make a list of people you know who may need a website and ask everyone you know if they know anyone and add them to the list too. When you are out and someone asks what you do tell them you are a web designer. You never know who you are going to meet and if someone seems interested get their information and add them to your list. Once you have your list start contacting the people on it. This part is never fun but it is the reality of starting out.
The Quality Of Your Portfolio
Before buying from you every client from your first till your last will want to see projects you have worked on before. Traditionally a portfolio is thought of as a page where you can showcase all of the projects you have done and it still can be, but when it comes to clients they are sold on the whole experience which is why we suggest creating a while site for yourself and your business where you showcase who your business is, what services you offer, and the work you have done. The complete site is your true portfolio and we will go into exactly how to create that later on in this course.
When you think about it from a client’s perspective it make sense. They are potentially about to take a risk on you and potentially spend a lot of money. So if you are going to build them a website, they are going to want to see yours and get a feel for who you are and the quality of work you can produce. The more professional you come across the more comfortable they will feel. That is why it is so important that you evaluate and are truly honest with yourself about the quality of your portfolio. If a potential client looks at it and it doesn’t look good enough to them, they won’t be back. If you just don’t have enough projects to showcase then maybe you do a couple for free for some people from your contact list. If you do have a solid amount of work to showcase but it just doesn’t look good on your site then maybe you spend a little time making some UX improvements before trying to land that first project as your new business. You want the site to be something you are happy to look at and deep down you will know if it at a high enough standard to convey who you are and be shared/looked at by businesses.
Your Skills As A Designer
Probably the most important thing on this list is assessing your skills as a designer. Now just like everything else you will need to be brutally honest with yourself about what you are capable of doing. There is a fine line between being confident that you will be able to figure it out and biting off more than you can chew when it comes to accepting a project. There is nothing wrong with admitting that you don’t have the skills to complete some of a clients requirements, and they will appreciate the fact that you didn’t take their money just to find out that you had no idea what you were doing. And don’t let this disscurage you. There is always a sale to be made. Maybe you only do part of the porject and align them with someone who can do the other part, or you find a solution that doesn’t require the part you don’t know how to do. If it turns out that a lot of clients are wanting something that you can’t do then maybe it’s time you learned how to do it. But being honest about your capabilities will save you a lot of trouble in the long run and also make you a better designer. Realistically clients should be able to tell what you are capable of from your portfolio, and they should be telling you what the full scope of the project is and you tell them what your solution to it is. As a starting business you really can not afford to have any bad reviews and nothing will get you bad reviews faster than overselling yourself and coming up short. When it comes to landing your first client it’s probably best to play it safe and take on a project that you know you can do. If you have never worked on a professional, paid project before there will be enough new things to figure out that you don’t need to add some new knowledge base to it. An excellent example of this is if a client wants a website and a logo created and you know how to build the site but not how to create the logo, then don’t create the logo. Simply tell them that you can build the site and they will need someone else to build the logo and once created you can add it to the site. Maybe they find someone else who can do both, it sucks but it is better than the alternative where they gave you money and now you can’t deliver what you promised.
In closing to land your first client you first need to know what you are capable of financially and as a designer. The finances ultimately only impact your approach to finding your clients but your portfolio and skills as a designer will impact the type of clients you attract and the projects you will be able to work on. If you are looking for your first client don’t worry, it’s a learning process and it take a while to get your feet off the ground. As long as you keep learning, are honest about what you can do, and are willing to stick with the sales grind, the work will come.
Now that you have established your starting point, the next step to landing your first client is finding your niche. There are a lot of designers out there and one way to set yourself apart is having a particular type of website that you are particularly skilled in.