Getting your first few clients as a web designer is exciting. But it will soon dawn on you that this is an actual business and you need to be actively promoting it to survive in this industry. The problem is the only asset most designers have is their design skills. They don’t have much knowledge about marketing or building a business. Despite that, there are many simple things that designers can still do to move forward with their business while acquiring the necessary skill sets. Here are 10 tips on how to promote your design business.
Tip #1: Partner with Other Service Providers
The easiest way to bring in design work is to partner with other service providers. You can partner up with professional like web copywriters, SEO experts, or social media consultants to see if you can work out a partnership deal. You can either agree to a revenue split deal or a cross promotion joint venture if you think both parties can deliver the same level of value to each other.
Tip #2: Send Out Cold Emails
Believe it or not, cold emails can be an effective way to land clients. You can look through the search engines to find websites that you think you can dramatically improve with your design work. With cold emails, you want to initiate a conversation rather than send a prewritten advertising message. Ask the site owner if he is willing to spend a few minutes talking with you about how you can help with your service instead of asking for the sale right away.
Tip #3: Consider Using a Loss Leader to Generate Leads
A great way to generate qualified leads is to either give away a product or service for free. For example, if you have a reseller web hosting account, you may want to offer 3 months of free web hosting to generate qualified leads. You can use these leads to market your web design services and make other backend offers that are relevant (email marketing service, social media software, etc.). Another method that can work is to offer a free 15-minute consulting session where you critique the client’s site and upsell your design services.
Tip #4: Invest in Social Media Advertising
Social media marketing is one of the most effective digital marketing strategies you can use to build your business. However, it can take a long time to build followers. A quicker way to use social media to promote your design business is to advertise on the sites. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are all great channels for finding qualified clients. Learn how to create ads and build campaigns on these sites so that you can generate leads and convert them into clients. These channels are more affordable compared to pay per click and many other display ad channels.
Tip #5: Launch a Content Marketing Campaign
Content is a great way to get exposure for your business and engage your audience. You want to create content that helps business owners. Some great ideas for content can be anything that provides tips for branding, advice on improving conversions, to tutorials on creating better navigation designs. Start by setting up your own blog and social media accounts so that you can push your content out through these channels. Then, get into guest blogging and try to get your content featured on business and design blogs.
Tip #6: Take Advantage of Offline Networking
Many web designers tend to ignore offline networking opportunities when it can be a great way to land clients and form strategic partners. There are probably dozens of business networking events in your city, so try to attend at least one or two a month to put your business out there on the local scene. And anytime you are offered a guest speaking opportunity, jump on that offer as it will position you as an expert in front of many potential clients.
Tip #7: Create a Free Online Course
A great way to attract a large number of leads is to offer a free online course targeting website owners. A model that has worked really well in other markets is to simply offer the first video on your website without asking the visitor for anything. Instead, tell visitors that they can access the rest of your course by signing up to your email list. If you’ve done a great job of delivering valuable information with the first video, it will be a no-brainer decision for them to sign up.
Tip #8: Enter your Best Design in Competitions
If you have an awe-inspiring design that you’ve created, you can get a lot of attention for your business by entering it into design competitions. There are many websites that hold weekly to monthly design competitions. There are even organizations that hold big events that highlight the best designers in the industry. Amazing designs can often go viral when exposed to these channels and will result in a ton of exposure for your business.
Tip #9: Focus on a Niche or Expertise
Instead of being a general web designer, try to focus on a niche or expertise. For example, position yourself as an eCommerce designer as many eCommerce companies are looking for web designers that can help them improve their site’s look and conversion. Another example would be to focus on mobile site designs, particularly responsive designs as many companies still have problems with the look and performance of their responsive sites.
Tip #10: Promote Your Portfolio
There are many sites that feature the best web designs. Because these sites are often browsed by potential clients, they serve as a great medium for promoting your portfolio. Some great examples of these types of sites are Behance and Dribbble. In addition, a good number of these sites have marketplaces where employers post jobs to find designers and developers to join their team.
Launching your business is easy but promoting your design business is hard. Rather than rely on referrals and repeat clients to bring in work, you need to be active and start promoting your business if you want to succeed in this competitive industry. By following these tips, you can get ahead of the competition and be on your way to building a thriving design business.