If you’re new to freelance web design, you probably think that it’s a dream. You get to set your own hours, and you don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself and the clients you choose.
But, as awesome as all of this sounds, freelancing isn’t all hearts and rainbows.
Yes, you’re your own boss, but you have to put in some serious work to generate leads if you want to stay afloat. Sadly, lead generation isn’t as easy as some of us would think it would be.
Luckily for you, there are some tried and true lead generation tips you can use to maintain a steady stream of clients. Here are ten to help get you started.
1. Make Good Use of Job Boards
When we think of freelancing, we don’t typically think of job boards. After all, most job boards are designed to help people score more permanent positions.
Despite these assumptions, traditional job boards can be helpful to freelancers. There are plenty of companies who make job postings for the purpose of finding freelance web designers.
So what are the actual benefits of using job boards to find freelance opportunities? Is it any better than some of the other methods we’ll talk about on this list?
If you’re new to freelancing, this is certainly one of those lead generation tips that you’re going to want to keep in mind. Job boards allow you to find clients who are already looking for freelancers, which means that you don’t have to pitch your services to anyone.
And that’s great for beginners.
Job boards are also great for experienced freelancers who are currently trying to reel in a batch of new or more consequential clients. In short, job boards are always there when freelancers can’t attract clients on their own.
As an added bonus, there are some job boards and online marketplaces which are specifically designed to help freelancers and clients get in touch with each other. Some freelancers find these specialized boards more useful than typical job boards.
2. Social Media Platforms and Forums Are Your Friends
The second of our lead generation tips is a less traditional one. Maybe that’s because social media is still largely associated with leisure.
It’s pretty hard to think of your Facebook page or Reddit account as a serious asset on your search for clients, right?
You’d be seriously shocked if you could see how some people have leveraged social media to land jobs. Dedicated freelancer web designers will do everything from pitching to clients over Facebook to heading over to Reddit to sell their services.
In some ways, these platforms have made it easy for them to pick up new clients. Facebook, for instance, allows users to form and join groups which are related to subjects they’re interested in. Some of these groups specifically deal with exchanging services or goods.
Reddit is a different beast altogether. It’s a hub of niches; its niche is literally niches. Freelancers can follow the subreddits in which they think they’re likely to find clients.
As a matter of fact, Reddit already has subreddits which function as freelance job boards. Redditors need only make posts which solicit their services or respond to job offers.
Of course, Facebook and Reddit aren’t the only social media platforms which function as job boards. These are just some lead generation tips that new freelance web designers might want to think more about.
3. Milk Your Network for What It’s Worth
If you’ve ever searched for a more permanent job, you know how hard it is to land a job these days. And if you’ve ever job searched without networking? You know that it can be even harder.
Simply put, your network is your lifeblood. This is even more true as a freelancer.
That said, you’re going to properly network. And the first of properly networking is?
Networking before you need to call in the favors.
In truth, you should have already been developing your network. A freelancer without a network is a freelancer who is going to struggle to get professional references and pick up new clients.
A successful freelancer also has to have confidence in his or her network. The freelancer mustn’t be afraid to call in favors or ask for references when they’re needed. That’s one of the most important lead generation tips for any freelancer, not just freelance web designers.
While there’s plenty more that we can say here, we’ll just leave things off with this: Don’t ever count out a connection. You never know what types of opportunities knowing someone can afford you.
4. Become an Expert in Something
Here’s the lead generation tip of all lead generation tips: Think about what it is that you actually offer clients. Yes, we know that you’re a freelance web designer, but what expertise do you bring to the table?
That’s right. Being a web designer isn’t necessarily enough to appeal to clients. You want to show them that you specialize in something. That is to say, you want to define a niche.
Let’s say, for example, that you have some experience with designing tech websites. Yes, specifically tech websites. That might sound too specific for some people, but you don’t design websites in different niches using the same approach.
We can easily compare what the typical tech company’s website looks like to what the average beauty vendor’s site looks like. Surely you’ll notice a huge difference.
The beauty site would almost certainly feature several images of beauty products and models. Beauty is, after all, about vanity.
So if you happen to have a lot experience in a certain industry? Play it up. It’ll look good to prospective clients.
5. Define Your Ideal Client
Out of all of the lead generation tips on this list, we’d wager that this is one of the most useful ones for beginners. Why is that? Because some newbies completely fail to define their ideal clients.
In the beginning, thinking that any client is a good client can be tempting. This isn’t, however, a solid strategy if you think about it, even if you believe that the clients might need your services.
There’s a lot to think about here. What type of contract might these clients be open to? How long will these clients be open to working with you?
If you don’t ask yourself these questions beforehand, you risk having bad experiences as a freelancer. You’ll always wish that you had “better” clients, and you might have a hard time maintaining a steady stream of work.
We can tell you right now that the latter can be disastrous for freelancers. It’s not technically one of our lead generation tips, but we hope it’s enough to help you realize that freelancing isn’t a game.
6. Learn How to Pitch
Can we let you in on a little secret? As a freelancer, you’ll find that businesses are seldom looking for you to help build their websites. In fact, you’re the one who’s going to have to look for them.
As far as lead generation tips go, this one can be scary for many freelancers. We are, after all, essentially telling you to learn how to sell yourselves to complete strangers.
Yep. Definitely scary.
Even so, you need to learn how to tell clients why they need you. If you can’t even manage to communicate that you can be useful, you won’t land many clients.
Don’t, however, think of pitching as something that has to be overly formal. Keep your pitches clear and concise, and pitch to the right people. It also never hurts to link clients to your online portfolio.
7. Hit Up Local Businesses
Believe it or not, local businesses can be an asset to you, though only if you take the other lead generation tips we’ve provided seriously. If you know how to pitch well and have defined your niche, you can land yourself some work with a local business.
Generally speaking, the local businesses you partner yourself with are going to be on the small side. This works in your favor since getting in touch with someone at a huge corporation can be a real pain.
If not altogether impossible.
Pitching to local businesses also gives you another advantage. As a local, you probably look like someone who has a good handle on what the local market currently looks like. This makes you a tad bit more appealing to local companies.
Not only that, but some businesses like to have representatives meet with the freelancers they work with. Needless to say, living nearby works in your favor.
8. Use Referrals to Your Advantage
Bear with us here. We know that we’ve been at it for a while, but we’re not quite done yet. There’s still a bit left to learn.
So what’s this section’s big tip?
Properly using referrals.
If you’ve been paying attention this whole time, you know how important your network is. The people in your network can help you find boatloads of new clients if you leverage your connections well.
You know what else a good network is good for? Establishing an organic flow of client traffic.
To a new freelance web designer, this is probably one of those lead generation tips that sound impossible. We just told you that no one is looking for you, so how could you possibly attract clients without pitching to them?
Well, as it turns out, clients talk to prospective clients. Several freelancers report that some of their clients end up recommending them to colleagues. In other words, their current clients pitch to prospective clients for them.
Of course, sometimes you have to nudge your clients here. Maybe you have to ask your clients if they know anyone else who needs a freelancer’s services. Perpahs you just tell your clients to make sure they recommend your services to their acquaintances.
Those approaches aren’t technically organic, but you’ll get there. Just keep at it.
9. Be Consistent
Speaking of keeping at it, let’s have a talk about consistency. This is all-important for a freelancer, and we just want to make sure that you realize this.
Yes, you can work your way to a steady stream of clients. Still, we don’t want you to think that you can stop pitching just because something like this is possible.
Freelancing admittedly leaves you more vulnerable than a standard job. Lead generation falls on your shoulders, and when you don’t generate leads, you starve.
Not to be macabre or anything.
The point here is that you can’t ever stop pitching. Even when you think you have enough clients, keep pitching. Half of your clients could bail on you next month, and that could really mess with your money.
Oh, and here’s a pro tip that’s only mildly related to consistency: Make your clients sign a legally binding contract. This will prevent them from just bailing on you in the middle of a project.
If you’re not sure how to approach drawing up a contract, you can find templates online. You could even see an attorney is you’re that serious about your freelancing.
Which you should be.
10. Involve Yourself in Non-Work Related Activities
We’ll be the first to admit that extracurricular activities don’t necessarily impress some prospective clients. They’re often looking for someone who’s done work in an official capacity.
So what’s this spiel doing here on a list of lead generation tips?
Because networking without the internet is still a thing. That’s why.
Joining some sort of web design club that’s not on Reddit can really help you meet other people in your field. Some of these people will be freelancers like you, and others will be potential clients.
That’s right. You get a two for one special.
Furthermore, participating in non-work related activities is a wonderful way to beef up a barren portfolio. Beginners often don’t feel that they have much to show, so tackling projects with others in their industry is a smart move on their parts.
Got Any Lead Generation Tips to Share?
So do you have any lead generation tips to share? As a new freelancer, getting your foot in the door can be hard, so we’re certain that your fellow freelancers would love to hear what you have to say.
And if you’re not quite sure that freelance web design is for you? Don’t worry. You’ll have rough days, but freelancing comes with so many benefits.
Ready to take the leap and just do it? Go ahead and start getting paid for your work with Boonle. We’ll deliver work right to your email address.