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So you’re on the hunt for your first legit paying web design client…

You’ve read allll the blog posts and listened to all the interviews with successful web designers where they talk about how they are able to completely book-out their business and how it is they have a constant stream of dream clients hoping to work with them…

And pretty much everything you read/hear says the exact. same. thing.

Interviewer: “How do you get clients?”

Designer: “Oh I get them mostly through referrals of past clients!”

Yeah, not super helpful if you have no past clients to refer you, right? So, how the heck are you supposed to find that first client!??

If you’re currently there right now, I SO get it.

I swear when I was first trying to figure out how to get clients, the internet was surprisingly unhelpful in giving answers that would apply to a brand new web designer who had never worked with any past clients before!

The good news is, many people before you have cracked the code on how to land that first client and you will too! In fact, this post will help you do just that!

Here’s the thing, today I’ll be recommending you one very specific strategy. But do know that this is absolutely not the only way. There’s about a zillion ways to get web design clients and be successful.

How do I know that?

Because in my Square Secrets Business course I brought in 7 of the biggest names in Squarespace web design to talk to students about their favorite method to land clients consistently and their methods were all COMPLETELY different!

Many of these are what I’d call long term strategies, where the work you do now will continue to pay off and land you your ideal clients again and again in the future, rather than having to go hand-search for each new client needed to fill your books.

Psssst! You can find out which of these longer-term success strategies is the best fit for your personality type by taking my 45 second client-finding method quiz below!

But when you’re first starting out, and slightly freaked about how you’re going to pay the bills, your focus is naturally going to be what you can do to land clients now…and FAST.

So let me explain the way I would personally go about quickly landing my first client if I were to start all over again.

How I’d land my first web design client if I started over

The first place I’d look to land that first client would be to go first to friends and family I knew and spread the word on what I was doing, that is, starting to offer web design services.

If you’re anything like me when I started, you automatically think “this isn’t an option for me. I don’t know ANYONE who owns a business and therefore needs a website.”

If you’re currently thinking that like I was, I want to be honest with you; you’re dead wrong!

When I started as an aspiring web designer, I automatically assumed that this would NOT be an option for me.

I didn’t have a single family member or friend who I knew who had a business already.

I don’t come from some long line of entrepreneurs who are the people most often in need of a website.

Pssst! Wanna Pin this for later?

Turns out, I was so wrong.

Just like me, my friends and family who were starting businesses were also quiet about it, so I had no idea what they were building and they had no idea what I was building.

When I started, my mistake was being quiet about what I was working on and not sharing openly with family and friends.

And it turns out I learned, a lot of newbie business owners do the exact same thing.

It was only after I began building my business and being more public about what I was doing on my website, social media and just in daily conversations with family and friends, a LOT of past acquaintances came out and told me they were also starting a business, and therefore need a website.

It was only once I found those first clients and had built momentum that I felt confident talking to people about my web design business.

And it was THEN that friends and family confided they were also starting something and needed a website!

What I learned over the years was that I actually know a TON of people who were starting businesses!

And all of those people needed websites.

But again…

You won’t find out that your friends & family need websites for their startup small businesses until you start talking about your own business!

So what should you do next?

  • Start posting on social media about what you’re doing.

  • Start having conversations in real life. Start saying (yes, even if you feel like a fraud at the moment) that you’re a web designer.

  • Start emailing every person you’ve ever known letting them know about this new service you offer!

What exactly should you say?

Great question!

Web design client Email pitch script

(for family & friends)

Here’s a script you could pop off to all your friends and fam!

Hey *Name*!

*Some sort of kind greeting personalized to the recipient*

I’m getting in touch because I wanted to let you know that I recently launched my own web design business *insert link to your website* where I work with small business owners and entrepreneurs to create websites that help them market and build their business!

If there’s any chance you or someone you know is starting their own business and is in need of a trusted web designer to help them bring a new website to life, I’d so appreciate you putting me in touch with them!

If there’s anything I can do for you to return the favor, do please let me know.

Chat soon!
*Your Name*

Pro tip: If you have a specific ideal client, replace “small business owners and entrepreneurs” with a descriptor of your ideal client.

Why this works:

Build-in trust:

When you’re trying to land clients on the internet or at networking events, you’re starting from a place of being a complete stranger.

Those people don’t know you and therefore don’t trust you. I mean, why would they if they met you 3 minutes ago at a networking event?

Thankfully, with past acquaintances or family you have that built-in trust. You may have worked with the person before on the job or in school, or they’ve known you since birth. The trust is built-in.

AND, your family and friends have a vested interest in you being successful. Most of us are more than happy to help out friends and family!

It’s an Easy ask:

And thankfully, the ask you’re making is pretty simple to fulfill. It’s a heck of a lot easier to connect you by email to someone else they know versus spending a Saturday helping you move a couch.

Do I need a web design portfolio for this client-finding method to work?

Of all the people on the internet, your own friends and family are def the most likely to be willing to lend a hand…

But you sorta have to help them help you!

Since this is your first client, you obviously don’t have a portfolio yet to point people to, but you still want to have a few solid mockup pieces prepped and ready.

That way, when someone in your circle does end up clicking your website link, you already look the part of pro designer!

It won’t feel like such a gamble for all these new contacts to decide to work with you if they can see some sort of visual proof that you do indeed design websites (you know, besides your own!)

Btw, your mockup pieces don’t have to be giant 10 page websites, and you don’t have to pay to keep all those mockup demo sites live!

Just take advantage of those 14 day free trials Squarespace has to offer and design a few solid home pages for made-up businesses that look and feel like the type of web design projects you would be stoked to be hired for in the future.

Take a few screenshots, and voila! You have a portfolio!

Yes, it takes time to build these mock-up pieces, but the best part is, you now have a super curated portfolio of mini site designs you had complete creative control over, and you can confidently send potential clients and customers to your website knowing that your portfolio will do the talking for you!

Plus, all that practice will only make you a better, more efficient designer making it more likely for you to blow your first client away (which is how you get that non-stop client referral ball rolling, btw!)

For more portfolio-building tips, check out:

Web designers speak out: What I wish I knew about building my portfolio

Other ways to find your first web design clients

Hitting up your friends and family is a fabulous way to find those first few clients as a new web designer! But remember, it’s just 1 of many many methods!

I realize not everyone is going to love this method, so if that’s the case, I have good news…

My method of landing clients does NOT need to be your method of landing clients!

Ready to learn the client-finding method that was made for you?

Take the 45 second quiz to discover which specific strategy that will have you attracting clients with ease!



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How to find your 1st client as a new web designer