A few weeks ago over on Instagram I asked ya’ll to send your biggest web designer struggles my way so I could answer them live!
I had a ton of questions flood in, but there are a few that seemed like everyone was asking on repeat (which is usually a pretty solid indication it’s time to get busy creating a bit of helpful content around that thing!)
So I’m taking all my answers to the biggest struggles you shared during the live, and rounding them up into one (well two….) easy reads!
So don’t forget to tune in next week for part 2 as well! (Pssst! Here’s that link to part 2!)
Let me start by saying that you do NOT need to offer graphic design and branding in order to build a crazy-successful, fully booked-out web design business.
It’s 100% up to you whether that’s something that legit brings you joy, and therefore you want to offer in your business.
This is your permission to not pursue it if you honestly have no desire but are just feeling obligated because you think it’s what you should be doing. ♀️
I’ve seen people have some really solid solutions for deciding not to offer graphic design in their web design business.
The biggest one being that – just like you are a web designer who’s not feeling super thrilled about learning and offering graphic design – there are also graphic designers out there who are feeling the same way about becoming web designers. ♀️
They get that the services tend to go hand-in-hand and they are feeling mega pressure to offer #allthethings, but if they are being honest, they have zero desire to become a web designer.
So what do they do?
They work with another pro (ahem…you!) who does offer that thing! I’ve seen tons of freelancers in complimentary service industries successfully team up to be able to offer a wider range of services to their clients.
Find someone who has a similar price point for their services
So if you design websites for $10K+ dollars but the branding designer’s packages max out at around $500, you probably aren’t going to be a good fit to work together, because you’ll naturally be attracting clients with wildly different budgets, and likely at very different points in their business journey.
So you want to make sure that the people who would be interested in your current packages, would also be most likely find the other pro’s packages attractive!
Find someone who matches your visual vibe
Say you specialize in offering minimal web design…you are not going to want to try to team up with someone who’s thing is offering really funky, bold, bright and out-there designs because again, you wouldn’t naturally attract the same type of client!
You have to genuinely love their work if you are going to partner up, because everything they create for use on your client’s website is going to be heavily featured in your portfolio, seriously setting the tone for the type of clients you will attract in the future.
So making sure you align in terms of price, vibe, and overall target client is important when picking who you’ll collab with! ♀️
That being said, you don’t have to go out and marry this person, or even legally join your businesses in any way (though I have seen that work well too!)
You can treat it more like a referral program where you find someone who fits well with what you do and offers a service that you can’t, and you take turns sending clients each other’s way!
(Sometimes for a fee, or however you decide to work it out with that person!)
So just know that if the thought of offering branding or graphic design in your web design business is mega-level stressing you out, you have options!
And your clients will appreciate you recommending a passionate pro for the job, instead of just muddling through and delivering something less than amazing!
On the other hand, if you genuinely look forward to learning this new skill and love the thought of being a one-stop shop for your clients…
Here are a few books I suggest you read:
Logo design love by David Airey
How to Style Your Brand by Fiona Humberstone
Brand Brilliance also by Fiona Humberstone
I’m also a huge fan of tracking down the expert in the field you’re trying to learn about and finding a way to get inside their course or program.
Taking a course is like getting access to years of insider secrets and lessons learned the hard way, and you being able to absorb and start applying it all in a matter of hours instead!
The #1 most important advice I can give you about marketing your business and finding clients is that you need to do it in a way that is enjoyable to you.
So someone might say “I land all my clients by engaging with them in Instagram DM’s” or “my clients all find me through my blog!”
But if you can’t stand doing either of those things, then it’s very unlikely you’ll do them with any level of consistency or heart, and therefore it’s not going to be a very successful strategy for you.
So when you see other designers out there booking out their business on autopilot with a particular strategy, don’t feel like their way is the only way (and that you just have to suck it up and blog or you’ll never land a client!)
You do need SOME sort of consistent marketing strategy…there’s really no getting around that!
But again, choose one thing that feels natural and doable to you, and then commit to doing that one thing extremely well, rather than bouncing from idea to idea and not giving it the time it needs to see results!
Okay, so these are just a few ideas spitballed while live, but they are certainly not the only ways to land clients!
But since covering all of them in depth would take hours (4 hours to be exact…I set aside an entire module to do just that inside my Square Secrets Business™️ course), I’ll list off some of the more common ways past students have landed clients and quickly gotten the ball rolling!
Reach out to family and friends
People tend to stay hush-hush about their plans for starting a new business, but if you shout out about the fact that you are starting a web design business, you never know who else was keeping a secret in your circle and may just need a website!
Do a killer job of that first portfolio piece and they won’t be able to stop spreading the word about your business to their friends and family as well! And suddenly you are solid-booked just by worth of mouth!
Incentivizing referrals from past clients and/or professionals in complimentary industries
Being active in the Facebook groups of your niche communities
Cool story: A past student of my Square Secrets™️ & Square Secrets Business™️ courses used this as her main strategy for quickly booking out her design business. She’s an author who needed a website to market her books, and was in a Facebook group full of other authors in need of the same.
So find the Facebook groups that are filled with the exact niche type of people you are hoping to work with, and be genuinely helpful in answering the questions and struggles they share in the group!
It’s a great way to get eyeballs on your business, and depending on the group rules, you can even find non-spammy ways to directly offer your services to group members!
Connecting and collaborating with other businesses on Instagram
In-person networking at events that directly or indirectly relate to your niche audience (when it’s an option!)
This wasn’t even an option for me when I was first getting started out because I had just moved to Germany, and I didn’t speak the language (and therefore couldn’t network to pitch my services).
But many designers have found great success with attending conferences & events where their niche audience is likely to be hanging out, joining their local Rising Tide Society chapter, or getting involved with the local business community.
My IRL and online business bestie totally nailed pitching her services via email when she was first trying to start her web design business and land dream clients!
Right from the start, she picked her niche, created a handful of really impressive portfolio pieces that fit with that niche, and then pitched her services to directly businesses that fit her ideal client.
Finding ways to guest appear in front of other people’s audiences in a complimentary industry
Is there a podcast, course, blog, magazine, YouTube Channel which is already consistently reaching your exact ideal clients where you know you could be of legit use to their audience in exchange for more eyeballs on your web design business? Pitch yourself as a guest!
This one for me is ! I genuinely enjoy sitting down to write, and am constantly fielding questions in my inbox that I think “perfect! I’ll write a blog post on the topic so I can answer the person emailing, as well as the thousands of other people who are going to read that post!”
So this one isn’t just useful for marketing to attract ideal clients or demonstrate your expertise in your field, it’s actually a great way to handle FAQ in your business as well! If you tend to get the same questions over and over, create a piece of content around it so you can still be helpful to your audience without having to answer the same question 50 times a week on repeat!
Not to mention you’ll naturally tend to kill it with SEO on your site with the constant use of relevant keywords in your content!
Create your own community
If you are the type of person who loves building connections and has a lot of empathy, then creating a community (either in-person or online) is a fabulous way for you to serve your audience while also highlighting the services you offer as a web designer.
And since it’s your community, you make the rules! Instead of having to join other groups and play by theirs!
Again, this is not the end-all-be-all list of ways to land clients! And if you’re still on the fence about which specific method is going to work for you then be sure to take the client-finding quiz I created just for designers!
Looking for the rest of those web designer struggle related Q+A? Tune in next week for part 2! (Pssst! Here’s that link to part 2!)