Whether you’re new to freelancing as a web designer or web developer, or you’ve been doing this for a minute, you know that one of the toughest parts isn’t doing the job you love. It’s finding the clients to work with you and pay your rates.
We’ve talked a lot in this podcast about how to take care of clients, but I bet a few of you have been asking back – “Yea, that’s great, but where do I find people to begin with?”
In today’s episode, I’m going to take you through a few options in how to network and find clients, even in a COVID-affected world. Let me be frank – some of these methods take time for them to turn into business for you. However, if you do a few of these, you’ll build a few revenue streams to gain clients.
And in case you’re wondering if it works, I’ve made more money in the last eighteen months as Captain Coder than I ever have in any other position or agency (even the full service agency I co-owned).
Let’s dive in.
Whether you're new to freelancing as a web designer or a web developer, or you've been doing this for a minute, you know that one of the toughest parts isn't doing the job that you love to do. It's finding the clients to pay your rates and to work with you in the first place. Now we've talked a lot of this podcast about how to take care of your clients. And then a few of you been asking, OK, yeah, that's great. But where do I find these people to begin with, especially if you're on the more introverted side? Surprise that many of us don't like to work from home on a computer are that way. Going out and meeting people probably isn't your cup of tea. Now, when I first started my full service agency, we had a few people we already knew that needed help getting a sale here. Or there was easy through our meager contacts. It was getting that ball rolling and finding people outside of our own circles. That was really difficult. Now I want a 100% solo back in 2020. And while I had clients at the time that came with me, finding new ones was well, was overwhelming. The world was shut down. So how can I possibly meet people now in today's episode? I'm going to take you through a few options and how to network and find clients, even in a COVID affected world. Let me be frank. Some of these methods take time for them to turn into business for you. However, if you do a few of these, you'll build a few revenue streams to gain clients. And in case you're wondering if it works. I've made more money in the last 18 months as Captain Potter than I ever have in any other position or agency, even the full service agency I co-owned. So let's dove in. Now, first in person networking. OK. People really like working with people they already know. In fact, we really like working with people that we know, like and trust. When you get mad because you have better skills than a competitor, but they always seem to get the jobs that you want. Well, the saying it's all about who you know, that applies. People that get to know you are going to want are going to do more for your business than you could ever imagine. That's why in person networking can be so vital to the longevity of your business, especially in your local community. OK. Before you get angry with me and say, But I am an introvert or but it's covered some of these in-person options I'm about to take you through offer virtual options right now. And yes, walking into a Chamber of Commerce luncheon might be super intimidating if you don't like big crowds. You certainly don't have to do all of these, but letting people get to know you and your face can help your business. I admit reluctantly, believe me. Now, first off, your local chamber of Commerce, depending on where you live, there is probably a local chamber of Commerce that you can join. Memberships are all optional. You don't have to join just if you're a business in that town. But chances are your chamber can help you connect with other local business owners. My local chamber pre-COVID provided educational breakfasts, luncheons, smaller lead groups, dinner events and even a speed dating form of network networking events. Now you should be able to check your local chambers website to see what kinds of events they offer, but chances are there are ample opportunities. Now the first couple of times you walk into that big room, you, they're going to be tough. And especially if you're like me and you don't thrive in that kind of crowd of strangers environment. Look, just take deep breaths. Make it easier and take a friend with you. The first couple of times, at least on your second, third, fourth time, go find people that you met the last time and catch up with them. This isn't Pokemon. Where are you going to catch them all? Forming a few good friendships instead of getting as many business cards as you can is the way to build relationships that bring you business. Now secondly, I groups now, have you ever heard of me? And I basically it and other referral groups like it are built as an organized referral network. You attend a weekly meeting where one of the business owners in the group presents their business, and then everybody talks about how your business helps your clients and your fellow members are supposed to send you referrals. I'll be honest. Web design and development is a harder one for me and my nine BNP members to get because you're dealing with big ticket sales. The more successful people want to be, and I group tend to be service providers like plumbers, chiropractors, electricians, things like that. Passing referrals to that kind of business is super easy. However. What BNP or a group like it does is help you get more used to networking in person. You learn how to build those relationships, and it becomes a lot more comfortable simply because you're able to get used to meeting new people in a smaller controlled environment. Now, even though the year I spent and be and I, we didn't get a ton of referrals. I still have those former group members send me business five years later and some of them are still clients now. Number three co-working spaces. If you don't love working from home, I don't really understand it, but I get that there are people out there who just can't work from home. You may already be in a co-working space. Now, many of these spaces offers events and other mixers that help you get to know the people that are working in your space. But what they can do is introduce you to other business owners that might need your help. Think about it Most co-working spaces are filled with small business owners or remote workers who either don't like to work from home or don't have the space to do so. Depending on who your target market is, that's the perfect leash to get to know and help with their businesses. Even better is you likely see each other several times a week, so it's super easy to get to know them. Now, take your headphones off once in a while. Strike up a conversation in the kitchen. Get to know a few of the people in your space and attend those events. They can do a lot to help grow your business because chances are they know exactly how you feel and they're going to be eager to help. Now, number four, local entrepreneur events last on the in-person networking list. Think of events like 1 million cups, startup grind or an entrepreneur showcase of some kind. Chances are your local chamber co-working spaces or you got a local group of organizers put something together and, you know, different events that showcase new local businesses. Now these events are great because not only can you meet new entrepreneurs who might need your services, they also tend to be smaller groups of roughly the same people each time. This will help you get to know someone in person. Week after week or month after month and can be far less intimidating than a big luncheon. Can you see a common thread here to get clients for your web design business? Chances are you need to get out of that box just a little bit. I can tell you with 100% honesty that I have never, never been comfortable at these types of events, but they do get easier over time, especially as you get to know people because in-person networking in my community, I've not only sold multiple web site, some to people, years, years after I've met them, but I've gained long term recurring revenue clients and I even got the opportunity to teach digital marketing at which state I have also made some incredible friends. Now let's talk about virtual networking. Chances are you're far more excited about this idea. Not only is it easier for introverts, it is a lot more COVID friendly. Virtual networking still involves you creating conversations and getting to know people. It's just online instead of in-person. Now, don't think of any of these ways to post and push your business, either. It's more about building up the like no trust factor to get those people that you've met to come back to you when they need you to . Now, first things first Facebook and online groups. Want to know my biggest revenue earner in 2021. My biggest lead source. Facebook groups, I'm not even kidding. I enjoyed a few Facebook groups where my peers and my target market spend their time. Not only are there a typical job of posts that can apply, you can apply directly to which are great. It's a great way to build relationships with your target audience virtually. Now, don't jump into a group and immediately start selling your services. No. Most have rules against that anyway, but it's an immediate turn off. Instead, get involved in the conversations lynch our expertize when other members ask questions. Offer free advice. And simply engage. The members will get used to seeing your name so that when someone was looking for a web designer or web developer, you've already got some trust building up. Now, keep an eye on the posts asking for paid help, too, by responding to just a handful of those. I have gained one great recurring client and one giant recurring client, and all I did was engage and respond when someone said they were looking for help. Now, that same token of engaging in online groups, you can do a lot through your generic social media engagement, too. So this is the second one on our list. So think about it this way. Jump in the comments of your target audience posts on Instagram, Tik Tok or reply to their tweets when you connect with them without an agenda. You'll build up a rapport and become the person they think of when they need help later on. Same as with Facebook groups. You'll want to provide some kind of value in your engagement because it shows your expertize. Social media engagement can be a slower burn. They're responding to job up posts and Facebook groups, but it will build up a longer term revenue stream and devoted social media followers. The number three on our virtual networking coolest job boards. Now this is great if you need some quick cash in your business. You can start at a job board like Upwork. Now, I'm honestly not a huge fan of Upwork and other boards like it because it can feel like a race to the bottom. But there are a few things you can do to mitigate that issue. first, make sure you're filtering the jobs you see and you're looking at only jobs. We want someone local or in your country. Chances are when someone posts that they want a developer from the United States, they know they're going to pay more money for that and they're going to be less tight with the purse strings. You also want to fill a filter out those who want to offer bottom prices and that are next to nothing in return for a lot of work. Read the descriptions and make sure that it feels like something that would not only be a good match for you and the business, but for the direction that you want to move into as well. Now it's totally possible possible to build up a great revenue, an online job boards. You just can't fight on price the way that you do. You have to fight on value or you are going to be stuck with the worst kinds of clients. And before you ask, yes, I did actually get a client through Upwork last year. They didn't bat an eye on my prices, and they were so happy with my work that they become a referral source for me as well . Now, the next one on list, if you're spending any time in online Facebook groups or Discord communities, ask fellow members to create a virtual mastermind. Masterminds are basically a group of people that meet on a regular basis. Thank, usually once a month or once a quarter, you get together to provide each other advice and support as fellow business owners. Now, some I've been involved with have been intense, like two full days every quarter intense. You bring a problem to the group in your business, and the others who are also business owners can help you navigate those issues because you all have different backgrounds. That helps you get unique, different perspectives on your problems and find a solution that you may not have thought of on your own now. Well, they're not intended mastermind groups to be a referral source by any means. The more someone in those groups get to know you, the likelier they are to think of you and your business in the future when they need a website or when their friend needs a website. After all, you are already deeply know their business and what they're trying to achieve. The key to this, of course, do not create a mastermind group full of people in the same industry. You'd want to create a group that makes some sense, but also includes your target audience. Like other online business owners or solopreneurs, the various industries honestly help you get a better perspective in your masterminds, too, because you're not all thinking the same way. Now, getting to know people on a personal basis and building relationships with them is the best way to get and keep clients just simply the best. But there is a component to all of this that is just as important as you going out there and building those relationships. Your own marketing. Let me paint a picture. You made a couple of potential clients at a local chamber breakfast. You give them your card and they're interested, but they're not sure yet. After that event, they go to your website, your social media. Maybe they even sign up for your newsletter to get to know you and your business better. Now you're not doing any marketing for yourself or your website is a mess. You're going to lose that contact. They enjoyed meeting you in person. But there is nothing to reinforce who they met or get to know and understand your business better. You need to keep up that momentum and provide multiple points of contact for your prospects to get to know you better. That doesn't mean that you need to be on every social media platform, either. But it does mean that you need to be consistent with your marketing. Consistent in how often you post and consistent and what you post, what you're telling people in person or in virtual networking needs to match up with how you're marketing your business too . Now some of these methods we talked about will take longer to bring you in revenue and may require a bit of investment up front. That's why you not pick just one place to find clients. There are only so many local businesses or so many job up posts, and Facebook instead put your focus on one or two in-person options and one or two virtual options. Select a couple that might bring immediate money like Facebook groups and job boards, and a couple that will build up over time. When you focus on creating a few revenue generators of varying reward lengths, you're doing a lot to create long term, consistent revenue in your business and. Make sure that you come back next week because we'll be talking about turning those leads that you're getting into actual closed sales. Thanks for listening today. We'll see you all next week.