Grow your web design business with the right clients

The trick to quickly grow a profitable web design business is working with the right type of clients from the very beginning. We always want to be working with the best clients we can, but it’s even more important when you’re building the portfolio and track record of past results.

Picking the RIGHT type of clients is key – it helps everything else fall into place. Working with bad clients is the exact opposite – you’ll soon be back to square one.

Later in this article, I’ll break it down why it doesn’t make sense to rush and what strategic portfolio pieces mean. Let’s start with a mental exercise first. Imagine these 2 scenarios.

Scenario #1: you’re working with great clients:

  • When they get massive results you look like a rockstar;
  • When the project is done fast you look super organized;
  • When the website looks great you look like a professional;
  • When they recommend you – others know your clients business so they trust you also.

Scenario #2: you’re working with the wrong sort of clients:

  • They change their mind a lot so the website looks like a disaster;
  • They are slow to send you the information you need, now you also look disorganized;
  • Their business has bigger problems than a website – you can only get limited results with the website.

No one would willingly choose the scenario #2, but this is exactly what happens when you’re not strategic about building your portfolio. The right clients create a quickly growing and profitable web design business. The wrong clients suck up your time, focus, effort, and profit.

What sort of client is right for someone like me looking to grow their web design business? 

To turn scenario #1 into reality you’ll need to ask yourself this question first: “How to recognise a good client to work with that will help me grow my business as fast as possible?”

First off, there is no “best niche” or “best industry” for you to work in when you first start. Every niche and every industry has good and bad clients. In every niche, there are some clients who will be great to work with and who will pay you a lot. And there will be other clients who you will not want to work with.

Don’t focus on specific niches or industries just yet – focus on how to get started first. You can pick a specific niche later when you see what is working best for you.

The better approach to finding the perfect type of client for you is to look at a mixture of things…

5 things to look for to find the perfect web design client.

1) They have something in common with you.

The first thing to look for is that you’re going to be able to connect with the business you contact. You want them to be open to hearing from you and possibly working together.

Keep in mind when you first start you will have very little trust. It means reaching out to someone in a different country in an industry you have never helped before is a big leap. Usually too big.

The better way is to start with people who are more likely to trust you first. If you start with these people first, you can then use those projects to build more trust, so you can reach other people further away.

Start with the low-hanging fruit. Look at your background, a place where you live or have lived, what you have done, your current or past workplaces, who you know, and who they know. Jot down all the businesses that you have something in common with.

Look at your community, your city, your local area, your country – anywhere where people might be more likely to trust you.

Look at your personal network and the people that they know. Look at the connections you have and how you can use them. People trust people they already know or people who know someone they already know.

Look at your life experiences. Your hobbies, what you find interesting, what you know about. Look for businesses who you might be able to help based off of this.

In short – start with what you got and build from there.

2) They have a great business.

The next thing to look for is an actual great business.

At this point, you’re going to have dozens of businesses on your list. Not all of them are the right type of businesses that you should be working with though. Make sure you don’t start working with just any type of business – you need to make sure it’s a GREAT business.

To explain what a good business is, let’s first look at a not so good business:

  •  They don’t have a clear idea of what they are doing or who will be their customer;
  • They may have very few or no past customers;
  • They don’t have a great marketplace reputation or any unique value to offer;
  • They don’t know how to attract clients or get people to visit the website;
  • They are not well known and offer something that isn’t in much demand (or has too many competitors);
  • They are not that good at what they do.

It’s very hard to help these people succeed with a website – especially when first starting. Their problems are rooted much deeper, and without years of experience, you would probably not be able to help them anyway. Often they are the type of clients that don’t see value in investing in their business too.

What you want instead is to work with someone who doesn’t have these problems and has a great successful business that people love and need.

Some signs it’s a great business:

  • Social proof: reputation and reviews (their past customers love what they do and clearly got a lot of value for using their services);
  • Demand: market need (people need whatever it is that they do and they are not short of people to help);
  • Proof of concept: a track record of results (they are proven to deliver on what they promise and they offer a great solution/service);
  • Niche authority: they are well known (people in the industry know of them and they are seen as one of the best);
  • Unique selling proposition: a unique style or service (there is something about their business which makes them stand out and unique).

If you can find a business with a few or all of these points then you have a potentially great web project. When you work for these types of clients, it’s so much easier to get amazing results and have a wildly successful website.

How will I know if they need me though?

3) They have a bad website.

Keep in mind a bad website doesn’t mean an old website. It means a website that isn’t getting them the best results possible.

A new website can still suck, and an old website might still be amazing at selling.

It’s about looking at if it is working.

The main reason any great business will be interested in getting a new website is if there is a lot of potential to do so. You need to look for great businesses whose website doesn’t match the level of the business.

Is this website good or bad? A quick test.

Imagine that you are the type of people who would be using this service and looking to buy this product. Imagine you are on their website.

Now ask yourself:

Does it sell you as good as it could, based on what you know about the business?
Could it be making it easier for you to take action?
Could it be helping you more to buy their product or service?
Could it be building more trust?
Could it be reducing your fear of taking action?
Could it be better motivating you to reach out to this business today?

In short – does their current website have a sales problem?

If so then perfect. The bigger the problem the more you can help, and the easier it will be to get them to work with you. Always look for the people with the biggest sales problem you can find.

4) They have untapped potential.

The fourth thing we want to look for when picking the perfect web design client is if they have a lot of untapped potential.

This is when they have a lot of things that could be used on the website but they aren’t.

Maybe they have hundreds of Fb and Google reviews, but they have zero on the website. They could have a lot of pictures of their products and customers on social media, but the website shows none. Maybe they just finished a massive project, but the website doesn’t show this at all. They could be using a simple booking system, but they don’t have it set up.

You get the picture. Look for things they could be doing, but they aren’t.

The more potential things they could be doing, the more value you can easily bring to the project. If this was your business, what would you be doing to increase sales?

When you find someone who is an ideal client AND has a lot of untapped potential, you have a super successful project just waiting to happen.

5) They are motivated to take action.

The final point is that the business owner actually wants to take action.

This can be the most frustrating thing in the world – you find the perfect business with so much potential to increase sales – but they don’t care.

If they don’t want to make things better, then you simply can’t help them. Clients like this will mean it takes months to finish a project. They don’t send you the info you need, they don’t write back to emails, they just don’t care.

We want to work with people who are highly motivated. When they are happy to let us help them, then everything goes 100x better. We finish the project faster, which means we can start reaching out to the next potential clients faster, the website works better, and the results are amazing, which helps us sell the next project easier.

You always need to make sure that the clients you work with are going to allow you to help them. Otherwise, you are trying to save someone who doesn’t want your help – and that’s when you both drown.

Putting it all together

To summarise the article in 5 easy steps:

1) Make a list of businesses you can connect with.
2) Look for which of them are great businesses.
3) Check which of them have websites that aren’t selling as good as they could be.
4) Also, look for any extra potential the business might have.
5) Then look for someone who actually wants your help.

After you’ve done this exercise, you should have a solid list of businesses to reach out to. Don’t burn through the list, but rather look at who you could easily connect with. Look for possible business meetups you could go to, places you could visit and talk to business owners in person, events where you might meet them and have a chat. Connect with suitable business owners on social media. Be creative. You’ve got this.

Read other articles in the 1K Challenge series now:

  1. How a website can help a business?
  2. Core skills a web designer needs to know now.
  3. Why do most web designers struggle to make sales?
  4. How to improve your web design sales 1000% by earning trust.
  5. A simple 6-step process to land portfolio clients.
  6. When should I work for free as a web designer
  7. Confused people don’t buy – how to control a sale in 3 steps.
  8. How to prepare for a sales meeting? (With a template and my notes.)

The Fox Web School $1,000 Website Challenge

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