One of the best ways for a freelance designer to get work is to get a nice brochure or business cards. Go around to local businesses and sell your self and the quality of your work. Sales is a big part of freelancing so sometimes walking that pavement is the best way to really show clients who you are. Most businesses get spam from web design companies all the time asking to do their websites cheap. With a personal meeting and introduction of yourself and what you do will increase your odds of getting these clients instead of the big web design companies. Make sure to leave your business cards at local businesses and bulletin boards as well. Any chance you can get to promote yourself with help find new clients.
Online now there are a lot of freelancer sites where designers can bid on multiple projects. These sites are pretty competitive and most of them don’t allow you to leave your contact information. The reason they do this is so the payments have to go through them and they can middle it. I built a site online with no contact info and its basically just like my portfolio without any contact details. Think of a nice catch phrase to get their interest and let your portfolio do the rest of the talking. Another site that is similar to this is craigslist. You can browse through projects and email the potential client, give them a bid and a sales pitch. Beware of scams and also beware of fake posts on there looking to get free quotes. What I mean by this is sometimes designers make fake posts only to get an idea of what they should charge their new client. I generally do not give a bid until I can get a better sense of the potential client.
Word to Mouth
I have noticed that I get more then 40% of my clients through word to mouth. This is one of the biggest reasons why new designers must do a great job and keep their clients happy. Clients will tell their friends and family that they have a great designer. If early on you don’t think you can handle a project then I would recommend not taking it. The project will not only overwhelm yourself but also will give you a bad name. Keep your clients happy and build them quality work. Your portfolio is your strongest weapon because a sales pitch can only tell them so much about what you can do. Make sure you put it in your client contracts or at least ask them before hand to promote yourself on their website you build them as well. Most of the time when anyone goes to your clients site and they have a good user experience they will look at who designed it.
Building close relationships with other freelance designers or web companies helps a lot as well. I have a lot of my work out sourced to me from designers or companies that are jam packed with work at the time. They won’t always send you work but if you keep enough of them around it will bring you consistent work. Network with designers and also make sure to give them a discount so they continue to send their extra work to you. The reason it is okay to give designers and companies discounts is because the work will be consistent.
A more expensive approach is to pay for marketing. Google adds is a way to put a link to your site with a little advertisement on sites all over the world. You can pay to have it go a few sites or thousands all depending on how much money you can afford at the time. Also facebook has a marketing add space for users. These options are a lot more pricey and sometimes work so well that you could get blown up with emails for weeks. Sometimes it begins to be too much to handle so make sure you only go for what you can handle.
We all know how overwhelming this business is but with some hard work and a good attitude you will make it.