Do you have problems finding graphic design clients and scaling through bigger projects?
I started my freelancer career working for private clients, creating websites, and app UIs.
In this article, I'll show you my technique to convince customers and increase my prices client after client.
Step #1 of working for clients is understanding what to offer.
Graphic design is a large container of services, and if you provide all of them, you're not an expert in anything.
It would be best if you niched down as much as you can. As I told you, I helped people with websites and app UIs. I didn't provide assets for social media, illustrations, publications, or packaging.
This approach put me in the “web design and app UI” niche. If anyone would need one of these two things, I'm the right person.
If you're not sure about what to offer, I have a suggestion for you.
Visit Fiverr.com, the leading freelance marketplace, and search for “graphic design.”
Then filter your results for “Top-rated seller” and take a look at the services offered. You'll quickly notice that all the top sellers focus on a single field.
There are freelancers that work just with social media assets, others with corporate identity, others with websites…
Focusing on a single field instead of providing different services, is what put them in the Top-Rated list.
If I need a brochure designed, I will search for someone who creates brochures and similar items. I wouldn't consider asking someone who also builds websites.
Find your avatars
After you picked your expertise, it's time to look for your avatars.
An avatar is an ideal customer who needs your help and can pay for it.
I asked myself this questions years ago, and my ideals avatars where:
- Startups that just created a new web app
- New freelancers who needed an online presence
- Bars and Restaurants looking for new customers
Your goal is to find a couple of avatars. A list of ideal costumers will help you find them and reach out with the right message.
How to tailor the right message
Once you have your list of avatars, it will become easy to find them online and offline.
If you want more information about where to look for clients, I have a video where I cover this topic.
Step #2 is to tailor the right message to send them, and this is where many make a huge mistake.
Hypothetical clients aren't interested in your skills and past experiences. They mainly want to know if you're the right person to fix their problems.
Stop sending your portfolio and CV if you're doing this because that's what 99% of people out there do.
Instead, focus on your potential client's weak spots.
In case you design websites, visit their websites and write a list of things you could improve. Then add all these notes in the first email or message you send to them.
Clients usually don't even know what issues they have with their products. If you shine a light on these points, clients will realize they need you.
You can choose the way you want to show your analysis to the client. Sometimes I send video review, where I share my screen and present the problems to the viewer. If you'd like to know more about this technique, watch this video.
Help before they pay you.
Something you should consider as well, it's to show a sneak-peek of your work to the client.
If you want to redesign their website, attach to your email a mockup you built for their homepage. If you offer to design Facebook ads instead, attach a personalized example.
This allowed me to get clients I've never imagined I could work with.
Obviously, this approach requires time, so I recommend you use automated services to be quicker.
If you build websites for clients, I suggest you use Elementor. It's the best website builder on the market, and one of the most useful online tools I've ever used.
If instead, you create social media assets and corporate identity, Canva is the way to go. It's a web app that simplifies working on these elements.
How to reach bigger clients
The secret about scaling your business lies in building a portfolio and promoting your progress.
The more we have previous projects to show, the easier it will be to find new and more significant clients.
A great technique to enrich your portfolio is through referral marketing: encourage and reward your present customers for referring you to friends and acquaintances.
I used to offer a 20% discount for each new client referred, and this helped me a lot growing in my early stages.
At the same time, you need to promote your work and reach potential clients organically.
Keep a daily journal on social media of everything you're doing. Whatever channel you want to use (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube…), be completely transparent about your work.
Publish drafts, mockups, videos, and everything else could be useful to someone who would hire you in the future.
But since you can't rely simply on social media, also use Freelance Marketplaces to be found by new customers.
I advise you not to use platforms like Fiverr and Upwork. There is way too much competition on them, and you will need to lower your prices in order to stay afloat.
There are many other marketplaces where to start, with lower demand, but lower competition as well.
Elementor, for example, recently launched the platform “Elementor experts”. It allows you to create a personal page, and I'm sure it will become more and more popular.
If you want to take a look at 5 minor marketplaces you can use, and that will give you better results than Fiverr or Upwork, you can download the list here.