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Finally, after establishing your niche, and building your portfolio – it’s time to talk about landing your first client. As we talk about landing your first client, it’s important to point out that we don’t mean just any project. While it’s obviously business and excellent practice, projects that are not part of your brand don’t count. Your official first client must be someone who fits into your defined niche that you have marketed to. So how do you land this first client? Well the answer is marketing, and there are several different ways you can & should go about it: digital marketing, networking, and door to door. When you are just getting started you will want to get familiar with each of these areas, especially if you don’t have a large marketing budget. A lot of people only want to do the digital marketing and just want to traffic to flow to their site, but unfortunately that just isn’t reality. You by all means should do as much digital marketing as possible as it has the largest reach and once your campaigns are running you don’t have to physically do anything, but if you were hoping that you wouldn’t have to pick up the phone or do some work on the ground you will most likely have to suck it up.

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is the process of marketing your business online through different types of campaigns. Pretty common sense stuff. What is not so common sense is the tools you will need to use and how to use them. Some of the most popular of these are pay per click campaigns, social media campaigns, content marketing, and email campaigns. When you set up these campaigns you will need to specify key words, age groups, geographic areas, and many other details in order to run your campaign to your target market.

Digital marketing is an incredibly strong marketing tool as it allows you to reach a much larger target market than you could ever reach on your own. Additionally, it is useful because it allows you to always be marketing. Once your campaign is up and running, it is always active. Weather you are sleeping or currently designing, it will always be working in the background gathering leads.  The downside to these campaigns is that they are not always successful and they cost money to run. When you first start a campaign there will a period of time where you are simply running the campaign to see what aspects of it are successful and what content your target market actually engages with. You will have to analyze these campaigns and they will provide you with some very useful information, but until you find what works you may actually have a negative return on your ads. This can be particularly difficult when you do not have a large marketing budget. That is why when you are first starting out it is a good idea to set up a large quantity of campaigns, all with a very low budget so you can learn what works for as low a cost a possible. 

Networking

Another key way to get clients is to network. Now the issue with networking, and the same will go for door to door marketing, is you are obviously constrained to the areas you can go to. However, this isn’t a huge limitation since you will have much more success marketing in your area than anywhere else anyway. In order to network the most important thing is to just get out there and meet people. Regardless of what city you live in there is going to be a plethora of meetup groups that you can start going to in order to get your name out there. Find the various web design and development meetup groups around you and go meet some of the other designers active in your community. Once you get to know them, maybe they can refer you to a few jobs. Additionally, you will want to go to any small business meetups as well as any meetups that center around your target market. It’s not something a lot of people like doing, but you will definitely see some return in doing so. Word of mouth is still one of the best ways to grow your business and being known in your area as the designer you call if you need a website in this particular market is one of the best things you can have going for you. If you can establish that, you are officially a professional designer. Once your digital marketing campaigns start to see some success you may want to stop doing door to door marketing, but networking in your area is something you will always want to do. Regardless of how successful you become. 

Door To Door Marketing

The final marketing strategy we will cover in order to land your first client is door to door marketing. Some people may not mind, or may even actually like it, but personally I dispose door to door marketing. However, despite hating it, I can not deny that it works. The problem with it is, just like sales and marketing in any industry, you are going to get a lot of nos, and it takes a relatively large time investment to gather, nurture and close these leads.

My strategy for this is to first find an specific area around you. Then gather a list of all of the business that fit into your target market. Finally, set out a day and go to each of these businesses, introduce yourself and ask if they are interested in any sort of web work. Most likely they will say no, but sometimes they will be. Either way be persistent, gather their information and their business card, and then continue to follow up with them. Ask about who they are currently working with, what they are paying, and propose how you can improve their business by choosing you. 

Door to door marketing is a lot of work and can be very discouraging, but sometimes when you are first starting out you don’t really have a choice. No one just walks into success. It will most likely take time on the ground while you polish off your digital media campaigns. Just power through it and once you start to see some return from other areas you can slowly start to decrease the amount of time you spend going door to door, and before you know it you won’t have to do it at all. 

Conclusion

Your first client will be the hardest one to land, but it will also be the most gratifying. It means you have officially started on your way and are now a credible designer. All that is left is to knock the project out of the park. When you are first starting every project needs to be amazing from their customers perspective. Any bad review can really impact your business in a negative way, especially locally, but the same goes for a positive review. If you knock it out of the park, word will spread. The marketing to first start landing clients is a lot of work, but it’s always important that you have only just landed the project. Once you have the account, it’s time to get to work and show everyone what you are capable of. 

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