Whether you’re a full-time freelancer or just dipping your toe in, reaching your ideal clients can be a challenge. How do you find them? And how do you convert them once they land on your site or social media?
If you’re struggling with these questions, you’re not alone. I’ve been a part-time freelance graphic designer for almost 10 years now, and I’ve been through many ups and downs trying to find and engage my dream clients. Below are my top tips you can implement today to help reach the people who’ve been looking for you all along: from making your website work for you (with my platform of choice, Squarespace) to cultivating an email list to diversifying your revenue streams.
1. Clearly list services on your website
Before you book any clients, you’ll want to have a good handle on what you’re actually offering. I’ve found that with thoughtfully structured and detailed service packages, I not only book more clients but the actual project runs so much smoother.
When considering how to present your services, the more specific you are up-front, the better. If you’re a copywriter, avoid listing “copywriting” and instead try determining different package tiers. What specific deliverables should the client expect at the end of the project? What is not included? The fun part about this is, it’s totally up to you! Brainstorm what you really love producing as a freelancer. If you’re a graphic designer, maybe you feel confident and excited about creating a branding suite for clients, but struggle with different elements, like packaging design or printed collateral. Reorganize your service package to highlight the elements you will deliver—logo, submark, alternate logos, color palette, etc.— and exclude printed collateral elements. Narrowing in on exactly what you want to offer helps you better serve your clients and prepares them for what to expect in the process of working with you.
Not sure what services to offer? Read this.
Once you have your service packages mapped out, list them clearly and concisely on your website. Avoid industry jargon and have a friend read over the text before you hit publish to ensure potential clients that land on your site will fully understand what you’re offering. I love working with Squarespace for website design, because each template comes pre-loaded with layouts for different needs, including listing your services. It’s less overwhelming to add everything to your site when you don’t have to start from scratch. It’s also easy to add scheduling functionality to your site if you want to offer prospective clients a frictionless option to set up a consultation with you.
2. Consider listing your prices on your website
Speaking of detailing your services on your website, it’s also worth considering your pricing. There’s debate around whether or not it’s better to list your pricing upfront on your site or wait until a client inquires with you. I’m personally of the mind that listing your pricing will benefit you in the long run.
Remember that you want serious inquiries to reach out to you. It can be a big waste of time to constantly field inquiries for clients that aren’t ready to invest in your services. It’s scary to think about when you’re just starting out, but it’s important to remember that working for less than you are worth can be detrimental in the long run. Listing your prices upfront will also help you stick to your quotes when you start working directly with clients.
If you’re unsure, group your services into tiers and price them accordingly or try listing out a pricing range for each service package.
3. Establish expert status with blog posts
A great way to utilize your website, even if you don’t have a ton of relevant previous work to display, is to publish evergreen blog posts. Evergreen content is content not tied to a specific season or time of the year, so it’s relevant to potential clients and readers, whenever they happen to land on your site.
Think about the questions clients ask you before you start working together (some that come to mind for me as a graphic designer are: “what is a submark and how will I use it in my brand identity?” or “what pages do I absolutely need on my website?”) and turn the answers into blog posts. The posts will give you something to promote on social platforms like Instagram and Pinterest as well as save you time in the long run because you’ll have a running educational hub to direct potential clients to, instead of answering each question individually.
Pro tip: When creating your blog posts in Squarespace, toggle off the “Show Date” option, so that your posts aren’t tagged with a specific publish date. That way, no matter when potential clients end up on your site, the evergreen content will look new and updated.
4. Start an email list
Clients frequently ask me if it’s okay to collect email address on their site, even if they aren’t planning to send out regular newsletters just yet. My answer: yes! Your email list can be a powerful tool for your service-based business, so make building it a priority.
The people who sign up for your list are your engaged core audience, who will want to be the first to know about new services you’re offering, new blog posts you’ve written, sales you’re running, and more. Even if you’re not at the place where you can regularly send out newsletters or updates via email, add an email box to your website so you can cultivate your list beforehand. This way, when you are ready to put focus behind your email marketing, you’re already have an audience.
Adding email collection to your Squarespace site is a breeze, simply select the newsletter icon and a pre-made sign-up box will be added. By default, your contacts will filter into your Squarespace email campaigns, keeping everything organized and in one easy-to-find place once you’re ready to start email marketing.
5. Show off your previous work, strategically
You don’t need 85 previous projects to create a compelling website that actually converts into new clients. You also don’t need to showcase every single project you’ve ever worked on. As a freelancer, I’ve worked on plenty of projects that were right at the time, but not right to showcase on my portfolio now. Some of them showcase services or offerings I no longer provide or don’t reflect the direction my work as taken recently. Be selective about what work you want to showcase and curate a few projects that speak to the clients you want to attract right now.
If you don’t have any client work you feel comfortable adding to your portfolio, try a self-initiated project for a faux dream client. Personal projects have been some of my favorite things to work on in the past and they make great showcase pieces for your portfolio or example projects for your evergreen blog posts.
6. Try new revenue streams
As a service-based business, diversifying your revenue stream can relieve so much for the pressure of searching for and landing the right clients. When you have multiple sources of income coming in, you can afford to be selective with inquiries and only accept the clients you know you will work the best with. This will help you produce better results for your clients in the long run as well. Win, win.
I love the all-in-one nature of hosting my site on Squarespace, because I can list my services and cater to my freelance clients, while also hosting my online shop for my prints and custom portraits. Having that secondary source of income built directly into one website makes keeping track of everything a breeze (or at least, breezier).
I also love that Squarespace now offers Member Areas, which allow you to create membership tiers on your site. This would be so useful for hosting an online course or providing member-exclusive content such as downloadables and video resources.
If you’re a freelancer struggling to find and maintain consistent work, remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect. I struggled for a long time with publishing my own site or sharing my work on social media because I wanted everything to be in picture perfect shape before it could reach potential clients. What I didn’t realize was how this perfectionism was hindering me finding any clients or work in the first place. Start where you are. Launch your site and get your work out there and then refine and update as you go along.
This post is sponsored by Squarespace, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.