If you’re reading this article, I’m assuming a few things:
1) You’re just starting out with Webflow freelancing
2) You don’t have tonnes of money to spend on ads or fancy contacts to call upon
3) You are feeling slightly overwhelmed at where to even begin
If these apply to you, you’re in the right place.
I have had some sleepless nights worrying about getting clients or not being able to pay rent. I want you to avoid this scenario too.
When people think of web design clients, you probably think of local businesses that need help designing and developing a website. However, clients may also include agencies and other freelancers that have overflow work. You would be amazed how agencies and successful freelancers often need support to facilitate client work.
I recommend starting out by trying to get your own freelance clients AND also freelance for agencies and other freelancers. It is valuable working as a freelancer for successful agencies and more experienced freelancers because you will possibly work with people more experienced than you, and also potentially work on projects that are larger than those you would get on your own.
DISCLAIMER: Although this is a neat 10 step process, your journey to finding your web design clients may not be so linear. All the steps in this article are steps I have taken and would advise but I recommend asking other freelancers that you aspire to be like how they got clients. Pick and choose which steps you feel are appropriate for you to take at the current stage you are at.
1) Get Your Digital Presence In Order
A lot of people just head straight to job boards and respond to ads without too much thought about their digital presence. Jobs are there so that’s an obvious place to begin, right? But hold your horses cowboy.
Say you reach out to a cold prospect, an agency or job post, they aren’t going to hire you without looking them up.
I would recommend making a professional looking LinkedIn account and Twitter account. When I say professional, I just mean having a clean head shot of you and context to what you do and who for. (I’ll talk about setting up your website in a couple of steps).
Why focus on LinkedIn and Twitter?
LinkedIn is a platform where people do business so there are people looking for Webflow developers on there. People search for candidates and skillsets in the search bar and if the information at the top of your profile matches their search, they may well dm you.
Twitter is a thriving mixture of webflower freelancers, agency owners and lurking clients. People share resources, knowledge and work openly. I have not only built a solid professional network there but also a great friend group!
2) Follow web designers and agencies you like
So now you have your digital presence in order, you can start being active on these platforms. If you comment, like or share posts, people will come to your profile and see what you do and why you are worth following/connecting with.
I recommend following and connecting with web designers and agencies you aspire to be like. Sign up to their newsletters and comment on their feeds. Also, follow people that offer complimentary services to webflow such as copywriters, illustrators, photographers and marketers. These people often need webflowers to help take their client’s work and put it online.
Because we hire who we like, know and trust. You are far more likely to get hired for freelance work if someone already knows about you. By engaging with people you want to stay top of mind of on social media, you are effectively being friendly, supportive and likeable.
It’s important that you are NOT fake. Follow individuals and agencies because you actually find what they share useful and/or interesting. There are plenty of people who have ulterior motives who are commenting on everyone’s feeds like social butterflies but it’s obvious because they make comments that are emojis or something like ‘nice work!’
Be thoughtful and intentional with your comments. Add value to the people’s lives that you follow and they will be far more likely to reciprocate.
3) Make dummy projects
While you’re getting your digital presence up and active on social, it’s important to have your own corner of the internet to show your work and what you offer to clients.
Your portfolio will show what you do, who you do it for and how to contact you. But you don’t have any clients yet. So how do we make a portfolio without client work?
Here are some ideas:
- Make websites on things that make you extremely angry or extremely happy - soleros, pollution, hockey, sex, racism, baroque architecture.
I made a website called the History of Veganism. The site is a bit of a mess with crazy animations and horizontal scroll and no attention to SEO… BUT, it pushed me to learn, it gave me a portfolio piece and I even got clients because of the attention I got for this site.
- Create a made-up business - what businesses don’t exist that should? I had a cool idea about the humbike (a bike that churns chick peas to make hummus. Slogan would be "Churn and burn..."). Or what about an app that records voice notes of crazy business ideas. Or what about a job board for a specific ethnic or psychographic group?
- Re-design a local business website and go to show them - a lot of local businesses have terrible websites. You could simply re-design their website and go in to the shop and tell them how much you love their business but how much it could be improved with some simple changes.
- Get involved in competitions (webflow party) - the Webflow Party host regular challenges for real clients. This is a great way to cut your teeth and make projects that could be hosted on YouTube channels.
I entered a competition for Ran Segall and came in to the top 5. This was a huge confidence booster for me!
4) Make Your Own Portfolio Website
What makes a good portfolio?
I think the key things to include are:
- A picture of you so that people know who they’re working with
- What you do - is it website design and development? Do you offer just Webflow websites or other services too?
- Who you do it for - do you do websites for service based businesses or a more specific industry niche?
- Testimonials (or some kind of social proof)
- A clear CTA to contact you
If you want to see other great portfolios, have a look at this blog post: 12 Great Freelancer Websites To Inspire Your Own
There are so many different things that come in to this so I recommend watching videos like this one by Ran Segall to inspire you further:
5) Set Up Email Signature Which Includes Your Website
I know this seems a bit random and extra but you will probably be emailing people as your main form of communication. It’s important to treat this as a full time job even if you are doing this part time currently so looking professional when contacting potential clients is key.
Having an email signature means clients can see your amazing social profiles + website and get to know you a bit from a single email. Obviously, people are more likely to visit your website if you do this!
Make it easy for them to see the goods! Something simple like the screenshot above is fine.
6) Email Your Family And Friends
I recommend doing a personalised email explaining that you are offering website services as a freelancer. I think it’s even fair to say that since you are new to the industry and keen to have portfolio work, you are willing to work for a discount rate. This way, you family and friends are helping you get a portfolio piece and potentially contacts.
Here’s the type of email I would write to each individual family member. Copy this text if you want to use this as a template:
Hi (insert name), hope you’re well?
Sorry for emailing out the blue but I wanted to let you know that I am starting a career as a website designer and developer.
If you or anyone you know want support with building or re-building an existing website, I would love to offer my services to you! Since I’m just starting out, I’m trying to build my portfolio and so I am open to any size of project that gives me experience and a portfolio piece. I recognise how early I am in my journey too so would be willing to offer a family price for you for any work.
Would jump and the opportunity to work on a website for you so let me know!
Loads of love,Jack
Note: I explicitly said I would offer a discount since I am using this as an opportunity to learn and grow.
7) Build In Public!
You have a couple of jobs now from aunty Sue that has an offensively loud laugh and weird cousin Dave who drinks too much. Great!
Now as you build stuff, make sure you share your process on Twitter. What colour palette have you chosen for the build? What have you learnt about managing the client? Did you offer on page SEO for them and why?
These projects may have been stressful and you charged wayyyy too little but now you know how much work these projects take, and you know how to manage clients better.
8) Go on job boards to look for freelance roles at agencies
Maybe you have a couple of projects under your belt now and so you are open to getting a more regular freelance gig working for a studio. Why I recommend this tremendously:
- This work is more consistent since successful agencies are getting more consistent projects than you are as a young freelancer. Do a good job for them and you will get consistent work.
- You can have more consistent cash flow as a freelancer working for agencies. I have found projects are generally more consistent and as a result, freelancing has been easier.
- You work on bigger projects for a vast variety of industries which is fascinating to see behind the curtain
- You can put the agency work in your own portfolio. This will help you have more recognisable names in your portfolio than you would get on your own as a new Webflow freelancer. (You obviously need to give credit to the agency for the parts of the project they did and check you can put this work in your portfolio).
- You can still have a freelance lifestyle since you can work as a freelancer for multiple agencies and can accept and turn down projects depending on how busy you are.
- You get to see what their process is not just for client work, but sales process, marketing process and project management.
If you want to get agency projects with agencies, here is where I recommend looking for freelance gigs at agencies (besides just looking out for jobs on twitter):
Starting out in freelancing is hard. If I followed this process, I am sure I would’ve got clients a lot quicker than I did but it will still take you months to get your first clients probably. Becoming liked, known and trusted takes time. Learning the platform well enough to do websites takes time let alone offer them to paying clients.
However, following these rough steps will ensure that you become a webflow freelancer. You will grow and develop tremendously fast and you will be amazed by how far you have come.
Go for it!