That first client is always one of the toughest.
To be more realistic the first 5 clients are always the toughest.
When I first started it was slow going. I think that’s true of anyone trying to break through in any kind of industry.
It’s a vicious cycle. Clients give jobs to web designers with a solid portfolio. BUT how can you build a portfolio unless a client gives you a job?
I was a bit of a dorky kid. I didn’t know it though. I thought I was pretty cool.
So, I didn’t understand why the girls I liked would hang up on me when I called.
I literally thought things like, “If they just gave me a chance to show how cool I am they’d fall head over heels.”
I’ll wait for you to stop laughing.
As silly as that is, getting your first few clients is kind of similar.
On the inside, you know you’re cool. You know you’ve got what it takes. But on the outside, you love comic books and wear coke bottle glasses made by Nintendo. And, clients are looking at you like, “Seriously?”
Here are a few things I’ve found are helpful in convincing those first few clients how cool you actually are.
- Start with People You Know
Getting a web design client is all about establishing trust. And, trust, most of the time, has to be more than a feeling that you could potentially be trustworthy.
So, how do you prove you are trustworthy? The biggest ways are your portfolio and client testimonies.
But, if you don’t have either of those you have to go to people that trust you for different reasons. You go to people that know you personally.
The saying goes like this: “When you’re making a bouquet you start with the flowers closest to you.”
So, write down a list of 10 people that you know could use a website and say:
“Hey I’m starting to learn web design and I need to build up my portfolio. I’d love to work on a site for you and (name their business, personal project, whatever). I’d do it for cheap since I’m just getting started.”
THEN, wait for them to respond. Don’t get nervous and talk about how you might do a crappy job. Just let them say yes or no.
- Up Your Confidence Game
Are you confident about your ability to do a good job on a website? If not it will show.
If you aren’t confident in yourself then people are less likely to trust you because you don’t even trust YOURSELF!
So, make sure you come in confident OR make sure you’re able to act confidently for a 10-minute phone call.
How do you do that? Plan and rehearse the conversation. Sound cheesy? Well, all I can say is it works.
You might have heard me talk about my friend Josh. He’s the reason you’re reading this blog right now.
If you have no clue what I’m talking about read my About Page.
I helped him find his first client. He was nervous about the first phone call.
So, I called him and acted like I was the client. And, he rehearsed what he was going to say to me.
If you have a plan for what you say and how to respond it comes across as confidence.
Your hands might be literally shaking as you talk BUT they won’t know that. All they’ll know is that you sound professional and had a response to every question they threw at you.
- Remove the Risk
There’s a reason a 30-day money-back guarantee works so effectively in marketing. It takes away the risk of the purchase.
So, what can you do to remove risk for a potential client? You make it so that when everything is finished if they don’t like what you give them they don’t have to pay you.
It’s your own personal 30-day money-back guarantee.
Listen, you and I both know you’re going to work your butt off to get them something they’re proud of. BUT, they don’t know that.
Telling them they don’t have to use or pay you for something they don’t like takes away the obligation they might feel to use what you make.
It’s putting the risk back on yourself and showing them you are invested in making sure this is a win for everyone.
- Keep Asking
At the end of the day, it’s a numbers game. The more people you ask the more your chances increase to land a gig.
Trust me when I say you will get a gig eventually. Hearing, “No,” so often can get discouraging. BUT, it is all a part of the process.
You hear someone say, “No,” and you say, “No problem! Can you tell me what your thinking is for not moving forward with this?”
Then you hear them out and you come up with a better pitch that answers those specific objections the next time you talk to someone.
IF YOU KEEP GOING YOU WILL EVENTUALLY BREAKTHROUGH.
Bottom line, keep at it! Don’t get discouraged and quit. The first season takes time but, trust me, it’s worth it in the long run.
Anything that’s worthwhile will come with adversity. But, overcoming adversity is exactly what you need to improve and get better and show clients you can be trusted with their website.
Now it’s your turn! What did your first gig look like? Answer in the comments below.