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How to get business


Senior Member
Word of mouth. x18. My friend's dad ran a business and recommended me after seeing a few of my recent muck-about designs. Then my dad, who got me a job with the IRO (not the IRA - which i initially typed. too much history coursework :(), which got me more business, obvs.

After that, it seems people who've seen the sites have come onto my site through provided links, and have enquired about their projects, quotes etc.

I also recently did a "free job" for quite a few people, which got me lots of notice, and a bigger portfolio.
As Tim said word of mouth is a great thing...I've designed two sites for clients on the side without even having to do any marketing...because i haven't started actually freelancing yet. At my part-time job I got one website from the computer technician we have come in, he saw my sites, saw that I knew what I was doing and hooked me up with a auto dealer broker.

Then another site I did was for my friend's dad who is part of a latino firefighter organization that puts out a fund raising calendar...that was cool because the site got some media exposure on like 3 of the local news channels.

I think the easiest and most effective will be letting people tell people you are good at what you do and eventually word will get around and clients will be coming to you out of the blue...and of course a bit of marketing doesn't hurt, hit up some forums, twitter, linked in, facebook etc etc. There are a ton of online resources.


Active Member
Hey Timmo,

As Tim mentioned one of the most effective ways to generate new business is referrals and word of mouth, obviously it can be a catch 22 when you're first starting out so it's worth considering taking on some projects at a discounted rate for local charities or friends/family. Once you've started to build up the portfolio you can then look to promote yourself, I've found business forums to be quite effective as Mark/Eagle mentioned. Above all reputation is what keeps the work coming in, if you deliver a good service and value to a client, they will most probably recommend your services.

It's also worth working on your own site SEO, if you're focusing on web design, as this will naturally be one of the first places a potential client could find you, try to optimize your site for local related terms.

One of the best things you can do to get work is to just keep creating visible projects. If you're just starting out and don't have any clients, then create your own projects based on things you love.

Just make sure you get the word about those projects and the rest will take care of itself.
The key think is speed of response. Getting a minor text change up in 5 minutes is far more impressive to a client than any amount of graphical flair or technical wizardry. Always remember that your clients want a web site to work for their business not for you to get kudos on some design forum.


Active Member
DroppedShadow said:
The key think is speed of response. Getting a minor text change up in 5 minutes is far more impressive to a client than any amount of graphical flair or technical wizardry. Always remember that your clients want a web site to work for their business not for you to get kudos on some design forum.
Good point. - BB book of Life ( there's another Greg!) It's not about You...It's about Them.


Senior Member
PeterBarlow said:
Has Elance actually been worth it for you Peter? I always think about joining these things to get some extra work, but always thought they were awful money wise, like $50 for a logo?

Also how do you get your first job on there when you have no feedback?
Its been very worth it...perhaps not so much for the money but definitly for the clients.

Let me explain: The South African Rand (my currency until a month or so ago) is weaker than the US$ so when I converted my elance money it was quite a tidy sum....

Now, however, I am paying everything in good old GBP and so have had to raise prices and what not.

Thing is, the clients who have stayed with me are the ones I did jobs for on elance and they are what has jumpstarted my freelance business here in the UK. They are the reason I can viably register myself and a sole trader and begin putting food back on the table again.

I have now moved away from invoicing them over elance and have switched to Pay Pal (elance takes 8.75% of all your earnings as a handling fee).

I am now using elance exclusively to find new long-term clients (ie: do a few jobs for people and see what happens) and not as my core source of revenue...as I was before. Now I just need to find some local clients and I will be all set.

PS: Don't get me wrong, the site is expensive and often you are competing with cheap Indian assembly-line "creative agencies" but its worth it in the long run...you just have to plug away at it, I got 2 jobs in the first 6 months I was on there but kept bidding and the second half of 2008 was an awesome time! Especially once all of the major players had gone on holliday over the xmas period- Dec 2008- Jan 2009 was my best time ever!


Senior Member
I can see what you mean by getting long term clients, but i just can't look past the whole bidding for a job, as like you say the indian assembly people just bid so low its not worth the time.
It obviously works to keep potential clients coming back like you have, do you have to pay per month to join it?
Yeah its a bit of a bugger the whole bidding thing.....you get clients who want the cheapest deal and then those rare clients who are actually looking for someone talented who knows how to speak English properly!

They have different packages for membership...I am currently paying $15 per months for 30 "connects" (30 bids). Then elance takes 8.75% of all the money it handles....
Remember: If you're not out there you don't exist. Do some designs, get them out there and that's half your battle won! You will be surprised how quickly word will spread if you are good at what you do. Good luck!
Word of mouth is definitely the place you want to end up at, but getting there can be difficult.

Try doing a few local or community based sites for free. I did two free site initially a camera shop and a local netball club. The camera shop brought zero work, but surprisingly the netball club got the rest of the teams in the league jealous and asking for work.

Try putting a subtle link at the bottom of your work like “web design by me” and link back to your site. This is also a good avenue of generating leads, but regularly brings up the moral question of working for one of your clients competitors.


word of mouth keeps me going at the moment .. don't even have my own website any more.. not had one of my own for about 5 years LOL been doing other peoples work too much to do one for me :p (plus can never decide on a design i like :p)
For me it was word of mouth and putting my name out there, I did my first few websites for a discounted rate and then it just grew from there.
Only as of recently I got my first job doing my driving instructors website, which has come in handy as free lessons come my way :p:cool:

But not got a portfolio up yet, still in the stages of building enough work to put one up! :p


Senior Member
I've said this on another thread but what the hell. Go to local opening exhibitions, with your businesses cards and chat to everyone. Also look in the yellow pages and get in touch with the local businesses offering your services, that can work sometimes.