Struggling for clients/worried about advertising


Did anybody else struggle in their first year?
with finding clients?

I'm not one to brag or pretend I'm good at something when I am not, but I do believe I am good at web design. My problem begins when I can't pull in any work recently (at all!)

I've been shop-to-shop in my local areas and researched which local companies are in dire need of redesigns but I never hear back or I get a polite decline. My only real hope is to invest in some advertising, seeing as self-promoting and social media has only got me so far/nowhere. I know my pricing is not the problem as I rarely get asked about pricing and when I do, I always give the impression that it is negotiable etc.

My main question (apart from the obvious need of guidance for seeking clients), is where would be the best places to advertise?

I have thought of the local paper(s) but I often tell myself it would be a waste of money as not many people deliberately look at adverts (or just skip them entirely).

(I am based in London, UK)

Thanks for any input/recommendations/help
How about finding a networking group to join/visit. Nowadays there are plenty of free ones and they are worth a visit.
Advertise in a local business magazine...
Go on Linked-in and answer questions...
Do you have 'useful information' on your website... this is meant to help
Recommendations from family/friends/clients
A creative marketing campaign to local businesses... with an offer or something
Personally I'd invest the money in online advertising (Google Adwords or targeted Facebook ads) rather than local press advertising. I feel you'd have more chance in specific targeted online messaging rather than running a press advert in the hope that a potential client spots it and then visits your website.

Before you pay for any advertising, make sure you set-up Google Analytics on your website so you can track if your advertising has been successful.

Good luck and let us know how you get on.
Have you considered offering consultations? For a small fee (or even for free?), you look over a clients website and suggest changes and improvements. This could be a good way of getting your expertise across in less in-your-face fashion.

The client can mull the changes over and if you've convinced them the job is easy enough for someone with your level of expertise, there's a chance you'll be the one they come too when they finally decide to give their online presence a make-over. Just be sure to sell the the benefits of your service and highlight the worst case scenarios for things...

"That background will prevent people staying on your site for longer that a few seconds, which means they're unlikely to buy anything or even come back in future..." etc, make them see that by keeping things as they are, they're effectively losing business (be honest though, don't bullshit them).

Try and find a local graphic designer or someone who you could partner up with, offer a package to businesses maybe. I get a lot of requests for web design, which I don't do, so often have to pass this onto someone else.

Also look into passive income to help pay off some of the smaller fees, developing premium CMS themes or templates, PPC advertising, affiliate links, etc.
You have to advertise. No business can grow or even survive without advertising.

This is true but if you have to invest time and money, try to find a way that will return good quality contacts rather than occasional clients. I've never bought advertising, never developed my website beyond the holding page, never made a cold call - never even had my own business card - but I do have a very good, high level word of mouth network.
Amongst other things, I would recommend a networking group too.
I was a member of BNI for a couple of years which (despite it's many issues) was very good for the web designer there. They have a policy of only letting one person per profession into the group.

You have to invest time and a bit of money. It's not for everyone. However, there's good money and contacts to be made.

Another thing would be to try and get your existing customers to recommend you. Ask them if they could put a word in with some of their clients. It's a great way of getting more business.

Just my two bits worth :icon_biggrin:
Without a doubt I will definetly advertise, I'm just very perticular about where and the cost involved.

I'm getting some flyers printed which I can give out to local high street stores (up until now I have been giving my business card which is okay but does not convey what I can really offer/pricing)

I'm put off by local newspapers, partly because of the high cost (just to run the smallest ad once is pricey enough). But also because I doubt many people even look at the ads anymore (A large ad would draw the eye and I may have a shot at getting some attention, but I can't afford anything wild)

I've never bought advertising, never developed my website beyond the holding page, never made a cold call - never even had my own business card - but I do have a very good, high level word of mouth network.

I was hoping my word of mouth would be A LOT stronger, I've had two potential clients approach me first, just by word of mouth.

Where did all of you guys first advertise? Newspaper? Local libraries? Was it expensive?

I'm just about to do a marketing campaign.. leaflet (when I finish designing it) which we will mail to old clients and prospects. We will then folow up with a phone call. I'll let you know how it goes - but I don't suppose it will be a quick fix!
Would just say the the Home page of your wesbite doesn't work/look right to me (Firefox on a Mac). The bottom bit is cut short before the footer.
"Familiarity with setting..." the next line disappears (and btw you don't need the apostrophes in .coms and - I would probably leave off the 's' anyway.)
and the same happens with
"Please contact..."
Ive removed the apostrophes.
You're right it does look better, Thanks

Could you email me a screen shot of what you see on firefox?
Much appreciated
Yes - looks fine now. No problem.

I used to work in Blackheath - nice place! Would have lunch on the heath. This was many, many years ago. (I lived in Catford).
Ah yes, the heath is brilliant, especially on a sunny day!

Technically I'm just outside of Blackheath, But I go there all the time, my favourite restaurant is opposite the church 'Zero Degrees'
I'm not one to brag or pretend I'm good at something when I am not, but I do believe I am good at web design.

With the greatest respect, my impression is that you are more of a developer than a designer. Your designs aren't too bad but to me they are a bit rough around the edges and some of the typography choices on your sites and use of stock images leaves a bit to be desired. I don't want to sound harsh or anything - but if you would like my thoughts that is what I think. Maybe, an alternative approach could be to approach other designers who don't do development and form a partnership with them and try focusing on the development to see how that works out rather than approaching business' directly and offer them the whole design / development package. Just an option for you to consider...
I agree 100%, I do tend to favour and focus more on the code than design, and I have a lot to improve as far as my designing goes.

I'm open to any input/criticism, it's the best way to learn
In terms of improving design I find you simply need to look at lots of website and try and get inspired, a site I'm always looking for inspiration is -

Getting new business is tough, especially SME's and websites, why not try the free old fashioned approach and pick up the phone or send out some emails introducing yourself - people mostly buy from people and not from businesses!

Good luck :)