You invested your blood, sweat, tears, and insane levels of creativity into developing a site for an awesome client—let’s call them Client A—that you were working with.
Client A was a big, recognizable name in an industry you were eager to break into, and you were thrilled with the opportunity to put that new notch in your belt.
Beyond the prestige, Client A was a total breeze to work with.
They gave you tons of helpful direction and plenty of beneficial feedback along the way. So, when you finally had a finished product to share, you couldn’t help but to swell with pride.
You weren’t too bashful to admit it—this website was top-notch work, and you were proud to have your name on it. In fact, it wouldn’t be long before you added it to the portfolio on your own site.
The good feelings didn’t stop there. When you heard back from Client A about your work, they were equally as pleased. The site met their every expectation, and they complimented you on your ability to bring their vision to life.
I won’t snap my fingers—because you’re not dreaming. Situations like this one really do exist.
As a web developer, you know these types of clients, and you love them.
But, now you’re left with one major question: How can you get more of them?
Unfortunately, Client A often feels more like the exception than the rule. And, while it’s easy to point fingers at your no-good, pushy, and uninformed clients when things aren’t going well, the truth is this: It’s up to you to land the sort of web development projects you really want—by attracting your ideal clients.
So, what tips can you implement to get more of these dream-worthy clients knocking on your door and filling up your inbox? Here’s what you need to know.
1. Understand Them
First things first, it’s going to be tough to attract a certain type of client if you don’t thoroughly understand what makes them tick.
So, your very first step in the process should be to understand what your ideal client looks like.
- Do they work in a certain industry?
- Are they a specific business size?
- Are they a startup or a well-established company?
- What does their budget look like?
- Are they creative and casual or more rigid and corporate?
Build a detailed profile—you can even assign a fictional name to this dream client if it helps you!—that shares everything you could need to know about the sorts of clients you’re aiming to draw in.
That way, whenever you do anything—whether it’s a new project or a new piece of marketing material—you can do so with the characteristics of your ideal client in mind. That’s important if you’re aiming to get more and more of these sorts of customers in your pipeline.
2. Develop a Specialty
As a web developer, you consider yourself to be a jack of all trades. And, that’s not necessarily a bad thing—having a breadth of experience can help you land more and more projects.
But, there’s also nothing wrong with specializing and focusing on a specific niche.
Think back on a client engagement that seemed like it was straight out of your fantasies.
Now, try to identify what made that particular project so awesome. If you discover that it’s because you felt really passionate and inspired by the subject matter of that particular website? Well, you might want to consider zoning in on that industry for future projects.
Maybe you want to develop websites for creative entrepreneurs. Perhaps you want to focus specifically on small businesses. Or, maybe you find that you’re super skilled in building websites for restaurants, or hospitals, or banks.
If there’s a specific area that you feel pulled toward, don’t hesitate to narrow your focus and target your marketing toward that type of client.
I know what you’re thinking: “Won’t picking a niche just cut me off from additional opportunities for work and a paycheck?” True. But, you could also look at the flipside of that coin:You’re leaving yourself more bandwidth for the projects that truly interest and suit you.
You’re leaving yourself more bandwidth for the projects that truly interest and suit you.
3. Speak Their Language
So, you’ve determined a very specific type of client you’d like to focus on.
Personally, you have a super clear idea of what this client looks like. But, how is everybody else supposed to know?
Saying that you’re a web development agency doesn’t reveal too much—you could complete projects for literally everyone and everything.
If you’re truly trying to target more of a specific type of customer, you need to explicitly say who you like to work with.
For example, on your own website, you could put something like, “Building beautiful websites for creative solopreneurs.”
With a simple sentence like this, potential customers can immediately glean what you do and who you do it for—which will help them decide if they’re in the right place for their own project needs.
It can feel strange to get so specific, particularly when you’re used to taking on any and every project that comes your way. But, by making sure that you’re talking directly to the types of clients you want to attract, you’re bound to get more of them inquiring about your work.
4. Meet Them Where They Are
Unless you’re very, very lucky, your ideal clients won’t flock to you in droves once you complete one project. That’d be nice, right?
But, no, it’s going to take an investment in marketing to get more of those sorts of clients through your door. Your web development agency isn’t a “build it and they will come” sort of scenario.
You need to go where your ideal clients are.
- Where do they spend their time online?
- Are there certain social media platforms, forums, or websites where you could answer questions or advertise your agency, and thus get more of your ideal clients’ eyeballs on your business?
- Are there certain networking groups or associations you could join?
Identifying your perfect client is only the start—you then need to be proactive to go out there, shake some hands, and connect with them.
5. Ask for Referrals
Can you guess who knows even more of those sorts of clients that you love working with?
Your existing clients.
Let’s go back to Client A for a moment. When you wrap up that project and get your invoice paid, what’s your next step? Start hunting for more work and always look back on that engagement as a fond memory?
Chances are, Client A knows plenty of other places just like them—places that could be equally as dreamy to work with. So, rather than immediately going your separate ways, ask Client A if they’d be willing to refer you to any other businesses in their industry or area who are looking for web development work.
Or, at the very least, ask if you can get a testimonial to include on your own website.
Word of mouth marketing can be undeniably powerful (84% of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family, friends, or colleagues for products and services!).
And, it never hurts to ask if your clients would be willing to put in a good word for you!
6. Be Wary of “Taking Whatever You Can Get”
You need to keep your agency up and running. You have bills to pay—regardless of how your client work ebbs and flows—and that can be stressful.
However, you should still be wary of falling into the trap of taking any work that you can get your hands on.
It’s tempting for everybody. When things are slow, it feels like you have no choice but to accept any project that comes through the door, and—let’s face it—you might absolutely need to do that every now and then in order to keep things up and running.
But, if your aim is truly to zone in on the clients that are best fits for you, you won’t want to make that a trend.
Remember, word of mouth advertising can be a huge benefit. But, if you continue to work with the wrong types of clients, these referrals can also be a detriment—you’ll find yourself in a constant cycle of being recommended to these sorts of customers, and before you know it, you’ll have fallen into a niche that doesn’t suit you in the slightest.
Beyond that, working on tons of different irrelevant projects will only confuse your ideal customer.
When they take a look at your past work, it’ll become obvious that you don’t just specialize in websites for restaurants—even though that’s what your homepage boasts. You’ll lose trust and authority with your ideal client, which is the exact opposite of what you’re aiming to accomplish.
So, while you might need to compromise your requirements every now and then, do your best to avoid the siren song of accepting whatever projects you can land on a constant basis.
As a web developer, you’re probably familiar with those clients that were total dreams to work with. And, understandably, you’d like to attract more of them.
Getting more of those ideal clients isn’t something that just happens, though. It’ll take some commitment, work, and occasionally even a little sacrifice to make it clear who you’re targeting and then get them interested in your work.
While this process does require a “roll up your sleeves” attitude, it’s definitely not impossible. Use these six tips to your advantage, and you’re sure to have plenty of awesome clients knocking on your door.
Kat is a freelance writer specializing in career, self-development, and productivity topics. She's passionate about being as efficient and effective as possible—much of which she owes to her 114 words per minute average typing speed. When her fingers aren't flying on the keyboard, she loves to bake, read, hike, or tackle yet another DIY project around her home.