6 Tips for landing your dream clients

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Freelance designers are an ingenious lot, and they use a variety of ways to land clients.

There is no one tried and true method to finding great gigs. It’s essential to be creative, proactive, and persistent — just as you are in your own work.

Here are some tips I’ve learned for landing dream clients.

Market to your dream clients

Sounds obvious, but are your marketing and self-promotional materials really aligned to your dream clients? Or are they just crafted for general consumption?

Sidenote: Once you finish, read how 4 freelancers built recurring revenue models that changed their business. You'll love it.

If you want a specific kind of client — your dream client — you need a brand image that is appealing to them.  You may need to tailor your message and value proposition, or even develop a whole campaign or set of materials just for them.

Don’t shortchange your marketing methods. Carefully research the design styles of your ideal clients. Develop a look and feel for yourself — or for your marketing to them — that is visually aligned with your dream client’s goals.

Showcase relevant projects

Suppose your dream client is a small business owner looking for logo and identity design kits, but all your work is in web development, creating nifty sites for realtors.

What to do?

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If you want your dream client to hire you for identity design, stack your port with relevant work. Put your logos first. Or develop sub marketing (materials or micro sites) that really speak to that strength.

You’ll only be hired if your marketing includes projects that show the kind of work you want to be doing.

And if you are a new designer or a recent art school grad, it’s really OK. Create some sample designs that show what you’re capable of, even if you haven’t specifically designed the packaging for a new coffee yet.

Be honest if it’s a sample project. It will still show your skills.

Promote yourself

If you’ve got big dreams, client wise, you need to promote yourself.

Don’t be shy. Take your well researched marketing message and targeted work samples and market them. Create accounts at designer showcase sites and social media outlets.

Make sure your look and feel is consistent across every account. Whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, or Behance, you need a cohesive brand image.

Splurge on some high quality business cards using letterpress, or design high quality cards using respected online printers like 4by6.com or moo.com.

If you’re a fan of face to face, some of the most effective promotions still happen offline — you know, in the real world.

Where do your dream clients congregate? Meetings, markets, or conventions? Be there to develop dream client contacts.

You can’t fake interest

If you are really committed to gaining a client or type of business, I’d expect you to be genuinely interested in what they do.

Research their prior design projects. What are the goals and objectives of current or previous marketing campaigns? Which designers or agencies did work for them?

Most clients are looking for people who actually understand their business. And they are often tired of educating (and reeducating) new partners about their companies.

Don’t be presumptuous, but be interested in your dream clients.

When you send them an email, cover letter, or when you meet them in person, talk what you already know about their company. Ask questions.

Just by being interested, you can start to align yourself with the company and show how you would be a valuable asset.

Be proactive

Design clients are out there. In fact, they are all around you, just use your eyes.

Do you see dream clients who really need your services? Perhaps a local chocolatier or bookshop is screaming for a redesign.

Answer that call. Be proactive and introduce yourself or send them an email. Outline some suggested ideas, but make sure you do so in a nice way.

What do I mean by that?

Truth is, many small businesses are attached to their own branding and design even if it could be improved. Many of them will have personally developed their own branding. So a tactless critique could be counter-productive.

Focus on the positives.

Start with what is working well in their business identity before you address ways to improve their designs.

Persist and persevere

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and most likely your dream client list will take some time and effort.

If you’re reached out to a dream client, maybe a very large corporate client or a design agency with five offices around the world, and you don’t initially get a response — don’t fret.

These companies are very busy and usually are in a state of constant flux with turnover in staff as well.

Reach out again in a month or two. Keep an eye out for new jobs or developments that are custom-made for you. Successful companies expect interested candidates to reach out to them, so perseverance is not a bad trait.

Periodic outreach is also a chance to hone your message. Let the client know about any new successes or projects you’ve completed, particularly if they relate to the kind of work you would like to do for that company.

I hope the methods above will help you land your ideal clients. I’ve certainly used these methods to good effect over the years. It takes time and practice, so relax!

How have you been able to land your dream clients? Let’s continue the conversation in the comments

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About Margaret Penney

Margaret Penney is a teacher, designer, writer and new media artist and founder of Hello Creative Co. Margaret is a faculty member at Sessions College, where she is Managing Editor of the Notes on Design blog.

 

About Sessions College

Sessions College for Professional Design offers accredited design programs and courses, and is a leader in online design education. This month, Sessions College launched an education pathway for creative solopreneurs with Millo. Millo subscribers can build an entirely customized design concentration from over 80 Sessions College courses, available in a range of subjects including Graphic Design, Web Design, Digital Media, Illustration, Advertising Design, Digital Photography, and Fine Arts. Read more.

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  1. I love these suggestions, and I’m sure most of them apply to illustrators as well as designers: It would be great to see an article specific to finding ideal illustration clients though, if you do that sort of thing. Thanks!

  2. Great article. Some fantastic insight on an indirect approach to your dream client, Thanks for such a deep information, inspired 🙂

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