How to win the design client when responding to online job postings

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Here at GDB, nothing makes us happier than helping out our readers as much as possible!

Recently, JasonG asked the following question:

Another problem I have along similar lines is the proper way to respond to ads from people looking for a web/graphic designer, i.e. Craigslist. I never know how much info to include in that initial email. Should I include my history, design process, typical time frame, ect. Or just keep it short, “Hi, I’m Jason, here’s my website, let me know if I can help.”????

Note: I’m assuming the ad doesn’t specify how to respond. You should always, ALWAYS, follow any instructions given in the ad.

How many times have you wondered the same thing? I’ve been there. By sticking to one simple principle, I’ve improved my response rate and won more clients than I ever have before.

Mirror the ad.

It really is that simple! Mirror the ad in your response. How? Keep reading…

In Length

If the ad is 3 sentences, send a brief message – this is a great place to use your 15-second pitch!

This client didn’t take the time to post a full ad (really, 3 sentences is hardly enough to explain one’s needs), so they probably don’t have time to read a lengthy response.

Good morning, I’m a local freelance graphic/web designer interested in hearing more about your project. I specialize in making your data come to life. Please take a look at my portfolio – – and contact me to discuss. I look forward to hearing from you! -April Greer, Greer Genius”

If the ad is longer, send a more detailed message.

I’d use a cover letter-style response for this ad.

Paragraph one includes an intro about how you’re a great fit for their needs – repeat terms they use in their ad.

You mention needing an organized designer with experience in the real estate market. In the following paragraph, I highlight why I’m such a great fit.”

Paragraph two details why you’re such a great fit.

I’m a freelance graphic designer with 4 years of experience working with realtors in promoting their homes…”

Paragraph three concludes that you’re excited to work with them and hope to hear from them soon.

Thank you for your consideration – I think this is an excellent opportunity for both of us. Please view my portfolio and contact me…”

In Tone

If the ad includes a lot of words like “rock star,” “design guru,” and “awesome,” feel free to be more informal.

Hey, It says you’re looking for a rock-star designer. Shoot me an email and let’s chat!”

If the ad sounds very straight-laced, keep it professional.

Mr. Jenkins: Your need for a web developer sounds like an excellent match for my skills…”

Tips to Remember

  • Always include at least one specific detail about why they should hire you. It can be your 15-second pitch or a one-sentence grabber that will make them give your portfolio a look.
  • Repeat the same words they use in their ad.
  • Some projects won’t be a good fit for you, and that’s okay. Don’t respond just because it’s there.
  • Express interest in hearing more about the project before you blindly jump to accept, especially if details are lacking. This gives you an opportunity to feel out the client and the project, and an easy out if you get bad vibes.
  • Don’t forget to include your contact information!

What have I forgotten?

How do you respond to ads for design work? Leave a comment on this post and let us know what you think!

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About April Greer

April is the content manager here at She’s also a go-to freelance designer with a rare combination of creative expertise and technical savvy. April is available for subcontracting and speaking engagements – visit Greer Genius for more information.