Welcome back to the second part of my series on finding clients as a Web Development Freelancer. In the previous post, we covered the foundational, long-term strategies necessary for building a successful freelance business. Today, we’ll switch gears and focus on short-term strategies that can help you acquire clients immediately. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to expand your client base quickly, I designed these tips to give you practical steps that you can implement right away. I regularly apply these tips myself and have learned many lessons that I’m eager to share with you.

It's essential to have a solid foundation in place, which we discussed in the first part of this series. If you haven't yet, I highly recommend checking that out to ensure your long-term success.

Now, let’s dive into the dynamic world of immediate client acquisition and explore how you can generate quick wins for your freelance business.

Direct Outreach: Leveraging Your Portfolio for Immediate Impact

Having established a robust portfolio, as discussed in the first part of this series, you’re now well-equipped to engage in more effective direct outreach strategies. This approach isn’t just about showing off your skills—it’s about strategically connecting with potential clients who can benefit the most from your services.

Identifying Potential Clients

Begin by identifying businesses within your niche that either lack a web presence or could significantly improve their current one. Tools like Google Maps, search engines, and social media platforms are invaluable for this task. They allow you to pinpoint businesses that either don’t have a website or have one that falls short of modern web standards. Once you’ve found a potential client to reach out to, go fo it! You can contact them via social media or email, or alternatively - if it’s a local business - just walk by and talk to them in person.

However, I strongly advise against just calling. Many people feel annoyed by that.

Crafting Your Approach

When reaching out, it’s crucial to communicate the benefits clearly and concisely. If the potential client doesn’t have a website, outline what they’re missing and how a well-crafted site can help achieve their business goals. For those with an existing site that needs improvement, highlight what changes could be made and why they would enhance the business’s online presence. Always remember, the key is to be direct and to the point to maintain the prospect’s attention.

Include a personal touch in your message—explain who you are, what you do, and why you are interested in working with them. This personal connection can make a significant difference.

Example of Effective Outreach

For instance, one of my earlier successes involved a local vegan restaurant. I discovered them through a Google Maps search for vegan eateries without websites. After checking their social media presence and engaging with their content, I sent them a tailored message. Here’s a breakdown of that outreach:

"Hey there, this is Per. I stumbled upon your restaurant on Google Maps and, as a vegan who values high-quality food, I was immediately drawn to your fantastic reviews and offerings. However, I noticed you don’t have a website yet. I specialize in helping businesses like yours build great online presences that can increase reach and customer engagement. I’d love to discuss how a custom website could benefit your restaurant, perhaps over a call, email or WhatsApp, whatever suits you the best. This consultation would be entirely free, with no obligations. I know that web development agencies usually have a hefty price tag, so I focus on delivering quality work for a way more affordable price. Looking forward to working together and visiting soon to try your amazing menu!"

I included a link to my portfolio and waited for their response, ready to address any concerns or questions via their preferred communication method, whether it was email, phone, or WhatsApp.

Tailoring Your Message

If your target market is larger businesses with bigger budgets, consider adding a creative twist to your outreach by including a brief video review of their current website, pointing out potential improvements and demonstrating your expertise. This visual aid can help larger prospects immediately grasp the value you bring. However, this might be too forward for smaller businesses, where a simple, direct message might be more appropriate.

By utilizing direct outreach effectively, you can engage potential clients in a meaningful way, showcasing not only your technical skills but also your commitment to their business success.

Leveraging Referrals and Word of Mouth

As I've emphasized in the previous post, satisfied clients are not just customers; they are your strongest advocates.

The power of word of mouth cannot be overstated, especially when it comes from those who have firsthand experience of your dedication and quality. Here’s how you can actively harness this powerful tool:

Cultivating Strong Relationships

The foundation of effective word-of-mouth marketing is the quality of the relationship you build with your clients. Delivering high-quality work is a given, but adding a personal touch can significantly amplify client satisfaction. This could be as simple as responding promptly to communications, being personable and friendly, or customizing your interaction to suit their preferred communication style.

It's about making the client feel valued throughout your engagement.

Encouraging Referrals

While organic referrals will naturally occur when clients are thrilled with your work, you can also take a more proactive stance:

  • Direct Requests: Never underestimate the power of simply asking. Encouraging satisfied clients to share their positive experience can lead to new opportunities. A gentle nudge reminding them that referrals are welcome can make a big difference.
  • Referral Programs: Setting up a formal referral program can also incentivize clients to promote your services. For instance, offering a 20% commission for every successful referral that leads to a new project can be a compelling offer. I’ve also experimented with non-monetary incentives, such as offering free promotional services on social media to clients who bring in referrals, adding value to their own business in return.

Building a Sustainable Referral Network

The success of any referral program depends largely on the trust and rapport you establish with your clients. Even when you provide incentives, I’ve experienced that many clients refer others because they genuinely appreciate your service and want to support your business. This highlights the importance of creating not just transactions, but meaningful connections.

Here’s an example of how potent this approach can be: After completing a project for a local business, I asked the owner if they knew anyone else who might benefit from my services. This simple inquiry led to two more projects, significantly boosting my workload and establishing a network of mutually beneficial relationships.

Referral and word-of-mouth marketing remain some of the most cost-effective and reliable ways to grow your business. By combining exceptional service with a strategic approach to client relationships, you can turn your current clients into a powerful marketing resource.

Mastering Paid Advertising for Immediate Client Acquisition

While the initial costs and complexities might deter many freelancers from exploring paid advertising, it can be an incredibly effective method for generating leads and securing new clients quickly if executed properly. Here’s a closer look at why and how you can leverage paid advertising to expand your freelance business:

Understanding the Investment

Paid advertising often gets a bad rap in the freelance community due to its upfront costs. Yes, it’s true—it requires both financial investment and effort to discover what resonates with your target audience. However, consider it a crucial experiment in finding your most effective marketing channels. Imagine spending 500 euros on an ad campaign that returns 2000 euros in client work. That’s a significant return on investment (ROI), and exactly why understanding and tracking your ROI becomes essential.

Choosing the Right Platforms

Your ideal platform for advertising depends heavily on where your target clients spend their time. For web developers, platforms like Google and LinkedIn might be more effective, while Instagram or Facebook could be better suited for services less content-oriented and more in line with Instagram’s short form content focus. It’s crucial to:

  • Identify and Understand Your Ideal Clients: Tools like Answer the Public can help you understand what potential clients are searching for, which assists in crafting your ad content to address these queries directly.
  • Create Compelling Landing Pages: Your ads should lead to landing pages that are visually appealing and directly address the visitor’s needs or problems. These pages should clearly articulate the benefits of your services and how you can solve their specific issues. Make sure to include visuals there! Screenshots of websites you created for example, or highlight some client testimonials that showcase how satisfied they are with your work.

Offering Value Upfront

The key to converting ad traffic into actual clients is to offer immediate value. This could be through:

  • Free Resources: Providing free downloads, guides, or insights that relate to your services.
  • Consultations: Offering a free consultation call or chat gives you a direct line to discuss potential clients’ needs and showcase your expertise. During these interactions, focus on listening and providing solutions, rather than making a hard sell.

Closing the Deal

After providing value and demonstrating your expertise, you’re in a strong position to convert the inquiry into a project. End your consultations with a clear call to action, asking if they’re ready to take the next steps with you. This direct approach, coupled with the rapport and trust you’ve built, can effectively turn prospects into paying clients.

Navigating the Costs

Yes, there’s a learning curve, and yes, it requires an upfront budget, but the potential for a positive ROI makes paid advertising a strategy worth considering for freelancers who are ready to invest in their growth. If managed wisely, paid advertising can not only cover its own costs but also significantly increase your client base and overall income. Just be aware that it takes time, effort and continuous improvement and tweaking of your strategies

By understanding the nuances of paid advertising and approaching it with a strategic mindset, you can transform it from a daunting expense into a profitable investment for your freelance business.

Recommendations for Further Insights on Paid Ads

To get the most out of paid advertisements, please make sure to dive in deeper into this subject. Here are some recommendations that helped me a lot!

The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business
Josh Kaufman
Get the book
This book provides a comprehensive overview of essential business concepts across multiple domains including entrepreneurship, product development, marketing, sales, and more. Reading it not only expanded my understanding and sparked new ideas but also turned it into a go-to reference that sits right next to my desk now. I experienced this as a valuable resource for inspiration and quick look-ups, packed with insights on everything from negotiation and finance to leadership and operations management. In the context here, especially the part about marketing is interesting.

Sell Like Crazy: How To Get As Many Clients, Customers and Sales As You Can Possibly Handle
Sabri Suby
Get the book
Despite its overtly salesy title and style of writing, which might be off-putting for some, this book provided me with unique insights that I haven’t found elsewhere in such a comprehensive manner. If you’re exploring marketing, this is definitely worth checking out. Look past the aggressive sales tone, and you’ll discover a wealth of practical advice that goes beyond the basic marketing tips commonly found in videos and blog posts.

The Freelancer Podcast
Kyle Prinsloo
Listen on Spotify
This one truly lives up to its tagline, “Freelancing and marketing nuggets for web designers, without the fluff.” It delivers precisely what it promises: straightforward, valuable content with no unnecessary filler. Although it primarily targets freelancers in web development, the insights provided are broadly applicable, benefiting freelancers across various fields as well as web developers who aren’t freelancing. This makes it a standout resource for anyone looking to enhance their freelancing skills. There are some episodes on landing pages, which are especially helpful for the topic of paid advertisements.

Leveraging Partnerships for Client Acquisition

Exploring partnerships can be a highly effective strategy to gain new clients and expand your freelance business. By collaborating with other businesses and institutions, you can tap into their networks and client bases, potentially opening up a plethora of new opportunities. Here’s how you can approach this strategy:

Partnering with Agencies

Many web development agencies often have more work than they can handle or occasionally receive projects that don’t align perfectly with their expertise or current workload. This is where you come in:

  • Reach Out to Web Dev Agencies: Introduce yourself as a freelancer who can handle overflow work. Emphasize your areas of expertise and how you can provide high-quality services that match their standards.
  • Benefits for Agencies: They can maintain client satisfaction by never turning down work due to capacity issues while also avoiding the overhead costs of hiring a full-time employee.

Collaborating with Non-Web Businesses

Beyond web development agencies, consider partnerships with businesses that could indirectly benefit from your services. Here is one example of what I did, but many other businesses are potentially great partners as well:

  • Publishing Houses: Offering to create websites for authors or specific book releases can be a win-win. The publishing house enhances its value proposition to authors by offering web development as part of their publishing package, and you gain access to a steady stream of clients.
  • How It Works: You provide a special package or rate for the publishing house’s clients, who then contact you through the publishing house’s referral. This arrangement can be formalized through a simple partnership agreement that outlines the terms and benefits for both parties.

Making Partnerships Work

  • Clear Communication: Ensure that you clearly discuss and agree on roles, expectations, and compensation in advance to avoid any potential conflicts.
  • Promotional Materials: Prepare brochures or a presentation that showcases your work, specifically tailored to the needs of the agency or business you are pitching to.
  • Follow Up: After setting up the partnership, keep communication lines open. Regular updates and check-ins can help you maintain a good relationship and ensure the partnership remains mutually beneficial.

By actively seeking out and establishing strategic partnerships, not only do you open the door to new client projects, but you also embed your services into larger business ecosystems, which can provide a more consistent workload and exposure to new market segments.

Continuously Refine and Expand Your Service Offerings

As a freelancer, staying competitive means continually evaluating and refining the services you offer. It’s not just about doing what you’ve always done; it’s about evolving and adapting to meet the changing needs of your clients. Here’s how you can keep your services fresh and appealing:

Evaluate and Refine Existing Services

  • Gather Feedback: Regularly ask for feedback from your clients about what they like and what could be improved. This information is invaluable as it directly reflects the needs and satisfaction of your target market.
  • Adjust Based on Feedback: Use the insights you gain to tweak and enhance your services, and also to further educate yourself. For example, if clients frequently point out that they love your quick turnaround but wish the user interface was a bit more intuitive, focus on developing this skill.

Introduce New Offerings

  • Identify Gaps: Always be on the lookout for common challenges or needs that your clients express. These are opportunities to add value to your offerings. Once again, tools like Answer the Public come in very handy in identifying these gaps and struggles that you can offer to solve with your services.
  • Develop Solutions: If you notice many clients struggle with a particular aspect of web development, such as digital marketing or social media presence, consider offering this as a new service. For instance, I recognized that many of my clients had difficulties announcing their new websites on social media. In response, I started offering tailored social media announcement packages, which not only solved a common problem but also opened up another revenue stream.

By actively refining your services and adding new offerings based on client feedback and market demand, you position yourself as a dynamic freelancer who not only meets but anticipates the needs of the market. This proactive approach can make you the go-to expert in your niche, attracting both new and repeat clients.

Re-engaging Previous Clients with New Offers

An effective strategy to boost your freelance business is re-engaging previous clients with new offers. Clients who have already experienced the quality of your work are more likely to trust you with additional projects, especially if these align with their evolving needs. Here’s how you can approach this:

Evaluate Your Portfolio

  • Review Past Projects: Take a look at your previous projects and identify clients who might benefit from your new services. This retrospective view can reveal untapped opportunities.
  • Assess Client Needs: Consider the current trends and changes in your clients’ industries that might influence their need for additional services.

Tailor Your Approach

  • Personalize Your Offer: Customize your approach based on the specific client and the project you previously worked on. For instance, if a client mentioned needing a more robust online store in the past but wasn’t ready to invest at that time, they might be ready now.
  • Introduce New Services: Using the example of social media announcements, if you notice that a past client hasn’t yet leveraged social media to promote their site, you can reach out and explain the benefits. Showcase how this new service can enhance their online presence and bring more traffic to their site.

Communication Tips

  • Be Considerate and Direct: When you contact a previous client with a new offer, be respectful of their time. Clearly state the purpose of your message and why you think this new service could be beneficial for them.
  • Non-Pushy Follow-up: If they show interest, great! If not, respect their decision without being pushy. A gentle follow-up to remind them of your offer can be effective, but always keep it professional and courteous.

Example Message

Here’s an example of how you might approach a past client with a new service offering:

"Hi there (Insert Name), I hope you're doing well! I've been expanding my services and thought of you because I remember our discussion about potentially adding an online store to your website. I've developed some new skills in e-commerce solutions that could really enhance your site's functionality and sales capability. Would you be interested in discussing this further? I'd love to catch up and share some ideas with you. Let me know what you think! Best, Per"

By reconnecting with former clients and updating them about your new services, you not only increase your chances of securing more work but also strengthen your professional relationships. This approach underscores your commitment to their long-term success, not just a one-off project.

Freelance platforms can be a polarizing topic among freelancers. While some find these platforms to be a valuable source of work, others, like myself, have had less favorable experiences. However, it’s important to recognize the potential these platforms may hold for certain freelancers, depending on the niche, location, or type of work.

The Realities of Freelance Platforms

  • Challenging Experiences: My own journey on freelance platforms has been rocky, with issues ranging from extremely low pay expectations to outright scams. For example, encountering potential clients who demand high-quality work within unreasonable deadlines for minimal compensation is not uncommon.
  • Hostile Interactions: At times, the communication can also be less than professional. An example from my experience includes a potential client who threatened not to pay unless a “good draft” was delivered within a week — and this was the very first interaction.

Potential Benefits

Despite these challenges, freelance platforms can still offer valuable opportunities. They provide a space where you can showcase your portfolio and tap into a global client base. Here are a few tips if you decide to explore this route:

  • Optimize Your Profile: Invest time in creating a compelling profile that highlights your skills and previous successful projects. Many platforms offer guides on how to maximize the impact of your profile.
  • Be Cautious and Patient: It often requires sifting through many low-quality offers to find the gems. Patience and a keen eye for red flags are crucial.
  • Communication Protocols: Always communicate through the platform’s messaging system to avoid scams and ensure that all agreements are documented within the platform’s framework.

My Personal Take

While there are certainly successes to be had, I’ve chosen to step away from freelance platforms to focus on methods that allow for building deeper, more personal client relationships. The direct and often impersonal nature of platform interactions doesn’t suit my approach to business, where I prioritize meaningful engagements and quality outcomes.

Freelance platforms are not for everyone, and they come with their own set of challenges and opportunities. If you choose to use them, go in with your eyes wide open, prepared for both the potential pitfalls and the possibility of discovering worthwhile projects. For those who prefer building relationships and crafting bespoke solutions, other strategies discussed in this series may prove more effective and satisfying.

Be Responsive and Authentic

Respond Promptly

Speed is crucial in communication, especially when it comes to potential clients. A delayed response can imply disinterest or unreliability. Ensure you reply promptly to inquiries, showing potential clients that you are attentive and eager to engage.

Stay True to Your Style

Authenticity is key in building trust and rapport. Be yourself in all your communications. My approach tends to be informal and straightforward, which resonates well with my client base. This personal touch is what sets me apart in a sea of service providers who might stick strictly to formalities. Your style might differ, but the core principle remains:

True personal expression leads to stronger, more genuine business relationships.


As we wrap up this exploration of short-term client acquisition strategies, remember that each approach has its place depending on your specific situation and business goals. From direct outreach and leveraging referrals to navigating the complexities of paid advertising and freelance platforms - each tactic requires a tailored approach. Keep refining your methods and always stay true to your professional identity.

Stay tuned for more insights and practical tips on freelancing and web development. Thank you for following along, and here’s to your success in finding and securing more clients swiftly!

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