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designing website

How to attract the right clients and get the work you want to be doing

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designing website

Being a freelance creative means you’ve chosen a career that’s competitive, rewarding and an adventure all at the same time.

But often, you’re so concentrated on generating leads, designing and producing the best result that it’s easy to miss the bigger picture. Is the work you’re doing allowing you to reach your ultimate creative and professional goals? If not, it’s never too late to make a change. There are simple things you can do right now to make sure you’re on track.

illustration of magical forest
Don’t miss the forest for the trees. Illustration by Daria V.

In this article, we’ll get into some tips for attracting the right clients and finally getting the work you want to be doing.

6 tips for attracting the right clients and getting the work you want

Tip #1: Tidy up your portfolio

Your portfolio is the first impression a potential client will get about the quality of your work, and a peek into how you work. When was the last time you looked at yours? We mean really looked at it.

If it’s been more than a year, take a few hours to sit with it and look at it from your dream client’s perspective.

  • Have you uploaded your latest designs?
  • Are the best pieces on the front page?
  • Are the thumbnails high-quality?
  • Are the descriptions of each project filled out?

Top Level Designer CBT does an excellent job presenting herself:

The first page of her portfolio is clean and organized. You immediately get a sense of her aesthetic and the kinds of clients she likes to work with.
Projects are laid out professionally, with detailed descriptions providing context about the brief and her approach to the design.
This photographer’s portfolio take a more minimal approach, yet still makes an impact by having the best pieces up-front. Though each photo is unique, you get a sense of their style. via Dribbble

When it comes to your portfolio, it should be quality over quantity. No client wants to sift through 20 pages of half-finished designs. Hide or remove work that no longer represents your style or the industries you want to work in.

Tip #2: Optimize your “About” section

Your work is the visual representation of your personality, but your About section is where you can clearly spell out who you are, what kinds of work you’re available for and anything else a potential client needs to know about you.

via Dribbble
Top Level designer Adam Muflihun. made clever use of his profile cover image. It states his expertise in a nutshell and his availability.

Treat it like an introduction. You can talk about your experience as a creative, what you specialize in, link out to other work you’ve done, show off your personality and explicitly state what kinds of projects you want to work on. If you want to work with lifestyle brands, you should say that! If you’re a branding designer wanting to get into lettering, you can say that, too.

This product designer uses creative stickers to show off their expertise. via Dribbble
Top Level designer Konstantin Kostenko’s “About” section is warm, professional and tells you exactly what kinds of projects he’s up for.

Tip #3: Update your rates

Clients who understand your worth are the clients you want to attract. Similar to revisiting your portfolio, if it’s been a while since you updated your prices, it might be time to do so. A few things you might take into consideration when updating your rates are:

  • Your current level of experience
  • Rates of other freelancers
  • The cost of tools/software you use
  • The economic outlook

When you first started freelancing it might have been appropriate to take on lower-paid jobs to get your foot in the door. Now that you have more experience, it’s time your rates reflect that!

Tip #4: Emphasize reviews

Word of mouth is so important as a freelancer, and a good review from a past client shows potential clients they can be confident hiring you. Whether it’s on LinkedIn, your profile or your website, having a section where these positive reviews live adds an extra boost of credibility.

Top Level branding designer EWMDesigns collates her client reviews on her Instagram feed:

Reviews can come in handy if you’re wanting to branch out into a new industry or area of expertise, but don’t have all the experience yet. Need help wording your request? We have some tips on how to ask your clients for a review.

Tip #5: Meet your dream clients where they’re at

“Marketing” is not a dirty word! The reality is that most successful designers engage in self-promotion in one way or another. And you don’t need to rent a billboard or go live on Facebook to reach your dream clients. It can be as low-key as setting up an Instagram account where you share your work, follow people you want to work with and keep an eye on the industries you want to break into.

Designer Caroline Parker Creative routinely gives shoutouts to brands she admires, while educating potential clients who might be following her. Win-win.

If possible, see if you can attend a meet-up or conference for the types of businesses you want to engage. Whether in-person or virtual, maintaining a presence in the spaces your dream clients use will remind you what you’re working toward, keep you up-to-date on industry trends and make it easier for potential clients to find you in the future.

Tip #6: Work smarter, not harder

It’s quite simple: if you know you don’t want to design dentist logos, don’t spend another second designing them. As a freelancer, sometimes it can feel like you have to accept every job that comes across your desk. But if a project has nothing to do with your goals, you shouldn’t feel pressured to take it on.

Work on things that contribute to your growth. Illustration by Cope_HMC

As designer bubo_scandiacus recently put it: “I would never draw for categories I feel are not the right cup of tea for me. I know my designing capabilities and my potential auditory.”

Instead, put your effort toward things that will get you closer to your dreams. You could use those hours to map out goals or jump into a design contest that inspires you. You can generate your own practice briefs using AI to get “experience” in industries you’d like to work for. Make time for research, watch a tutorial, or practice a new style. Or, you know, even spend that time on one of the tips we outlined above.

Attracting the work you want is easier than you think

This is your sign to take steps toward the future you deserve. We hope these tips will help you reach your ultimate goals. Whether it’s to snag your dream client, land your dream project or lean into a new skill entirely, you’ve got this!

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