Finding Clients

Owning your own business is fun! I get to work in my pajamas if I want, I can take a vacation whenever I can afford it and I can take on the clients that fit well with my personality. Those are often things that don’t happen at an office job. But with an office job comes more stability. A lot of that disappears the minute you decide to be your own boss. It’s your job to bring in the money, clients and meetings.

I’ve learned a lot since I started freelancing for Etsy shop owners and designing $20 logos in 2007 (I don’t design $20 logos anymore so please don’t email me asking about it…hehe). Now that I work with Adam, we’ve developed a bit of a system and then we let everything else happen organically. Here are some of the basic ways we get clients:

  • Organic/Search: They find us searching for what they need whether that’s on Google or another site like Dribbble or another portfolio site. It’s a great way to get a client since you’re not really doing much work but it can also lead to projects that don’t really connect with you since you were passive in the formation of that relationship.
  • Referral: Someone that we know professionally or personally has referred them to us. We’ve just recently begun discounting services when a potential client might have a great list of contacts. If you’re my client and provide me with 5 individuals or small businesses that might want to work with me, it’s very worth it to provide a discount.
  • Social Media/Blogging: A potential client might get to know us on Twitter or here on my blog before they decide to work with us! I’ve been blogging since January 2009 and spend the most time on Twitter (of all social media accounts) and it’s been very rewarding.
  • Relationships: We know the client (and in-person) first. This includes past colleagues, people we went to school with or friends/family. While these projects come about from a very reliable source, they also tend to be less lucrative. You end up giving people you know discounts or you get a little lazy when it comes to signing contracts. As time as gone on, we do less and less projects for friends and family.
  • Pursuing the Client: This is a situation where we reach out, connect and then offer ways in which we believe we could work together. As you’ll see below, we do NOT do this enough and I’m excited to start taking this approach when booking new work. More on that later.

I decided to do a little research for this post. I broke down ALL of my clients (ever) and categorized them into one of those 5 groups. Here’s what I found when I broke it down by project (I hate making pie charts so excuse the ugliest graphic you’ve ever seen):

Broken Down By Project

It honestly shocked me. I really couldn’t see (even after seeing proof), what works better for me. Organic, referrals, my online presence and personal relationships all yield the same amount of projects. Of course, if I had more time I would investigate just how much revenue has been produced by these 5 separate groupings. Maybe someday when I’m sick and bored.

I also broke down everything by client and things changed a bit:

Broken Down By Client copy

I realized that while I get a steady amount of projects from organic/search, they only come from a select few clients. To be honest, many of these projects tend to be more production and less like a partnership. This whole “investigation” has been quite enlightening. I’ve learned a lot about how we are getting this steady stream of work and am excited to dive in deeper with Adam so that we can grow.

Hopefully I’ll continue blogging about this subject often. Let me know if you have any questions or have an ideas on future “getting client” topics! I love hearing from you all!

September 17, 2013