Without a doubt, the most commonly asked question we hear is: how do you get clients?
And naturally, our minds immediately go down multiple rabbit holes, while also traipsing through the plethora of ways. We’ll blame it on our creative side.
In all honesty, there will never be a one-size-fits-all solution to attracting and booking dream clients. Every business is unique, and every ideal client is attracted to a different type of marketing and communication.
That said, after spending nearly 6 years navigating our own client booking process for our design business, we can say that there have been a few things that have worked really well for us. And to give you perspective, we started Wayfarer with zero business experience, and a hatred for marketing and networking. (So if we can do it, you absolutely can!)
Even with (or possibly due to) those setbacks, we ironed out a few methods to attract our dream clients that also worked well for us, our comfort level, and our spare time. And we want to share those methods with you!
3 tips and action items to help you attract and book those dream design clients
01 / Find one platform that you enjoy using + focus your energy there
When it comes to social media and content marketing, it’s nearly impossible to have the time to legitimately master everything. So, regardless of what that one marketing expert told you on that one podcast, you don’t need to be active on every single platform!
Hypothetically speaking, would being active on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest AND TikTok expand your reach? Maybe. But would stretching yourself that thin completely burn you out? Absolutely.
In order to see results on any of these platforms, you need to be consistent. And creating high quality and consistent content across all platforms is just not possible for one person (or even a small team). Okay, fine – it might be possible, it might even be doable, but what other tasks and projects might get missed, because of it?
Simply speaking, mastering every single content marketing platform requires time. Time that is also necessary to deliver on those projects, and create the work that pays your bills.
Our advice? Don’t be fooled by the businesses that are active on every single platform. The boss (that’s you) isn’t doing all of the work themselves. They have an entire team of employees who are making it happen.
So, take that pressure to be everywhere, and pack it up in a box. Then, push that box aside and find one platform the gives you a resounding “yes” to the following:
- It’s where your target audience spends time.
- You enjoy creating content for that platform.
Now, please allow us to digress on the importance of that second point, because it’s something that comes up often in our coaching calls with designers. If you don’t enjoy creating for a specific platform, don’t use it! If Instagram doesn’t light you up, skip it. There are other places to attract clients that will align with what feels fun and natural to you.
When you force yourself to create or post, it’s rarely content that you feel proud of. In turn, that makes it so much harder for you to be consistent. So, find a platform you enjoy – not just one that you feel obligated to use.
And if you find that you don’t like using any social media platforms, that’s okay too. We’ve included some alternate ideas for you below, but never rule out the idea of hiring someone to manage your social media for you!
Head over to your social media platform of choice, and find three people you would love to work with, or learn from. Leave a meaningful comment on two of their posts, or send them a brief message to let them know how much you enjoy following them. See where that interaction leads!
02 / Connect with others in your industry
As we mentioned at the beginning of this blog, we were terrified by the very idea of networking when we first started Wayfarer. We’re a group of introverts, led by a proud introvert (Abbey). But, running a business is tough, and there are times where a support system is needed just to get through all of the highs and lows.
We learned early on about the value of seeking guidance. Wayfarer was started by Abbey when she was fresh out of college; at the time, she had very little insight about how to run a business. Naturally, Abbey had questions – so she joined a few online groups for graphic designers, introduced herself and asked for help!
Did people get frustrated and say, “who is this newbie asking for free advice??” No! Instead, the responses were the exact opposite. It’s amazing how kind and helpful the creative community can be – many times, all you need to do is just politely ask for help.
If you’re young and fresh in the creative business world, you might want to think about offering to work as a junior freelancer for the more experienced designers in your industry. We did this for a while with a designer we admired, and it was a great opportunity to learn from her while also having more steady work come in!
Join an online community for entrepreneurs and introduce yourself! Ask a question and start trying to connect with those that are as experienced, and also more experienced than you. A few of my favorite FREE groups are Creative Lady Collective, Ladies, Wine & Design, Better: The Brand Designer Podcast Group, Freelancing Females, The Create, Connect, Convert Community and Rising Tide Society. (See if RTS has a local Tuesday Together group wherever you’re located.) And some paid memberships are The Designer Essentials Club (my course!), The Designers’ Cohort and The Designed to Thrive Collective.
03 / Create work that you love (even if nobody is paying you yet)
No matter how much we might run from them, the slow seasons will come for your creative business. One moment you might be absolutely swamped with projects and deadlines, and another, you’ll realize you don’t have enough clients lined up to get through the month ahead.
We’re firm believers that personal projects are the best way to attract your dream clients – especially if you’re experiencing a creative rut! In fact, we wrote an entire post on why we love personal projects so much. Not only are personal projects a great way to build out your portfolio through practice, but they allow you to showcase the type of work that you want to continue to attract.
So, if there’s a certain type of client or industry that you’re dreaming of working with, you can wait for them to eventually notice you, or you can create a personal project that’s inspired by them, to hopefully draw their attention. While the turnaround of that investment of your creative time and energy isn’t always overnight, it does breed results!
A few years ago, we started a project with a dream client in the skincare industry who reached out to us after seeing a personal project we’d completed a year before. Because we’d taken the time to get creative and work on the type of project we really wanted, we were able to do our best work! In turn, we attracted (and booked) that exact type of project and client.
So, we mean it when we say that taking the time to work on personal projects is a valuable investment both for now, and for the future. Reframe your thought process around those slow seasons, and use that time to create!
Pick a type of client or industry that you want to work with and make up your own personal project! It doesn’t need to have a strict deadline, just create freely, and allow yourself to feel excited about it. Once it’s done, show it off on your social media platform of choice! For more guidance on personal projects, check out my free personal project worksheet.
Booking dream clients: what NOT to do
While there are a multitude of ways to book clients, there are an equal number of ways to not get clients.
…or, at least not the right clients for you. A couple of things we recommend avoiding when trying to attract your dream clients?
- Don’t lower your prices to attract more clients. It might be tempting to appear more accessible, but don’t sell yourself short. We made this mistake early on in Wayfarer’s journey, and it’s one of our biggest regrets! Charging less than you’re worth will naturally attract clients who value your work less. The clients you really want to work with are going to be more than willing to pay what you deserve – trust us.
- Don’t take on work that you know you don’t want to do. Random clients that aren’t part of your target market are going to come along, and you’ll consider working with them solely for the money. That gut instinct to just book whatever comes your way can be hard to ignore, but if you have a bad feeling about a project or potential client, listen to your gut. Say no. You didn’t become an entrepreneur to take on projects you don’t love – be patient, and know that better projects, and clients, will come your way.
Finding clients can be stressful and frustrating, but it’s all about finding what feels natural and works best for you. If you want even more advice on how to attract those dream design clients consistently, join our $27 masterclass! We take the time to go in-depth on some other strategies that we didn’t get to cover in this blog post, as well as multiple lessons we learned over the course of 6 years of attracting our own dream clients.