It doesn’t take most web designers long to realize that the most critical objective you have when starting your freelance career is to find web design clients.
Because, without clients, you’re basically just playing “house” in business. It doesn’t matter how professional your logo is or how many business cards you’ve printed.
If you don’t have clients, you’re not in business.
There’s nothing better than getting your first client either. Getting someone to agree to pay you money for work you actually enjoy is one of the best feelings in the world.
With that in mind, I’d like to share how you can find your first web design client in 48 hours or less.
These techniques have worked for myself and thousands of other freelancers who I have coached and mentored for more than a decade through my blog and podcast.
They are tried and tested. And they work.
Here’s how to find your first web design client in 48 hours or less:
Start with quality freelance job boards
While some freelance job boards have a bad reputation for low-quality clients, the truth is lots of freelancers are making a good living through work exclusively found through freelance job sites.
To get started, review this list of remote web design jobs sites and select 3-5 sites you’ll sign up for and try out.
Not every site will work perfectly for your business, but more and more freelance web design clients are hiring through sites like these and, if it’s a good match for your working style, you can find clients very quickly on them.
A word of warning, however: you can’t just phone in your success on these web design job sites.
You’ll be most successful as you take the time to stand out from other freelancers with a quality user profile, share examples, and even proactively reach out to potential clients on the platform instead of waiting for jobs to land in their lap.
Use your personal & professional network
Many freelancers searching for ways to get web design clients don’t realize there’s one asset sitting right under their nose and probably not being fully utilized.
That asset is your personal and professional network.
If you’ve been designing websites for long, you probably have some great connections from former jobs you’ve had. These connections often have friends or associates who need help with some sort of web design project.
If you’re new to web design, you’ll likely have friends in your personal network who know someone needing a beginner site done quickly.
These are golden opportunities for finding your first web design clients quickly.
But posting on Facebook or TikTok won’t be enough to get your first client within a 48-hour window.
Instead, consider calling, texting, or direct-messaging your closest connections—the people you know will take your request seriously—and asking them for help in finding new web design clients.
You’ll be surprised just how many people will come out of the shadows requesting web design work if you can just hustle to find them through your own networks. Once someone shows interest, send them a really high-quality proposal they won’t dare say “no” to.
Leverage the power of social media
Since this article is all about quick wins and short-term client acquisitions, there will be no advice in this section on how to get more likes on Instagram (although, we’ve got you covered here).
Instead, to get new clients in 48 hours or less, leverage the power of instantaneous social connection by using some under-utilized tools on social media.
For example, try searching Twitter for phrases like “hiring web designer” or “need a web designer” or “does anyone know a good web designer” to find people who are in need of an immediate solution. Send them a DM.
You can also use Linkedin to find employees at agencies that frequently subcontract with freelance web designers to complete client projects on-time. Combine that with a tool like Hunter.io, and you can reach out via email to just about anyone in the world.
Once you’ve used these powerful short-term options and you have a few clients keeping you in business, you should consider developing a more in-depth social media plan for the long term success of your business.
Give something of value to the world
Depending on how quickly you can spin something up, you may want to consider adding some real value to the world with a free download of some sort.
For example, offer to audit the speed and design of local business’s websites by setting up a lead generation form and then collecting website information and contact details.
Send a high-quality website audit along with a friendly pitch offering your freelance web design services.
If an audit isn’t quite your style, it could be something less labor-intensive like a simple checklist or ebook that helps small businesses with their own website.
From there, find online directories—like those posted by Chamber of Commerce or even Google—and send as many emails or make as many phone calls as you can in the next 24 hours featuring your offer.
Start straight-up cold calling and emailing strangers
Finally, if you’re serious about finding your first client(s) in 48 hours or less, you might just have to pick up the phone or open up your laptop and start contacting people out-of-the-blue.
Fair warning, this method is all about scale. You have to contact a LOT of people in order for this method to make sense (which is why it’s not terribly sustainable over time.
But for finding your first few clients, it can be rather effective—particularly if you don’t have many other resources.
Of course, there are ways to improve your chances of success. You can follow a proven cold calling script to improve your close rate or you can test various subject lines until you find the one that gets the highest response.
Tools like Reply.io can also help you quickly scale your email outreach while maintaining a personal feel.
Honestly, cold outreach is just good, old-fashioned hard work. And like most hard work, you can’t do it forever, but it almost always pays off.
Getting clients is just the beginning
Remember, getting your first web design client is just the beginning. So while it’s important (remember, you’re not in business until you actually have clients), it’s not the end of the world when someone says “no.”
Keep working hard, hustling to get your first few clients, and before you know it, you’ll find yourself swamped with new and exciting projects. Those projects will all turn into referrals and repeat business and, eventually, you’ll find yourself hustling less on outbound sales and fielding more inbound requests.
You’ve got this. Now get out there and get your first web design client!