Getting your first client is probably the most exciting thing for a new graphic designer. This is when you can show off all of your skills that you’ve mastered and actually get paid to do so. As glamorous as it sounds, there are some guide lines you should follow, if you want to stand out from the crowd and be the one that lands the client. This is the ultimate guide to getting your first client as a graphic designer.
1. Have a place to show off your previous work
This is a crucial step in the whole process for one simple reason: you need to establish credibility as a graphic designer. When a potential customer has the ability to see what you’re capable of and what your level of expertise is, they’re more likely to order your services. Here are a couple of places you can promote your work:
· Instagram. Instagram is a visual platform and therefore is great for showing your graphic design pieces to the world. Off course, as to anything, there are some drawbacks on this platform. It’s hard to get noticed in if you don’t already have a decent following. Another is that not many people go to Instagram looking for people to hire.
· Facebook page. This one is a bit easier to get noticed in, but does carry some of the similar disadvantages. You also need to have at least a few hundred followers to make yourself visible to the world. Another big disadvantage is that both Facebook and Instagram want to be paid for exposure of your profile or page. Not that big of a deal if a have a couple hundred dollars to spend on advertising, but for those that don’t, the next point is probably the best way to go.
· Website. There are many website creators out there, and each have their pros and cons. We’d suggest going for one that is more focused on the visual side and is easy to learn in a short period of time (Squarespace, Wix). A website is probably the best place to show off your work for one very simple reason: you can do whatever you want with it. You’re in control of the layouts, templates and the overall look of your website. This gives you the possibility to customize it to your liking and giving it a personal touch.
2. Look professional
Even though you haven’t yet had your first customer, there is no reason you should look like a newbie in this area. Here are some tips for looking professional:
· Have a professional e-mail address. Don’t use that e-mail that you’ve created when you were 14 and create one with your name and surname. Even better, go for one that doesn’t have @gmail.com (or any other e-mail service) name at the end.
· Make it easy to contact you. Where ever you decide to show off your work, have your e-mail address and phone number in a visible place. Customers are more likely to contact you, when they don’t have to browse around to find your contact information.
· Have a good profile picture. This also helps with building credibility and trust with the customer. We, as humans, want to see the face of someone we’re thinking of dealing with.
3. Clearly state your education and previous work experience
This is another step you have to take if you want to build that very important part of the relationship with the customer – trust. Clearly outlining your education helps the potential customer see that you are a professional and that you know what you’re doing.
What to do if you’ve learned graphic design by yourself? Well, this is where your previous artwork comes to your aid. In some cases customers look for what you have accomplished rather that for your education.
4. Don’t ask for too much money (but don’t sell yourself cheap either)
This is a mistake that many new graphic designers make, and it’s one that can be easily avoided. Don’t ask for too much. You’re a beginner, so don’t try to earn a professionals wage. Even if you have a load of artwork that shows how good you are, there is one thing missing: work experience. It’s one thing creating what you want and a whole different thing working for someone else. A good way to calculate what to charge for one hour of your work is to take the yearly salary you want to earn and divide it by 1,000.
Let’s say you want to earn 50,000 dollars per year. To achieve that you’ll need to charge 50 dollars for each hour of your work (50,000/1,000=50). If you want to charge a flat fee instead of charging per hours, just think about how long will it take you to complete the task (in hours) and multiply that by your hourly fee.
5. Offer free revisions
You want your potential customer to trust you, right? Well, on great way to build trust is to offer them revisions of the work they ordered. This helps your potential customer see that they will get what they ordered and justify the purchase. But be careful with this one! Clearly outline how many revisions you will make and what is the time frame that the customer has to submit their order for revision.
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6. What is your unique selling point?
Unique selling point (USP for short) is a term very often used in business. This is that one particular thing about your business or service that helps you stand out from the rest. So, what’s yours? Is your price better than your competitors? Do you offer more free revisions? Do you deliver the order faster than anyone else in your niche? When you decide what your USP is, make sure that everyone knows it. It should be the motto of your business.
7. Don’t wait for the clients to come to you
So, you’ve done everything mentioned in the previous steps and you’re ready for your first customer, but nothing’s happening. What do you do now? Go out there and spread the word! Contact local businesses, tell them about your services and search for potential clients online. Go through your local classified sites and look for people who are looking for the services you offer. Craigslist is one site that has a load of potential for finding your first customer. When you open craigslist, go to their gigs section and type in the service that you would want to provide. Chances are that you’ll find at least 5 people that are looking for someone just like you. Upwork is another great place to find work. Although the set-up process can be a bit lengthy, it’s definitely worth the hassle. Another great way to let the world know about your services is to post ads on different classified sites. Browse around and you’ll most likely find at least 3-5 sites that you can post your ads for free.
8. Clearly explain the whole process to your client
There are 2 main ways to go about this:
· Outline the whole process on your website (or any other platform you’ve decided to put your work on).
· Or discuss the whole process with the potential customer through e-mail, phone or face-to-face.
Can you guess why this step is important? Yap, it’s all about trust. If the customer knows the exact process you’re going to go through to deliver their order, they will probably choose to do business with you. Why? For one simple reason: they know what they’re paying for and that makes them feel more comfortable spending their hard-earned money.
9. Meet them
In the previous step we’ve said that you could discuss the whole process with the customer face-to-face. Now, it’s time to share why this is probably the best way to go about this. When a customer sees you and has the opportunity to talk to you, both of you immediately build a stronger relationship (which helps with trust again, duh). Talking to your customer also helps to build your credibility and shows your professionalism and dedication to your work. Not everyone takes their time to meet the customer, so this is your chance to stand out and show them that you’re the person that they need to do business with.
10. Be prepared to answer questions
If the customer you’re meeting, or messaging with, has no previous experience with graphic designers, chances are that they will have a lot of questions. Some hard to answer, and some so dumb, you wouldn’t believe. Be patient and answer all of them with as much clarity as possible. The customer will appreciate your professionalism and will probably choose to do business with you because you were the one that made everything clear for them and helped them understand what they can expect and what particular service they need.
11. Use Facebook ads (optional)
This step isn’t mandatory, but it does have a lot of potential for one particular graphic design service. Facebook allows you to target your ads to people that have recently announced that they’ve gotten engaged. What kind of graphic design service would these people need? Wedding invitations! There are many videos on YouTube that will teach you the simplest ways to set up your Facebook ads. Spending as little as 20 dollars you’ll probably find your first customer this way.
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Disclaimer: we do not guarantee results even if you have taken all of these steps. Sometimes it’s a matter of luck, whether you’ll find your customer or not. That said, these steps will put you way closer to achieving that goal.