Learning how to get graphic design clients can be overwhelming. A simple Google search will reveal thousands of ideas—some untested, others outdated.
But after working with thousands of freelancers here on our blog and in our free FB community, we’ve learned exactly what really works when it comes to getting graphic design clients.
So today we’re pulling back the curtain on what it takes to find graphic design clients—whether you’re a brand-new freelance designer or have been trying to find design clients for years.
These tactics have all been tested and proven recently either by myself or real graphic design freelancers in our community.
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Give them a shot for yourself and see if they can’t help you make relatively quick work of getting design clients for your own design business.
Here we go:
1. Sign up for design job sites
Whether you’re on the hunt for local graphic design clients or need remote graphic design jobs, one of the quickest and easiest things you can do to get graphic design clients to hire you is to sign up for quality freelance jobs sites.
We’ve compiled a massive list of freelance job sites if you want to dive into it, but here are just a few of our favorite sites for getting graphic design clients:
When it comes to getting graphic design clients, time is money. The mission behind SolidGigs is to give you back your precious time by searching through thousands of freelance job listings and delivering the best results to you every day.
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And SolidGigs doesn’t take a percentage of your profit (like sites such as Fiverr might). Instead, freelancers pay just a flat monthly fee.
You can get graphic design clients from SolidGigs starting at just $2. Learn more here.
Our next favorite easy-to-get-started-with site for getting graphic design clients is Flexjobs. They’ve always got some great freelance design jobs in all sorts of different categories.
You can try Flexjobs for free here and start using it to get graphic clients pretty quickly if you’re diligent.
We could have chosen any number of freelance marketplaces like Upwork to feature here, but we went with Upwork because they’re the biggest and most helpful marketplace to find graphic design clients (in our opinion).
It takes a bit more time to set up an account before you start finding graphic design clients, but the effort can be well worth it. Some freelancers (like this guy) make a full-time living on Upwork.
Of course, freelancers we’ve spoken with have also found success getting clients on Craigslist, hacking Angellist for clients, or racking up clients on Fiverr.
The key is to find which freelancing sites work for you and then learn how to get graphic design clients to pay attention to you on those sites.
2. Go where graphic design clients already are
Another tactic to focus on when learning how to get graphic design clients is to go where design clients are already spending their time.
This goes for both offline and online.
Are a handful of graphic design clients in your city all attending a local Chamber of Commerce meeting once a month? Or maybe there’s a cool co-working space that hosts local mixers where a lot of potential design clients grab a drink and network?
Wherever you live, it’s likely that within 50 miles of you there are design clients congregating and networking. Attending just a few of these could help you start your graphic design business on the right foot.
If you’re more of an online go-getter, then find which Facebook groups have the kinds of design clients you’re looking for. Make natural connections with potential design clients on Linkedin. Or contribute guest articles to publications your future clients are reading.
In either case, the goal is just to get in front of any new design clients you can on a regular basis.
3. Use cold outreach to get design clients
While some people argue that cold outreach is dead, I say it’s alive and well. In fact, I still get TONS of new clients every year by sending cold emails.
It’s pretty obvious. The months I send cold emails, I get clients. The months I slack, I don’t get as many clients (see chart below).
The art of cold emailing to get clients is not difficult to learn. It’s not difficult to master either.
Sure, it can be scary, but I’ve compiled a complete guide on writing cold emails that convert which will take you through the entire process.
4. Get graphic design clients to come to you
The only thing better than stumbling on a gold mine of potential new graphic design clients is learning how to get graphic design clients to come to you instead.
I have a few close friends who do this really well. Ian Paget, for example, runs a stellar logo design business where 100% of his new design clients come to him. Ian doesn’t have to do much searching for clients anymore.
Because Ian has spent literally years building an online presence that rewards him with new design clients on a regular basis. His site and podcast rank very high when anyone searches “Logo Designer UK” for example.
Pro tip: While strategies like this one can take much longer, they can really pay off. Try pairing a long-term strategy like SEO (Search Engine Optimization—what Ian does) with a short-term win like the tips mentioned in steps 1 and 2.
5. Optimize your portfolio for client conversions
My final pro tip for anyone who’s serious about learning how to get graphic design clients is to optimize your portfolio for client conversions.
While I’ve written entire in-depth articles on this subject, here’s what you really need to know:
Your portfolio IS NOT a place to show off your work. So stop wasting so much time making it perfect and pretty.
Your portfolio IS a place where you convert site visitors into interested clients.
So focus on your calls-to-action (encouraging design clients to contact/hire you), avoid off-ramps (links that take visitors away from you portfolio) like the plague, and for heaven’s sake, just get your design portfolio online and live before you completely burn-out.
That’s how to get graphic design clients
There you have it: 5 pro tips that actually work when it comes to finding design clients.
But if you really want to get design clients, here’s the actual secret ingredients:
- Hard work
I know that can be hard to hear. You might be looking for some quick extra passive income or you might need money, like, yesterday. Maybe you hate your job and can’t wait to leave.
I’m sorry. I really am. But learning how to get graphic design clients and actually have them stick around is neither an effortless process nor an overnight one.
But if you’re willing to work hard at finding design clients, learn from your mistakes, and keep at it, I can promise you’ll find success in getting clients.
Give these 5 tactics a try and reach out to me in our FB group to let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear from you!