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What is your #1 biggest challenge related to finding new freelance design clients?

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  • What is your #1 biggest challenge related to finding new freelance design clients?

    Hey there,
    I've been browsing trough the older threads and found a lot of stuff regarding "how to get clients". There is great advice like

    Currently I have no trouble getting new clients myself - but I am courious to hear what others find challenging in the process if you are looking for new clients on your own / or if you're approached by a potential client the first time.

    What's your #1 challenge?
    • For me it's "probing if the project is a real match" in terms of required skills, budget, timeframe, remote, etc. Often its time consuming to filter and reject the bad ones.

    Looking forward do hear your personal thoughts and experiences!


    -- Why am I asking this?
    I recently talked about the topic with a few of my freelance "colleagues" from my network and we were curious what other freelancers do in this cases. So I decided to do an informal survey on the topic. I will be posting the summarized answers if there is interest for it.

  • #2
    My biggest challenge is other designers undervaluing the work we do and the service we provide. Its hard to bid on a job when so many people will do a job for $5!!!


    • B
      B commented
      Editing a comment
      Instead of that being a challenge, I view it as a valuable filtering mechanism that weeds out the clients I wouldn't want to work with anyway.

    • patrics
      patrics commented
      Editing a comment
      Kovski So you feel the challenge is showing off your value is >$5 ?

      I am courious about two things: Do you find most of your work on platforms where the $5-guys are undercutting you? Which ones do you use mainly? What kind of gigs are those $5 things?

      @B Good point about the filtering! I guess after you got a decent portfolio and formerclients its easier... What's your main challenge currently?

  • #3
    You need to up your game. Why do work that some people would only pay $5 for?


    • #4
      I think you're missing the point. The $5 was an exaggeration but you can't deny that our craft has become commoditized with the introduction of stock sites, template sites, and global job boards. Sites like Fiverr are going to destroy our craft. I can't tell you how many projects I have quoted on (that I would normally win) are being given to people overseas because of how much cheaper it can be done.


      • #5
        Both B and I are saying, ignore those sites. As a print vendor, I've been dealing with offshoring for nearly 2 decades. Provide a better product and better service. Seek out the clients that recognize quality. Trying to land work that is going lowball isn't worth the angst. The clients you seek are out there. The trouble is raising yourself above the currant morass of mediocre design out there. Not everyone is cut out for this field, but the object is to continually get better at the craft and to continually aim for higher bars.


        • #6
          Originally posted by Patrics
          @B Good point about the filtering! I guess after you got a decent portfolio and formerclients its easier... What's your main challenge currently?
          Unlike many, I'm lucky enough to have survived in this profession for a long time. That being the case, the main personal challenge I run into with both freelance work and my day job tends to be the less-than-stimulating nature of so much of the work. After the 100th website design or the 1000th brochure, it gets tough to maintain a necessary level of excitement. Every now and again, though, something new and different shows up that makes it fun.
          Last edited by B; 07-13-2017, 06:09 PM. Reason: Typo


          • #7
            Hey folks,
            thanks for the discussion. It was quite interesting how the low-end offers are perceived. My opinion is too we should only compete on a playing field which is worth our time. Somethimes this means moving into another area or engaging more effort to find new clients.

            In the end the only thing which counts (longterm) for our businesses is the quality and results for the customer. If we happen to deliver the same quality and results as another guy for $5 ... well then we should think about if we are still in the right business. I guess most of you have local clients which also value the face-to-face time, your native language and your experience in handling their special needs...

            For whom is interested I wrote down what I learned from asking this question quite a few times in the last weeks:


            Btw. In case you are curious what other designers mentioned as their #1 challenge? In the last days I talked to quite a few of our "colleagues" out there...

            For most freelance designers (who I talked to) it is absolutely no problem finding new leads and clients. Most get project offers from former clients who have been happy with their work in the past or from new people who have been referred by a former client... Lesson learned, word of mouth is king and everyone should be pro-actively facilitating that. Asking for referrals, staying in contact with "passive" clients, having a system for it...

            Oh yeah, and most freelance designers avoid bidding for projects on online platforms like fiverr, 99design and upwork since they consider it bottom-feeding and they dont like to compete on $5 projects with overseas hourly rates. However some have success using those platforms as lead-gen tool - if they take the time to filter for the "good projects" only...

            Still, what are the challenges? From my notes other designers find it challenging to:

            - find the RIGHT KIND of projects
            - filtering the offers for what projects will be a good match (skills & expectations) in the end.
            - find the RIGHT KIND of clients (=people) who they are willing to work with in a good and healthy relationship (-> saving time without stressing about bad projects, working on stuff they are good at, beeing able to perform well and facilitating more word-of-mouth in the future...) - juggle the TIMELINES of multiple projects and deadlines
            - Getting the people on the other side to do the necessary work on time, deliver input, commit and work within deadlines too so they dont have to delay a new project or even work a nightshift because suddenly they all need the results tomorrow...
            - switch between beeing a designer, doing the work and beeing a salesman and and a business on the other hand where they need to work "on the business" and "on themselves" to improve personally over time


            I hope you got some value or interesting insights out of my "survey notes". I certainly did. My original goal was to learn what works for others and to validate if my idea has any value. So I learned what works for most designers: "word of mouth and referrals" and I also learned that my idea is probably not worth pursuing any further. At least in the current form of "delivering matching project offers instantly to designers via chat message and charging a monthly fee". My smoke-and-mirrors test landingpage did not "convert" to a purchase at all - however some at least clicked trough to the buy-button ;-)

            One could argue I did not talk to enough designers, or I talked to the wrong ones, did not drive enough traffic, etc. That might be true.

            In the end I had some fun working on the idea, connected to fellow designers, learned some stuff (fb ads, cold email outreach, daily struggles of freelance designers, etc.) but I will currently not move forward with the idea.

            Who knows, If I let it sink in for a while some new angle or insight will occur and I will give it a shot again. But right now. I'll move on to other ideas and maybe find another actual problem which is worth solving as a side-project.

            Kind Regards






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