Websites to get online clients?

Hello designers,
I am currently on Upwork and am wondering if there are any other websites out there that would be worth my time to check out for getting more clients.

I have seen, but I get a weird feeling about it … it has some reviews claiming it is a scam and just the sheer amount of applicants for each gig is off putting.

Fiverr… is just a cut throat who-can-do-it-cheaper battle royale it seems to me.

There’s been a couple of others that I have found through googling, but wanted to check and see with some actual freelancers what’s what.

Where do you get online clients?

I do illustration, logos, web banners/ads, print collateral (brochures, business cards, banners, flyers, etc) … basically a lot of graphic arts stuff but not website design.


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Honestly, I’m not sure there are any good online design freelancing sites. Even the ones that start out as promising can’t seem to resist the temptation to turn themselves into bottom-feeder crowdsourcing sites filled with amateurs and attracting clients who don’t know the difference.

Seems to me there could be a niche market for a site that carefully screened both their freelancers and clients to ensure professionalism, quality, realistic prices and adequate client-designer communication. There might be one or two of these squirreled away in some remote corner of the Internet, but I’m not aware of any if they do exist.

I started doing Upwork a couple weeks ago, and I agree, their fees aren’t great and you will most likely get low-balled. I limited my audience to those in the US and got my full portfolio up there, and that’s gotten me a little gig and a little gig that turned into a big gig (that will handled off the platform, thankfully), so it might not be the worst you can do if you just need a bit of cash and experience. I’m trying to let the clients know how much projects should cost if I can.

Otherwise, Twitter networking, your local AIGA chapter (if it exists), and get on local freelance groups on Facebook. Do volunteer work for events in the evenings. Those charity folks can pass the word on to people who pay. I live in a smaller city, but that’s where I’ve gotten 100% of my clients.

Yeah, I can’t believe some of the prices they put on their projects. It’s been great for getting experience with clients though.

How would I be getting gigs from AIGA? Do I need to go to their events or something? I haven’t heard of it, not sure how it works, but I just signed up for their newsletter.

I don’t actually use twitter (or IG, for that matter but I’m thinking I should get one soon). I tried it once a long time ago, was not my jam. What do you like about it for advertising your design work?

Thanks for your great ideas!

I wouldn’t be so sure about that. What you’ve really learned, I suspect, is how to interact with naive clients in a crowdsourcing environment, which is a far different thing from sitting down in an office with someone and discussing the project in detail while getting to know each other.

As Eedogood implied, most freelance work tends to come through an extended network of people who you’ve known in one way or other. I’m not talking about the LinkedIn variety of networking either (although some people make that work). Instead, I’m referring to friends, co-workers, former co-workers and former clients who also have friends, acquaintances, business associates and customers who sometimes need what you have to offer.

Unfortunately, it’s a Catch-22 problem. How do you grow a network of trusted and trusting acquaintances without already having some to build on? It takes time and depends on your personality, I suppose. I don’t know of any shortcuts, but joining and actively participating in an AIGA chapter could be a good start.


There is something to be said about being face to face, eye to eye with your client. Some people just don’t like that. But my best client’s are the ones I’ve had for years that have become friends because we meet for a beer or coffee and discuss their vision, plans and goals - not just the job.

Listening is a skillset. According to “them” (some scientists somewhere) only about 40% of what is spoken is actually understood by the listener. If you go through a site, you are compounding that problem (- think of the kids game “telephone”). I spent years in advertising. I spent years in mediation. From each of these disciplines I learned specific communicative techniques. Google “active listening” as a starting point.

Additionally, sites that get you work don’t want you taking “their” clients. So they are setup to keep the minimum contact between you and the client as possible.

Finally, there is a difference between a customer and a client (imo). Customers are on those sites to find someone for a job. These sorts of customers almost never turn into long term trusted clients because they are woking piecemeal. You want to build a client base that trust you and comes back to you because you paid attention to them, executed the job, and provided “personalized” care.

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Nowadays everyone wants to do everything online. Which, for the most part I’m fine with … like when they say something that makes no sense, they cant see my face when I’m like “da fuq?”. But there definitely advantages to being able to hear the intonation in someone’s voice when speaking to them.

I went to one networking meeting. It was only slightly cringy. I’m not super good with meeting new people so it was definitely out of my comfort zone. I will go back to see if it’s actually worth my time to get gigs.

Have you tried 99designs?

One of the big problems many of us have in this field (including me) is that we’re natural-born introverts who don’t take naturally to meeting and interacting with lots of new people in unstructured social situations. They’re uncomfortable, awkward, embarrassing and terribly draining.

I’ve seen more than a few lesser-talented extroverted designers succeed because of their ability to jump right into social situations and just keep plugging away as though they actually enjoy and feel energized by the non-stop interactions. And I’ve seen even more highly talented designers overlooked and passed by because they would rather be deeply engaged in their work or hanging out with a small group of close friends.

My wife is an extrovert, and she absolutely loves parties. I try to find an obscure corner of the room to lay low and endure while doing my best to resist the urge to escape.

Ya know, I think I actually signed up and then promptly forgot about it. Do you like that website?

It’s probably the worst platform from the ones you mentioned lol. A client posts a brief and xxx “designers” join. The winner get’s it all, lmao. If your design get’s a high rating everyone one else copies your work in some way.
But in the end it turned out very well for me thanks to God.
I gained a good reputation, got “top level” a year back. My work shows up on the “discovery” page. Clients can find my work there. If the client likes my work he can invite me to a 1-1 project, that means just me and the client. The client gets charged before we start working, so the money is “secured”. Once the client is happy with the work he can “release” the payment.
I really enjoy projects because you know you get paid sooner or later.
There are “designers” that easily do 20-30 projects a month. I think they do over 20k a month. But trust me they deserved it, they work day and night. Their work isn’t really inspiring, but they are damn lucky!
They know how to deal with clients, 99d can smell that, so they hook their work up on the first page = means lots of projects.
I don’t know how to deal with clients, I’m not that type of guy. If the client wants xx revisions, I do xx revisions. While the “designers” mentioned above have a “take it or leave it” approach, they convince the clients so hard that they don’t have a chance lol. This way they have more time to take on another project, and another, and another… The result -> they spent less and less time on projects which result in a lower to mid quality design. But magically they have more and more projects, in the end no one actually cares about the design lol. The numbers are important.

Agreed. Nothing as fake as a card swap meet. But hey, that’s how I have the job I have now.

I think field working is better than online working so I suggest you to work in market so you can be aware of industry because working online is time taking and even its reward is usually not as good as we work hard on it.

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