It was 2012, I’d been side hustling for a year, and was working hard to make my freelance web design business my main gig. I had somewhat consistent work, but my calendar was also filled with plenty of clients that I wasn’t psyched about. I’d trudge thorough those projects, sometimes only being motivated to finish them because that carrot (money) was dangling in front of me.
When I did land a dream client, I was on fire! My creativity was flowing, I was in the zone and all those positive feeling of “yes, this is where I’m meant to be” would come rushing back.
The trouble was that I wasn’t landing that dream client consistently and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why.
I was clearly talented enough, I had the technical know-how and a good eye for design. Why did people not see that?
Then I had this realization—which in hindsight feels like an “oh duh” moment. But, when I simply desperate to make a full-time income, I couldn’t see my error. I never considered how potential clients were viewing my business. I was accidentally attracting the wrong client by appealing to no one in particular.
It took sitting down with a business coach to help me realize that while I knew who I wanted to work with, my branding and copy on my website attracting that same person.
If you’re looking to build a web design business, you’ll want to read this!
This One Simple Shift Catapulted My Web Design Business Instantly
The Ah-Ha Moment
I clearly remember her asking me who I wanted to work with, and I knew—at the time it was fashion and lifestyle bloggers on WordPress. And then she asked, “well, why aren’t you marketing yourself to them?”. I was stunned. I realized that my site was trying to appeal to ANYONE who needed a website. That was where it had failed.
If you’re trying to appeal to anyone, you appeal to no one. I was witnessing it first hand.
My main goal up until that point was simply make money from anyone who wants to give it to me so that I can pay the bills. I was stuck in a lack mentality because I was so afraid of going broke or not getting any work. I feared that if I said out loud who I wanted to work with, then all the other potential jobs would also disappear.
But, what really happened was that I wasn’t getting great clients from any industry because I was appealing to no one in particular.
Realizing that I had no target audience was such a huge lightbulb moment.
I was scared to make the shift at first, because change is scary and unknown. But, I trusted that it would work, and it did. This simple shift ended up being the catalyst that skyrocketed my business growth over the next 3 years.
So, let’s pause and ask yourself—do you know your ideal client? Or, are you like me, trying to appeal to anyone who will take you? If it’s the latter, it’s time to rethink your strategy!
Go All In On Your Niche
I left that meeting radiating excitement! The answer I’d been searching for so long was quite literally in front of me the whole time, and suddenly so obvious!
Sometimes you just need to get out of your own way so you can see it. Maybe that means talking to your audience, talking to a coach or a trusted business-minded friend. Often, we can’t see what we’re most amazing at even though it’s obvious to others.
Does this mean that you have to say no to every project that comes in and doesn’t fit your niche? Of course not. That is totally up to you, and I get it, just because you’ve decided on a niche, doesn’t mean that overnight every one in that niche is suddenly going to find you. You’ve still got to pay the bills and eat!
What it does mean is that your marketing efforts, emails, website, blog posts and social media are all now targeted to that group of people. Over time, that niche audience will grow and grow. Soon, it will crowd out the random people you didn’t want to work with anyway. You’ll feel like you’re exactly where you’re meant to be.
Re-Brand to Attract Your Audience
I came home and pretty much instantly ditched my “professional” logo and branding and swapped it for something more fun, and would attract the women I actually wanted to work with. I changed my mission statement to read “WordPress design for the stylish blogger” and put it out into the world.
It worked like a charm!
A simple branding shift like this can make such a huge impact on your business.
Think of your website as your first impression to any potential client that lands there. If it doesn’t feel like, “oh yes, this girl is for me” then they’re less likely to stick around and move onto the next person who makes them feel completely at ease and at home.
Thinking About Your Re-Brand
When thinking about re-branding for your ideal audience, consider colors, fonts, imagery and language!
I used to think I needed to write everything on my site in this professional way to seem like a legit company. I even used words like “we” because I thought it made my one-woman business seem more like a big deal. Talk about serious imposter syndrome!
I started showing up exactly as I was and people loved it, which made sense. My one-woman business was often serving other one-woman businesses so it felt right for both parties.
A Note on Website Copy
This was something I overlooked in the past but I’ve realized is one of the most important things on your website! Someone is drawn in by the pretty colors and general vibe, but the thing that’s really going to grab them and keep them there? It’s what you have to say and how well you’re able to create connection.
When you’re writing copy for your website with your ideal client in mind, read through it—are you excited about your opportunities? Are they written in a way that would make you feel like “heck yes, she totally gets me!” If not, keep working on them, and if copywriting isn’t your thing, hire someone! There are thousands of amazing writers out there that can capture our voice and vision.
Attract Your Dream Clients
After making those changes, things started shifting immediately. It’s like as soon as I had aligned with my vision and purpose, the Universe aligned itself with me. Almost instantly, I started getting more and more requests from lifestyle and fashion bloggers. I got fewer and fewer of the random website clients and eventually, I didn’t get any at all.
I had a pipeline FULL of people who appreciated my expertise in their industry and wanted to work with me.
What’s great is that anyone can create this in their business. I’m not special—I don’t even have a degree or formal training in web design. Then you can start to do stuff like this:
- Stop worrying about where your paycheck is coming from because your calendar is booked
- Raise your prices because the demand for your work is up and people are willing to pay for it
- Work less and earn more by creating scalable products for clients with smaller budgets
- Work more efficiently because you’ve nailed down your process
- Expand your business because you’re so aligned with your vision
For New Web Designers
When you’re first getting started, business isn’t always steady, you want and need that money and are happy to help anyone who comes along. There is no shame in that! I think a lot of times that’s how we end up finding our niche. We learn which types of projects we enjoy working on, what type of services are our favorites to offer and which ones we hate.
For example, at first, I offered so many more design services because technically, I could do them, but what I realized is that there were a few things I HATED doing. So, I just stopped offering them. And, no one batted an eye! That’s the joy of running your own business—you make the rules!
Over the next 3 years of that business, I become one of the most sought-after blog designers in my niche—all because I finally claimed my niche and appealed to them. It’s a simple shift, but one that changed my business for good.
If you find yourself struggling with getting consistent work with your dream clients, consider your niche, your website’s language, copy and branding and make moves—you’ll never know unless you try!