If you’ve ever wondered how some freelancers get hired on by big accounts, or if you’ve ever been tired of all the extra busy-work that comes with managing lots of small clients, this post is for you.
Now is the time to land your first big design client.
Sure, you’ve designed a business card for your brother’s window washing business. Yeah, the local donut shop asked you to design their facebook timeline cover. But it’s time to land your first big design client, a long-term client, a client that you can depend on as much as they depend on you.
Here’s how to do it:
Get some experience first
It’s pretty hard to approach a big-time client and ask for a freelance gig without any real work to show for yourself. Try freelancing part-time for a little while and, once you have some great portfolio pieces, polish up your collection of work and take it to a big client.
If you can’t find enough work to generate a killer portfolio, do case studies. Redesign web sites for companies you wish you could freelance for.
Some designers choose to work for an agency for a few years in order to get some great design experience on their side.
Whatever you choose to do, do it well and do it quickly. The more expertise and experience you can show when approaching big clients, the better.
Do some serious research
Once you’re ready to pitch to some top-notch businesses, make sure you do your homework. When you land your first big design client, you’ll likely be working with them for a while.
Do some research to find out how they treat freelancers, what their usual going rate is, what other freelancers and employees think of the management, and what their design options look like.
Know the business like the back of your hand.
Prep some work – solve some problems
People at big companies are busy. They have a million things to do and, while they’d love to, they usually don’t have time to reevaluate their web design or branding.
One of the quickest ways to convince a big-name client that you’re worth hiring is to find a need they have and solve it.
Some of the most successful freelance designers I know took this approach and it really paid off! They found a large company whose web site was very outdated. They (free of charge, mind you) sent a document to their head of communications that contained the following and more:
- SWOT analysis of their web site
- A few key, targeted actionable tips they could take to drive more traffic and convert more visitors
- Samples of design enhancements–actually comped out in Photoshop
The most common response? You’re hired!
The worse they can say? Sorry, we’re not looking for a designer right now, but we’ll keep you in mind.
Figuring out how to land your first big design client is harder than it looks
I don’t want this whole thing to seem easier than it really is. In fact, landing big accounts as a freelancer is pretty hard. You’ll fail a few times (maybe even dozens of times) before you hit it big.
But all the work you put into pitching to these big accounts will pay off when you finally get one!
Why do you want a big account?
Right now, some of you are saying “What if I don’t want a big account?”
I get it.
Working with some big company is some freelancers’ nightmare. But here’s why I think most freelancers should try to land your first big design client:
It means steady work and steady income.
I even know a few designers who get paid a regular rate each month regardless of the work or lack thereof they have to do for their client.
It’s a pretty sweet setup.
And you can do the same.
Do you have any big accounts yet?
I’d love to hear your take on this whole thing. Do you have a big account? Are you planning to get one soon? Or would you rather steer clear of any big clients at all?
Leave a comment on this post and let me know what you think!