Keeping your client pool full is one of the most difficult tasks that any design firm or freelance designer faces. Interestingly enough, it’s also one of the most important aspects of running a design business. After all, if you don’t have clients, you don’t have work. And if you don’t have work, you can’t pay the bills. If you can’t pay the bills, you go out of business.
This article will explore various ways you can make sure your client pool with stay constantly full.
Never stop looking
If you have been freelancing or running a design business for a long time, you might feel like you have all the clients you can handle. And if you have all the clients you can handle, why would you ever want to take time to look for more? After all, you don’t want to overwork yourself or book more work than you can reasonably manage, right?
Actually, the best tactic for keeping your client pool thriving is to never stop looking for new clients. Even though you might have plenty of work right now, soon those projects will be completed and you will need more work. Don’t wait until you finish with one client to start looking for the next. There’s nothing wrong with pitching to potential clients and then letting them know your availability date.
You could, for example, notify your clients that you will be available for their full attention in 60 days. But what should you do in the mean time? Here’s a thought: you know how designers are always complaining that their clients are slow to get them content, approval, ideas, etc? Give them a month or two to gather their thoughts, fill out your creative brief, and really get a solid feel for what they need from you as a designer.
Once all that work is done (and it will probably take them a month or so) you’ll be ready to hit the ground running with your next project as soon as you finish with current clients. The point? Never stop looking for clients. Always plan ahead and be ready for what’s coming.
Don’t give up on people
Have you ever had one of those potential clients that contact you for work, you send them a quote, they admit your terms look reasonable, and you plan your first meeting, but then never hear from them? They seem to have somehow disappeared from off the face of the planet, right? Your first tendency might be to simply write off potential clients that seem to lose interest. The more intelligent approach is to keep a running list of people who have ever demonstrated interest in working with you on a design project.
When your client pool is starting to dwindle, give these potential clients a phone call or an email. You’ll be surprised how many of them are ready to work with you on their design project. Most times, I have found that these kinds of potential clients didn’t maintain contact with me for trivial reasons: it was a busy time at work, they recently had a baby, the holidays got busy, etc. Usually, they still want to work with you, they just got preoccupied with other things.
These kinds of potential clients can sometimes be the best kind since they were the ones who showed interest in the first place.
Keep your clients coming back
Keeping your clients coming back for more work can be a difficult task to manage well. After all, you don’t want to be the annoying kind of designer who intentionally makes themselves “useful” by not giving clients access to their web site or print material. Although you may think this creates a steady workflow for you, it just annoys your clients because they have to call you every time they need a small change made.
The better option is to choose prime marketing moments to contact your previous design clients. If you’ve worked on promotional material for a company in May, for example, don’t let the Holidays go by at the end of the year without offering to help with their seasonal promotion. There is a lot of work to be done and money to be made in seasonal design.
Constantly look for examples where you can keep your design clients coming back for more work from you. One of the trickiest parts about being a designer is how to turn one-time design projects into continuous income machines.
Your turn to talk
Now it’s your turn to add to the conversation. What sort of things do you do in your design business to make sure you have a constant pool of steady clients? How do you secure work for you and your business year-round? Share your comment on this post.