Working for someone else as a web developer can be extremely rewarding. You receive priceless opportunities to fine-tune your skills and build your portfolio. You meet tons of inspiring people who remind you why you love your career field so much in the first place. However, once you’ve worked for someone else long enough, you may start thinking about taking clients of your own.

We know taking that leap into owning your own business can be intimidating, but luckily for you, you’re not alone. Approximately 15 million people in the United States are self-employed, and between them and their employees, they account for 30% of the national workforce. (Crazy, huh?)

There are many others in your same shoes who are about to begin their own businesses. Just start small and take baby steps. Start with one client and let your business grow.

Here are 5 ways you can score that first client:

Build an online presence.

If you’re not on Facebook already, you should be. You can build an online presence through social media, email marketing, and blogging. Take advantage of those tools to get your name out in a free to low cost way. Participate in groups and forums as much as you can. This is a great way to build followers. When they engage with you, that contributes to an increase in social proof, which should lead to more inquiries on your services. You can also guest post on other sites. This is a timeless way to show expertise in the brand and bring traffic back to your website. The main idea here is to network.

Create your portfolio.

Learn all you can about web development to be able to impress your future clients and help them more. Take on any project you can including open source, even if it is unpaid at first. You don’t have to do this for long, just long enough to give you some material to fill your portfolio. If you’re looking to grow your skills a little more first, here’s a list of some free online training programs for web developers. Take what you learn from your training and let it help you become a better developer so you can offer a better end product.

Gather testimonials.

After you start doing a few projects (paid or unpaid), ask the clients for testimonials on how you did. If they’re happy with the work you’ve done for them, you can also ask them to refer you to their connections. This is a great way to get your name out there quickly. Since word of mouth is so powerful, it shouldn’t be long before you’re contacted by a potential second and third client.

Draft a great sales pitch.

We know you don’t have to be a writer to be a web developer, but it is extremely important that you know how to draft catchy copy if you own a business. Your written words will represent you and your business both online and offline. It needs to be consistent, active-voiced, and edited for the sake of being professional. Whether you’re reaching out to clients via email, in person or a combination of the two, you’ll need a few sample sales pitches so you can convey your purpose quickly and effectively. If you don’t practice your sales pitch beforehand, it can come across as sloppy and may steer away potential clients. Put the time into coming up with an effective sales pitch and earn a higher closing rate for doing so.

Ask.

Not asking for the sale is one of the biggest reasons someone doesn’t get a sale. So many business owners and salespeople explain the opportunity, features, and benefits, but just leave it at that for potential clients. If they don’t specifically ask for the sale (i.e. ‘How does that sound?,’ ‘Would you like to get started today?’ etc.) the potential client may not see they need to take action next to work with them. They also may not feel obligated to in the first place. Not asking for the sale is a huge missed opportunity for people who are trying to expand their businesses. To combat that, keep it simple. Strike up a conversation with whoever you think may be interested in working with you, present your services, and ask for the sale at the end. Simple as that.

Now that you’ve heard our suggestions on landing that first client, we’re curious to know yours. What do you recommend new web developers do to reach potential clients? Tell us in the comments below!

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