For some people, portfolios are much more important than resumés or CVs. This is especially true for those in the creative business, including web design. A portfolio can show not only your past works and experience, but also your skills. With a portfolio, you can get a job, or you can even land a client if you have a business. So what do you do if you have no portfolio? Especially if you’re looking into starting your own web design business?
Here are some things you can do in starting a web design business with no portfolio.
Your First Client is You
Most people that have no portfolio would almost always work for free. This is because no client would really want to pay if he’s unsure of your skills. However, there are also those people who take advantage of someone having no portfolio and tell you, “Work for me and you’ll get experience in return”. While some people do practice this, it creates an unhealthy practice in the creative industry.
If we’re going to look for a client that we’d be willing to work for free, it’d be ourselves. If you’re going to create a website, create one first for yourself. Create websites with a niche that you’re interested in. Doing this, not only are you adding something to your portfolio, but it also gives your future clients an idea of your web designs and what they can work with.
Your Family and Friends are Your Next Clients
Of course, after you, the next best people to turn into clients are your family and friends. These are the people whom you have already established a relationship with. See if anyone in your family or friends have a business that needs a website. If there are any who work freelance, ask them if they need a website. If they have a website, ask them if they need a redesign. Try offering your services to the people you know because most of the time, knowing the client personally can be an advantage. However, if things go awry, your personal relationship with them can be affected as well. So just remember to be careful.
Network is Key
So now, you have a portfolio that consists of websites you made for yourself, for your family, and for your friends. The next thing you have to do is to ask them to refer you to people they know. When starting a new business, your best bet in marketing your services is through word of mouth. While you still have no big clients yet to show off in your portfolio, having someone recommend your business to other people is already a big advantage.
Another thing to do besides referrals is ask for your family and friends to leave reviews! Reviews can go a long way when you are just a new business.
Look for Clients in Your Local Area
Other than waiting for clients to come to you through referrals, try talking to the small businesses in your area. Befriend business owners and create a rapport with them before asking if they’re interested in having a website created. This is a great way to look for clients as some of them probably don’t know where to go (or who to talk to) even if they wanted to have a website. Some don’t even entertain the idea until someone presents it to them. Try looking for clients in your neighborhood or local town first, you’d probably be surprised at how many of them might be interested.
Identify Your Niche
Another thing to make your business thrive is to find a niche. With today’s technology and the convenience of the internet, people who have web design skills have increased. This means that competition is tougher in the web design business. So how do you deal with this? Try to find a specialty or a certain group of clientele for your web designs – and it’s much better if it’s something you’re passionate with. Make a web design for law firms, architectural firms, food/restaurants, or just anything that you can think of. As a small web design business with no portfolio, start small and make a name for yourself – be the go-to person in a specific niche. When you’ve done that, you can now try expanding to other niches.
Take Care of Business Formalities
As it is with any business, always make sure you’re covered with any requirements before accepting clients. This means registering your business, setting up a bank account for the business, and figuring out your accounting and invoicing. Some clients will look for freelancers or businesses that can provide receipts – and it’d be unfortunate to miss an opportunity just because you haven’t done that yet. These things can not only help you in maintaining your business, but it also gives you credibility.
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