There are a lot of ways we could go with this topic as it’s a huge one, but I just want to cover the nuggets here and make it simple as well as practical to understand and implement.
I’m not going to get all fancy with words here. I want to try and explain everything so most people can understand this topic better.
By the end of this article, my goal is that you can see the potential of digital marketing and how it can help your freelancing career by combining it with web design and development.
What is Digital Marketing?
The ultimate goal of digital marketing is to promote a product/service/brand to the right target audience with the intention of a desired action such as awareness, a sale, a free download, etc.
As a general short summary and for simplicity sake, digital marketing consists of:
AdWords – The platform to advertise on Google search results.
SEO – The process of ranking a website higher on Google search results.
Online Advertisements – Facebook ads, LinkedIn ads, Website ads, etc.
Content Writing – Writing regular articles for a business – usually with SEO intentions.
Social Media – Creating relevant social posts to drive traffic to a website.
Why is Digital Marketing Important?
Most freelance developers experience ‘valleys’ and ‘peaks’ when it comes to their monthly income.
So, one month they might earn a big amount and then next month they might not break-even.
- Digital marketing skills can help keep your income more consistent, so you can budget more efficiently, and you can sleep in peace knowing you don’t need to start from $0 the next month.
- Digital marketing equips you with valuable skills in an industry that is booming.
- Digital marketing helps you offer a more complete solution to your clients.
- Digital marketing provides you with more knowledge to create effective websites.
- Digital marketing skills help you to create a better personal brand which opens up a lot of doors.
- Digital marketing provides you with the knowledge to create your own products and market them effectively online – boosting your chances of success.
- Digital marketing helps you stand out from the commodity marketing of those who just create websites.
The best type of income is passive income where you don’t need to work, or it requires very little effort to maintain.
But what’s the 2nd best income?
Recurring, predictable income.
I speak to freelancers on a regular basis and many of them earn a high income, but this only lasts for a short time and then their income drops significantly.
So what’s the solution?
Recurring, predictable income.
Bundling your web design skills with digital marketing services helps you achieve this.
Not only does this help you earn a more predictable income each month, but if you create effective websites and create an effective digital marketing campaign for the business, they will have more chance of success.
If you think about why you would be working with a client, the ultimate goal is to get them more sales and digital marketing can help you do just that.
How Do You Make Money from Digital Marketing?
First, you need knowledge.
I recommend a few learning resources at the end of this article for those who don’t understand AdWords, SEO, etc.
Once you know enough where you feel confident, you are ready.
I find that a lot of people are very hesitant to start because they wait until they are almost perfect at something.
Don’t wait until you are the ‘Yoda’ of a particular skill. Just know enough that you don’t have to feel like some kind of fraud, then it’s time to take the next step.
Start, fail, learn along the way and adapt; this is key to succeeding.
Breakdown for earning $1,000 per month:
- Get 1 client paying you $1,000 per month.
- Get 2 clients paying you $500 per month.
- Get 4 clients paying you $250 per month.
Breakdown for earning $3,000 per month:
- Get 1 client paying you $3,000 per month.
- Get 2 clients paying you $1,500 per month.
- Get 3 clients paying you $1,000 per month.
Depending on which option you choose, your services can also be adjusted.
The tasks you offer to earn $1k and $3k per month are pretty much the same.
The only difference is the time you’ll be dedicating to a client.
So, if Client A pays you $1,500 per month versus Client B paying you $250 per month, obviously you’ll be dedicating more time and providing a more comprehensive service to client A.
- Figure out how much I want to earn monthly ($5,000 as an example).
- Target a small, competitive niche like solar panel companies.
- Create an industry analysis report where I analyze the market, competitors, and websites.
- Position myself as an expert in this niche through building an effective online presence.
- Compile a digital marketing retainer package of services for $1,250 per client aimed at improving sales in the solar panel niche. (This could be web development improvements, AdWords, content marketing, SEO, design, etc.)
- Sign up 4 clients paying $1,250 each ($5,000 per month).
I would then work 2 hours per day, per client, which equals a full day’s work (8 hours).
How to Find Digital Marketing Clients
The truth is that anyone can get clients.
You actually don’t want clients.
You want the right clients that pay you a good amount of income on a consistent basis.
Does this sound better?
So, how do you get these clients?
It’s important to think how the potential client would think.
You want to offer them services, but why?
Just so you can get paid and go on nice holidays?
Of course not…
The business wants to make a profit and all they want to know is how you can help improve or grow their business.
I come across portfolio sites all the time…
The person is always quick to mention their skills and how knowledgable they are at a particular skill, but their website navigation, color theme and layout is terrible and they still don’t understand why they are not getting clients.
Are you an expert at Frontend Development?
But if your design skills, communication skills and lack of best practice knowledge is below average, then why do you think you are not getting clients?
Look introspectively. Get a second opinion about your skills from a friend or someone who will tell you the blunt truth. Take constructive criticism and see where you can improve.
To create a visual analogy of this topic, it’s much like this scenario:
You are on a small kayak trying to get to the other side of the river. Your main focus is on getting an oar to row to the other side, but what you are not focused on is fixing the small hole inside the kayak so that it doesn’t sink half way.
Getting clients is the oar.
The hole is everything else you need to get right.
Worry about repairing the hole first, then use the oar.
TRUST / DOUBT
If a client can’t see that your own website looks professional and well thought out, why should they trust that you can create an effective website and improve their online presence with digital marketing as well?
Why should they trust that you can deliver on a project if you don’t have any testimonials or client success stories?
Think about this practically.
If you wanted to buy Bluetooth headphones online and you came across a website that looks bad and their social media accounts only have 50 followers compared with a good looking professional website, thousands of followers and even priced 10% higher, who would you buy from?
The one who you trust more…
It’s no different with how a client thinks.
You can either create trust or doubt.
The question is, which one is happening for you?
After you realize the importance of trust, how do you build trust?
There are 2 main ways:
- A good, professional website/portfolio design
- Client testimonials
To create an effective website/portfolio site, you need to think different to what most web designer/developers do.
They think of their portfolio site as a CV/Resume of some sort. They showcase their skills like this:
HTML + CSS = 90%
SEO = 80%
Design = 85%
Some of them also write blog articles. What’s funny is that these articles are all about web development related topics.
This is the wrong angle completely.
Your portfolio site needs to be focused on how you can provide a solution to a business and it needs to showcase your expertise along with your skills, but in a way that makes sense to the potential client.
Here’s a rough outline of a portfolio site that is focused around the client:
It’s very simple, but you’ll notice that it makes sense and the main focus is on helping the client’s business grow and then getting a quote request.
This is much better than the “CV” based portfolios.
To get client testimonials, you need to have done previous client work.
What if you haven’t done any previous client work?
Simple: Do work for free in exchange for testimonials.
So many people always dispute working for free and they create long articles about why it’s bad, etc. Firstly, it’s not a year of your life and secondly, it works.
What’s better? A paying client that you can’t find or just doing 2 good looking websites for free in exchange for testimonials so that this convinces other potential clients to pay you?
Some examples of businesses to approach for a free website:
- A local NGO or charity
- A small coffee shop or restaurant
- A small local business
- Helping a friend/family with their website
After you’ve laid this foundation, it now comes to actually GETTING the clients.
Contrary to popular belief, it does actually require work to do this.
If you have already done work for previous/existing clients, send them this email:
I hope you are doing well.
I just wanted to find out if you are planning to make additional changes to [website name] that I can assist you with?
Thanks, and have a great weekend coming up J
PS – if you have a friend in business who needs a website, I’d love if you could put me in touch with them J
If you are starting from scratch, do this:
- Type a search term in on Google. Let’s say “landscapers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin”
- You’ll notice there will be 3 or 4 ads right at the top and 2 or 3 right at the bottom.
- Click on each of these ads and take note of the following: the page you land on and their overall website.
- If you notice the page you land on is not convincing enough with a clear call-to-action (request a quote/call us), then that’s good news.
- If you notice their website is not created well, that’s good news.
- Now it’s time for you to email them.
You can email them this:
Hi [name or company name],
I recently came across your website after searching for [the search term you used].
I noticed you don’t have any effective call-to-actions such as a contact form or any social proof to create credibility which will help you get more interested sales leads.
I’d love to setup a call to discuss how I can help improve the sales of your business through effective web design changes.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.
For more information about my expertise, here is my website: [www.mywebsite.com]
Thank you and I look forward to your feedback.
Note: this strategy also works if you look for poster ads in the yellow pages/online directories.
The other common and often overlooked ways to get clients are:
- Letting your family friends know that you now make websites and you can help market the website using digital marketing.
- Going to local business meetups (not developer meetups) as this is where you can make connections. The moment that you mention you help businesses improve their websites so they can get more sales, you’ll get more interest and people saying they want to chat with you about their site.
Specialization and Finding a Niche
This is quite a big topic by itself, so here's a summary:
Smile Marketing – Website design and marketing for dentists
ChiroMox – Website design and marketing for chiropractors
Paperstreet – Website design and marketing for lawyers
GolfWebDesign – Website design and marketing for golfers
Each of these websites have a team behind them as well as a waiting list of clients and they charge premium prices as well.
Why are they so successful?
They are seen as experts because they have specialized in one niche.
Does this make you think a bit?
The only way to move OUT of the commodity market and IN to an abundance of clients is if you niche down.
It’s significantly more difficult to earn a large income by creating websites for every single business niche out there.
- Build more trust
- Fix any “holes” in your kayak
- Position yourself as an expert and niche down
- Strategically approach those within your niche
- Keep growing and building authority in your niche
Wouldn’t it be cool to show a prospective client this:
- I’ve helped XYZ business increase their SEO market share to become the top 3 ranked website for their industry within 8 months.
- I’ve helped XYZ business increase their sales by 57% in 4 months by creating effective AdWords campaigns with improvements to the website.
- XYZ business received a 400% increase in quote requests after improving their landing page, SEO and online advertisements.
It’s much better than ‘I create websites’ – right?
Studying Digital Marketing
There are plenty of places to learn digital marketing, but these are my recommendations:
Read these blogs:
If you prefer courses, consider investing in these:
I hope you found this article helpful and you can see the difference that digital marketing can make to your freelancing career :)
If you’d like to learn more about this, check out my freelancing bundle.
Until next time,