How to Get Your First Web Design Client (Step #2 is especially important)

[soundcloud url=”″ params=”color=2eaef0&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Getting your first PAID web design client is the most important action you can take for your coding career… whether you plan to be a freelance web designer long-term or not.

It’s THAT important because it immediately makes everything much more clear:

  • You see if you actually like coding
  • You figure out what your clients expect from you
  • You understand what to charge and why

And, most importantly… you gain CONFIDENCE. You get to see first-hand that people WILL pay you money to code for them and that you CAN deliver.

On the flip side, NOT getting your first client leaves everything unknown:

  • You assume you’ll like coding but don’t know for sure
  • You continue to have no idea what clients really want
  • You have no idea what you can charge

And, most importantly… you don’t gain the confidence necessary to move forward in your career… and that deep-seated fear about whether clients will pay you and whether you can actually deliver or not… will continue to linger.

I learned this the hard way…

I spent four years “learning to code” pretending that I still had more to learn before I could take clients. The truth was, I was scared.

What if nobody hires me?

What if I can’t deliver?

What if I piss of my client and they tell everybody?

I had 100 excuses for WHY I shouldn’t take my first client.

Meanwhile, my life was falling apart financially, I was working a job I couldn’t stand and my wife was on the verge of leaving me.

Getting my first client changed all that…

Here’s why…

Confidence comes from competence… and clarity comes from action. Take a basketball player.

We all recognize that the only way to get better at basketball (or any sport) is to practice. To get out on the court and play.

It’s the same with delivering on projects for clients… whether they be freelance clients or our boss at a tech job.

The ONLY way you can develop the confidence to succeed… is to get out there on the court and put in some practice.

Click HERE to learn the most important freelance job getting activity… you’re probably not doing

So, here’s how to get your first client…

Step 1: Fill out a profile on Elance (or oDesk if you prefer)

You need to fill out your profile first because anyone who seriously considers hiring you will take at least a quick look.

We could spend volumes talking about HOW to fill out your profile but for now the most important thing to do is actually fill it out… completely.

You’d be surprised how many developers on these sites don’t complete their profiles. Just having a complete profile can put you ahead of probably 90% of them.

That and a professional-looking profile picture. I know you probably have an urge to “express yourself” on your profile (and you can later) but right now you’re trying to get paid.

So, keep it professional. Tell your story and why you think you’re a good hire… and fill out every section.

That’ll be fine for now.

Step 2: Search for projects you KNOW you can deliver on

These sites have 100s if not 1000s of projects posted on them every day.

You could probably find anything you wanted on there. So, pick something you know you can deliver on.

Not something that sounds fun… or something you’re interested in. Some thing you KNOW you can deliver to the client.

We’re building confidence here and there’s already enough fear coursing through your veins. So, keep it simple and stick to something you know you can do.

Step 3: Bid on the project

Be sure to read their entire proposal. Many proposals contain phrases they want you to repeat in your bid so they know you read their proposal.

Plus, you need to be clear on what they want anyway.

If you can see what other bidders are asking then use that as a guide for what you should charge. If you can’t see them just be sure to keep within their budget.

Picking something in the mid-range of their budget usually works (unless your instincts tell you something different).

Finally, when you make your bid… take some time to write a well thought-out response.

Talk about their project and demonstrate you read the whole thing and understand what they want.

Give any advice you might have and explain WHY you’re a good choice for this project.

For example, whenever I bid on a project for someone who wants a membership site built with WordPress and WishList Member… I always say:

“As a developer at WishList Products and the Lead Developer for the WishList Member Certified Developers program…”

That phrase alone demonstrates that I’m a unique fit for the project. Try to find some reason why you’re a unique match for this project.

Feel free to get creative (but believable).

From there, simply negotiate back and forth until you either get the client or you don’t.

Feel free to take a really low fee if you have to. The point of this first project isn’t to make a bunch of money.

It’s to get practice… so just make sure you get something. Obviously, over time you’ll zero in on the right price and learn how to stand firm.

If you follow these steps you should be able to land your first freelance client pretty quickly. But, be careful… you just might get addicted! 🙂

Click here to download the 7 Strategies to Turn Your Code Into Cash cheat sheet

Here’s what to do right now…

Here’s how to get started with this right now so you actually get out there and do this.

I want you to head over to Elance (or oDesk) and do a search for projects that you know you can deliver on.

Look through the projects  and identify 10 that you think are a good fit and save the URLs somewhere on your computer.

It’s one tiny step that can have a dramatic impact on your career.

Once you have your list… continue with Step 1 above!

And, good luck! Let me know how it goes in the comments below!

Got a Question?

Call (515) 344-3163 to ask me your most burning coding question right now?

Subscription Links

Join 7,700 Other Freelancers Who've Built Thriving Freelance Businesses

Over 7,700 other freelancers have started thriving freelance businesses using the information on this blog. Are you next? Subscribe below to get notified whenever a new article is posted and create your own success story:

You might also like

John Morris


I’m a 15-year veteran of freelance web development. I’ve worked with bestselling authors and average Joe’s next door. These days, I focus on helping other freelancers build their freelance business and their lifestyles.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Algren

    What up John Morris. I’ll be your first test subject mate. Keep you posted!

    1. John Morris

      @disqus_9IjwRgwsZ4:disqus sounds good! Let me know how it goes or if you have any questions along the way. Good luck! 🙂

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Join 7,700 Other Freelancers Who've Built Thriving Freelance Businesses

Over 7,700 other freelancers have started thriving freelance businesses using the information on this blog. Are you next? Subscribe below to get notified whenever a new article is posted and create your own success story:

Success Stories

Ready to add your name here?

Tim Covello

Tim Covello

75 SEO and website clients now. My income went from sub zero to over 6K just last month. Tracking 10K for next month. Seriously, you changed my life.

Michael Phoenix

Michael Phoenix

By the way, just hit 95K for the year. I can’t thank you enough for everything you’ve taught me. You’ve changed my life. Thank you!

Stephanie Korski

Stephanie Korski

I started this 3 days ago, following John’s suggestions, and I gained the Upwork Rising Talent badge in less than 2 days. I have a call with my first potential client tomorrow. Thanks, John!

Jithin Veedu

Jithin Veedu

John is the man! I followed his steps and I am flooded with interviews in a week. I got into two Talent clouds. The very next day, I got an invitation from the talent specialists from Upwork and a lot more. I wanna shout out, he is the best in this. Thanks John for helping me out!

Divyendra Singh Jadoun

Divyendra Singh Jadoun

After viewing John’s course, I made an Upwork account and it got approved the same day. Amazingly, I got my first job the very same day, I couldn’t believe it, I thought maybe I got it by coincidence. Anyways I completed the job and received my first earnings. Then, after two days, I got another job and within a week I got 3 jobs and completed them successfully. All the things he says seem to be minute but have a very great impact on your freelancing career.

Sarah Mui

Sarah Mui

I’ve been in an existential crisis for the last week about what the heck I’m doing as a business owner. Even though I’ve been a business for about a year, I’m constantly trying to think of how to prune and refine services. This was very personable and enjoyable to watch. Usually, business courses like this are dry and hard to get through…. repeating the same things over and over again. This was a breath of fresh air. THANK YOU.

Waqas Abdul Majeed

Waqas Abdul Majeed

I’ve definitely learnt so much in 2.5 hours than I’d learn watching different videos online on Youtube and reading tons of articles on the web. John has a natural way of teaching, where he is passionately diving in the topics and he makes it very easy to grasp — someone who wants you to really start running your business well by learning about the right tools and implement them in your online business. I will definitely share with many of the people I know who have been struggling for so long, I did find my answers and I’m sure will do too.

Scott Plude

Scott Plude

I have been following John Morris for several years now. His instruction ranges from beginner to advanced, to CEO-level guidance. I have referred friends and clients to John, and have encouraged my own daughter to pay attention to what he says. All of his teachings create wealth for me (and happiness for my clients!) I can’t speak highly enough about John, his name is well known in my home.

Sukh Plaha

John is a fantastic and patient tutor, who is not just able to share knowledge and communicate it very effectively – but able to support one in applying it. However, I believe that John has a very rare ability to go further than just imparting knowledge and showing one how to apply it. He is able to innately provoke one’s curiosity when explaining and demonstrating concepts, to the extent that one can explore and unravel their own learning journey. Thanks very much John!

Mohamed Misrab

Misrab Mohamed

John has been the most important person in my freelance career ever since I started. Without him, I would have taken 10 or 20 years more to reach the position I am at now (Level 2 seller on Fiverr and Top Rated on Upwork).

Join 7,700 Other Freelancers Who've Built Thriving Freelance Businesses

Over 7,700 other freelancers have started thriving freelance businesses using the information on this blog. Are you next? Subscribe below to get notified whenever a new article is posted and create your own success story: