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A beginner's guide to selling yourself as a freelance web designer: Part 2: Defining your selli

11/07/2013

Posted in: Web Design

In my last blog post on selling yourself as a freelance web designer, I talked about how to understand your target audience. This time, I’ll explain how to use the insights you gained from stepping into your audience’s shoes to discover which of your selling points will be most effective in making clients keen to work with you.

Discover how you match your prospects’ expectations

To get started, open up your document with all the notes you collected from your target audience research and look through it to get a sense of the key skills that your ideal clients are looking for in web designers. You can then take each point within these criteria and match them with your experience and knowledge. For example, if the client would find it beneficial for you to have advanced knowledge of SEO, note cases in which you have demonstrated this ability.

It’s even better if you can add facts and figures to show what you’ve achieved because explaining that your SEO recommendations increased your previous employer’s online traffic by 30% is much more effective than simply mentioning that you have SEO experience. If you’ve noticed some key areas in which you’ve not had much exposure, try to find ways to gain that experience so you can clearly demonstrate your value and increase your chances of winning more work in the future.

Value proposition

Knowing how you can meet the needs of your ideal clients is a great first step, now you just have to think about the best ways to communicate these facts and, to get the ball rolling, it’s best to start with a value proposition.

There are moments when you will have to give someone a meaningful reason to work with you in a very concise sentence. You may be in a pitch and want to use this to conclude with impact; you may not have long to talk with someone about why your skills would be valuable to them or you might even have someone directly asking you “So, why should I work with you”? For cases like these, a value proposition can prove extremely helpful, particularly because it’s very easy to give answers that don’t represent you at your best if you don’t have one prepared.

There are a few features that a great value proposition should have…

Memorable

Use the language in your value proposition to make sure that those who hear it will remember you. It’s possible that a prospective client might not be able to work with you immediately, but in the near future a project could come up that fits your skills perfectly and the more memorable you have been to them, the greater the chance that they will think to get in touch with you.

Concise

Remember that this statement is meant to get across really important information in as few words as possible because this will make it easier for a client to recall and have more impact.

Different

There are lots of freelance web designers out there, so make sure that your value proposition helps you to stand out from others. The people you’re targeting may often get requests for work from plenty of web designers so you’re likely to get ignored unless you present yourself differently.

Confident

Great value propositions have to be confident both in the language that they use and in how they are delivered. Make sure you don’t overdo your confidence to the point that it becomes arrogance though because it’s easy to spot the difference between these behaviours and people won’t want to work with those that seem overly boastful. Just show the client that you believe in yourself and that you’re right for them.

Here are a few examples of value proposition statements to help get you started:

• I’m valuable to clients because I have five years’ experience of performing web design that delivers excellent results in this industry.

• I always go the extra mile for my clients by offering to set up their web hosting and email addresses for free.

• I’m different because my marketing background gives me a greater understanding of how web design can positively impact businesses.

Elevator pitch

If you think that you’ve got a bit more time in which to convince someone of your skills, it’s a good idea to have an elevator pitch to draw upon. This is a 30-60 second business description of yourself that tells someone why they should be interested in you and the name comes from an imaginary scenario in which you find yourself in an elevator on the ground floor with an ideal prospect and only have until the elevator reaches the top floor to convince them to work with you.

For inspiration, take a look at these great examples of elevator pitches for freelance web designers from Graphic Design Blender and Freelance Switch.

“I’m a web designer specialising in sites that my clients can manage and update on their own without any knowledge of HTML. There are a lot of designers out there who want to have control of your site and charge you every time you make a change, but I’m not like that. So next time you think about redesigning your web site, give me a call and we’ll create a beautiful site you can update on your own.”

“You know how small businesses often struggle to get the most out of their websites? Well, what I do is create websites that really engage browsers and work hard to convert them into customers – with measurable results. One company I worked with recently was able to increase online sales by 40% over 3 months.”

Rehearse examples of your pitch a few times after you’ve finished writing them to make sure you’re comfortable when delivering them and that they sound professional and persuasive.

Once you’re confident that you can communicate your skills and experience to potential clients in ways that they will find interesting and relevant it’s time to get out there and start selling yourself.

In the third and final post in this series, I’ll explain how to put the statements you have developed from this section into action when networking with people at events and pitching directly to people that you really want to work with.

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