8 Ways To Get New Clients For Your WordPress Web Development Business…And Keep Them Happy!

8 Ways To Get New Clients For Your WordPress Web Development Business…And Keep Them Happy!

Your WordPress development business is up and running. You’re open and ready to start taking on projects. All you need now are… clients! Let’s show you eight ways to get them and eight ways to keep them happy.

“Get it done, be early to rise, build like crazy…and advertize!” – Web Developer’s Credo

Adopting the above credo and having a “client-getting process” in place for your web development business is vitally important, as it will ensure a steady pipeline of work and revenue.

However, while this might sound simple on the surface, with so many strategies and techniques out there for finding good clients, sometimes it can be impossible to know where to start.

Fortunately, we have a member community of 50,000+ web developers at our disposal.

So naturally we asked them how and where they find their clients!

We then broke down and analyzed their answers and grouped the methods that have worked for them into eight categories.

In this post, we’ll explore each of these methods and show you how to drive more clients to your website and get more business.

After reading this article, you’ll know the eight best methods to get clients for your web development business and (BONUS!) 8 tips for keeping them happy.

Skip ahead to any section of the article:

    1. Word-of-Mouth
    2. Google Search/SEO
    3. 3rd Party Prospecting Sites
    4. Social Media
    5. Networking Events
    6. Social Media Groups
    7. Facebook Ads
    8. Cold Calling

Finding New Clients – The Eight Best Methods To Use

We’ve written about how to get your first client before; however, we’re going to dive a little deeper in this article by hearing from people in the WordPress development community about their proven ways for getting new clients.

We surveyed hundreds of web developers in our member community and found a few standard practices for obtaining new clients.

Everything from paid ads, LinkedIn groups, marketing funnels, cold emails, in-person meetups and networking events, and word-of-mouth.

So, we’ve graphed their responses into different groups based on their most popular methods for getting a new client…

Chart: Ways developers get clients.
These are the most effective methods our members found to get new clients.

The most effective ways web developers obtain new customers boils down to:

  1. Word-of-Mouth
  2. Google Search/SEO
  3. 3rd Party Prospecting Sites (e.g. Upwork)
  4. Social Media
  5. Networking Events
  6. Social Media Groups
  7. Facebook Ads
  8. Cold Calling

Let’s look at these in a bit more detail.

1. Word-of-Mouth

word of mouth image.
Word-of-mouth is the most popular and effective way to get your business going and land new clients.

45% of all members who participated in our surveys and discussions said that word-of-mouth is how most of them initially get clients.

Here are some of the responses we received:

“It’s usually a personal contact due to personal mutual interest.” – Fabio F

“We have good luck with word of mouth/referrals from other clients. We do not do much advertising for ourselves. We have also landed a number of jobs through google searches and interested parties filling out contact forms.” – Mike

“Referrals have been the best source of new clients. I did good work for small and medium businesses in my area, and they referred me to their friends and sister companies.” – Phil

“Word of mouth. Awkwardly, I don’t even have a website of my own right now because I haven’t had any breaks between projects in years. But although it’s a nice problem to have, I need to set aside some time to get something more scalable together, at which point I’ll focus on organic reach and some social media advertising.” – Greg

“I personally leverage on my network and word of mouth (referral) as the trust and confidence level is up, which then I will focus on the solution rather than “selling my brand.” – Jay C

“I pay my website users money for referring their friends who eventually make a purchase. The money paid is actually a fraction of the purchase.” – Chris

These quotes are just a small sample of responses we received.

How to Get Clients Through Word-of-Mouth

Word-of-Mouth is so effective, marketers even have a word for it. It’s called…wait for it…

Word-of-Mouth Marketing (WOM)

Here are just some of the steps you can take to get a client through word-of-mouth marketing (WOM):

Many successful businesses start with the help of family and friends (i.e. your warm market).

So, start there. Tell them about your new business and ask them to start spreading the word to everyone they know (and keep reminding them!)

If you have a colleague or friend, you can get them to talk about your services by helping them with a project. This can translate into new business.

Also, you can set up a referral program. This will motivate people you know to talk about you and your business.

WPMU DEV's WOM referral tool
Automate word-of-mouth referrals using tools like ‘refer a friend’ scripts.

The more people know about your WordPress business, the more chances you’ll have of getting new clients, so just chat about your business in social situations and every opportunity you get…conferences, networking events, functions, kids parties, barmitzvahs (funerals can be a little tricky…if you notice people stiffening up while you’re telling them about your business, just back away!)

Word-of-Mouth Marketing (WOM) is the most effective way to generate clients, so…start spreading the word about your business.

Then, it’s just a matter of closing your client, and you’re on a roll.

2. Google Search/SEO

Google search image.
Good SEO practices will benefit your WordPress business and help you find new clients.

Next on our list of effective client-getting strategies is Google Search/SEO at 18%

“Organic SEO and word of mouth!” Phil — WPMU DEV Member

When it comes to ranking high in the SERPs, there are many things you can do.

As a web developer, you’re probably familiar with SEO practices that best serve your client. However, are you optimizing your own website for best results?

Implementing good SEO practices on your own site can help drive more customers to your business and get more customers knocking on your door.

WPMU DEV provides a whole suite of sweet tools to help you refine your SEO practices and ensure that your own site and your services are up to par.

For example, you can use our SEO Checklist. It covers keyword optimization, title tags, internal linking, and much more. Plus, there’s our Startup Guide to SEO.

Beyond helpful articles, we have also developed plugins that can seriously boost your and your clients’ sites’ performance.

SmartCrawl helps with SEO in many ways. For example, you can use our free SmartCrawl plugin to add localized schema types that can help to attract and bring in clients from your area.

You don’t want potential clients thinking that your own website is too slow, do you? That’s why we created Smush to handle your image optimization for faster loading pages and better search results, and our Hummingbird plugin.

Smush is WordPress’s most popular image optimization plugin – with over a million+ active installs and a 5-star rating. Hummingbird helps your site fly by boosting its speed to ensure your visitors get a quality top-notch experience.

Use Smush + Hummingbird + our blazing fast hosting to impress clients when they land on your website and you will create a “me too” hunger for your services.

Final tip: Try to focus on your niche and use best local SEO practices for your WordPress services.

3. 3rd-Party Prospecting Sites

Upwork banner.
3rd-party sites like Upwork are an effective way to promote your business and find work.

9% of web developers we talked with and surveyed mentioned that they get their start and find clients by promoting their services on freelancer sites like Upwork.

We’ve mentioned Upwork in several of our other articles. However, judging by our members’ responses it appears that Upwork is a great place to look for clients.

“I get a ton of visits from customers on Upwork.” Wolf B – WPMU DEV Member

Upwork is free, and it’s easy to set up a profile. You can specify your location, rate, bio, and more on your profile.

Upwork developers.
Lots of WordPress developers promote their services on Upwork…you may want to as well!

As we suggested with SEO, with 3rd-party sites, try to narrow down the playing field by focusing on a niche market and mention your specialty on your profile (e.g. WordPress website development for businesses in the XYZ niche).

While this strategy may put your business in front of less people, it can result in you bidding on more projects and pitching to more targeted clients.

Eventually, you will start getting rates and ratings. Your earnings will appear on the site and build your credibility. So, the more you earn, the more you’ll earn.

Note: Sites like Upwork take care of all your client billing for a cut of the profit.

As your business grows and you rely less on 3rd-party sites like Upwork to find clients, we recommend using WPMU DEV’s Client Billingwe charge 0% client processing fees for members!

You can learn more about Upwork on their website.

Another popular site mentioned by our web developer community is Fiverr.

Similar to Upwork, it’s free to set up a profile, add your skills, your rate, and more information.

Fiverr profiles
If you’re promoting your business on freelance sites, remember to check out Fiverr too!

The downside of promoting your business on 3rd-party sites is that you are competing against thousands of other freelancers.

Also, your customization options are limited compared to having your own website.

Additionally, most 3rd-party sites frown upon adding external links to a portfolio with your contact information.

They want you to run all of your business on their platform. After all, it’s how they make money.

So, transferring your clients from a platform like Upwork to your own business model may prove difficult.

That being said, you can always use testimonials from clients you get from 3rd-party sites on your own site.

Many developers swear by places like Upwork, Fiverr, and Codeur, so it does work when it comes to getting a client.

You can start collecting testimonials from these various platforms, generate some buzz, and eventually lose some of your dependency on 3rd-party sites as you evolve and establish your business.

4. Social Media

Social media banner.
Don’t be shy about letting people get to know you and your business on social media.

At an equal share of 9%, the web developers we’ve surveyed turn to social media to find new clients and get work.

“I do a ton of social network posts. Twitter, FB, YT, TikTok, etc.” Wolf B – WPMU DEV Member

“The method that has best worked for me is having my own website optimized and my offerings extremely clear for my ideal customer. On my website, I have a website quote calculator and also have a portfolio to showcase my designs. I then share my website across social platforms and to google regularly. This, along with word of mouth, has helped me get new clients.” Marianna – WPMU DEV Member

Building up your business profile on social media can be a long game but if you persist, you’ll slowly but surely establish a social presence for your WordPress business and get clients.

Here are just some of the basic things you can and should be doing and focusing on to attract new clients through social media:

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  1. Authority: Show off your expertise and let your followers know you are the one who can solve their problems. Post about your projects and the knowledge you have in your chosen niche.
  2. Engagement: Engage with your followers and answer their questions promptly, start discussions, and be “real”.
  3. Consistency: Post consistently so that your followers stay engaged. It doesn’t even have to be daily; maybe a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday posting schedule. Whatever it is – just keep it going and try to get into a regular posting routine.
  4. Be Conversational: Participate in conversations. Don’t just add an emoji when replying to comments; try to communicate well. Ask questions. The more conversational you are, the better the chance your audience will connect with you.
  5. Tag: When discussing another person or company, be sure to tag them. Tagging a person or brand is a way to let them know you’re talking about them and can help establish a relationship. Plus, your chances of a repost or share go up dramatically.
  6. Find Your Niche: Find like-minded companies and people that fall into your niche. For example, if you’re a WordPress developer specializing in healthcare, follow doctors’ offices. Additionally, any companies or individuals you’d like to work with, keep tabs on them and follow. The key is to get “your people” and a place to be part of your social media community.
  7. Balance: Don’t just talk about yourself on social media. Instead, focus on curated content – things that focus on something or someone else. Experts say there should be a 3:1 balance of original content. For one post about yourself, have three posts about someone/something else.
  8. Post Timing: Posting at the right time is a big social media component. HubSpot has some tips on posting schedules and the best time to post on social media. For example, the best time to post on Instagram is 6 to 9 PM, 3 to 6 PM, and 9 to 12 PM. The posting algorithm changes regularly, so be sure to always be on the lookout for updates on the best posting schedules for each social media platform.
  9. Add Visuals: Photos and images can oftentimes do more than texts. For example, adding an image to a post on Twitter can increase your retweets by 35%. Sharing relevant photos that work with your WordPress business can be a huge attribute. Plus, consider making videos. They can be “how-to” videos on setting up plugins or SEO. Whatever will get your niche to engage. This is a great area for social media platforms like Instagram.
  10. Have a Tone: Having a unique tone or voice on your social accounts can be very beneficial. as well. Try to write posts on social media like you’d talk. Being conversational is best because you don’t want to be a robot.

For more, read our Tips & Tricks to Manage Social Media.

5. Networking Events

Networking image.
Meetups can be a perfect networking opportunity.

4.5% of web developers we surveyed find new clients through networking events and meetups.

“I get new clients via cold calling (cold mails are not allowed in Germany), meetups, networking & referrals.” Sascha – WPMU DEV Member

Great minds think alike, and meetups are perfect for mingling with WordPress-savvy people.

From there, you can learn how and where to get clients, find out what other web developers are doing, form cooperative alliances, and possibly find a client or two.

Networking is a great way to get initial – and ongoing – clients.

After all, if you have a colleague who needs to pass on a project for whatever reason, they can hand it off to you.

Meetup is a great way to find events in your area. There are quite a few that are organized and focused on WordPress.

There’s also of course WordCamps, where WordPress users around the world get together. It’s a fun way to make like-minded friends and network.

In a nutshell, building relationships in the WordPress industry is an amazing gateway to get your foot in the door.

6. Social Media Groups

Social media groups.
Social media groups are great places to meet people, ask questions, and get business.

4.5% of the members we surveyed use social media groups to build relationships with potential prospects.

“Customer referrals, Facebook ads and through Facebook groups.” Alvaro N – WPMU DEV Member

Social media groups also offer a way to network with WordPress developers.

It can be as simple asking if any web developers in the group have any overflow work, or a project they need help with.

You can also share your knowledge and contribute to the community. This helps build friendships and relationships that can convert to good word-of-mouth and clients.

Groups vary, but Facebook Groups and LinkedIn groups are very well known. Alternatively, there are many others you can check out.

And the WordPress community itself could technically be considered a social media group. There are TONS of WordPress forums and more.

7. Facebook Ads

Facebook ads.
Facebook ads cost $$$, but they can be effective.

4.5% of the developers we surveyed mentioned that they initially got clients using Facebook ads.

“Customer referrals, Facebook ads and through Facebook groups.” Alvaro N – WPMU DEV Member

Facebook ads can be effective, though they obviously do come at a cost.

A big benefit is that you can easily narrow down your audience.

For example, if you have a niche where you work on developing sites for pet stores, your ads can reach only people interested in pet stores.

You can set daily budgets, where you specify what you want to spend. Additionally, you can determine what user actions you pay for.

Essentially, the customization is what sets Facebook ads apart from many others.

You can adjust your ad to reach a specific gender, certain age, marital status, career field, interests, and location.

For more information, we have a comprehensive guide to promoting your WordPress business with Facebook ads. Also, Mailchimp has an awesome Facebook Ads Guide that you will find helpful.

8. Cold Calling

Cold calling
Cold calling can feel a bit intimidating, but the payoff can be huge. Most of your new clients are in your cold market!

Cold calling is the last method that we’ll cover. 4.5% of the members we’ve surveyed find cold-calling effective as a way to generate new business.

“I get new clients via cold calling (cold mails are not allowed in Germany), meetups, networking & referrals.” Sascha – WPMU DEV Member

Cold calling isn’t always necessarily calling on the phone.

This can also be used as an email outreach to a potential client (as per the testimonial above, some countries frown upon cold calling and emailing, so be sure to learn the laws in your country to make sure it’s allowed!).

It can even mean stopping by a business in person to discuss setting them up with a new WordPress site (or some other service that will help you start building a relationship).

For some, cold calling can be a bit overwhelming. And if you feel that way – you’re not alone. But you never know the person or organization you’re reaching out to will respond.

A few ways to ensure that your cold calling actually works are:

  1. Research: Investigate the company you’d like to work for and research them as much as possible. Find all the information you can get so you’ll be confident communicating with them.
  2. Create an Outline of What You Want to Say: Whether by phone or email, having a basic outline of what you want to say is always a good idea. Or you can develop a complete sales scripts tool using slides (e.g. PowerPoint) and train others to do the cold-calling for you.
  3. Create a List of Potential Businesses You Want to Reach Out To: This is a way to help you keep organized and ensure that you’re not reaching out to the same people twice. It’ll help you clearly define who you want to work with when you see them all written out.
  4. Let Rejection Be Your Motivation: You’ll get a lot of ‘nos’ – but eventually, if done right, you’ll also get a ‘yes.’ Keep a positive attitude, learn from your mistakes, and keep at it.
  5. Personalize Your Outreach: Basically, don’t just copy and paste an email. Think of step one (research) and customize your email or phone call accordingly. Let them know that you did your homework and know who they are. They’re much more likely to respond.

Also, it may seem obvious, but Google the companies you’d like to work with. It’s a great way to build an outreach list and investigate those companies.

Keeping Your Clients Happy – Eight Tips

Now that we’ve gone over some of the top ways developers find a new client (for the first time), the important thing is to keep that client.

In fact, a good goal might be that you become too busy to bring on any new clients (this is also where networking comes in handy because you can refer them to a colleague, and in return, they might do the same for you down the road).

Here’s what some of our members say is key to keeping clients.

“We like to think we are knowledgeable, easy going, and good value for money.” – Karl

“Listening to customers, they feel understood – customer service. Quality and work done in a reasonable time.” – Peter

“Quality and support.” – Ashok

“Reputation, reputation, reputation. I have always had a reputation for making each client feel like they are my only client. Anytime I hire someone, I make sure that they understand that makes people talk so positively about us. The fact that even if the first attempt isn’t what the client was thinking, our willingness to work with them to get their ideas out into the world is why we have so many lifelong customers, and they always tell others.” – Todd S

Here are eight tips to keep your clients happy:

  1. Deliver Exceptional Service – You’ve heard the saying: “If you like our service, tell others, if you don’t, tell us!” Deliver outstanding work, and clients will naturally talk positively about your business and refer you to others who need web development services.
  2. Create a Client Loyalty Program – Offer a monthly loyalty program where clients receive a discount. Or, maybe after three WordPress services are completed, the 4th one is free. Some incentive for your loyal fans pays off.
  3. Keep Your Word – Make sure you meet all promised deadlines, don’t make promises you can’t keep, and finish the job you said you would.
  4. Overcommunicate – Keep your clients in the loop constantly. Answer all questions promptly. Follow up regularly and always have a smile on your dial.
  5. Be Transparent – Be an open book with your clients. Let them know your story and how you got to where you are today and answer any questions they have without hesitation. Opening up and being transparent is a great way to form a relationship, which translates into a long-term client.
  6. Get to Know Clients On a Personal Level – Learn about your clients’ lives and be genuinely interested in what they’re doing. Are they opening up a new store and need a website? Find out the details of the store. Maybe even stop in and say “hi” if it’s local to your area.
  7. Send a Handwritten Thank You Note – A handwritten ‘Thank You’ note can go a long way. Or get creative. Consider a gift, like a month’s free hosting or an email account set up at no additional cost. Maybe send clients a coffee mug or some merchandise with your website logo and web address. Not only will they think of you when they have their morning Joe, but they’ll also likely appreciate it. Places like VistaPrint can create custom mugs, merch, and more.
  8. Ask for Feedback – Feedback, whether good or bad, can improve your business dramatically. There might be something that’s unappealing that you’re doing that you’re unaware of. If you know about it, you can change. Likewise, it’s nice to hear if you’re on the right track and positive feedback always helps fuel any business.

Time to Get Clients

We’ve covered a whole range of “web developer-tested” ways to get and keep clients in this article.

The next step is to take action and apply the information. Be persistent and persevere. These methods work for our members, and they will work for you too!

In addition to promoting your business using the methods described above, aim to be the “go-to” business in your niche that people want to get to know, like, and trust (someone has to fill that spot…why not you?)

For additional resources that will help you advance your web development business success, check out our articles on how to land your first freelance client when your business is new and our guide on the secrets to getting freelance work.

And if you’re not a WPMU DEV member yet, try our risk-free plan…it doesn’t cost a cent to get your business moving in the right direction and land those first clients.

With all of the tools we offer at your disposal, you’ll be able to quickly establish yourself and keep that “open” sign facing outward on your doors for the long term.

How did you get your first client? Let us know in the comments!

N. Fakes

N. Fakes Nathanael Fakes is a blog writer and cartoonist at WPMU DEV. He’s worked with WordPress for over a decade. Beyond WordPress, he’s a published author, syndicated cartoonist, and donut enthusiast. Connect with Nate on Instagram and learn more about his work on his comics website.