You’re in the business of helping other businesses attract new clients. And, not only that, you want them to be able to attract a higher quality of clientele. That’s why you take such care in helping them build beautiful and high-performing WordPress website experiences. If they want to find the best clients, then they have to put their best (digital) face forward.
Obviously, you know that web design is a powerful tool in luring in and convincing a new visitor to convert. But for your own marketing purposes, is it as simple as that? Can you rely on the same strategies, premium WordPress themes, and content optimization tactics to attract and land the best clients for your WordPress business?
I want to talk today about what it really means to find the best clients--because it won’t mean the same thing for everyone, even within the WordPress community. I’d also like to talk about what type of strategy you can use when designing your own WordPress site to attract this high-quality clientele.
What Makes a Client “the Best” for Your WordPress Business?
Here’s the thing: you know where to find new WordPress website clients. You also know how to attract high-paying clients to your WordPress business. But that doesn’t always mean you’ve found the best clients for your WordPress business.
The bottom line? It’s not enough to simply find new clients. After all, it takes a lot of time and money out of your own pocket to market your business, hunt around for prospective clients, and go through the process of meeting with and selling them on your WordPress services.
Multiply those costs against every new client you sign up each year. And don’t forget to factor in the cost of meeting with prospective clients that never pull the trigger or who prove themselves to be a bad fit from the get go. All that time and energy you’ve spent trying to build a solid client base adds up--and that doesn’t even factor in what happens once you start working with them. #scopecreepistheworst
That’s why your focus should be to find the best clients for your WordPress business every time. While the word “best” is relatively subjective, there are a number of things you should watch for as you go through initial interactions with a potential client. There are always clear signs when a client is going to be downright bad.
So, weed out the bad ones now and focus on the ones who will be good for your business in the long run. Here's how...
It doesn’t matter what kind of WordPress services you offer. If a client approaches you with the mindset of “What can you give me for X amount of dollars?”, walk away. Their goal is not to create a functional and beautiful WordPress site that impresses their customer base. Their goal is to squeeze as much work out of you as possible, regardless of the end results.
That said, these types of clients will likely be dissatisfied with whatever those results are no matter how well the work turns out in the end. Their focus is on how much they’re paying you and what they believe the ROI is they’ll get in exchange.
Look for clients that focus on the value of the experience you’re developing for them and their customers. You also want to work with clients that want to talk to you about the role you can play in their long-term success. Forward-thinking clients are the ones who will be the most loyal and will trust your decisions throughout the process, making them much easier to work with.
It can quickly become tedious working with a client that’s indecisive about concepts or designs you’ve presented to them. And, not only that, it can become costly as all that back-and-forth and unexpected revision rework kills whatever profit margin you’d established for the project.
To avoid this, watch for the signs of their inability to commit before you both sign a contract:
- Are they unresponsive for days or even weeks despite telling you they were in a hurry to get their website started?
- Did they drag their feet after you gave them a project proposal and pricing?
- When you discussed initial ideas for the website, was their response something like “We don’t really know what we want”, followed by a five-minute explanation of what they want?
A client who is wishy-washy before they even become a client will continue that trend long after the ink dries on the contract. If you can’t afford to handle this lack of commitment or general lack of respect for your time, then walk away.
I think it’s important for anyone entering into a relationship with an artist (and that includes you WordPress designers and developers) to have a shared taste in art. It would be like going to a tattoo artist who only draws Disney characters, even though what you want is a basic black-and-white script along your forearm. You can’t expect the resulting tattoo to match what you wanted, especially if the artist’s heart isn’t in it.
That’s why it’s so important to be clear about what kind of web design you do. Granted, there are very clear best practices as it relates to web design and development, so it’s not likely you’d deviate from those. However, if you specialize in custom illustrative design, but a client tells you they just want something that looks like the Apple website, it probably won’t be a good fit.
Also, take into consideration what they consider to be a “good” design. If they point you to a website or graphic design that’s clearly out of date, and they’re unwilling to take suggestions from you on something that looks more modern and will be more effective for their audience, then move on. Not only will they be difficult to work with, but the resulting website is not one you’ll want your business associated with.
Having worked in customer-serving roles for almost two decades now, I’ve pretty much seen it all when it comes to bad clients. And one of the tell-tale signs I’ve come to recognize with bad clientele is a general lack of respect for the work I do.
This one is pretty easy to spot when you work in WordPress. You’ll hear things like:
“I would’ve built the site myself, but I just don’t have the time for it right now.”
“But why can’t you do this one extra thing? It can’t take that long.”
“Why are you saying you need a month to design the site? My sister’s brother-in-law says he could do it in a weekend.”
If they don’t value the work you bring to the table, they’re going to push back on you at every turn. They’re also going to be the client that asks for shortcuts, discounts, and special favors--none of which are worth your time.
Working as a WordPress consultant or freelancer, you’re going to find a lot of clients who want to treat you like hired help (which I guess you technically are). But the kind of work you do requires a client’s input and trust along the way. After all, this is the face of their business, not yours. You can’t be expected to automatically know what’s right for them, run with it, and then still somehow manage to create a 100% perfect website that they love.
I’m a huge fan of the Clients from Hell website. A lot of the stories on there revolve around freelancers who were told, “Just come up with something.” Then they do and the client is annoyed and frustrated because the freelancer didn’t magically read their mind. And so the freelancer returns to the drawing board and has to continually face an uphill battle against a client who believes them to be incompetent now.
What you need instead is a client who wants you to be a partner, and who believes in your ability to help them grow their business through the creation of this WordPress site. If a client sees you as nothing more than someone to take their abuse and all the blame when a site fails, then they don’t deserve you.
Now that you know how to weed out bad clients, let’s focus in on how your WordPress site can attract the best set of clientele for your business.
How to Use Your WordPress Site to Find the Best Clients
I firmly believe that if you’re in the business of providing a service or selling a product, that you better be using that service or product to support your own business, too. It’s like when parents tell their kids to do something “because I said so”. Unless the parents are abiding by those same practices, how can they ever expect their kid to follow suit?
And, so, your WordPress site is a critical piece in convincing new clients to work with you. However, because what I’m talking about today is about convincing the best clients to work with you, there’s more to it than throwing a good-looking WordPress theme on your site. It needs to convey a certain image to attract those top-tier clients.
Here is what you need to do:
1. Demonstrate what you can do for them
Your site should reflect the quality of website you’re capable of producing and will consistently produce for your clients. This means being able to offer a truly superior user experience through design and demonstrating it through the techniques used on your site.
Just remember not to overboard. Your site should never mislead. If you can’t easily execute a certain type of functionality or don’t know how to effectively build in a feature without using a heavy plugin, don’t include it. Instead, build your website as you would one for your clients.
Look at Seán Halpin’s website , for example.
You get a really good sense here for what he’s capable of doing. Not only that, it’s a very welcoming environment. He seems honest and very practical. Based on the samples included in his portfolio, it looks like that translates over really well into creating modern designs for business websites.
2. Employ your own tools and techniques
If you have something special to offer clients that other WordPress professionals don’t, be sure to include it on your site.
- Did you develop a plugin? Then your site should use it.
- Do you specialize in SEO? Then your site should rank #1 for your target keywords.
- Do you focus on building small ecommerce shops? Then you should sell something on your site.
These types of unique selling propositions can go a long way in setting your WordPress business apart from the competition. However, there’s no guarantee that anyone visiting your site is going to take the time to read about the social media add-on services included in your WordPress web development packages. It would be much better if you use your site to demonstrate it instead.
OptinMonster is a nice example of this...
Not only do they tout the benefits of using popups to aid in the conversion process, but they use them on their own website so you can see how they work (and so you don’t exit before buying their plugin).
Elegant Themes is another website that makes use of their own tools. Or at least I think so.
While I can see which plugins they use, I can’t confirm which theme has been used on their site. Having been a Divi user for a couple years now, though, I’m willing to put my money on the fact that they are indeed using Divi for their own website.
3. Talk like your clients
As you listen to your clients about what they like and what they want, don’t forget to listen to how they talk. The better you are at mimicking their style, the easier it will be to work on their behalf as you create a WordPress site for them.
There’s another reason for this as well. As a WordPress consultant, you’re probably used to talking about the UX and UI, XML sitemaps, and concepts like responsiveness and accessibility. If you think a busy CEO is going to come to your site and be impressed by your usage of web design terminology, think again.
Instead, focus on delivering your message in a way they’ll best understand:
Use strong visuals that communicate your understanding of their needs without having to say anything. Pollen London is a good example of this.
They are a digital agency that creates campaigns for luxury and high fashion brands. As such, their website doesn’t employ a traditional static hero image at the top and icons with descriptions down below. The images and layout of their website reflects their clients’ style.
And when writing actual copy for your site, make it as clear as day: “This is what I do; this is what you’ll get out of it”. If you’re worried about doing this effectively, then let your previous clients speak on your behalf. They’re going to use the same lingo as prospective clients and will know exactly how to sell the benefits of working with you.
The WP Elevation do a fantastic job of explaining the real value of WP Elevation:
Get the support to stack up in your favor and let your clients’ words speak on your behalf.
4. Show off your connections
Here is another type of leveraging - using other people in order to build trust with your audience. In this case, you’ll want to use what’s known as a trust mark. Basically, these are symbols or icons that are instantly recognizable and associated with other brands or people that your audience inherently trusts.
For your clients’ sites, you’d likely end up using something like a security seal at checkout. For your own site, though, I’d recommend using partner logos--ones that will attract clients who understand that these partnerships increase the value of the work you offer.
Pagely has an entire page dedicated to other agencies they work with:
Or, for WordPress professionals that have an impressive client list, use this as leverage to say, “Hey, look at the kinds of clients we’ve build sites for!”. You can take a page out of Bill Erickson’s book when doing this:
5. Do the same as everyone else, but give it a unique edge
Everyone has a special skill they can use when promoting their business, and I think WordPress designers and developers have a really unique opportunity here to do something special.
Do you do illustration on the side?
Robby Leonardi’s website and interactive resume indicates that he has some skill in this matter.
Are you a big gamer?
Yul Moreau’s 80s-inspired website makes it seem like that might be the case:
Do you really, really enjoy coding?
I’m pretty sure Cihad Turhan does:
Do you spend countless hours taking selfies in the mirror?
Why not put your photogenic face to good use when introducing yourself on your site as Andrea D. Labarile does:
Are you the life of every party?
Your WordPress site (and any mascots you create for it) could reflect that fun and offbeat personality as the ToyFight site does:
At the end of the day, this is about taking your WordPress site up just one more level. Any old client can appreciate your adherence to best practices and the inclusion of your plugins or themes. Those are necessary to find the best clients, but they’re not necessarily what will seal the deal. Do something that will truly set you apart and demonstrate how awesome you are to work with.
I know it’s a scary thought to think about turning away new clients just because they don’t fit into this “best client” mold. But think about how much time and energy you could potentially be wasting on a client that is a poor fit, abusive, or disrespectful of your time. Find the best clients for your WordPress business and you’ll enjoy the work you do, be able to produce better results, and, in the end, make more money.