There are various ways to go about finding a new web design client: you can receive new leads through referrals, advertise your services on AdWords, use search engines, and even attempt cold calling (though be warned, this tends to no longer work). But what option will reap the most success? The answer is simple, freelance job sites. Though there are various job sites to choose from (which can sometimes lead to frustration when deciding where and what to look at), these do tend to be the best online resources for finding new clients. It was actually the frustration of struggling to search through hundreds and hundreds of job postings to find decent referrals that I decided to create Area301.
While working on area301.com I carefully researched the market, with the ultimate goal of creating a completed list of the most popular job board websites. Working for years in the industry, I have a lot of personal experience working with these types of sites. Below is a list of what I think are the best job board sites available today. I placed a star next to those that I have personally found helpful and still use on an ongoing basis.
- Craigslist – Though Craigslist can host a variety of irrelevant posts, there are still a substantial amount of legitimate jobs posted daily. I found my first freelance clients here, and years later my first $10k project. For typical gigs you should visit the following section: Gigs>Computer and Gigs>Creative. There is also: Jobs>web / info design. This is where you will find mainly full-time positions, however if you browse only ‘contract’ and ‘part-time’ positions you can also find some freelance projects (I personally don’t visit this section much, mainly because many listings here require you to work in a client’s office).
- Guru – Guru hosts many job posts from all over the world. I’ve had some luck finding great local clients who I’ve been working with for years now.
- Elance -Elance contains a large marketplace, many projects, and lots of freelancers (which in turn means lots of competition). For smaller projects you are not going to win work when put against freelancers from India or Eastern European countries (they charge significantly less per hour). However, you can win great projects simply by searching for clients who are looking for a local developer (this is often the case) or who know that a high quality product requires a reasonable budget.
- Smashing Jobs – Though this site does not contain many offers there are posts placed by very serious advertisers.
- AuthenticJobs – This site is mainly for contract and freelance work. You can find quality projects here, but not necessarily many of them.
- 37signals Jobs – This site is very similar to Smashing Jobs and Authentic Jobs.
- freelancer.com – This is a big job board, but it got a bad reputation because of many fraudulent posts (both from freelancers and employees). I’ve personally never found this site useful.
- Odesk -Odesk offers a huge online marketplace that has revolutionized outsourcing. I personally don’t use this site much, mainly because it does not allow me to target local clients, but rather bid for projects regardless location.
- Freelance Switch’s Job Board – For this site applicants must subscribe for $7/month in order to get full access to job details. I’ve never really used it.
Let them find you.
There are also sites with a more passive approach to getting clients – you create an account and count on employees to contact you. I haven’t found this method very effective.
- Sortfolio, Coroflot, Krop and Behance – These sites let you create a portfolio with your work, which can be browsed by potential clients. You should not count on getting many leads from this kind of passive activity. However, you should use these sites to create an account and get a link back to your site for SEO purposes. Some of these sites also contain job boards. You should check them out to see if they list projects you may be interested in.
Many have called services like 99 Designs or Design Crowd unethical. They benefit individuals who are posting the project, but often hurt the community of web professionals. The problem with these services is that after posting a project, tens of designers submit their work to win the project. The difference between these sites and regular job boards is that here, you need to actually submit your work, not just a proposal. I’ve found that this ultimately ends up a waste of time for those who are putting work into bidding for the project when only one is selected and awarded. I have never used this method to win a project.
Below some other sites that I don’t have much experience with. Some of them are also much more focused on full-time offers. However, this isn’t too say that you won’t find one worth your time:
- tweaky.com is an interesting concept – it’s like a web design studio created by many freelancers. A few of my clients told me they used them and reaped positive results. To be listed here and get a job you first need to apply and be accepted (www.tweaky.com/join). Indeed, I just applied there myself. I will keep you posted on how this process goes.
- Donanza.com – The idea behind this site is interesting, as it has elements of the Elance type functionality, but also aggregate job listings from other sites. However, from my experience it only added more chaos to my work.
- Microlancer.com – This site was recently opened and contains a slightly different concept. For this site you only need to apply and be approved to be listed here.
- Simply Hired – This site is very large and it’s easy to get lost on. In order to properly use this site you must know how to search. However, it can be a great site to use as Mashable’s job board is using them as a resource for aggregating jobs.
- Digitalpoint Forum – A useful forum for webmaster tools and a place to outsource your work.
- Metafilter Jobs
- Dice – A big website with many projects. However, most of them are for full-time seekers.
- www.fbo.gov – This site is where you can find government-related web design projects. However, because there is such a large stake competition is fierce.
- logomyway.com – This site is for logo designers. The minimum amount to start a contest is $200, maximum is $1000.
- The AIGA – This site is for all different kinds of projects for mainly high quality employers. It’s also for mainly full-time roles.