Getting web design clients without prior experience or portfolio?


I just began consulting on the side as a UI/UX designer so don't have a portfolio of clients. The only thing I can put in there is work I've done while being employed for a company full time.

How can I get clients?

I've listed myself on sites like Dribbble, Behance, etc. But it's been over a month and haven't gotten any requests for a quote.

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asked Mar 5 '14 at 23:32
Murray Favela
55 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll
  • What are the links to your Dribbble and Behance profiles? – Lindsey Wilson 10 years ago

1 Answer


1) First, you need a good portfolio. A portfolio doesn't have to contain only paid client work. There are other items you can add to your portfolio as well, such as:

  • Personal projects - If you feel motivated enough, go do something just for fun. Create a logo for your dog. Make up a new cereal, including its entire branding strategy. Design a website for a family newsletter.
  • Redesigns of existing products - You may have seen other designers do this on Dribbble and Behance. Pick an existing product, like the American Airlines website, and redesign it. Then publish your work with an explanation of your design rationale.
  • Non-profit work - Approach some non-profits you like and offer them free design services. This can be a good source of projects when you have downtime. It may even grow your network and indirectly help you find paid work too.

2) Next, you need to do some sales and marketing. Don't expect clients to come to you. You have to do the legwork to go out and find the clients. There are several ways you can do this.

  • Go to meet-ups and conferences - Get out of the house and network. By now, you should have a good business card, portfolio, and overall brand. Go to local meet-ups, events, gatherings, conferences, hackathons, Startup Weekends, etc. and introduce yourself to people.
  • Market yourself via social media - Build yourself a social media brand. There are many ways to do this, such as picking one or two mediums (i.e. blogging, Twitter, Pinterest, etc) and use them regularly. This includes both publishing and engaging in discussions with others. If you know a lot about a particular topic, you can even get into a niche, like "the designer who knows all about cycling and the cycling industry."
  • Partner with complementary services - Some development agencies outsource design work to freelancers that they sub-contract. If you get in good with these organizations, they may throw a lot of work your way.
  • Partner with similar people - Or, find a design agency, or group of like-minded designers, and work together as an informal collective.
  • Seek out contract work - There are many venues that list design contract work, some better than others. Craigslist, for instance, is a bad venue to find contract work IMO. Design forums may be a good source.
answered Mar 7 '14 at 06:33
Mike Lee
1,356 points
  • Solid advice! – Chrissie Gray 10 years ago

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