The days when blogging was just a hobby of teenagers are gone; now, even entrepreneurs want to have their own blogs, but do you know how to talk to clients? What does this mean to freelance web designers?
It means that there are a lot of people out there who are willing to spend money on a custom design for their blogs. How can you impress these potential clients and get lucrative jobs?
Talk to your potential clients about what is important to THEM!
What Every Freelancer Needs to Understand: Features vs. Benefits
In copy-writing, there is a very important concept called features and benefits. What is the difference?
- Features are qualities of a product or a service (e.g. these shoes are made of waterproof material)
- Benefits are the benefits that a person will get because of using a product or a service (e.g. your feet won’t get wet if you wear these shoes).
People make buying decisions based on benefits and then rationalize those decisions to themselves using features. Consequently, if you want to sell something to someone, you should always emphasize benefits, not features. Now, how can you use this principle in order to get more web design clients?
Here’s how Ramit Sethi, a New York Times best-selling author and an A-list blogger who has helped thousands of people earn more money as freelancers, answered this question:
Most people focus on features.
They say: “Here’s what you get with my web design service: you get a hosting account, you get ten pages design, you get this, you get that”.
Well…the client doesn’t care!
What do the clients want fundamentally? They want to make more money, they want to get more clients, they want to spend less time, they just want it handled. You can find this out by talking to them and doing research.
This is where you start doing your homework. You figure out what it is that they want and use it to present your services as a benefit. So, instead of saying “You get ten web pages”, you say: “Look, my goal is to help you increase the number of subscribers by 25%” or, better yet, “My goal is to help you increase your revenue by 15%”. That is a benefit. Nobody cares about how many pages it is, or how much time you’re going to spend on it or what software you’ll use. They don’t care about all that. They want more money, more clients, in less time. Focus on what THEY want, not what you want.
Look, I’ll be honest here: many web designers have absolutely no clue what their clients want. In fact, they are so bad, that they talk to their clients in a language that their clients don’t even understand (newsflash: most people who hire web designers are not web designers themselves and therefore they don’t necessarily care about HTML 5, Joomla, jQuery, CSS, etc.). No wonder web designers all over the world struggle with getting clients!
Good news is that it’s very easy to differentiate yourself from everyone else and impress your potential client if you know at least a little bit about online marketing.
What do bloggers want?
Well, unlike many other questions, such as what women want or, equally difficult, what men want, the question what bloggers want is relatively easy to answer.
Here are three things that almost all entrepreneurs who have blogs want:
- More traffic.
- More e-mail subscribers.
- More sales/revenue.
You, as a web designer, can help them get more subscribers and more sales, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll focus on getting your client more e-mail subscribers (you would need some more advanced online marketing knowledge in order to increase sales by tweaking the design).
What’s up with the obsession with collecting e-mail addresses?
Look, in order to impress your client with your online marketing knowledge, you need to know at least a little bit of theory, so here it goes..
An E-mail list is one of the most valuable assets you can have as a blogger. That’s because it’s much easier to sell to your e-mail list than to random visitors to your blog. Also, the larger an e-mail list you have, the less you need to rely on external sources of traffic, such as Google. That’s why everyone is focusing on building their e-mail lists at the moment (I agree with Derek Halpern on this: if you’re not building an e-mail list, you’re an idiot).
Conversion rate is the percentage rate that shows how many people out of every 100 who were exposed to a call for action do what you asked them to do. In this article, I’ll use the term conversion rate to describe the number of people who subscribe to an e-mail list out of every 100 who visit that website, like, 5% conversion rate means that 5 people out of 100 subscribed to an e-mail list. This is the number that you will try to increase for your client. Why?
Most blogs are losing out on potential subscribers every day simply because they are not optimized for conversions. An increase from 5% conversion rate to 7% conversion rate might not sound like a lot, but it means that you go from 50 subscribers to 70 subscribers for 1,000 visitors, and from 500 to 700 subscribers for 10,000 visitors. This really adds up over time, therefore increasing the conversion rate of a blog will help the blogger to build their most important asset faster, and therefore earn more money in the long run.
It’s not enough to talk to clients – you have to deliver what you have promised!
Here’s the thing: bloggers know how important their conversion rate is, and tend to obsess over that number, therefore the words “conversion rate” will immediately get the attention of your potential client. Your chances of getting the job will increase dramatically if you offer them a design that will increase their conversion rate. However, if you make promises like, you have to be able to deliver what you promised. How can you do that?
1. Add a feature box
Here’s what a feature box looks like:
This particular feature box increased the conversion rate of DIY themes blog by 51.7%.
Adding a feature box is an incredibly effective way to increase the conversion rate of a website.
2. Add opt-in forms to the “About” page
The “About” page is one of the most visited pages on most blogs.
Online marketing expert Derek Halpern recommends adding three opt-in forms to one’s “About” page following this layout:
- Section 1: A persuasive, benefit driven headline.
- Section 2: A short, reassuring benefit driven introduction.
- An opt-in form.
- Section 3: Social proof, testimonials, and other reassurance.
- An opt-in form.
- Section 4: Personal story.
- Section 5: The closer.
- An opt-in form.
Most people don’t even have one opt-in form on their “About” pages, so adding three of them there will definitely increase their conversion rate, and bring them more subscribers.
3. Add an opt-in form below each post
On the Internet, when people don’t like what they see, they leave immediately, therefore if someone gets to the end of a blog post, there’s a pretty good chance that they liked what they just read and are interested in reading more of your content. What could be a better time to offer them to subscribe to your blog’s e-mail list?
4. Add an opt-in form to the top of the sidebar
Now, most bloggers have an opt-in form on the top of the sidebar, so you won’t really need to add it there for them, BUT…
Many people make a mistake of cluttering their sidebar: they add their social media badges, Twitter feed, advertisements, and everything else that they can think of. The problem with this is that all that random stuff distracts people from the opt-in form and prevents them from subscribing to the e-mail list. Consequently, it’s easy to increase the conversion rate of a blog by simply stripping away all that unnecessary clutter: leave only the opt-in form and maybe an “About” paragraph or links to resources pages on the sidebar.
5. Add a pop-up window asking to opt-in
Okay, we all are thinking it, so I will just say it: pop-up windows that ask you to opt-in are incredibly annoying.
However, it seems that no matter how obnoxious these pop-ups are, they tend to drastically increase the conversion rate of a website (sometimes by 100% or even 200%). It might seem hard to believe, but adding a pop-up with an opt-in form is pretty much a guaranteed way to increase the conversion rate of any website.
Don’t make this mistake when pitching your client!
Now, all these things are not exactly the forbidden knowledge of a secret society, and you probably already knew that bloggers want to increase the conversion rate of their websites and maybe you even knew how you can help them do that. Are you sure that you convey this when you are pitching to potential clients, though?
Let me share one story from my personal experience. I’m not a web designer myself, therefore when I needed a landing page, I posted a job on one of the freelance job boards. I got a lot of responses straightaway. The problem was that most pitches I received were so terrible that they made me want to go and get a prescription for anti-depressant pills. Why?
Almost all of them looked like this (that’s an excerpt from a real pitch I got):
I am a freelance web designer with having more than five year experience in Website designs, HTML, XHTML, Web2.0, J-Query, HTML5, Layout, W3c Standard, CSS, iPhone and Android UI Design, environment with projects involving Requirement gathering, High level design, low level design, e-commerce, Maganto, Joomla Home page Design and theme integration.
You can probably guess by now that the most important thing to a person who wants a landing page is a conversion rate. However, NO ONE even mentioned the words “conversion rate”, everyone just kept throwing acronyms at me that I don’t even understand (what’s a W3c Standard?). That’s not the way to approach a client if you want to get the job. Remember, most clients don’t care whether you know HTML5 or not, they care whether your design will help them get more e-mail subscribers and sell more of their products or services.
Look, the easiest way to stand out from a bunch of people who are talking in sequences of acronyms is to talk to a client in a language they understand. Don’t talk about HTML5 and Joomla, talk about increasing their conversion rates, getting them more e-mail subscribers, getting them more sales. THAT is what’s going to get you clients (and possibly keep them coming back for years to come if you do a good job). You will be surprised how much easier it is to get clients when you focus on benefits instead of features.
It’s not enough to be a good web designer anymore!
Many people don’t realize that times have changed. Today, in this global economy, you are not competing for jobs against web designers from your hometown, you are competing for jobs against web designers from all over the world. There will always be people who are more skilled than you or who are able to charge lower prices than you (or both). You have to be able to bring something more than web design skills or low prices to the table if you want to get the job. What can you do to stand out from the crowd?
One of the best competitive advantages that you can have as a web designer is an in-depth knowledge of online marketing. It’s safe to say that most people who hire web designers are running some sort of a business and believe me, they are tired of dealing with web designers who don’t understand the basic concepts of online marketing, because it just makes everything so much harder. Sure, entrepreneurs want websites that look good, but, more importantly, they want websites that convert, and if you can build websites that are both beautiful and convert well, entrepreneurs will be more than happy to hire you. That’s why becoming savvy in online marketing might be one of the best moves that you can make in your web design career
Remember, if you want to be a successful freelance web designer, you have to understand that it’s not about you, it’s about the client. Talk to clients and understand the problems they have, come up with the solutions for them and learn to explain the benefits that they will get in a language they understand. This is what will allow you to get more clients, get better clients, and charge higher rates. The sooner you shift your mindset from “I, I, I,” to “client, client, client”, the better.
P.S. Guys, in case you want to learn more about online marketing, but aren’t sure where to start, read this article, it’s a list of trustworthy websites that will help you learn online marketing from scratch (compiled by yours truly).
Agota is a digital nomad who makes a living writing. She has a hard time staying in one place and loves slow travel. As a result, over the last five years, she has lived in United Kingdom, Spain, and Greece, where she's currently staying for the summer. Agota believes that travel is a great way to learn more about yourself and about the world, and that pretty much anyone can afford it if they set their mind to it.