7 Things to Ask Your Clients for Besides Money

When it comes to working with clients, there are a lot of things you should be doing besides just asking for money. The tips below will help you grow your design business quickly and easily by asking your clients for a few simple things after completing a successful design project.


1. Testimonials

Testimonials can be a powerful element of any business website. They are proven to inspire trust in viewers and many top online businesses feature testimonials on their websites. Its a good idea to feature a few in a prominent location such as your home page and then you could have a “read more” link to a page with even more testimonials from clients. Testimonials do not have to be long (usually a sentence or two is fine), so be sure to ask your clients for a testimonial if the project went well!

2. Designed by Links

If you are creating a website design for a client you should always try and get a “Designed by” link somewhere on their website. The most common place is the footer, but if you can get a link in a better spot go for it! These backlinks can help your site rank better in search engines if you use an important keyword as the anchor text.

Also, if people like a website design they will often look in the footer to see if there is a link to the web designer’s home page. If a client is resistant to the idea try offering them a price discount, but realize a link like this is much more valuable on an established site than a brand new one that is getting no traffic.

3. Print Design Credits

If you are doing print work you may be able to snag a credit somewhere, which can bring in a lot of business. Being able to get this credit will depend heavily on the client…a lot of larger size clients will not want to give you a credit, but you may be able to negotiate with smaller businesses. Try offering them a small discount in exchange for your website some where on the design.

4. Logo Usage Rights

Displaying logos of well known businesses is another great trust building tactic. Many potential clients like to see who you have done work for before and if they recognize the logos of clients you have worked for, it can increase your chances of bringing them in. So be sure to ask your clients for the right to use their logo on your website or wherever else you would like to display it

5. Full Contact Details

Sometimes when you get a new client you only have their phone number or email. It is important that you get all their contact info, including their mailing address if you want to maximize future business. If you have their number you could do a follow up call and if you have their mailing address you can send holidays cards or promotional offers once in a while. Over time, you should be able to build up a pretty nice list of business contacts, which could really come in handy when work is slow.

6. Future Business

Having your clients contact info as mentioned above, will make it easier to get future business. How often you contact clients is up to you, but you need to be careful not to bug your clients too much. Personally I would not email, call our mail something out more than a few times a year to a list of clients. Its usually best to offer some sort of discount instead of directly asking a client if they need new work. Most of the time, clients will seek you out if they want new work so be sure they have your latest contact info and your website is up to date.

7. Referrals

One of the best ways to get new business has always been word of mouth. If you do a good job for a client they are very likely to refer you to friends, family and co-workers if some one asks them about the services you provide. A good way to step this up a notch is to offer clients a finders fee, so if they refer you to some one and you land the job they get a small percentage or a flat rate finders fee. This can help keep people on their toes and bring in way more referrals.

You should also network with other web designers, graphic designers, and marketing professionals so you can offer them the same finders fee. If they are overloaded with work or can’t provide a service a client is asking for, they may send them your way!

26 comments on “7 Things to Ask Your Clients for Besides Money”

  1. Andrew Reply

    I have found that designed by links are not a good idea.

    Most clients don’t want them on their page, so asking for it puts you in a rather uncomfortable spot. Many times the client will want to negotiate your price down based on you getting ‘free advertising’ on their site.

    If you’re building any sort of dynamic page (with a CMS) there’s a good chance it’s not going to look like you had hoped in a few months. Sure, it looks nice now, but when the secretary starts editing the page and adds titles 3 times longer than you had suggested, or uses low resolution images everywhere the page might not look quite as hot.

    Finally, take a look at how many sites you see with designed by links on them. I can’t think of any that are even worth mentioning; most are local restaurants or car repair shops. Getting links from those sites isn’t going to improve your pagerank any noticeable amount, and it won’t do very much to get you clients either. How many future clients will hire you because they saw your link at the bottom of ‘Northern Mountain 4x4s’ site, and more importantly, do you think you would want those clients?

  2. Gino Reply

    Andrew – I have to disagree, I think you are thinking about the negatives way too much. it really depends on the websites you are doing. Not everyone has just those type of clients.

    You should pick your links carefully, but I do think it can work and has worked for many designers. Another option would be to create your own websites and add links back to your portfolio site on your personal sites.

  3. Leon Reply

    Nice read. I too have to disagree with your opinion on designedby-links Andrew. We (www.yummygum.nl) always put our mark/ logo on websites designed by us. Especially if the clients budget isn’t too big, it sometimes can be compensated by getting some extra exposure by putting your logo on their site. We always include our designed-by link in our first designconcepts so the client can get used to it. It also shows them we are proud to have made their website.

    Also, i don’t think one should think of adding a designed-by links as a garantee source of revenue. Just like giving your business card to someone, it doesn’t mean it will bring you one new project.

  4. Rochelle Dancel Reply

    For each of my clients, I ask a higher power for the following:
    – an open mind
    – patience
    – the ability to tell the time and realise that 10pm does not constitute business hours
    – their payment on time
    – a willingness to let the design breath and not cram everything above the proverbial fold.

  5. mana Reply

    nice post!
    Andrew I also have to disagree with your point of view… you said that is not worth to have your link in a small client´s site such as a local restaurant or other small business, but I´ve seen wonderful pieces of art come out small business sites… I think we must leave our best not matter who the client is… so in that case, if you´ve made a good site, it can bring you big clients in the future… that´s my point of view! sorry for my english, its quite out of practice!!!!


  6. Seth T Reply

    some seem obvious, but still worth stating. #4 is one that hadn’t occured to me. One thing I do is ask for a LinkedIn reccomendation when I am parting ways with an employer.

  7. Matthew Reply

    I also give them a questionnaire as this really helps to provide an insight into waht the client wants and what they will be like to work with. Thanks for the tips.

  8. Autonomy Reply

    Word Mana, well said. I also have to disagree with @Andrew as well about including a designed-by link. While these things do seem like common sense, I am glad you have reiterated them. Topics such as logo usage rights or even testimonials can be easily overlooked by the client. I typically have our clients fill out a questionnaire so they take the time to gain more of a conceptual focus on what they want express before we begin to work on the visual design.

  9. freshalex Reply

    Well put. I have done almost none of these, so now I know what to do. Hopefully I will get extra work in the future if I practice these suggestions

  10. BlindAcreMedia Reply

    I think this is a really informative article that points out the things that are sometimes forgot. We feel it is very important for our clients to provide a testimonial for us. It really puts everything in perspective, and like Autonomy said, you can really see what their focus becomes, leaving it easier to design for the customers needs.

  11. Bryan Moore Creative Design Reply

    I have to say that this is a great article. “Designed by” links aren’t a bad idea and it doesn’t hurt to ask. All these points are good practice and can work for gaining more business in one way or another. The important thing to do is have a strong communication line with the client and keep a good relationship. Chances are they will agree to all these terms.

  12. Jordan Reply

    Regarding #7, I’ve struggled with deciding whether or not to pay for referrals (to both clients and people I network with). One one hand, I think it does give incentive, as you mentioned. On the other, I worry that it will cheapen my brand and that the good work and service I provide should be enough to make them want to refer me.

  13. Michal Wurm Reply

    I guess this one is really obvious but some designers still fail to do it: Always ask a client to sign your contract together with your terms and conditions. If you have good T&C it will save you a lot of hassle in the future.

  14. designerdon Reply

    Good post. Money is a major part, but time in the game is invaluable. I won’t ride the bandwagon over Andrew but humility + professionalism should add to customer education thus maximizing their experience with a REAL designer. Your know how + business practices should transcend any link + flow from the client, however those links help. I’ve gone to plenty of horrendous sites that link back to a designer’s site that was marvelous.
    This was a useful perspective. Thanks.

  15. Matthew Cummins Reply

    Designer Don I definitely have to agree with your point about horrendous sites! If someone finds the site to be horrible they are very unlikely to click the link back to you anyway, and if they do they will see your own site is much nicer and things can go from there. On the other hand beauty is in the eye of the beholder (or is it beer holder?) and what you see as horrible may be just what someone is looking for, and either way you get the “link juice” of the extra link. The only downside of someone who knows you seeing work you aren’t totally proud of is well and truly outweighed by the benefits.

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