If you are a designer you have to have clients to make your world go round. The best way to have clients is to make them both like you and love the way you work. Being on a good footing with your clients is of major import. If you don’t keep on a good footing with them, you are headed for a major problem.
Being yourself and being good to clients should go side by side. You need to develop a good relationship and friendship with your clients. This needs to be the nature of your relationship with all your long term clients and that being said you can never tell if it is going to be a client for one assignment, or if it going to be a friend for life. This means you need to be there for them and go the extra two miles not just one.
You need to always keep them in the know. Remember things like birthdays and any other personal thing about them. The little things do mean a great deal. Don’t send a mass email update. Make things personal and try sure you do it regularly. Just a general chat note makes them feel special and that means a lot to clients.
Always keep them up to date about the ongoing work on their websites. They need to know you are keeping it up to date, and that you will always be there for the site and for them. This gives them a feeling of confidence in you.
Even if you haven’t had regular contact with them about their website because they have been doing the updates themselves, it never does any harm to check the website and maybe email a suggestion to them.
When new things become available you might update them about those and suggest ways to implement those on their website. This is especially important to the smaller and medium sized businesses. Mostly, they don’t have the services of their own IT department. It also shows them that you are still there for them. Giving them a suggestion in a way that shows them that you are just looking after their interest but not that you are toting for business is important. It mustn’t come across as promotion for work just as a friendly suggestion.
Depending on how you do it, you could probably find a lot of local business as there are a lot of little places that could do with graphic and design help. Getting them to actually commit to spending money is the biggest problem.
If you are willing to do a little pro bono work you could probably get to extend it for money once they see the advantages. You could then suggest a modest website just a simple one to get them to have an on line presence.
A small thing like a good logo or a simple advert for a local ad can get you a few local customers as by putting your info in the design as the copyright holder you will be seen as the person to come to especially in a local community.