I’ve talked a lot about the different strategies, tips and tactics for getting clients recently. But one question that always comes up is:

How do I get paying clients if I don’t have a portfolio or any work to show???”

It’s a great question and one that I asked myself when I first got started.

In episode #132, I share my top 3 strategies for building your portfolio right out of the gate so that you can start landing paying clients.

I mention this in the episode but it’s worth repeating here, pro tip: say “featured work” on your portfolio page when you’re just starting out and don’t have much work to show.

Potential clients don’t need to know that the few projects you’re showing are the ONLY ones you’ve done so by saying “featured work,” you’ll look much more established right out of the gate.

Enjoy!

In this episode:

00:02 – Building with no clients
03:49 – Use “Featured Work”
04:08 – 1) Offer to build for free
05:56 – Consider who’s looking
07:41 – Set constraints
10:08 – Have a deadline
11:13 – Get a testimonial
12:24 – Ask for referrals
14:16 – 2) Build mock ups
16:23 – Create different
19:44 – 3) White labeling
23:44 – Case study
24:44 – Recap
25:40 – Free resource from Josh


Featured links mentioned:

Episode #132 Full Transcription

Josh 0:15
Hey, friends, welcome in to podcast episode 132. In this one, I’m going to share with you some of my thoughts about how you can build your portfolio when you don’t have any clients yet, because I see this question all the time in my Divi web designers, Facebook group, and other places online that I hang out. And I see other web designers who are starting their journey. And I’ve gotten a lot of questions from people who are maybe interested in doing web design, and they want to know, how the heck am I going to get clients when I don’t have any clients? But I don’t have any work to share? It’s a great question. I had the question when I got started. And I’ve learned quite a few things in my journey with how to do this. I’m going to share that with you here. And some of these tips are also things that I’ve seen a lot of my students do. Particularly those who are getting started, but they don’t have any paying clients yet.

Josh 1:04
The good news is there are tons of ways to build a portfolio and to share work before you have any paying clients. What we’re going to cover in this episode are my top three, like main strategies for doing this. And then I’m going to share some kind of sub points under each one of these that will help you depending on which route you want to go. Some of these I’ve done myself and then some again, a lot of I pulled from that a lot of my students are doing.

Josh 1:30
So I’m really excited to share this with you Just remember, these are just three, these are not all of the solutions. There’s tons of different ways to be creative, be you, whatever you’re most interested in whatever tools you use whatever is available to you. I’m going to give you some some ideas and inspiration here that will hopefully kickstart what’s going to be perfect for you and your journey. So those of you who are brand spanking new in a web design, maybe this is the first podcast episode you’re hearing from me. Hopefully this will give you some good direction.

1) Create a Portfolio With Free Clients

Josh 1:57
I do want to start off with though a couple important points that are kind of foundational to this. So we’re going to let’s kick right into this. First off, before you do any sort of portfolio building without them being actual paying clients. Just remember, you don’t have to do that many, either test or mock up projects, you do not need to have nine or 12 or 15 projects in order to sell yourself, all you need is three. Three projects will look awesome. You could do one, could you do two? Sure. Personally, I find that there is power in three in pretty much everything in business. And if you have three columns as a portfolio, just have three projects, we’re going to talk about the specifics of all these projects, but three is all you need. And what I would do is call it recent work or featured work when you have a portfolio page because your potential clients and potential paying customers do not need to know that these are the only three projects you’ve put together or that you’ve worked on. They don’t need to know that all they need to know is this is recent work, or featured work.

Josh 3:11
That tip alone, my friends is worth the price of admission to this podcast, because that is huge. That is a game changer. When I got started. I so wish somebody would have told me that. Because my question was, well, even if I like put a mock up site together, or even if I build my own, like, you know, test kind of site, what have I What am I client knows now that I’ve only done two projects, again, they don’t need to know that all they need to see is recent work or feature work. And those are not lying, because or you don’t have to say this is every single one of my projects, just say recent work. These are the most recent or I actually like featured work better. Because featured sounds a little more premier and a little more prestige, if you will. So try featured work or recent work. And again, all you need is three.

Josh 3:57
Now, to my main three strategies for building your portfolio when you don’t have any clients. My first number one main strategy is to offer to build sites for free. Now, as I said that, as those words were coming out of my mouth, I kind of made myself cringe a little bit because this is tricky. And I want to preface this by saying I don’t want you to build free sites for long for long at all. And if you’re just going to do this route, which is what I did, by the way, the only way that I built my portfolio without any paying clients was to do a couple free builds. This is what I did. I would not do more than three. Going back to our first point keep it at three. And let me give you some tips for offering to build free sites because another heads up you can really get yourself into trouble with this if you don’t set constraints and have it planned out which is what we’re going to dive into.

Josh 4:53
So first off, it’s not going to be hard to find people who want a free website that’s that’s not an issue. Who wouldn’t want a free website, particularly even if it’s your first couple, free is better than nothing. So it’s a great way to start off to build your portfolio for actual clients. The thing I would do, and what I did is to start with your personal and professional network. So start with people around you, if you have an uncle who has a hardware business or something, maybe he has a Facebook page, and maybe he either has or does not have a website, if he does, more than likely it’s on GoDaddy with a page builder, like a do it yourself page builder, maybe you know, Uncle Joe, who has a hardware store is the perfect candidate for Listen, your real business, people are probably going online to find you. Let me build your website for you, we’ll set some constraints and that we’ll talk about that. But that way, you at least have a website. That’s a perfect example of somebody who has a legitimate business, who needs a website. And you could do that for free.

Josh 5:56
Now, when it comes to who you’re going to do free sites for one thing I would recommend is think about the business itself. And who’s looking at that business. And I hate to make it sound like, you know, how can this benefit me, but we’re not doing this as a hobby. We’re doing this eventually to build your career and make money building websites. So I would have a very strategic approach when it comes to offering to build free websites. Again, look at your existing network, whether it’s in your personal your family, your your extended relatives, or your professional network, are you involved in a church or nonprofit or Chamber of Commerce or, you know, anywhere, anywhere that you’re involved with. Maybe a sports league or organization, whatever, look at people who have a good business. And chances are, if they have a good business, they’re likely already going to have a website.

Josh 6:46
But in the case of like the family example, if it’s a startup, or a new kind of business, likely they’re not going to have nice websites or websites at all. So that’s a perfect prime example. But just think about how that’s going to benefit you. Because this can be an incredible referral source. Even if you do a site for free. If you do it right, it can be a lead generator for you for paying clients. And just remember, your your potential clients after this do not need to know you did this for free. So when you do your portfolio page that says featured work, or recent work, and you have three projects, don’t say I did these projects for free, don’t say that nobody has to know you did these for free. And you’re going to want to make sure you tell the person you’re working with not to tell people that they did this for free that you did this for free. So that’s a biggie. So kind of the first point is to start with your personal professional network, be really vigilant and strategic about who you build a site for.

Josh 7:40
The next one here is to set constraints and deliverables for that project, particularly since you’re doing it for free. Now, in the early part of your journey, are you going to spend more time building websites because you’re learning design working on your processes? Yes, of course. And that’s hard enough when you’re getting paid for it. But if you’re doing it for free, that’s when I really don’t want you to get into trouble, I do not want you to spend 40 hours on a free website, a free website should be probably five to 10 hours, maybe 15. If you’re in a position where you know you have time to work on this, but I don’t want you to spend that long on a free website and less unless you feel like it’s gonna be a really good referral source for you. So the trick to do that, though, is to set constraints and make sure it’s very clear what you are going to be delivering on this project.

Josh 8:29
So for example, you might say, offer to build this free site for you, Uncle Joe, we’re just gonna pretend we’re just gonna stick with Uncle Joe in this one. I’m going to say, Okay, we’ll build your website. However, since this is for free and help you in your business, there’s a couple things that we need to have in place. And the first is the size of the project because of Uncle Joe says, great, I’d love a free website. I want to have a blog, I want to sell my products online. And then I want to have you know, social media directed to all this other stuff you’re on say, Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, all right, Uncle Joe, we can do this. But maybe that’s phase two for the free version of the site. What I can do is I can do a five page website that will have this and this and this and you’ll you’ll be able to send me pictures and give me content. I’ll help you craft your content to make sure we give you the best conversions, but you have to set constraints. And if they want to do something more, then that’s the perfect lead in for paid work.

Josh 9:29
So you might say okay, the the initial free build will at least get the website up with five pages, contact page, all that good stuff. Maybe you’ll have like parts and services page about us testimonials contact. There’s your initial build and if Uncle Joe wants to have a blog, unlikely that Uncle Joe is going to blog but maybe he wants to do content marketing wants to add more wants to add a calendar wants to add some e commerce component that is outside of the free build. So set constraints and make sure those constraints are listed out as deliverables, in your quote. So you say exactly what we’re covering. And one thing I would definitely do in this case, too, is set a deadline. Because the thing about free stuff is when you give somebody something for free, they’re not going to value it, like they would if they paid for it. And I’m gonna say that again, because it’s so, so important when it comes to service work. If you give somebody something for free, they’re not going to value it, if, unlike if they had they had paid for it paid for, excuse me, I hate that I just butchered that quote, but we’re moving on.

Josh 10:33
So that is crucial. If Uncle Joe paid a couple grand for his website, he’s gonna want to make sure it’s done on time, he’s probably going to get content to you quicker, etc. So if you do it free, you’ve got to set deadlines and timelines on it, along with your constraints and deliverables. So make sure that’s in place, make sure you say all right, Uncle Joe, this site is going live in a month. So I need to have your copy by the end of next week, images by the week after that, you’ll have a week for revisions, and then we’re launching. So that’s it, be a little stern, even if it’s your first project, listen to this podcast, go through my courses on my resources, you should be empowered enough to do that.

Josh 11:06
Now, the other aspect of this is if you’re going to do something for free, can you guess what I’m going to recommend that you get out of that? You’ve guessed right, it’s a testimonial, makes sure a testimonial is required. So you don’t want to have three projects in your portfolio. In the no testimonials, you want to have a testimonial for every single one. And just like the rule of three and everything else, three testimonials looks great, you’re gonna have a column a three, three testimonials looks great. So just make sure at the end of the project that it is in the contract and your constraints and deliverables which by the way, you should still send a contract and you can even keep the invoice at zero. But try to make it look professional and require a testimonial.

Josh 11:48
We need a video testimonial, awesome. But a written testimonial will do make sure you get a testimonial or if you have a Google My Business Page set up for your business, get a Google review. So that’s a biggie. And then once you have that testimonial, make a case study out of it. Do not let a testimonial go awry, let me get the most use out of that thing. Take that testimonial, make a case study out of the project, talk about uncle Joe’s issues with his web presence. And then now with this new website, how it’s increased business. Now he’s getting contact form submissions, maybe look at the Google Analytics, make a case study out of it.

Josh 12:24
And then finally, my last little tip for this first category of offering to build websites for free is to ask for a referral. So once this is all done, ask Uncle Joe, Hey, man, I really appreciate the opportunity to work with you on this even though for free. Hope you like your new site, I really would love now that I’m making a business out of this to do this. For other business owners in our local area. And people you know, is there anybody you can refer me to, and guarantee if it’s family, hopefully they’re gonna refer you but if it’s somebody outside of your personal network, and then their professional network, often they just need to be reminded or encouraged to refer you. So ask for referrals Do not be shy about asking your current clients for referrals.

Josh 13:10
I just recently posted a podcast, it was at 129 on my top 10 regrets as a web designer and one of those was not asking for referrals and not utilizing my existing network for other work. So make sure you ask referrals. And again, I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Make sure Uncle Joe does not say that Yeah, job my you know, my nephew, just melt cousin for free. Sorry, I just gave Uncle Joe like the hillbilly accent, but you get what I’m saying. Make sure that person is not running around town saying you’re doing sites for free because you don’t want free leads. Just let them know I’ll do this for free. But keep that on the down low. I’m building my portfolio I you know, this is my new business, I want to I want to get better at this. And I want to get real clients in and that’s when a when Uncle Joe is referring people, he doesn’t need to say it’s free. He just says Josh built my website, boom, you got to get referrals.

Josh 14:02
So that’s my first tip offered to build websites for free. Again, with your personal network with constraints, deliverables and a timeline, get a testimonial, make the most out of it, and then get referrals for paid projects.

2) Build Mockup Sites

Josh 14:16
Now number two, build mock up sites. This again, this is not something that I’ve done. But I’ve had students do this and I know this is probably one of the I would imagine this is probably your first thought of something to do is to just build up like a mock up side of what you can do. And this is a very viable strategy. Now the downfalls with this with the mock up route is that you’re not going to get a real sight out of it. Even though you can make it live, it’s not going to be a real business. It’s not you’re not going to get testimonials. You’re not going to get referrals necessarily like that. However, if you just can’t, for whatever reason find anyone to build sites for free.

Josh 0:15
Hey, friends, welcome in to podcast episode 132. In this one, I’m going to share with you some of my thoughts about how you can build your portfolio when you don’t have any clients yet, because I see this question all the time in my Divi web designers, Facebook group, and other places online that I hang out. And I see other web designers who are starting their journey. And I’ve gotten a lot of questions from people who are maybe interested in doing web design, and they want to know, how the heck am I going to get clients when I don’t have any clients? But I don’t have any work to share? It’s a great question. I had the question when I got started. And I’ve learned quite a few things in my journey with how to do this. I’m going to share that with you here. And some of these tips are also things that I’ve seen a lot of my students do. Particularly those who are getting started, but they don’t have any paying clients yet.

Josh 1:04
The good news is there are tons of ways to build a portfolio and to share work before you have any paying clients. What we’re going to cover in this episode are my top three, like main strategies for doing this. And then I’m going to share some kind of sub points under each one of these that will help you depending on which route you want to go. Some of these I’ve done myself and then some again, a lot of I pulled from that a lot of my students are doing.

Josh 1:30
So I’m really excited to share this with you Just remember, these are just three, these are not all of the solutions. There’s tons of different ways to be creative, be you, whatever you’re most interested in whatever tools you use whatever is available to you. I’m going to give you some some ideas and inspiration here that will hopefully kickstart what’s going to be perfect for you and your journey. So those of you who are brand spanking new in a web design, maybe this is the first podcast episode you’re hearing from me. Hopefully this will give you some good direction.

Josh 1:57
I do want to start off with though a couple important points that are kind of foundational to this. So we’re going to let’s kick right into this. First off, before you do any sort of portfolio building without them being actual paying clients. Just remember, you don’t have to do that many, either test or mock up projects, you do not need to have nine or 12 or 15 projects in order to sell yourself, all you need is three. Three projects will look awesome. You could do one, could you do two? Sure. Personally, I find that there is power in three in pretty much everything in business. And if you have three columns as a portfolio, just have three projects, we’re going to talk about the specifics of all these projects, but three is all you need. And what I would do is call it recent work or featured work when you have a portfolio page because your potential clients and potential paying customers do not need to know that these are the only three projects you’ve put together or that you’ve worked on. They don’t need to know that all they need to know is this is recent work, or featured work.

Josh 3:11
That tip alone, my friends is worth the price of admission to this podcast, because that is huge. That is a game changer. When I got started. I so wish somebody would have told me that. Because my question was, well, even if I like put a mock up site together, or even if I build my own, like, you know, test kind of site, what have I What am I client knows now that I’ve only done two projects, again, they don’t need to know that all they need to see is recent work or feature work. And those are not lying, because or you don’t have to say this is every single one of my projects, just say recent work. These are the most recent or I actually like featured work better. Because featured sounds a little more premier and a little more prestige, if you will. So try featured work or recent work. And again, all you need is three.

Josh 3:57
Now, to my main three strategies for building your portfolio when you don’t have any clients. My first number one main strategy is to offer to build sites for free. Now, as I said that, as those words were coming out of my mouth, I kind of made myself cringe a little bit because this is tricky. And I want to preface this by saying I don’t want you to build free sites for long for long at all. And if you’re just going to do this route, which is what I did, by the way, the only way that I built my portfolio without any paying clients was to do a couple free builds. This is what I did. I would not do more than three. Going back to our first point keep it at three. And let me give you some tips for offering to build free sites because another heads up you can really get yourself into trouble with this if you don’t set constraints and have it planned out which is what we’re going to dive into.

Josh 4:53
So first off, it’s not going to be hard to find people who want a free website that’s that’s not an issue. Who wouldn’t want a free website, particularly even if it’s your first couple, free is better than nothing. So it’s a great way to start off to build your portfolio for actual clients. The thing I would do, and what I did is to start with your personal and professional network. So start with people around you, if you have an uncle who has a hardware business or something, maybe he has a Facebook page, and maybe he either has or does not have a website, if he does, more than likely it’s on GoDaddy with a page builder, like a do it yourself page builder, maybe you know, Uncle Joe, who has a hardware store is the perfect candidate for Listen, your real business, people are probably going online to find you. Let me build your website for you, we’ll set some constraints and that we’ll talk about that. But that way, you at least have a website. That’s a perfect example of somebody who has a legitimate business, who needs a website. And you could do that for free.

Josh 5:56
Now, when it comes to who you’re going to do free sites for one thing I would recommend is think about the business itself. And who’s looking at that business. And I hate to make it sound like, you know, how can this benefit me, but we’re not doing this as a hobby. We’re doing this eventually to build your career and make money building websites. So I would have a very strategic approach when it comes to offering to build free websites. Again, look at your existing network, whether it’s in your personal your family, your your extended relatives, or your professional network, are you involved in a church or nonprofit or Chamber of Commerce or, you know, anywhere, anywhere that you’re involved with. Maybe a sports league or organization, whatever, look at people who have a good business. And chances are, if they have a good business, they’re likely already going to have a website.

Josh 6:46
But in the case of like the family example, if it’s a startup, or a new kind of business, likely they’re not going to have nice websites or websites at all. So that’s a perfect prime example. But just think about how that’s going to benefit you. Because this can be an incredible referral source. Even if you do a site for free. If you do it right, it can be a lead generator for you for paying clients. And just remember, your your potential clients after this do not need to know you did this for free. So when you do your portfolio page that says featured work, or recent work, and you have three projects, don’t say I did these projects for free, don’t say that nobody has to know you did these for free. And you’re going to want to make sure you tell the person you’re working with not to tell people that they did this for free that you did this for free. So that’s a biggie. So kind of the first point is to start with your personal professional network, be really vigilant and strategic about who you build a site for.

Josh 7:40
The next one here is to set constraints and deliverables for that project, particularly since you’re doing it for free. Now, in the early part of your journey, are you going to spend more time building websites because you’re learning design working on your processes? Yes, of course. And that’s hard enough when you’re getting paid for it. But if you’re doing it for free, that’s when I really don’t want you to get into trouble, I do not want you to spend 40 hours on a free website, a free website should be probably five to 10 hours, maybe 15. If you’re in a position where you know you have time to work on this, but I don’t want you to spend that long on a free website and less unless you feel like it’s gonna be a really good referral source for you. So the trick to do that, though, is to set constraints and make sure it’s very clear what you are going to be delivering on this project.

Josh 8:29
So for example, you might say, offer to build this free site for you, Uncle Joe, we’re just gonna pretend we’re just gonna stick with Uncle Joe in this one. I’m going to say, Okay, we’ll build your website. However, since this is for free and help you in your business, there’s a couple things that we need to have in place. And the first is the size of the project because of Uncle Joe says, great, I’d love a free website. I want to have a blog, I want to sell my products online. And then I want to have you know, social media directed to all this other stuff you’re on say, Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, all right, Uncle Joe, we can do this. But maybe that’s phase two for the free version of the site. What I can do is I can do a five page website that will have this and this and this and you’ll you’ll be able to send me pictures and give me content. I’ll help you craft your content to make sure we give you the best conversions, but you have to set constraints. And if they want to do something more, then that’s the perfect lead in for paid work.

Josh 9:29
So you might say okay, the the initial free build will at least get the website up with five pages, contact page, all that good stuff. Maybe you’ll have like parts and services page about us testimonials contact. There’s your initial build and if Uncle Joe wants to have a blog, unlikely that Uncle Joe is going to blog but maybe he wants to do content marketing wants to add more wants to add a calendar wants to add some e commerce component that is outside of the free build. So set constraints and make sure those constraints are listed out as deliverables, in your quote. So you say exactly what we’re covering. And one thing I would definitely do in this case, too, is set a deadline. Because the thing about free stuff is when you give somebody something for free, they’re not going to value it, like they would if they paid for it. And I’m gonna say that again, because it’s so, so important when it comes to service work. If you give somebody something for free, they’re not going to value it, if, unlike if they had they had paid for it paid for, excuse me, I hate that I just butchered that quote, but we’re moving on.

Josh 10:33
So that is crucial. If Uncle Joe paid a couple grand for his website, he’s gonna want to make sure it’s done on time, he’s probably going to get content to you quicker, etc. So if you do it free, you’ve got to set deadlines and timelines on it, along with your constraints and deliverables. So make sure that’s in place, make sure you say all right, Uncle Joe, this site is going live in a month. So I need to have your copy by the end of next week, images by the week after that, you’ll have a week for revisions, and then we’re launching. So that’s it, be a little stern, even if it’s your first project, listen to this podcast, go through my courses on my resources, you should be empowered enough to do that.

Josh 11:06
Now, the other aspect of this is if you’re going to do something for free, can you guess what I’m going to recommend that you get out of that? You’ve guessed right, it’s a testimonial, makes sure a testimonial is required. So you don’t want to have three projects in your portfolio. In the no testimonials, you want to have a testimonial for every single one. And just like the rule of three and everything else, three testimonials looks great, you’re gonna have a column a three, three testimonials looks great. So just make sure at the end of the project that it is in the contract and your constraints and deliverables which by the way, you should still send a contract and you can even keep the invoice at zero. But try to make it look professional and require a testimonial.

Josh 11:48
We need a video testimonial, awesome. But a written testimonial will do make sure you get a testimonial or if you have a Google My Business Page set up for your business, get a Google review. So that’s a biggie. And then once you have that testimonial, make a case study out of it. Do not let a testimonial go awry, let me get the most use out of that thing. Take that testimonial, make a case study out of the project, talk about uncle Joe’s issues with his web presence. And then now with this new website, how it’s increased business. Now he’s getting contact form submissions, maybe look at the Google Analytics, make a case study out of it.

Josh 12:24
And then finally, my last little tip for this first category of offering to build websites for free is to ask for a referral. So once this is all done, ask Uncle Joe, Hey, man, I really appreciate the opportunity to work with you on this even though for free. Hope you like your new site, I really would love now that I’m making a business out of this to do this. For other business owners in our local area. And people you know, is there anybody you can refer me to, and guarantee if it’s family, hopefully they’re gonna refer you but if it’s somebody outside of your personal network, and then their professional network, often they just need to be reminded or encouraged to refer you. So ask for referrals Do not be shy about asking your current clients for referrals.

Josh 13:10
I just recently posted a podcast, it was at 129 on my top 10 regrets as a web designer and one of those was not asking for referrals and not utilizing my existing network for other work. So make sure you ask referrals. And again, I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Make sure Uncle Joe does not say that Yeah, job my you know, my nephew, just melt cousin for free. Sorry, I just gave Uncle Joe like the hillbilly accent, but you get what I’m saying. Make sure that person is not running around town saying you’re doing sites for free because you don’t want free leads. Just let them know I’ll do this for free. But keep that on the down low. I’m building my portfolio I you know, this is my new business, I want to I want to get better at this. And I want to get real clients in and that’s when a when Uncle Joe is referring people, he doesn’t need to say it’s free. He just says Josh built my website, boom, you got to get referrals.

Josh 14:02
So that’s my first tip offered to build websites for free. Again, with your personal network with constraints, deliverables and a timeline, get a testimonial, make the most out of it, and then get referrals for paid projects.

Josh 14:16
Now number two, build mock up sites. This again, this is not something that I’ve done. But I’ve had students do this and I know this is probably one of the I would imagine this is probably your first thought of something to do is to just build up like a mock up side of what you can do. And this is a very viable strategy. Now the downfalls with this with the mock up route is that you’re not going to get a real sight out of it. Even though you can make it live, it’s not going to be a real business. It’s not you’re not going to get testimonials. You’re not going to get referrals necessarily like that. However, if you just can’t, for whatever reason find anyone to build sites for free.

Josh 14:52
I mean, I imagine most of you aren’t going to make it past the first point because you’re going to have people that are going to take a free website but or even If you want to back it up, if like, if you know, you really want to target this market, or maybe you know a lot about this type of subject, like maybe you’re a female entrepreneur and you know, female entrepreneurs, and you, you don’t want to do a website for Uncle Joe, necessarily, he’s not your key demographic, you want to do a website for female entrepreneurs. If you don’t happen to know anybody who wants a free website, a mock up site is a great way to go. Because you can craft again, three websites that are based off your perfect type of ideal clients, this is kind of the first point in the second section. And that is to cater designs, to your ideal clients.

Josh 15:36
So don’t do a website for a chiropractor, if you don’t want to work with chiropractors, or like dentists, for example. Don’t do that. Now, if you want to do a site for medical type of professionals, then great do it do a medical type of site, you will you will attract dentists, surgeons, whatever, you know, you’re going to attract that kind of client. So make sure it is who you want it to be for. Let me try to give you a bad example on that. That’s kind of a weak example, let’s say you just you want to start a business, but you really don’t want to work with like a mom and pop pizza kind of shop that has 200 bucks for a website. So don’t do a pizza website, you know, making like established looking business types as these mock up example. So cater your designs to ideal clients.

Josh 16:23
Well, another point here, when it comes to building mock up sites is if you want, and if you’re really interested in getting in a different type of functionality over just a basic plain brochure type of site, then do different types of sites with different functionality. For example, you could do three different type of mock up sites. Number one might be just the startup entrepreneur, it’s a simple brochure information based site. Well, Example two might be a site that is for an established business that has a calendar, and some more pages and more functionality. Number three might be any, excuse me, e commerce site. So you might do WooCommerce, which is what I use and recommend, you might do a WooCommerce site that’s an example of what you can create, with these examples, sites, you don’t have to create like a full end up site with every single page, perfect copy and everything. But you should at least have the main functionality in place.

Josh 17:17
So in most cases, you might want to have a homepage, a service page, a contact page. And then if there is a store component, or a calendar component, something like that, that people can see, like maybe one thing you’re going to offer is to do a website that helps people book calendly, their calendly link or something like that, maybe set yours up. And you can say, you know, this is how mine set up, I can do this for you as well. So creating different types of mock up sites for your ideal clients is huge, you could definitely do that, I would not do basically the same site repeated just with different colors, that isn’t really going to go that far.

Josh 17:51
And that kind of brings me into the next point, which is not to just use a template. And don’t just plop in some random code in here. Because I do see this I see I get reached out by people frequently, who just started their web design business. And I’m like, this is a Divi template, like you just you literally just use the Divi template, I know if you’re brand new, you want a starting point, and that’s fine. But if you’re going to do a mock up site, that’s going to be potentially a template to use for paying clients don’t use just a bland template, you can start with a template, but make it your own, really invest in making that design. Awesome.

Josh 18:26
And my last point on this one is if you are going to invest the time into making some sort of template, or mock up site, use that as a child theme or as a starting point for other paid sites. So you, you don’t have to feel like all this hard work and all this time is going into all four not because you’re you know you’re creating a template site, you’re never going to use it again, that’s not the case, you make your site you own it, you can use it as many times as you want. Or you can use it as a starting point, or a staging site for other sites. So don’t be afraid to make really nice mock mock up sites, if you want to go this route.

Josh 19:01
You can also combine this strategy with the free sites like you could start with mock ups and then to get some free sites, you could say, okay, you know, here are a few different versions of sites we can create for you. And then if you move forward, suddenly, you’ve got three actual, you know, free sites that you did with testimonials. And then your mock up sites could be like a layer back or additional type of sites like you could have three real sites with testimonials. And then under that you could have here are some examples of other type of sites we could build. And then boom, there you’ve got six now you’ve got six featured work type of portfolio. So number two, the main one, you can build mock up sites. And hopefully those tips help give you some ideas and inspiration to do those.

Josh 19:44
And then finally, point number three here is to build sites for other designers or other agencies. This is called White labeling. If you’re not familiar with the term white labeling is essentially where you will design for other agencies and This is a very viable strategy. I did white labeling for quite a while. It’s actually how I discovered Divi back in 2014. I, one of my good colleagues, she was actually the CPA that I worked with. One of her clients was a marketing guy for this agency, and they were looking for web designers. And I was younger. And earlier in my career to where, of course, I wanted to take some opportunities, it was really cool for me to see how an agency did their whole process and how they went about building sites. So I learned a lot.

Josh 20:30
So there’s a lot of benefits with white labeling. And by the way, I did a podcast episode with with one of my lead designers, Christian, who is a prime example, like a shining example of being a professional, white labeler. That was Episode 106. I’ll link that in the show notes, be sure to check that out. If you’re interested in white labeling, there is a time and a place for white labeling, I don’t recommend that you do it too long, unless you really love it. And unless you’re somebody like Christian who is maybe living abroad and is utilizing, you know, maybe you’re living across the world, but you want to work with clients in the US and UK, white labeling is a great way to go, that episode will help you out.

Josh 21:10
But there are some caveats to white labeling. The problem with white labeling is that well, first of all, if somebody is going to hire you, they’re probably going to want to see that you can actually build websites. So one thing I would do is potentially, if you’re going to white label, do the mock up sites for sure. Because if like if I’m going to hire if I’m an agency owner, and I’m going to hire a web designer to build websites for my clients, I want to know what he or she is, is capable of. So the mock up sites can be huge for that, if you do some of the free sites, that can be an added bonus for actual clients, because then they can see that you can actually work well with people.

Josh 21:46
So some tips there for white labeling. But when you start doing that, like I mentioned, there are some caveats. The problem with white labeling is that you don’t get to build your own portfolio, unless you specify that and you request that. So one thing I would recommend doing is if you’re going to white label for clients, and I kind of wish I would have done this because I did not do this, I built a lot of websites for this agency. And some of them were awesome and still are going really strong today. But I did not have any sort of clause in my contract within the said, I can mention that I assisted designing this to build my portfolio.

Josh 22:21
So one reason I stopped doing that was because as I grew my own business, I realized man, I’m designing like two or three sites a month for this company. And I can’t put any of them on my portfolio, like it was nice not doing the sales and doing all the project management, I just got to build the site. But ultimately, you want to build your portfolio you want to add to your client base and your recurring income. So if you do that for an agency, one thing I’d recommend is just see if it’s cool with them, if you can put it on your portfolio, but give them credit for their end of the bargain, meaning, if you do white labeling for an agency, and you build nine websites, if you can put that on your portfolio and look awesome for you. And then just see if you can put a little disclaimer on each website that says this was built in partnership with this agency. And you could just clarify, this was what I did during this project.

Josh 23:13
Not all agencies are going to be down with that. But some are, I would be open to that. And a white label designer asked me that. So that’s my recommendation, just see if you can give them credit. And it’ll be a little more SEO juice, because they’ll have links on other sites, and just mention what your involvement was. And that’s a great way to build your portfolio as well.

Josh 23:32
Now, when it comes to also working for their clients and giving them credit, the other thing that you could do, and again, you might have to see if they’re cool with this, but that would be to make like a case study out of it. So you could still the same approach with the first option with you know, building a site for Uncle Joe and doing a case study with the problems and solutions, you could still do the same thing here. And you can even pull from what you’ve learned with this agency. So you could say, you know, here’s a project I partner with with this agency, we were able to look at their strategy, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, we found out the challenges, I was able to assist with the design and the implementation. And now we help them doo doo doo doo, there’s the results.

Josh 24:14
So you can still 100% use this as a case study as well. Again, you have to check to make sure your white label folks are cool with that, but it’s a very viable strategy. And that’s the other main aspect of building your portfolio when you don’t have other you know, a paying clients or self is to build site for others again, when it comes to white labeling, check out Episode 106 of the podcast with Christian who was really a great episode opened my eyes to how he was able to do this and get clients online which is really cool. So so check that out.

Josh 24:44
So just to recap, three main points and then I’ve got something I want to invite you to check out because I want to go deeper with you on this. First point offered build sites for free personal professional network, set those constraints, get a testimonial. ask for referrals. Number two You can build mock up template style sites, cater those designs to your ideal clients, feel free to create different versions of a site. And then don’t just use a bland template actually work at it, and invest your time in that, but then use that to use that for additional child themes and your other projects. And then if you want a white label, I would still utilize those first two tips to build some mock up sites and stuff. And then if you’re gonna white label, put it on your portfolio with a credit to the other agency credit you know, give credit where credit is due, talk about your involvement in the project, what you learn, use it as a case study all our prime options for getting clients and building your portfolio when you don’t have any paying clients yet.

Josh 25:40
And I want to help you start your business. If this is you and I have a free resource for you, I just recently created a free 10 step action plan for starting your web design business, all you have to do is go to Josh Hall.co/start. And then you can get access to this free plan. One of the steps in that 10 step action plan is this. So this episode will be perfectly alongside that. But I would love to help you get a full action plan and proven path to follow. As you start your business. A lot of the resources I’m going to give you are a lot of free stuff and just my thoughts, my recommendations on 10 steps to get your business started. So check that out. Josh hall.co/start, you can get my free 10 step action plan. And I would love to go deeper with you in this and then I’ll help guide you for starting your web design business and building your portfolio. You’re already going to have the tips for that you’re already ready to rock with this.

Josh 26:32
So hopefully this helps you out guys, I would love to hear your thoughts and your feedback on this. If you have any other tips of your own that you would like to share and that you’d like others to see. Just drop a comment on the post go to Josh Hall co slash 132 you can leave a comment I really number one, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. And number two, I’d love to hear your other strategies that you know of or maybe you’ve implemented as well. So check that out. I can’t wait to hear from you. Enjoy the free 10 step action plan Josh Hall co/start. And I can’t wait to go deeper with you and your web design journey and help you start your web design business. Hopefully you enjoyed this one. Leave a podcast review if you would if you’re enjoying it, and I look forward to seeing you on the next episode.

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