Web Design & Development Leads

I have been designing and developing websites for small to medium sized businesses for over ten years, but up until about two years ago I only did a project here and there on the side. All my clients have come from word of mouth only but now I want to expand and start tapping into potential leads online. I see a lot of people on this board posting design jobs that they need done here and there so I figured this might be a good place to get ideas on where to find leads for potential projects.

Has anyone (either designers or people looking for designers/developers) used http://designquote.net or heard anything about it?
If so, what was your experience with them?
If you’re a designer, was it worth the time (writing proposals) and money?

Are there any good places you could recommend for finding quality leads / projects?
I have seen some people recommend elance.com and similar sites but those sites seem like they tend to have smaller projects like a simple landing page, or a script. Most of the clients I have had have never heard of any of those kinds of sites. I am looking for people with small to medium sized businesses that either don’t have a website at all or have one but it’s horrible and not effective; I rarely, if ever, see these kind of projects. I am trying to get an idea of where these business owners that have little knowledge of the web look when they are looking for someone to create their website, or what they are searching for. Any guidance would be appreciated.

In my experience, people with little knowledge of the web don’t look on the web at all; they ask friends/family/colleagues for advice and recommendations. Often, the prompt to get a web site in the first place comes from somebody else. “My son said I should have a web site. I don’t really know anything about these things.”

Yeah you are probably right about that. But for the ones that do search, where do you think they look?

and what about websites like designquote.net , are they worth the time and money?

They might search Craig’s list. Maybe Monster.com or other hiring places, looking for a designer.

If you go to one of those online web design bidding sites, you are going to find one thing: the pay is VERY LOW. You are competing with third-world web designers who think nothing of working for $3 an hour or less.

I looked on one of those freelance web designer websites and PHP development jobs that would take several weeks were being bid on for as little as $1,000. Web article writing paid incredibly little. One guy offered to pay $1.25 for a 500-word, well-written article with no typos and people were clamoring to get the job. A decent 500-word article would take an experienced writer probably an hour at the very least to do.

I’ve seen web designers running ads on Yahoo and Google. Maybe you can get one of those $100 free Google Adwords coupons and for only $5 you can sign up and run some ads.

Remember: Advertising is only worth it if it generates enough profit to pay for itself and generates a sufficient return on investment. Maybe it will work for you. $100 in free advertising is a great way to find out.

I agree with cheesedude - you have to bid so low on some of those bidding sites that it’s not really worth it. The one I have the most success with is DigitalSpinner. It has paid for itself over and over. I had a free listing for a long time and put off paying for a subscription but wish I’d done it sooner. I chose the 6th month option and got access to leads around the Indiana, Illinois, Ohio area. Unfortunately, they have made some changes since then and the leads have been narrowed down now so I only get leads from my section of Indiana but still have to pay the same price. Anyway, I had 5 new customers just last year from those leads! I’m hoping this year will be just as good. You can choose any area of the country you want to receive leads from. I believe calling those leads ASAP is the key to getting the business! Make sure you have a portfolio (they all ask these days to see one) and just be honest and friendly!

As for DesignQuote I just started using that one last month. A lot more leads and you choose the ones you want to contact. You can read a description of the kind of work they want before you pay. If you think you can do the job and want to try, you then pay for the lead with your credits (which you purchase beforehand) and only then do you get the name, phone number and email of the lead. The first one I did sounded promising but he admitted he had asked a friend of his about who did his website and so he was also looking into that as well. When I called about 3 days later (just to keep in touch and remind him of me!) he said he was going to go with the local designer first but if it didn’t work out, I was next on the list. Not really holding my breath on that one. So, I ended up wasting my credits and so did the others who bought his lead because he didn’t even go with anyone who contacted him through DesignQuote. Just a chance you take.

I haven’t had any success with Craigslist even thoough I’ve answered several job ads. And a lot of the time they don’t want to pay much either.

So that’s my 2 cents worth! Hope it helps!

Call all of your friends and tell them you’re looking for more web design jobs and ask them to keep an eye out for anybody that needs a website.

Not only will this benefit your business, but it will also let you catch up with old friends.