How to get dream clients from your portfolio website
Written by Robert Williams
If you work with clients, the single most powerful way to increase your revenue is to stop freelancing and start consulting. And there’s no better outline to follow than Draft, a one-man interaction design consultancy in Chicago.
Draft is decidedly not a freelance business. Despite the fact that it’s only one guy, Nick Disabato, he positions himself as a consultancy owner. As you’ll see this is a subtle but powerful difference.
And there’s no reason you can’t do the same. Let’s take a look at how you can follow his outline and create a website that positions you as a high-value consultant.
Let’s start with what you see first… the words.
It’s clear when you land on the site, the focus is words. Usually freelancing websites feature big photos of the freelancer or screenshots of their work but here we’re seeing something else. A totally a pared back design.
Instead of the website touting something generic in it’s headline, Draft focuses on the client’s desires. This is unusual for agency websites to do:
This headline talks directly to what clients are struggling with: leaky revenue. It points at people struggling with this (his ideal clients) and talks directly to them.
But wait a second, why does he do this?
Choosing one person out of the crowd means he’s losing everyone else. Nick is okay with that. He’s decided to turn away people who aren’t right for his services to focus exclusively on the right buyers.
If you are advertising corsets, men and children don’t interest you. If you are advertising cigars, you have no use for non-smokers. — Scientific Advertising
Does ignoring everyone but your ideal client sound scary to you? It shouldn’t. Reaching one person isn’t risky.
The real risk is reaching no one.
A free offer tailored to Draft’s ideal client
Next, Draft does one of the best things you can do in business, teach potential customers with a free offer: an email course on A/B testing.
This free course positions Draft as an expert in the A/B testing space. It also helps clients see why they should hire him in a risk-free environment. Doing this over email (which is typically 1-to-1) also makes the relationship feel personal despite that it’s scalable. Clients can respond at any time to ask him a question.
Wondering how to go from jack-of-all-trades to specialist? This is it.
Next, Draft presents curated specialty services
This is probably the most unique thing Draft does. Instead of listing out every generic skills and service Nick has, he’s packaged his expertise into a few profitable productized offerings:
Each one is unique, custom-branded, and builds off of each other. Suddenly, you’re no longer dealing with just a “designer,” but an individual who clearly understands how to make a business more profitable with A/B testing.
His products and services range in cost between $49 and $3,000+. Think about the difference in strategy between listing off your skills and creating a service with a specific outcome, timeline, and price.
Which one would seem like more of a sure-thing to your client?
A call to action on every page
Personal websites often make the mistake of forgetting to include a next step on every page. That leaves visitors alone in deciding how to move forward. Most will just leave your site completely.
Now you might be thinking it’s easy to create a call to action on buy page where you’re selling something, but impossible on other parts of your site like your homepage. Well, Draft has a call to action here too.
By doing this he’s decided what comes next so you don’t have to.
After all, who’s more qualified to make this decision? You, who knows every inch of your website, services, and skills intimately, or your visitor who knows nothing about your work?
Don’t make clients think. Just tell them what they should do next. Do this on every page. It’s one of the biggest wins for the least amount of effort. Every page a specific next step.
How to talk about your work
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Nobody cares about your portfolio. It’s boring, your work looks just like every0one elses, and unless I’m trained in your area of expertise I can’t tell why it’s any good.
That’s why I love how Draft talks about past work.
Nick doesn’t talk about the service he offers, past projects, or even what you get (atleast not right away). He starts every page by talking directly to his ideal clients about what they’re struggling with. Then he goes into how Draft can help.
Throughout the site he talks in terms of improvements he can make in the client’s life. This approach requires no screenshots of past work and yet does a better job than a portfolio ever could.
Pricing that highlights value
It’s impossible to know how valuable a service is unless you know the price. That’s why defining price does the client a favor. It allows them to think about value. Most agency websites ignore pricing completely.
Most agencies require a consultation before they can provide any type of price quote. I think this is out-dated. If you specialize in a certain area (as you should), you’ll have recurring themes in your work. There will be projects you do again and again.
That means you can create a package for these services that include a timeline, price, and scope of work. This allows clients to shop for the right package for them like at the store. It allows client’s to see exactly what they’re paying for, how much they’re paying, and what they’re getting.
A small nitpick…
I chose to review Draft’s website because it’s honestly one of the best examples of a personal website I’ve ever seen. There’s not much I’d change at all. However, one tiny area I think could be improved is the contact form. Mostly because there isn’t one.
Last but not least, thinking past the sale with great onboarding
Now here’s a little inside baseball. As a client of Draft’s I can talk about the awesome job Nick did onboarding me to his services.
He does this with primarily through a great welcome packet:
Onboarding is an art that gets lost on freelancers and service providers. However, it’s here that you create your true profits as a business.
Great onboarding creates repeat clients so it’s one of your best marketing tools. Draft’s welcome packet is a simple example because it answers frequent questions, tells you what to expect, and a ton more.
It even manages your expectations in terms of his availability. You have no idea how refreshing it is to not be left in the dark as a client.
It the first step towards truly delivering on every promise he’s made on his site. It shows he’s thought deeply about delivering on what he’s promised. The mark of true value.
The best part is anybody can copy it.
I help underwater design agencies fix staff shortages quickly and come back up for air. I run Folyo, a private referral community of product designers, and I host Freelance, a podcast about how to work independently.
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