Now that you’ve finally decided to become a pro WordPress developer, you will soon see that acquiring ninja-level WordPress skills and expertise is the easy part. Your uphill battle lies in finding clients who will pay for your services.
Nope, here you won’t read anything about the usual job-listing and staffing sites. These sites include Craigslist, Elance.com, Freelancer.com, Upwork.com or the likes. No, they won’t be included in this post.
Not only are these sites filled with cutthroat competition, but many developers who have tried their luck in these sites have since given up. Mainly because pay rates don’t usually match the workload.
Startup developers, and even seasoned ones, who just can’t find the perfect projects are better off trying a new approach when hunting for clients.
The smartest strategy you can use is to see yourself as an entrepreneur and not an ordinary job seeker. By having a businessperson mindset, you will be more proactive in finding clients.
That means you’ll be ready to go the extra mile. You’ll be willing to survey the often overlooked job marketplaces both online and traditional.
Below are fifty odd places or often forgotten ways of finding WordPress clients.
1. Local Chamber of Commerce
If you are just starting out, you can visit your local Chamber of Commerce. There you can find a list of businesses with their contact information. It’s also a good place to learn about local events, conferences, up and coming businesses, and other important resources. You can use these resources to point you in the right direction of finding new clients.
2. Local Government Offices
Many small businesses and freelancers are afraid of securing work contracts from government agencies. This is because they ask for a lot of requirements that include business permits and business insurance, among other things. This is true for federal government offices that offer big contracts.
However, if you go local, you will find a friendlier and more accommodating business atmosphere. Towns and counties sometimes have job boards that list potential employers or clients in their areas.
3. Neighborhood Mom and Pop Businesses
Make a list of all the stores in your community, particularly the ones that you frequent. Next, surf online and check if those businesses already have a website or online presence.
Chances are high that you’ll find one or more that are still not connected online. What you can do is visit the store, talk to the owners and send a proposal on how you can help them set up a website. Try to convince them about the benefits of maintaining a website.
4. Diners, Bars, and Small Restaurants
Local diners and restaurants that have been in the business for decades usually don’t feel the need to maintain their own websites.
They usually rely on word of mouth to attract their customers. If they do have some semblance of an online presence, it’s a good bet that they have static or outdated sites.
If you want to have new clients, better check out such places to see if they would be interested in the service that you offer. To convince them, you need to show them your portfolio and highlight the benefits they can reap by having a new website or even a blog.
Just make sure that before you visit these establishments you come prepared with your research. You must already have your ideas on how to help them.
5. Newsletters and Local Free Sheets
Only a few people spend time reading newsletters and local free sheets found in apartment lobbies, village admin offices, coffee shops, or transport stations and terminals.
The next time you find these reading materials, take the time to check out all the pages. Surely, you will find a classified section where you can find temp jobs. This is also where you can find businesses that are soon to open.
6. Local Newspapers and Magazines
Don’t ever disregard your community magazines and newspapers – both printed and online. Check out their job postings. Many of the open positions advertised in such materials or websites are actually looking to hire contract workers and not to fill in permanent positions.
This is especially true for website designer jobs. Just try your luck and apply. You’ll never know unless you try.
7. Waiting in Long Queues
Turn places that are otherwise irritable into a positive environment. Everyone hates long lines and if ever you’re stuck in one, try talking to the people waiting next to you.
Your conversations will help while away the time. You can even gain a friend or possibly encounter a person who knows someone who’s looking for a freelance WordPress developer.
You might think that this is a farfetched idea. But there have been a lot of business transactions and longtime relationships that started out and were made possible through this kind of situation.
Just make sure that you’re pleasant and amicable, plus don’t forget to have business cards to hand out to people.
Not many people are interested in attending parties and social gatherings because they feel that these would not help them with their businesses.
If you are one of these individuals, you should think twice about saying no to a party invitation. Parties are good venues to develop your network. Make sure you try your best to mingle and meet other people.
Just remember not to sound like you’re marketing yourself. Try to have fun, talk to as many people as possible, and tell them what you do for a living.
There is a big chance somebody will be interested and ask about your services. Again, don’t forget to give out business cards or exchange contact information whenever you can.
Oh, and don’t forget your business card!
Believe it or not, reunions are also a good hunting ground for potential customers. Some of your schoolmates may be starting up their own businesses and they might be interested in getting your say about how they can set up their own sites. Also, you can find other freelancers here with whom you can partner with in future projects.
Aside from school reunions, you could also attend family reunions. Older people in your clan are usually more open and helpful to the younger members of the family so you will surely not feel out of place.
Besides, many bigwigs and long-time business owners are in their 50s or 60s and family reunions are a good place to get connected to future clients.
10. Wedding Fairs
Don’t roll your eyes.
A wedding fair is really one of the places where you can find paying customers. There are many freelance makeup artists, bands, photographers, fashion designers, hosts, event planners, and caterers here that may be in need of WordPress developers who can help them build an attractive and user-friendly portfolio site.
Get as many flyers as you can and contact the ones who are just starting out. Make sure to tell them how they can benefit more from your services.
11. Farmer’s Markets
There are so many start-up businesses that can be found in farmer’s markets. Many among the sellers are so busy with their manufacturing processes that they might have forgotten to set up their website or blog.
This is a great opportunity for you to get new paying customers or even do free work that can improve your portfolio. Just talk with these entrepreneurs and find a way to build a partnership with them.
12. Gym and Sports Clubs
Gyms and sports clubs are full of people from different walks of life who end up becoming good friends. It’s not surprising to find in your Zumba class an executive of the big company that you want to offer your services to.
So be friendly when you are in the gym because there you will find the people who might connect you to your future clients.
Give To Receive
If you are new to the industry and you have a lot of time in your hands, doing volunteer work can be very beneficial for you and your community. Choose a cause that’s close to your heart and it will make the time you spend for non-paying projects worthwhile.
For example, if you love animals, you can coordinate with your local pet organizations and offer help in setting up a lost-and-found website.
The pages you do here may be free but they can add to your portfolio. In the long run, the time you spent volunteering will not only make you feel good about yourself but it will eventually lead to a paying customer, too.
14. Give Free Advice
Time is something that you need to use well. This is particularly true if you are not doing any project at the moment. During your free time, surf the Net and check out the websites of different companies that you are interested in doing a project for.
Try to see if there are things that can be improved in their sites. This may include spelling errors, technical codes, or other things that need improvement.
Once you spot something off, write the company and give them free advice on how they could correct the problem in their sites.
There have been many cases where developers have been hired by top-tier multinational companies. This is mainly because they have been generous enough to help without asking anything in return.
Also, the mere fact that you were able to spot these things could signify to possible clients and employers that you are good with what you do and that you have a good eye for details. Both of these traits are valuable to most clients.
15. Internship Program
Internship programs are good places to start your career. It’s true that many of these don’t bother to pay a single cent which means that for a couple of weeks or even months, you might be spending more than you are earning. But doing internship work could give you experience, expand your network, and increase your portfolio.
Sometimes, if your job is exemplary, you can even get proposals from the companies where you got your internship. Indeed.com and Authentic Jobs are good sites that list internship programs for designers and web developers.
16. Teach a Class or Sponsor a Talk
Contact local bookstores, organizations, clubs and even government agencies about your plan to teach the basics of WordPress development for free or for a small fee.
Make sure you send out flyers and be very visible in social media. Even if only a few people sign up for your mini class or seminar, don’t feel bad. Chances are good that your flyers and social media presence will reach possible clients.
Giving a training class or seminar makes you appear as an expert in your field, so more potential clients will trust you with their projects.
17. Participate in Phone Conversations
Yes you read it correctly. One of the more effective options is participating in curated online phone converstations. This avenue connects you to people who have problems about web design, WordPress, and other things that are related to your skill set. This can be an effective advertising tool.
Check out clarify.fm to know more about online mentoring where you can start the path to becoming considered as an expert in your field.
18. Help a Friend
Every once in a while, it’s a good idea to help out a friend in need. This gesture will not be done in vain. If you know a fellow freelancer, you can set up an account for him in HireMyFriend.com.
This is a website where you can post your friend’s profile without him knowing it. People looking for freelancers might consider dropping by this website if they need a job done. You can also mention the site to your other friends so they could also put up your profile there.
If you have friends who are freelance writers, advertisers, or even those in other industries, try connecting them to your past or existing clients that may be in need of their services.
If they are in a situation as you are now, they might do the same and refer you to their contacts, too.
Even if you are a small fish in a big pond, you should sometimes take bold steps. Be confident that you have what it takes to conquer the big world.
19. Large Fortune 500 Companies
Newbie or not, you should set your sight on big clients. There’s nothing to lose if you send your application or proposal to these companies. Just be sure that your proposal packs a bang.
Really bold individuals have used social media to attract CEOs or corporate bigwigs and have reaped the benefits of their actions. But be careful not to freak out your potential client. You can be outrageous and creative without being weird or bordering on creepy.
20. Dream Clients
Now is the time to act on your dream. If there are companies, projects or even individuals you want to work for or get as your clients, go ahead and send them a letter or proposal.
But don’t go to war unprepared. Be sure you have the right skill set that’s needed to land a gig at your coveted company. Being unique and creative will surely make people notice you.
21. Advertise Online
Sometimes you need to shell out money if you want to earn more. A good way to attract potential paying customers is through advertisement. But in order for your online ad to translate to high-quality clients, you need a kick-ass portfolio site or an interesting and regularly updated blog as your landing page.
Effective places to advertise your services are Facebook and Smashing Magazine. The latter is a site specifically catering to graphic designers and web developers.
22. Recruitment Agencies and Headhunters
There are many headhunters or recruitment agencies that are more than willing to help you get the job, contract, or project you want.
Sometimes their services are free of charge but there are also websites that require paid subscription. Onwardsearch.com and Torch Group are two online recruiters that you can check out.
23. Go Overseas
There are actually a lot of jobs that are available locally so you don’t have to search outside the country just to get a good-paying client. But if you are impatient or you are open to every possibility, then you should look at available projects in areas that you may not have even visited yet.
This is a good option especially for people who know how to speak languages other than English. Oftentimes, you will find really lucrative opportunities abroad.
24. Put Up a News Print Ad
If you have money to spare and are feeling a bit bold, you could sponsor an ad in a widely distributed newspaper. Getting a half page or probably even just a small space could really help you attract possible clients.
Sure, it’s the digital age, but there are still people who read the paper. More often than not, these are the very same individuals who need a lot of convincing before they agree to get their businesses online. But be warned that this can be an expensive venture and you should only try this if you have money to spare and a good ad.
25. Be Involved in Social Media
Adding Facebook, Google+, and Twitter on the list of odd places to find developer work may be counterintuitive. After all, these social media platforms are all over everyone’s life right now.
But most people forget that social media is more than just cat photos, baby memes, or picture messages. You can use these sites as tools to let the world know how great you are at developing WordPress sites.
Share your blog posts in these sites or join groups that cater to your niche. At the very least, you will learn where and how to find more projects.
26. Join Photo Sharing Sites
Just like the abovementioned social media sites, photo sharing sites will help you get the word out that you are in business. The only difference with sites like Instagram and Pinterest is that you will post photos rather than word messages.
You can create a photo version of your resume or business site. You can also post photos of the many interesting aspects of developing a WordPress site.
In fact, you can add a photo message listing down important tips about your business. This way, you will build your credibility and soon find clients.
27. Showcase Skills via Profile Sites
Apart from the usual social media channels, you can also focus on professional or business profile sites like LinkedIn or Dribbble.com. Here you can showcase your skills and portfolio.
Many businesses and job headhunters prowl the pages of LinkedIn to look for the right people to fill jobs in their organizations. More than just a resume bank, this site can also help establish your authenticity as a WordPress professional.
28. Micro-task Sites
Instead of playing the waiting game in the major online job sites, you can head on to micro-task platforms like Fiverr.com. Indeed, the pay you get from a single micro task is barely enough to buy you lunch.
Rates can range from $5 in the case of Fiverr.com to as little as a few cents in other micro-task sites. But if you are patient enough to do multiple tasks in a day, those pennies can add up to some big dollars. And don’t forget, many of the jobs required in these sites are also very easy.
29. Curated Freelance Sites
The typical jobs sites can be unsystematic. In fact it’s not uncommon for job seekers to be scammed by job postings. With a curated freelance site, however, freelancers and clients are matched in a very organized manner, just like on a dating site.
WordPress developers can use curated freelance platforms like Onsite.io, Hireable, and Folyo.me. Just apply to have your profile uploaded. Once you’re in, you will be able to see the companies or clients that look for workers who match the skills or expertise you offer.
30. Crowdsourcing Sites
Online collaboration has seen a big growth in the past few years. And crowdsourcing is at the forefront of this new market. Essentially, a company or individual will post project brief or requirements. Many service providers and developers will submit their ideas.
The company or individual who posted the requirements will then choose the best from among the submitted products or services. If you have good WP developer skills, it should be easy to find paying clients in a crowdsourcing site like Crowdspring.com and Designcrowd.com.
31. Create Free Tutorials
As a startup freelance developer, the importance of building your credibility cannot be overemphasized. Only if people trust you can you enjoy having more high-paying clients.
One free means of building your name in the business is by creating free tutorials on video sites like YouTube. Apart from building your name in your niche, you’ll also have the chance of becoming a star in your own right.
32. Participate in Open-Source Projects
WordPress is an open-source software. What makes it powerful is the thousands of developers involved in it. By doing your share in an open-source project, you build a name for yourself.
You will also have the experience of working with the best in the industry. Open-source projects will give you much needed experience with the backing of some of the best names in your niche. Sure it could be a gamble. But when it does pay, it pays big.
33. Cross Partnership
In order for your business or freelance career to succeed, you have to be more open-minded. Don’t confine yourself within your industry.
Seek out other freelancers who share the same clients with you. Freelancers usually pick people with whom they have good working relationships.
If you find marketers or freelance writers that you have enjoyed working with in the past, try to build a relationship with them. This way, you could exchange contacts or even get projects together.
They may even willingly refer you to their past clients who might be looking for someone that fits your skill set.
Conferences are not only helpful in equipping you with more knowledge about WordPress development or how to succeed in your chosen niche. People attend these events to find potential leads or professionals they can add to their network.
Clients who are looking for experts in the industry also attend conferences. While they go there not to learn the basics of WordPress, many of them do because they know that such gatherings will be full of talented professionals that they could hire.
So the next time you find yourself in a conference, don’t just sit and listen. Try to ask questions or participate in the discussions. You never know if someone in the crowd is a high-paying client.
35. Online Forums
Joining online forums is like farming. You reap what you sow. If you are just lurking in a forum and waiting for a potential lead to manifest out of thin air, you should prepare yourself for a long wait.
But if you are active and you genuinely participate and help out others, you are sure to be remembered by other members of the forum. Some may even consider you as an expert in your field. Hence, when they find themselves in need of a WordPress developer, you will be the first person they will contact.
Every comment you leave in a forum will stay there forever so never put negative comments or do anything considered unprofessional.
Remember that you are in a forum because you are interested in knowing more people who might lead you to potential clients. You don’t want to offend anyone because anybody can provide you with big help in landing paying clients in the future.
36. Chat or Comment Online
Studies have shown that more and more people are relying on blogs, review sites and other similar web pages when it comes to buying something or choosing a contractor.
If you have a lot of time in your hands, you can visit websites, blogs, or participate in online discussions that pertain to WordPress and web design.
When you chat or leave a comment, your picture and signature will be displayed in the post. So the more you participate, the more people will be familiar with your name and your photo or logo. In time, you will be considered as the go-to person when it comes to solving problems that relate to web development and design.
Once you have achieved this expert status, you will find yourself receiving private messages from individuals or companies that want to get your services.
This is a long process. Don’t expect to receive inquiries the moment you leave a comment. But once you have become known in the field through your active participation in blogs, you will surely be rewarded.
Use Online Directories
37. Code Poet
CodePoet is one of the most popular online directories for WordPress freelancers. It is also a repository of articles, books, tools and other resources. These will be helpful in building and expanding your knowledge about WordPress.
The site is owned and operated by Automattic.com and you need to apply at this site if you want to be added in the roster of CodePoet developers.
Another good online directory that freelancers should know about is Agencyaccess.com. The site is dedicated to connecting clients with freelance artists in general. Unlike CodePoet, this site also market illustrators, graphic designers, logo makers, and other artists in the Web.
This is not a free site though but they have free access for three days upon sign up so you can see what they can offer you. Their subscription fee can be expensive. Choose to only pay for this site once you have built your portfolio. You can scale up when you have ample experience to land you with high quality projects.
Go Old School
39. Your School’s Alumni Office
Go ahead, laugh. But connecting with your school’s alumni office can yield some paying clients. You never know if your school or some of the alumni need WordPress sites. You can volunteer to work on your old school’s website, especially if it doesn’t have one yet.
In exchange, ask the alumni office to connect you to former graduates or students who may need developers. Being backed by the alumni office can sure boost your credibility which you can leverage for more paying projects.
40. Coffee Shops
Your local coffee shop is not only a place to get your Java fix. It’s also bustling with professionals, business owners, and fellow freelancers with whom you can network with. While having your cup of coffee, be open to share a seat and make friends. Make sure you come prepared with a business card.
If you overhear someone talking about opening a new business or setting up an online presence for their existing company, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and give a business card.
But be sure to approach your potential customer politely and don’t be pushy. These people went to the coffee shop to have a private meeting so mind your manners.
Some coffee houses also have bulletin boards where you can put a business card or a flyer. Be sure to take advantage of these areas because people spend time looking at such boards while waiting for their cup.
41. Religious Organizations
Churches and religious organizations can be a gold mine when it comes to finding clients for your services. If you are active in your church, you should be comfortable enough to tell your group about what you do.
Ask them if they know people or businesses that may need a professional in your area of expertise.
42. Non-Profit Organizations
Aside from feeling good about helping out a cause that is dear to you, being a member of a non-profit organization can also build your network of friends and acquaintances.
Believe it or not, many people find their good contacts and leads via friends from such organizations. If you are just starting out as a WordPress developer, you can also help build your group’s website for a small fee or even for free just to add to your portfolio.
43. Your Family and Circle of Friends
This is one job hunting strategy that’s easy to overlook. But there’s no doubt that asking your friends and family for help may surprise you. In business, connections matter more than skills.
Tell the folks close to you to point you to people or businesses that may need websites. It’s good if potential clients already know about WordPress. If not, you can always show them the power and versatility of the software and convince them that it can help them to easily manage their online presence.
Get Back to Basics
44. Personal Portfolio Site
As a developer or designer, there’s no better way to showcase your skills than having your own portfolio site. This may sound superficial now, but you should get your own domain name and hosting.
Having your own personal site provides you with a place to point to your would-be clients so that they can check out your work. Don’t forget to provide valid contact details on your site.
45. Personal Blog
Apart from a portfolio site, you can also add a blog. After all, you are a part of one of the most robust content management systems on the Web today. But more than that, having a blog with regular posts can greatly help in establishing your name as an authority in WordPress development.
Share your posts in your social media profiles as well. When the time comes, clients will be running after you.
46. WordPress.org job board or WPhired.com
As a WordPress developer, it’s never a waste of time to check out WP-specific job boards like WPhired.com or WordPress.org’s very own job listing. The good thing about these sites is that clients already know about the system.
More often than not, many of them are WP developers themselves who probably just don’t have the time or skills to develop certain parts of their websites. As a result, you can further enhance your kills while you work.
47. Other Freelance WordPress Developers
Networking with other WordPress professionals is not a bad idea. You may think that there’s no point in working with the competition. But in reality, WP developers are more willing to help others in the business.
It’s the only way to ensure that an open-source software will flourish and beat out other platforms in the market.
By helping each other out, WordPress developers can rack up more users and clients for years to come. Ask fellow developers if they need help in their projects or if they know other clients who are willing to pay for your services. Sooner or later, they will point some clients your way.
48. Search Engines
Use Google and other search engines as your tools in finding people and companies that are looking for freelance WordPress developers.
Just make sure that you use specific search terms, including your city or town, to get better results. You can also check out Dice.com, a search engine for those looking for tech contract jobs.
49. Yelp and other similar sites
Web sites like Yelp are good places to find clients. Here you can find professionals, businesses, and even organizations that could be potential WordPress clients.
All you have to do is to get their contact information and send out proposals via email or snail mail. If you are up to it and are feeling a bit confident, you can contact these businesses over the phone or even visit their shops or stores personally to make your pitch.
50. Job Boards
You might argue that a job board is not really an odd place to find a client. This is true. As mentioned earlier, job sites such as Craigslist, Freelancer, and even Guru are filled with competitors in your niche.
Stay away from these sites if you can’t stomach the low paying jobs that are posted in them. The good news is there are many other online job boards that are less popular and better focused on your industry. Sites to look at include Behance Jobs, CoroFlot, WeWork Remotely and Krop.
So there you have it. Finding WordPress clients using all fifty of these less-trodden paths can surely land you a paying gig. Remember, everything boils down to your skills, experience, and credibility in your field.