How to drum up local clients?
August 3, 2010 10:19 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for basic design/development clients in Rochester, NY. I have picked up a few over the past couple months, but would be love to get any any pointers from some more experienced mefites.

I recently had to drop out of college. I was studying some bullshit interactive media studies program. Since then, I've been trying to actually learn design (pre-press, screen-printing, offset) and pick up some a few basic development skills (ie. html, css, jquery, BASIC php, etc.). I've built 2 4-color catalogs, a few small business websites, some newspaper ads and some branding material. It's worked out for me so far, but as of September my 2nd catalog gig is probably going to expire.

I was just wondering if anybody knows of any local non-profits/ethical businesses that are looking for any sort of graphic/web help. I'm willing to work for next to nothing until mid-September, but only for deserving/reasonable people.

If anybody has any suggestions, please let me know.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You need to get out and network at places where potential clients will be. Chamber of Commerce meetings, local trade shows and conferences, etc are great places to meet new clients.
posted by COD at 5:01 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Riverside Convention Center is where most trade shows and other meetings occur. Check their event schedule for opportunities. Digital Rochester meets regularly and brings lots of people together. RocWiki lists events on their front page and their events board. Check out their page of Nonprofit Organizations. City Newspaper also lists lots of events that aren't necessarily covered by the D&C.
posted by tommasz at 6:39 AM on August 4, 2010

Post fliers on bulletin boards at places like Abundance, Lori's Natural Foods, and the Boulder coffeeshops.
posted by knile at 2:56 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: 1) many universities now have incubators for small companies and startups. They often need these kinds of services. as a startup entrepreneur yourself, you might appreciate how hard it is and giving them a hand would seem like a good thing perhaps. It will also help build your portfolio. just be careful of scope creep with the project. ( if they are too early in the stages it might be a bit wishy-washy terms of what they need)

2) help at least one business/entities very thoroughly, perhaps for free, so that they will become your glowing endorsement. when I looked at these things the first thing I look at as a portfolio or case study. I would suggest looking for local businesses that already have a web presence but look horrible. Politely suggest that you would like to help them update their webpage in exchange for a link and a testimonial. I think you might be easier to convince someone who already has a web presence to update than rather a local business to get a web presence. Then you can show a before and after shot as well. either way, you need something in your portfolio.

3) learn about SEO. since you're dealing with a limited geographical area you should be able to place rather highly if you target the appropriate keywords. has a good starter section on SEO. You want people to be able to find you when they look for a local solution.

4) as stated above: network!!!! In addition to what was said above, I would also suggest you check out the economic development Corporation / Bureau. Many cities and towns have one and they often hold gatherings and networking events. I used to go to our gatherings and they were filled with relatively young companies that were always in need of branding/updates. Additionally, the economic development Corporation/Bureau should be able to give you advice. Their job is to encourage self-employment and startups which will provide jobs. I'll give you advice: you better have a beautiful business card on nice paper that can impress people at these events. Don't pretend to be big, when you're not. You are a "designer". You don't need to have a marketing firm or anything; you just need to be good. People have a need for creative designs, so don't feel intimidated by a roomful of suits and feel you need to play "business" so much--just focus on what you can provide. Be yourself, let people know what you do without pushing them, and make yourself available.

5) help me! :-) will give you a link and a testimonial. We are business that's been running like a non-profit for quite some time.
posted by chinabound at 8:36 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions everybody!
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 12:34 PM on August 6, 2010

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