No matter who you ask, word of mouth is still, and always will be, the strongest form of promotion you’ll ever come across. The key to embarking on your own business venture is having not only financial support, but moral support from family, friends, past clients, and generally anyone you’ve ever worked with.
In the freelance web design world this is especially true. There are so many other designers to compete with, and having a fully loaded portfolio isn’t necessarily going to put you at the top. It’s a good idea to gather client references and testimonials at the end of each project and immediately add them to your portfolio.
If you venture into advertising your business through print media, and if space permits, it may be a good idea to include a quotation or two to help reinforce the point your trying to get across. Testimonials, combined with a good design and meaningful copy, can keep you or your business fresh in a potential clients mind.
How do you receive good testimonials? Do good work. Treat your clients like family, and not your little sister, but like the older brother you respect, or the parents you look up to. Go above and beyond the call of duty and make sure the work you provide is top quality, even if the payment you receive is not. Throw in some extras here and there and make the client want to come back to you in the future. Their reference will help push your business, and chances are they’ll tell their friends and colleagues about you too.
Again, treat your clients with respect and they’ll have nothing but kind words to pass around, but treat them like they’re just another paycheck and you’ll get nothing at all.