It’s All About the Hustle!Marketo's Lead Generation Sales Funnel

If you’re a freelancer in any field, you gotz to hustle! You need to cast your net far and wide without burning yourself out. And to quote from the movie Glen Gary Glen Ross, “Always Be Closing! ABC!”.

These 7 lead generating ideas can help no matter if you’re an established web design company or just getting off the ground. From networking in the real world, to hosting webinars, to content marketing. This article is specific to web designers, but these tactics can spark ideas for whatever line of work you’re in.

1. Networking

At the heart and soul of any business are people and relationships. Since that’s true, connecting with real people in various ways over time is top priority.


If you have an established client base you could get a lot of business from referrals. Those referrals come from building a relationship with past clients over time. Following up after the project is completed. Offering additional value to them and showing you care about their success.

Put it out there that you’re looking for referrals. Ask for it. Put it on your literature, emails, site, Yelp, everywhere. Another idea is to offer client perks, free giveaways, and discounts on future work. And you should always be making yourself “referable” by delivering as promised on time.

Leads Groups

Leads groups are a great way to bring in new business. You connect with businesses, establish relationships and work on their behalf to funnel leads to them when you’re out and about in your daily life. If someone out in the world complains about how high their insurance is, you can say “I know a woman that can help.” Same if someone is looking to switch phone carriers, repair their credit and so on. And conversely when these people are out, they’re keeping you in mind, funneling leads to you.

My advice to business owners and sales folks alike is to take the best from what works and build your own leads network. John Jantsch, Duct Tape Marketing

Leads groups depend largely on the makeup and quality of the group. So they don’t always work in the form that you find them in any given location. One idea is to hand pick 10-15 go-getters and start your own group. If you can set expectations properly, integrate technology better, take collaboration to the next level, and get creative, you could have a viable source of leads, that works for everyone.

Networking Events

In any sizable city there are groups of people that come together with the specific purpose to network. These can be formal networking events where you bring a stack of business cards and have your elevator speech polished. The dizzying speed some of the larger events run at can make it hard to connect with right people that extend your circles and eventually bring you leads. A couple tips for networking events are to go in with a goal in mind, be selective with whom you connect with, have fun and put the sales pitch away for a while, get to know the people who put the event on, and follow-up on important people afterwards.

Networking is all about building real-life relationships and creating credibility in the brand of you! Raymmar Tirado, Elite Daily

Host an Event

I had a real estate friend who hosted happy hour mixers. He got almost all of his leads from these events. He established relationships over time and had a waiting list for people that wanted to join. It was a relaxed, fun time to get together and connect. Business was discussed, but not the central focus. Relationship building was.

Events can be a lucrative way to get new leads. Virtual events are great such as webinars, Google Hangout discussions, and online classes. But there is nothing like real world interaction such as seminars, tradeshows, mixers, or hosting classes & trainings. They set yourself up as the expert that you are, help to build your brand, help to upsell, raise awareness, and educate prospects on your products or services.

You’ll be memorable in your prospects eyes. Make sure to stand apart by actively promoting the event beforehand and setting expectations upfront. And capitalize on your hard work by having your followup plan and materials prepared ahead of time.

When done well, events have the power to create a lasting and powerful impression of all that your company can deliver. By allowing people to experience and interact with your company, product or service while participating in an event, you are connecting with potential buyers. Marketo

Everywhere Else

If you’re in the checkout line at the grocery store, walking your dog at the park, going to the gym, there are people that needs your services. Talk to anyone and everyone. Yes, you web designers and coders, the natural introverts you are, talk to everyone! Don’t be pushy, be strategic. Have your goal in mind yes, but get to know people for them.

2. Job Sites

There are many freelance sites out there specifically for web designers. Sites such as Elance and oDesk (now Upwork), Awesomeweb, and dribble. Some have a bit more of a selection process as well as subscription fees, which works in your favor. The ones without many restrictions or fees can be tough, because you’re competing with a larger body of freelancers that can afford to work for cheap. That’s a viscous cycle that’s hard to sustain and compete against. The more exclusive the better.

3. Cold Calling

An idea for web designers is to find any strip mall in America, any corner block of businesses and go door to door. Print some flyers and bring your business cards. Do a quick search on your phone to see if they have a site. If they do, does it suck, and do they clearly need help? If so, go in and strike up a conversation. Offer your services. Qualify your lead by asking if they’ve considered a redesign and if they’re working with someone already. When you show them their site on your mobile phone you rarely meet with resistance. It’s an easy sell. Try and talk with the owners or decision makers if possible. And always follow-up by phone, email, or their website contact form if they have one.

4. Strategic Partnerships

These can come in all forms. And again, it’s about relationships. Connect with other web designers, marketing firms, and ad agencies. Many will have overflow that you can help with, or may be looking for someone to exclusively handle their web design needs. In turn you can offer services that you don’t such as SEO, or Marketing and Branding. If your company targets a specific niche such as lawyers or dentists you might be able to find partners in that niche’s vertical. By presenting yourself as the expert in your field and through your networking efforts you’ll most likely come across many good candidates that you can form a mutually beneficial partnership with.

5. Pro Bono

Doing pro bono work you’re passionate about is a great way to connect with other businesses. You’re doing something you love, and establishing relationships. You’re not necessarily in it to generate leads, because it’s something you would do anyway. But the doors this could unlock could be a very good way to generate leads or establish strategic partnerships.

6. Paid Leads

There are various sites around the web such as Rank Leads that you can pay for pre-qualified and pre-screened leads that are serious about a redesign or other web needs. Depending on the quality of the lead (if they’re shared or not) the cost goes up. This is a great way to get the ball rolling if you have some money to invest. The cost of the leads could very well pay for themselves in the long run.

7. Content Marketing & Landing Pages

Having a mapped out, strategic content marketing plan will do wonders for your business. It will help organize your goals, targeted customer “persons”, and reduce the risk when innovating and trying out experiments. Content Marketing is creating valuable content and delivering it to your customers, forming a relationship and adding them to your sales funnel. The content produced will vary depending on several factors such as which channel you are using, who you’re targeting, and what your goal is.

If you just hosted a webinar online, you can send attendees a series of automated emails. You can send paid traffic from search engines or social media to a landing page in exchange for an ebook or valuable video. The bottom line is rather than trying to “sell” stuff, you offer valuable information, and lead prospects through your sales funnel.

Landing pages are one tool to do this. Rather than sending paid advertisements to your website, you send them to easy to digest sales pages, with one thing to do! That one thing is your offer. By eliminating the fluff, conversions are much much higher. Landing pages aside, you should still put your offer on your website, in the sidebar and in popup modals visitors see when browsing.

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. Content Marketing Institute

Well optimized, highly targeted landing pages are one of the most effective methods of generating authentic leads for your business. wishpond

Content Marketing for Lead Generation

Go Get Em’ Tiger! Armed with these tactics and ideas, get those leads flowing, that funnel filled, and make some sales!


  1. 25 Ways to Get Referrals, Rain Today, Mary Flaherty
  2. How to Build Your Own Leads Group, Duct Tape Marketing, John Jantsch
  3. 12 Tips To Help You Generate More Leads At Your Next Networking Event, Elite Daily, Raymmar Tirado
  4. Event Marketing, Marketo
  5. The Essentials of a Documented Content Marketing Strategy, Content Marketing Institute
  6. What Is Content Marketing?, Content Marketing Institute
  7. 21 Ways to Generate Leads from Your Landing Page, wishpond