August 3, 2013

How to Search Twitter for New Design Clients

Find Your Keywords

Type the below text in the Twitter search box:

-http ? “graphic designer”

This search will return questions being asked on the subject of “graphic designer”. Comb through the results to find people looking for graphic design help.

How a graphic designer searches Twitter for new clients

Try other variations of search phrases! Play around until you find keywords that return good results for you.

Start with your job title, such as “illustrator”, “graphic designer” or “web designer.” Then fine-tune your searches by adding search operators, e.g. near:London, or “-free” and “-pro bono.” Like these:

-http ? illustrator “book cover”

-http ? “graphic designer” near:london (if you only work locally)

-http ? “graphic designer” -free (to avoid people asking for free or spec jobs)

However, searches including job titles are rather obvious, and since anyone can user Twitter competition will be fierce for such leads.

To escape some competition, and get higher quality leads, also try searches targeting specific products, problems, situations, expressions etc indicating immediate or soon coming needs of your services.

-http ? help logo pay

Maybe a Sales Lead for a Logo Design

-http ? “business card” 

Maybe a Sales Lead for a Business Card Design

Organize Your Searchers

Bookmarked Twitter Searches.

Once you found searches that returns real people asking for professional help you need to organize the searches.

You can save the searches as bookmarks in your browser and revisit them now and then (the search result will update every time you use the link)

A better way is to organize your searches in a tool like Hootsuite. It offers a better overview, and you don't need to update each search individually.

A few searches organized in Hootsuite would look like this (click to enlarge).

Twitter Searches in Hootsuite Showing Leads for Graphic Designers, Illustrators, and Web Designers.


Monitor your searches

You need to stay on top of your searches. Twitter is a super fast medium. You must check your searches at least daily.

If you don’t find out about a job until the day after there’s little point in pursuing it.

You want to get inside that first batch of responses.


Key things to win clients through Twitter are to:

  • Respond immediately 
  • Respond only to people specifically asking for professional help

Initially, send the person asking for help a tweet! Something non-spammy, non-pushy like:

– Hello. I’m a [graphic designer/illustrator/web designer…] – Can I help? [link to your portfolio]

A tweet like above is only helpful. The person asking for help is free to check out your portfolio at his or her own leisure.

For better response:

  • Use their name
  • Prepare portfolios for the type of gigs you usually are hunting for/specializing in. Link to these situation-specific portfolios in the tweet.

An appropriate response to Wallace's request could be:

Maybe a Sales Lead for a Email Template

– Hello Wallace! I'm a graphic designer specializing in email templates. Can I help? [link to your email template portfolio]

Provided Wallace responds, next step is to engage through email, a phone call, or face to face. Quickly.

Do Twitter searches work for finding clients?

It does work great for some. For most freelancers it's one tool of many.

For freelance photographer Nick Miners, UK, Twitter searches have worked great. In an interview at Freelance Unleashed Nick reports that he finds most of his new clients this way:

“Twitter, by far. I set up a few search phrases with live updates of the search results, so get notified almost immediately when someone posts looking for a photographer. There are a lot of false positives (you wouldn’t believe how many people expect photography to be free) but the work I have got has been wonderfully varied and extremely fulfilling, and in many cases has led to more.”

Stuart Crawford, a freelance graphic designer based in Belfast, reports that he gains about half of his new clients through Twitter searches:

Advanced searches are how I have gained around approximately 40-50% of my client’s over the last year or so from Twitter. I start with the key phrase, say for example “Logo designer” and see what appears. Usually the spammy tweets are easily filtered using the ‘-’ symbol, then the word Twitter should ignore e.g. “Logo designer -free” or “Logo designer -99designs”. It really is the build up of words you want to hide that makes finding the relevant tweets easy. That is how to use Twitter to find new clients!

In an open discussion over at Graphic Design Blender Daniel Townson, graphic designer in Austin, TX, reported moderate success:

“Twitter is also another good way to connect with potential clients. I keep a running search open in TweetDeck for “graphic design” as well as a more localized search feed. Any time I see someone say “I need a designer!” I contact them immediately and ask what they need help with. These are usually one-off projects, but sometimes you make a solid, long-term connection that leads to more work.  Moderate success, but since it’s a free system, even one job found via Twitter makes it a successful ROI!”

Try Twitter searches out!

Want even more examples of what's possible? Try these magic Twitter buttons! They link to people who ask for design & photography services right now.

Do you have any personal experiences of Twitter searches? I would love to hear about them in the comments below!