How to Attract High Paying Clients for your WordPress Web Design Business

attract high paying clients

This article was written by Mario Peshev in March 2017 and updated with our latest content in September 2023.

Sick of pitching to large brands with no luck? Tired of looking at fellow WordPress consultants and web designers who successfully attract high-paying clients? Looking for ways to build an impressive portfolio?

It's time to establish yourself as an impactful web designer, and that begins with bringing in the right web design clients. Working with big brands is an attainable goal, but there is a pinch of science behind it. There are certain specifics you need to be aware of, as well as minor adjustments to be made to your portfolio and sales process in order to scale up. At the end of the day, it’s all about solving problems for corporations by focusing on their unique needs and finding niche channels you can leverage to generate outstanding results. Soon enough, your web design business will have an impressive list of past clients.

Here is a practical and actionable guide that will help you to attract high-paying web design clients and establish a renowned WordPress consultancy that will organically bring in more business.

For personalized advice, contact the team at Agency Mavericks today.

The Differences Between Lower Paying And Higher Paying Clients

It doesn’t matter what kind of client base you currently have or who you’re looking to target in the future. All clients— large or small— want the same things: outstanding service, expert guidance, and rave-worthy results. Those basic needs must always be met.

However, if you’re looking to attract high-paying excellent web design clients to your WordPress business, a change must occur within your approach to handling them— and it will mainly be in the form of how you communicate with key stakeholders. As you might imagine, the small business owner looking to launch his or her first website is not going to be of the same mindset or personality as the CEO in charge of a corporation with thousands of employees, generating millions in revenue.

So, as you make this shift from low to high clients, here are a few things to keep in mind when trying to woo decision-makers from larger organizations and reputable brands:

It doesn’t matter what kind of client base you currently have or who you’re looking to target in the future. All clients–large or small–want the same thing: outstanding service, expert guidance, and rave-worthy results. Those basic needs must always be met.

However, if you’re looking to attract high paying clients to your WordPress business, a change must occur within your approach to handling them–and it will mainly be in the form of how you communicate with key stakeholders. As you might imagine, the small business owner looking to launch his or her first website is not going to be of the same mindset or personality as the CEO in charge of a corporation with thousands of employees, generating millions in revenue.

So, as you make this shift from low paying to high paying clients, here are a few things to keep in mind when trying to woo decisionmakers from larger organizations and reputable brands:

Redefine Expectations

Finding the right web design talent is challenging. Small and medium-sized business (SMB) owners often have no clue what a WordPress consultant is capable of in terms of assisting their business. All they can hope is that they get their money's worth by working with a WordPress web designer, and that's precisely what you need to guarantee.

At the other end of the spectrum, entrepreneurs and CEOs have a lot to lose if they hire the wrong consultant. Essentially, what they are hoping to gain here is a reliable partner that will deliver results and then help their business continue to grow. Web designers need to prove that they can handle the pressure of big projects.

Large companies often already lead a successful business online, employ experts in different fields, and have processes to test changes internally— which is why they’re going to do their research. They will know that they need a WordPress developer skilled in PHP, CSS, and JavaScript. They might not understand these technologies themselves, but they know what is going to get them the best results and so they’ll be much more meticulous as they review candidates for the job. These aren't your average web design clients, and you need to market your web design services accordingly.

Finding the right talent is challenging, and small and medium-sized business (SMB) owners often have no clue what a WordPress consultant is capable of in terms of assisting their business. What can hope for, however, is to get their money’s worth in this investment they’ve made in you.

At the other end of the spectrum, entrepreneurs and CEOs have a lot to lose if they hire the wrong consultant. Essentially, what they are hoping to gain here is a reliable partner that will deliver results and then help their business continue to grow.

They already lead a successful business online, employ experts in different fields, and have processes to test changes internally. Which is why they’re going to do their research. They will know that they need a WordPress developer skilled in PHP, CSS, and JavaScript. They might not understand these technologies themselves, but they know what is going to get them the best results and so they’ll be much more meticulous as they review candidates for the job.

Number of Decision Makers

Something else that sets small and large businesses apart is the amount of ‘decision makers' at play.

When you work with an SMB, you’re likely going to have one point of contact. If it’s a brand new company, that will be the business owner. If it’s been around for a bit, it may be the marketing manager or equivalent. Either way, the amount of feedback you receive usually only comes from one source. This makes things extremely easy for web designers.

With the higher-paying enterprise, however, it’s a different story. You may end up having to report to what resembles something of a boardroom of members with each phase, each update, and each round of QA to review with them. And, likely, that means the CEO is going to stay out of it and allow other executives, employees, and even third-party consultants to step in and collaborate with you.

This is not necessarily a problem, but it’s definitely a different game than working solo. It requires more communication, aligning milestones, discussing requirements together, and making compromises due to various business specifics. Your past clients might not have prepared you for the level of communication these larger enterprises require.

Web Designer Language

In general, business owners don’t speak the same language that we do. They’re thinking about business growth and profit margins and maximizing productivity. (You know this because you think this way when it comes to your own WordPress business.) However, as a WordPress consultant, your brain isn’t on that same track. You’re focused on completing various project milestones and building a website that’s up to modern design standards.

When you speak to a small business owner, you’re likely going to hear them say things like, “I want a responsive website” or “I need SEO”. If they’ve read about websites before, then they’re going to have a basic sense of these kinds of terms. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they understand what any of it is or the implications behind it.

As you speak with the small business owner, you can use this kind of terminology with them, but you should also be more patient and willing to educate them on what it is they need and what it will mean for their website in the end.

Now, in terms of the large business owner and entrepreneur, they’re already fluent in those terms. As I mentioned before, they’ve done their research regarding effective web design strategies. So, when you talk to these decision-makers, speak to them intelligently and matter-of-factly. Yes, their websites will be defined to align with Google’s mobile-first indexing initiative. Of course, their USP will be consistently utilized throughout the site. You can even discuss your projections for CRO once it’s all done. These web design clients likely know their stuff, and you need to treat them accordingly!

Website Type

Startups will come to you looking for a quick and affordable way to get a good-looking website online. More often than not, paying a huge amount of money for a new website isn’t going to be worth it for them as it could take anywhere from six months to a couple of years before they start seeing results. Even with an incredible marketing campaign, they need an established reputation in their field before generating serious traction and conversions online.

On the other hand, long-standing businesses already have websites that generate a solid amount of traffic and want to increase their conversions. If they’re looking for a WordPress consultant, they’re either looking to:

  1. Give their website a facelift to align with modern design trends.
  2. Rebrand it as the enterprise moves into a new phase of growth.
  3. Hire an actual consultant to provide guidance on strategic moves with the website. For instance, focusing instead on A/B testing, content marketing plans, and more.

The established CEO doesn’t need a quick-and-dirty website, which is why they’re going to be willing to pay you more.

Automating Processes Is A Crucial Element Of Successful Businesses

We had a client who employed 30 content writers and editors. Their flow was complex, so we built a custom-tailored editorial system that saved each of those writers 2 hours a week. That resulted in 250 hours a month savings for the business, which allowed them to produce more content, in less time, with fewer resources. This translated into incredible traffic growth with lower costs for publishing more content. A huge result!


Low-paying clients usually understand what it is they’re getting from you in terms of quality. That’s not to insinuate that you would do any less of a good job for them than you would for a higher-paying client. It’s more in terms of how much work you put into a WordPress site that costs $5,000 as opposed to one that costs $15,000.

This means with low-paying clients you can get away with more automation. Including:

  • Relying heavily on WordPress themes to establish the base design of a website.
  • Utilizing WordPress plugins to add the functionality you might not have the time or desire to code by hand.
  • Spending less time on keyword and competitive landscape research.
  • Eschewing certain phases that won’t matter to them (e.g. storyboarding, wireframing, stress testing, etc.)

To automate within WordPress is obviously not a bad thing— especially if it does more effectively help you execute a goal or lay a base framework from which you can really grow the website.

However, “automation” is not the kind of work your enterprise clients are going to be excited to hear. They’re paying top dollar for a custom-built website. If you don’t have the skills to code the site from the ground up, or you can’t justify why a $70 theme isn’t just a way to cut corners, then you may not be ready to take on the higher-paying clients.

Speed of Communication

While there are plenty of small business owners who disappear for months, the dedicated and committed ones work tirelessly, striving for perfection in exchange for a limited investment. It’s a smart move in order to grow further without burning cash too early.

But this also makes working with lower-paying clients a bit of a gamble. The ones who disappear become costly as you spend more time trying to track them down and get the project back on track. The ones who are fully entrenched in the project, instead, have a tendency to be overwhelmingly present. And it’s that kind of micro-management and oversight that can also slow down your progress and introduce the unfortunate scope creep to your budget.

Large organizations can cause slowdowns too; most notably by taking a long time to approve feature requests or changes— even the simple ones. There are various decision-makers involved over numerous departments, a board of directors, investors, or even other consultants who have to chime in and approve a change.

That said, you can expect these higher-paying clients to be more understanding of milestones and maintain the right level of communication. They have very little time to spare, so they want whatever time they do give you to be worth it–which means you need to be prepared to talk about progress, hand over deliverables, and keep up with the pace.

attract high paying clients

Standards and Procedures

When you work with smaller businesses, you’re likely going to be working on your own. This means you need to be able to confidently say, “This is the plan, this is what we will do, and this is what you will get.” You’re basically responsible for laying the groundwork for this business’s online identity.

Working with an established business, however, typically means having to utilize its long list of protocols, guidelines, and even tools. It’s the only way businesses of this breadth can keep the team aligned with business requirements while ensuring consistency as the business grows and new staff (or freelancers like yourself) are hired.

Some of these requirements may be obstacles to delivering high results in a shorter amount of time— a time-killer for your productivity. However, this is usually paid for; you’ll just need to deal with a lot more paperwork instead of getting your hands dirty in every billable minute.

How to Get High Paying Clients for Your WordPress Business

There’s nothing wrong with continuing to work with low-paying clients—especially if you want to get in on the ground floor of something innovative and grow your business alongside theirs. But sometimes you want to get paid a rate that’s more on par with the quality of work you deliver. And you can’t always get that from startups and SMBs.

Landing the first couple of large consulting clients is tough, but not impossible. It gets easier later on with more impressive projects in your portfolio, but you will have to hustle for a while until you land one or two of these kinds of jobs.

I do want to quickly note here, however, that getting higher-paying clients for your WordPress business does not always mean looking at big brands and well-established enterprises. There are others who are willing to pay top dollar for a WordPress website— and those are the clients who understand the true value of one. That is what you should ultimately be searching for here.

Here is a brief plan that will help you connect with the right kinds of clients, so you can start charging what your services are really worth:

1. Dispose of the Low-Hanging Fruit

I know this sounds terrible, but firing bad clients is something you absolutely have to do if you’re trying to attract a higher- quality clientele. It’s not just about appearances either. This is about what these kinds of clients will do to your WordPress business in terms of productivity and quality of output.

Think about it like this: you started your business and were willing to work with pretty much anyone so you could generate revenue and make a name for yourself. However, there are a lot of business owners out there looking to take advantage of someone in your shoes. You’ve run into them. They’re the clients who:

  • Abuse you.
  • Disappear for long stretches.
  • Set unrealistic expectations.
  • Refuse to pay or won’t pay in full because they’re dissatisfied (despite offering to fix whatever was wrong).
  • Drain your time and resources by calling, emailing, and texting way too often and usually unnecessarily.

There are any number of ways bad clients can manifest their true colors, but you can’t make time for it anymore. It will only lead to a compromise in the quality of work you do for others. So, cut out the bad apples now (even if it means less revenue) so you can focus on how you can strategically get web design clients you actually want and need.

2. Define the Ideal Client

You know what a bad client looks like. Now it’s time to envision what your dream client looks like. It can’t just be their fat wallet or well-known brand name you’re after either.

What industry are they in?

Who are the primary decision-makers?

Is there a specific kind of website you want to build? E-commerce? News sites? Multisite networks?

What size website do they need?

Who is the website of this audience?

How much time should be dedicated to the creation of this website?

What is their work style like? (Lots of cooks in the kitchen? Hands-off, minimal micro-management? Weekly meetings?)

Really think about who it is you want to work with going forward. It will make selling your services to them a whole lot easier if you’re prepared for them. By envisioning your ideal new web design clients, you can start to tailor all your work to them.

3. Increase Your Pricing. Now.

Don’t wait until you sign that first enterprise client to set your prices. This isn’t something you should make up on the fly. If you want to attract better clients, then you need to be a better businessperson yourself. Surprisingly, higher costs could very well be the way to get new web design clients!

Your WordPress service offering should already be well-defined and packaged up into tiers based on the needs you anticipate for this new, higher-paying client set. Develop each package based on what you know about this ideal client of yours. What do they need? What would they like? What else can you give them? Each package should go up incrementally in price as well as in value.

And don’t be afraid to shoot high in terms of cost. Remember what we’ve discussed earlier— big brands communicate a lot, require a ton of back and forth; deals take a while to close and you will need to work with various processes and stakeholders. It won’t be as easy as it is with a small client, so that extra overhead should be accounted for.

4. Establish Yourself in a Specific Niche

Due to their popularity, big corporations get tons of requests all the time— both from people applying for a job and service providers who want a slice of the pie. So, how can you set yourself apart in an industry as large as web design?

A successful track record in one specific industry and an understanding of the business specifics are essential for providing consulting to a given business. As such, being an expert in a specific field could be a very strong selling point when pitching.

For the enterprise decision-maker, this means less time they’ll have to spend educating you on their unique selling proposition and audience. Instead, they can focus on handing you the tools you need to get the job done and letting you get to work. After all, time is money.

5. Update Your Own Website

This leads us to our next point: your WordPress site needs to be updated before you undertake any of these efforts to land top-level-paying clients. There are a couple of reasons for this.

To start, there’s the matter of your portfolio. CEOs are going to need proof that they have the skills to back up what you’re saying. A portfolio with well-rounded examples, plentiful images that demonstrate what you’ve done in taking a website from the “before” to the “after”, as well as case studies that explain the quantitative results is essential. And, if you do have a niche specialty, your portfolio must be built around that.

Your WordPress website itself is also a tool you should be using to sell your clients on your capabilities. It should be modernly designed and utilize the types of web design techniques and quality of coding clients would expect on their own websites. Use your digital marketing expertise to showcase everything you're capable of when it comes to web design.

6. Build A Team Around You

Low-paying clients may be satisfied with five-to-ten-page websites that utilize stock photography and a premium WordPress theme. Higher paying clients, on the other hand, may want things like:

  • Long-tail keyword optimization
  • Persona building
  • Wireframing and prototyping
  • Internal link-building strategy
  • CRM integration
  • Geotargeting
  • Stores with hundreds of products and a globalized payment gateway

The possibilities are endless, which means you need to have a plan for addressing their unique needs. Realistically, this means it can’t all depend on you anymore. You are going to need to build an internal team or outsource certain specialized tasks to external vendors in order to get this kind of work done. The web design services you offer will need to be elevated and expanded if you want to see yourself build a greater portfolio— figure out what these large potential clients are looking for, and expand your own business to include all those offers. You need to know your target market and adjust your service accordingly! Or else all the other web designers looking for top-paying clients will beat you to it.

7. Provide Outstanding Web Design Solutions

Quality of work is absolutely mandatory when working with higher-paying clients. Small businesses don’t need sloppy work either, but missing a few details on an architectural level may not be crucial.

That said, you can’t afford to hand over a website a client just paid a lot of money for only for them to discover broken links, forms that lead to nowhere, and a ridiculously slow payment gateway. Quality controls need to be firmly in place in your process before you ever enter into any contracts with higher-paying web design clients.

This means introducing the following into your web design workflow:

  • Contracts: to clearly define all terms of the project with the client
  • SOW: to explain the project brief, set expectations, and establish a timeline
  • Collaboration software: this is where you will control your workflow internally as well as externally with the client; all communications will take place here
  • Project phases: in order to more adeptly manage the scope of larger projects while also getting paid for major milestones
  • Rigorous research: these kinds of sites require a lot of research regarding the user persona, UX, UI, competitors, keywords, and so on
  • Communication schedule: higher paying clients will expect regularly scheduled updates on project progress
  • Workflow documentation: this is for internal use to ensure that every step is completed
  • Testing: tools and checklists to ensure you review every piece of the website prior to delivery
  • QA: various rounds of QA will need to be built into your process; ideally, prior to delivering each milestone to the client
  • Handoff and post-mortem: this will detail how and what you hand over to a client after completing a project

attracting high paying clients

8. Create a Support System

Higher-paying clients are paying you for a premium service, which means you need to provide premium support as well. Simply being available to take their phone calls or answer their emails won’t suffice either.

Instead, look at how you can use your own WordPress website to build a customer portal and a support system within it. For starters, it will make it a whole lot easier for you to manage all of your client support requests, invoicing, and whatnot from one central location. It will also give your website and business an air of sophistication. You aren’t just some random WordPress consultant trying to make a lot of money. You’re providing full, white-glove service. In all industries, including web design, excellent service does wonders.

9. Get in Front of Them Online

Now that you have your WordPress business and website sorted out in order to attract the higher-paying client, let’s talk about what you can do to actively go after that. After all, you can't just wait around hoping your dream web design clients will just stumble your way. A great web designer needs to be proactive!

The first thing to do is to be wherever they are online. Which social media platforms do they frequent? Do they have certain websites or blogs that they subscribe to? How about forums and comment boards they frequently engage with? The best way to get their attention is to demonstrate your authority and expertise and let them take notice.

This translates to things like:

  • Establish an active presence on social media— and not just sharing your own content or liking only their posts. Those kinds of shallow interactions won’t help your cause. Make it meaningful and share something insightful.
  • Participate in social media groups that they’re in. This doesn’t mean just joining groups for other WordPress developers or web designers. This means really digging into your niche and joining groups for banking professionals or restaurateurs or whoever you are targeting.
  • Start writing blog posts about web design for websites you know they will read. If they’re the head of a major enterprise, this may mean sites like Inc., Forbes, Entrepreneur, etc.
  • Craft a long-form piece of downloadable content like an ebook or white paper that talks about something no one else is writing about. If you can include data from your own research and studies, that would be ideal. Web design clients love to see that you offer something unique they won't be able to find anywhere else!
  • Film a video or webinar. Then promote it on social media, specifically targeting that audience group.
  • Create a course that demonstrates your skills as a WordPress consultant. This may not necessarily get you in front of these decision-makers, but it will be great as leverage later on when they want to know what you’ve done and to see proof of it.

10. Get In Front Of Them In The Real World

There are hundreds of startup owners who provide solutions in specific industries and only gather at startup events, WordCamps, or while hanging out with other freelance business owners like themselves. While building a network or a mastermind group of other entrepreneurs is important, this won’t introduce you to new prospects. If you're looking for web design clients, you need to get yourself seen!

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where can I meet my potential large company decision-maker?
  • Who is the right point of contact for that business?
  • Do I have the best elevator pitch when I meet them?
  • How do I introduce myself as a trustworthy web designer?
  • Where will I find my target web design clients?

You need to define the right point of contact and have a simple, yet powerful declaration of your solution that would make a difference for them. The next step is to target the events they attend and ensure that you can coordinate your schedule with breaks and networking sessions where you can meet them.

Think of trade shows, meetups and other conferences specifically designed for that type of customer. Web design success is all about getting seen by the right people!

11. Reach Out To Your Network

Talking to your friends, family, fellow students, and other folks in your web designer network is a good place to look, too. You never know what you might find! Many of them probably work in large organizations, consult big brands, or simply know people that they can introduce you to. Web designers or not, they probably know a couple of potential clients— and they might not even know it!

Big businesses always look for talent since they develop products and services for different departments and need to scale them by hiring new developers, designers, marketers, sales representatives, conversion rate optimization experts, SEO specialists, etc. Onboarding new talent is a long-term process, and many of them already work with third parties who handle different areas of their portfolio for them.

Since the personal and cultural fit is a priority for many successful businesses, meeting managers or other influential employees through a referral would cut down on your pitching and validation process. Check out networking events, communicate with those closest to you about your business, and you just might stumble across some prospective web design clients!

12. Start A Referral Program

Don’t forget about your professional contacts either. Just because you’ve only worked with smaller businesses up until this point doesn’t mean they don’t have high-profile contacts within their space or outside it. Your previous web design clients could very easily be your key to earning more sales in the future— word-of-mouth marketing works wonders! If you deliver great service, then your past projects might be the perfect way to convince other potential clients to work with you.

Plus, once you do start signing up for higher-paying clients, this referral program would be a great way to keep the ball rolling. As you prove your skills to one higher paying client, who knows how many of their peers they’ll send your way? And, then, because you’re offering a bounty or discount in exchange for their patronage and referral, you’ll be able to hold onto their business for longer. It’s a win-win! Who knew it was this easy to get web design clients?

The Final Outcome

If securing high-paying clients is your ultimate goal, then landing your first few big fish will add credibility to your portfolio and certainly boost your confidence. Delivering services for small businesses is one thing, but being able to keep up with the changing progress of a successful organization and increasing its exposure will strengthen your authority and influence in your chosen niche.

Your increased experience and knowledge in this area will assist in generating high-quality leads, higher revenue, and business expansion. While the initial hassle of working with larger clients can sometimes be stressful and time-consuming, hang in there because the long-term benefits will be the defining point of your business success. New web design clients might be tricky to find, but navigating those projects will be the bigger challenge. But, if you deliver strong web design services, then the work will speak for itself!

Share Your Own Tactics With Agency Mavericks

If you’ve had success landing big clients, we’d love to know how you did it. Did you follow some of the strategies mentioned in this article, or do you have a few tips of your own you can share? Here at Agency Mavericks, we're passionate about two things: helping web designers expand their businesses, and creating a community where web developers from all around the world can learn from one another. Share with our digital community about how you have built your ideal client portfolio, or feel free to book a call with our friendly experts. We're ready to discuss your business and offer personalized advice regarding how you could attract higher-paying potential clients.

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Mario Peshev

Mario Peshev is the Founder and WordPress Architect at DevriX. He has been building software solutions for the past 10 years. Mario is a technical trainer at universities and large international corporations, and he is a co-organizer for WordCamp Europe. Being zealous about Open Source and distributed work, he usually spends his days in Coffices.

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