So you’ve decided to branch out and take freelancing seriously.
Whether it’s your sole business, or a side job to supplement your income, freelancing is very rewarding and challenging. It can also be a little terrifying when you realize you have no idea how to find your first clients!
But fear not; others have stumbled upon their first clients in the past and you will too. It just takes a little bit of know-how to get you started. Here are four ways freelancers can land great clients:
1. Tell Everyone You Know
New service providers, especially in creative fields, often have a little problem with self-promotion.
It’s much easier for the introverted creative type to go online and look for work rather than calling up her former boss, her uncle and her landlady and telling them she put out her small business shingle. But telling everyone you know is absolutely the first thing you should do when you’ve decided to take on clients.
These people already know you and how great you are, and word of mouth is one of the most trusted ways that people find service providers. You will be surprised how many people you know will say something like, “Oh! I always needed your service, but I had no idea who to ask!”
2. Connect With Others Like You
Why in the world would you want to partner up with your competitors?
It sounds like strange advice, but there’s a lot of wisdom here. Others in your industry have been around for a long time and know what’s up. They are likely to have a lead or two that they don’t have time to handle, or can at least give you a referral if anything comes up.
You also don’t necessarily need to partner up with direct competitors. For example, if you’re a freelance graphic designer, talk with other creative designers as well as professional printers, web developers or even freelance writers. These are all related fields and clients often cross paths. A writer could need help with a graphic for a client’s blog post, for instance.
3. Start Doing It
There’s no reason to mince words: starting out can be a little rough. You want money, but nobody will give you money for your services without any experience.
As a result, you may have to just start doing whatever it is you do, potentially for free. (Caveat: make sure this is something you are passionate about, otherwise why do it for free?)
If you’re a freelance writer, start writing about subjects you’re interested in and submitting them to relevant blogs. Make sure to have a good bio for yourself and include the fact you’re a “freelance writer.”
If the content is good, people will visit your site or email you to make more content. Eventually you’ll gain some repeat customers – just make sure they have somewhere to go. Speaking of which…
4. Have a Website
You would not believe how much more work you’ll get if you put up even a super simple website.
Make sure it looks good and contains keywords pertaining to your industry so clients can find you when they search. Just doing this will not only put you in the sights of customers but also above your competition.
Everywhere you go (both online and offline), include links to your website. You want as much exposure as possible, especially if you meet someone who may use your business in the future.
One great tip is that whenever you complete an assignment, ask clients to give you a short recommendation. It may even be worth it to do some free work just to get these recommendations as they go a long way in establishing authority with the public. After some time you won’t need them as you’ll have a strong customer base.
Check out this article for even more tips.
How did you find your first client? Share your experience and tips with us in the comments.