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One of the hardest and scariest parts of freelancing is finding clients. Along with all the work you’re doing, you’ll have to dedicate a good chunk of time toward finding new clients and work opportunities, especially when you’re first starting out. Even a seasoned pro can go through dry spells.
To maintain your success (and sanity) as a freelancer, it’s crucial to go about finding clients the right way so your hard work leads to paying gigs.
How to find freelance clients: 11 pro tips
Whether you’re a first-time freelancer or a full-time pro, check out our list of the 11 best ways to find freelance clients.
1. Maintain an up-to-date portfolio
Keeping an up-to-date portfolio is pretty much a non-negotiable these days, especially for freelance graphic artists, photographers, web designers, writers, other creative professionals. In your freelance portfolio, make sure to,
- Display work samples, case studies, and projects that speak to your skills and abilities.
- Clearly state the services you provide, along with any certifications or relevant trainings.
- Ensure your contact information is easy to locate.
- Showcase positive reviews and testimonials from previous or on-going clients.
If you don’t have an online portfolio, here are a few websites to help you get started:
Finally, make sure to promote your portfolio so potential clients can find it easily. Share it on social media, add it to your LinkedIn profile, link to it in your email signatures, and throw it on your business card. By taking these steps, you can make it easier for clients to find and hire you.
2. Look for work on freelancing websites
As remote work becomes more popular, it’s only natural that the number of freelancing websites continues to grow. Each website comes with its own pros and cons, so look around and choose a site that works best for you and your skillset.
Some of the most popular freelancing websites include:
Freelancers who build up good reputations have the best luck on these sites, so make sure your clients leave reviews after you finish projects.
3. Send emails
Is there a company you’d love to work with or an online magazine that you hope will publish your writing? Track down the right point person and craft a succinct but effective email about how you can contribute your services.
If you’re a freelance writer, for instance, you can craft a pitch for a story with a few working headlines and a description of what the story will be about. Make sure to follow up after a week or so if you don’t hear anything, and don’t be afraid to adjust your pitch if your first idea fell flat.
If you know anyone who has freelanced with this target client before, ask if you can mention their name. Having a personal connection recommend you is a very effective way to get hired.
4. Write useful blog posts
Regularly putting out content is another great way to establish yourself in your industry. Write about topics that are relevant to your field, and demonstrate your expertise and passion. Keep your target client in mind whenever you write.
A photographer, for example, could write a blog post on how good photography drives e-commerce sales. Or a social media specialist could share insight on how to drive traffic to an article via Facebook or Pinterest. Find articles that will catch your target client’s attention and entice them into asking about your services.
5. Attend speaking events
If you’re looking to establish yourself as a leader in your field, look for opportunities to speak at conferences, workshops, or seminars. Not only will you be recognized as a thought leader in your industry, but these gatherings are also a great place to network with potential clients. Alternatively, you could try hosting webinars on your website or Facebook page.
Photographers, for instance, can host a seminar on lighting, graphic designers can host a workshop on designing a memorable logo, web designers can lecture on the differences between web hosting platforms. By providing value upfront, you’ll inspire people to work with you.
6. Promote your services on social media
With 3.48 billion people on social media, you have a nearly limitless world of opportunities online. Make sure all of your social media profiles are up-to-date, cohesive, and reflect the kind of work you’re looking for. Follow these tips to optimize your LinkedIn profile for freelance and remote work.
While the typical social media sites are important (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.), you might also get active on industry-specific social media sites. Here are some of the most common for freelancers:
- Freelance developers: GitHub, Geeklist, Stackoverflow
- Freelance videographers: Vimeo, Movidiam
- Freelance photographers: Flickr, Photo Critique
- Freelance graphic designers: Behance, Dribble
By making yourself known online, you’ll learn from others in your field and connect with new clients.
7. Engage in some offline networking
Connecting with someone face-to-face is different than connecting with people online. Attend events, conferences, local meetups, happy hours, and even work in a co-working space to meet people and make connections. Just make sure no matter where you go, you take your business cards with you!
8. Make the most of online networking, too
There are literally hundreds of ways to connect with people online — and we aren’t just talking about LinkedIn, although that’s an excellent resource for networking. Online conferences and forums are also great ways to e-meet people in your industry and potential clients. You might also try a networking app that sets up meetups with others in your area.
9. Create an online course or eBook
An increasingly popular way to claim your spot as an industry expert is to create an online course or write an eBook. Not only can you establish your expertise, but you can also generate some extra cash and leads on potential clients. Although this project will require a lot of work upfront, it could be worth the returns you get in revenue and clients.
10. Build good relationships with clients so they’ll recommend you through word of mouth
According to data analytics company Nielsen, 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over any other form of advertising, so it’s a given that word of mouth is a tried-and-true method for finding clients as a freelancer.
When you do good work, people will talk about it. Make sure to nurture relationships with your clients, as well as ask them to spread the word about your services or provide a testimonial for your portfolio.
11. Ask friends and family for help
Don’t overlook the power of friends and family – especially if you’re a beginner. Since they know you, they tend to be more willing to take a chance on you or eager to help you gain experience. If they can spread the word among their friends or colleagues, you could get new leads on new projects.
Cast a wide net to find freelance clients
When you’re just starting out as a freelancer, booking clients can take a lot of effort. But once you book some work, gather testimonials, and network with others in your industry, you’ll find that booking clients gets easier and easier.
What’s more, you can get clients to come to you by establishing yourself as a leader in your field, whether by hosting webinars or speaking at conferences. And don’t forget to rely on your network of family and friends.
Finally, remember to clearly demonstrate your value, expertise, and passion for your craft. By building a strong portfolio and providing value upfront in the form of blog posts, Facebook live videos, or another medium, you can entice clients to book your services again and again.
Once you have lots of clients vying for your services, check out this guide on how to hire subcontractors to grow your freelance business.