Your decision is made: you want to become a freelancer, so I am not going to give reasons to follow this path or not, I will not show you how to write a compelling email, nor will I give you different utopic ideas on how to become rich as a freelancer. I’ll just share with you my top 3 ways to find clients after trying lots of ways and coming down to this short list.
Lately I heard this question more often than I used to. Maybe more and more people want to become freelancers or maybe they are just curious. Whatever the reason, it made me decide to share my experience with the ones who need advices and directions on how to find clients when you choose the rocky road.
Yes, it’s hard(er) to find work when you are a freelancer. Being used to having all the clients brought to you by your employer, now you are facing the harsh reality of being on your own. It’s not that you aren’t good at what you do; you might be the best, but since nobody knows about you, it’s not easy to prove it.
When I became a freelancer I read a lot of articles on this subject and some of them helped while others… were there just to make the article look bigger, I guess. So, I won’t bore you with long lists. Instead, let’s see what have worked for me so far.
I am not a big fan of the saying “good things come to those who wait”. I think it’s a big mistake. Good things will come to you only if you do something about it; you take action and make things happen. In this particular case, it’s a mix of the two. Most of my clients came through recommendations – ex-colleagues who knew my work, friends, ex-collaborators and later on, ex-clients (the project based ones).
I know; you’ll say that people will get to know your work later on, but what do you do in your first week as a freelancer, cause you have no background. True and false at the same time. You have no experience as a freelancer, but you definitely had a job before, had collaborators and people who know what you are capable of. So, in the first days, you could just concentrate on calling people you know and drop the bomb: I’m a freelancer now, I have decided to take it on my own, I am confident and I am open to new contracts. In case you need my services, you know where to find me. Simple as that.
I have to admit that every time someone comes to me and says that X recommended me, I have an overwhelming feeling; it’s more than just the money that will come and it’s beyond the pleasure and excitement of working on a new project (I have that thrill all the time); it’s the recognition that I made a client happy and he’s willing to recommend my work to his friends, colleagues or business partners. It’s a big thing and I totally understand it and appreciate it.
This is not a joke. I know you heard of someone who knew someone who got a job or a client through Linkedin without even meeting the person before. Well, I am that person. I was amazed when that happened, but it did.
Most of all because, you know how a doctor always has a health problem but he doesn’t have time to heal himself because he is busy helping the others? This was (and still is sometimes) my situation with my personal Social Media accounts; I take care of my clients’ (and I truly love doing that) but it leaves me no time to properly work on mine. So, that’s why I was even more surprised when someone contacted me through Linkedin. And it happened again and again. Moreover, there weren’t just courtesy emails, I actually signed contracts with them and we still work together.
Thus, don’t underestimate the power of social networks. Promote yourself and your services on a platform that enhances the job opportunities and leverages your chances. Join relevant groups and be active, create a relationship with people who might need your services and take advantage of the fact that distance is no longer a problem. Most freelance jobs can be done without ever meeting your client in person. If this is your situation, take advantage of this opportunity and widen your horizon. Instead of your former Linkedin title, write Freelance XYZ – looking for new opportunities. Potential business partners and Talent Recruiters will find you easier.
Write articles (just like this one) on the subject you know so well and let everyone know what’s your expertise. Although you might be thirsty for new projects, don’t just throw yourself and accept first contract that comes to you.
Be careful, skeptical, but always open to new opportunities because you never know where your next amazing client is hiding.
3. Events & meetups
You might not be the most sociable person and maybe you don’t like interacting with new people, but you have to remember that now you are not only a SEO expert, a Copywriter or an Art Director, now you are your own Sales person – the one who has to bring in clients. So leave your insecurities home, grab a dose of confidence and mingle, go talk to people and show them how you can help grow their business.
These are my top 3 ways to get new clients as a freelancer that have actually worked and I truly hope these tips will help you. If you wish to read more about my experience and advices, let me know in the comments and I’ll share other tips with you.