How to find clients as a freelancer

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.

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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.

1. Recommendations
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.

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