How To Find Clients As A Freelancer
Updated: Nov 7, 2020
You’ve finally done it; you’ve decided to start pursuing Freelance work, whether that be as a side hustle or full-time. It’s an exciting time, and you get all of these amazing ideas. You start to research and BAM! You realise that you’re not sure how to actually land paying clients - or at least the type of clients you want to work with.
I can remember that when I started my Freelance journey, I was full of ideas, optimism, and dread. I had no idea where to start. Subscribe to my blog to get all the answers to all the questions you’ve been asking yourself about just about anything to do with your Freelance adventure.
Do you start a website? Do you use social media to promote yourself? Wait for the clients to find you?
There are obvious flaws to all of these, not least in targeting your ideal client. My usual advice to my clients is to think of the one customer who you consider to be your best. Then aim all of your communications to this person. However, how do you do this if you don’t have a client, to begin with?
Online Job Boards
This one may seem a bit obvious to some, but there is a range of job boards online that are specifically designed to bridge the gap between businesses and Freelancers. Some of these job board websites are for generic Freelancers, so are popular. The following websites can be considered as such:
You’ll also find job board websites that are specific to the industry you work in, such as Copywriters, Web Developers, Accountants, etc.
Just google search “freelance Industry AND job boards”.
Job boards are great to provide invaluable experience and start to develop your website. You’ll be able to practice your proposal writing, completing paid work and build your portfolio. From my experience, these sites are not sustainable for several reasons. But, have a go, keep trying, and you’ll see that it will help you to develop your customer profile and skills in closing on these opportunities.
Get To Know Your Clients
Freelancers will often forgo this step, taking on whatever work that happens to cross paths with them. It’s essential for your business and your mental health that you get a good understanding of your potential customers, their pain points, and what they want. This will help you develop your communication with potential clients.
You could also use this technique to reach out to businesses, find out if they use Freelancers and the qualities they look for. Use this as part of your market research, and to inform all communication strategies directed at your ideal clients.
As time goes on, and you get better at targeting your ideal clients, you’ll also become well-known within their circles - more on developing relationships later.
Create A Website/Portfolio
All Freelance business need to have a website. The website is often the first opportunity for communication with any inbound clients or to showcase your work. Use this to show off to potential clients by talking through your knowledge, the benefits of your services, and samples of your work.
Having a good website is no guarantee, but it’ll certainly help to signpost potential clients to your work.
Make sure you follow SEO practices, such as keyword integration, alt text, and Meta-descriptions. Also, make sure you market your website using the appropriate channels. SEO will also include blog writing (more on that later), or offering value materials that drive traffic to your website.
If you choose to market yourself offline, it’s a good idea to include contact information, website URL and clear Call To Action (CTA). This can include:
All of these print materials can be used when networking at events, distributed to potential clients in your local area, during meetings with prospects that you have pre-arranged.
Another fantastic (and handy) marketing tool to have on your website is any reviews, testimonials and case studies/success stories from previous clients you’ve had. Social Proof helps to speed up the buying process, by removing any doubt about your skills, abilities, services and (most importantly) results!
Go To Where Your Clients Are
There’s more to this step than it sounds. So, earlier I mentioned using social media to find clients, there are several ways to do this. Firstly, you can use your personal accounts (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) to join specific groups of people that you’re trying to target. On all platforms, there are communities (pages) that you can join.
Once you’ve found (and joined) these communities, what’s the first thing you should do?
Create a post, introducing yourself and offering your services? That should get them coming to you, surely?
Well, no, actually.
Spend time reading their posts, commenting, having conversations. Establishing relationships will help build trust. And trust, SELLS. This may take a while, but you’re in this for the long game, and the pay off is definitely worth it.
You’ll see and hear a lot about adding “value”. Now usually, you’re never going to hear more than that. Value is something that helps inform, educate, and creates discussion points for you and your potential clients. It all comes down to the 80/20 rule - 80% of what you put out there should draw people in, 20% should be sales.
Businesses are increasing their usage of social media to stay in contact with customers, with each other, and to draw people in. Use this to your advantage, and you’ll soon build a quality following.
What do I mean, quality?
You can have 100,000 followers on Twitter, but if their interests have nothing to do with your services, you’ll have a hard time getting them to engage and buy from you. Whereas, if you do your research, gain a following of 1000 people that do have a vested interest in your services, your engagement will soar, you’ll reach a lot more people and increase your sales.
Word of Mouth
Linking quite nicely with social media, Word of Mouth is the best way you can land clients. This is done by performing well with your current clients. When someone is happy, they’ll tell at least seven people verbally. With the power of social media, this dramatically increases by the hundreds.
They’ll also go out of their way to tell someone about you and your services. This is because we’re hardwired to let opinions of others to help us make decisions. So when someone asks for advice on one of your services, your clients (and previous ones) will happily recommend you.
The old saying “it’s not what you know, but who you know” is never more true than it is for Freelancers. And by producing good work for one person, can (and will) lead to more clients. Consider this a ripple effect that lands you plenty of opportunities.
Don’t be afraid to ask your clients to make recommendations for you; they are your most powerful marketing tool! You can also get them to fill out reviews for you at the same time.
Networking is more than just talking about you and your business. The word itself is misunderstood by many. It actually means to meet new people and cultivate relationships. When done right, the 80/20 rule will apply.
The strongest way to network is in person:
Find and attend local conferences and networking events - you can find these on Eventbrite and other such websites.
Attend Happy Hours, Coffee Mornings and other less “formal” events.
Meeting face-to-face provides you with the opportunity to make a memorable impression and develop conversations that you won’t get online. Just remember your business card or flyers.
There are opportunities online, such as speed networking, group discussions and meetings happening on video calls. This is a fantastic way to cultivate relationships internationally and provides you with opportunities you would not have otherwise had. One such opportunity is with Explore Protech; they also offer training, advice, and the chance to co-work with some fantastic professionals.
Add Value for Your Target Audience and Beyond
As I’ve already mentioned, you’ll hear a lot about adding value, but never how to implement it.
Well, the point of “value” is that it’s informative, engaging, entertaining and shareable. So one such way to add value is through a blog. You can attach them to any type of website.
You can read more about starting your own blog here, or how to write a winning blog here. It’s essential to understand your target market and their pain points. So following advice further up is crucial to the success of your blog.
There is an art to blog writing, and you must have a clear (written) plan for your content strategy. So make sure you not only just get the formatting right, but also the content itself. Once you complete your post, update it the same day each week (when you can) and share it through social media.
Sharing to your social media pages is just the start. Share it to all of those groups and communities you’ve joined. This is more likely to increase readership. Blogs can benefit you as a Freelancer in several ways:
Drive traffic to your website.
Have the traffic stay on your website for longer - reducing your bounce rate.
Solve your readers’ problems.
Demonstrate your authority in your niche and industry.
Create conversations that build relationships based on the topic.
Once you become proficient in writing articles, start guest blogging. The platforms you guest blog for will create backlinks to your website - another fantastic SEO strategy to let google know who you are and build trust in your brand.
Who Are The Right Clients?
That is the million-dollar question that only you can answer. I can offer some advice on what you should look for, in my last post, I discuss how businesses can hire a Freelancer. In short, your best chance for finding your new client is to find someone who:
Understands the nature of Freelance work
Is easy to communicate with
Sees you as the expert you are
I will be covering this in a future post in more detail.
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