Working as a freelancer can offer you a degree of freedom that working for a company or someone else cannot.
Setting your own time, being your own boss, and setting your work terms and conditions are some of the benefits of freelancing. These benefits can do wonders for your productivity, allowing you to maximize your potential in your chosen field while still making time for hobbies and family.
However, freelancing is not without its challenges. The biggest hurdle when you start out will be determining how to get freelance clients. While this often applies to beginners whose reputation and brand aren’t that well-established yet, many veteran freelancers still experience this challenge up to now, especially after raising their rates or adding a new skill.
My eight tips on how to get freelance clients
Many people think they have to charge dirt cheap to get clients, but this is not the case! Check out the following tips to learn how you can build your client base as a freelancer.
1. Use the power of word of mouth
If you’re only starting out as a freelancer, the best way you can gain your first clients is by getting the word out. Even if you have a stellar resume or portfolio on your hands, people are more likely to trust the recommendations of someone they know, rather than rely on advertisements.
So, start with your own immediate network, recruiting the help of your family and friends to spread the word about your new venture. It will be a slow start, but these people will be able to vouch for you.
Soon, with your amazing performance and their recommendation, you’ll have more clients who can also share the good news about your services.
2. Build your network.
While recruiting your friends and family to promote your new venture can help you when you’re starting out, it can only do so much in the long-run, especially if your network is limited.
Therefore, meeting as many people as you can in your field will help you expand your reach. The larger your network is, the more people they can recommend you to, using their own networks to do so.
I suggest you join groups and participate in conferences to network and learn more skills. Even if you can’t get out and about, there are endless Facebook groups and subreddits. It seems strange, but I often turn to strangers on my favorite groups when I need help instead of posting a job announcement.
Be sure to network with people who offer complementary services. If you are a writer and have a web developer friend, you can refer clients to one another or even team up on projects.
3. Keep an up-to-date portfolio
Of course, portfolios that showcase your skills are crucial to attracting potential clients’ attention. And when I say this, I mean they are non-negotiable if you want to work as a freelancer. People will want to see your work, and not having it readily available comes across as amateur.
Before adding any work to your showcase, be sure you get approval from the client. Many people outsource work to freelancers and do not want others to know. Posting a design or article without your client’s permission is an easy to lose out on business and earn a bad reputation.
Once you become more seasoned, you should build a website that outlines your services and displays your work. Not only will this make you more professional, but a website also allows you to capture search engine traffic. With a fully optimized site, you won’t even need to search how to get freelance clients. Instead, they will be coming to you.
Also, don’t forget to include a link to your portfolio in your freelance resume!
4. Make use of social media
Nowadays, it’s rare to find someone without at least one social media account. It has become so prevalent in our lives that it seems like we can’t live without our smartphones.
With that said, as a freelancer, it would serve you well if you make the most out of social media platforms to promote your brand. Having active social accounts 1) lets you show off your personality, and 2) shows that you are online and engaged with the industry.
Getting on social media will also help you connect with fellow freelancers with whom you can create genuine friendships and who might promote your work on their own pages as well.
5. Put your content out there
Aside from keeping your portfolio readily available, you can also attract potential clients by putting out samples of non-portfolio work. However, this doesn’t mean you should create just any type of content. Make sure it’s relevant to your industry and something that potential clients would like to see.
For example, if you’re a freelance writer, you can create a personal blog that showcases your unique writing style. If you are a designer, you can do trending online challenges, like those on sharpen.design, and share them on your socials.
6. Position yourself as an expert
As you search how to get freelance clients, think about the resources you have turned to. Are they strange sources or industry leaders. For most of us, we seek out advice from professionals who know what they’re talking about.
The same goes for your clients. Why would they hire someone who doesn’t know the ins and outs of their business?
To give yourself a more authoritative tone, you need to be visible on multiple channels. You want your name to appear everywhere. For example, you can publish an eBook, create several YouTube videos, and appear on a podcast.
Multichannel marketing will eventually cause a snowball effect. As you publish more content, more people will want to work with you. As you get more notoriety, other publishers will want to work with you and will start inviting you to do interviews.
Just remember to be consistent during this process and to only speak about what you know. You do not want to come across as a fraud.
7. Create content for others
Creating content and publishing it on others’ platforms as a guest contributor will allow you to showcase your skills and introduce you to more potential clients. Guest posting is a staple among writers who publish articles on other people’s blogs, but you can do this for any skillset.
Here’s how it works: If you make music, you can offer to make intro themes for YouTubers who will then credit you in their descriptions. If you are a photographer, you can post images to royalty-free sites and get your work shown to millions of people. Just think about ways you can offer your work for free that will generate free publicity in return.
If you have a website, guest contributions are excellent for search engine optimization. Each website that links back to yours shows Google that your website is in-demand. This will then lead to higher search engine rankings.
8. Make use of coworking spaces
Coworking spaces are typically large rooms or buildings where business owners and freelancers can work on their respective projects. They are perfect for people, like digital nomads, who want a place to work but cannot commit to a regular office.
Aside from helping you get work done, coworking spaces also allow you to get in touch with fellow freelancers who can give you leads and advice on where to start getting clients.
Also, these spaces add a sense of professionalism to your brand that many of your competitors will lack. When you set up meetings with potential clients, you can meet in a conference room instead of a coffee shop. This aspect is vital if you are attracting clients who are used to traditional business. They may be hesitant to hire a freelancer, and having somewhat of an office will help ease any apprehension.
Being self-employed has its ups and downs. Figuring out how to get freelance clients is a challenge we all face, but it’s not impossible as long as you follow these tips.
Of course, nothing I said matters if you are not creating consistent, high-quality work. When business is slow, sharpen your skills to ensure you are nothing but impressive.
I have been a freelance digital marketer since 2014, specializing in content marketing and editing. My interest in finance and frugal living began while living overseas, inspiring me to start this blog. When I am not helping clients generate more leads or market their services, I explore the world, listen to podcasts, and dream big.