One of the hardest and scariest parts of freelancing is finding new clients. You need clients in order to hit your bottom line, but the question comes into play: where do you find them?
We mentioned it in our last article, but we’ll say it again -- there’s no one right way for finding clients. This might scare you, but don’t let it. It’s actually really exciting! Since there’s no one way for landing clients, you can think outside the box and reach out to people with who you normally wouldn’t think of connecting.
In fact, sometimes looking in the most unconventional places is a great way to find new clients and freelance jobs. To help with your client outreach, we’ve compiled a list of 10 unconventional ways to find clients that work:
- Facebook Groups
- Friends & Family
- Past Bosses & Clients
- Freelancer Newsletters
- Freelance Sites
- Spread the Word
- Other Freelancers
- Inform Potential Clients What Their Competitors are Up To
1. Facebook Groups
These groups are a great place to start! They almost act as unofficial job boards. Other freelancers constantly post about new opportunities (part time & full time), clients looking for a specific skill set, freelance writing opportunities, web design jobs, designer gigs, etc.
Personally, these groups have helped me score several of my clients.
Some of my favorites include:
- 1...2...Freelance: A Community for Creative Freelancers
- Freelancing Females California
- Binders Full of WRITING JOBS
There are so many groups out there, so explore facebook and find which community is right for you!
Start by doing a simple search for “freelancer” in the top search bar and a number of different freelancing groups will pop up. Look through them and join the groups that seem like the best fit for you.
Once you join the group, there’s also the added benefit that you can reach out directly to the poster with more questions about the job or for a personal referral.
We seriously recommend you join these groups now!
I know it seems like I’m on a bit of a social media kick with this article, but the truth is social media is an untapped gold mine when it comes to your freelance business.
If you don’t have a Twitter account, go create one! Twitter is amazing for finding clients and job opportunities. Often, clients or editors will reach out on Twitter looking for freelancers or pitches, like below! You’ll never know about these opportunities if you’re not tuned into the world of social.
Once you join Twitter, do your research. Follow your dream clients and any hashtags that could alert you to new opportunities. Some of my favorites hashtags I follow include #CallforSubmissions, #PitchMe, #WriteforUS, #LookingforWriters, and #GuestBloggers.
Just think, something as simple as following a hashtag could help you find work and land a new gig!
This might not seem like the most unconventional method, but hear me out. Rather than focusing on searching for new opportunities on LinkedIn, use it instead as a way to make connections and enter conversations.
Clients want to work with people they know and like. If you’ve done your target research and narrowed down your list of dream clients, start following them on LinkedIn. If they post a thought piece or even a quick post, comment on it and be a part of their conversation. Try starting a dialogue with them, so they know who you are.
After you’ve cultivated the relationship for a while, feel free to message them asking if they are looking for help with any upcoming projects. It won’t feel like a totally cold reach out, since you’ve already been engaging with them.
Also, make sure you connect with everyone you know on LinkedIn. Your friends or acquaintances will often post that they are looking for freelancers or help with a project, and this is your in!
People want to help other people they already have connections with. LinkedIn is a great tool that can help you build these connections!
4. Friends and Family
We know you’re often told not to do business with close friends or family, but you might want to make an exception this time. If you’re just beginning your freelance career, we encourage you to reach out to your friends and family and see if they need help with anything.
When my cousin was first starting her jewelry business, I helped her manage her social media. It worked out great for both of us! I got more experience and had great social examples to add to my portfolio, and my cousin got to work with someone she knows and trusts.
If you’re a photographer and your family member needs help with her engagement photos. This might be a good place to start. You both already know each other, so the trust and respect are inherently there, and it gives you more experience while also building your resume.
Reach out to all your friends and family members and offer your services. Another plus, is that they love you, and will likely want to help you out!
5. Past Bosses/Clients
We highly recommend you reach out to past bosses or clients if you’re looking for new opportunities. If you maintained a good relationship with them and have continued to foster it over the years, they will usually be more than willing to recommend you to their own network.
Past bosses are also more willing to recommend you because they can vouch for you. They know who you are and what your work ethic is like, so it’s an easy recommendation for them, since they’ve personally worked with you.
Anytime you leave a job or a project with a client finishes up, consider asking them if they know of anyone else looking for assistance. Like we mentioned before, if the two of you are on good terms, they will likely give you that recommendation.
Before you know it, you could have a new client!
6. Freelancer Newsletters
When you first start out freelancing, sign up for as many different freelancer newsletters as you can.
Not only is this a great way to keep tabs on the freelancer community, but many of these newsletters share regular freelance gigs or opportunities. This is a great place for finding new clients!
Some of our favorites include:
If you feel like these newsletters aren’t geared toward your specific type of work, just do a quick google search and you’ll find several results with email lists tailored to you.
7. Freelance Sites
There are several sites geared specifically toward freelancers. These are great places to look for finding gigs, freelance work, new opportunities, or clients; however several of these sites do take a percentage of your income. Do your due diligence, but definitely don’t rule them out!
Some of the most popular include:
Upwork - Great for finding short term gigs and long-term contracts.
Freelancer - Sorts projects into categories including design, media and architecture, sales and marketing, writing and content, and more.
Toptal - Great for experienced freelancers. A rigorous vetting process is required and the site is generally geared toward IT consultants/freelancers.
Fiverr - This is a great platform for creatives that gives you the ability to offer specific services.
Flexjobs - If you’re looking for a remote job, check out this site.
Do your research and find the site that best fits your needs and the field you’re in.
8. Spread the Word
This one is huge when it comes to looking for new clients. Be sure to spread the word that you’re available and looking for new work. Tell anyone you know. And we really mean anyone, your barber, the grocery store clerk, the small business down the street, the person you met in line while getting coffee, or even your mechanic.
Everybody knows somebody, so the more you get the word out, the more likely you’re to find new opportunities and potential clients.
Think of it this way! If you say nothing, no one will know that you’re looking when an opportunity does come up. If you take our advice and spread the word, the second an opportunity comes up in one of your many social circles, you will be the first person people think about.
9. Other Freelancers
Other freelancers aren’t your enemies, they are your friends! And sometimes, they are your best bet for finding new clients. Make new connections wherever you go and find yourself a freelance community. Connecting with other freelancers is one of the main ways I score new clients.
When you freelance, you’re often an expert in a specific niche. If your client is looking for someone to work on something outside of your niche, you’ll likely need to spread your net a little wider and look for other freelancers.
Now if you help a freelancer land a gig with one of your clients, they will be much more likely to recommend you for any gigs that come their way that don’t fall into their specific niche.
I like to think of this as “paying it forward.” It’s worked for me, and it can work for you too!
10. Inform Potential Clients What Their Competitors are Up To
This is definitely one of the more unusual ways to land new clients, but it just might end up working in your favor.
If you have a potential client reach out looking for a specific service, consider reaching out to their competitors to let them know that Client X is looking for that service. This might sound weird, but this is a good way to let the competitors know they might want to consider that service as well, and you happen to offer it!
For example, if Client X reaches out about Content Strategy help, reach out to Client Y & Z, letting them know that Client X is in the market for your services. Remember, you haven’t signed on with any clients yet, these are just prospects, so there’s no harm in this approach.
Think about it like this! Each potential client could actually lead to several new clients if you use this method. The freelance world is competitive, so sometimes a little out of the box thinking is just what you need to land your next client!