You’ve made the leap and decided to follow your passion by launching a freelance business, but are you discouraged by the task of finding clients? It can be overwhelming if you’re not sure where to start. Or perhaps you’re a seasoned freelancer but you’re experiencing a dry spell? Read our complete guide below for advice on generating leads and finding clients.
If you’re a new freelancer, you want to be sure that you’ve established the foundation of your business first. Make sure you have a clear vision for your business and who your ideal clients are. You also should have a website, portfolio, and rates determined. If you’re still working on these basics, read more on getting started, building a website, and setting your rates.
So, let’s dive in. What are the best ways to find clients?
Utilize Your Current Network
The best place you can start is with people you already know. Friends, family, former colleagues, or co-workers. Even people from your past that you may have lost touch with. Start getting the word out there, you never know who will refer your services to a potential client or who may need your expertise.
It may be a little nerve-racking at first and feel like cringy self-promotion, but you’ll be surprised at how supportive people will be. Family and friends are usually your biggest advocates so they’ll want to help.
Another effective marketing method is creating content. There are several ways you can do this.
On your website, start a blog. Blogging is a great long term marketing strategy. Over time, blogs build momentum for your business by capturing keyword searches that will help you rise to the top of search engines with effective SEO optimized copy. Think about subjects that your target audience and ideal clients care about and create content with them in mind. Share blog posts across social media platforms to broaden your reach.
Along with blogging other valuable content to add to your website are case studies. Once you’ve accumulated success stories from clients and collect data that shows how your services benefited them, feature those results in case studies. It’s a great way to show potential clients that your services work.
Another content strategy you can implement is to create content for others in your industry. Write guest articles or partner with other freelancers and create social media content. Depending on your industry and area of expertise you can create infographics, illustrations, videos, or images.
Freelance Job Boards
A popular method independent workers use to find work is job boards. There are many job boards out there specifically for freelancers. Some of the most commonly used are Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer, and Guru.
The upside about job boards is that they are large platforms with a lot of traffic and resources, which means that there are a lot of great opportunities. Many also help with contracts and payments to simplify some of the logistics with clients. Since these job boards focus on providing reliable services and have fraud checks in place, you know the clients will be credible.
The downside is that there is a lot of competition because of how popular these resources are. Sifting through a sea of opportunities can also be a time-consuming process. You’ll be required to give a percentage of your earnings or will need to pay a membership fee, which should be considered when you’re pricing your work.
Job boards are a good resource for those who are new freelancers and need to continue building their portfolios. Or for those who are more experienced but are in a dry spell and need some extra work.
Social media tools are great resources for building relationships and finding clients.
Facebook has countless professional groups. Find groups that your ideals clients are members of and be active in the group by answering questions and offering helpful advice. There are also many groups specifically for freelancers where you can connect with others, build relationships, and learn about job opportunities.
LinkedIn is first and foremost a professional network. It’s another great spot where you can connect with people in your industry and potential clients. If you remain active and post quality content regularly you’ll show up in your leads' newsfeeds and they’ll contact you about potential work.
Instagram is a great resource for freelancers that work in visual industries. Connect with people in your industry, share updates on projects or examples of your completed work. A well-designed IG account is another great way to tell your story and showcase your brand.
Twitter is a good social media resource that is often overlooked by freelancers. You can not only use Twitter to promote your brand but also use it more effectively by posting content that interests your audience. You’ll then get engagement from potential clients which can lead to job opportunities.
Networking Events and Communities
While it may seem impossible to attend networking events these days while everyone is forced to operate more remotely. Many events that have been held in person normally, are offering remote events and webinars. Check out the Freelancers Union Spark Events and Digital Summit Conferences for more information on some digital events for freelancers.
Engaging with freelance communities and other freelancers is also a great way to network. When more people return to working in office environments, also consider joining a coworking space where you can meet other freelancers, network, build relationships, and pave the way for opportunities.
Perhaps the most traditional method of searching for clients is cold emailing. Essentially cold emailing is targeting businesses that you want to work for and pitching your services.
Some important cold email tips to keep in mind:
- Create a template, but personalize each email. The more personalized and targeted your email is, the more likely you are to get a response.
- Describe why this client could benefit from your services. Speak to their pain points and explain how you can solve their problems.
- Cold emailing is often a numbers game and you shouldn’t expect a response to every email
Whichever of the above methods you use, the key is to target clients who can provide you with regular work, so you’re not constantly on the hunt for jobs. Even small projects can turn into larger or more regular projects later down the line. Once you have a solid client base and have built good relationships, you’ll even get referrals from existing clients.
Our advice is to try multiple avenues and see what works best for you. You don’t need to try every single outlet on this list, but the more you try the more opportunities that you open yourself up to.