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Find your first freelance client

August 13, 2020

How do you get clients as a freelancer?

A question most, if not all, of us ask in the beginning. For some it might seem so daunting that their freelancing career might never get started. However, as we will see in this article, the steps recommended by successful freelancers are actually easy to perform and the task seems more difficult than it is.

Build and maintain a website

Having your own website acts as the modern day freelancer equivalent to a shop’s storefront and a restaurant displaying its menu at the entrance. In these traditional cases the goal is to grasp the customer’s attention by giving them an impression of what you have to offer, the quality of your product and the price of your service. However, in your case the customer’s goal is not to have a nice meal or to buy new clothes, but there is still one connection between those businesses and yours. Ultimately the customer wants a problem to be solved by you. It is therefore crucial to show that you can solve problems on your website, since that is what your customers ultimately care about. There are several aspects you should focus on to present this to your potential clients:

  • The website should be nice looking. While especially true if your service includes designing or building websites, a sloppy website gives clients the feeling that you do not care about details and quality.
  • Your website should include a portfolio. A potential client wants to get a feel for the results that can be expected from you and wants to know whether you are able to deliver what he needs. By displaying your previous work in a portfolio, you show what you are able to deliver.
  • Maintain a Blog on your website. Although not always strictly necessary, a blog can yield great benefits. Well maintained blog posts show your clients that you are able to communicate clearly, that you possess expertise in the field and that you’re active and reliable. An additional benefit of a blog is that it helps with your ranking on Google, because people could discover your website via blog posts.
  • Put what you offer into packages with prices. Even if the quality of your services are compelling to a client, people want to know early what they need to pay and what is included in the price. Requiring a customer to contact you and to start haggling, while he doesn’t even know whether he wants to hire you, will turn many people away.

Lean on Your Network

Tell everybody you know, that you’re actively looking for new clients and which services you offer. In some cases this might not appear very promising. Even if your acquaintance is not directly connected to the kind of service you offer, they might know somebody who would benefit from your work or one day, when the opportunity arises they will think of you and might refer you. Despite a possibly low chance of finding a client immediately with this method, there is a huge return on investment. Telling your friends and announcing your freelancing career on facebook takes only very little effort, but any connection made via this channel is very strong because of the personal referral.

You might also want to make sure that you update your LinkedIn profile, because recruiters often look for freelancers on LinkedIn. Upload good profile picture, set your status to “open to new opportunities” and update your career objective and skill summary.

Network

Your success largely depends on your connections. Therefore, networking is crucial.

On one hand you should look for freelancer groups and meetups in your area. Being connected to other freelancers is extremely helpful. You can share experiences with them and ask them for advice on how they got started. If you are lucky you might even find a mentor. Networks of freelancers are often a great source for work, because freelancers who got it figured out turn away a lot of work. If you have developed a real relationship and are trustworthy, they will let those clients know that you’re available.

On the other hand you want to network with business owners and potential clients. Being an active member in the communities of your niche builds a lot of trust.

Get Deep Into Your Niche

There are many arguments for getting deep into your niche. People want to hire people and you want to appear helpful, trustworthy and knowledgeable in the niche you are serving. To achieve this and to get a better understanding of your clients you want to hang out at local meetups, facebook groups, twitter and nice-specific platforms. Your goal is not to be salesy, but to build real relationships and to get a better understanding of your customers, their needs and the field. Be interested in what they really care about. If you become a helpful part of the community, other members will trust you and will be very likely to hire you.


A blog by Manue Kruisz a Freelance Software Developer based in Vienna

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