You’re probably sitting there wondering how to find clients as a freelancer. Be warned, finding that first client is an arduous process. The first step is usually the hardest, especially when you have no reputation or credibility.
Not to mention that clients tend to systematically avoid fresh freelancers, regardless of the freelancer’s skillset; the reason being that the Internet often leads to distrust and apprehension. People cannot instantly trust someone they’ve met online.
Consider, for a second, what this last statement implies. You are new to the market and you don’t have anyone to turn to. Employers that you don’t have previous experience with are going to fear you. So, you may eventually find yourself facing a dead end. Instead of losing hope, you should turn your attention to the following 5 innovative ways of how to find clients as a freelancer.
1) Get in touch with every connection
Even the absolute worst freelancer in the world has more contacts than they could possibly use. Assuming you don’t make it a habit to alienate everyone you meet, you should be able to find someone in your life that can refer you to a potential employer.
If you have ever heard of the six degrees of separation, you’ll know that in theory, you are six steps away from any other person out there. With these odds in mind, the chances are that your very own mother, father, sister, cousin or local shop owner will know someone that wants to hire you.
It’s clear as day that the odds of finding a potential client are very high. Besides, you’re not looking for the job of a lifetime; you’re looking for a single reference, meaning that any connection will do. The real challenge is convincing yourself to get out there and actually ask around.
Admittedly, a lot of people feel as if asking for referrals is tantamount to begging for money, but that is not true. All it takes is patience and persistence and you will find yourself negotiating a project with a prospective client in no time. Networking is a great way of finding freelance clients.
2) Lower your expectations
A lot of freelancers screw themselves over by being too idealistic. For some reason, a lot of new freelancers have a vision of the perfect first client. Or, they spend time debating about which freelance website is the best. There is money and there is work. If you can do the work, and the rate is good, you have found a good employer. But, how does this help towards actually finding an employer to begin with?
Consider the fact that most of the world is online these days. There are hundreds of millions of websites in existence and quite a large portion of them are commercially successful. Instead of scouting for a particular job, why not scout for a job position?
If you are a proficient writer, send a message to every single online publication that you enjoy reading, and explain your motives for sending that email.
Granted, most of these publications will reply with a canned rejection message that leaves no further room for negotiation, but you only need to get lucky once.
That’s the point of lowering your expectations. You need to expose yourself to opportunities that are highly unlikely to occur. If you stick your neck out towards every potential opportunity, you have a good chance of eventually striking gold. And yet, if you keep drawing blanks every time you try, you should consider refreshing your profile and making it visually attractive to potential clients.
3) Take freelance courses
Any skill that you add to your profile makes finding employers a whole lot easier. Whenever you use an online work portal to find a job, the user profile is your employer bait. And as you may have heard before, adding a bunch of certificates, skills and accreditations to your profile isn’t primarily about proving that you’re skilled.
The main thing you’re trying to accomplish is to show and demonstrate that you are serious about freelancing. It helps you stand out from the flock of casual freelancers that would otherwise take your place.
Taking freelance courses is another thing you may want to consider, as they can teach you all the tips and tricks that make a successful freelancer. Not only that, but freelance courses tend to provide you with referrals as part of the coursework as well.
If anything, these courses instruct you on how to find connections in the first place. What this means is that if those who teach you are happy with your efforts, they would be more than willing to recommend you to potential employers.
4) Embrace local marketing
Most online freelancers fail to utilize offline marketing in their business, and in fact most would never think of the offline world as a lead generator. However, this resistance to offline marketing probably comes from falsely associating it with expensive newspaper advertising or TV ads.
This is an incomplete and rather superficial view of offline marketing however. Sometimes offline marketing can actually be cheaper than online marketing. This is especially true when you know how to utilize self-promotion within your local community.
To fully utilize your local potential, consider these 5 things
1) Posting flyers and ads in popular places
3) Taking participation in various community events
2) Networking with professionals
4) Hosting local events of your own
5) Becoming the local connector
Don’t hesitate to connect and introduce people to each other and refer business to other professionals. Giving selflessly will build up your local reputation and pay off in the long run.
Do everything you can to become a popular figure in your community and use the home field advantage. It might be a slow long-term strategy, but it will pay off more than you can imagine.
6) Document your thoughts and skills online
The majority of freelancers get into blogging because they feel as if they are forced to do it. That often leads to frustration and sooner or later, freelancers stop posting blog updates altogether. What most of these freelancers don’t realize, however, is that blogs can serve as a powerful marketing tool that attracts a lot of clients in the long run.
So, why not start a blog? Just write articles documenting your thoughts. Put another way, just pull your skills and accomplishments into one spot for the world to see. More often than not, employers will take to the Internet in search of a freelancer who can get the job done.
You can be one of the many freelancers that employers find online. It’s never too late to present yourself. Once you are noticed by an employer who might be interested in your skills, value that connection and cherish it. You never know where it might lead you.
If you’ve been paying close attention to this article from the start, you surely realize by now that it all comes down to finding clients who will do business with you.
So, the least you can do is make sure that your blog leaves a good first impression. In most cases, the first impression can make the difference between clients choosing you and avoiding you at all costs.