Freelancing is becoming more and more popular. Indeed, who doesn’t want to be paid for what they do best, to be their own boss, to be able to manage their own working hours and to cooperate only with the clients of their choice? But getting a contract, when you are a freelancer, is sometimes difficult. You need to spend some time to develop a strategy to start your freelance career. In this article, we reveal the 5 steps you need to take to find clients as a freelancer.
What are the steps to find your first clients as a freelancer? The 5 steps are :
- Identify your most profitable skills and your ideal client.
- Build a portfolio and professional social media profiles.
- Give freelance job platforms a shot.
- Pitch your potential clients.
- Create a network of contacts.
1. Identify your skills and your ideal client
Your skills and positioning
You have a list of skills on your resume, but they are just terms to promote your freelance services. Do your best to identify what you can do with these skills for a client.
For example, you are a graphic designer. Decide how you will use this skill: Will you create beautiful illustrations for websites? Are you going to do photo retouching? Or maybe you want to create illustrations for comics or posters?
Or, you’re a digital marketer. What exactly do you do for brands? Marketing strategy, SEO, advertising consulting and lead generation – all of these services can be yours. The more specific you are, the better.
Your ideal customer
When you’re a newbie freelancer, the temptation to offer your services to everyone is great. However, this is a losing tactic. Instead, you need to do some research and see who needs your services. This helps you look for clients in the right places and address those who are most relevant.
Here’s how to identify your ideal client:
- Define your target: who are the people who need your services the most? What are their characteristics (age, gender, profession, location, project, etc.)?
- Study the market: what are the trends in the sector in which you operate? Who are your competitors and how are they addressing their customers?
- Analyze your current customers: who are they? What are their needs and expectations?
2. Start building a portfolio and social media profiles
Once you’ve chosen your niche and target customers, it’s time to organize your online presence so they see that you’re a professional worthy of their trust. To do this, you need a presentation website and accounts on platforms like LinkedIn™.
A portfolio website should showcase your services so that clients understand how well you do what you offer. Place your work samples, e mails, testimonials and recommendations from your former colleagues, and blog posts about your niche to establish your credibility.
Your presence on social networks
In addition to a website, you can also focus on your social media presence. This helps you connect with potential customers and increase your chances of getting an offer.
LinkedIn™ is a must-have professional social network for finding new clients for free. Here are some tips on how to get the most out of it:
- Create a complete profile that reflects your expertise and personality. Don’t forget to add a quality photo.
- Reinforce your credentials by creating a professional LinkedIn™ banner.
- Fill out all sections of your profile well by adding keywords and your expertise.
- Join relevant groups and participate in discussions. This allows you to meet new people and gain exposure in your field of expertise.
- Share and create interesting and quality content on your profile and on the groups you belong to. This is an effective way to get lots of views with the goal of showing your experience.
- Use the features of LinkedIn™ to search for potential clients based on their location, area of expertise and industry. And, add them to your network by sending them a personalized invitation.
- Don’t be afraid to ask your current clients and business contacts to recommend you on LinkedIn™.
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3. Give freelancing platforms a chance
In addition to your website and professional LinkedIn™ profile, consider signing up for sites like Upwork, Toptal or Fiverr. These are freelancing ecosystems where brands post their orders, and freelance specialists bid to do the work.
You don’t have to sign up for every freelance site: the trick is to choose a platform that matches your services. Fiverr is more about digital marketing; Flexjobs and Upwork are for content writers and programmers; Behance or 99designs welcome graphic and web designers.
4. Pitch your potential clients.
Be active. Don’t sit around waiting for your first offer: pitch your services to potential clients on freelance platforms or via LinkedIn™. Let them know that you are a good fit for their needs and that you are ready to do the work. You can send them prospecting messages.
Being a freelancer is all about online visibility and skills in presenting your offerings or services. Make sure you work on both aspects and advertise your services as best you can.
5. Network, network, network!
Advertising is great, but people work with people, right? Don’t neglect networking with other freelancers in your niche or with specialists from companies potentially interested in your services.
Communicate, comment on others’ publications, tag colleagues who might be a good fit for certain projects, etc. They will recommend you when the time comes. They will recommend you when the time comes: this is how networking works, and this is why it is so important!
Finding clients as a freelancer, to conclude
Freelancing is not a passive income. Those who want to join this niche and get paid for specific services need to understand that it takes time, energy and other resources to get your first freelance assignment, and then to build your reputation as a competent specialist who deserves money and trust from clients.
What can you do to succeed?
Here are the 5 steps to get your first assignment :
- Decide what exactly you want to do as a freelancer and who might need your online services.
- Start working on your portfolio and create a professional profile on LinkedIn™.
- Register on relevant freelance sites and create your profiles there so that clients will want to hire you.
- Don’t just sit back and wait for the first offer: be active and offer your services to potential clients.
- Communicate with people in your niche: networking is a rule, and someone you know may recommend your services to their audience.
Finding freelance clients, to summarize in 5 questions
How to find customers for free?
There are many ways to find customers for free for your business. You don’t need to spend money on advertising. The secret to getting your first assignments lies in your network and your own expertise.
Use social networks, participate in professional events, register on specialized platforms and network. Don’t forget that word-of-mouth is still an effective way to find new freelance clients. Encourage your current clients to tell their friends and family about your company.
Where to offer your freelance services?
If you are a freelancer, there are many places to offer your services:
- Freelancing platforms. There are many online platforms, such as Malt, Upwork, Freelancer or Fiverr, that connect freelancers and clients. These platforms allow you to find assignment listings and apply online.
- Social media like Twitter and LinkedIn™. Feel free to share interesting content on your profile and interact with other professionals.
- Classified or job boards like Leboncoin or Vivastreet. You can post an ad to offer your freelance services.
- Local professional networks to meet the actors around you.
How to find your first freelance assignment?
The 5 steps to finding your first freelance assignment are:
- Clarify your positioning and your ideal client.
- Optimize your profiles on social networks to highlight your expertise.
- Register on freelance platforms.
- Pitch your potential clients.
- Develop your network of contacts.
What is the rate for a freelancer?
A freelancer’s rate depends on several factors, such as the level of expertise, the field of activity, the competition and the time needed to complete the assignment. It is generally recommended that you set your fee based on your experience, the value you add to the client and the time needed to complete the assignment. The idea is to cover all your costs and to pay you enough to live from your activity.
What is freelancing?
Simply put, freelancing is offering your skills in exchange for a fee. You know what a person or company needs, and they hire you to help them solve their problem. The areas most in demand by freelance specialists are web design, writing, programming, communication, content creation and digital marketing.
What is essential to understand about freelancing: It is not the equivalent of remote work! Freelancing is about independent specialists working for themselves, while remote work involves formal employment with a particular company.
This type of self-employment is both an advantage and a disadvantage:
You do the work alone. When you are self-employed, you make the effort to build your reputation, find clients, promote your services, control the financial details (invoices, taxes, etc.) and deliver on your contracts.