Hey guys! Happy Wednesday! Today my friend Lettie is tackling a much-requested topic over here – how to find clients as a freelancer. Freelancing is an amazing way to generate income for yourself (I’ve been doing it for 5+ years now with my blog and blog coaching services: check out my blogging course here) but in order to make any money, you first need to have clients. So here’s how to find freelance clients – the right way. Trust me, Lettie knows her stuff.
Freelancing can take many forms: writing, editing, consulting, producing, and any number of other trades. The world of freelancing is very appealing and is becoming more and more popular as people, often young people, look outside the confines of the 9-5 grind to find fulfilling careers on their own terms.
As a freelancer, you’re your own boss, you set your own hours, and you’re in charge of every single part of your business from scheduling and billing to pitching and editing. You get to choose who you work with, where you set up your office, and how much work you take on in a given period of time.
It’s easy to think freelancing is just a walk in the park and nothing but good times from Monday through Friday, but finding freelance work can be extremely taxing and challenging. In order to succeed, you must take steps to set yourself apart from the competition so clients choose you and sign up for the services you offer. Let’s take a look at a few things you can do to find clients and thrive as a freelancer:
Professionalism is paramount if you want to be a successful freelancer in any field. No one wants to work with a contractor who is late, sloppy, disorganized, or not detail oriented. Perhaps the most professional thing you can do as a freelancer is to make the process easy for your clients from start to finish.
So what does that mean? First of all, give your clients a timeline for the project and then deliver. Don’t be late and miss a deadline or continually push back the delivery date. If the scope of the project changes the timeline, be sure to communicate that clearly to your client to adjust expectations. Clients want to know that you can deliver the product they asked for efficiently and will appreciate you communicating any changes with them upfront.
One place where professionalism often falls through the cracks is in the payment period. Sending a professional, clear, and detailed invoice along with the finished product you’re delivering is a great way to make a good impression on a client. Use an e-billing service to make it easy and efficient to both request funds and receive payments.
You should do everything in your power to ensure your client has a positive experience working with you. One of the best marketing tools is word of mouth, and a client is more likely to recommend you if you were professional, on time with deliverables, and able to make things easy on their end.
Market Yourself Well
As a freelancer, you are essentially a business, whether you like it or not. And businesses must market themselves. No one will want to hire you if a) they can’t find you or b) they don’t know anything about you and your work — or worse, if they find your website and it’s riddled with errors, grainy images, and low-quality examples of your work.
Great marketing ideas for small businesses include having a high quality website, a social media marketing strategy, a solid portfolio, and playing along with SEO standards. When you pitch a client, they’re going to want to know why you’re the best person for the job. If you have a polished portfolio and presence to share with them, your future client will know they can trust you to do a great job for them.
Marketing and self-promotion are just part of the freelancing game. In a sea of freelancers competing for clients, the way you market yourself could be the difference between the client choosing you over your competition. The sooner you get on board with a solid marketing plan, the better your chances of finding quality clients will be.
One of the keys to becoming a full-time freelanceris to be persistent. It’s not enough to pitch a prospective client once; you should follow up at least twice to check in and see if they’ve received and reviewed your message. Creating a follow-up template is a good way to automate the process and make it easier for yourself.
You also must be persistent with outreach and pitching in general. Set a daily or weekly goal for yourself of a number of pitches you will send out. Maybe it’s five per day or 10 per week. Choose any metric scaled to your needs and make sure you meet your goal each week.
Eventually, you’ll have clients coming to you for work and this won’t be quite so important, but being persistent about outreach and following up is key to finding success as a freelancer.
Getting personal may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of professionalism and finding clients, but a personal touch is just what you need to set yourself apart from your competition.
When pitching a prospective client, always address them by name. Be sure to thoroughly read their website and bio and see if you can find a personal detail to relate to. Perhaps your future client grew up in New Hampshire and you also spent time living there as a kid. Mention that! Try to relate to the person you’re pitching so that they remember you and see you as a friendly person who could be fun to work with.
Editors and people who run companies likely have their inboxes flooded every single day. Keep this in mind when writing your pitches. What can you say to make them excited to read your message? What sets you apart from other people writing to them and offering services? You might find that a genuine personal touch in your message gives it just what it needs to thrive.
The world of freelancing can be extremely fun and rewarding. With professionalism, marketing, persistence, and a personal touch, you will be on your way to finding enough quality clients to make you freelancing dreams a reality.
Lettie Stratton is a writer and urban farmer in Boise, ID. A Vermont native, she is a lover of travel, tea, bicycles, plants, cooperative board games, women’s basketball, and the outdoors. She’s still waiting for a letter from Hogwarts.