When it comes to starting a freelancing business, your clients are everything. But finding your first freelance client is often the major struggle for a newcomer.
I first started freelancing on the side of a job and used a variety of techniques to find clients. Of course, some were much better than others – and some I still use regularly.
Let’s face it, leaving your full-time job can be really scary, but these tips can help you to find your first clients without spending hours stressing out and browsing through low-quality and low-paying freelance job boards.
Related reading: 4 Ways to Boost Your Chances of Getting Repeat Freelance Business
1. Start with your network
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”.
When I first started freelancing, I was lucky enough to find my first gig among friends and family. Fortunately, it came naturally as I was very much into the client’s industry (I love fashion!) and I didn’t mind getting paid much less than the regular freelance gig. The job was taking about 1 hour per day, I had a really great time and I was very flexible with my schedule.
I always think that all the work (paid / unpaid) is benefiting you eventually in the long run. Whilst this isn’t a way for everyone but I do recommend getting that first experience for less money. There are also certain circumstances when free work can greatly help your business in the long run 😉
If you’re not comfortable asking your current boss, colleagues, friends or family for referrals, you might feel a bit stuck. However, I’m sure that there are a few people on your Facebook list that own a website or work for a company in your niche, so start promoting yourself to people that you already know.
2. Your Blog
Your own blog is a fantastic way to attract your first freelance client.
Along with providing people with an instant online portfolio in your niche to show that you are an expert, it proves to people that you love what you doing (by writing about it) and understand the importance of content, self-promotion, and blogging.
Starting your blog doesn’t have to be complicated. You can set up a free website or buy a self-hosted domain and use it as a platform to get your name out there. You can also start with only Facebook / Instagram page and grow into the website later.
It’s also a good idea to start thinking about the SEO value that your blog is adding to your website as a whole. With more indexed pages and more opportunity to use your keywords, blogging can help to improve the organic ranking of your site; a technique that can bring natural visitors to your site without manually searching for them!
3. Job Boards
Reputable job boards have been a great way for me to find new clients.
Most job boards post great quality gigs that pay well and as a beginner. Here are a few sites that I recommend:
For marketing specialists:
Want more? Check out our ultimate guide Best Websites for Finding Remote Work.
In your email: always include links to previous work, brief description explaining why you are perfect for the job, along with how you can help the company.
P.S. You’ll get bonus points if you can suggest a few examples (relevant to your niche, like a content plan, article, social media account) that would suit the client – it shows that you’ve done your research and are ready to bring ideas to the table! =)
4. Social Media Star
In order to attract your first freelance client, you’ll want to think about establishing some sort of social media presence. For me, the most successful (in terms of new clients) are Instagram and Facebook, for others Twitter and LinkedIn.
To seriously boost your Instagram game from the very start, definitely, check out this post – 7 Most Useful Instagram Tips. And don’t forget that you absolutely don’t have to set up and create all the social media graphics yourself. I am happily sharing with you this awesome and beautiful Canva Social Media Templates which I have downloaded and used for my clients. They are a life-saver and very feminine!
Secondly, if you are a Pinterest guru, it is a great idea to showcase your professional Pinterest account, e-book or a free downloadable guide. If you are a Facebook star, set up your own business page and/or relevant group, fill with professional content and then promote.
You have to shiow your skills and knowledge in action because it does give you an advantage.
5. Cold Emailing
Most people get really anxious about emailing that dream company or person associated with your dream job. But cold emailing does really work from my experience.
Follow these tips to help make the pitch more successful:
- Interact with people before you cold-pitch (i.e. through social media).
- Do your homework and personalize your email for more chance of a response.
- Suggest ideas and way of how you can help to give them an indication that you’ve taken the time to research their business before writing them an email.
6. Guest Posts
I can not stress enough the advantages of guest posting. As long as the website provides you with some kind of benefit, even if it isn’t monetarily, I am always all for it.
It drives traffic to your website and social media, you build connections with the experts in your niche and the fact that you are published on other websites does mean a lot to your future clients.
What technique did you use to attract your first freelance clients? Let us know in the comments.