Almost just as difficult as answering the question of “What kind of freelance services should I offer” is the question of “Where do you find freelance clients anyway?”
If you find yourself scratching your head trying to answer that question, you’re not alone, my friend.
Because I know you need a little bit of help, I walk you through some tried-and-tested steps I’ve taken to find freelance clients from scratch.
Read the Whole Series
Where to Find Clients
First up: where to find freelance clients. You’ll need to know where your clients are hanging out, so here are some places you may or may not have thought to check yet.
Post on social media
Social media’s not just for getting lost in a sea of cute dog and cat videos, yo!
Your next client might very well be among your existing social network, and you just don’t know it yet. And I know: it’s uber scary to just put yourself out there in front of friends and family creeping on your profile. So here are some ways you can use social media to attract that next client.
Use Facebook groups
In case you want to just dip your feet in the water before going all-in on your public wall, getting on Facebook groups can be a great first step.
Think about the kind of people your potential clients are. Are they busy mom bloggers in need of a virtual assistant? Dog lovers who’ll pro photos of their dogs taken?
Important note: Don’t go into groups for fellow freelancers in your niche. Chances are they won’t need what you’re offering. Unless, of course, you’re offering something useful for fellow freelancers different from what they’re putting out.
You might need to check the rules on these groups before you go shamelessly self-promote. For a personal touch, send a private message to the group’s creators or admins to get their permission to share your services. (You never know what happens unless you ask!)
Use this swipe file!
Ready to go share your services outside Facebook groups and to your actual network? To help you out, I’ve got this handy swipe file for you. Just replace the words inside the brackets, and you’re good to go.
I’m offering your service ! If you’re mention your desired client or their need, e.g. “a small shop owner” or “in need of personalized wedding invitations” , or know anyone who needs my help, I’d love if you could send me a PM. Here are some samples of my work:
Ask for referrals through your personal network
Your family and friends could be a goldmine for potential clients, and you might not know it unless you ask!
Bring up the subject with some aunts and uncles, college friends, or old co-workers. Who knows? You might be surprised by how many people say, “Wow, you’re exactly the kind of person I/someone I know needs!”
Look on LinkedIn
If you’re not on LinkedIn already, then I suggest you hop on there as quickly as you can. Why? Because it’s full of business owners, startup founders, and solopreneurs looking for freelancers to help them grow their business.
Take it from me: I constantly get client inquiries from LinkedIn. I don’t look for them, I don’t cold-message them – LinkedIn lets potential clients find me.
So if you’re not on LinkedIn yet…I suggest you go make that profile!
Note: In all these suggestions, I don’t include any freelancing websites. I don’t really like recommending generic freelance sites to anyone, mostly because of the high competition that drives rates really, really…really low. But if you’ve tried every other avenue already, it’s worth a shot. Just manage your expectations and don’t expect to nab projects at the rate you might want.
Things to Show Your Client You’re Worth It
Now that you know how and where to find freelance clients, it’s time to wow them with your proposal. You might be freelancing for the first time ever, but, hey, your client doesn’t need to know that.
To make you look like the most professional freelancer in the game, here are some tried-and-tested things you’ll want in your arsenal.
A professional cold email
First up, a professional cold email will do wonders for making sure you tell those potential clients exactly who you are and how you can help them.
Make the email succinct; say everything you need to say in as little words as possible. Those clients don’t have a lot of time to read through your entire freelance journey, after all.
A website or blog
While I don’t think you really, 100% need a website or blog to show your credibility, I still highly recommend it. Why?
Because a website or blog is a fantastic way to show your expertise in the industry.
Say you want to attract clients that are looking for a rockstar virtual assistant for their new startup. Who do you think they’d pick: a freelancer with just a cold email proposal, or a freelancer with a stellar website that shows off testimonials from past clients and blog posts with their knowledge on startup organization and tells potential clients exactly how to get in touch with them?
Being a freelancer means running your own business, so every touchpoint a potential client has with you can go a long way.
Note: I notice that website speed is just as important as anything else. After all, you’ll lose clients if your website takes forever to load! If you need reliable, fast, and affordable website hosting, I recommend my personal favorite provider FastComet.
A portfolio is essential to have when you’re offering creative work, but it’s also great even if you’re offering to do administrative tasks too.
Show off your best and favorite work. If you did pro-bono projects in school or for your aunt or something, flaunt it.
You can even talk about any results that your work received. Maybe the poster you made was so awesome that it got 500 likes on social media. Maybe you’re such a fantastic project manager that your organization saved a lot of time, money, and effort because of your skills.
You’re marketing yourself to find freelance clients – now’s not the time to be shy!
I talk a lot about how to create your service packages in the previous post of this series, so you can go read up on that here.
Service packages will make it easier for your potential client to understand just what it is you can do for them. You’re also pairing up a couple of handy skills together, so you can bump up the price according to your experience.
These’ll also be good for your client to see exactly what they’ll need and how much you charge right from the get-go.
A professional contact me page
Last but definitely not least, a professional Contact Me page can make or break your client getting in touch with you.
You see, a regular ol’ Contact Me page will have just these elements: Name, Email, Message.
Pretty…okay. But you’re not going for okay here.
Instead, consider making your Contact Me page as a filter for your clients. Say, add some questions like “What service are you looking for?” or “Describe your business and needs.”
While some clients might turn away from the work they have to do, trust me when I say that the ones who really want to work for you will make the effort. Besides, you don’t want to spend 90% of your time just responding to queries, right?
Make sure both your client and you are prepared before you even hop on to a discovery call. Filter out your clients as early as now, so you’re sure you’ll be working for clients you love.