Do you feel like every other freelancer knows exactly how to get clients … and you don’t?
Perhaps your friend has just posted on Facebook about an amazing gig she landed. Meanwhile, you’re refreshing your inbox, hoping that just one potential client will finally get back to you.
Getting freelance clients doesn’t have to be this hard.
Whether you’re struggling to find new leads, wondering how to target your ideal customer, or unsure how best to follow up, these tried-and-tested tips will help.
We’ll also take a look at a couple of really common freelance issues: how to get clients fast and how to find prospective customers with no experience.
Ready to learn how to get freelance clients?
Let’s get started.
How to Get Clients as a Freelancer
1. Let Friends and Family Know That You Want More Clients
One simple way to expand your client list, especially when you’re just starting out, is to spread the word among friends and family. Even if they don’t need your services, they might know someone who does.
Plus, you might be surprised. An old friend from college may need copy for a Twitter or Facebook ad campaign. Or your sister-in-law might need SEO content for her small business website.
If you don’t put yourself out there, you’ll never know.
2. Contact Past Colleagues to Tell Them You’re Freelancing
Do your past colleagues know you’re freelancing?
Even if you’ve moved into a new field, someone might be glad to hire you for their side hustle.
Be careful about contacting current colleagues if you’re freelancing around a day job. Your employer may have rules against working with fellow members of staff. Plus, it could create awkward dynamics in the office.
3. Join a Business Organization, Forum, or Group
Whatever type of freelancing you do, there are relevant groups you can join. These include large, formal organizations, subscription-based membership sites, free Facebook groups, local business groups, and much more.
Figure out where your ideal client hangs out.
If you do web design, don’t just join groups of fellow designers. Join groups for business owners and startups, where you’re more likely to meet a potential customer.
4. Take on More Work for Your Existing Clients
Would you be happy to have more work from your existing client base? Then tell them! They might be delighted to hire you for more projects.
A few weeks ago, I noticed one client’s invoice was lower than usual. When I emailed the invoice, I let them know I had some extra time available in the upcoming weeks. They started sending more work almost immediately.
5. Ask Your Existing Clients for a Referral
What if your clients don’t have more work for you? They might well know a new client who does, whether that’s another business owner or a personal friend.
Ask your current clients to pass you on to anyone else they know who could use your services. Many clients will be glad to do so, especially if they’ve known you for a while.
6. Send Strong Applications to High-Quality Gigs on Job Boards
There are lots of freelancing job boards that list new gigs every day.
Perhaps you’re a veteran of these sites, perusing all of them with your morning coffee. Maybe you apply for everything you see … but you’re still not landing jobs.
With online job boards, it pays to be choosy.
Focus on high-quality gigs that pay a decent rate. Craft a personalized application for each job. And take the time to select the most relevant samples of your work to send.
7. Create a Blog or Website as Your Online Homebase
If you don’t already have a blog or website, create one. It’s an easy way to showcase your work, it helps you attract new clients and build a relationship with them, and it makes it easier to find you online.
Your website doesn’t need to be perfect from day one. You can start with a simple, one-page website to establish a basic online presence, adding to it over time.
8. Get to Grips With SEO So Prospective Clients Can Find You
To grow your audience, and to lead prospective clients to your site, it’s important to understand the basics of search engine optimization (SEO). This helps your site rank highly in Google and other search engines.
Plus, if you’re a freelance writer, having a good grasp of SEO basics lets you take on a wider variety of gigs. If you can write a blog post, product descriptions, or sales copy, clients will be delighted if you can incorporate SEO best practices.
9. Write Guest Pieces for Other People’s Websites
Guest blogging is a long-established content marketing tactic that gets your name out there, spreading the word about your small business. It simply means writing a piece of content for someone else’s site.
When you’re a guest on someone’s blog, they’ll normally give you a bio at the end of your post. This is where you can tell readers what you do and link to your website or include your email address so they can hire you.
10. Stay in Touch With Potential Clients
Sometimes, people will visit your website to check out your services, but they won’t hire you right away. Or, they might contact you for a quote, but then disappear.
Make sure you have a good system for staying in touch with potential clients. This might be an email list that they can join, or it could simply mean reaching out occasionally to a prospective client who received a quote but didn’t buy.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Can I Get Clients Fast?
What if you need clients right now?
Maybe you’ve got a big bill due, your laptop needs replacing, or you just want to splurge on a vacation.
The following two methods won’t work if you use them too frequently. However, they’re super-effective for occasional use, and they should bring in clients fast.
1. Offer a Discount for a Short Period
If your freelancing rates give you some wiggle room, offer a limited-time discount. This could mean cutting your rate, e.g. offering blog posts for $150 instead of $200. Or, it could mean adding something, e.g. four blog posts for the price of three.
What if a discount won’t work easily for your business?
Offer a one-off service. This also lets you branch out or try something new. For instance, if you’re a writer, you might offer a temporary blog writing service even though you normally do copywriting.
2. Let People Know You’ll Be Raising Your Prices
Increasing your prices may seem risky, but if you generally have a good amount of work and you want a quick extra boost, it’s highly effective.
Tell your existing clients and contacts that you’ll be raising your prices next month. Explain that if they book now, they can lock in your current price. This can nudge potential clients into hiring you if they haven’t got round to it yet, and it’s also highly likely to bring in extra work from your current clients.
How Can I Get Clients With No Experience?
What if you’re just getting started as a freelancer and you don’t have any experience yet?
A couple of good places to begin are to:
1. Make the Most of Any Experience You Do Have
Chances are, you have some experience in your freelance area.
This doesn’t need to be paid experience to be worthwhile.
Gather together any experience that you do have. If you’re a freelance writer, this might be your best pieces from your own blog or from Medium, pieces you’ve written for a local magazine or newsletter, or even something you wrote for your college or high school newspaper.
2. Try Big Freelancing Marketplaces
While sites like Upwork, Textbroker, and Fiverr often get a bad reputation in the freelancing community for race-to-the-bottom prices, they’re worth a look when you’re just getting started.
Your initial assignments might be at a lower rate than you’d like, but you can use these as samples to attract better-paying clients.
You’ll be gaining useful real-world freelancing experience (plus some money) in the meantime.
How to Get Clients… Starting Today
Getting more clients might be much easier than you think. Reach out to at least one of these groups today:
- Your friends and family: Facebook is a great place to do this. Let people know what you do, and ask them to spread the word.
- Your former colleagues: LinkedIn works well for this. Check your profile is up to date, and create a post to tell your network about your freelance work.
- Your existing clients: Email is usually the best method for this. Tell them you have time available and you’d love to do more work for them.
Soon, you’ll have plenty of freelance work … and you’ll never worry about how to find clients again.