So you have made the big decision to go it alone, to be your own boss and plunge into the new and exciting world of freelancing. It may not have been an easy decision but now you are committed to going for freelance gold full-time, you want to schedule work to be done when it suits you best so you can have more time with your family and friends, or to do other things. You are now ready to reel-in that profit that is out there just for you, and your agenda is ready to be filled with client meetings, time to sit down and get the work done and time to dedicate to reaching out even further into the freelance pool. But before all this can take shape and form into your long-term career, you must first land your first clients.
Sounds easy with so many social media platforms just waiting for you to get your name out there – and if you live in a small country, world of mouth works wonders. But if you are struggling to know where to start and how to go about building up that client list, here are four ways to get your foot in the door.
1. Make your portfolio speak volumes
To drum-up business you have to show clients what you can do. Building an online portfolio gives potential clients a chance to see your work in the comfort of their own home or office, whenever they want. This means they can view it, refer back to it when need be and have you in mind when they need your services. New freelancers have to compete with experienced ones who can refer to jobs they have already done. So choose topics that are relevant to the market you want to approach, do your research and create some content for your online presence. If you are a writer, make the writing speak for you – you don’t have to use flashy graphs or images, keep it simple. If you are a graphic designer, then let the graphics work for you. Whatever your freelance work, make it shine online (just don’t brag too much, keep to the point and then clients will surely give you a chance).
2. Work for free
Yes, you did not make this massive decision to freelance not to earn money, but sometimes to earn more – or in this case to start earning – you have to give a little bit more than is expected. A great online portfolio is the first step and this will give you a running start. But in order for you to get job after job after job, you need to build a reputation and the best way of doing this is actually doing the job for clients, who will then become part of your portfolio and be a real example of your work in the market. Get in touch with startup companies or established companies you think might use your services, ask family and friends if they know anyone who may be looking for someone with your skills, and make business e-cards and pass them around. Let people know that you are willing to work for free – for now – and soon you will have a good name in the freelance business world, show that you know what you are doing, add this work to your online portfolio and sure enough you will be able to start making a profit.
3. Flaunt yourself
They say everything is marketing so why would freelancing be any different? If you don’t sell yourself, no one else will, in fact, someone else will be more than happy to snap-up your potential clients by marketing themselves. Your work maybe good, but if you do not make a good impression on the client then that could sway them in another direction. When meeting a potential client be on time, dress professionally, be friendly, polite, and connect with them on a personal level – maybe do some research on them before the meeting. Also, make sure to follow up after the meeting with a friendly email or text. A client is much more likely to hire someone who they find easy to work with and who they know if reliable. So sell yourself as a product the client just can’t live without.
4. Flaunt yourself through testimonials
So now you have a few clients under your belt. You have done a few free jobs and they are out there for everyone to see. The next step is for you to ask clients to give you testimonials. Ask clients to give you feedback and then add this to your online presence. This is a client’s impression of you and your work and it tells other clients out there looking for services you offer that you have a track record and you are ready to go all the way to win, win, win in this freelance race.