As a freelancer, at least 40% of your time can be spent looking for new clients. Because freelancing tends to be a feast or famine sort of business, it’s a good idea to stay on the lookout for new business opportunities (even when you have a full workload).
Landing one client can be passed off as beginner’s luck; landing three or more clients can give you the confidence that people are willing to pay for your services and that you are targeting the right potential leads.
For you to find potential clients who are a good fit, you need to be a freelancer who’ll be a good fit for them. So take some time and get your business in order. Figure out what services you’ll offer, what kind of business and clients you want to work with, and pinpoint exactly how you can help them.
5 time-efficient ways to find new clients
Here are 5 time-efficient ways to find new clients and build your freelancer portfolio!
#1 Cold Call: Email Edition
Every journey has to start somewhere, and the journey to a full client list starts with emailing. Many sites will never post in their career section about needing services, but this doesn’t mean that a friendly email might not remind them that they need a guest post by tomorrow, or a web page up and running by the end of the week.
Start by creating a professional email, so no firstname.lastname@example.org. Either use your full name or your company credentials, this will push your email to the top of the list of important emails to read.
Keep your initial email short. Simply state your name, talents and services provided with a link to an example. From there it is up to your client to pursue you further.
#2 Google is Your Friend
Google knows all, well almost. If you have a service to offer the first place you should go is Google. Type in exact keywords and phrases about what services you provide and check out the top hit websites that appear.
From there go to the contact us page and find the best fit for who you wish to speak with. Then from there refer to tip #1 on emailing and send a short, sweet email to the company about the work you can provide.
Google is endless, so even when you feel you have come to the end of your list, rehit search and modify your search terms and start over. Begin each work day with at least an hour of searching and emailing, as well as responding to past inquiries and you will start building your clientele from the ground up.
While Google may know all, that doesn’t mean you will reach everyone. As you finish projects for your initial clients start to use them as your big hitters, but also use them to reach out. If you have a good working relationship with the companies then ask them to pass your name and services along.
If they feel you have done a good job, more than likely they will be more than happy to pass along your info. Once you have 10-20 clients that are willing to refer you to others, jobs will start coming to you and your Google search days will start to minimize.
It is important you keep track of which of your core clients are referring you, later down the road it is important that you thank them and send them collateral for their hand in building your clientele.
#4 Job Boards
Another way to have your clients come to you is post on job boards. You don’t have to wait until you see a job title posted with a help wanted sign; many job boards also let you post what services you offer and what price you perform them at.
This saves clients time and energy in creating a posting and filling out the information on the type of services they need. It also eliminates your competition, instead of sifting through multiple candidates these clients will go straight to you.
Again, don’t post a biography but include a short and sweet description of what you do and what you charge. This will not be your main source of clientele building, but every little bit matters.
Nothing is better than face to face. In a world of digital and social media take over, we sometimes never see who it is we work with. While it is important to accept the state of things and be accustomed to working remotely, attending conferences and meeting your clients face to face can guarantee longer lasting work relationships.
Networking is of great importance in every business, but especially for freelancers who can go weeks to months without any work. If you find yourself with extra time on your hands, find a conference in your area that matches your services provided.
Take the time to create professional business cards and start just talking to attendees and creating relationships. Your money will not go to waste. At the very least you will have learned more about your field, and the best would be walking away with ten new clients.
Freelance work isn’t a piece of cake, but with these 5 tips you will be on your way to building a healthy and long lasting client list.
Meridith Dennes is a co-founder and the CEO of Project Eve LLC, a leading women’s lifestyle media company online offering some of the web’s best loved communities including the eponymous Project Eve, Getting Balance, Project Eve Moms, Project Eve Money and Scary Puppy Silly Kitty. With a digital readership in excess of 20+ million monthly uniques, and over 1 million social media followers, Project Eve provides the news and resources to inspire and empower women. Meridith also works as a digital consultant and social media strategist and has worked with several Fortune 500 companies to help increase brand awareness and improve social media engagement.
Meridith holds a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from NYU’s Stern School of Business. Prior to founding Project Eve, she spent 15 years working in investment banking. Meridith currently lives in Vermont with her husband and 2 daughters and spends her free time teaching skiing, practicing yoga, hiking and snowshoeing.