As a freelancer, you won’t have a marketing department by your side, so that means you’ll have to find new clients yourself. It can be a daunting task, maybe even taking up a quarter of your time – our guide should make it a little easier, giving you some ideas of how to go about finding clients as a freelancer.
Ideally, you’ll want multiple long-term clients, so you’ll always be looking for more clients to give you more security – you might have one really good long-term client who pays all your bills, but what if they leave you and you no longer have steady work?
You’ll want to make sure you have multiple clients so you can continue to work even if a client drops you.
Here are five great ways to find clients:
Obviously, with LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media sites, it’s easy to see networking as something you do online. However, especially in the early days of your freelance career, it’s a good idea to be a little old-fashioned and meet people in real life.
It’s easy to find good, free business networking events these days, ironically by using the internet. Have a look at Meetup.com – there’s always something going on around you, wherever you are.
Real-life networking events are great because people are more likely to trust you if they’ve met you in person, rather than them receiving an email out of the blue from a stranger.
Create a website
Having a business website is great because it acts as a shop window while making you look credible – would you even trust a company that didn’t have a website these days (and remember, as a freelancer, you are a business)?
A website is also a great place to display a portfolio of the work you’ve completed – make sure you ask clients for a testimonial to display too.
For an even more effective website you can write a regular blog (or hire a copywriter to write it for you), which will improve your website’s SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) ensuring your website appears as far up in Google searches as possible.
Team up with other freelancers
This has two purposes. First, you’ll make freelancer friends who can give you support and advice. Secondly, you can offer your services with the services of other freelancers as a complete package, or just have people you can recommend to your clients.
For example, if you’re a freelance copywriter you could team up with a freelance web designer to offer a complete website creation service. While this is a common team, there are plenty of other services which complement one another.
Buy some stamps
Sending your marketing materials to potential clients by post might seem old-fashioned – nobody uses the post any more, do they? Well, that’s kind of the point. With so many companies and freelancers only using online marketing and email, if you send marketing materials through the post, it’ll actually stand out from the thousands of marketing emails people receive.
Be careful with freelance job boards
There are thousands of job boards for freelancers, but the majority of them are pretty useless if you want to actually make a living from your work. With most of them – Elance for example – you’ll be competing with people across the world – many of whom are okay with working for pennies.
This might be a place to go in the very beginning, when your work portfolio is empty, but if you’re looking to make a long-term career out of freelancing you’ll want to search for a job board where you can actually earn some decent money.
There are plenty of ways to market yourself as a freelancer, but these five tips should give you a good start to begin with.
Shoaib Aslam is the co-founder of Pearl Chartered Accountants, a UK-based chartered accountancy firm that has multiple locations across London. They are experts in helping startups and established businesses with all aspects of growth, strategy, scaling up, accounting and tax planning.