As a former independent contractor & freelancer, I know firsthand that gaining clients is one of the hardest parts of going out on your own. It also unfortunately is one of, if not the most important parts of having a successful freelance career. Gaining your first freelancing clients can be hard, but here are 6 ways to build a strong client base and have a thriving freelance business.
1. Online Presence
Building a strong online presence is one of the most important parts of online freelancing. Create a professional-looking website and have a presence on social media profiles to showcase your previous work.
Learn about and utilize marketing tactics such as keywords and search engine optimization (SEO) to make it easier for clients looking for your services to find you.
2. Network. Network. Network
Attend in-person and online events to network with like-minded individuals. Another way that you can network is by joining professional online Facebook and LinkedIn groups.
Your first clients will be very integral to the success of your business as word of mouth is one of the most sure fire ways of gaining new clients. References go a very long way from past happy clients.
Especially when starting, using freelance marketplaces such as Fiverr, Upwork, and Freelancer can give you a big advantage in finding new clients in a gig economy. Platforms like the ones stated above have potential clients that are looking for your skillset all in one place. You can filter down to the services you can provide and start applying for gigs that you can successfully fulfill. These platform can also facilitate feedback and ratings that can generate more clients in the future.
4. Cold Call & Email
Though most people dread picking up the phone and calling a stranger, cold calling/email is still the biggest return on investment (ROI) you can get when starting with a low marketing budget.
You can raise your chances for success with the cold call & email tactic by researching potential clients and only reaching out to the ones that currently need your service. Social media platforms are great ways to do free research on potential customers.
5. Pro Bono
When starting, offering pro bono work for a non-profit or a cause that you care about can be a great way to not only give back but also get your name out there. Some great side effects to this pro bono can be building your portfolio and building valuable connections.
Join forces with other freelancers on larger projects to gain reputability. This will also help you refer independent contractors that you know and trust to projects that you do not have the skillset for and vice versa.
There is no silver bullet when building a successful freelancing career, but it is extremely important to be persistent and patient when looking for new clients. Your reputation will not be built over night, but project by project it will become easier to find new clients. Keep sharpening your skills, and building your portfolio, and eventually, your reputation will help you attract new customers.