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How to get clients as a freelancer | Find freelance work

Pursuing a career as a freelancer is not easy, no matter what industry you're in. Check out our guide on how to find clients (and keep them) as a freelancer.

5 min read

“How do I get clients?” This may be the most commonly asked question within the freelance community. One of the more difficult things about freelancing is winning new clients and finding work, particularly if you’re just starting out. Whether you’re looking to kickstart a freelance business, or want to grow your existing client base, check out our useful guide to find out how to get clients as a freelancer.

How to quickly find clients as a freelancer

The goal for every freelancer should be to get to a point where new clients find you, instead of you having to search for them. But, until that happens, you can employ a few tried-and-trusted strategies to generate leads and get more clients.

  • First stop, social media. To attract new clients, you need to put yourself out there. And social media is the perfect place for connecting with people from all walks of life. There are many ways you can find freelance work using social media channels like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or even Instagram. The actual tactics will vary from industry to industry, but the general principles remain the same—connect with relevant influencers, engage by contributing to conversations, offer your expertise by creating compelling content and invest time and effort into building meaningful relationships with fellow freelancers or potential customers. Your goal should be to make yourself visible and memorable, so that when a new project comes up, prospects will think of you first.
  • Make the most of freelance marketplaces. It’s worth giving freelance job sites a chance if you’re starting out from scratch. They get a lot of bad rep, but can be useful for things like portfolio building and lead generation. Many freelancers swear by using job sites to build up their reputation, experiment with different types of projects and get a better understanding of the freelance world. As soon as you’re confident in your abilities to fly solo, you can transition to better paid work and maybe take your existing clients with you!
  • Network in person. The easiest way to get clients as a freelancer is to leverage the power of word of mouth. Make sure all your friends, family, colleagues and fellow freelancers know you’re looking for work. Spend time networking at local events, speaking at conferences or meetups, and connecting with like-minded individuals online. When it comes to landing well-paying clients, it’s often not about what you know, but who.

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How to write a freelance proposal

A strong freelance proposal can help you beat out competitors with more experience, you just need to know which buttons to press. Scratching your head in frustration? Follow these simple steps to writing the best freelance proposal for your next project.

  • Open with a show. Make sure you do your research first. So, when the prospect reads the first sentence of your proposal, it should take them by surprise. Instead of opening with “I’ve noticed you’re looking for a freelance designer,” overwhelm them with your expertise by offering some meaningful insights—”I’ve looked at your brief and would suggest going with an illustration style poster for the event”. In other words, all you need to do is to set yourself apart from the rest of the crowd.
  • Lean on your (relevant) strengths. A freelance proposal should be short and to-the-point. You can’t afford to spend time on past projects and experiences that are irrelevant to the job at hand. To achieve the greatest impact, select one project that is in line with the current brief and lead with it. The client will most likely ask for more work samples, so all you need to do at this point is to catch their attention.
  • Provide relevant work samples. Every freelance proposal should close with a couple of relevant work samples or past work experiences. The client is anxious to know that you’ve done similar type of work in the past and achieved great results. So anticipate the fact that this question will come up and provide your best examples in the proposal.

Building and maintaining client relationships

Once you find a client that’s good for your business, you should learn how to keep them around. Understanding how to build and maintain strong client relationships is one of the most important skills for running a successful freelance business. And here’s why.

  • It gives you the stability your business needs. The unstable income each month is probably the biggest peril of running a freelance business. Having long-term clients eliminates the uncertainty and gives you the freedom to do your best work! As soon as you’re on good terms with the client, start negotiating a monthly retainer fee.
  • It enables you to cross-sell. Once the relationship is established and you have the client’s trust, you can begin expanding your offer and increasing the monthly revenue, without needing to do any extra work to land new gigs. And that’s the beauty of upselling and cross-selling—more money for practically zero effort.

How do you build a strong relationship with freelance clients? Simple. Treat them like your boss. Keep them in the loop with things like your holiday plans and sick days, continuously ask for feedback and show initiative, and always deliver on your promises.

Key takeaways

Learning how to sell yourself as a freelancer might be the hardest thing you need to do in your career, but the payoff is guaranteed to be grand. Your first few weeks of freelancing will be busy with laying the groundwork—spreading the word that you’re available and capable of delivering high-quality work. And whether that’s through social media, your inner circle of friends, or your local freelancer community is completely up to you—as long as the message gets out. Just keep in mind that landing a new client as a freelancer is only half the job done. The next serious challenge is ensuring they stick around and keep feeding you great freelance work. Now, go get them!

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