Read the title again…
Why it says, “how to find your first 3 clients”
Why it’s not saying “how to find your first client”
I believe if you can convince 3 different people to pay you real money for your services, it means you’re good at selling and your service is valuable.
Anyone can convince ONE person – but you need 3 paying clients to start a successful freelance career.
It’s been 6 years since I first stepped my foot in freelancing. And one of the most common questions that hit newbie’s mind is: “Where do I find my clients?”
It’s really hard to get clients in this crowded marketplace.
In the previous guide, we talked about all the basics you need to start your freelancing career.
In this article, you’ll find 7 different methods to find your first 3 freelance clients. I’ve used these techniques and got some good results. Hope these will work for you!
Let’s dive in…
1. Start With Your Friends and Colleagues
Natalia Real got her first client through a coworker of her mother’s.
Alison Monday’s first client was her friend who needed a website.
Don’t be afraid to ask your family and friends. When you’re starting your career, your close and immediate connections are the first ones to look 🙂
Start with your family, friends, and office colleagues. And let them know you’re starting a freelance business in a particular niche. Ask them if they know someone who needs your service and introduce you to them.
They would love to help you in building your portfolio. They act as your most powerful agents.
You can send them a short and specific email. Something like this:
As you may know, I just started a freelance [content writing/website design] business. Check out my portfolio here: [Your Portfolio Web Page]
I’m looking to get some clients and build my portfolio strong. Do you know someone that might need a [content writer/web designer]? Perhaps a friend or colleague who started up a new business?
If so, I’d love if you could put me in touch with them.
BONUS TIP: You can offer them a “reward fee” if their lead makes you a gig.
2. Start For Free
So before I “officially” started my freelance career. I got a message from a businesswoman. She checked out some of my recent posts and wanted me to write a piece of content for her.
I wrote the content and she liked it. She appreciated my work and writing style. And then she asked me the price of that piece of content.
I said, “I won’t charge you for this. Your appreciation is my fee. I’m glad that my work could help you. But if you know someone in your network who needs content creation services you can refer me to them.”
After some days, she came up with some good project and referred me to two more clients. And she still sends clients 6 years later!
The debate is endless on “doing work for free or you must charge for your work.” As Joker says, “If you’re good at something, never do it for Free.”
But if you’re starting out and you still have a day job, you can do one-two projects free on the side.
Ask the client if they’re pleased with your work, you’re more than happy to work with them again (tell them your normal rate). You can also ask for a testimonial and place it on your webpage.
3. Reach Out to Local Businesses
Now it’s time to step outside and look to businesses in your city. You have a lot of opportunities out there, including restaurants, coffee shops, dentists, schools, interior designers, coaching institutes, lawyers, accountants, and small IT businesses.
Two years back, One of my friends took me to a reputed coaching institute of the city. He wanted to join that coaching and preparing for higher studies. We went there and he started asking questions about the course and etc.
Once he was done, some questions clicked in my mind and I started asking to the head. I asked questions like, “How’s your admission growth?” “Have you experienced any struggled with content or Google marketing?” “How many new admissions your website or social media send you each month?”
I listened and discovered their challenges. The coaching head was open to share and asked me to suggest something.
And I proposed a few solutions to him related to the content, SEO, and social media. And then we left (The head asked my number before we left).
And after 2 days, I got a call from him and he asked me to handle their website, content, and social media.
There are so many small vendors who are eager for more business. Go to these vendors, buy something, and start a conversation with them. Ask questions about their business and products/services.
And let them know who you are and how can you help them to achieve a specific goal.
4. Remote Opportunities
We live in the digital world. And you can connect to anyone in the world with an Internet connection. No matter if you’re living in a small town or you’re a neighbor of SRK. 😀
Done with local businesses?
What about the other side of the world?
There are endless opportunities are waiting for you out there.
“Pawan, but there’s a crazy competition and what if somebody willing to do the same work cheaper than me?”
But don’t let these things discourage you. It’s always worth trying.
Research and find some small/medium businesses in other countries. Go through their website, blog, social media, and app. Talk to them and propose some solutions based on your expertise.
And one day you’ll sign a client in the global market. 🙂
5. Use the Power of LinkedIn
“Networking is an investment in your business. It takes time and when done correctly can yield great results for years to come.” — Diane Helbig
LinkedIn has changed the definition of Networking. Now you can connect with the right people and clients while you’re sitting on your sofa.
My LinkedIn profile has been the single biggest contributor to my success. LinkedIn helped me to become from an average full-time worker to a known voice in the digital marketing field.
LinkedIn helped me to get high paying work opportunities and I meet amazing people here.
Connect with business owners, entrepreneurs, fellow freelancers, etc.
But you have to focus on two MAIN things:
- Build a client focused profile.
- And be active on LinkedIn (Every day!)
No shortcuts! Sorry.
Check this guide to learn how to build a powerful LinkedIn profile.
Bottom line: If you’re not using the power of LinkedIn to find clients, you’re leaving money on the table!
Read this guide to learn how to onboard new clients through LinkedIn.
6. Attend Conferences and Meetups
The best thing about networking is…
You can start it RIGHT NOW!
Find a local event or meetup in your area, register, and go there. Meet people.
When I attended my first conference, I didn’t have any idea what I was doing. I didn’t have any business card or anything to talk (I didn’t even wear suit).
I just went there, listened to the speakers and observe the people (and had some snacks!)
And I started attending at least two or three events/meetups in a month. And I figured out how to make the most of these conferences.
Now when I attend an event, I walk away with at least one client!
If you’re a professional writer, attend a local content marketing or writing meetup. Networking with professionals in your industry and build connections with them.
How to get started?
Go to Meetup.com and search for an event in your city.
Meetup.com allows you to see the attendees who’re going for the event. Do a little search about the attendees – Who are they and what do they do?
Find out who’s hosting the meetup and check their profile.
Go to the event and talk to business owners (they love to talk about themselves let them do). Ask questions and listen. And then figure out how your skills can help them. Offer some value.
And if you don’t find any client in your first or second attempts. Don’t think that events are a waste of time.
Networking helps you to build an audience base and a community of people who know you and your work. And soon you’ll see the results!
7. Knock The Door of Existing Client
Got your first client?
Is she happy with your work?
Your happy client is your best promoter.
Just ask your client if she can refer you to someone in her network. And believe me, she would be more than happy to do this.
Here’s a simple email format that I send to my clients. Steal and customize it:
I’m so glad to hear you’re happy with working with me so far. I’m pleased that could generate positive results.
Since things are going to well, I was wondering if you have any connection or friend who would benefit from my service. It would be great if you can introduce me and I’d love to help them achieve similar results.
This friendly and simple email always works!
Now It’s Your Turn
I hope this article clarified a few things for you! Your first three clients are out there, go and get yourself in front of them.
Do you find these ways helpful? Or want to share any technique? Just drop your views in the comment section here.