Learning how to find clients as a freelancer is challenging, especially for those seeking their first client. The initial step is often the toughest, particularly when establishing credibility and a reputation remains elusive. 

Current digital dynamics have created a level of distrust, making it challenging for new freelancers to immediately gain trust from prospective clients.

Establishing credibility becomes crucial in overcoming this initial barrier. Instead of succumbing to potential roadblocks, freelancers should adopt innovative strategies to connect with clients. 

These approaches go beyond conventional methods, reflecting the evolving landscape of freelancing in 2024.

1. Mastering networking: online and offline strategies for freelancers

Even the absolute worst freelancer in the world has more contacts than they could use. Assuming you don’t make it a habit to alienate everyone you meet, you should be able to find someone in your life who can refer you to a potential employer.

If you have ever heard of the six degrees of separation, you’ll know that, in theory, you are six steps away from any other person out there. With these odds in mind, the chances are that your mother, father, sister, cousin, or local shop owner will know someone who wants to hire you.

Tips for creating a profile on freelance platforms: 

  • Craft a standout profile that highlights your skills and showcases previous work.
  • Master strategic bidding by customizing proposals to each project, demonstrating your understanding of client needs.
  • Foster direct client relationships by engaging in open communication, understanding their requirements, and providing personalized solutions.

All it takes is patience and persistence; you will find yourself negotiating a project with a prospective client in no time. Networking is an excellent way of finding freelance clients.

2. Lower your expectations

A lot of freelancers screw themselves over by being too idealistic. For some reason, many new freelancers have a vision of the perfect first client. Or, they spend time debating about which freelance website is the best. 

Consider the fact that most of the world is online these days. Hundreds of millions of websites exist, and quite a large portion are commercially successful. Instead of scouting for a particular job, why not research for a job position?

If you are a proficient writer, send a message to every online publication you enjoy reading, and explain your motives for sending that email.

Granted, most of these publications will reply with a canned rejection message that leaves no further room for negotiation, but you only need to get lucky once.

That’s the point of lowering your expectations. You need to expose yourself to opportunities that are highly unlikely to occur. If you stick your neck out towards every potential opportunity, you have a good chance of eventually striking gold. And yet, if you keep drawing blanks every time you try, you should consider refreshing your profile and making it visually attractive to potential clients.

3. Take freelance courses

Any skill you add to your profile makes finding employers much easier. The user profile is your employer bait whenever you use an online work portal to find a job. As you may have heard before, adding a bunch of certificates, skills, and accreditations to your profile isn’t primarily about proving that you’re skilled.

The main thing you’re trying to accomplish is to show and demonstrate that you are serious about freelancing. It helps you stand out from the flock of casual freelancers that would otherwise take your place.

Taking freelance courses is another thing you should consider, as they can teach you all the tips and tricks that make a successful freelancer. Also, freelance courses provide referrals as part of the coursework.

These courses instruct you on how to find connections in the first place. If those who teach you are happy with your efforts, they will be more than willing to recommend you to potential employers.

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4. Embrace local marketing

Most online freelancers need to utilize offline marketing in their business, and in fact, most would never think of the offline world as a lead generator. However, this resistance to offline marketing comes from falsely associating it with expensive newspaper advertising or TV ads.

However, this is an incomplete and rather superficial view of offline marketing. Sometimes, offline marketing can be cheaper than online marketing. This is especially true when you know how to utilize self-promotion within your local community.

To fully utilize your local potential, consider these four things

1.  Posting flyers and ads in popular places3.  Participation in community events 
2.  Networking with professionals4. Hosting local events of your own 

5. Becoming the local connector

Don’t hesitate to connect and introduce people to each other and refer business to other professionals. Giving selflessly will build up your local reputation and pay off in the long run.

Do everything you can to become a popular figure in your community and use the home-field advantage. It might be a slow, long-term strategy, but it will pay off more than you can imagine.

6. Establish yourself as an industry expert

Establishing yourself as an industry expert is a powerful strategy for freelancers aiming to attract high-quality clients and elevate their professional standing. First and foremost, positioning yourself as an authority in your field enhances credibility, instilling confidence in potential clients. Engaging in speaking engagements at industry conferences or webinars provides a platform to showcase your expertise and connect with a broader audience. 

Similarly, creating valuable content, whether through blogs, articles, or video tutorials, not only establishes you as a thought leader but also serves as a tangible portfolio of your skills and knowledge.

Contributing to industry publications is another effective avenue for showcasing expertise. Whether it’s penning insightful articles, participating in interviews, or contributing to whitepapers, these contributions not only enhance visibility but also position you as a go-to resource in your niche. Leveraging social media to share your insights and engage with the professional community further amplifies your expert status. 

As freelancers, building a reputation as an industry expert not only attracts quality clients seeking top-tier talent but also opens doors to collaboration, partnerships, and a steady flow of challenging and rewarding projects.

7. Cold emailing and direct outreach

Cold emailing and direct outreach are indispensable tools in a freelancer’s arsenal, offering avenues to connect with potential clients and secure new opportunities. Effective cold emailing begins with meticulous research on the recipient. 

Tailoring your email to their specific needs and challenges demonstrates a genuine understanding of their business, increasing the likelihood of engagement. Start with a compelling subject line that grabs attention and clearly communicates the value you offer. In the body of the email, concisely articulate your expertise, emphasizing how it aligns with the client’s needs. 

Direct outreach involves a proactive approach, such as reaching out through social media platforms or professional networks. LinkedIn, for instance, provides a platform for sending personalized messages to potential clients. 

8. Document your thoughts and skills online

The majority of freelancers get into blogging because they feel as if they are forced to do it. That often leads to frustration, and freelancers stop posting blog updates sooner or later. What most of these freelancers don’t realize, however, is that blogs can serve as a powerful marketing tool that attracts a lot of clients in the long run.

So, why not start a blog? Just write articles documenting your thoughts. Put another way, pull your skills and accomplishments into one spot for the world to see. More often than not, employers will search the internet for a freelancer who can get the job done.

You can be one of the many freelancers that employers find online. It’s never too late to present yourself. Once you are noticed by an employer who might be interested in your skills, value that connection and cherish it. You never know where it might lead you.

If you’ve been paying close attention to this article from the start, you surely realize by now that it all comes down to finding clients who will do business with you.

So, the least you can do is ensure your blog leaves an excellent first impression. In most cases, the first impression can make the difference between clients choosing you and avoiding you at all costs.

9. Crafting a compelling freelance portfolio

Crafting a compelling freelance portfolio is a crucial step in showcasing your skills and attracting potential clients. Begin by carefully selecting the pieces you include. Focus on showcasing a diverse range of your best work, ensuring that each project exemplifies your skills and expertise. 

Choose pieces that not only demonstrate your technical proficiency but also reflect your versatility and creativity. As a freelancer, consider tailoring your portfolio to your target markets. If you specialize in multiple areas, create segmented portfolios to cater to different client needs. This targeted approach allows clients to see relevant examples of your work, increasing the likelihood of making a meaningful connection.

Approximately 1.57 billion people in the global workforce are freelancers.

[Alt text: Approximately 1.57 billion people in the global workforce are freelancers.]

The presentation of your portfolio is just as vital as the content itself. Leverage digital platforms to create a visually appealing and user-friendly portfolio. Platforms like Behance, Dribbble, or even a personal website offer a dynamic showcase for your work. Arrange your portfolio logically, providing a brief introduction to your skills and background. 

For each project, include a detailed description, outlining the challenges faced, your approach, and the impact of your work. Incorporate high-quality visuals, such as images, videos, or interactive elements, to engage potential clients visually. Don’t forget to include client testimonials or endorsements to build trust and credibility. Regularly update your portfolio to reflect your latest and most relevant work, ensuring that it remains a dynamic representation of your capabilities.

10. Hubstaff Talent

Hubstaff Talent connects freelance professionals and clients with efficiency and finesse. It’s a free directory for companies looking for remote talent globally. There are no markups or fees on either side (freelancer or business owner). That means freelancers get precisely what their client pays them.

This free platform displays a freelancer’s hourly rate, skills, experience, availability, resume, and languages spoken. Freelancers also have the option to add a short “about” description to provide more information on themselves. Profiles can be filtered by skill, availability, years of experience, or country. You can also run a search for keywords or phrases.

How to find clients as a freelancer? Innovate, take risks, experiment, and be open-minded…

Do not be afraid to try something new in your freelance career if you believe it will take you even one step closer to finding new clients. Managing your own business isn’t easy, but connecting with fellow freelancers and following our tips will help you succeed in your freelancing career.  

Continuous skill development is crucial for your freelance business as it not only enhances your expertise but also keeps you relevant in a rapidly evolving market. Adapting pitching techniques based on market trends and client feedback ensures freelancers remain dynamic, effectively addressing the ever-changing needs and expectations of clients.

How to find freelancing clients: an overview

  • Master networking: online and offline
  • Take freelance courses
  • Embrace local marketing to attract clients
  • Become a local connector for your client base
  • Establish yourself as an industry expert
  • Nail cold emailing and direct outreach
  • Document your thoughts and skills online 
  • Craft a compelling freelance portfolio
  • Use a freelance job boards like Hubstaff Talent

Everyone has something to contribute to your search for more clients, so you need to keep an open mind. Potential clients are everywhere; you just need to ensure that no nook or cranny goes overlooked.

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Category: Workforce Management