Everyone agrees that the most important and sometimes hardest part of a successful freelance business is finding clients. Whether you are a writer, designer, consultant or programmer, the process for finding and keeping clients is nearly the same. These six tips for winning clients as a freelancer can give you the advantage you need to grow your freelance business.
Have a clear, up-to-date portfolio
Updating your portfolio of work or résumé should be a frequent process, especially when you are first starting out. The ideal portfolio has enough work that it will showcase your capabilities, but will not overwhelm a potential client. An accurate portfolio will ensure you do not give a potential client the wrong ideas of your capabilities and the type of work you can produce (or the caliber of your work). While it might seem like you are selling yourself and your services as a freelancer, a client will view your portfolio as a list of products that they can purchase from you, so let your work shine. Make sure it is clear what your role on each project was so that you are not misrepresenting your capabilities. In the end, yes, you are “selling”, but you are doing so passively by demonstrating your prior success.
Stay up to date with what your clients need
Many freelancers, especially those with a digital focus, know that the work clients need changes as technology advances and market opportunities evolve. The easiest way to lose a client is to not have the technical capability they need to capture a new opportunity before their competitor does. Investing in a course or taking some time off from working to focus on learning something new is an often overlooked necessity of freelance work. Chat with other freelancers or existing clients to see what new trends are on the rise and make sure you’re ready to take on that type of work when it comes your way. As a freelancer, you can sometimes be a little too “heads down” and not plan for the future. Disrupt your preoccupation with immediate deliverables and network or research new ideas and trends so you maintain your competitive edge.
Joining a coworking space as a freelancer has two main benefits. First, it is another way to network by introducing you to other freelancers that may also become future clients or partners on projects. For example, if you are a web developer and have a project that needs enough graphic design that your client demands you bring a designer onto the project, you may be able to network with a freelance designer who shares your coworking space. Second, it provides you with a dedicated meeting place where you can bring clients, instead of meeting at a coffee shop or your apartment. Coworking plans do not have to be expensive, with options like KettleSpace starting at just $25 per month for a limited plan. Pitching to a client in a quiet, clean space with reliable WiFi, free coffee and tea and plenty of space to sit and focus can give you that leg up to win the project.
Look for work that you actually care about
A client can tell if you are not interested in the work they need, so seek out jobs that are of interest to you (regardless of the rate). There will definitely come a time where a project presents itself with high pay; but if you are not passionate about the work, it’s best to keep looking. As you get started it’s okay to take a small pay cut to work for a client you are passionate about. Doing so can help you excel, build a great relationship with the client and potentially lead to additional work. If you show excitement in a job, you’ll be more likely to obtain repeat work and referrals to other, similar clients.
Blog, vlog and start an Instagram (as long as you commit to it)
Gone are the days when a website can naturally rise to the top of search results without effort. To truly capitalize on searches for freelancers, you need to have content in the form of blogs, videos, how-to’s and social media that will strengthen your visibility to potential clients. Your content can be focused on what your client might be searching for, such as “ten things to consider when hiring a wedding photographer”, or aimed at establishing you as an expert in your industry, such as, “five trends to consider when designing a website in 2018”. Remember though, if you do not fully commit to online content, you may be left behind your peers. For example, an outdated Facebook page without current contact info can end up making the search results you want clients to see harder to find. Or, a blog with content that isn’t fresh might lead people to believe you are no longer freelancing.
Our final tip, which we will cover in greater detail in other posts, is to get yourself set up on various freelancing sites, such as UpWork and Fiverr. These sites will help you find clients, win projects, and build a reputation for delivering great results.