How to get freelance clients (8 ideas that work in 2021)

One of the hardest parts of starting out as a freelance worker is finding clients. Here is how you can get clients as a freelance worker.
How to get freelance clients (8 ideas that work in 2021)

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Although becoming a freelance worker provides a large number of benefits, it can be particularly difficult to secure new clients.

This is especially true in the beginning when you do not have a significant amount of notoriety behind your professional brand. It's not quite as difficult as it may seem, though, and we have plenty of information that can help you.

Let's take a look at some of the most important tips that you can utilize.

1. Leverage social media

Social media is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal when it comes to securing new clients as a freelancer. Not only does it give you a way to directly interact with potential clients, but it’s also a place where you can help cultivate your online presence as a professional.

To elaborate, freelancers who have a significant online following typically have a much easier time securing work. Conversely, freelancers who don’t have much of a following at all might find it harder than they expected to get their first few clients.

One of the best ways to accrue more followers is by networking with other freelancers. If you consistently engage with and share their content, they’re likely to do the same for you.

Even a single instance of a high-profile freelancer sharing your work can lead to an exponential increase in exposure. Something to keep in mind when using social media is that you need to remain consistently active. If you only post once every few weeks or months, you likely won’t have any engagement with your content.

2. Master the way you approach potential clients

Pitching to a prospective client is an art in itself. So, you’ll need to take it seriously and go out of your way to develop the necessary skills.

A common mistake that new freelancers make is not keeping their pitches brief. The people you’re contacting are likely very busy and simply don’t have the time to read through your entire list of qualifications.

Instead, you should keep it as concise as possible while also conveying what you have to offer.

Getting their attention is also essential if you want this interaction to develop into a freelance opportunity. Highlighting any awards you’ve won or work for high-profile companies you’ve done are great ways to do so.

Those who are ground-level freelancers, though, will have to take another path due to not having a notable portfolio. Although not ideal, you could offer to complete a small project for free under the pretense that you are only paid if they accept the work.

The client has nothing to lose by agreeing since somebody will only pay for a project that provides value to them.

3. Join freelance communities

Just because you work for yourself doesn’t mean that you need to be entirely isolated as a professional. Joining a freelance community of like-minded individuals can be one of the best decisions that you make during your career.

These are settings where you can exchange ideas with other professionals in your niche, ask for feedback on your past work, or simply ask for guidance on what steps you should take next. More often than not, the members of these groups will be quick to respond with helpful advice.

In many circumstances, you’ll then begin to recognize opportunities around you that you would have otherwise missed. Keep in mind, however, that self-promotion in these groups is often strictly prohibited.

This type of behavior is discouraged in order to prevent people from joining groups solely to showcase their own work. As long as you respect these guidelines, there’s a large handful of benefits to be had from engaging with the freelance community in your industry.

Many of these interactions even develop into long-lasting professional relationships

4. Don't neglect contacts you already have

Starting from ground zero is an arduous task as a freelancer — you can't secure the work you want because you don't have the industry experience. You also can't build industry experience because you can't seem to find clients who are willing to give you a chance.

Although not all freelance careers begin this way, it's not uncommon for this scenario to occur.

Leveraging the connections with people who you already know can be a great way to jumpstart your freelance career. You're also not limited to contacting people who run their own businesses, either.

Even an acquaintance could help point you in the right direction to secure new freelance projects.

To elaborate, let's assume that you send out a few texts and emails to people you know. Your messages inform them about your career shift to freelancing and kindly ask that they keep you in mind in the future.

One of these individuals may know a business owner who is looking for a professional in your niche. They might then put you in touch with this person, and a lucrative professional relationship could develop from this point.

If you already have a social media following even on your personal account, you could also use this audience to help give you a much-needed boost. A simple tweet, Facebook post, etc. that basically says "I'm a freelancer now, contact me if you need work" could open a number of doors for you.

Consider the above options if you were having trouble getting your first few clients, as they could be exactly what you need to make progress.

5. Hone your craft

Sometimes, you'll find that you're unable to secure clients no matter what you do. No matter how many emails you sent or how many contacts you communicate with, nothing seems to lead to a business opportunity.

At this point, you need to take a step back and objectively evaluate the quality of your work. If reputable clients aren't willing to work with you, the issue most likely lies in what you're capable of producing for them.

In this scenario, there's a good chance that they are unimpressed with your portfolio. The only path you can take from this point is honing your craft as thoroughly as possible.

You should devote a certain amount of time each day or week to cultivate your technical skills. If you're a graphic designer, this means becoming more familiar with your design program, learning new techniques, etc. The same can be said for somebody like a freelance accountant.

In the latter case, this individual would need to create mockup work (such as budgeting for a large company) for the type of clients they are looking to work for. Regardless of what your chosen discipline is, taking steps toward mastering it will create countless opportunities for you in the future.

You'll also have the added benefit of standing out for your competition, something that can be difficult to do otherwise. Other ways to bolster your skills include attending workshops, taking courses, or even looking for a mentor in your industry.

These are valuable investments you can make into yourself as a professional that shouldn't be overlooked.

6. Expand the work you're willing to do

Even if you're capable of producing high-quality work as a freelancer, your lack of industry reputation could still hold you back. This becomes increasingly true if you don't have a list of noteworthy clients that you've worked for in the past.

However, you may find it beneficial to expand the type of freelance work that you're willing to do. This could mean accepting work that is slightly outside of your niche, below your skill level, etc.

Although the project may not be ideal, it will help you get your foot in the door in your industry and help establish a presence in your niche. Over time, you can use the clients you've worked for in the past as leverage to secure new ones.

This is particularly important to keep in mind since having a stellar portfolio full of mockup work isn't always the same as working for a legitimate client.

Fortunately, working on different types of projects in this manner will allow you to diversify your portfolio and illustrate how well-rounded you are as a freelancer. This could help you secure even more work in the future than you otherwise would have been able to.

Depending on your skill level in different areas, you could even focus on different disciplines entirely while at the beginning of your career. So, someone who has a background in graphic design and video production could pursue projects in both of these areas.

As time goes on, you can then begin to focus on whichever one proves to be more lucrative or enjoyable. 

7. Brand yourself appropriately

Conveying the right image for yourself as a freelancer is one of the key components to securing clients in the future. This means that everything that you post on your website, social media, etc. should be consistent in terms of tone.

The way you express yourself as a freelancer should also resonate with the type of projects that you pursue. For example, someone who specializes in consulting for small businesses likely wouldn't want to portray themselves as goofy or whimsical.

In this case, it would likely serve as a significant deterrent to potential clients.

You should also make sure that the website you create for your portfolio is professionally made. Whether you like it or not, the user experience that people have while navigating your website will give them an impression about who you are as a freelancer.

If your site is full of improper formatting, slow loading times, or even grammatical errors, it's not unlikely that prospective clients will navigate away and never look back. Your branding will often be a deal breaker between whether or not you're able to secure new projects.

So, it's imperative that you don't neglect this obligation. 

8. Ask other freelancers

Many freelancers tend to overlook this opportunity. The truth is, though, that you can learn a lot simply by asking other freelancers in your niche how they were able to secure clients at the very beginning of their career.

The easiest way to do this is to message someone directly on social media or email them with your questions. When doing so, it's important to be respectful of their time— you should keep your message as brief as possible.

It's also not a bad idea to ask them beforehand if they want to take the time to answer some of your industry-related questions. More likely than not, the professionals you get in touch with will be able to point you in the right direction.

This could also lead to developing a professional relationship with them that could open doors for you in the future.

If you're unsure of which freelancers you should contact, consider asking people that you meet in the freelance communities that you join. Freelancers join these groups to both seek help and help others, and it won't take long for you to find someone who can provide you with the guidance that you need. 

Getting new clients as a freelance worker can seem impossible

But it's not as difficult as you might anticipate as long as you develop a reliable strategy. With the above information, you can ensure that you give yourself the most opportunity possible to secure clients as a freelance worker. 

Want to learn more about what we have to offer? Feel free to reach out to us today and see how we can help.

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Our team of career freelancers writes about best invoice practices, what makes a great client, and repeats the mantra, "never work without a contract." We're opinionated about the future of work and will always be on the side of freelancers.
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