Freelancers: how do you find your first client?
It seems that the most difficult part of being a freelancer is getting started and finding your first client. And yet, it is not that complicated, as long as you know several tricks to get started. In this article, you’ll find everything you need about looking for clients, which requires a mix of marketing skills and specific know-hows!
Essential prerequisites for finding your first client
Three fundamental ideas must guide you when you are looking for your first client. While they do not guarantee a complete success, they will generally allow you to land your first freelance jobs.
Know some basic sales techniques
When prospecting, it is necessary to implement a sales strategy. Your biography, your portfolio, and the way in which you write an email are all factors that contribute to the deployment of this strategy. Many freelancers tend to sell a service. Rather than emphasize that, however, we recommend highlighting the strong points you can bring to your client, as well as your areas of expertise. For example, if you are a web content writer, rather than sell an article for $30, explain that you understand the importance of SEO, and propose both writing a quality article and your skillset, in order to increase your client’s revenues.
Know what you are selling
Many freelancers have already been told to specialize themselves, which is one of the best ways to attract a first client. Rather than offer more options, narrow down your area of expertise (by specifying the additional services you offer, if applicable). Clearly, if you have 10 different areas of expertise, it is better to emphasize the most promising ones in terms of demand. In addition, do not set prices that are too low for fear of not finding a client; rather, set a fair price for the service proposed (factoring in taxes).
Know to whom it is being sold
It is crucial to understand the demands and needs of a client, and to ensure that you are responding to them as well as possible. To land your first client contract, it is recommended that you aim for jobs that have not found any takers. Obviously, if an offer posted 2 weeks ago has not yet been taken, it means either that the salary proposed is too low, or that the job requires specific knowledge on a particular (little known) subject. This is an excellent way to gain experience. In addition, it is also a way to test your ability to take on a subject that you do not necessarily master and thereby also define your capacity to identity a client’s needs.
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The importance of a website
The best way to test these tips is to apply them via your website. Having a site is nearly indispensable, especially for showcasing your offerings. Be careful to not make a website hastily, especially if you are a freelancer waiting for your first client.
A site must be clean, clear and readable: the signs of professionalism.
- Carefully consider your presentation: explain your record, experiences, and specialties; also ask for recommendations, for example from friends you helped previously (for site graphics, editing of a thesis, etc.….)
- Go over your skills in detail and explain how they could be useful for potential clients.
- Maintain your portfolio. For example, write an SEO-optimized text, or create logos.
- Stand out. It is crucial to clearly state why your work should be chosen over someone else’s.
To find out more, don’t hesitate to check out our article about the contents of a freelancer site.
Good platforms for freelancers
There are numerous international platforms designed to match freelancers and clients, but few of them allow you to actually find clients. Here are three of the most reliable and interesting.
- Upwork. This is an extremely dynamic American site, where many offers are published every day. Long-term contracts are rare, and you can find ad hoc jobs in every domain (graphics, translation, web development, etc.). The site offers numerous functions (messaging service, time tracker, help center, etc.)
- Fiverr. A peculiar concept, but ideal for finding your first client. The principle: $5 per “gig,” i.e. a task that you agree to in order to start freelancing. These are extremely simple and fast tasks (such as writing a sentence or creating a basic logo, etc.). At the same time, Fiverr offers the possibility of “extras,” such as writing two sentences for $10 or creating a premium logo for $50, and so on.
- Hopwork. Platform for French speakers, so somewhat limited, but nonetheless quite interesting. In fact, this site features multiple types of jobs, including long-term projects. The platform allows you to be recommended, which is very useful.
Other interesting tools for finding your first client
- AdWords ads. If this fits in your budget, it is an excellent way to increase visibility.
- Dedicated forums and blogs that allow you to network with others in the same line of work.
- Specialized webzines.
- Lounges or other specialized networking events that allow you to meet other freelancers working in the same domain as you.
- Active prospecting, by email (newsletter) or by phone (directory, phone books). In many cases, it works to seek out clients directly.
There are dozens of ways a freelancer can “sign” his or her first contract. Professionalism, expertise, and motivation are enough to benefit from existing tools and ensure that you don’t get discouraged!