How to Look for Clients When You're Starting Out as a Freelancer

When building your freelancing business, where to find your first clients can seem daunting. | Photograph courtesy of   Christin Hume  on  Unsplash

When building your freelancing business, where to find your first clients can seem daunting. | Photograph courtesy of  Christin Hume on Unsplash

If you are just starting your freelance career, it's not always clear where you should begin looking for your first clients, or how you should be advertising your services in the future. Well, taking the first steps is the hardest part. However, there are a few tips that will help you to find your first clients to start making a profit.

Create Your Portfolio

Your portfolio is a chance to stand out from the crowd and show your talents and skills. So, creating one is your first step. Your portfolio has to contain the best pieces of work that you have performed and also the most diverse ones that show your ability to adjust and remain flexible if required.

If you have printable examples of your work, you can organize them into a catalogue to bring with you when meeting with your clients. But first of all, create your own website. Websites are convenient, as they allow you to maintain your portfolio, contacts, and the list of the services that you provide all in one place. Even the simplest one-page website will work for your promotion as a freelancer.

Even if you don't know anything about website creation, you can easily utilize the tools that are offered by WordPress, Wix, Squarespace and by following easy step-by-step guides.

Look through all of your work and pick the ones that define your style and show your skills. Also, include some information about yourself. Add the contact information and testimonials of your clients if you have any. Do you have a specialty working within a specific industry? Highlight that.

Utilize the right social media platforms, depending on your field. Photographers, illustrators, and graphic designers utilize Instagram as a stand-in portfolio and a channel to find clients. Writers or copy writers might look towards Medium, Twitter, or their own blog to showcase their pieces.

Look at Third Party Platforms

Various types of freelance job boards and websites exist for different freelance categories for photographers, copy writers, developers, designers, etc.

General freelancer platforms are a great way to start out and find clients open to collaborate and it’s also a great way to get more work and experience under your belt for your portfolio. A few popular freelancer sites include:

Just note that freelance job websites can be highly useful if approached right. Some freelancers use these platforms daily and others use them only to build their client base and leave. A few advantages of starting on popular job boards:

  • Find those first clients seamlessly

  • An opportunity to look at someone else's work

  • To get a better understanding of the market as far as demand, supply, terms

  • Contracts that are secured by the policy of the platforms

But just be aware of some of the disadvantages. This can include:

  • High competition

  • Site fees for connecting you to client

  • A public rating on your profile depending on the client’s experience

Also, never forget to check the terms of every contract offered to you. Pay attention to the terms of payment (fixed price or an hourly rate), contract period (long-term, one-time projects), the deadline, penalties, etc. Always ask questions if you’re not sure.

Try Specialized Platforms for Freelancers

Some platforms are created to gather the niche specialists and provide them with an opportunity to show their abilities. Such websites contain portfolios of numerous freelancers which positively affect their traffic and attract a lot of potential clients.

The more platforms you use to advertise your service, the higher chances are that you will be noticed by clients. They might find you through different filters, like location, pricing and even working experience. They might just stumble on you and like your work.

Try Guest Blogging

Blogging is a powerful tool to promote yourself through content that attracts a lot of organic traffic. However, if you don't have a website yet, you can contribute articles to other websites so that you gain a reputation as an expert in your field. Write educational or entertaining content that will be interesting for your target audience and promote your services through these posts. If you are an expert in photography or any other field but you have poor writing skills, you can hire a writer or an editor from a platform like Take My Class to help you put your thoughts into words.

Collaborate with Other Freelancers

Collaborating with a freelancer friend is beneficial to every party and helps promoting services, like when a designer and a copywriter collaborate to create an infographic, or when a designer and a developer collaborate on a shoppable website.

You can look through the different portfolios on freelance platforms or tap into your own network. Sometimes collaborating can be a great way to create a dream project, which you can later show potential clients, and it can be a great way to network with other niches. They can always tap you later if they need your services for one of their own projects.

If you’re not sure where to start, try checking forums, groups, or look through Instagram or Facebook for potential creative partners. Don’t hesitate to reach out.

Cold Email Potential Clients

Who says that you need to wait for a client to find you? Email the companies that are in your target niche to offer your service. Do this by attaching a link to your portfolio, and listing the specific services that you can provide for a particular client.

Here are a few tips on how you can make your cold pitches more effective:

  1. Keep it simple.

  2. Try keeping your subject lines brief, casual, and catchy: “Do you need a designer for your new project?”

  3. Be friendly and don’t fall into a too formal language.

  4. Do your homework on the company and what you can offer.

  5. Be sure to link your portfolio.

Sending cold pitches might be not the most exciting activity but it can be very effective, especially at the beginning of your freelancing career.

Tap Into Your Network

Ask your friends or former classmates if they have someone who might need your services. This is the fastest way to find your first clients, and refer them to your portfolio to make your services more trustworthy.

Don’t forget that you can find new jobs through your existing clients. Try to develop relationships with each client and ask them recommend your service to their own network.

Final Thoughts

The first few clients are the hardest to get. But as you continue to grow your business, your experience starts working for you. Your services gain higher demand and your portfolio looks more credible. By combining all of these methods, while working on your portfolio, you can get your name and services out there and get better at your own skill set while finding clients to work with.

Guest writer Regine Ward is a blogger and a content creator who currently works for Take My Class service. She loves creating educational content with lots of useful tips. She is also a photography and yoga fan.