Whether you’re brand new to freelancing, or you’re just trying to build your clientele, the most difficult problem is finding clients. Since you’re basically the product, you must learn how to sell yourself and get the business you deserve. While it might seem frustrating when you don’t get hired on projects you’re clearly made for, don’t give up.
The reality is that there is tons of work out there. The problem is that nobody is going to give you the job on a platter. You must go and get it. If people choose to go with someone who is less qualified, don’t get upset about it.
“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.” – Red Adair
Smart business men and women know that hiring people based on price and not experience is silly. You should use this fact to your advantage. Today I’ve put together a few tips that will help you build your client base and make more money.
Avoid Crowdsourcing Websites
First and foremost, don’t put all your attention on sites that help you bid on projects. While they might seem tempting, you’re going to be competing with hundreds of other freelancers, and the lowest bid will usually wins. The prices that clients on these sites offer are so low that it’s not even worth it. Make sure you’re not wasting your time on these sites when you could be marketing yourself. Not to mention, these sites take a huge cut of everything you make.
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Focus on Building Your Reputation
Next, you should focus on having a strong online presence. This means you need to have a blog, you need to have a Facebook, a Twitter, a LinkedIn, and any other social networking website that you can think of. While you don’t need to be online all the time, you need to appear to be a professional, share ideas, and comment on everything that you see that even remotely relates to your business. You can get jobs very easily this way. Focus on making a name for yourself inside your niche. Join forums and various communities that relate to your skills.
Start a Blog
Another great way to start bringing in clients is to blog. It might seem like a major waste of time at first, but it is not. Everyone loves to read blogs and find out what is going on in their industry. So, pick a niche, and write about it often. When you do this it will attract people to your blog who need services in the industry that you specialize in.
People will often trust you more after reading your articles. If it looks like you know what you’re talking about, chances are you’ll get hired. Simply be yourself and provide high quality information. What I love about the internet, is that it’s hard to fool people. If you’re exaggerating or lying about your experience (or what you know), they can smell your bullshit from a mile away. Honesty is the best policy.
Have a Sexy Portfolio
No matter what type of freelancing you do, you should make sure that you have a solid portfolio that blows everybody else out of the water. Sure, looks aren’t everything. But if your website looks sketchy as hell, then you’re not going to get any work. There is nothing wrong with providing high quality services and having a beautiful website to represent those services.
This is a must for freelance designers. If I visit your website and it’s amusingly ugly, chances are I’m not going to ask you to design my business card, logo, flyer, poster, etc. I would much rather hire somebody who cares about his or her web presence.
It’s kind of like hiring somebody for a job. Think of the people who land on your website as potential employers, meaning that your website is a digital form of yourself constantly being evaluated. If you’re an employer, are you going to hire a well dressed person who clearly cares about the way they present themselves to the world, or somebody with messy hair, a silly t-shirt from Spencers, and dirty jeans?
I’m not here to give you fashion advice, but there is a time and place for everything. If you’re trying to get hired, you must make sure your first impression (in this case it’s your website) will sweep your client off their feet.
Pro Tip: Try looking up jobs on Craigslist.org or posting a resume on a site like this. It’s free of cost, and typically pretty low risk.
Back to The Basics
Finally, there are a few other techniques that I’d love to share. Although I haven’t tried them myself, I have heard nothing but good come out of them.
These are direct marketing attempts. While it might seem a little silly to create a list of e-mails and start sending out flyers, it’s a great way to get clients. You never know who could be getting your e-mails, so start this early. At the very least, you should be able to pull a few clients out that way.
Direct mail is highly overlooked these days. Since business owners will typically have hundreds of e-mails to sort through everyday, you should avoid falling into the spam folder, just send an ad via snail mail. It could sit on a desk for a month or two, but when services are needed, they know who to get in contact with.
Last, but not least, is cold calling. This is a bit of a stretch for new freelancers, but has been known to work. They wouldn’t hire telemarketers to sell Bahamian vacations if they had never sold one, so it’s really worth a try and is a good way to get your name in someone’s ear.