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Where on Earth Am I Going to Find My First Clients?

by Laura Spencer

on December 16, 2012

in Freelancing Basics Marketing

Learn how to earn $125 or more per hour as a freelancer – Free Test Drive

As a new freelancer, you’re ready to go. You’ve got your laptop ready and your Internet connection set up. You may have even created a freelancer website for yourself.

But one thing is missing–clients.

Finding clients is one of the biggest struggles that freelancers face. In this post, I’ll share four techniques for finding your first clients.

Technique #1: Turn to Those You Know

Those who know you and your abilities are more likely to use your services as a freelancer. After all, they already trust you, so why wouldn’t they hire you over a complete stranger?

To find prospective clients among your current contacts, think about people you know who own a small business or have a decision-making role in a larger organization. It often helps to put this list on paper–write down the person’s name, your relationship to them, their position, and the name of their organization.

Your list could look something like this:

  • John Smith, Neighbor, Marketing Director, XYZ Company
  • Aunt Sue, Family, Business Owner, Sue’s Samples
  • Mr. Jones, Former Teacher, Freelancer
  • Sally Doe, Former Employer, CEO, ABCD Inc.

Of course, these are fictitious examples. You can add your own names to the list. Be sure to include people that you haven’t been in touch with for a while.

Once you have your list, start by making a friendly call to let them know about your new freelancing business. Even if they can’t personally use your services, they may know of someone who can.

Remember, the more people you tell about your freelancing business, the more likely you are to get your first clients.

Technique #2: Become a Networker

Networking is another crucial part of finding clients. Networking expands your base of contacts, but it may take some time to grow these relationships.

You should use both online networking and face-to-face networking to increase your chances of meeting potential clients.

To network online, you can take the following steps:

  • Have an active social media presence and make sure all of your profiles are up to date.
  • Leave frequent comments on blogs and sites where prospective customers may be.
  • Don’t rule out networking with colleagues.
  • Consider joining an online networking group or forum.

To network face-to-face, you can take these steps:

  • Attend a tradeshow or conference.
  • Join a local business group (such as the Chamber of Commerce).
  • Become a member of a professional organization.

Experienced freelancers often say that they get the best freelance leads through networking.

Technique #3: Answer an Ad

An immediate way to find a client for your freelance business is to answer an online or print advertisement for a freelancer. Answering an ad has one advantage. You already know that they want to hire a freelancer.

Of course, the disadvantage to answering an ad is that many other freelancers will likely be answering the same ad. You may face fierce competition for the position.

To improve your chances of getting a job from an advertisement, make sure your resume is up to date. Get references from former employers and/or instructors. Also, read the ad carefully and follow the instructions given for applying for the position.

You may find yourself answering many ads before you are offered freelancing work.

Technique #4: Contact Prospects Directly

Another technique that experienced professional freelancers use is to identify possible clients and contact them directly. This technique requires that you know what type of organization is most likely to benefit from your services. This will take some research on your part.

You can make the initial contact through phone or by sending mail to the organization. Be sure to personalize your contact by learning about the organization.

A phone call to a prospect might sound something like this:

“Hello, this is Jane Jones from XYZ Graphic Design. We provide state-of-the art web design to organizations like yours. Could I send you an information packet about our services?”

If they say “yes,” then you can send them the literature and follow up in a few days to see if they have any questions. If they say “no,” just move on to the next call. It’s not personal.

Don’t try to close a deal on the first call–remember, they have never heard of you before and most of them will say “no” for that reason. If you offer literature, they are more likely to let you send it–which leaves the door open for future contacts.

Your Turn

Have you tried any of these techniques for getting clients? What works best for you? How did you get your first client?

Share your experiences in the comments.

Learn how to earn $125 or more per hour as a freelancer – Free Test Drive

About Laura Spencer

Laura Spencer is a freelance writer from North Central Texas with over 20 years of professional business writing experience. If you liked this post, then you may also enjoy Lauraâ??s blog about her freelance writing experiences, WritingThoughts. Laura is also on Google+.