So you’re entering the world of freelancing for the first time. You’re excited but not quite sure where to start to land clients.
The great news is that you’re not alone. Millions of other beginning freelancers have been in your shoes and become successful, self-employed business owners, and you can, too.
Although every freelancer brings a unique set of skills to the table, the process of getting your first client is pretty similar across the board. Follow these “new freelancer” tips to jumpstart your gig work business today!
Share the Good News
Most people starting out as a freelancer land in one of two categories. Either they’re so thrilled about the career change that they tell everyone they meet, or they’re overly cautious and keep the move close to their chest. This usually happens because of the “what will people say” worry and the fear of looking like a failure if the business isn’t successful.
There’s an in-between, and that’s where you should be right now. Those closest to you and your extended network may need your job skills or know someone who does. But they can’t hire or recommend you if they don’t know what you’re doing.
Take a few minutes to compose a simple but informative text message. Try something like, “Hey, everyone, I’m excited to let you all know about my career change. I’ve recently left the daily grind to start my own business as (insert your job title here). If you or someone you know ever needs my services, contact me at (your details).”
Copy and paste that text and personalize it as necessary. You may get crickets, or you could have an inundation of people wanting to know more about what you do. They’ll take this new knowledge into their network, and if anyone needs your skillset, they can connect them to you.
As you send those texts or make phone calls, be sure to cover your whole network, including:
- All social media platforms
- Your friends and family
- Previous employers and co-workers
- Those old stored phone contacts you haven’t used in a while
Remember, everyone is a potential client. It’s up to you to let them know that.
Join Freelance Sites
Freelancer job sites can be hit and miss, depending on how well you set your portfolio up and the kinds of clients looking for your skills. But kind of like your network, if you don’t have a presence on the job site, clients can’t find you.
Research the various freelancing platforms, like Freelancer, Upwork, and Fiverr. Each platform has its pros and cons, and some work better for certain professions than others. For instance, Fiverr is popular with techies, designers, and artists, whereas Upwork hosts a lot of virtual assistant and writing gigs.
The key to attracting clients on any of these sites is your bio and portfolio. Read what other people in your line of business say on their bios. What kind of work do they showcase? Are there any tests or certifications they have that you should take?
It does require a hefty investment in your time to build your profile and reputation on each site. You’ll also need to factor in time for bids, and you may not get any takers for a while.
Consider taking low-paying work to get established on the site and improve your reputation. It’s a great way to start your freelancing work and gain experience that leads you to better-paying, consistent jobs.
Network With Freelancer Groups
The freelance industry is booming, with over 1.5 billion people in the sector worldwide. Keep that in mind as you get the inevitable pushback from people wondering how you could quit your job and strike out on your own. Remember, every business started with someone taking a chance, and you’re doing the same thing.
As you’re searching for your first few clients, reach out to freelancer networking support groups. You’ll be amazed at how many groups are out there and how encouraging the members are. Communicate and add people to your network, and, like your friends and social media followers, they may recommend others to you and vice versa.
These groups are also places where you’ll find the benefits you thought you lost when you quit your corporate job, like health insurance and shopping discounts. Signing up to become a member of a collection of gig workers gives you large group rates on everything from entertainment to legal aid and more.
Join as many freelancer sites as you can, and if you need something, ask the group. Someone will likely point you in the direction where you can get the job done at a discount, so while you’re networking for your first clients, you’ll be saving money, too.
Your freelancing job opens you up to a world of opportunities waiting for you to explore them. But they all start with that first client. Follow these three simple tips to grab the attention of potential customers and build a successful gig work business!