Freelancing is a great work alternative for those seeking to start their own business, gain greater freedom in their work life, or simply make a bit of extra cash in addition to their full-time job. Essentially, working as a freelancer allows people to seek out contracts and invoice clients on a project-to-project basis, utilizing a particular skill set.
Photo by Michael Burrows from Pexels
Finding new clients or getting started as a freelancer can seem daunting, but there are a few easy actionable practices to adopt that can make this process a lot easier. Whether you’re a freelancer that’s just getting started or an experienced freelancer looking for new ways to grow your business, here are ten tips to ensure you’re expanding your reach into new and more profitable clients.
1. Establish your Business Plan
When you’re working as a freelancer, it’s important to have a well-established business plan. Although your projects as a freelancer may seem simple enough to not need this, as a freelancer you are essentially a small business, therefore an outline of your activities and goals is useful for creating clear expectations for yourself and your plan to grow your work.
Contained within your business plan should be a summary of the document, the products and services you’re offering, market analysis of competition, strategy for competition, financial planning of your work, and finally an expected budget. If this is a completely new concept to you, it’s definitely worth checking out Investopedia’s guide to business plans in order to get started.
2. Understand and Identify your Ideal Client Type
Before you can expand your services to potential clients, it’s important to also understand what your ideal client types are, providing as much detail as possible. This is typically understood as persona creation. This is essentially an exercise which seeks to help you as a business understand your ideal client or consumer, including aspects such as their industry, potential concerns, education and professional background, skills, and potential grievances.
Understanding your client through a persona creation process helps you as a freelancer determine how to market to them, what messaging to use to communicate to them, and what possible solutions you can offer to their specific pain points and needs.
If you are new to this process altogether, one really helpful resource is this quick guide to persona creation provided by Hubspot. Here you can find a walkthrough of the process including a free persona creation template to use.
Photo by Tranmautritam from Pexels
3. Utilize your Existing Network
Within your circle of friends, family, and past colleagues, there are people that know you on a personal level and trust the level of quality you can provide in your work. To develop your freelancing business and obtain clients, a level of trust first needs to be established. Utilizing an existing network that is confident in your expertise is a great way to get started and develop further from the ground up.
First start by putting your services out there on LinkedIn and try to engage with your network there. Then ask around to those closest to you, and in particular mention the possibility of referring anyone they might know to your services. This word-of-mouth strategy is useful in obtaining your first clients and helps grow your business.
4. Cold Email or Cold Call New Clients
After reaching out to your existing network, another way to grow beyond this initial start is to directly message or call potential clients who may be in need of your services. When reaching out to these individuals directly, it’s important to keep in mind that this should contain clear messaging and go directly after the solutions that you can provide.
Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels
5. Establish a Social Media Presence
Another important aspect to think about is the ability to develop your brand and make yourself known and visible. When targeting specific clients for your services, consider what platforms they can be found on, and then engage in their community with useful information, discussion, and questions and answers.
The key here is to engage regularly and on a consistent basis, always giving more value to the community than you are getting back in return. Potential clients won’t take you seriously if you pry into their online communities only to ask them to use your freelance service.
6. Market your Services on Gig Economy Sites
In addition to reaching out to your own network and other individuals through direct messaging, every freelancer should utilize the plethora of freelancer services that connect you to clients looking for project help.
Typically on these services, clients will post a job for a project they need help with, and freelancers will post profiles showcasing their skill sets and services. Freelancers can then either apply for these projects directly or in some cases clients will reach out to freelancers directly.
If you are looking for the best gig economy sites to get started with, be sure to check out our post the Top 10 Freelancer Platforms for Finding Contracts to find the best places to market your services.
7. Network and Establish Relationships
Networking and establishing personal relationships with people in your target audience is essential for growing your business beyond just your first few clients. Attending both in-person and online events related to your business and ideal client types will help establish relationships with other organizations, individuals, and freelancers like yourself, giving the possibility to expand your business.
In the event that contracts with clients are not obtained from attending these events, at the very least they provide an opportunity to understand your targeted industry better. There is no loss in getting more involved with your client community whenever possible.
8. Create a Personal Website
If you haven’t established a personal or company website already, it may be worth the consideration to do so. A website allows you as a freelancer to showcase your ideal projects and work, exhibit the added value you can provide, and it also adds a level of professionalism to your clients that might not have been as clear before.
Today getting a website started for free is easier than it’s ever been. There’s no need to learn HTML coding or spend hours maintaining the site. With services like Wix, Wordpress, and Weebly, getting started with your own website takes only a few minutes, and once it’s up and running there is very little maintenance required. Check out a few of these free website-building options from this article written by the muse.
9. Connect with Clients both Old and New
If you have built up a good base of past clients, don’t be afraid to reach out to them again to see if they may have more projects for you to work on. Past clients oftentimes have areas where more movement could be facilitated but they don’t have the bandwidth to take it on themselves. This is where returning back to them with offers for work could be the push they need to get their initiatives moving forward and hire you.
10. Get Reviewed by Past Clients
Coming back to the idea of trust in order to gain new clients, one way to develop trust is by receiving good reviews from past work that has been completed. If you have finished with a client and felt that the job went well, ask them for a review online in order for future potential clients to see. The more reviews you have received for the work that you have done, the more likely that new clients will be willing to pursue you for their needs.