Right Under Your Nose: 6 Steps to Land Some Clients
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Right Under Your Nose: 6 Steps to Land Some Clients

This article is part of our All About That Hustle Week. Trust us, there's more to read. 

JUST STARTING YOUR FREELANCE CAREER? HERE ARE SIX SMART (AND EASY) WAYS TO FIND YOUR FIRST CLIENTS.

As a freelancer, there’s one question I get asked more than any other—how do you get clients?

Nowadays, it’s word-of-mouth. One thing that I’ve learned is that when you do a good job (or a bad one), the news sticks. People love talking in superlatives—you want to be a positive thing they talk about.

One thing that I’ve learned is that when you do a good job (or a bad one), the news sticks. People love talking in superlatives—you want to be a positive thing they talk about.

But not too long ago, I didn’t have any clients to recommend me. I was starting from scratch. It’s a daunting place to be in your freelance career, but luckily it doesn’t have to be permanent if you are proactive, open-minded, and tenacious. {click to tweet}

Here are a few ways to find your first freelance clients:

USE SOCIAL MEDIA

It may sound obvious, but surprisingly few people use social media to find freelancing gigs. And yet, every day I see posts on Twitter and LinkedIn for part-time and contract staff. On Twitter, search for your ideal positions using relevant hashtags, such as #freelance, #freelancer, #consultant, and the like. On LinkedIn, check the Jobs section of company business pages, or check out freelance and consulting groups, which often post openings.

CHANGE YOUR EMAIL SIGNATURE

There’s beauty in subtlety, and nothing is as understated—but noticeable—as when you change your email signature. Rather than just having your name, email, and telephone number, why not put your freelance job title on there? For instance, on my personal email account, my signature includes the fact that I’m a digital marketing consultant, and I’ve gotten numerous leads from various people and organizations that see my title and email me about work.

There’s beauty in subtlety, and nothing is as understated—but noticeable—as when you change your email signature.

BE AVAILABLE

I mean, really available. It often isn’t an issue of getting someone on the telephone or in an email conversation about hiring you—between social media and personal networks, finding leads can be easy enough. It’s often closing the deal that’s the real kicker. I’ve found that one thing that makes me stand out is answering emails immediately, or as quickly as possible. Whereas some people unplug at 6pm sharp, or don’t check business emails over the weekend, I try to be as responsive and helpful as possible at all times. {click to tweet} If a prospect wants to chat, or has a quick question that takes only a few minutes of leg work, I try to take care of the situation immediately to show my client the level of care and attention I pay to business matters.

NEVER SAY NO

When I first started out, “no” was not a word in my vocabulary. Even if the gig sounded boring, or simple, I took it on. Oftentimes I not only learned something very valuable (even if it was simply not to take on a job I wasn’t excited about!), but I got another client under my belt to build my referral network. When you’re just getting started, there’s no project too small or price too low. {click to tweet} Everything is a building block, and unless you’re in the very lucky minority, you have to build a solid foundation of experience before you can command higher prices and take on the hotter gigs.

UNDERCUT THE COMPETITION

Another way to close sales early on in your freelancing career is to undercut the competition, either in price or customer service. Not only can you be more available (see above), you can probably work for less than you want. I’m not saying to undercut the competition to the point that you don’t make any money, or else freelancing wouldn’t be worth your time. What I am saying is that when you’re first getting started, you are competing with people who have more experience than you do, and the thing that can make you stand out to clients who may be skeptical is to note your lower price point.

When you’re first getting started, you are competing with people who have more experience than you do, and the thing that can make you stand out to clients who may be skeptical is to note your lower price point.

I often noted that I was an experienced professional, but new to the freelance life, and therefore charged lower rates since I was still learning the ropes. Since I was a beginner, I also offered package, rather than hourly, rates to give my clients peace of mind that I wouldn’t charge them more than a more experienced freelancer who may be faster.

ASK FOR HELP

It just takes one “yes” to get started as a freelancer, but you need to make sure that that one “yes” multiplies! Therefore, if you’re looking for more work, do the simplest thing possible: ask for help. Tell your existing clients, friends, and family that you’re looking for work. Offer a small discount on your work for referrals or testimonials, too.

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Finding a client can be the most daunting part of starting a freelancing career, but don’t let it overwhelm you. With drive, determination, and a realistic mindset, you will be well on your way to finding your first client (and more!) in no time.

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This article is part of our All About That Hustle Week. Trust us, there's more to read.