What is the best way to get clients as a new freelancer?

Starting your freelancing career can be tough. We're here to help with this guide on the best way to get clients as a new freelancer.

What is the best way to get clients as a new freelancer?

When established appropriately, a freelance career can be a highly flexible and lucrative path to take. In fact, you’ll often have the freedom of working when and where you want while also deciding who you work for.

But, the first step toward this lifestyle is securing a handful of clients. Although this might seem difficult, it's not as complicated as you might think.

Let’s explore the best ways to get clients as a new freelancer.

Refine your portfolio

You can’t expect to secure the clients as a freelancer if you aren’t able to showcase a stellar portfolio. As such, this means that you will need to put forth the time and effort required in order to ensure that your portfolio is as presentable as possible.

Unfortunately, many new freelancers simply don’t have enough professional work to place into a single collection. This could even cause them to give up before they ever move forward in their careers.

If you find yourself needing more projects to place within your freelance portfolio, it’s important to remember that you have the option of completing independent work. Many freelancers choose to create ‘mock’ projects that align with the industry they work within.

For example, let’s assume that a new freelance graphic designer is looking to secure their first handful of clients. Let’s also assume that they specialize in product advertising within the athletic apparel industry.

They could create a handful of projects for high-profile brands in order to showcase their capabilities. Of course, it's essential that you denote whether or not these pieces were for a legitimate client as to not misrepresent yourself.

Some people are on the other end of the spectrum in the sense that they have a large number of projects was to showcase. In this case, it’s in your best interest to narrow these down to the top 10 or 20 pieces.

This will prevent your potential clients from becoming overwhelmed while browsing your portfolio.

Master the art of pitching yourself

In the early stages of your freelance career, it’s simply unrealistic to expect clients to come to you. While this will become a possibility later down the road, you will need to master the art of pitching yourself as a professional in order to make progress.

Interestingly, this can be a deceptively difficult task to complete.

More often than not, new freelancers tend to either oversell or undersell themselves. In most cases, this will only lead to declined proposals (assuming that you are able to get a response in the first place).

You also need to consider the medium that you are using for your pitch. In general, you will either be pitching your services to potential clients over email or in person.

When using email to do so, brevity will be your best friend. People don’t have time to read a long-winded message, and they may not even open your email if your headline is captivating enough.

So, answer the following questions as quickly as possible within your message:

  • Who are you?
  • What can you do?
  • Why should they choose you?

At the end of your email, provide a link to your portfolio so that the person on the other end of the message can get a better feel of what you’re capable of.

When pitching yourself in person, how you do so will depend on the setting that you’re in. For example, pitching yourself at a formal meeting with a company representative will require you to research that business and its major issues while conveying how you can help resolve them.

If you meet with somebody independently at a public location, chances are that things will be a bit more relaxed. But, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t maintain your professionalism at all times.

Leverage social media

There is simply no greater tool than the Internet when it comes to connecting with potential clients. More specifically, utilizing social media is one of the most efficient ways to get in touch with people who could benefit from your services.

Although LinkedIn has always been a reliable resource for freelancers to take advantage of, its popularity has exploded in recent years.

This means that it’s easier than ever for freelancers and professionals to connect with each other. While maintaining a LinkedIn profile isn’t guaranteed to get you your first set of gigs, you will be putting yourself at a huge disadvantage if you don’t create one.

Instagram is another platform that carries a large amount of potential for freelancers. This is especially true for those who are involved in creative fields, such as videography, photography, or graphic design.

In many cases, your Instagram account could even serve as your professional portfolio as long as you treat it like one. This means that you should only include your highest quality work, interact professionally with your followers, etc.

To elaborate on this latter point, freelancers sometimes make the mistake of treating their professional social media profile like their personal social media profile. This is a situation that you should avoid at all costs, as even one political comment or argument with another user could tarnish your reputation as a professional.

Network as much as possible

As you might guess, networking can help pave the way for your success as a freelancer. As such, it’s highly recommended that you prioritize it right from the beginning.

This means that you should go out of your way to attend networking events and seek advice from those more knowledgeable than you. In some cases, you may even be able to find a mentor who is willing to help you develop your skillset.

Collaborating with other freelancers is also something that you should prioritize. More often than not, this will be in the form of a side project that isn’t geared toward any specific client.

So, it won’t have an immediate payoff.

But, it can be a great addition to your portfolio and will help you establish a strong relationship with someone further along in their freelance career. In the future, there’s a strong chance that they will send work your way if they already have a full schedule.

Occasionally, freelancers forego the opportunity to attend networking events due to the notion that there aren’t any available in their city. The truth is that there are events you can benefit from attending in virtually every city and town — the scale simply depends on the size of the city in which they are held.

To clarify, a new freelancer in a small, rural town still has the opportunity to network with those around them in order to jumpstart their freelance career.

Co-workspaces are also great ways to introduce yourself to new contacts. Even if they don’t need your services, it’s possible that they know of somebody who would be willing to work with you.

So, don’t neglect this opportunity when deliberating upon ways you can get started networking.

Hone your craft

Eventually, you may reach a roadblock that prevents you from securing new clients. No matter what you try, your networking and portfolio simply aren’t enough to convince people.

At this point, you will need to focus on honing your craft and becoming as proficient as possible in your chosen discipline. You may even want to expand slightly outside of your niche.

For instance, let’s assume that you specialize in creating digital advertisements. Although you have a strong proficiency in graphic design, you know very little about shooting and editing video content.

Fortunately, working as a designer has provided you with a strong set of skills that can serve as the foundation to learn information about videography.

With enough investment, you can easily make yourself much more well-rounded as a professional. For those who are unsure of how they can improve upon themselves, one of the best ways is to watch video tutorials online.

Chances are that you will have a little trouble finding a comprehensive guide that can help you refine the skills you already have. You can also research what books the professionals in your field find most useful.

Put simply, investing time into your growth as a professional will provide an exponential return and can also help you overcome obstacles that prevent you from securing the clients that you want.

Focusing on your craft does not mean that you should neglect your development as a professional, however. Taking steps to make your client intake as seamless as possible can go a long way when it comes to forming long-lasting relationships.

To help get started, you can take advantage of our tools for business development. This will ensure that you stay on the right track as your freelance career develops. You'll also make your client experience as good as possible.

You can visit this resource to learn more.

Reach out to contacts you already have

Interestingly enough, new freelancers sometimes forget to leverage the contacts that they already have. But, that friend you know who runs their own business or former boss who can benefit from your services can be great ways to get started in your career.

Of course, it’s imperative that you treat these interactions as professionally as possible. This means that you should approach these individuals in the same way you would reach out to someone with whom you have no prior experience.

Additionally, you should draft an official agreement between the two of you that includes the fine details about the project. This will help ensure that there are no disagreements when it comes to timelines, compensation, etc.

Although working with existing contacts can be highly beneficial, it also comes with the risk of eroding your relationship with them. This is particularly true if the work you provide is substandard or if you do not prioritize meeting their deadlines.

In contrast, the same outcome can occur if the other individual attempts to avoid compensating you for the full amount or delays payment. As long as you candidly establish the terms of the project at the beginning of your agreement, you are unlikely to encounter issues in the future.

Freelancers can take advantage of our project management tool in order to stay on track. This will provide them with comprehensive insight into upcoming deadlines and their current progress.

Join a freelance community

Joining a community of like-minded freelancers will be one of the most important moves that you make at the beginning of your career. Not only will you be able to leverage these connections for advice or feedback, but it will also help establish a sense of belonging.

Many freelancers (especially new ones) tend to feel isolated when compared with those who hold a traditional 9-to-5. A large factor at play here is the amount of time you spend without connecting with like-minded individuals.

A freelance community can easily eliminate all of these concerns and is a worthwhile endeavor to invest your time in. In fact, it’s highly likely that you will form mutually beneficial relationships with freelancers in your industry just by interacting with your freelance community.

So, keep this in mind moving forward so that you can facilitate the greatest chance of your future success.

Knowing how to get clients as a new freelancer can seem overwhelming

Fortunately, the above information will ensure that you handle this obligation as smoothly as possible. Afterward, being able to get clients as a new freelancer will become a relatively simple task that paves the way for your future career.

Just starting your freelancing career? Perfect the art of freelancing with our free guide.