Wake up when you like, take vacations ten times a year, and earn as much as you want. Isn't that the freelance dream? Well, it doesn't have to be just a dream. As a freelancer, you will be able to design the life you want.
But first things first. A successful freelance business all begins with knowing how to get clients in the first place. Without clients, your freelancing days are limited to the amount of money in your savings account.
The self-employed population of America is forecast to reach 42 million in 2020 and you can be one of them. We've made this guide to show you how to get your first freelance clients and get that money coming in.
Read on to start your freelance career off on the right foot.
Focus on What You Offer
You'd be amazed at how many freelancers start out calling themselves writers or designers. They might be those things, but to prospective clients, that sounds too vague.
No matter what your freelance work is, it's more specific than a single word. And if it's not, this is the perfect time to choose a specialism to begin with. If you're a freelance writer with a background in law, you could become a legal copywriter for law firms all over the nation.
If you're a graphic designer, you might want to specialize in book covers or car stickers. By specializing, prospective clients can immediately see whether or not you're right for them.
Build a Website
Once you know what work you specialize in, you can build a website designed to appeal to your ideal client. If you're a legal copywriter, for instance, you might want to build a conservative and modern website. If you're a children's illustrator then your website will be a lot more fun.
A website is important as it gives you a home on the web that you can easily direct people to. You can keep it simple at first, with an about page, a services list, and a section for your portfolio and contact details.
As you design your website, keep your specialty and ideal client in mind. This will serve as your guide and clients will appreciate a website that's designed for them.
Many freelancers forget that they are businesses and instead give off a too-personal vibe. Remember that you are a business person providing professional services.
With this in mind, try to keep appropriate business hours, have a clear website name, and always use a professional email linked to your domain name.
Optimize Your Social Profiles
Your website is your business' home but your social profiles will help gather interest and direct readers to your website and services. Choose social platforms based on where your clients will be.
Every business should have a well-oiled LinkedIn page. Your LinkedIn page should feature your specialism keywords in the title for SEO purposes.
If your title is 'writer' then you'll rarely be found. If your title is 'expert legal copywriter' than new clients can find you when they search for legal copywriters.
Fill out your description professionally with a clear, detailed breakdown of what you do and who you do it for. Take time to explore LinkedIn's amazing features that many people overlook.
Not every business is suited to Instagram but freelancers who work with visuals can use it to show off their talent. Designers, illustrators, musicians, and photographers can easily showcase work here.
All sorts of freelancers use Twitter for business and the key is to connect with your ideal audience. Being vocal on Twitter and interacting with related businesses and people you'd love to work with is a great way to get attention.
Facebook can be a powerful platform if your ideal clients are local or like to form communities. A bonus of Facebook is that you can add opening hours, price lists, and other business information.
Network in Your Area
You don't have to dive straight into big networking events at first. Start by telling people you already know about your freelancing work and find interesting local business people on LinkedIn. Even if they're not an ideal client, simply meeting them for a coffee to get to know them could lead to future recommendations.
Lots of towns and cities have networking clubs and business breakfasts. These can be a great way to meet more people and get your name out there.
Build a Portfolio
No matter where your freelance skills lie, having a portfolio will provide evidence to readers that you can do what you say you do. Building a portfolio can be difficult when you start but remember, it can include work that you've done purely for a portfolio piece.
You can offer your services to friends or small local businesses for discounted or free rates and add that work to your portfolio. Discounted work is a great way to build contacts who might become full-paying clients when they see what great work you've done for them.
Another way to build a portfolio is by getting small clients through freelancer service websites where you can list your services directly to clients.
Remember to get a testimonial for your website and LinkedIn whenever you do any work for someone, even if it was for free. Testimonials are social proof, one of the most powerful ways to convince others to become your clients.
How to Get Clients That Pay Well
By setting up a professional business and getting your name and face out there, you will immediately give a reputable impression.
With your portfolio, approach small clients you'd like to work with and who you can see would benefit from your skills. Set your rates to suit their business size and type but don't undersell yourself. Offering rock bottom rates doesn't make quality clients take you seriously and only encourages poor quality clients who won't respect your work.
Secure Your First Client and Build from There
By using your website and social media to present a professional business, you can begin getting your name out to prospective clients. But don't hide behind your computer. Local networking is one of the best ways to find your first clients and build testimonials that will draw in more.
When you're wondering how to get clients, remember that you need to know who your ideal clients are before you can go after them. Armed with this information, you can tailor all your business activities to them.
For freelance listings to get you off to a fast start, check out our job board and find clients looking for your skills today.