As a freelancer, you can hone your skills as much as you want, but without clients… you won’t get anywhere. So, how can you land freelance clients, even when you’re brand new to freelancing?
In this post, I’m going to give you a bird’s-eye view of the process since the Freelance Success Framework gives you the minute detail. But for those who aren’t in the course yet, I want to give you a firm foundation as you’re starting out in your freelance career.
Step 1: Know What You’re Talking About
First thing first: If you’re not skilled in your chosen field, then no one is going to hire you! (Or, at least, not more than once, and not more than a handful of people who don’t know better.) The first step in any freelance career will always be to make sure you can do the work, and you can do it RIGHT.
That’s not to say that you can’t get on-the-job training. You should have a firm grasp on the fundamentals of your industry and be putting them into practice regularly, but you don’t have to be an expert to land clients. After all, working with clients is a necessary part of attaining mastery.
Step 2: Identify Your Clients
Okay, you’re trained and ready to put your skills to use. It’s time to reach out to your first freelance clients. Your best bet here is to start small and local.
We recommend starting with small businesses because they’re less likely to have a staff person dedicated to the role you are pitching. And even if someone is doing it, since it’s just one of the many “hats” they wear, they could really use some help. Either way, you probably have skills that can make a huge difference in their business.
Local businesses are also more likely to take your word for it that you’re great at what you do. And, since you’re looking for your very first freelance clients, you probably don’t have much of a portfolio. Making a more personal connection will help you gain their trust, portfolio or not.
Step 3: Pitch Clients the Right Way
They key to prospecting is less about who you target, and more about how you approach them. For each potential client, you’ll want to thoroughly research the business to find their strengths and weaknesses. That way, you can really hone in on their needs and how you can best meet them.
It sounds like a lot of work on the front end, but I guarantee you’ll be glad you didn’t skip this step. When you offer real value, you’re so much more likely to earn the business.
(Obviously, we go much more in-depth into the prospecting process in Freelance Success Framework.)
Naturally, not every pitch you send is going to result in a resounding and enthusiastic YES! (I mean, we can all dream, right?) But don’t let any “no’s” get you down since we all experience rejection from time to time. When you focus on small local businesses you’ll get a greater return on your time investment.
And when you do earn the business, it’s a win-win-win: they get the benefit of your savvy, you get some great material for your portfolio, and you make some money at the same time!
Your turn! Do you use other tactics to land freelance clients? What types of small businesses are on your pitch list? Let us know in the comments below!