You might be bubbling over with excitement the moment you decide to enter the world of freelancing. You’re thinking to yourself about how it is the most-happening, rewarding, and flexible profession you can find nowadays. As you move forward and try to get a hold of your first few clients, your enthusiasm starts to diminish. You can’t get hired by even the lowest-paying clients!
If anyone ever told you that getting the first few freelance clients was an effortless task, find them and give ‘em a good kick in the shins for lying. It just doesn’t happen that way. Either they were VERY lucky, got hired by someone who wasn’t really worth it, or were simply trying to act tough by lying. Evidently, the best paying and “worth it” clients need facts and portfolio that substantiate your credibility. No one will just “give you a chance” before they hire you. You have to give them a good reason to invest time and hard-earned money on you!
So, what’s that good reason? Don’t have one yet? Well, you certainly need to start working on one – or several! Think of it as your Unique Selling Point (USP). What can you offer to your clients that another newbie freelancer (who is also desperate for some work) can’t?
Here are a few tips and tricks that will help you squeeze through a door into the world of freelance by attracting your first few clients.
Professional freelancing asks for specific skills which another freelancer may not have. Do you have a favorite topic, skill or know-how in a particular area-of-interest, or experience in a specialized discipline? That could be your niche!
Think about ways you can position yourself differently from competing freelancers who want the same clients as you do. Try to come up with creative ways you can position yourself.
For example, instead of saying that you are a “logo designer” you can position yourself as that guy who “will transform your brand name into a work-of-art”. Now that sounds quirky and fun!
To attract your potential clients, you need to give them the hard evidence they WILL require. Now, how will they be able to see your work if you haven’t done anything before? You’ll have to create a platform for yourself where you can plaster you work and show them what you can do.
For writers, the easiest way to do that is by creating a blog. Hey, who says you need to learn any advanced coding or hire a web developer for it? Web hosting services such as WordPress and Blogger make life so simple with ready-made templates. And they’re free! Your personal blog will serve as a marketing tool for your freelance business. Even if you don’t have the most trafficked website, you’ll still have a platform that demonstrates your skills and expertise.
A clever freelancer not only knows how to sell himself, but also where (or who to) sell himself to. Now, you have an amazing online profile, a marvelous display of your expertise on a blog or two, and a USP compared to your competitors. But now what? It’s unlikely that you will be getting a load of phone calls and emails from clients just by doing that much. Sorry, but life ain’t that pretty! You’ll have to know where to locate your clients and target them — and them only.
First you need to ask yourself: who are my exact clients and where will they go looking for a solution to their problems? Narrow down your target market and try to reach out to them.
Some freelancers turn out to be lucky ducks because they personally know a person or two who’s willing to hire them in their niche. Again, they don’t just become lucky ducks with no effort at all. They have to be able to first identify the right people in their existing network, and then reach out to them. At times, you might even have to build a network and expand it before you can begin identifying.
Go through your contacts and list down note-worthy people who could be a helpful resource. They could also be significant people you know who are willing to make referrals. Invite them for coffee/lunch, or meet up with them where appropriate. Announce your plans and try to sell your point. If they like it, they will be more than willing to help!
Whether you like it or not, people favor people who they personally know or trust. An old friend, family member, distant relative, colleague, or even someone who you met once is likely to get to you places you wouldn’t be able to tap into at all, had you applied solely based on merit. And that’s just a hard reality.
Hardly anyone’s ever willing to pay a good amount to someone completely new. Probations don’t really work in the freelance world, either. So, the best way to rid them of their doubts is by offering them a starter service. This could be a free or discounted sample of your service. It will be a great way for your potential clients to test out your service and see what you can do. This will also give you an outlook on your own potential in a given work.
The silliest mistake some new freelancers make is forgetting to be “presentable”. This means you have to know how to communicate and dress well. Most people make their first impressions based solely on presentation. Think about your meetings, emails, and offers relating to job interview. That means you have to suit up and look awesome.
In the case of pitches and emails, the quality of your communication will make a huge difference. Try to be as professional as possible whenever you contact your potential clients. That means having a reasonably good command over the language (don’t forget the difference between your and you’re) and being precise, responsive, and honest.