How to build a customer base as a freelancer

Patrick Johnson
Written by Patrick Johnson
on February 05, 2022 4 minute read

Starting out as a freelancer can feel daunting. In most cases it’s not through a lack of experience, it’s the idea that you’re going to have to build your own customer base. In fact, the responsibility of finding new clients and maintaining income is the main fear that holds many back from taking the leap. Building a solid customer base does take hard work but there are a few ways that you can help yourself out. Follow these steps and in no time you will have a good solid customer base and happy you put the work in to win those clients.

Market Yourself On Social Media as a Freelance Professional

When you first start out as a solopreneur, you might find the idea of building your online marketing presence a bit cringe. Whilst it may be a struggle to create content at the start, often once you get into the swing of it, you will find that marketing yourself on social media isn’t all that hard. Don’t be tempted to just start adding posts on your personal profile begging friends for work though, you need to create your professional freelance brand and create new channels. That way you can separate those night-out selfies from your profession and use professional images and captions that talk a potential customer through the way you work. It doesn’t need to be too fancy, it simply needs to build trust in what you offer and let the client know a bit more about your freelance journey.

Plus, the benefits are massive. Once you find a strong audience and are publishing content that showcases your strengths, you’ll be able to attract clients who understand what you do. When you make the most of online groups and forums for freelancers and sole traders you can also start to use your networks to promote yourself for opportunities. LinkedIn can be one of the most effective social media networks for self-promotion and having a strong social media presence on there is key. Start by re-sharing posts and building your connections on LinkedIn and then when you feel confident enough, you can start creating your own posts. 

Network, Network, Network

It’s not all about social media though, there’s a lot to be said for meeting people in person so don’t forget to grow your real-life network too! It’s really important to keep building your connections with both prospective clients and your peers, because many freelance jobs are not advertised, they are referred or outsourced by other busy freelancers. Attend as many events as possible and be sure to get involved with any local freelancer groups. The connections that can be made at these kinds of events with likeminded people can be game changers.

Although it may feel like you’re wasting your time on connections who might not be making you money or doing you any favours right now, networking is all about the long game. For so many freelancers, work can come about through that random connection you met at a conference four years ago and forgot all about. Think about it, when you have a busy portfolio of clients down the line and need some help on an existing project or something outside your wheelhouse, who are you going to ask or refer? Probably someone you’ve met in person.

Be sure to always present yourself and your business and be open to new clients. When in doubt, put yourself out there!

Use Online Platforms To Streamline Freelance Client Onboarding

When you start out in the world of freelance work your competition may pip you to the post with their professional website and established processes. Using a platform like Xolo completely removes that risk. In fact, you’ll look incredibly professional as you meander through your first few experiences of writing (and chasing!) invoices as well as setting up as a professional company.

You should also investigate tools that you can use as soon as you start doing business. Whether they help you in communication, time management, or community-building, there are products out there that will help you get off the ground faster.

And using a professional platform that basically sets up a business for you, will ensure that the clients that you do have will stay on board. There’s nothing worse than putting in lots of work to win a customer to then lose them because they don’t trust how you run your one-person business. A professional platform will help you keep the clients you win. 

Get Client Reviews and Testimonials as a Freelancer

Good reviews are likely to be paramount to your early success, so don’t be afraid to go above and beyond when you win your first few clients. Many solopreneurs and solo freelance heroes win business by being amazing and getting recommendations from customers. This peer-to-peer validation is an amazing way for freelancers to build a customer base as you know that they are likely to be reliable clients who already have a good idea of what you do.

A good thing to remember when you get good reviews or client testimonials it to write them down and record them. Whether that’s in a personal document, email or LinkedIn review, these good comments will make sure you stand out as you build your freelance customer base. If you have a website, you should promote your reviews on there so that future customers can get an idea of just how fabulous you really are.

Offer A Free Trial to New Clients

For some solo business owners this will be easier than for others, but in many industries you can consider offering a taster service to help you win business. It gives you a chance to show off how brilliant you are and also gain trust with a potential client. And studies have shown that free trials do work, as the client or customer feels like they owe you for getting something for nothing.

You could even use your fledgling network as a test, offering your services to a fellow freelancer for nothing so you can help them out and get feedback at the same time. When they need someone with your skillset for a project, they're more likely to call on you to help out again and this time you can get paid for your work. They might even recommend you to their clients if you make a good impression!

Plus, with platforms like Xolo Go that can help you run your freelance business, you’ll only be charged when you get paid. So actually, other than the cost of your time (which is of course super valuable!) you won’t make any real losses and could end up growing your network and building up your client base.

Ready To Take The Leap?

If you’re just about to embark on building up your client base and starting out as a freelancer or one man business owner, then Xolo will be an invaluable ally. Invoice effortlessly and compliantly in a click and win your freelance clients!

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