Firstly, congratulations! If this blog has caught your eye that means you’re probably already on the way to setting up a fully-fledged freelance business. However, like most freelancers starting out there’s probably one (rather important!) challenge to face right now - finding your very first client.
Knowing how to get your first client as a freelancer can be a minefield, so we wanted to break it down into simple terms so that you get the info you need to win that business.
Before we share some tips on how to win your first client, take a moment to consider your personal brand or ‘offering’ as a sole trader. The clients you approach will depend on what you do, so have a think about all the amazing skills you have to offer and how you can best position yourself as a freelancer to attract potential clients.
If you’re working in a more formal industry in which you already have hands-on experience as an employee, start pulling on those strings to connect with professionals in your network, that is without breaking any contract agreements with previous employers of course. Alternatively, if your freelance business offering is based around modern digital skills, you’re going to want to ensure that you are well presented online. Think about what makes you different from your competitors, and the kind of advertising streams that will benefit you the most. Here are some of the most popular ways to win that all important first client!
Setting up a website couldn’t be simpler with the likes of Wix and SquareSpace about. Starting to build a portfolio website that showcases the work you’re capable of can be an amazing first step when you’re trying to get noticed by potential clients. There are also a number of profile building options for freelancers. Here’s a few to help you get started:
Whatever route you go down, having a URL link you can paste into comments on social call outs for freelancers and add to your business card will really help you attract more clients. Optimizing for SEO will also go along way to help you reach more prospective clients, check our SEO guide for ways and tips to boost the traffic and ranking for your freelance website.
A great way to make the most of your website once it’s set up is to share it on social media and send it round to your connections via email. A simple email saying hi and reminding them that you’ve gone freelance now should do the trick! You never know when a connection might need your skillset.
One of the best ways to advertise that you’re going freelance is to put yourself out there and let people know. That’s letting your friendship group promote your services among their connections, or talking to people you meet about your new business venture. Often the best way to get the word out there is to talk about it.
The beauty of being a freelance hero is that you never know who is going to come through with some amazing work for you. That guy you met on the train last week might be as valuable to you as someone you used to work with. Many people find that there is plenty of opportunity within their existing networks and sometimes end up going freelance for their previous employer, or getting referrals from previous colleagues who have since moved on to a new business in the same industry.
Keep an open mind and remember that when you are out and about networking, you need to be your brand. Why not put your best foot forward and attend some networking events? Often this can be an amazing way to spread the word that you’re starting out as a freelancer and might offer you the perfect opportunity to connect with your first client.
You’ve just gone freelance, so it’s unlikely that you’re going to have loads of recommendations when it comes to freelance work you’ve done, but don’t let that bother you! It’s a great idea to get some recommendations in the bag from previous employers instead. Get in touch with anyone you have worked with and let them know that you’d love their recommendations as you embark on your new venture.
Often people will be more than willing to help you out and hopefully you’ll receive some glowing reviews! Recommendations are among the most valuable tools in your arsenal as you go about getting your first client as a freelancer. Asking people to send you comments that can go on your website, or leave you a LinkedIn recommendation are great ways to get that all-important number one client.
This one is especially important if you work as a freelancer in social media, content or a similar digital industries. Often the first thing a potential client will do when you send them a CV is give you a stalk on social media. That can be any platform such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Each has a slightly different audience and tone, and the quick guide below should help you out when it comes to knowing which platforms suit which style of content.
LinkedIn - Keep it strictly professional. No content about what crazy party you went to at the weekend, or how you really want this day to be over. LinkedIn is a prime location to pick up your first client as a solopreneur, so the kind of content you need to post is that which accentuates your best skills and lets people know what you’re up to work-wise.
Twitter - More conversational than LinkedIn but definitely professional. The kind of content that will get you noticed on this channel includes opinions on the latest industry news, amazing articles you’ve written about your industry and any general musings relevant to your work life.
Facebook - This is where you can be a little more fun, but still keep it professional as always. Facebook is a great place to interact with freelancer groups that are likely to be posting work that you might be able to pick up. Pictures work well on Facebook, so let your followers know what you’re up to in order to build your profile.
Instagram - Another social media channel that is made for images. Use Instagram to capture your personality and make people fall in love with your personal brand. Keep your professional head on, but don’t be afraid to share an insta story detailing your day or promoting your latest small business win. You’ll be surprised how encouraging the Instagram community is - it’s a place where freelancers like you can thrive!
Your very first client will pave the way forward, helping you thrive and win even more freelance jobs as you grow. It’s important to gain the first client's trust, because (much like hiring) retaining an existing client is easier and less costly than finding a new one.
To help you with that, Xolo helps you agree on your project’s terms with the clients in advance and invoice them compliantly, reducing all possible frictions when working with a new client for the first time. Get started today with your best freelance ally - Xolo nation!
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