Becoming a successful digital freelancer can offer endless value. Not only can you work wherever you want — whenever you want, but you can be your own boss, set your own rates, and fire clients that you don’t want to work with anymore.
This flexibility and autonomy is enough to make even the most satisfied 9-to-5er reconsider. But, before you can get to this point, you need to start by learning how to attract leads and convert them into paying clients. Here are a few tips for doing just that.
Leverage Resources Available to You
The internet provides digital freelancers with a wealth of information and resources to help them grow their side hustle. From in-depth blogs, podcasts, and tutorials to freelancing platforms, there are many resources at your fingertips.
As you start looking for freelancing work, consider the low-hanging fruit found on freelancing platforms like Upwork or Fiverr. These types of websites provide an ecosystem for businesses looking for freelancers and freelancers looking for clients to network and connect.
In most cases, you can sign-up for free, create a profile, and begin bidding on work immediately. They will take a small percentage from any transaction, but the convenience and ease of their systems make it great for anyone just starting out with freelancing.
Using freelancing platforms and other educational resources are strategies that can help you get the ball rolling with your freelancing career. While these techniques are not groundbreaking, they can provide the foundation you need to start growing your client base.
Look for Local Opportunities
A lot of freelancers neglect their local business when looking for new freelance clients, but your immediate network and surrounding community is a great place to find leads. Local business meetups and mixers are the perfect environments for networking and finding part-time work — and while COVID-19 has made these events more difficult, don’t forget them when your city begins opening up.
If you’re looking for a less physical way to find work locally, consider joining industry Facebook groups or business forums in your community. By joining these digital communities, you can inject yourself into the conversation when it involves finding help or you can pitch your skills directly.
Finally, consider reaching out to your friends and colleagues to see if they know anyone hiring for your expertise. Business owners are now, more than ever, looking for flexible staff and you may have someone in your immediate sphere of influence who could use your help.
Show Your Value with Free Services
We’ve all seen this technique before. You’re browsing social media and suddenly an ad pops up in your feed to try this new service for free for 7 days. Maybe you signed up and actually enjoyed it so much that you became a monthly, paying subscriber.
The freemium business model is tried and true. From the Chinese restaurant in your local food court to Netflix, businesses have been offering free trials or samples for generations.
As a freelancer, you should also consider offering your service for free to clients as a way to showcase your skills and communicate value to that client in a tangible and meaningful manner.
I recently wrote about a freelance writer, Felix, who ended up making more than $1,000 a month online from one client — me. I was a business owner of a pretty successful company, and I received dozens of pitches every week for freelancers wanting to work for me. However, unlike all the other emails which focused on selling themselves right away and asking for paid work, Felix asked if he could write a newsletter for me for free.
After writing that newsletter and a few others for free, he then approached me about being compensated for his work. By this point, he had already shown his competency, and I had seen the value he added. This made it very easy for me to say yes.
You obviously don’t want to build a huge base of unpaying clients, but if you have the opportunity to land a big project and need to do some work up-front without pay, the juice may be worth the squeeze in the long run.
Look for Full-Time Positions and Pitch a Part-Time Solution
Job boards on sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, and Monster are great places to find full-time positions. While you may not be wanting to make a career change, you can definitely use this information to find freelancing work.
For example, if you are a freelance web designer, you typically work project-to-project. You could spend a few hours scouring job boards for full-time web designer jobs and apply with the caveat that you are looking for part-time work and can help on a project basis.
While many companies are hiring full-time positions only, you may come across businesses who may prefer the flexibility of a freelancer. Instead of having to pay benefits or deal with overhead, they can simply pay you for work completed.
Many freelancers are only looking for work on freelancing platforms and part-time job boards only, so you can decrease your competition for freelancing work if you effectively pitch your freelance solution to employers looking for full-time help. If nothing more, you have the knowledge that they are hiring for your skill — the rest is up to your ability to sell yourself.
There is no black or white answer for how you should go about finding freelance clients. Many entrepreneurs can successfully grow their freelancing business through their own network and industry connections. However, others need to be more creative and strategic with how they build their client base. Consider the ideas above if you are struggling with finding freelancing clients.