Let all your family and friends know you are looking for work. When clients come, do every project with high quality and on time, so they become repeat clients. Then ask them to refer others to you and do the same.
As you become more experienced (and quicker) at completing your services, consider charging for the entire project, rather than by the hour. Consider what the project/client solution is worth for their business – the fact you can do it in a certain time frame is thanks to years of study, hard work and experience.
Start a newsletter and use that to remind potential clients about your interests and to keep up the engagement. I have had subscribers to my newsletter – which I have written for 25 years more or less weekly – contact me years later to hire me about something that I once wrote about in my newsletter.
Clients want the same soft skills traditional employers seek. Take the initiative. Be honest. Be helpful. Be dependable. Be accountable. Be respectful. Be humble. Be teachable. Be kind. Being easy/fun to work with is just as critical as having the technical skills and will help you form rewarding professional relationships.
Always share your work on your digital channels, especially when you’re starting out. People are listening, watching and talking about you more than you realise. A considerable portion of your work will come from referrals, so make that work of yours shine and do (some) of the talking for you.
Always think—’Where else are my clients going? What else are they spending their money on? How can I put my name or my business in front of them without directly selling to them? Learn from your competitors, but stay in your lane. Your people will find you.
When starting your freelancing journey, it's always best to expand your network by building good relationships with your former and current clients. Ask your clients for feedback and endorsements to people they know who might be interested in your services. One thing to remember before starting freelance is to build a solid network first because the biggest problems that most freelancers face is finding and retaining clients.
Don't think Upwork, Craigslist, job boards, and Fiverr are your only prospecting options. Try cold emailing or building your brand on social media (LinkedIn, IG, or Twitter). It's easier to gain leads and build authority on your social profiles, and cold emailing helps you reach prospects directly.
With LinkedIn, you don't have to wait for a networking event to make meaningful business connections. You get one chance to make a great first impression so make sure every section of your LinkedIn profile is complete, with no blank spaces or gaps. Include a professional head shot and powerful headline followed by a summary with highlights of your personal brand, what you do well and how you can benefit potential clients or employers. Keep this section brief and easy to skim for best results. Keywords are a great way to help professionals in your industry find your profile and strategic keywords in your profile give you an advantage in networking too.
Carry business cards with you everywhere, and set up a page on your website that has succinct info about you and your experience. This way, you can just share a link to your site that contains all info someone needs to see your deets. The business card could even have a QR code on the back that directs to your page or portfolio!
Understand the red flags. When first starting out, you might be looking to get as many clients as you want or need. But you need to look for clients who really match what you are offering and are prepared to invest in and pay for it. List five to ten bullet points for your perfect list of clients. The points could be: ambitious, trustworthy, adventurous, paying on time, etc.
Then match clients up to this list. If you think someone doesn’t match up to this you could either say no, or work with them and then evaluate.
You'd be surprised at the doors that open with a thoughtful cold email. Find people you'd love to work for and to whom you can provide value and shoot your shot. Don't hold back if it's a big client—self-rejecting only hurts you. Start with minimum five quality cold emails a day and you'll see the magic happen within a month. The best part about cold outreach? It gets easier (and less icky) with practice.