Starting your new career path as a freelancer can be at the same time quite exhilarating and scary.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), just in the US, by 2020, 50% of the workforce is expected to engage in some sort of freelance activity. This means that as a newbie freelancer, you will be competing with other freelancers to reach out to your clients.
In order to help you out, here are a few easy tips that you can use to help you stand out from the crowd to get your first clients!
1. Understand what you are selling
When you start out as a freelancer, the first thing to keep in mind is to know what you are selling. It is important to specialize yourself in an area that you excel in, rather than offer too many options which can be distracting for your initial clients.
Often times, clients search for specific sets of skills. Once you have decided in what areas you specialize in, make sure that you set a reasonably fair price (factoring in taxes) rather than a low price, in fear of not finding a client. This will help you be more credible and professional.
2. Get to know your market
In parallel to understanding what you are selling, take some time to think about who you are addressing. Who are your potential clients? What are their demands and needs?
This will help you to better understand the market and what people are seeking.
Browse through a few offers that are being posted across different platforms and get a feel of what they are searching for as well as their requirements.
If you notice that there are some jobs that haven’t found any takers yet, analyze why and start building skills in your reach. For example, if the offer requires a specific knowledge in a particular subject, it’s a great way to gain experience and to test your abilities in that subject.
3. Present your services clearly
Once you have had a look at what goes on in the market, start by describing in clear and concise words what it is that you are offering by using words that normally come up in offers.
However, don’t just say that you offer to write up an article for $30, state what the client is in for. For example if you are a content writer, explain that when writing up your content you understand the importance of SEO, quality and are a fast learner in understanding various different industry activities.
When you give important advantages that you potential clients can expect from you, it will help gaining a few attention.
Presenting your services and who you are can easily be done on freelancer platforms that will be detailed below, but equally on a personal website that is highly recommended to have.
4. Choose your platform
There are a number of international platforms that are specifically designed to match freelancers with clients, which is a great way to start out on and get your visibility on but there are not many that actually allow you to find clients. The best platforms that have the most visibility and are global are:
Probably one of the most well-known freelancer website out there, this is an extremely dynamic platform where many offers are published on a daily basis.
You can find jobs in nearly every domain and there are a great number of functions that are available (for example messaging services, time trackers, help centers…).
However, note that long-term contracts are rare, but it is a good starting point to be visible and get your first clients.
This is another platform where you can offer a wide range of services and very ideal to find your first client. On this platform, the idea is to offer simple and fast tasks (known as “gigs” which start at a fee of $5 then you are able to add in “extras” for more services.
Although the services that you offer here are relatively cheap, it will help you get the hang of working with clients and understanding their needs.
Freelancer is a great platform worth checking out and are mostly catered to clients that are small businesses. Offers posted are from every domain. All you have to do is browse through jobs that match your skills then apply for the work.
The platform also allows you to compete with other freelancers in contest to prove your skills – a great way to give you some more visibility to attract clients.
There are a number of other freelancer platforms which you can have a look over here. Overall, what is great about these websites is that you are able to create your own portfolio page where you can showcase what you have to offer, more about yourself, your skills and your background.
Nevertheless, it is equally important to have a personal website to fully present yourself and what you can do.
5. Importance of a personal website
Although most of freelancer platforms allow you a considerable amount of space to show your potential why they should work with you, most of your clients may not be on freelance websites.
It is therefore important to not solely rely on these platforms but to also create your own personal website, which is indispensable to have in today’s world. If you need more convincing on why it’s important to have a website, this article does it justice.
Your website needs to be clean, clear and readable to prove that you are professional and know what you offering. Make sure that you carefully consider how you will present and structure your website and include the following information:
- Your background, experiences and specialities
- Recommendations from colleagues or past clients if you have worked for some
- Your skills in detail and how they can be useful for your future clients
- Showcase your portfolio and past work that best highlights your potential
Having a website is extremely useful as you can include all of your information on one platform and have it be shared across your networks. Moreover, once you have more clients and examples to show, you can easily share this across your network.
If you do not know how to make a website and have zero web expertise, there are a number of great website builders out there that can help you out at very minimal costs. For instance, you can have a look at Heek, a little robot that guides you from A to Z to make an efficient freelancer website through chat.
6. Share your profile
To get more visibility and opportunities to reach out to more clients, do not forget to share your profile and let people around you know that you are becoming a freelance. As mentioned before, not everyone will be on freelancer platforms.
Starting with social media, let your friends and family know on Facebook, Twitter and so forth that you are a freelancer and if they hear of anyone interested in your services, to reach out to you. This is where it’s important to have a website so that your potential future clients know where to find you.
Word of mouth is a very important communication channel that should not be neglected!
Along with your personal social media profiles, make sure that you are on professional networks such as LinkedIn. It’s an excellent way to gain contacts and let the professional world know that you are a freelancer and to reach out to you if needed.
Besides being present on platforms, start networking. You can for instance go on onto dedicated forums, blogs and specialized e-zines for freelancers. This will allow you to interact with other freelancers that are already experienced and even those that are on the same path as yourself which can give you an added boost and support.
But not everything needs to be done online! There are plenty of events k that you can participate in to meet other people working in the same domain as you. It’s a great way to share insights and clients.
You can browse through events on Facebook or on websites such as Meetup. If you want to take a break from working from home, go out to co-working spots or cafés to meet new people.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start building your network to reach your first clients! Remember, like everything, it takes time and the most important thing that you can do is not get discouraged.