Five Simple Tactics to Find New Clients

client-huntingFinding work…it’s one of the most challenging, yet most vital, tasks that a freelancer must face.

When they start out many freelancers have no idea how to find new clients. This is especially true if the freelancer is coming from a corporate background where new work is assigned to them as soon as they complete a project.

While the task of finding clients can seem overwhelming to a new freelancer, clients are actually all around you if you know where to look.

In this post we’ll share five easy tactics that you can use regularly to build your client base.


Simple Client Finding Tactics for Freelancers

If you are using the right tactics to find clients, you can grow your freelancing business. Here are some simple strategies to use:

  • Ask for Work–Referrals are the number one way that many freelancers find work. This is true for me and surveys have shown that it’s true for other freelancers as well. Sometimes referrals just happen. A client likes your work and refers you to a friend. When it happens like that it’s nice. But, if that’s the only way that you get referrals, you’re missing opportunities. To maximize the number of clients that you have, you should be gently asking for more work each time you successfully complete a project. You can try saying something like this: “Is there anything else that I can do for you, or do you know of anyone else who could use my services?” You’d be surprised at how this can increase the number of clients that you get.
  • Tap Into Your Past Life–Whether it be at school or in the workplace, everyone has a past. Too often freelancers fail to tap into their past life to build their business. Naturally, most of us stay in touch with our friends and family, but what about former employers and teachers? Often they are forgotten. Consider contacting the teacher who helped you the most or that former employer who gave you your very first job. What about contacting your former boss who served as your mentor? Let these people from your past know that you have started a business and that they played a role in your success. You’d be surprised at how helpful these people can be in connecting you with potential clients. Who knows? Some of them may have moved on too and may even become a client themselves.
  • Tell Your Story–Every business has a story. It’s the story of what the business about, how it got started, and why it’s the best at what it does. Too often, freelancers let this story go untold. Don’t make this mistake. Make sure that your website and your promotional materials reflect your story. Also, when you are interacting with your network keep your story in mind. You don’t have to be overly aggressive about pushing your business, but at the same time your contacts should know what you and your business is really about. Often, this is just a matter of speaking up when people are discussing their jobs and describing your work as well.
  • Get Organized–Organization can help you find leads that can be turned into to prospects for your business. To start, you should have the contact information for each and every client that you’ve ever done work for. If it’s been over six months since you contacted them, it’s acceptable to touch base with a former client again in a friendly way. Keeping your name in front of them can generate additional work for you. Also, you should know the source that generated each and every client. Did they come from an advertisement? A referral? Some other source? Make sure that you know. If some part your marketing is successful, you need to know that so that you can repeat whatever it was that worked.
  • Be the Best–Reputation is a vital part of finding new business. Pay attention to what you do and say online and in person. Pay attention to what others are saying about you as well. Having a good reputation can make all the difference in the world when it comes to a client deciding whether you should get a gig with them. I recently had a prospective say to me, “you have an excellent reputation.” In my opinion, there’s nothing better that a freelancer can hear. It’s important for prospective clients to know that you can be counted on to do a good job.

What Do You Think?

I’ve shared my tactics for getting new clients, now it’s your turn. Share your ideas and tips for building your client base.

Image by carbonnyc

Comments

  1. says

    I have really come to believe that the advice given on this blog is invaluable, once again excellent article!

    I would have thought that doing a query on Yellow Pages for the niche you wanted to target would provide you with ample amounts of contacts, however that is against the theme of this topic.

    Using your connections to get business is definitely a strategy worth pursuing. Now a days it is not what you know, but rather who you know!

  2. says

    Hi Laura, well done, nice tips. I would add one more: have always your business cards with you, you’ll never know when you’ll need it. As an example I gave one of mine to my dentist last week and it was totally unplanned :-) Good luck to all the (new) freelancers!

  3. says

    Good list – It’s often hard to look back when you’re thinking about new clients – since looking back normally means being in a different geographic area (for me, since the military brought me out of Florida, then college to a new city, now the prospect of another new place).

    The merging of a past life and your current proactivity may look much different, but the opportunities can be there too – nice reminder.

  4. says

    Referrals have definitely been the lifeblood of my business. Working with referrals is also ideal because they help keep the quality of your clients consistent. During one slow period, I canvassed friends for potential client ideas by asking for suggestion of companies that would be a good fit for me. It gave me some new ideas and ended up bringing me some new leads. Thanks for another tip-filled post, Laura!

  5. says

    I agree with Laura on this, especially No. 1 & 2. I actually combine the two, by sending out emails to past and current clients saying, “Hi, I hope this finds you well. We haven’t talked in a while, and I just wanted to check in and see how things are going for you. I’d love to work with you again so let me know if you have any upcoming assignments or projects available.” Because it’s email, it’s not too pushy, but it still gets my name in front of the client. It’s amazing how many responses I get along these lines: “I’m great! It’s good to hear from you. I was just putting together my assignment list for the “_____” issue, and I’d love to send an assignment your way.” The key, at least for me, is to send these types of emails regularly, but not bombard clients with them. I have found the best time to do so is when I’m wrapping up a lot of projects, and I’m left with a little breathing room before the next projects come along.

  6. says

    This article takes us back to basics and yet teaches us more. Thanks for such an insightful read Laura, your articles are always an inspiration for all of us.

    There are so many little things I could add to this article, but what you have mentioned is more than enough.

  7. says

    These are great tips! We’ve also found that utilizing social media is a really great way to stay in touch with our current customers and find new ones.

  8. says

    Thanks everyone for the comments!

    Karon Warren–Combining steps 1 & 2 is a good suggestion. Thanks for sharing your experiences. :-)

    Travis, you are so right about social media! Having a presence there is vital. We’re big believers in social media here at Freelance Folder too–that’s why we have a Facebook fan page. All of us tweet as well.

  9. says

    Great post Laura.

    I would agree with just asking for work – that is a very good one. Sometimes just the simple act of acting could get you some more work.

    I would also really agree with using Social Media and even things like cold emailing or calling. Also, other things like guest posting on other blogs really get you in front of lots of people at once; some of those could turn into new clients.

  10. says

    We have had a hard time to find qualified designers and developers. Usually the proposals are out of our budget, the designers are too busy, or not qualified. The freelancer networks are a good idea, but never find quality designers there.

  11. says

    I would add:

    1. Join local business groups , is a way to show what you do
    2. Network as much as you can, this was mentioned at 1&2
    3. on still times, just do some pro-bono jobs, this can lend you some serious money in the future.

    Great post and comments.

  12. says

    great article!. the “tell your story” part was the most revealing at least for me. yesterday was wireframing the new “about us” page for my company and was wondering about the inclusion of our history or manifest in this secction.

    tnks laura, greetings from Chile

  13. says

    Hi to All! I just wanted to know that how I can communicate with new clients specially on freelancer website.

    If you have some formats of communication of first time then please provide me.

    Like:
    How to greet, how to share your previous experience and skills.
    And finally the tactics to get the work.

  14. says

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  15. says

    Great points. I think you’re right, referrals and “networking” are the key to success. Also importnat to network with other freelancers so you can tackle larger projects as a team as well. Networking3 with web design and development firms is a great way to expand your base. Companies always need help from contractors / freelancers, might as well be on their list!

    Great article.

  16. Nicole de Kpi says

    Thank you for the great tips! I think, networking is the best way to find the prospective clients.

    Re Karon Warren’s comment: How often can we send emails to the clients? Once in a month or in 2?

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Five Simple Tactics to Find New Clients: “Finding work…it’s one of the most challenging, yet most vital, tasks that a freelancer must face. When they start out many freelancers have no idea how to find new clients. This is especially true if the freelancer is coming from a corporate background where new work is assigned to them as soon as they complete a project. While the task of finding clients can seem overwhelming to a new freelancer, clients are actually all around you if you know where to look.” [Freelance Folder] [...]

  2. [...] Is That Client Legit or Just a Tire Kicker? Filed Under: Advice Re-Posts by neojakey51 — Leave a comment June 9, 2010 When you’re first starting out as a freelancer it’s very tempting to spend a ton of time with each potential client that shows you some interest. After all, you don’t have much work, so it’s important that you try to get every client you can. [...]

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