Three (Almost) Foolproof Sources of New Freelance Clients

Life can be a bit of a roller coaster for freelancers. Whether you’re a copywriter, web designer, or anything else, getting regular contracts that can pay for your bread and butter is a priority.

When you’ve got them, things couldn’t be better, and your working life can run very smoothly. When you’re left with next to no work to do, on the other hand, you can be left questioning whether this lifestyle is for you.

Thankfully, there are a few ways that you can usually count on to give you a steady stream of freelance work, no matter what industry you’re in.

We’re all feeling the pinch, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t work out there to be found. Let’s take a look at three sources that are (almost) guaranteed to get you a lucrative new contract.

Source #1: Google Adwords or Other PPC Solutions

Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising, if you don’t already know, is a means of promotion by which you (as the advertiser) pay for ‘clicks’ through to your website. On most of these, including Google’s well-known Adwords program, you can choose how much you’re willing to pay per click, and you’ll never spend more than that. This means that PPC solutions are great if you want to keep tight control over your finances.

Of course, in order to craft a successful PPC campaign from start to finish–and get a few lucrative contracts on the hook–you’ll need a well-written and very tempting advert, along with a landing page to back it up.

It goes without saying that you will need a website in order to use PPC programs. However, with hosting costing just pounds a month these days, that’s not too tall of an order. Plus, if you already freelance, you should know the benefits of having your own site by now. By using PPC solutions, you can lure in potential clients who are looking for exactly your skillset–based on their web searches–so it can be a fantastic way to find new clients for your freelance efforts.

Source #2: Online Forums and Websites

Many freelancers find all of their work through online forums and other ‘classified’ style websites, including the world famous Craigslist. On these sites, you’ll find potential clients actually advertising for your particular skills so you know they’re already a hot lead.

One downside of sites like Craigslist is that you need to keep an eye on your particular category (writing, web design, etc.) to spot job opportunities, because there’ll be thousands of others just like you who’ll be replying to these ads almost instantly. By being proactive and keeping your eyes peeled, forums and classified sites can be invaluable in forging lasting professional relationships.

Source #3: Freelance ‘Bidding’ Websites

If you’ve been freelancing for a while, there’s a chance you’ve already come across ‘bidding’ websites that offer freelancers job opportunities. Examples include websites like oDesk and These sites are usually premium offerings, in that you have to pay for the privilege (although many give limited free accounts). You will be given the chance to browse through thousands of job postings, then ‘bid’ on them. This bidding is usually in the form of a price or timescale that you can reasonably offer.

However, this is also where the downside comes in. With so many other freelancers on these sites, pay scales are often driven into the ground. For this reason, don’t go into these sites thinking you’ll be set for life–but they can be great for ‘stopgap’ jobs.

A Final Word of Warning

Do bear in mind that on the last two points you’ll need to be weary of ‘scammers’ and other dishonest “clients.” It’s very easy for them to use sites like Craigslist to find unwitting freelancers, use their services, then never actually pay.

I’m not trying to put you off: simply laying it all down. It does happen, and according to once source in 2009 there were 57 scam jobs to every single real online opportunity (although we can assume this is including very obvious email fakes within that ratio).

Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to combat these nefarious types.

  1. Always research new clients thoroughly. Do they have a website you can verify? Accurate contact details? Are there any of their previous customers you can get in touch with? Always do at least one of these things to set your mind at rest.
  2. Always get a signed contract, one way or another. This will help you from a legal standpoint–and if they’re not legit, they’ll refuse to sign it. That’s when you walk away!
  3. If you do any kind of work that can be printed, always send a copy to them with a recorded delivery. This way, if they claim your ‘digital goods’ were never delivered, you’re covered.

Nobody ever said being a freelancer was easy–as you’ve probably already discovered for yourself. But that doesn’t mean that finding new opportunities needs to be impossible. Sure, it can be hard going and may seem never ending, but when you get that one long-term contract that pays just what you need, it makes all the searching worth it.

Remember that this list isn’t exhaustive. There are lots of other ways you can find new work, including word of mouth, local advertising, direct mail, and much more. When it comes to advertising, the more creative you are, the better. This is especially true for creative professions like graphic design, copywriting, and web design. It’s in these roles that you truly need to show what you can do when you promote yourself. You need to be able to prove that you’ve got the skills you say you do, meaning you’ll need to provide samples whenever you’re asked.

Competition for freelancers is fierce, so don’t let yourself get washed away by the sea of “me too” types–set yourself apart by doing something truly different. If you can manage that, you’ll have new freelance contracts knocking your door down to get your skills on their projects!

Your Turn

Have you tried any of these sources to find jobs?

Share your story in the comments.

Image by jlantzy