Finding well-paying clients is a challenge faced by many freelancers, especially when you’re starting out. How do you find them and more importantly, build a base of good clients so your calendar is always full? Experienced freelancer Rashida Tayabali (pictured above) shares her proven tips.
Whether you’re starting out or have been freelancing for some time, one of the biggest downsides to a freelance career is learning how to navigate the feast and famine cycle of work. One moment, your inbox is overflowing with inquiries, the next minute it becomes so quiet that you start panicking, wondering where the next client or gig is coming from.
The great news is there’s plenty of freelance work out there, even for newbie freelancers. In this post, I’ll share three proven strategies to either find your first client if you’re just starting out or help make sure your work pipeline is always full.
When done consistently, these tips have paid off in landing high-profile, well-paying clients in my freelance business.
Watch video: Rashida Tayabali’s tips for building your client list
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Tip#1: Get active on social media
In the post-pandemic world, social media has become the number one way in which I find clients, or clients find me.
Go where your audience is, and start adding value by creating and sharing useful content. Connect with or follow people who are likely to need your services – comment on and share their posts.
I’ve had great success with LinkedIn because people are receptive to professional conversations and well-written pitches.
Use these tips if you’re focusing on LinkedIn:
- Think about who your dream client is and what value you can bring to them and their projects through your skills. Include it in your summary and always keep your profile updated.
- Don’t make your LinkedIn profile boring. Let your personality shine through.
- Ask former colleagues/current clients for recommendations.
- Upload a clear and professional photo.
- Start building your network strategically – think about which other industries or professions may need a freelance writer. Some examples are graphic designers, agencies, web developers, and digital marketers.
- Post at least three times a week on LinkedIn – share your work experiences, blogs, and client projects or curated articles with your own analysis.
- Find, follow and engage with potential freelance clients, like marketing, content or digital managers or founders of start-ups. Write insightful comments and share their posts with your network.
I used the last strategy to follow a company and its founders on LinkedIn for four years. When one of the founders posted a callout for writers recently, I reached out to her through a personalised pitch and they hired me.
Tip#2: Build a strong portfolio
A strong portfolio of work is what gets freelancers over the line – especially with big names, agencies or someone who’s never worked with a freelancer before.
If you’re starting out, you may not have any clips to show potential clients. Don’t let that blip stop you.
Create content samples to send out to prospects and blog regularly on your website. Approach friends with businesses and ask if you can write some copy for them in exchange for a testimonial. Use these samples and testimonials when approaching paying clients.
Display your portfolio on your website and on LinkedIn under the Featured section. Create a PDF of clips and email directly to potential clients. When approaching a potential client via email or LinkedIn, tell them what your specialties are and how you could add value to their business.
Want a quicker way to share your portfolio online? Create a Google Drive, OneDrive or Dropbox folder and send prospective clients a read-only link so they can see your work. Create separate folders according to type of project, for example, Social Media Captions or Feature Articles.
Tip#3: Commit to your deadlines
The key to repeat clients and business? Be professional and reliable.
Just like you may have pulled all-nighters at the office to meet your boss’s deadline, you must do the same (and more) in your business. I know of freelancers who were typing out articles and submitting to clients before being wheeled out to the OT for surgery!
While I definitely don’t recommend this, if you’ve promised a client that they’ll receive something by a set time, stick to it no matter what. Never disappear on your clients or make vague excuses for missing a deadline. If you have to miss a deadline, inform clients ahead of time. Communicate, communicate, and communicate!
If the client has to chase you for something they’re paying you for, you’ve failed as a freelancer. Being professional and reliable means clients come to trust and rely on you – that’s key to succeeding as a freelance writer and getting repeat business.
Treat your freelance career like a real business and you’ll never have to hustle for clients or work.
Rashida Tayabali is a copywriter for women in business. Find out more about Rashida here.
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This article is brought to you by Flying Solo in partnership with Hnry.
Feature image credit: Flying Solo