If you’re a freelancer working from home, there is no doubt you are facing much competition. Freelancing continues to grow in popularity as a job choice, as it gets easier every year to work from home, or a coffee shop, or a beach. It’s estimated that 35% of the American workforce is now made up of freelancers. With that number of people looking for work, and able to work for anyone, from anywhere, freelancers have to hustle to get clients even in smaller communities. You might be the only freelancer on your block, but with the internet you’re certainly not the only one your local businesses can find. Many freelancers can find work using internet sites like UpWork.com or Fiverr.com, but these sites become inundated quickly and you can get lost amid the millions of other users.
So what’s a freelancer to do? Here are three ideas about how to get clients you might not have considered:
1) Use the Internet Efficiently
Reddit, Craig’s List and Twitter can all be a boon to your client hunt. Yes, these are websites with people from all over the world accessing them. However, unlike sites such as UpWork, when you find a client using one of these sites the website doesn’t take a cut of the payment.
On Reddit, there are specific subreddits targeted at helping freelancers get clients. If you’re a writer, check out r/writingjobboard, or if you do web design check out r/webfreelance. You can also post your information on r/freelance_forhire to try to attract clients. Just be careful that you have posts sorted by ‘new’ and not ‘hot’ so that you are seeing newer job openings first. r/freelance is also generally a good resource for freelancers, with frequent discussions on everything from which websites to use to find work to advice on doing your taxes.
Craig’s List allows you to find jobs nearby, which is helpful if you prefer to meet with clients face to face. You are also free to search far and wide outside of your community, just pick a city or state and click on the appropriate category for your type of freelance work under the job heading, and see if any listings are worth applying to. Cities like San Francisco and New York generally have more jobs available, but that also means those openings will have more applicants. You can also use Craig’s List to post your information as available for work. You can post your pitch under the appropriate “services” category.
You can use Twitter both for promoting your website, portfolio and blog, and for actively seeking out work. Try searching hashtags like #freelance or #writerswanted to see what is out there. You might have to scroll through a lot of junk, but scrolling through once a day for a few minutes could pay off for you, especially if you have a Twitter account that actively promotes you as a writer, designer, or developer.
2) Register with Your Local Chamber of Commerce
Most freelancers are work alone; it’s part of the appeal of freelancing. As a result, it’s likely many freelancers are missing out on one good way of how to get clients - networking at the local chamber. When you join your local chamber, if it is a reasonable cost, you’ll probably be one of only a few, if not the only freelancer in your field. As a result, when you get listed as a member or mentioned in publication or at chamber events, other local businesses will become familiar with your name and your services. This makes them more likely to reach out to you before they head to the black hole of the internet to find a writer or web designer. Being a chamber member also means you’ll get invited to events, giving you the opportunity to network. It’s less scary to make a casual sales pitch when you’re seated around a breakfast table with someone than it is to walk into their business and shake their hand. Also, you should speak with your accountant about deducting your chamber membership fee from your income for tax purposes.
3) Talk to Your Competitors
This might sound counterintuitive, as they are your competition and you are fighting with them for clients, but it could work in your favor. Figuring out how to get clients can be tough, so you might as well get your name out there as much as possible. If you’re just starting out as a freelancer, there might be others in your community who have been around for much longer, and as a result are the go-to source for writing, web design, or other services. They might be overwhelmed with work, or even just at the point where they are willing to drop lower-paying clients. If they know you, know your work, and know you are looking for clients, they may very well refer clients to you, or perhaps even just hire you as a contractor to do some work for their clients. If one person has figured out how to get clients, you might as well piggyback off that. It’s also just nice to know the other people in your industry! Freelancing can get lonely, even for the most introverted person, so getting together with other people with whom you have something in common can help reignite your passion for your work, or just give you a chance to get out of the house.
Freelancing can be tough, but once you figure out a few ways to get clients it gets easier. If you’re doing what you love and doing it on your own time and own schedule, answering the question of how to get clients is worth the time and effort. Don’t be shy, and use all the resources at your disposal. Persistence pays off.