When you’re 100% responsible for finding new clients to fill your freelancing portfolio, one of the biggest hurdles is how to get your name and services out there, right?
If you really aren’t comfortable with this, then obviously it’s going to make building a client base (and ultimately a career), quite difficult for you.
In an effort to get to the bottom of why you may be struggling with this, and more importantly how you can work around it, or make it work for you, I went directly to the source: you, the freelancer!
After reading through all the responses, there seems to be an overwhelming trend that emerged — which has been turned into 5 simple ways to start building your ultimate freelancing client list.
1. Build a Persuasive Portfolio
Clients want to know that they are hiring someone who is experienced and capable. The best way to show them your savvy is to build a portfolio.
If you are a content freelancer, harvest all of your previous work and showcase it in a simple website where you can refer future clients to.
Freelance webdesigner or social media strategist? Send your client to previous webpages you have designed or social media accounts you have built up. Include a brief synopsis of what you did and why it was so beneficial to that last client.
“I work as an Online Marketing consultant with companies all over the world and as my consulting time with companies usually lasts several years on an on/off basis I luckily don’t have to acquire too many customers on an ongoing basis. I found that asking existing clients to promote me to their business contacts has worked really well. Also, I give free presentations and have attracted clients that way. I find it essential to share my expertise and building trust before going for the pitch to be a key for lasting business relationships[...] I would say that approximately 70% of clients come from referrals, 10% through presentations[...]”- Maria, Jupiter-Labs.com
Whatever platform your portfolio takes, you want to be able to display exactly why this new client should be choosing you over all the others.
Instead of building a single portfolio like most people do, consider having multiple portfolios (or at least having categories in a single portfolio) focused on different customer segments that you want to work with.
2. Reach Out to People You Already Know
I bet most of you are on Facebook. How many Friends do you have?
Your friends, family, past school teachers and previous employers would probably be more than happy to hear about the work you do. Perhaps one of them is in need of your services, and you know what? You won’t know until you ask.
Putting yourself out to your current personal relationships means they are connected to you, and therefore more likely to name drop you when they meet someone seeking your area of expertise.
This leads me right into trick #3.
3. Ask for Referrals
You’ve put yourself out there to your friends, family and former colleagues, so the next logical step is to ask for a favor; ask for a referral.
You may have 400 Facebook friends, but those friends likely have just as many. Long story short, you are now reaching out to 100’s (potentially thousands) of more client opportunities.
In fact, one of my fellow Suitcase Entrepreneur community members, Brigitte does just that. She has found that by asking for referrals by several different means – email subscribers, Facebook groups, and current clients – has helped her business grow.
4. Request Feedback
Asking for a little constructive criticism or feedback after a job well done works twofold; you get to better your craft, and improves your chances at keeping that person on as a repeat customer.
One of the easiest ways you can request feedback is by using Google Forms. Not only has Google create a simple feedback form, but there are several templates you can choose from. With a few personal touches, you will have a quick and handy way of figuring out what you need to improve on!
If you rather have a more permanent feedback feature on your website, you could always test out Freedback. Using Freedback you can create a custom form in HTML, copy and paste it to your site and you are good to go.
Regularly asking for feedback will drive you to produce high quality work each and every time you get a new project. After all, who wants negative feedback?
5. Surround Yourself with Like-Minded People
There’s a lot to be said about networking in the right circles. This is like the culmination of all the previous tips. Not only do you get the opportunity to learn from others and see what they are doing to better their own business, but it leads to word of mouth referrals.
Think about it, if you were looking for a content writer, would you rather take on someone you stumbled upon over the internet or heard great things about from your peer?
Similar to this, one Suitcase Entrepreneur community member named Paula has surrounded herself with a community of people in complementary niches so they can recommend each others work.
Now, Paula used a referral marketing group called BNI to build her complimentary tribe, and has found it quite successful. When I dug for more details, she said this alliance contributed anywhere between 60-70% of her net income. Not bad!
To use this method yourself, you can use other referral marketing groups, or suss out groups on LinkedIn that would be applicable to your particular expertise.
Growing your client base and building your freelance career doesn’t have to be difficult. Just follow these 5 simple tricks to nail down the fundamentals, and you’ll be overwhelmed with new clients in no time.