So you have a skill, you have a passion, and you have a desire to go freelance, but there’s just one thing missing—clients!
How do you launch a freelance business and get those first customers? Here are five things you can implement right away.
- Start with who you know. When you’re launching a freelance career, it’s easy to assume that your ideal client is far away somewhere on the far flung throes of the Internet. But the truth is your first clients are probably going to be people in your own personal network. Think neighbors, friends, friends of friends, people who are friends of your relatives, people in your community.
- You may have to start out working for free (or cheap.) In the beginning you’ll need to get paid in some way—and you may get paid in value. Maybe you receive value by building up your portfolio outside of college homework assignments so you volunteer to do some pro bono work for a nonprofit or maybe you offer to help an influencer who can expose your work to a whole new audience. I still get freelance work today from connections I built in internships from 7 years ago. You’ve got to have a long-game mentality.
- Research. Research. Research. You can find out gobs of information about your target audience. Research partnership opportunities. Find people who have the problem that you are ready and willing to solve. Utilize this great opportunity that is called the Internet. :)
- Reach out. Reach out. Reach out. I’ve grown my personal brand by being thoughtful with who I connect with online. Between Facebook and LinkedIn you have a great deal of information about people in your personal network. Who do you know who may have an opportunity to hire a freelancer? You can make a list of every single person you know that is in any given industry. Figure out who you want to reach out to. Research. Then reach out.
- Show up. Be supportive to others. When you’re an artist, you notice who takes the time to show up to a show or who takes the time to help you promote your project on their social media pages. You can probably think of someone right now who shared your “thing” online or gave you a retweet. These are easy ways to be generous to others. And they’re not quickly forgotten.
Launching and growing a freelance business is about a lot more than just finding clients. You need to have a marketable skill, a fair pricing structure and you need to be able to deliver work in a timely manner. But to get your freelance career off the ground, you’ve got to spread the word that you’re freelancing and you’ve got to get clients (sooner or later!)
If you want more tips on going freelance or starting your side hustle, check out my on demand webinar: Going Freelance where I share what I’ve learned about launching and growing a creative, autonomous career.