As a new freelancer, you’re probably wondering how to find new clients.
Even as an established freelancer you might still be wondering the same!
As freelancers – whether freelance writers, web designers, social media managers or VAs – we’re always looking for ways to find new clients.
It can be really tough when you don’t have a steady stream of income so finding potential clients and building a relationship with them before you need the contract and the money is essential to ensure that your income stays consistent.
But the big question will always be “How do I find new clients?” In this post, we’ll look at 10 different ways that you can find new clients time and time again.
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1. Cold Pitch
This is the classic way to find new clients. You also have a better chance of landing the gig when you contact clients directly rather than through job boards or social media (although they are still good options too).
So, what exactly is cold pitching?
It’s when you send a potential client (other bloggers, entrepreneurs, small businesses etc.) an email and let them know how your services can help them and their business.
Maybe you’ve noticed that they don’t have a Twitter account but a lot of their customers hang out on Twitter. Or maybe you’ve noticed that they don’t have a blog but written content would really help to boost their site. If you can provide those services, send them an email to let them know what you can do for them.
You don’t really want to drop them an email out of the blue though. You can improve your chances by interacting with potential clients before sending that email. So find your dream clients on social media and network with them beforehand. Retweet their tweets, comment on their photos and engage with their page. That way, when they receive your email, your name will already be familiar to them.
So, what should your cold pitch emails say?
- Who you are
- How you found the company/individual you’re emailing
- How you can help them
Templates are a great place to start and will save you a whole heap of time, but make sure that you personalise them before sending out.
Fun fact – in January alone, I received TWO really rubbish cold pitch emails from people wanting to work with “me”. The first one started off with “Dear Paul,”. Erm…no. That’s not me. The second one mentioned my extensive work rescuing street cats. Again, not me. I hate cats! Not that I wouldn’t rescue one in need but I’m certainly not out there every day looking for cats to be rescued! But yeah, it’s safe to say that both emails went straight into the trash.
Anyway, back to templates…if you have a solid pitch template you can save yourself loads of time and send out multiple pitches each day. In fact, you can streamline your entire freelancing business with a great set of templates (that you WILL customise before sending out!) Grab this bundle containing 18 swipe-and-paste template emails that cover every part of the freelancer/client relationship. Starting with your cold (or warm) pitch, the follow-up, dealing with enquiries and questions about your rates, right through to ending relationships and asking for testimonials.
LinkedIn is totally underrated in my opinion.
Okay, it might not be underrated by everyone but, when I first started out as a freelancer, I certainly ignored it, thinking that it was only for professionals in full-time employment (rather than self-employed/freelancers).
LinkedIn is a great way to make new contacts and connect with potential new clients. And, if you set your profile up right, it’s a fantastic way for new clients to find you.
First off, you need to make sure that your account is set up properly and optimised for people to find you. And, so that once they find you, they know what you actually do! To do this, make sure that you include a great bio that spells out exactly what services you offer.
You should also complete the “Experience” section of your profile to show off previous work that you’ve completed. This not only allows potential new clients to check out your work (and confirm in their minds that you’re the right person for them) but it also prevents you getting lots of emails asking to see your portfolio (because it’s already there for them to see).
For more tips on making the most of LinkedIn as a freelancer, check out this post from Writing Revolt – LinkedIn for Freelance Writers: Exactly How I Use LinkedIn to Land High-Paying Clients.
3. Use Your Blog to Sell Your Services
Your blog is the perfect way to advertise your talents and services. So take advantage of it.
If you already have an established blog or site, this is perfect. You will have traffic coming to your site and your readers will already be familiar with how awesome your writing skills are!
Posting articles based on your niche shows potential clients that a) you know your stuff, and b) that you know how to write.
Here are a few things that you should include on your site to help promote your freelance services:
- An awesome about page
- Your portfolio
- Your services/packages
- Contact information
Related Post → How to Use Your Site to Sell Your Freelance Services
A lot of businesses started out through word of mouth.
Someone ate at the new restaurant in town and loved it. So they went and told all of their friends about it. The friends booked a table, ate there, loved it and told all of their friends. Before long, the restaurant was fully booked!
This can work for your freelance business too.
If you provide an amazing service, your clients will probably recommend you to others anyway. BUT you shouldn’t just rely on the hope that they will.
That’s why you should ask your former clients for referrals. When you finish working on a particular project for a client, mention to them that you’d be grateful if they could recommend you to people that they know who are looking for similar work to be done.
You see, whether your main clients are bloggers or business owners, people talk to each other. Even if they are in direct competition with each other in terms of their own clients and customers.
There’s also often an overlap in services that people use in different businesses. For example, when the owner of the boutique dress shop pops into her local bakery to pick up lunch and notices the beautiful new flyers the bakery has, she’s likely to ask where they came from. And that’s when the bakery owner recommends your design services!
If you have a close group of business friends you could start a referral circle too where you can refer each other to potential clients. You might do this for a number of reasons, like not having time to complete some additional work or a piece of work not being in your area of expertise.
For more information on getting referrals as a freelance writer, check out this amazing post by Elise Dopson: How to Get More Referrals as a Freelance Writer.
5. Partner with Other Freelancers
This is a slight spin on the referral circle I mentioned above.
Whilst you’re out there looking for potential clients, you’re likely to come across some great opportunities that just aren’t quite right for you. For example, they’re looking for services that you don’t offer.
So, why not partner up with another freelancer or two who offer different services to you. When each of you stumbles across an opportunity (or receives an enquiry from a potential client) that isn’t right for them, they pass it on to you. And vice versa.
This works well for a number of reasons. Firstly, it means that you don’t have to search every single corner of the internet for clients all of the time. Now that you have 2, 3, 4 or 5 sets of eyes out there scouring the web for work, it will become less onerous on each of you.
Secondly, if a current client of yours, or a potential client reaches out to you with an enquiry that you can’t fulfil, you can keep them happy by recommending someone else. This will help maintain any current relationships and won’t immediately burn any future bridges.
6. Use Job Boards
Job boards are a great place to find work but they’re also a fantastic way for new freelancers to gain confidence and build up their portfolio.
I’d advise all freelancers to steer clear of freelance marketplaces like Upwork and Freelancer.com because they often pay very little and you usually have to bid for gigs too which is time-consuming (as well as soul destroying!)
Job boards are different. So, if you’re looking for ways to find new clients without having to cold pitch or approach people on social media, then job boards might be the answer you’re looking for.
Some of my favourite job boards include:
- Blogging Pro
- All Freelance Writing Job Board
- Write Jobs
- Freelance Writing
- Freelance Writing Gigs
7. Social Media
There’s more to finding new clients on social media than just using your accounts to promote your services.
Sure, you can Tweet each day telling your followers that you offer copywriting services or social media management services and this might get you an odd lead here and there but that would be a case of right time, right place. It’s quite unlikely that your ideal client, who is looking for services you provide, is on Twitter the exact time that you Tweet.
But, if you’re using your site to promote your services (see above), then you can share blog posts regularly on your social media accounts which will drive traffic to your site more generally.
You can also use your social media accounts to network with potential clients. As I mentioned earlier in this post, it’s a good idea to interact with your potential clients before sending cold pitch emails to them.
Facebook Groups are another great place to find new clients. If you join the right groups then you should be able to find a constant stream of work. However, this approach will take a bit of time to get started as it’s all about building relationships first.
Join a few Facebook Groups targeted at bloggers and entrepreneurs and get involved in them. Answer people’s questions and chat with other members. Become a familiar name/face in those groups. People are much more likely to hire someone that they feel they already know. So, when an opportunity for work arises in a group, and you “pitch” for it, you will be a familiar face to the client.
Grab the Free List Now
8. Network in Person
Network? In person? Whaaaaat?
Yep, you heard me right. Networking in person is one way to find new clients that a lot of freelancers forget about. Some people think that freelancing work is remote work only and therefore, all of your clients are found online.
That’s not true.
There are a couple of ways that you can network in person to find new clients.
First, you can target local companies. Either send them an email first or, if it’s the type of place that you can pop into, go in and ask to speak to the manager or owner. Discuss with them face-to-face what you can help them with. Make sure you research the company well before you go as you’ll need to know everything about them there and then (you won’t be able to quickly Google something before replying!)
Pitching to potential new clients allows you to make a really personal connection with them which means that, even if they don’t need your services right now, they’re much more likely to remember you and get in touch with you when they do.
Secondly, you can use in-person events as networking opportunities. So keep an eye out for events near you that your ideal clients might be attending and be prepared to subtly let people know what services you offer. It’s also a great idea to take business cards with you so the people you do talk to know how to contact you after the event.
9. Guest Blog Posts
Guest blog posts fall into two categories – free and paid. Both are helpful to freelancers when trying to find new clients.
Free guest posts are a great way to get your work in front of more people as you are able to tap into other people’s audiences. It’s also a fantastic way to build up your portfolio if you are just starting out as a freelancer.
Sites that pay for guest posts have the same benefits but with the added bonus of paying you to write!
So, how do you go about finding sites that accept guest posts? It’s really quite easy. Check out your favourite sites to see if they have guest posting guidelines on their site. You can also do a simple Google search, “niche + write for us” to find sites in your niche that are accepting guest posts.
Make sure that you check out the site’s guest post guidelines before pitching!
Related Post → Ultimate Guide to Guest Posting
10. Ask Friends and Family
You never know until you ask, right?
Whilst your family and friends might not need your services directly, they probably know someone who does.
Maybe your best friend works weekends in a local cafe that needs their social media accounts managed. Or maybe your uncle’s next door neighbour owns a business that would benefit from having a blog on their website. It’s worth asking!
There are two main ways you can reach out to your friends and family:
Directly – If you know that your friends and family own businesses or know people that do, you can send them a direct message letting them know about the services that you offer and ask if they/someone they know might be interested.
Post Publicly – Some of your friends and family might have connections that you don’t know about. Post publicly on your Facebook profile to let people know what services you offer and that you’re open to taking on new clients. You’ll be surprised what comes out of it – some of your Facebook friends might even share your status which will, in turn, connect you with their friends!
Repeat this every couple of months or when you know you need to start looking for new clients so that you stay fresh in people’s minds.
So, now you know where to find new clients, get out there and start looking!
Armed with this list, and the email templates below, you’ll be securing work in no time at all.