So, you’ve considered the freelance lifestyle and decided that it’s the route for you. You’re excited at the thrill of officially being out on your own, and you can’t wait to start churning out killer content for your clients.
Except, first you need to find those clients and then you need to keep finding more and more until you can make a comfortable living. Finding new clients is a natural part of the freelance life, but that doesn’t change the fact that it can be a lot of work. Here are a few of the best ways you can boost your client discovery efforts and make sure that you have a steady stream of new work whenever you need it.
Always be networking
As a freelancer, you should always be networking. Whether you’re interacting with existing clients, attending work-related functions, or chatting with the barista at the coffee shop, always be on the alert for job opportunities. After all, the freelance life consists of cobbling together a living from different places. Never rule out a situation as a potential chance to network and find new clients.
Create an online website and portfolio
Creating your own online website is a great investment for a freelancer. This one can take quite a bit of work, but when done right it can have incredible benefits. A good website or blog can showcase your work to potential clients and gives you a personal stomping ground to practice your craft and demonstrate your knowledge.
If you freelance in the online world, running a website can also give you a unique view into what your clients are often dealing with on a regular basis. Graphic designers, for example, can benefit from understanding more about the nitty-gritty details that go into the back end of the websites that they create graphics for on a regular basis.
This understanding can be very useful when it comes to both interviews as well as relating to and communicating with clients, in general. If you can sound authoritative not just in your own craft, but in theirs as well, you’re much more likely to impress.
You can also use your site to host an online portfolio, and if you’re successful enough, it may even bring clients to your doorstep without you ever having to lift a finger to find them.
Ask for referrals
Word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful tool, even for a solo-freelancer. While some referrals happen naturally, you should never be afraid to request them as well. Send an email or shoot a client a text politely asking if they are aware of any other work and if they’d be willing to recommend you. Sometimes this is all it takes to be directed to a new client.
Don’t be discouraged if this yields little to no fruit initially, either. While it’s true that some clients will simply ignore the request, others may simply not be aware of any work at the time. However, requesting referrals from your clients keeps the suggestion fresh in their minds, and then, when they do stumble on a work opportunity, they’ll be much more likely to give you a call.
Check out the job boards
Job boards are a great way to find work. However, if you begin to apply to the myriad of jobs you find on a particular board, make sure that you’re comfortable with rejection. Often these job listings receive hundreds of applications within days or even hours of being posted. Even if you’re the best candidate for every job you apply to, there’s a good chance you won’t even be seen in the crowd.
Nevertheless, if you practice discipline and apply enough times, eventually, you’ll get a bite. If you’re wondering where to find jobs, try googling for job boards within your particular skill set.
Set up a Google alert
Another excellent way to keep your finger on the pulse of available work is to set up Google alerts. Consider phrases like “freelance X jobs” or “freelance X job listing” as well as anything that may pertain to your niche, in particular.
Increase your skillset
Finally, if you’re on the hunt for more work, it’s tempting to spend every spare minute applying to new jobs. However, you may want to also consider taking some of your extra time to increase your skillset.
A writer, for instance, could benefit from studying current SEO best practices, like the best ways to use external and internal linking or how to write a meta description. The added knowledge won’t only help them excel at their craft. It will also allow them to come across as a more appealing candidate on applications and in job interviews.
Living the freelance life
As you sort through the growing pains of becoming a freelancer, it’s important to remember that finding work is both a regular and normal occurrence. It’s something that freelancers are always on the lookout for, and eventually, it becomes as normal as any other part of your career.
Still, it’s always wise to know your options and be aware of all of the various forms that new work can take. From job sites to Google alerts, referrals to networking, if you take the time to hone your job-finding skills, you’ll be much more likely to keep the work steadily flowing in over the long haul.
About the Author:
Jori Hamilton is a writer from the Pacific Northwest who has a particular interest in social justice, politics, education, healthcare, technology, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @ HamiltonJori.
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