(Note: Check out our Skills for Freelancing article.)
Great, so you’re ready to start freelancing with your writing/coding/whatever else skills. You’re good at what you do, but how do you find people to pay you to do them?
Actually finding clients can be a really hard to do, especially if you don’t already have a strong network of contacts or leads. But there are ways to start getting projects. Using social media, local business, your own portfolio site, or job boards, you can start your freelancing career and begin making money.
Here are some ways to find your first jobs:
Places like Upwork, Freelancer, and PeoplePerHour are solid places to get your start, assuming you can sift through the sh*t on the sites and find the decent jobs. I only have first-hand experience with Upwork, and Freelancer to a lesser extent. Basically, you’ll need to first take a few low paying jobs until you build up a strong profile on the sites.
Friends and Family
It’s a good idea to let your friends know that you’re starting to freelance. They can be great free ways to help you find business. You can reach a whole lot of people if you tell your friends who also tell their friends.
Finding the right agency to freelance for can be hard if you’re not in the right line of work, but certain freelancers, like marketers and coders, will have an easier time of it. For example, Toptal is great for programmers to find work.
It’s likely that unless you live in a very small town (like I did), there’ll be someone in your area that would like some work done, be it writing, coding, or data entry. Ask around local businesses that would be interested in your type of work. For example, if you’re a coder, ask family-owned businesses about
Setting up a portfolio website is easy to do, and it’s a great way to display your best work to potential clients. Make sure it’s a clean and simple site that paints you in a very favorable light and put your most impressive collaborations and projects at the forefront.
Or cold emailing, to be more exact. Cold calling is a numbers game. The more companies you get in touch with, the more leads you’ll generate. Assuming you aren’t a master at sales, it’ll take a long time till you’re good at it, and even then it’ll be pretty rare that you ever get a call (or email) back from more than 1 in 5 businesses you contact. But many companies appreciate the initiative you show by getting in touch with them, so persevere and you will eventually find at least a few clients this way.
These are the best, most common ways of generating your first clients to begin freelancing. Once you’ve gotten 10 or 15 projects under your belt, you should have a good few clients. Make sure you connect with your clients on LinkedIn and similar sites and make sure they know when you are looking for work. Once your name is out there, you’ll get to the point where you’ll be needing to turn down jobs.