How Do You Get Clients the First Time?

The first question on every new freelancer’s mind is: “how to get clients?”

While getting your first client might seem a bit overwhelming, there are many effective strategies that all freelancers can use to land their first client and subsequent clients thereafter.

How Do You Get Clients the First Time?

But with so many options, where does one even begin?

After a while of researching about freelancing and freelance work, all of a sudden you don’t know which way to get clients is right for you.

Well, I got you.

[G]etting your first client might seem a bit overwhelming[.]

In this post, we’ll address where to find your first freelance clients, how to get clients quickly, how you can use social media and blogging to get clients through inbound marketing, how to properly cold pitch those clients you really want to work for, and building lasting relationships with your clients so you don’t have to start over month after month searching for new gigs.

Where To Find Your First Client as a New Freelancer

Once you really start looking, you’ll quickly realize that there are so many places where you can find clients for your freelance work. To start with, put it out into the world that you are now doing freelance work.

Try and connect with people that you already know and are comfortable speaking with.

Let them know what type of freelance services that you are offering and encourage them to send you referrals.

Here is a quick snapshot of all the many places that you can find freelance clients:

  • Connecting with people you already know
  • Small, local business owners
  • Job ads and job boards (places like Upwork, Fiverr, ProBlogger, and even Craigslist)
  • Pitching ideas to publications
  • Social networking (we’ll dive into that in a bit)
  • Freelancer directories
  • Your personal website
  • Working within an agency
  • Referrals from friends, family, and previous clients

There is certainly no shortage of places to find your first (and many more) freelance clients.

While many clients are comfortable checking out your portfolio and doing some brief Q and A over email, there might be the possibility that you will have to video chat in order to land a gig.

If you are an introvert, don’t let this prevent you from going after that gig.

Having a video chat with a client allows you to get a better understanding of what it is they are looking for in a freelancer and can help to set you apart from other freelancers.

Your Professional Freelancing Website

You can’t be a successful freelancer today without having a professional website and online portfolio. Creating a client friendly website means that it is eye catching and easy to navigate.

Your potential clients should be able to look at your site and know exactly what you do and whether or not they could benefit from your freelance services.

Having a great “about me” page can be critical in whether or not a client decides to work with you. You want your potential clients to like you from the very beginning, and this is what your about me page is for.

You should also be sure that you have a great way to display your freelance portfolio for clients to look at.

How to Get Your First Client Quickly

There are several things that you can do in order to set yourself up for success and get freelance clients quickly.

First and foremost, you have to treat your freelance work like a business. This means having a professional online presence, having samples of your work available for potential clients, and putting in the work applying and pitching.

You can’t expect to apply to one freelance gig a week and get something right away.

Until you have built up a good base of clients, most of your time is going to be spent pitching, applying, and honing your online presence and marketing skills.

You’re going to get rejected a lot.

But don’t take it personally. Just move on and pitch some more.

Inbound Marketing to Attract Freelance Clients

We see examples of inbound marketing everyday.

Simply put, inbound marketing is just a way to attract clients and customers.

As a freelancer you can use inbound marketing to attract more clients to you. You have to first identify your audience, be able to directly address their problems, offer them a solution, and provide them with incredible value.

Using inbound marketing is a long-term strategy that uses tailored, problem-solving content to attract clients and it’s totally worth it!

Using Social Media for Freelance Marketing

What a great day and age we live in that we have so many free marketing resources at our fingertips.

But before you start researching hashtags to add to your posts, be sure that you have a polished portfolio and client-friendly website all set up.

When you are putting together a digital marketing strategy for your freelance work, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the many social media channels.

While you might feel the need to be on all of them all of the time, that will make your client acquisition efforts less effective.

When it comes to any type of business, freelance or otherwise, you need to market where your audience [potential clients] are and not worry about wasting your time being everywhere else.

While Instagram might not be your first thought when it comes to social media marketing for your freelance business, they have rolled out some new features that make it easier to connect with potential clients.

Namely, IGTV.

With IGTV, you can hold live Q and A sessions with your audience, show fun behind the scenes snapshots, and inform your audience of any upcoming launches or sales you might be having on your services.

I have also seen a lot of freelancers using TikTok for this purpose as well.

While you might think that Twitter is mostly for scrolling through the latest trending hashtags, you can actually use it to find high quality freelance clients.

One of the great things about Twitter is the ability to search for industry related hashtags (although many platforms offer this).

For example, if you are a freelance writer, try searching for some of these hashtags to find potential clients or guest post opportunities.









LinkedIn is also a great place to find high quality writing clients.

Now I want to stress high quality clients here, because you can find work for $0.01 per word just about anywhere. But those are not the clients you want!

One of the reasons many freelancers choose to use LinkedIn for their freelance job search is that it is “less noisy” than Twitter. In order to attract good clients, you need to make sure that your profile is up to snuff and potential clients know exactly the value you can provide for them.

Blogging To Get Freelance Clients

Remember, before you venture out onto the social media platforms to get clients, you need to have your professional website set up. One more thing you can add to your website is a blog.

Blogging is another way to attract clients through inbound marketing.

There are a few things that you need to be sure your blog is set up with when you start writing posts.

You have to identify and hone your niche. This makes it easy for potential clients to know right away if what you offer is right for them.

You need to have a hire me page with a unique selling point. Why should someone hire you rather than someone who is cheaper or has more experience?

Don’t forget about your portfolio! Clients need to be able to see your work and what you are capable of.

Make it easy for clients to contact you through a contact form on your site or via email.

Don’t be afraid to show your face. This helps to establish your brand.

Cold Pitching to Get Clients

And of course there’s cold pitching clients.

Now, you don’t have to worry about picking up the phone and talking to the head of content creation, but you will have to write an effective cold pitch email. There is a lot to learn when it comes to cold pitching (way more than we can get into here), but it can be a highly effective strategy.

Especially when you find clients or companies that you really want to work for.

When it comes to where to find clients to cold pitch to, there is no shortage there either.

While you can just start Googling it, there are a few other sites to start with, such as PRWeb and nDash.

Earning Your First $1k As A Freelancer

Once you’re confident in your ability to find freelance clients, now it’s time to start earning some money!

Part of putting together your business plan as a freelancer is to also include your income goals.

It might be a couple hundred dollars per month or a couple thousand. But once you know how to make that first $1,000 as a freelancer, it’s basically a rinse and repeat from there.

It is totally possible to earn $1,000 as a beginner. You need to make and follow and plan and be organized in order to get there. One of the biggest things to consider is setting realistic rates. You can’t expect to earn $1,000 per month if you are only charging $5 per blog post or working for a content mill and churning out ebook at $13 per 1,000 words.

While as a beginner, you might feel that you have to take whatever jobs are thrown your way, this is not true.

You got into freelancing because it is something you love to do, don’t sell yourself short for jobs you’re going to hate.

I hope that helped you!

Let me know in the comments how you get clients as a beginner freelancer!

Elna Cain is a B2B freelance writer  for SaaS businesses and digital marketing brands and the co-founder of Freelancer FAQs. She's been featured on Entrepreneur, The Ladders, The Penny Hoarder, Leadpages and more. If you want to learn how to freelance write, check out her free course, Get Paid to Write Online.

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