I bet all freelancers, just like me, have been reading several articles on the freelance tendency in the past years and how much it´s evolved.
Apparently, as per Freelancers Union’s article, the new landmark survey shows that 53 million Americans are freelancing; this is 34% of the United States’ entire workforce. People begin to say this is the new economy, driven by freelancers.
Other surveys reflect the same numbers even if you look at results from other regions. For example Europe is reflecting the same tendency, and Latin America, even though the increase may be a bit subtle, also shows the same tendency in the freelance world.
I find it very interesting to read about this shift and the reasons underlying it. What I noticed after reading so many surveys is that the majority of freelancers, regardless of their age, gender, field or region share a common challenge as the #1 problem: finding new clients.
This obviously is an enormous challenge to overcome, we need clients to work on projects and, well yeah… to get paid. What I believe is a good ´to do´ list when trying to capture new clients, which applies to all freelancers and even more if you are new to this ride, is the following:
– Join a local co-working space. Some are big on diversity; some are focused on specific areas such as technology or initiatives like startups. This will definitely open new opportunities and people will get to know what you do.
– Referrals are very important whether they are current or past clients, this always works. It´s important to have some business cards handy to help in the process and make it easier.
– Networking is crucial. I remember I sent emails to everybody that I could possibly think of. Family members, friends, ex colleagues, former bosses and coworkers. Basically, I informed everyone that I was freelancing and looking for work.
– It’s also a good idea to attend meetups. You can offer the organizer to do a short 5 to 10 minute presentation explaining what you do.
– Get together on a regular basis with other freelancers. I’d say at least once a month. You will notice that so much comes out of those gatherings. Either you will give or get work from each other. Apart from also sharing experiences and best practices that could definitely be useful when it’s your time to face them.
– One of the most important things I believe each freelancer should have is an online portfolio/website where you can direct people to. Make sure it has a nice look and feel. You are selling your work through this online presence, so that’s why it’s important to focus on quality rather than quantity.
It may be a good idea to also have a physical portfolio to present at meetings. It could have the same work as your website or different work customized to your client’s needs.
– Another crucial thing is to never stop hunting for work. Even if you are busy with a few projects, invest some time looking for new ones.
So, apart from all those “to do” suggestions I have also heard over and over again that even if you are new and in need of new clients, it’s best not to undersell yourself. So working for low cost (and sometimes I’ve seen freelancers not charge at all) may not be the best choice. You will most likely get stuck with clients that you will wish not to work for again.
What do you think are good practices to find clients? What has worked for you?