Growing a client base is one of the most difficult parts of developing a freelance business. You have to start somewhere, but knowing exactly where to start is the biggest hurdle to climb. The chicken-and-egg dilemma arises when you are looking for clients but do not have the client history to speak to the quality of your work. Ultimately, having clients makes it easier to find more clients, and that’s where we can help!
Read through some of our tips and tricks to find more clients, expand your work with existing clients, and ultimately grow your freelance business.
Capitalize on Minimum Viable Marketing
You don’t have to buy a ton of ad space with Facebook, Instagram, or Google to market yourself. A big mistake beginning freelancers make is overlooking opportunities to organically plug their work. Every time you publish something online, you’ve already done all the hard work. If you don’t add your contact information so new clients can get in touch, you’re leaving a lot of opportunity on the table.
To give you a real-life example, for years I didn’t even have a website that allowed visitors to get in touch. As soon as I created one, I started receiving emails from potential clients. Just think about how many opportunities I missed out on!
I call this approach “minimum viable marketing.” You don’t have to hire a branding consultant or spend a fortune on marketing strategy—you just have to make sure you’re making it easy for those who are interested to get in touch with you. Every platform you publish on should not only include your contact details, but also a description that lets them know you’re interested in taking on more clients.
Minimum viable marketing is a great way to find your first client. If you’re producing great content that you love and including your contact information, you’re likely to find clients that want to hire you regardless of if how many past clients you’ve had.
Offer New Work to Existing Clients
Creatives are the leading sufferers of impostor syndrome, thinking that they aren’t enough of an expert to take on more difficult or higher-value work. It’s important to overcome this feeling of being an imposter and ask satisfied clients for additional work opportunities.
My freelance practice includes a wide range of services that I offer: writing about a variety of topics, video work, and financial consulting. I’ve been doing this for long enough that I’ve picked up a few areas of expertise and skills that make me more versatile. Many of my clients only know me as wearing one of these hats and I’ve missed a lot of opportunities to grow my work simply because my clients weren’t aware of everything I could do.
Very few freelancers specialize in only one skill or area of expertise, so don’t make the mistake of assuming that your clients know everything that you can do. Expanding work with existing clients is one of my favorite ways to grow freelance work. Once you’ve proven yourself in one area of your work, you’ve developed enough credit to easily convince them to let you expand into new responsibilities.
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Ask Existing Clients for Referrals
Early on, I was afraid to ask my clients for referrals to others outside their company, but in time, these referrals have become some of my most valued freelance clients.
Job changes and employee turnover are very common in today’s workforce. It’s highly likely that your contact at a company knows someone who just switched companies or even recently left to work for another company. Keeping those lines of communication open and asking for referrals to other companies is totally normal—and smart.
All of this goes back to one key idea—good work speaks for itself. Companies need to hire talented freelancers to fill the voids that exist within their own teams. When you prove yourself as a go-to freelancer that can produce the work they need, your clients are usually happy to refer you to their contacts.
Successful freelance practices aren’t built overnight. It takes time to build up consistent work from clients and cultivate the relationships that help you sustain your business. There are several ways you can expand your work and add more clients to your portfolio. Find more information about starting and growing your freelance business.