Irrespective of whether you have just started freelancing or you are an experienced pro, you will have to agree that looking for clients is a lot like hunting. There are plenty of animals in the forest, but if you want to bag that one prize that will have you eating for months and a legend you can boast about for ages (on your professional portfolio), you should know where to look.
What is a hunter without prey to hunt? A man with a gun and nothing to shoot. What is a freelancer without paying clients? A very sad person with no income—broke and desperate for money. It doesn’t have to be that way. If you use these effective hunting methods for finding and landing that ultimate prey—the well paying client or a client with repeat projects—you won’t go hungry for a long time.
When it comes to finding clients, the easiest method is by registering through online freelance sites. These sites are designed to bring contractors (freelancers) together with employers. All of these sites require some kind of fee, but most of them take the fee out of what the client pays and not what the contractor receives. Registering on these sites is easy, and you get to upload your professional resume, your cover letter, your portfolio, and some of these sites will even allow you to set your own hourly rate.
Here is a list of the most popular freelance sites:
These sites have thousands of jobs listed, but be sure to sift through the dross to get to the gold beneath, because out of the thousands of jobs listed, only a hundred or so will meet your skills, experience, hours, and pay rate. Why? Well, there are millions of people who are getting in on all these money making ideas so the forest is full of hunters, but the elk are scarce.
Be picky! Don’t get so desperate that you’re willing to work for free or next to nothing!
Since you don’t work face to face with other employees it’s important to network with other freelancers. Why? Not only can networking with other freelancers help you sharpen your skills, but you can also share information on clients and who’s hiring. Also, networking allows you to load your hunting rifle with the better ammo so that when you aim and fire at your prey, you’ll make a clean ‘kill’. Clients are more likely to hire you if you have a reputation that sells you and your skills, even before you apply for the job.
Here are a few of the more popular social networking sites where you can create a professional page just for your freelancer persona:
Answering Classified Ads
When it comes to money making ideas, working freelance is one of the few that requires that you answer online classified ads. When employers (clients) are looking for freelancers, one of the first places they look is in online job sites. They place ads for freelancers, but because anyone can apply, they are stuck wading through the dregs to find the precious metals (you). Make their job easy and make it a no-brainer to hire you instead of your competition! When applying for a freelance job online, go above and beyond what the client (potential employer) is asking for. If they ask for a resume and cover letter, give it to them, but also include a portfolio of your work, and links to your networking pages and blogs.
Here is an abridged list of online job classifieds sites:
- www.craigslist.com (beware the work at home scams)
Placing Classified Ads
While working freelance you may sometimes need to step out of your comfort zone and take the initiative in the direction that seems very unlikely at first. Hunting for clients sometimes means hiding out in a blind, and at other times it means stalking the prey and going after it through the underbrush. That means that you should place your own ads—freelancer seeking work. All of the sites listed above also provide opportunities for people seeking jobs to place ads, but you can also place ads in local newspapers, national magazines (especially financial or business weeklys), and online through Google and Facebook ads.
Word of Mouth
Much like hunters meeting over cold beer and sharing their hunting stories, freelancers get together and share information about clients. Not only that, if you provide excellent service to your clients, chances are that they will tell their colleagues about you—that can potentially lead to more work for you. Always providing your clients with the best of your abilities is just good practice, but it can also give you a leg up when your clients know someone who is also hiring.
Freelancers need clients, and clients are always looking for quality freelancers. So, freelancers mount up, load up, and take to the woods. It’s time to bag that prize and land that perfect client.