Since starting this freelancing series, I have been asked repeatedly – How do you find your clients? So I thought today I would aim to answer as best as possible based on my own experience. You can read the first post Becoming A Boss and the second Surviving for a quick catch up if you like. Right back to the question at hand!
Networking, networking, networking
This is how I’ve found all of my clients. I meet my main client a few years ago at a networking event and as it turned out, when I went full time, they were looking for a social media person. Win! Very serendipitous, but without that initial connection, neither of us would have known that we could help each other out. My other three main clients all came from a separate single connection. I got chatting to this person, explaining what I wanted to do. They needed a hand, so I was able to help them out. As they were my first client, they were happy to exchange trades – I got some excellent massages and facials, they were given a host of tips and guidelines to sort out their social network – I even managed their accounts for a short time. This wonderful client then handed my information onto my second client and a third. Then the third client handed me on to a fourth. So as you can see, I made those initial connections, then as I did good work for these clients, I was handed on to other clients.
I also have a separate list of clients for my upcoming training course. I’ve met all of them at networking events, although they’re not always branded as such. I never hard sell – I just want to highlight this point. I talk to people and as you might expect, people ask what you do – just as you would ask what they do. If they have an interest in your field, then you can share more information and build those connections.
I was fortunate that I reached out to one of the organisers of a particular event, explaining that I wanted to run this course to help people. I wanted to help demystify social media and the beast that it has now become. I wanted to show people how they can get online and build their businesses. I wanted to cut through the jargon that only industry experts understand and provide them with the information they needed and train them on how to use the various platforms to best suit their needs. The organiser then asked if I wanted to speak at the next gathering! I was incredibly nervous but said yes. I now have a list of people that want to take part in my training! If all goes well, the people that attend the training will tell their friends, or they’ll come back for more!
So put yourself out there, go to events. You can find groups and events on facebook, just do a quick search. Or why not use meetup.com or Eventbrite. Filter by events in your area. Don’t forget your clients might work in different fields than you, so don’t be afraid to attend an event that may not be your niche. Broaden those horizons.
If there are no events or meetups in your area, get online. Again facebook has lots of groups to network and share your journey as well as your work. Talk to people, get your name out there, ask people if they need help.
Do Good Work
This should be an obvious one. Do your best work. If you are good at what you do, people will recommend your services to other people. This has worked for me and it works for most businesses. Always Do Good Work. Build a good reputation. People will always recommend people rather than businesses.
Don’t narrow your field too much
When I first went freelance, I was solely focused on training people how to use social media platforms. I’ve since shifted my work. I now manage social media for one client, for another client I am helping sort out their SEO. For another client, I’m producing content as well as sorting their website’s SEO. For my final client, I’m doing all of the above. I allowed myself to shift within my area of expertise and to grow into various roles. I’m thoroughly enjoying the variation to my day! I’m also building a course on social media – so I will still get to train people on the various platforms! Don’t pin yourself in so much, you may miss opportunities to grow and learn and build your business. Obviously, say no to things that you are not interested in at all and have a distaste for. That’s just common sense.
Get out there and do it
This may seem harsh, that’s not my intention. I’ve just heard so many folk talk about wanting to do it and wanting to find clients. These same people are doing nothing about it. They’re just talking about it. I jumped ship on my full-time job to go freelance pretty quickly in the end – I didn’t have a full client list, I didn’t have a way that I was going to be able to pay my bills after the first month. I still did it. I got up off my rear, I put myself out there and I got involved. It worked. I’m aware this won’t work for everyone, but if my back is against the wall, you can guarantee that I will make it work. I have. I’m still figuring it all out but I can now pay my bills comfortably. It was definitely hairy – if you’ve watched my vlogs lately, you’ve no doubt seen the panic and the hard work I’ve put in. I made it work and I’m glad I made the jump to becoming full-time freelance. I am incredibly happy! I love what I do. So in order to find your clients, you need to put in the work and just get on with it.