Table of Contents
How to Find Good Clients for Your Freelance Business
Imagine having no dating criteria. And so, you date every Joseph and Josephine that comes your way. A disaster in the making, right?
The same applies to freelance and independent work or business.
As a freelancer, you have the autonomy to work on your terms. No one is your boss exactly, but everyone is your boss. You get to choose the hours when you work, but you may not always choose who you work with.
There are tons of available advice on how to get your first freelance clients (simply start a Google Search here). But not enough information about how to find good clients for your freelance business.
This article breaks down how we think about client acquisition here at Week of Saturdays. We hope it helps you cut through the noise, and find good clients for your freelance business.
Money is one thing. Fulfilment is another. If you want to be happy, motivated, and productive with your freelance business, you must learn to choose the right clients for you. The mindset you need to adopt to get started on this lane?
You cannot gain confidence and become selective about the clients you take on without having some audacity. The whole idea of freelancing is audacious! You need to be bold, visionary, and quick.
That said, you cannot become audacious if the demand for your freelance service is less than its supply. You should be good at your job, and then be bold about it.
Audacious Steps to Begin With
Before we get into the guidelines we use at Week of Saturdays to find suitable freelance clients, here are some tips to increase the demand for your freelance services (before getting audacious…)
Word of mouth marketing. Leverage word-of-mouth by asking your existing clients or people in your network to recommend you to others who might need your services.
Create and update your portfolio. Regardless of your skill or niche, you must have a portfolio to show to potential clients. Using sites like Contently, Journoportfolio, MuckRack, or Sortfolio, put your best work front-and-centre for the world to see. And when you come in contact with a potential client, act professionally and share your portfolio as you talk about how you can help them solve their problems.
People want to see what you have done before they hire you.
Build a platform or leverage existing platforms. Create a blog or leverage existing blogs and publications by contributing relevant guest posts to sites in your niche; websites that your potential customers visit often.
Update your LinkedIn profile. An outdated LinkedIn profile makes you look average (even if you’re not). This may repel potential clients. To avoid such a costly and avoidable mistake, ensure that you complete your LinkedIn profile:
- Include a summary that highlights your accomplishments, skills, and unique selling point.
- Update your skills and experience section. Don’t just include job titles, include what you achieved in those roles.
- Add your best works in the “work samples” section.
- Replace your unprofessional picture (read: selfie) with a professional headshot.
- Go the extra miles by adding recommendations from your previous clients, colleagues and managers.
Update your industry-relevant social media accounts. While LinkedIn is a platform for all professionals, there are other platforms focused on niche professions. Examples include:
- GitHub – for developers
- Vimeo – for videographers
- Flickr – for photographers
- Behance and Dribble – for designers
Secure speaking engagements. Speaking at events is a perfect technique to market yourself and network. These engagements also make you better at your skill, because you have to prepare for the presentations and condense your knowledge into 30 minutes (or less) of public speaking.
Network online. Networking online is the new normal. Even if you live in the pineapple under the sea, you can now attend the most online events. To network online, attend industry-specific conferences and webinars. If you don’t know where to find these, visit Eventbrite and use the Advanced Search feature to find relevant upcoming events. Much easier, you can also network with potential clients on forums like Quora, Nairaland, Subreddits, LinkedIn, and Facebook groups.
The Guidelines We Use to Find Good Clients
We have a unique formula for finding good clients for freelance work here at Week of Saturdays. We check with the 3 P’s to make sure each potential client scores at least 2 out of 3.
A client who scores 0 of the 3 P’s is not a good client for you to chase or work with.
As a freelancer, you don’t have a fixed income stream. So depending on your bank account balance, this may be the most important factor for you when deciding if a client is right.
Your time is money, and you don’t want to waste money working for a client that doesn’t bring money. However, always keep in mind that money is not the only valuable form of payment. Sometimes you learn so much from a client organization and their processes, that it’s worth leaving monetary compensation on the table.
Overall you need to be smart, patient and observant. Take your time to consider all angles and options before confirming if the payment offer from a particular client is good for you.
Some questions to determine if a potential client pay is acceptable include:
- Is this a long-term offer or one-off?
- How long will it take me to complete this project?
- Does the payment offer cover expenses incurred on the job?
- Does it move me closer to my income goals?
If you agree with the client’s payment offer or have negotiated to a good point, you can check off this criterion and move on to the next P.
This second P can either stand for Person or Personality.
Clients, whether big companies, small businesses or individuals, are humans or run by humans. They are like you and me – with ambitions, feelings, and most importantly, personality.
The personality of your client determines the chemistry and synergy between two of you.
If you have a bad feeling about how they act at the beginning stage, the odds are high that the working relationship will end up a disaster.
When determining if a client is good enough for you, you need to consider if your personality matches are a good fit too. Here are some traits that make a client likely to be a good fit:
A client with the right personality has clear goals in mind and cooperates by providing you with the necessary information and resources to achieve set goals.
Fair clients make work more comfortable. They know when to come in with support and when to get out of the way. They respect your time and expertise in your field.
When brainstorming ideas, change always seems exciting. But when it comes to executing these ideas, many clients fret. Only a few are flexible enough to welcome change. Such flexible clients make collaboration enjoyable.
How laid back is your potential client? Can you have a good laugh with them? Can you be a person around them? Humor builds trust, breaks tension, and creates common ground between you and your client.
You work better with clients who trust you enough to do your job. Once you’re hired, good clients give you their trust. More importantly, they allow you to do your job in the best way possible, providing input when necessary.
Because the basis for most client-freelancer relationship is transactional, there’s often an “us” vs. “them” mentality. However, great clients know that you are in for their success. So they work with you and give you needed support.
Whether it’s good or bad news, great clients communicate without being shady. They realize honesty is the bedrock for exceptional service, both ways.
Passion is contagious. If your potential client doesn’t seem to enjoy what he/she does, that’s a red flag. Great clients enjoy what they do, and working with them seems like you’re on a playground.
If your potential client has at least five of these characteristics, you should probably say yes.
But not so fast… consider the third P to make sure you’re making the right decision.
Offering good pay and having a charming personality doesn’t make a potential client the best choice. You also have to consider the project itself, your skills, your career trajectory, and how it all comes together.
If you accept all freelance projects that come your way, you stand a chance of ruining your reputation and sanity.
To decide if a project is right for you is to know what motivates you. While figuring this out is not easy (…we have our whole lives to continue to figure this out), you still need to be honest with yourself.
Ask yourself, “What motivates me to do my best?” Your answer may be money, validation, empathy, fame, creative challenge, passion, or survival.
As you mull over a potential project, you should get answers to the following questions:
- Does this project offer good incentives to keep me motivated?
- Will I be pushed to learn something new?
- Do my skills match the project requirements?
- Is the expected delivery date realistic?
- Does this project open doors for more opportunities?
- Does this project make me gain more knowledge and expertise or connect me to new people?
If your answer to all these questions is “yes,” then the project is likely a good fit for you.
Your freelance business improves the moment you stop accepting every project that comes your way.
Having a successful freelance business starts with the clients you serve. Without clients, you do not have a freelance business.
So take some time to get clear about your ideal client persona. Review your existing clients with the 3 P’s. And go forward, armed with these guidelines to find good clients for your freelance business.
Are you ready?? Who is the perfect client for you?
Feature photo via Pexels.