How do freelancers find clients?
I want to drum up more clients and expand my freelancing. I have had clients find me via Linkdin and other social media sites, but it's not enough to actually make a living. How have you started your freelancing career? Or should I start a small company instead of just being a lone freelancing designer? Should I go old school and go door to door and pass out business cards at local businesses? Are there sites I should join to find clients, like Elance.com?
I've never had to actively seek clients, so this is just from my experience. You are your best advertisement. The first thing you need to do is ditch your Wix website and create a professional environment where your skills are showcased properly and people can easily come to you.
Your social media should be more business related without the personal and non-relevant posts. Your business has nothing to do with today's generation's sex habits, so you really don't need to be sharing posts about it under your business profiles. If you want people to hire you for something, you better be doing it well for yourself and your potential clients should be able to see that.
Once you get a handle on your image, then you can look into networking, offering your insight in related forums and LinkedIn groups, etc.
You have some great answers here, so I will try not to repeat them. Instead, I will tell you about lessons learned from my experiences.
Talk to a lawyer about incorporating and which business structure to choose, for both liability and tax purposes.
Establish your own website on your own domain. That will increase your creditability tenfold.
Establish a profile on LinkedIn if you have not already done so. Inform your network of your business goals and that you are in business. Refrain from trying to sell to your network. Leverage your network to land referrals and generate leads for you.
Identify a vertical market to start your marketing campaign. This will provide you a smaller and concise client pool in which to focus your sales effort. I would recommend marketing agencies as they are always in need of artists. Local agencies would be best to start with.
Learn to be a salesperson. I am a very analytical person and couldn't sell water to somebody on fire. If you can't sell yourself, how can you expect somebody to sell for you if you can't sell yourself.
Learn about appointment settings from a sales perspective, avoid trying to sell somebody over the phone. Instead, try to land a meeting with a potential client and sell to them in person.
Unless you are just looking to make some extra cash on the side, I would avoid freelance sites. You will be competing against global freelancers who are charging between $5-$8 an hour.
Social media should be for client engagement and retention. Don't expect to attract clients via social media.
All the answers here are great. Like David - I don't want to repeat (though it's likely I'm just saying similar things in a different way, sometimes we all need that other POV). Growing your personal brand is incredibly important. As Dana stated, make sure your professional and personal posts are separate. Offer the "Free stuff" (simple ideas delivered in an original manner, examples of work you've done, maybe some pro-bono work for non-profits to build up recommendations and references) to get to the paid stuff.
Jeff, Sharmila, and Brad are on target with the need to network and pound pavement. Business success really is 10% inspiration and 90% sweat equity to make things work. When I first started consulting, I held down a "regular" 40 hour/week job to pay the bills and did another 40-50 hours writing for trade publications, putting together BCP/DR plans for IT companies, developing international trade plans and supply chain logistics. Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners were usually client-time.
Freelancing is crazy difficult. There are some people who get lucky and have astounding portfolios and dedicated "sugar daddy" regular clients. Many freelancers and consultants may make it look easy, but if you followed them in their "regular" day, you'd realize their constantly both working on current projects and holding meetings, making calls, and reaching out to "fill the funnel" with future prospects and opportunities.
For all the frustrations, pains, and disappointments (always get something up front regarding payment!) - the work is very rewarding and it's hard to beat your relationship with "the boss." once you're really rolling hard, take time for yourself and friends/family. I (and many others) have stupidly sacrificed relationships for work and work won't be there to comfort you or listen when something goes south... Balance is truly important and easy to overlook when the work comes steamrolling in...
Network :) and answering bidding offers
Go see established firms and offer a pertnership or freelance mission
Elance and Freelancer have become very spammy and have more unethical people than ethical. Making it diffecult to find jobs and even more risky of not getting paid. oDesk and Fiverr are still pretty good from what I have experienced and heard from others.
Marketing yourself is difficult and some prefer to work with a business instead of making a website and trying to sell their services. Its a preference whether you want to work with a company. Don't pass cards door to door. Go to networking events like 1 million cups or chamber meetings. Coworking community areas are also helpful to network as long as you don't push to sell so much. Make connections with marketing local marketing companies and they will be happy to send work your way. Stuff they don't have time for or work that doesn't pay enough for a full service company, but enough for a freelancer.
Make a website, network, be active on social media and forums. Focusing on a niche design subject is very common. I know someone making a living making horse portraits and it got her through college. It takes a lot of work to be a freelancer, but the freedom is worth it.
There are multiple ways.
1.) Check out the various employment agencies — Aquent, Vitamin T, The Creative Group, etc. — within the industry. They have all types of opportunities available.
2.) Look at services like Fiverr, Sologig, Freelancer, etc.
3.) There's an excellent service called Thumbtack with a pipeline of jobs being posted.
4.) Reach out to other professionals, e.g., copywriters, illustrations, CDs, etc.
5.) Reach out to all the ad agencies, marketing communications firms in your area.
6.) Network through chambers of commerce.
I would say a good place to start is pounding the pavement locally. Go to businesses, and also ad agencies and marketing firms. They employ a lot of freelancers to avoid employment taxes and overhead. Realistically, you can make a good living locally, building your brand and expertise in different areas, and then you'll be more attractive to major markets, both nationally and internationally, to agencies and firms.
In my experience, unless you offer the total package of creative services, you don't make as much as you should when approaching businesses. Most small businesses are looking for someone that does web/graphic design.
And my advice would be to stay a freelancer and submit a W9 to all of your clients.
I hope you find great success! It's an awesome and terrifying adventure!
I was in your shoes several months ago, and the advice that Dana Schomp offered is exactly the decision I made for myself. I took the route of developing a company name and brand, simply because of my personal vision, and what I wanted to accomplish for my career. Your vision of being a freelancer is perfectly fine, and a great choice.
I had to make the decision to either brand myself or brand a company. However, you could easily do both, but focus your attention on one initiative first.
Here's a link of someone that you could learn from with regards to branding yourself as the 'Go-To' designer. ( http://graphicsbyeb.com ) She has over 25 years of experience and very well may be some inspiration to you. I don't know her personally, and I came across her website by simply exploring everyday to find answers to my questions just like you.
Use your imagination and don't be afraid to try things and make adjustments along the way. There are inexpensive ways of establishing a professional presence online. And yes, as suggested, find a way to separate yourself from free branded services. That means spending a little money to give potential customers a feel that you're not just in this for temporary purposes. Clients want to find someone they can rely on well beyond one or two projects, and this is the mentality I had to adopt.
For the clients you've completed assignments for in the past, did you commit to a follow-up to see if you could be of further assistance? Sometimes expansion opportunities are easily created, when we offer our current client-base more of what they need.
As creatives, we sometimes feel as if what we delivered wasn't our best. This can also be an opportunity for you to rekindle an old client relationship. Taking that extra step to ensure your work was sufficient for your client's needs.
Furthermore, stay consistent with your efforts, learn from others, and connect with new professionals weekly. Use the sources noted by others in their answers frequently. When people see your presence in any platform you use constantly, they will begin to recognize you as a reliable source, and possibly as an authority. Don't be afraid to speak nor to showcase your talents.
More importantly, don't worry so much about SEO right now. I highly recommend doing the following if you haven't thus far:
1) Develop a description of the services you offer
2) Describe the value you give potential clients
3) Demonstrate how you can solve their problems
This has been key for me to see myself as a source of tremendous value. When you have something of value for people to search for and find, you will then see that your body of work and client testimonials are the true magnets for more projects in the future. Then you can focus your efforts on SEO, which is a long-term process.
Wish you well in your efforts to becoming a dynamic designer for your clients.
You're on a website that will help you find clients! You've done a great job setting up your profile, which mosaicHUB's Concierge team will notice when they are selecting service providers to recommend to project leads. Let me know if you have any other questions on taking advantage of our platform!
-Kim Lombard, Community Manager
there are many smaller agencies that cannot either hire professionals as agencies.. in that case if Freelancers give them low cost service.
You need to develop / create your market either thru cold calls or seeking references from your existing clients in case they like your job.
You can also create clients from the similar trade that might give you experience in the similar field.
word of mouth is still best and can still be very effective on social media, just ask for feedback
Hi Liz, you've already got a lot of great advise. Don't really understand people's negativity towards wix but I'd say it's a personal preference and many don't really understand what you can actually do with wix. The one thing I would consider is to register your own domain name. Go away from whatever you had before such as lizwilson.wix.com or lizwilson.wordpress.com. Registering a domain in your own name or a trading/ brand name doesn't cost much and in the US you find lots of service providers competing for a few $ and you could have your site (wordpress or wix) registered in your own domain.
I know wix is not perfect but it's definitely a great way to start. and SEO can also be added as well as you could use your own graphic designs and create your own template on wix. Anyway, that's just my 5 cents on wix.
On a different note I do still believe in being more active. I admit, I haven't figured out the entire "being on the web and selling services online" thing yet (I know, some might now say, see, that's what you're getting from being on wix..but it's definitely a great and cost effective way to start) so I'm more a practical sales person.
Networking events are great and I would highly suggest to join one of the locally available networking groups (if you haven't done that yet). This will take time to develop as most networking groups will not get you any referrals for the first few weeks or months until they start trusting you. It's a matter of being persistent and going to the weekly meetings that they have. Think in terms of the more you bring to the table (meaning referrals and reccomendations) the more you will get out of it. Stick with it. It could take even more than 6 months before you get a return. But once they start trusting you and your business sense, that's when referrals start rolling in.
Also think in terms of joint ventures. By teaming up with other companies you will get more exposure. Think what type of companies would compliment your company, look them up and give them a call. Don't try to sell them anything but to provide them with an opportunity that might help them (and you in the long run). You can build that with many companies. Think maybe photographers, writers/ authors, web designers etc. You probably know better what type of companies would compliment your company.
Start a referral scheme. Give an incentive to current customers that you have. Give them a call again and ask them to sit down with you for 10 min to discuss referrals. You already have some great work done so go back to those customers and ask them for referrals. If they were happy with what they received they will have no difficulties recommending you to some of their clients. And those are warm referrals. Think if you have currently 20 customers that you've worked with so far (just to put a number in) and only 3 of them give you each 3 referrals, that would mean continues work. And keep asking new customers for referrals as well. Don't wait. Make it part of your pitch. I mention it at least 5 times during my talks and every time I meet with the customer again I prepare them that my referral question will come. Once the moment arrives (in my case it's right after the contract is signed) I'll ask them to give me 5 warm referrals. Mostly I'll get 2 or 3 right on the day. Some clients don't give any (it happens) but I'd say if you prepare them properly you will get at least 1 out of 3 or 4. Preparation is everything.
Other things you could do is use some of your designs and put them on t-shirts and start selling those on the side. Now you won't get rich through that (straight away) but it will provide you with another source of income if done properly.
You are a graphic designer, use your creativity to create some amazing t-shirts. Go to tuning clubs (car tuning/ motor bike tuning) and provide some designs to put on cars...(again, think joint venture).
Back to the referral scheme, make it interesting for people to refer you. Pay a commission, give an incentive etc. Sometimes just giving away 2 cinema tickets for a warm referral could do wonders. Some people like having more money, so offer them a percentage of the selling price, once it's sold.
Tattoo studios might be another source for you to check out.
You are also in a unique position. Look at larger graphic design houses. See what they charge. Say they charge for a specific design 1000$ (just a figure, don't really know what you could charge etc.) then offer them to outsource it to you. Their cost (incl. labour might be 500$) so go in and offer the design for maybe 400$. This is a way to get some additional work that larger companies might outsource. They safe some money, make a bit more profits and you get paid for it as well.
If you don't want to go too low with the price just offer whatever you think is fair to them in case they have some additional work and to get a project more quickly out to customers. It might happen, you never know until you try and talk to the managers, directors and business owners.
Exhibit your designs, go to trade shows. Somebody here mentioned fiverr.com a lot of designers are on that one and you can even upsell. Basic design for 5$, and lots of upgrades. And you set the price for that. So, definitely worth looking into.
Take one or 2 of your designs, print them as a nice big poster and go to retailers that sell those type of products and see if they would try out and sell some of yours. Make sure your work is seen. If they sell great, you make some extra cash but even if they don't sell, your name is out there.
I'm sorry for the long post but I hope it will give you some additional ideas that you could explore :-)
Good luck with it.
I've created a whole new web presence. Thanks to all who have helped me revamp me image. Now I need to get new business cards with my new domain! Oh well, you can't have everything perfect off the bat. I'll leave my wix.com site active since it is on my business cards. When I get new ones I'll update it to my WordPress site.
Are you a member of Behance or Dribbble? Those communities allow you to create a nice network within the design base as jobs are often passed between friends and like-minded designers. Also, think about sites like DesignCrowd, 99Designs, or Creative Allies as an outlet to build your portfolio rather than Elance or Fiverr. Whlie they are good resources, it is better to target sites specifically focused on design as the client base will be more targeted. You can make solid cash on a site like DesignCrowd while continuing to build and diversify your portfolio.
I just joined Elance, so I can't really comment about them yet. However the majority of freelance work I have found has come from my profiles at LinkedIn and Google+. Set up your profiles to represent your services and post relevant content that showcases your work. If people need you, they will find you. Good luck!
You can use portal such as 99designs.com .Really a good site for designers .You can also search similar portals over internet
I use Elance and it is a good site. It took me a little while to get going but now I am working pretty steadily. There is also Freelancer.com, Zirtual, USA Virtual Assistants, GURU, and others depending on what type of freelancing you are doing. Best bet Google it!
The query which you have now.. the same situation is went through couple of months back.I work as freelance Business devleopment manager which is related to HR ,IT hardware/Software.E-waste management.Lead generation. content writing. etc. Today i have ample clients for India Market. Now i am focusing of USA and european market. If your fine then we can tie up and start new .The best modem is to check with your old contacts locally first and keep a daily follow up on guru.com. elance.com Odesk.com ..Yes Linkedin is the best ,, You can reach me out for more queries