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An artist's musings about art, location-independence, personal discovery and digital technology

10 Actionable Ways Of Acquiring New Freelance Clients Within 30 Days

 

 Listen to the post below above or read the post in audio above below.

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The not-so-short Intro

 

Whenever I think about acquiring new freelance clients, one particular quote goes viral in my mind. It’s the kind that infects every nook and cranny becoming a soundtrack that I just can’t get rid of.

 

It’s also the one quote about freelancing that I believe accurately describes my herculean efforts to survive as a freelancer.

 

Here it is:

 

 

Brilliant, right? A little poetic even. And absolutely true.

 

It’s quite deserving of a spot in my Evernote universe and my cognitive soundtrack playlist.

 

It’s also deserving of a name it can be credited to. But the Almighty Google and I have failed to find the name of the witty person behind those words.

 

Who would utter such brilliance then allow their words to be appropriated all over the internet without a name attached to it?

 

Anyway, name or not, I’ve resorted to revering this mystery human every time these words have danced their way into my reality. Like when I’m thinking about finding my next freelance client.

 

At certain points in the last full-time-freelancing year, I’ve experienced bouts of panic over my survival in this gig way of life. Other times, these bouts have even graduated into nightmares. Nightmares about an imminent Walk of Shame back to a 9-to-5 non-flex job.

 

Much of the “job instability” of my freelancing career has been conducted by my freelance clients. They seem to have become the principal conductors of my panic orchestra.

 

Whenever they’ve been around, my panic has been contained within acceptable levels. Harmonious levels even. But whenever they’ve chosen to change the rules, for one reason or another, my panic levels have reached a careless, disorderly and unacceptable high.

 

The ability to acquire new freelance clients has been a necessary superpower in containing the panic.

 

As freelancer, you need to be able to constantly work your magic in making clients appear on your radar. And I don’t mean for emergency situations only. Bring them in before the panic buttons sound.

 

This is the reason why I'm elaborating the most actionable ways of acquiring new freelance clients starting today. Implement them with the tenacity of your fourteen-year-old self trying to impress a school crush and you’ll probably succeed before the thirty days are over. I know I will (because I'm sniffing out new clients too)!

 

Ready? Here goes!

 

1. Gear up with your online presence

 

It goes without saying that the first step in this entire quest is to pay attention to and create a strategy around your online profiles/portfolios.

 

All of them.

 

Make sure they are all matching to the same beat. Same beat, same drum.

 

Do you have one thing you want to be known for?

 

Do you want to be known as a writer? A graphics designer? A web designer? A photographer? A filmmaker? Is your website communicating one unified message? Are your profiles communicating that one unified message?

 

In short, the idea here is not just to have online profiles lying around but to get them found and get them found in good condition. In the right condition.

 

 

Here’s what will help you take action:

  1. A universe of choices for your domain name.

  2. Interesting and affordable combo offers on hosting plus domain names.

  3. Interesting offers on self-creation plus domain names

  4. Neil-Patel-ified SEO information.

 

2. Give a shout to your network

 

In your grand scheme to take over the freelance world, you cannot and should not forget the people in your network. Let them know what you are up to.

 

Here, I’m referring to everyone. Everyone from the people you consider “close” to those with whom your only form of communication is those obligatory-ish Happy Birthday wall posts on Facebook or the reciprocal likes on Instagram posts.

 

You never know who might lead you towards an interesting path, right?

 

So, you could opt for an obese social media status, a coffee meetup interjection or good-old email.

 

I’m partial to email. It’s formal but allows joysticked informality. It’s also free of the “like” frenzy of social media. And it’s devoid of script memorisation and thought-confusing interruptions.

 

Here are some tips for the email: give enough detail to inform, little enough jibber-jabber not to bore and just enough motivation to spur some action.

 

And remember to include an MVR. A Minimum Viable Reaction.

 

Ask them to do the littlest possible thing so that they are more willing to reply or do something small in the first five-to-ten minutes of reading the email. You could even go a step further by sending them an email script they could use on those people they think might want to work with you.

 

There’s one more thing.

 

Consider offering a finder’s fee. Some extra fuel in that referral train.

 

 

Here’s what will help you get your referral game started:

  1. Make your way to the Resources page here for useful templates, tools and links that you'll need in this brave quest.

  2. Or simply click here for direct access to the email and social media templates.

 

3. Get utterly social

 

Okay, hold your horses. I don’t mean this literally.

 

Don’t go crazy writing loony toon posts and outrageous attention-seeking bios. That’s not necessary. And anyway, I’ve offered some post and bio templates to give you some direction on how to pull in interested clients who might come across your profiles.

 

By getting superbly social, I mean utilising social media to find potential clients and opportunities.

 

Here's how:

 

 

TWITTER

 

The most useful place to begin with, in my opinion, would be on Twitter. Well, LinkedIn too but Twitter seems to offer an easier way through the door for freelance job search.

 

The trick is to make use of Twitter’s advanced search functionality.

 

Feed this to your browser: https://twitter.com/search-advanced

 

Once you’re on the Advanced Search page, type in the relevant keyword for the type of gigs you are looking for, key in the needed hashtags (#freelancer #hiring #remotework) and then hit the search button. Magic happens! 

 

 

LINKEDIN

 

As for LinkedIn, make sure your profile is up to scratch first. Then head over to LinkedIn Jobs and do an advanced search.

 

Type Remote in the keyword field in order to narrow the search to remote work or location independent jobs. Type in the kind of role you are looking for and click the search button.

 

 

 

 

Here’s what will help you take action with social media searches:

  1. Save the searches wherever possible.

  2. Return to these searches and actually use them - again - and again - and again!

 

BONUS: Another great place to spread your client-searching wings is Facebook. And not just Facebook. Specifically, Facebook Groups. Figure out the right keywords to search for and you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

 

 

4. Go pro bono

 

A great way of snagging some freelance clients for yourself is to dangle a zero cost carrot in front of them.

 

That’s just a fancy way of saying, you should consider locking in new clients by enticing them with free services. Doing this will put your work ethic on display and it'll keep your name on people's minds.

 

Whether you are a newbie freelancer or a seasoned freelance ninja, this strategy can work wonders.

 

But I believe it’s only worth pursuing if you have the time, the will and the interest it deserves.

 

Be sure to select potential clients you’d actually enjoy working for or those that you’re certain you'd actually learn something new from.

 

And don’t forget to do some extensive research on them prior to any engagements. It'll be quite the tragedy if you somehow find yourself in a less-than-agreeable situation and NOT get paid for it.

 

Here are some tips on how to get the necessary value out of offering pro bono work:

 

  1. Ask for a shiny testimonial from the client. One that you can showcase on your website.

  2. Make it easy for them to refer you to someone who might need your services. Avail a fillable form, a page on your website or a number of business cards.

  3. Ask for a useful or complimentary service in return and create a win-win situation.

  4. Ask for a feature on their website. If you did a great job, it makes sense for your work to be flaunted and credit given to you!

 

5. Get partnered up

 

They say two heads are better than one. And that’s true. Especially if the other head is at your level, or even better, at a level higher than yours. At times, teaming with a head that’s quite different from yours can also be a home run.

 

Enough about heads. I think you get the point.

 

Find someone or people who can make a great team with you and get you some much-needed client time.

 

It could be that you are a writer and you choose to team up with a graphic designer and front end developer to get a huge website project done.

 

Or you could be a social media manager who chooses to team up with a graphic designer to get a social media campaign running.

 

Or you could be a writer joining forces with another writer to finish up a mammoth writing project.

 

The idea here is to grab a partner who has what you don’t currently have. A different skill, an ongoing project, an exciting new venture, good-old existing clients or an interesting plan on how to get them.

 

Here’s what will help you get started in partnering up:

 

  1. Reach out to your closest network of freelancer and entrepreneur friends letting them know what you're up to. Ask for partnerships or referrals. Revert to the Number 2 for tactics.

  2. Be aware of what your social media friends are doing. Watch out for LinkedIn job anniversaries and career-related (#blessed) posts on Facebook and Instagram.

  3. Take that friend who commented in your latest social media post out for coffee. You’ll be surprised by what can come out of a random meetup where you discuss what you're up to.

 

6. Go cold on potential clients

 

Sending cold emails to potential clients is usually the crux of this entire client-search mountain.

 

At this point, the slope gets ridiculously steep and the cold wind urges you on towards giving up. It’s hardly a surprise that most freelancers throw in the towel at the thought of it all. I know I have.

 

There is something seemingly life-threatening about typing a please-don’t-notice-my-desperation-as-I-attempt-to-brainwash-you-to-hire-me email and sending it to an unknown human being.

 

It can be annoying and it can seem useless. But you know what? It’s good for you. Quite like flossing your teeth. Keep doing it consistently and the results will stack up over time.

 

So, create a sheet of individuals, companies or organisations you would love to work with and get started on the emailing.

 

I know getting useful email addresses might be challenge so you may want to consider investing in the Linkedin Premium account in order to get direct access to decision makers.

 

As for the email or the message itself? Make it extremely simple. These people don’t have time to read a word-heavy email. Make it short and make sure it does its job of eliciting some action. Include an MVR. A Minimum Viable Reaction.

 

Here’s what will help you take action with your cold emailing:

 

  1. Get access to email templates here that you can modify to your liking

  2. Get in front of Excel or Google Sheets in order to create a tracking system for your efforts. Drop the necessary contacts on well organized cells and roll up your sleeves!

 

7. Grind out content for potential clients

 

One great way to get your foot in the door with potential clients is to create content. Content for them. Content that will be beneficial to them.

 

In order to be successful with this, you'll need to figure out those clients’ pain points.

 

What problem(s) do you think they need solved right now? What problem(s) do many clients in their niche face? Can you create content that can give them some insights?

 

A blog post, an e-book, an infographic, an app?

 

Do your research and get creating!

 

Here’s what will help you take action when creating content:

 

  1. Take a look at this great post on pain point discovery.

  2. Borrow a leaf or two from these great tips on how to write an e-book.

  3. Tinker with a great tool that can help you create a great infographic.

 

8. Go out and do some guest posting

 

You could choose to create content for potential clients directly as I've already mentioned or you could dive into creating content for other blogs and websites with relevant audiences.

 

This can be a great way to get your brand in front of more eyeballs. But just make sure they are eyeballs worth writing and fighting for.

 

Here’s what will help you take action with guest posting:

 

  1. Do some online research to find out about the biggest blogs in your niche. Like most of the tactics above, you’ll need to whip out an excel sheet or Google sheet and list all your intended targets. Be sure to include huge audience websites and small audience ones as well. You could practice and increase your courage with the "small" ones.

  2. Analyse each target’s content. What they write about will give you a clue on what they would love to publish next.

  3. Build a connection with the blog or site owner. You could either start cold with an email or start warm after commenting on their content or conspicuously re-sharing it.

  4. Figure out what awesome post you’ll end up writing and give it your all!

 

9. Go expert on people

 

Still on content, here’s another great way to make a name for yourself.

 

All you need to do is morph into an expert. And if you can, become THE expert. Become the person that comes to mind whenever people think of the thing that you're planning to be known for.

 

You can do this by teaching people how to do things related to your area of expertise. You can teach people via an e-book, a masterclass, a video series, an online course or an email course.

 

Each of these will need a considerable amount of brain time in order to become useful content.

 

Here’s what will help you take action in your journey towards clinching Expert status:

 

  1. Refer to the points I've listed in tactic Number 7.

  2. Check out this definitive guide on how to create an online course for the first time.

  3. Have a look at this comprehensive post on how to create an email course on Mailchimp.

 

10. Get your networking hat on

 

Last but not least, you cannot ignore this one key thing.

 

Physical networking events.

 

Inasmuch as you are searching for and stalking potential clients online, don't forget to put on your best clothes and head over to a relevant event near you.

 

This will allow you to expand your circle, perhaps meet actual potential clients, perhaps meet fellow freelancers (refer to number 5) or perhaps even learn something new that'll help you in your freelance venture.

 

The possibilities are endless. So get out there.

 

Here’s what will help you take action with networking events:

 

  1. Subscribe to the newsletters of handpicked companies and organisations so as to be updated about events.

  2. Create and save searches on Twitter for relevant event keywords.

 

SO IN SUMMARY...

 

1.   Gear up with your online presence

2.   Give a shout to your network

3.   Get utterly social

4.   Go pro bono

5.   Get partnered up

6.   Go cold on potential clients

7.   Grind out content for potential clients

8.   Go out and do some guest posting

9.   Go expert on people

10. Get your networking hat on

 

Whether you choose to do one of these, some of these or all of these - just make sure to do whatever you feel will work best for you.

 

But let me be crystal clear on this: one thing you do NOT do is give up.

 

Always keep going. DO NOT give up.

 

 

 

Is there anything you feel I’m missing on this list? Or do you have any particular questions on any of the above points? Let me know in the comments section below.

 

 

 

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