Freelancing is a rollercoaster of a ride. One minute you're bursting at the seams with client leads and projects, and the next it's nothing but the sound of crickets in your inbox.
Those lulls in business can feel like the impending death of a freelance career—and you may be thinking you're time is up. But I'm here to tell you that couldn't be further from the truth.
There are tons of excellent clients out there—they just need to be found (by you).
Let's take a look at a few unexpected ways you can find freelance clients so you can climb your way out of that freelance rut.
LinkedIn’s Content Search Feature
I know, I know. But hear me out. LinkedIn isn't all inspirational career posts that end with “Do you agree?” It can be a goldmine for new business opportunities.
There are plenty of great clients looking for freelancers on LinkedIn. Just because a call for an opportunity isn't posted as a “job” doesn't mean it isn't out there.
Here is your new LinkedIn secret weapon: Searching keywords with the content filter.
So if you type in “freelance graphic designer” into the search bar, then select “content,” you'll see all the public posts with those keywords. You can filter posts by date, the poster's industry, and even the poster's company.
This method may require playing around with keyword variations and some patience, but it may also lead you to your next client or project.
Psst. Keep an eye out for LinkedIn's new feature designed specifically for freelancers and small business owners. LinkedIn has started rolling this feature out to Premium Business members and will release it to everyone this fall.
Not only is guest blogging a great way to build your authority, but it's also a great way to snag new freelance clients.
To get started with guest blogging, make a list of the publications your ideal clients read and pitch those. Be sure to adhere to each publication's pitching and submitting guidelines before you start. After all, the quickest way to get your pitch ignored is not to pay attention to the instructions. Type “[publication name] contributor guidelines” into Google, and you should be able to locate them quickly.
Guest blogging can be a challenge, so if you plan on pitching multiple publications, create a tracking sheet that helps keep you organized—and so you don't accidentally pitch the same idea a company twice.
Keep in mind that client inquiries won't likely be rolling in the second your post goes live. You have to make sure it gets in front of the right eyes.
- Include it in your email newsletter if you have one
- Post it on social media
- Share the link to any networking groups you're in (community guidelines permitting, of course)
Check out this list of blogs and websites that accept guest posts and get to writing!
Previous Employers or Clients
Past professional relationships are a great—and often untapped—resource for potential clients. They may not become a client of yours, but they may know someone to connect you with.
Depending on the nature of your relationship, how to approach an ask like this will vary.
If you're contacting someone you haven't spoken to in a while, send them a note explaining what it is you do and who for. If this particular person isn't an ideal client of yours, be sure to tell them what type of client you're looking for in detail.
This template may give you inspiration on how to start your message:
Hi [Name here],
I hope you're well! Since working at [place of work] together, I'm a [insert title] who works primarily with [type of client] for [period]. I'm always looking for referrals or new connections, and I was wondering if there was anyone you may be able to connect me with that might need my services? I would greatly appreciate it.
If you're asking someone you've kept in touch with if they have any connections, try wording your message like this:
Hi [Name here],
I have a few openings for new on-going clients or projects, and I was wondering if there was anyone you could connect me with that might need a [job title]? If there's anything I can help you with—whether it be making an introduction or in the form of [job function], please don't hesitate to reach out.
Asking for a referral is a delicate art, so be respectful of the individual's time and resources. If they are unable to help you, at the very least they know you're searching, which can also work in your favor down the line if something pops up.
Get Creative With Your Client Search
With freelancing, you never know where you'll find your next client or project. As you know by now, this type of career doesn't play by the customary job search rules.
There are tons of ways to find quality clients, and finding non-traditional ways to do so may pay off more than you think.
What's an unexpected way you've landed a new client?