Finding any old client can be challenging.
Finding high-quality clients—meaning they pay on time, respect the boundaries you set, and are genuinely great to work with—is a whole other ball game.
But we don’t say that to discourage or scare you.
We say that because to attract and work with this type of client, you need to adopt a different mindset in addition to implementing different tactics.
Though it may sound like an impossible feat, or at the very least one that is reserved for veteran freelancers only (Psst, everyone has to start somewhere), we can assure you that is not the case.
Finding those clients is possible, and this article is going to show you how.
Let’s get started.
Tailor your portfolio or website to align with the type of work you want to be doing.
To attract the clients you want, you have to show them you’re the right freelancer for the job.
Building a portfolio that highlights your skill set in addition to the type of work that appeals to your ideal client base is an excellent way to attract the right clients.
Chances are, your potential client is in contact with a few freelancers with similar skill sets, so it’s critical that you not only demonstrate that you are well-versed in that particular area of work, but that you can differentiate yourself from others.
Because the truth is, there are tons of freelancers out there. You have to show potential clients they should work with you.
Feeling overwhelmed? Not sure where to start? Don’t worry.
A few questions to consider when building your portfolio are:
- What types of clients do you want to work with?
- What types of clients are you sure you don’t want to work with?
- What services are you offering?
- What work have you done that speaks to your skill set and the work you want to be doing more of?
Are you a graphic designer that wants to work with women-owned businesses? Demonstrate that in the pieces you select. Do you love working with clients in the B2B space? Communicate that in your portfolio.
If you’re just getting started and don’t yet have the work to reflect the types of clients you want to work with; critiques or audits are always a great option. For example, if you want to write blog posts for ecommerce companies, do an audit of a major ecommerce company’s blog and include what you would do differently or how you would approach improving their blog if you worked with them.
The key here is to demonstrate, regardless of your experience level, that you have a comprehensive understanding of what it is you’re offering and to whom, and why clients should hire you for the job.
Engage with dream clients on social media.
There’s no question that social media can be a massive time suck for most people. The endless scroll of memes and headlines can be overwhelming and leave you feeling unproductive.
However, if used strategically, social media can be an excellent way to grow your business and find the right clients.
So, what might that look like for you?
Step 1: Make a list of ideal clients
Troll through LinkedIn, industry publications, or wherever your ideal clients are active online and compile a list of people you want to reach out to or work with. This will help guide your efforts so you can maximize your time.
Step 2: Be genuine when reaching out
There’s something to be said about the long game. Instead of going straight for the kill—or asking your ideal clients for something—work on building a genuine relationship with them.
Whether you leave an insightful comment on a blog post they wrote or jump into a conversation on Twitter, approach each situation with the intent of fostering a professional relationship with this person.
Step 3: Always provide value
Instead of asking how clients can help you, ask them how you can help them.
Understanding how you can provide value to potential clients and other people in your industry instantly sets you apart (in the best way) and helps add to your relationship.
The bottom line: Having a process to help guide you as you spend time on the social channel of your choice can help safeguard against wasting time. Plus, pitching ideas, inquiring about work, and seizing opportunities will be easier if you already have a rapport with that person.
Leverage past clients and ask for referrals and testimonials.
Did you leave things off great with a client, but they don’t have any current work they need your help with?
Ask them if they have any business contacts that could benefit from your services. If they do, see if they would be willing to make an introduction. Your past clients likely have an extensive network that could lead to additional work, so if you feel comfortable asking for help, take advantage.
At the very least, be sure to get a testimonial from your past clients to use on your website or in other marketing materials as a form of social proof.
Once you have those highly-sought-after clients…
Perfect your sales pitch.
Being able to explain what services you offer to potential clients—and to the rest of the world in general—will not only help you on sales calls or new business meetings but it’ll help you weed out the clients you may not be a good fit for.
If you can avoid Hopping On a Quick Call with every potential client under the sun, and instead only work with those who you align with, you’ll save time and will be able to focus on the clients you want.
It can be difficult at first to explain your service offerings, especially if you’re still experimenting and ironing out the details. But the sooner you can solidify your sales pitch and define what makes you unique from other freelancers, the easier it’ll be to hook new business.
Produce high-quality work time and time again.
This one seems like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many freelancers either don’t turn in projects on time or fail to produce quality work consistently.
If you find yourself having a hard time balancing your workload and meeting client expectations, consider evaluating your situation:
- Are your deadlines unrealistic for your current workload or the project as a whole?
- What does your project management system look like? If you don’t have one in place, it’s definitely time to change that.
- Are you charging enough money for the work you do? Perhaps you’re taking on too much work to try to meet a financial goal, when the solution may be to charge higher.
- Are you excited by the work you’re doing?
There’s a breadth of reasons why freelancers fail to meet the mark, but if you can meet the mark—better yet, exceed it—you’ll be in a much better position than others in your industry.
Be picky about who you choose to work with.
One of the wonderful things about freelancing is the opportunity to pick and choose who you work with. The relationship you have with each of your clients will vary, which can serve as teaching opportunities to help you grow.
However, not every relationship may be right. Even if a client aligns with the type of work you do, if they’re not a good fit, they’re not a good fit. Plain and simple.
But how do you avoid those situations?
Be strict about your boundaries and make it clear from the get-go what your processes are. It may be hard to see some red flags depending on how much experience you have, but it’s essential not to ignore them when they pop up.
Make it a priority to continually work with clients that can not only pay your rates, but that see the value in the work you do and what you can provide. If your clients can’t see the value in the work you provide, you’ll quickly learn that working with them will be a challenge all on its own. And if you’re not sure what your value is yet, it’s time to figure that out.
Always be looking for your next client connection.
Whether you have retainer clients or only work on a project by project basis, always be on the lookout for the next potential opportunity.
Even if you don’t have the bandwidth to take them on now, that doesn’t mean you can’t book them at a later date or grow a healthy business relationship that may be beneficial in the future.
The key to growing a viable, successful freelance business is to know what you’re looking for in a client and a project and take steps to secure that type of work.
Want more freelance advice? Tune into the Unemployable podcast for more.