by Margo Snyder | Featured Contributor
Okay, so you’ve got your website up. You’ve put together a portfolio of work that you’ve done, and you’re open for business! Oh yeah, you forgot one thing! Where are the clients? No matter what field of freelance you’re in, whether it be design, copywriting, photography, or marketing, you’re going to find yourself in a quiet room, twiddling your thumbs for a while before you realize that in order to get your first client, you’re going to have to actually go out and get your first client.
Once you have an established freelance business, it gets easier. Clients start coming to you through referrals, and other channels. You hit a tipping point where work finally starts to flow in. But until that day comes, you’re going to have to pay your dues. Here are some tips about how I went out and got my first clients.
- Do work for a friend: Even if you don’t have a friend who is starting a business, I bet you have one that wants to someday. Ask them to be your client, and work with them to create the ideal logo or photography for that business (real or imaginary!). The purpose of this is to get a feel for the process of working with clients. There’s more to doing client work than just doing the work. Find out how smooth your workflow is, and adjust accordingly before you get your first “real” client.
- Donate your time for a good cause: Charitable organizations might not have a huge budget (or any budget) to hire you (remember- you’ve got to pay your dues for a while) But they are professional organizations that you can treat as you would any other client. Not only will you get good karma for volunteering your time, you will make important connections that might turn into something more profitable in the future. A lot of blogs say to never-ever give away your time or work for free- but I disagree. If you’re giving away your time to a good cause, you’re helping the world become a better place. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that’s a bad thing to do, or a bad business strategy!
- Create fictional work: Sometimes when we work with clients, we don’t always get to create exactly what we want. When you create fictional work, you get to really let loose and express your point of view- which is what people will hire you for when they see it! You can work with your “ideal client” (who let’s face it, really only exists in our minds anyways right?) Creating fictional logo designs is something I still do when I’m in between clients. Not only did it help me bring in my first clients, but it continues to help me by bringing traffic to my website through people who see my designs on social media! I always make sure to label my fictional work as “fictional” so that people know that the business does not exist.
How did you find your first clients? Any tips for fellow freelancers?
Margo is a graphic & web designer who spends her time dreaming up ways to help women achieve their goals in business. She’s been working from home for three years, and loves every moment of it! She knows from experience that it is possible to create a career and life you love!
Margo runs an online community for bloggers and small business owners, as well as her graphic & web design business. Her goal is to help like minded women battle the convention that we need to spend eight hours a day (1/3 of our lifetimes) stuck behind a desk, making someone else a lot of money.
When she’s not working with design clients creating beautiful websites or branding materials, she’s writing to those women who aren’t sure they have what it takes- because we all need a little (ok a lot) of encouragement when we’re going it alone, venturing into the unknown, and running our own empires!