Whilst working my previous full-time job at the front office of a hotel, someone reached out and asked for simple customizations to her WordPress website.
She was my first freelance client.
I didn’t track how much time I spent on the project, but I remember charging an entire $40 for the work.
Within the next couple of months, I landed my first website design client pitching to someone from Facebook — and built her an entire WordPress website for $400.
I found my next client pitching self-taught tech skills including website customizations, SEO and content writing. I wore the hat as a tech-savvy Virtual Assistant, supporting my clients with writing and design.
Now, I work as a full-time WordPress website designer.
One of the most frequently asked questions I hear from family, friends, and other freelancers is: “How do you find clients?”
There is no one way to find clients. But there are a number of things you can do (every day!) to build a sustainable client network.
Understand Client Needs
Being able to tailor your services will not just land you clients, but also increase your value as a freelancer.
Everyone tells you to do client research — and that’s because it’s such an important step. As a freelancer, your service provides value to someone.
But how can you communicate the value of what you offer? What problems do you solve that makes clients value you enough to pay you?
When I did client research, I literally took words people said and put it into my sales copy. Because my ideal clients told me about their problems and their pain points, and I knew that my work could solve their problems.
- Have you tried other freelancers? What was the experience like?
- What alternative are you looking for (your service)?
- What hesitations do you have with hiring a (freelancer)?
- How do you currently use (product or service)? What is your personal experience like?
And it’s more than understanding the client’s problems. It’s also great to see where they want to be.
- What’s an ideal result of (your service)?
- What are your goals for your business?
Being able to tailor your services to the above will not just land your clients, but also increase your value as a freelancer.
Provide a Memorable Experience
Pause. Think about your favorite café. Why is that café your favorite? Maybe it’s the cozy chairs, the freshly brewed coffee, or the warm smiles from the baristas to start your morning.
Recently, I visited an upscale café in Da Nang, Vietnam. You could choose from sitting beside the koi pond outside, or inside where they had an upstairs loft area.
The coffee was served on a wooden platter with a placard describing the flavor palette of the coffee. This experience was more than just a cup of coffee.
Your favorite café provides more than a service (selling coffee). They’re also providing an experience (enjoying coffee).
Before you start selling and pitching clients, think about the experience you’re offering. How do you want your clients to feel during and after the project?
- Send a welcome gift (or thank you gift) to begin and end the experience.
- Build client trust by being totally organized.
- Have communication expectations (e.g. replying within 24–48 hours) and stick to it.
Leverage your Network
As a freelancer, your network becomes an invaluable asset.
A huge percentage of my work comes from my network.
I’ve met multiple clients at networking events. Both current and former clients refer work to me. People I know recognize me as a WordPress website designer and reach out to me when they have a WordPress project to be done.
One thing you can do is reach out to others and remind them what you do, and who you help. You can also offer a referral fee to thank them for the introduction.
The introduction of a new client is incredibly valuable — because not only can you get the client for that project, but if you provide a good experience, that client will refer you to their network in the future.
Show and Tell People What You Do
Do people who find you on social media or your website know what you do?
Start by writing your social media bios to explain what you do and who you serve. Continue building consistency by making all your bio photos the same — a headshot photo of you.
This doesn’t mean you have to post on every social media platform. Spend time where your clients spend time.
Another way to be clear about what you do is to build a freelance portfolio website. At a minimum, include a photo of you, what you do, client testimonials, and a way to contact you.
Lastly, use content to build your authority as an expert and thought leader. You can post that content on places like social media captions, your website, or even on Medium.
Share Testimonials and Client Feedback
Testimonials help others visualize what it is like to work with you.
You can use testimonials to paint the picture of your client experience!
Start the project by asking for client permission to share the project on social media during or after the project. With this permission, you can post quick photos of your behind-the-scenes.
After the project, send a feedback form asking why the clients hired you, what stood out to them about the service, and who they would recommend work with you in the future.
Putting the answers to those questions in a testimonial will help potential clients visualize what the experience of working with you will be.
Focus on Transformation and Benefits, Not Features
How will your clients’ lives be different after they work with you? What are the benefits of working with you?
Features tell and benefits sell.
I don’t just provide clients with a WordPress website built using Elementor. Clients walk away feeling empowered to make edits on their own website because Elementor is such an advanced, easy-to-use tool.
Communicate the results that your work will provide for the client.
Do the Work
The most practical thing you can do to find clients is a step away from all the tabs you have open about how to find freelance clients and take action.
If you need client work yesterday, then prioritize how to find work now — maybe that means cold pitching to clients based on your skillset, writing articles, or reaching out to former clients.
If you have more flexibility, you also have more time to think about your priorities. Spend this week on tasks such as learning about potential clients’ needs, adding testimonials to your website, or optimizing your sales page.
The real question is — will you find your clients “one day,” or will you be taking inspired action to make this “day one” of your next contract?