You’ve heard about the massive shift in the self-employment industry as hundreds of thousands of people move into freelancing. Now, hiring freelancers is nearly as common as any other business employment move, and you want to join in on the success.
But, you don’t have any clients — yet.
So, how do you kickstart your audience as a brand-new self-employed worker in your field?
The good news is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Use your top skills and these tried-and-true tips, and you’ll build your clientele.
1. Start With Your Peers
Some people have no problems reaching out to their extended network and letting them know about their new career move (and why they should hire them). Others are a little less excited about the prospect, concerned that they’ll be one of “those” pushy messengers.
There’s a balance between the two extremes. You can let your family, friends, and followers know that you’ve jumped out of the corporate world and into the freelance industry without being annoying. Make it clear what you do, and ask them to pass your info along if they ever run into anyone in need of your services.
Recommendations Are Part of Life — You Can Use Them, Too
How many times have you scrolled through social media and seen your friends talking about their favorite coffee drink or a TV show they’ve binged? It’s free advertising, and you want to cash in on it.
Word-of-mouth is the best type of referral, and chances are, your network will recommend someone if the topic comes up. If they don’t know what you’re doing, that someone can’t be you. Don’t be pushy, but don’t be secretive, either.
Instead, reach out to people you know will support your career change and those who are likely in touch with your ideal clients. Look for anyone you know who is in a related field and may be able to give you tips to improve your skills and customer connections. Consider these individuals to be your first “leads.”
Call or send them a message and give them an elevator pitch about what you offer and how they can help you get started. Out of ten or so people, you may only hear back from one or two. Touch base with the others using the lead follow-up tips that you’re comfortable with if you’re concerned about coming off too pushy.
2. Connect With Other Freelancers and Networks
As we mentioned, you are not alone in your new freelancing journey. There are so many people in this industry that there’s an entire system designed to support them.
With a little searching, you can find referral networks, unions, and even sites like Selfgood, where you can get gig workers’ perks, such as discounts and insurance.
Connecting with other freelancers expands your network and knowledge base. If you need a resource, reach out to your fellow freelancers and ask for guidance. They can also be that word-of-mouth referral base you need to gain more clients.
Remember, you’re just starting out, and there are many people who have been in this industry since the beginning. Let them guide you and teach you the tricks of the trade. You never know when important knowledge might come your way.
3. Find Ways to Partner With Other Businesses
Whatever your business is, you must have an online presence. It’s the way things are today, and your clients will search your name to find out if you’re legitimate.
Search engine algorithms use various (and varying) factors to determine where to place your name on a keyword query. For instance, maybe you’re a freelance sports writer, and a potential client types those words into their search bar. The more your name is optimized, the closer to the coveted first page it gets, and the more likely it is that your audience will come to you.
When you partner with other businesses and build relationships with editors and site owners, you can guest write or post and advertise your services on those domains.
The important thing to remember is to go where your ideal clients are hanging out. You’re building a name and a brand. Stick with other businesses that have a similar audience and reputation.
Consider going into your community and doing the same kind of thing. Look for businesses to connect with who may need your services or have similar clients. Make this connection authentic by recommending people you know to those businesses and staying engaged in your community.
Ultimately, the more you build your reputation and connect with your network, either online or in-person, the better your referrals become.
The excellent part about freelancing is that there’s room for everyone. Depending on your niche and services, you might have a global audience. But, as with every new business, you have to start somewhere.
Follow these tips consistently and focus on building your name before your bank account, and you’ll be a successful freelancer.