Are you a freelancer or contractor, who is wondering how to find clients? Then this could be the right place for you. We have put together a guide with all our top tips on how to be a successful freelance contractor.
How to Find Clients
Going freelance can be a great choice for many people. However, although most contractors and freelancers greatly appreciate the flexibility of the work, there is the slight disadvantage of finding new clients. Of course, this can be especially difficult for those who are only just starting their freelance journey.
Don’t worry though, as this is by no means impossible. We have gathered together all the tried-and-tested methods which you can use to start finding work. Some offer immediate solutions, whilst some may work in the long run. We’re excited to hopefully help you on this journey!
1. Focus on a Niche Market
More often than not, freelancers are specialists within their chosen field. But successful freelancers will often specialise even more by picking out a specific niche. Choosing a niche will single out the clients to work for, and you can also show potential clients relevant work from the niche sector they operate in.
A niche can be a unique selling point for freelancers. Instead of just being a graphic designer, you might want to focus on being a graphic designer who has specialist knowledge of the sports fashion industry.
Or another option could be to specialise and focus on a particular skill that you have. For example, you could sell yourself as an expert Photoshop designer or a skilled email campaign specialist.
2. Remember Your Existing Network
Even for those who are right at the beginning of their freelancing journey, it is important to remember that you still have a network of friends, family members, university, or school acquaintances. They might know people in their own professional networks, who they can help put you in contact with.
If you already have experience in freelancing, then it is likely you have previous clients who can give you recommendations.
Make sure to reach out to as many of these contacts as possible. However, try to do so without being pushy. Here are some top tips on how to successfully network:
- Use a spreadsheet to track your contacts – you may have spent time building up your network, so it makes sense to keep a track of your contacts. You can use a spreadsheet to track their details, how often you communicate, and where you met.
- Give them something useful – it can be a great idea to share something like a useful article with your contacts. If you’ve created something they might be interested in looking at or have any top tips to share, then these could be great ways to reach out.
- Remember to say ‘thank you’ - although this is quite a simple one, thanking people for their time, is very important in letting people know you appreciate them.
3. Set Up Your Website
When you’re running your own business, it’s important to remember that you’re also marketing and branding yourself at the same time.
Creating a professional and easy-to-use website should be one of your top priorities. It’s where you essentially market yourself and your work to potential clients.
If you have a sleek, well-maintained website, you can add links from the site, when you message people in your network.
If you then use Search Engine Optimisation, this should ensure clients will be able to find you on Google. If you interested in finding out more about SEO, check out our beginner’s guide.
Although your website doesn’t need to be flashy, make sure to include the following to properly showcase your personality:
- An about page that clearly explains who you are, your niche, experience, and achievements
- Your portfolio
- A blog – this is a great way to produce relevant content for your sector and establish your expertise
- A contact form
If you’re looking to build a website, then WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace are all popular options.
Check out our previous article on how to take your business online, if you want to hear more on this topic.
4. Write Case Studies
When you’re creating pages and content for your website and your portfolio, it’s important to remember to include results, rather than simply list all the tasks you completed.
Writing case studies can be a great way to write about all your fantastic work. If there’s a particular piece of work that you’re really proud of, then it’s an excellent idea to take any potential clients through this whole process. This makes great blog content.
You can discuss the following:
- Your brief
- Your creative process
- Any challenges you overcame
- The results
This means that when you get in touch with clients, you will have several case studies to show, as examples of your excellent work.
If you’re looking for inspiration, then take a look at a case study we wrote.
5. Write Guest Posts
Although it’s great to produce content for your own website, it can be a fantastic idea to write guest posts for other well-known websites, as it is a brilliant way to get your name out there.
If you’re looking for a publication to write for, then it can be a good start to search “write for us” and then the sector you work in.
This should then give you a choice of websites, who are looking for guest writers. Make sure to carefully research the different publications and watch out for the quality of the existing content, the number of followers, and whether it fits your niche.
Finally, take note of the submissions process. It is highly probably you will need to pitch any content ideas, so wait for this before writing up any articles in full.
6. Use Social Media
These days, it can’t be denied that social media is a great tool for most freelancers and can be a fantastic way to help find clients.
LinkedIn is known to be one of the best platforms for freelancers, as you can look for jobs, advertise that you are looking for work, follow clients, and share your own content.
You can optimise your profile by using relevant keywords, which should help you to be found by recruiters. Other tips on how to optimise your LinkedIn profile include:
- Using a professional picture
- Adding recommendations, skills, and endorsements
- Joining groups
LinkedIn is also an excellent place to contribute to discussions, give advice and recommendations, and talk about relevant industry news.
Although LinkedIn is a brilliant platform for job-hunting, other social media can also be very useful for freelancers. For example, Instagram is a great platform to build your personal brand.
Make sure to set a time limit on your daily social media usage and try not to worry about likes and comments. Just sharing useful content will show potential clients your expertise.
If you’re looking for more information on how to use social media, check out our Small Business Social Media Guide.
7. Use Job Boards
Scrolling endlessly through job boards isn’t usually the best use of anyone’s time, but they can be a useful way to see what type of work is out there and who is hiring.
You can have a look at LinkedIn’s job board, places like indeed.co.uk, and also specific job boards for your industry and niche.
You might realise that there is lots of work in a niche that is slightly different from yours. If this is the case, then it might be a great idea to try and shift your focus and slightly alter your profile and CV to fit accordingly.
If you notice a business hiring in areas related to yours, this could mean they will be offering future opportunities. It could be worth contacting the business and making them aware of your services, so you will be ahead of the crowd.
What Do I Need to Include in a Freelance Contract?
Once you have found a job and agreed to work for the client, then the next step is to arrange some sort of freelance contract.
Your freelance contract should include:
- Which services you are providing
- Whether it is for one particular job or for a project
- Terms of the agreement
- Payment terms – currency, how much you will be paid, and when the agreed pay date is
- Terms about expenses
- Notice periods
- Intellectual property terms
You also need to remember IR35 (the off-payroll working rules) when thinking about your contract.
IR35 is a tax law that the HMRC uses to determine whether you are actually self-employed, or whether you are essentially an employee of your client. If HMRC decides that you are an employee, this means you will need to pay more tax.
HMRC will need to look at the contract if there is a dispute, so it would be a great idea to make sure a professional looks over your contract before you start work.
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