Freelancing is steadily gaining a foothold as one of the best ways to work and earn online. A lot of people have entered into the freelancing realm for a variety of reasons. The majority of freelancers chose the path because it is the best way to earn while doing what they love. It is also a great option to be able to work from home for those who have family members they need to look after or who simply want to be spared from the daily commute while still being productive at home. Becoming a freelancer is also ideal for those seeking to live a more liberated lifestyle as a digital nomad.
But where do you find clients to work for when you’re a freelancer? Luckily, it’s not too hard to find clients online, and there are many options for the modern freelancer to choose from. You can pick one or combine several of the following methods to secure your freelancing gigs:
Personal, social, business, online -basically any network you can get into as a freelancer is a potential garden where you can grow your client base. Meet people face-to-face. You can go to scheduled meetups and hangouts to mingle with people who you can strike a conversation with and get contacts. Meeting in person during events and gatherings is more memorable and allows you to showcase not just what you can offer but also your personality. Potential clients can use this to gauge if they think they can work well with you.
If the thought of having to step out of the house makes you too uncomfortable, you can easily join online events organized by virtual groups like Hack Summit and 1-Day Business Breakthrough. You can also play an active part in online communities and industry-specific forums like in Quora, Growth Hackers, and Freelancers Union.
Every freelancer knows the importance of having a portfolio. It does not have to be excellent or extensive in the beginning, but you do have to build it consistently to match your current level and caliber of skills and knowledge. The longer you work as a freelancer, the bigger and better your portfolio should be.
There are quite a few searchable portfolio sites you can use to make your work publicly visible. A few examples are Sortfolio, Coroflot, Hire and Illustrator, and Graphic Artist Guild. These portfolio sites allow you to create a profile, store some of your work, and make it visible for anyone searching for similar outputs.
If you think you can do better than a made-for-all portfolio site and would want to customize the site where you put your work, you can always blog about it instead. Blogging allows for more freedom and more personalization, although it will require you to do a bit more to promote your content so that others will know about it.
Of course, it does not have to be one or the other. You can always maintain a blog and an online portfolio at the same time. You can even include your blog in your online portfolio, online resume, social media, emails, and more. Your blog can be your home-base as a freelancer, and your go-to reference point in case a potential employer wants to see more of your work. It will also show your dedication to your craft and how you market yourself if you have customized a place for it with a blog.
LinkedIn is not only for those looking for full-time jobs. Even freelancers can find lucrative work here. It would be a good idea to put up a LinkedIn profile as a freelancer because such profiles tend to show up higher in search results whenever someone tries to Google your name. Keeping an updated and polished profile can potentially bag you an employer since LinkedIn is a highly trusted site for hiring managers.
Try to maintain your professional profile as you would your portfolio or blog. Keep it updated and relevant with your most current skill set, assets, and achievements. You can post some of your latest outputs in its “work samples” section, add some feedback from former clients, and keep your profile picture sharp and current.
You can do anything with social media nowadays -connect with friends and family, market a business, or create awareness for a cause. So what’s stopping you from fulfilling your freelancer dreams and finding clients with social media as well?
You can maintain a professional profile apart from your personal account on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, or YouTube if applicable. However, there are also social media platforms that cater specifically to freelancers and creatives such as GitHub for developers, Dribble and Behance for creatives, Flickr and Photo Critique for Photographers, and Vimeo for videographers.
Conventions, workshops, seminars, conferences, shows, galleries -there is a full host of options for events that you can go to to meet fellow freelancers and potential clients. Later on in your career, as you get established in the field, you can level up your chances of being booked if you speak at one of those events and get to be positioned as an expert.
Speaking gigs, especially if you do so in potential market events such as business conferences, can be highly lucrative for any freelancer. You gain expert status, get paid to speak about your work and its importance, market your brand, and gain an exponential amount of clients after each event. Of course, you have to know your stuff thoroughly to get to this level. Try to start small, maybe at student level events where you might not even get paid yet, and then work your way up from there.
Never underestimate the power of referrals. It is the best way to get clients even without reaching out to them. A shining recommendation with five-star feedback easily exceeds any resume. They might not even ask to see a portfolio if they trust the person recommending you to them.
Naturally, referrals only follow after you’ve done an excellent job for someone. Make sure that with each client you book, and you do a job that is excellent enough to be referral-worthy. Make it a point to give it your all and don’t skimp on the effort. Invest some time and resources to enhance your freelancing skills and never stop growing and learning new things every day.
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