Launching a new career as a freelancer can feel daunting – especially if you haven’t acquired any clients yet. But there are plenty of resources available to help you find freelance work and build a regular and profitable base of happy customers.
Creating an online profile or portfolio
When you contact prospective clients they will probably want to know some important details about you, including your work experience, examples of work or projects you have been involved with, qualifications and awards, and testimonials or recommendations.
In order to give a professional image and make it easy for potential clients to get the information they need to book you for a job, you need some kind of web presence.
A web presence can be as complex as an all-singing, all-dancing website, or as simple as a LinkedIn profile. The most important point is to have one! If you can’t afford to pay someone to design and build you a website you can explore the free or cheap template options online.
A LinkedIn profile or Facebook business page are both free and simple to create, but you need to make sure you make them look and sound professional. (You can read seven simple rules to create a perfect LinkedIn profile here.)
Working your contacts
The easiest place to search for new freelance clients may be through your old contacts. Thanks to Facebook and LinkedIn it’s never been easier to stay in touch with friends and colleagues. So one of the first things you need to do once you’ve built a website, Facebook page or other online profile is to spread the word.
Send a link to everyone you know who may need your services or know someone who might and ask them to pass your details on. Not only will people feel good helping you to find work, but they could win themselves brownie points with a contact who desperately needs your skills.
Searching online freelance job boards
A brilliant way to kick start your career if you haven’t got any clients yet is to look for work on online freelance job boards. There are lots of good ones that help put freelancers like you in touch with people who are happy to pay for your expertise.
Some good starting points include:
There could well be a pool of people in desperate need of your services but no idea you exist. So try to think if there is anywhere you should be advertising your skills. Think about what kind of client will use you, what sort of problems they need help with, and where they may go to look for that help – and then advertise there.
If your services are local-based, explore your local online and print media options. If you can work from home from clients all over the country – or even the world – think where they would look online for help.
If you can put yourself in the shoes of your potential clients, you can ensure that any money or effort you do spend on advertising your freelance services will be well spent and productive.
Contacting your old companies
No one knows how brilliant you are at what you do better than your old employers. So it may be worth getting in touch and letting them know that you’re now a freelancer.
It may be that they have surplus work that they’re struggling to get done and may be grateful of some help from someone they can trust to get the job done well. Alternatively, there may be some jobs or clients that are too small for them to take on that they may be willing to recommend to you.
Though it may seem daunting starting out as a freelancer, once you’ve got your first client under your belt you’ll feel more confident and will be on your way to building a new career. It often doesn’t take long to build a good, ongoing relationship with a regular client, or for word to spread from one happy customer on to four new, potential ones.Hannah Martin