Freelancing: 5 Things to Do While Awaiting your First Client

— December 8, 2016

If you’re just starting out your freelance career, this article is for you.


While freelancing is really all the nice things you’ve heard about it, it’s also fraught with challenges.


Perhaps the greatest problem you’ll face at the beginning of your career is landing your first client. And by first client, I don’t mean one who’s going to hire you on a freelance job site that cuts its share from your pay, but a client who’s ready to pay you for what you’re truly worth.


These 5 strategies will fast track the process of landing your first paying client and sustaining patronage in the long term.


1. Specialize


Specializing is a two-step process which includes picking a niche and learning to become an expert in the selected niche.


Some freelancers I know are against specializing, believing it’s lame and boring. However, specializing is key for success.


Imagine this: you’re a freelance content writer in search of a new client and fortunate to pitch a businessperson who’s currently in need of business articles for her blog. Within the same period, she receives another pitch from a freelancer who’s as good as you are.


In your pitch, you wrote about having written for blogs in various industries. You also showcased samples of your work, centering on nutrition, travel, parenting, marketing etc., but can’t boast of being a force to reckon with in any. You’re just … you know … one of those regular writers.


On the other hand, your competitor, in her pitch, wrote about being featured in some top-tier business websites and being cited by some industry experts.


Now, if a decision were to be made about picking either of you, who do you think would win the spot? Most probably not you, in my opinion.


Not specializing may be profitable in the short term, but it won’t cut it if you’re serious about taking your business to the next level.


To specialize, start by choosing a niche and making sure it’s something you’re passionate about. If you haven’t prior experience in your niche, spend much time learning. Read books and blog posts, watch videos, listen to podcasts and do whatever will get you acquainted with the necessary details.


Having learned a lot, you’ll be able to handle every job effectively.


2. Create Social Media Profiles


According to Statista, there are 2.3bn social media users worldwide. It’s therefore certain that your prospective clients are busy hanging out in the various social media platforms, so you’ve got to find them or make them find you.


Since many freelancers have reported landing clients from social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, it would be best if you not only maintained an active presence on them from the outset, but also knew how to promote yourself and services in order to land clients (Check tips for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn).


3. Guest Blog


Again, you shouldn’t just sit and wait for clients to find you – try reaching out to them wherever they are. By guest blogging, you’d be flaunting your expertise right at the faces of your prospective clients.


You want to research about the various blogs they (prospects) read. If you write about travel, keep an eye on travel blogs with impressive metrics and write for them.


Another good way to discover whether or not your prospective clients visit a site is by viewing the comment section of the blog. Most blogs give readers the opportunity to input their site’s URL while leaving a comment, so you can always check out whether or not a user is a businessperson needing your services.


Guest blogging makes you come off as an expert and, when done well, will have clients running towards you. It also builds and sustains popularity.


4. Garner Social Proof


In freelancing, social proof is a good means of persuasion, as people tend to be more willing to involve themselves with someone who is tested and trusted.


While guest blogging is good social proof, it isn’t enough to help land you as many clients as you wish.


Think about all the relevant work experience you’ve had. Request testimonials from those who you’ve worked for in the past. If possible, offer your services for free to someone who needs it in exchange for some nice words about your services.


Social proof will help convince prospects about your skills, when the time comes.


5. Make a List of Prospective Clients


I’ve never been a fan of freelance job sites, particularly for what I consider to be their exploitation of freelancers.. Instead, I preach pitching. Cold pitching.


Cold pitching involves sending emails to businesses, marketing your services with the aim of getting hired. When starting out, you want to acquire as much contacts as you can lay your hands on. This will enhance the process of landing your first client and also securing patronage in the long run.


Conclusion


This article argues that freelancing isn’t a bed of roses; a freelancer has got to strive hard for success. The problem most freelancers face at the beginning is landing the first paying client. However, by specializing, guest posting, being active on social media, garnering social proof and making a list of prospective clients, you’ll be putting yourself in the neighborhood of success.

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Author: Deji Atoyebi


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