How to attract new freelance clients: 7 top tips that really work
Finding new clients is one of the toughest challenges for any freelancer – whether you’re new to self-employment or a seasoned pro. Growing your network and building a solid customer base starts with putting yourself out there! Here are 7 steps to attract new freelance clients.
- Invest in your website
Your website is often the first place people go to find out more about your business. It’s worth investing in a quality website that’ll help you make a great first impression and stand out from the crowd.
- Is your site easy to navigate? Bear in mind, the average time spent visiting a website is just over two minutes.
- Does it communicate what you do, who you do it for, and the value you deliver?
- Do you come across as someone clients can rely on?
- Is your message clear and concise?
- Does your website reflect your personality and values? Trying to be something you’re not can be exhausting, so don’t strive for a serious, formal tone if you’re more of a chatty, friendly type and vice versa.
- Work that SEO magic
There’s little point having a beautiful, up-to-date website if no one ever sees it! Research shows that 95% of people don’t venture past the first page of search results, and half the clicks on that page go to the first three results. How do you get your site to that coveted first page? By using search engine optimisation (SEO), that’s how!
SEO is often seen as some kind of arcane dark art but there are plenty of great blog posts dedicated to the subject if you want to brush up your skills. Start by building relevant keywords and phrases into your website and social media posts, and using a tool or plug-in such as All in One SEO for WordPress and Yoast to optimise your content and boost your business up the rankings.
- Ask for recommendations
Testimonials are one of the best free marketing tools your business has, so don’t be afraid to ask your clients to recommend you! In Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion Robert Cialdini lists social proof as one of his six principles of persuasion – and research shows that 77% of consumers are more likely to buy from a business if their friends or family recommend it.
It takes time to build your reputation when you’re starting out. With recommendations and referrals each job can be a stepping-stone to the next client and the next project. As soon as you’ve completed a project, ask the client if they’d be willing to review your service for LinkedIn, Google or Facebook. Chances are they’ll be happy to help.
If you want to take things a step further, build your testimonials into project profiles or case studies to share on your website and social media. They can be a great way to showcase your services and the problems you solve for your clients.
- Use social media: don’t let it use you!
Platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook can be a great way to build your brand, raise awareness of your business and grow your customer base – but if you’re not careful, social media can be a dangerous distraction and a drain on your time and productivity.
Instead of trying to master every platform, pick a couple and do them really well. Do your research to find out where your dream clients hang out, and focus your efforts there. (Make sure you pick platforms you enjoy using as you’re going to spend a fair amount of time there!)
Learn to win at social media without losing your mind here.
- Grow your network
The best way to grow your business is by building relationships. How? Join online groups, take part in Twitter chats, attend networking events, or offer to speak at conferences and events.
Rather than focusing on what you can get out of it, look to give before you take. Be helpful, approachable and friendly and you’ll quickly grow your network.
Finally, stay curious about the people you meet. Okay, so that guy you got chatting to at the bus stop may not be in the market for a new website or social media management, but he may know someone who is! Focus on being memorable and generous with your knowledge and advice – you never know where it might lead.
- Choose community over competition
There are two ways to look at those who do the same job as you. You can regard them as your competition, and close off for fear of them poaching your projects or clients, or you can see them as your community.
From my own experience, the latter option makes for a happier, more fulfilled freelance life – not to mention the chance to grow your customer base.
Other freelancers have been through the same challenges as you have – the isolation, imposter syndrome and unpredictable workloads. They understand. They can provide support and advice when things get tough; the chance to share and collaborate; and, when they’re too busy to take on that new project, chances are they’ll refer the client to a trusted colleague.
- Add value
It may sound counterintuitive, but your marketing isn’t all about you! Clients care less about your skills, awards, qualifications and experience and more about how you can make their lives easier.
Focus on answering the question, “What’s in it for me?”.
What can you offer that solves a problem for the client, makes them look good, or boosts their sales figures? Offer practical, workable solutions to the challenges they face, ask the right questions and spend more time listening than you do talking. Focusing on your customers and delivering a quality service that goes above and beyond will earn you loyal clients who come back time and time again.