Freelance Lessons

Getting Clients – A How-To Guide

Photo by Courtney Morrow Photography

The question that I’m asked the most – How do you get clients? There are so many different ways to approach it and since every business is unique, I know that there will never be a one size fits all solution. But after nearly 2 years of trying to figure this out, there are a few things that seem to have worked really well for me (someone who had zero business experience and absolutely hates marketing/networking). So I’m gonna spill all that I’ve learned and hopefully, you can take something away from it!

 

No. 1 – Find One Platform That You Love and Run with It

One problem with using social media for your business is that there are just so many darn platforms and it can be easy to feel pressured to be active on all of them. I’ve always loved Instagram and sharing there feels very natural for me, but Facebook and Pinterest are a struggle. When I started Wayfarer, I was convinced that I needed to be posting on all 3 to gain the most followers. Eventually, I realized that the things I was sharing on Facebook and Pinterest weren’t getting much engagement, but my Instagram was growing really well. It was frustrating because for a while I felt like I was just bad at Facebook and Pinterest, but really it was more about those platforms just not fitting my style of sharing. So I started to put all my focus on Instagram, stopped worrying about the others and gosh, it’s been so relieving! Being able to put all my effort in one place has allowed me to share better content and build a better social presence for myself. So if you enjoy using multiple platforms, that’s great. But if you only vibe with one, that’s fine too and you shouldn’t feel bad for it. Find the platform that feels the most natural to you and run with it.

Words to Remember
Words to Remember
Words to Remember

“Being able to put all of my effort in one place has allowed me to share better content and build a better social presence for myself.”

No. 2 – Don’t Be Afraid to Interact

Although some parts of social media can feel fake, it can still be an amazing tool to build genuine relationships with like-minded people. I’ve seen firsthand how even the smallest interactions on social media can turn into connections and even new clients! If someone posts something that you love or resonate with, don’t be afraid to leave a comment and let them know. If you’ve been wishing that you could ask someone in your industry that you admire some questions, send them a message! I’ve been surprised by how many people are more than happy to have real conversations through social media. Think of it as one big networking event with everyone that you’ve ever wanted to talk to. And if there are any brands or businesses that you would love to work with one day, try engaging with them through social media to let them know that you care about what they’re doing! Businesses will be so much more likely to hire you if they already know that you value what they do. Be kind, be encouraging and I promise that something wonderful will come from simply putting yourself out there.

 

No. 3 – Quality Over Quantity

The number of followers that you have really isn’t that important. I know, I know, you’ve heard that before and you get it, but it’s nice to be reminded every now and then. I still get stuck in the trap of looking a someone’s profile, noticing that they have more followers than me and feeling a little bummed. But one thing that I’ve found to be helpful is instead of just looking at their follow count, look at how many people actually engage in conversations with them through their comments. That’s where the real value is and you’ll be surprised at how some people might have tons of followers but don’t actually get that much interaction with them. Just keep that in mind. Social media only works well if you’re attracting the right kind of followers who value your work, not just random people who are following for the sake of following.

 

Something You Can Do Right Now:

Find 3 people on your social media platform of choice who you either would love to work with or learn from. Leave a meaningful comment on 2 of their posts or send them a quick message to simply let them know how much you enjoy following them and see where that interaction leads.

Words to Remember
Words to Remember
Words to Remember

“Social media only works well if you’re attracting the right kind of followers who value your work, not just random people who are following for the sake of following.”

Connect + Seek Guidance

Like I said, I’m an introvert. I’m perfectly happy with figuring things out on my own and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But running a business is tough and there are times when you just need to walk alongside others and help each other get through it. I learned early on the value of seeking guidance. I was fresh out of college and had zero clue how to run a business, so I had tons of questions. One of the first things that I did was join a few online groups for graphic designers, introduce myself and ask for help. I was amazed at how quickly people responded, gave me advice and some even ended up referring clients to me! There are also quite a few groups that offer mentorships which I highly recommend. I did a month-long mentorship and it helped me so so much!

And if you are young, you might want to think about seeing if any experienced freelancers in your industry are hiring on junior freelancers for extra work. I did this for a little while with a designer that I admired (we connected through Instagram, of all places) and it was really helpful to see how she managed her projects and learn from her. I actually know quite a few young freelancers who have done this so it’s worth checking out!

 

Something You Can Do Right Now:

Join an online community for entrepreneurs, introduce yourself, ask a question and start trying to connect with some people, both more experienced than you and at the same level. A few of my favorite groups are Elevate & Cultivate, Creative Lady Collective and Rising Tide Society. (See if RTS has a local Tuesday Together group wherever you’re located.)

 

Create, Create, Create

As an entrepreneur, you’re going to dread slow seasons, but at some point or another you’re going to have them. All of a sudden you’ll realize that you don’t have enough clients lined up and you’ll freak out about what to do. If you’ve been following me for a while then you probably know that I preach this often, but I’m a firm believer that personal projects are one of the absolute best ways to attract your dream clients. Especially when you’re in a rut and having trouble getting a steady stream of work! I wrote an entire post on why I love personal projects so much, so feel free to read that for more of my thoughts on them. But for now, I’ll try to summarize – The work that you show in your portfolio is the type of work that you’re going to continue to attract. So if there’s a certain type of client or industry that you’re dreaming of working with, you can either wait for them to eventually notice you OR create a personal project that’s inspired by them and more likely to draw their attention. Seriously, I swear by this. It doesn’t always happen overnight, but it works. I just started a project with a skincare brand, an absolute dream client, and what do ya know, they reached out to me because they saw a personal project that I did last year where I made up my own skincare brand! Couldn’t have worked out any better and it just made me believe even more in the value of personal projects. So even in the slow seasons, create, create, create!

 

Something You Can Do Right Now:

Pick a type of client or industry that you want to work with and make up your own personal project! It doesn’t need to have a strict deadline, just create freely and get excited about it. Once it’s done, share it like crazy!

Words to Remember
Words to Remember
Words to Remember

“If there’s a certain type of client or industry that you’re dreaming of working with, you can either wait for them to eventually notice you OR create a personal project that’s inspired by them and more likely to draw their attention.”

What NOT to Do

While there are many strategies for getting clients, there are also many ways NOT to get clients. (Or at least not the right ones.) Here are a couple of things that I have learned should be avoided.

 

So there you have it! Finding clients can be stressful and frustrating, but it’s all about finding what feels natural and works best for you. What strategies for finding clients have worked for you?

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