Corbett emailed me a few weeks back asking for my top traffic-building tip, and it was my pleasure to give him one that worked for me. I was doubly pleased when he thanked me by offering a guest post – one of the really good ones. Read. Learn. Enjoy.
Getting your first clients as a new freelancer is a daunting challenge. Without a reputation, referrals or testimonials to convince people to hire you, you have to be creative and work extra hard on getting your name out there.
You could try cold-calling (or cold-emailing), knocking on doors or praying to the freelancing fairies for some work, but there are some better techniques you can use that will be sure to get you clients in a hurry.
Here are 5 tactics that are sure to attract your first client. If you already have some clients, these techniques can also give your existing business a boost.
Prerequisite: you have a website. These techniques assume that you already have a website dedicated to your freelancing business. If you’re don’t have a website, what are you waiting for?
- Narrow your focus
If you spend much time reading about marketing online these days, you have probably heard about the importance of differentiation. Your point of difference (POD) is simply what sets you apart from the competition and makes you unique in the eyes of your potential customers.
When you’re big and have a long history of satisfying clients, you might be able to get away with positioning yourself broadly. When you’re just starting out however, it pays to position yourself much more narrowly.
Instead of being just a graphic designer, for instance, be the fun, quirky and human designer. Instead of being a marketing consultant, be the guy who helps you engineer a kick-ass product launch.
Narrow your focus and you’ll get more clients. Counter-intuitive but true.
Most people know that having a website is imperative for freelancers these days. Not only that, having a blog is a must as well.
A blog gives you a platform to demonstrate your expertise. It lets you help people in small but meaningful ways through your advice. When you help someone for free, they will think of you when they need more than bite-sized advice.
Blogging also gives you a way to attract people to your site on a regular basis. If you only have a static site, people will visit once. If you have a blog, some people will come back multiple times a week. Just don’t lose site of the fact that you earn money as a freelancer and not as a blogger.
Your blog is essentially a marketing tool for your business. All it takes is some time to write helpful posts. If you can’t write helpful advice a few times a month about the problem you aim to solve as a freelancer, you might just be in the wrong business.
- Offer pro-bono work for a big name
Everybody loves free work, right? Well, if you have a relationship with a big name person or business, why not offer them some free work in exchange for a link or promotion?
I helped my friend Baker from Man Vs. Debt for free with some site optimization and design, and have gotten tons of inquiries and a client through the link he added to Think Traffic in his footer. Win-win.
- Run a contest
This is a great way to drum up interest in your services. Basically, you run a contest on your website giving away some access to your services (a free hour of consulting, a strategy session, etc.) to a limited number of readers. To be eligible to win one of the free services, you ask your readers to leave a comment on the post (great for building community) and/or to tweet about the contest on Twitter (great for attracting new readers).
Then, you select the winners from the best comments after the contest has been open for a week or two. Announce the winners on your site, and offer a limited-time discount to anyone who didn’t win. You can even write the non-winners and thank them for entering. Some of the winners might also become repeat clients.
- Create a product
The fact that you’re a freelancer doesn’t mean you have to (or should) earn all of your income through services. Creating products can be a great way to earn extra income as well as attract more clients.
When you’re just starting out, creating a product can be a great way to demonstrate your expertise. A strong product will create the perception that you’re an authority on your topic and can lead to attracting new clients. Plus, when you’re a new freelancer, you might as well do something productive with that extra time on your hands 😉
Do you know other ways to get clients as a new freelancer? Please share in the comments!
Corbett Barr is an website traffic consultant, entrepreneur and blogger. Find out more about he helps clients build high-traffic websites and blogs at Think Traffic.