Finding your first client as a freelance web professional

Attract the right customer

Freelancing is a cool job to have for many reasons. However, until you have a paying client on the books, you can only guess how viable it’ll be. Once you have one client, the ball will begin rolling and before you know it, you’re ducking under a door to escape the huge boulder coming your way. Though, we can’t guarantee that our advice on finding your first client also works when looking for the Ark of the Covenant.

This post will look at how to land your initial client — including marketing on social media — and what else you can do to win their business. However, before that, let’s talk about what kind of customer you’d like to attract!

Customer profiling: Not what you think it is

Finding Your First Client ProfileWhile it might seem like an overwhelming scenario, starting with a blank slate client-wise lets you dictate who you focus on. This’ll likely be the toughest test you’ll face early in your freelancing career, but you can make it much easier by defining a profile for your ideal customer.

We’ve looked at how to create a customer profile previously, and we’d encourage you to read that piece in full. In short, you should think about:

  • The information your profile needs, such as the client’s age and gender.
  • Their personality, mindset, lifestyle, opinions, and anything else related to psychographics.
  • How the two previous points work together. In short, figure out how customers act based on certain actions.

This is a great, although very basic, start to customer profiling. You’ll also want to consider how you obtain this information, such as through surveys, or interviews. If clients are thin on the ground, you may want to begin networking in person to build up a database of “potential potential” clients.

Related: What information should you include in your buyer persona customer profile?

It’s important to find the right client for your first time

Once you have one or more customer profile(s), you’re ready to begin searching for your first client.

A poor first client isn’t going to help your burgeoning career, so you need to find the right client.

 

This might sound overly picky at first, and it could be depending on how you approach it. Taking a positive approach, selecting a client based on your needs and wants is a good way to settle into a freelancing “rhythm.” It also enables you to work on something familiar and comfortable for your first project.

In our previous post on finding clients who are the right fit, we discussed implementing a twist on customer profiling to evaluate suitors, including carrying out pre-work where possible. Also, having a collection of objective and subjective evaluation criteria is key to finding clients that fit your overall strategy (and current situation).

Related: How to find your perfect clients — a comprehensive guide

Social media: Cool networking tool hidden underneath cat photos

Ah, social media. It’s such a vague term, but also oddly specific in that when you think of it, many negative associations will likely spring to mind. Well, we’re here to tell you that the experience doesn’t need to be negative at all — in fact, it’s a high-quality (and free) networking tool.

For example, where else do you have automatically curated and collated lists of potential leads that, once they fit with your customer profiles and evaluation methods, are prime candidates for your services? We mentioned it about three lines ago, but it’s worth repeating — this tool can be completely free!

Social media and content marketing are versatile tools you can use to find clients.

 

Surprise, surprise: using social media for finding your first client and those who follow requires you to have an idea of who you’re targeting. In part, the process revolves around content marketing. Building a regular blogging schedule, and connecting social media platforms to offer solutions to everyday problems will draw leads to you.

Targeted ads are also a consideration, though you should only consider this when you’ve got some momentum going.

Related: Social media networking — a developer’s guide to building an audience

You do not need to slip clients a twenty to win their business

Finding Your First Client TwentiesAs for linking all of this advice together, we’d say that this is arguably a subjective thing depending on your customer profile, overall goals and myriad other factors. However, once you’ve considered everything we’ve talked about, putting it into action is usually going to be a mixture of the following aspects:

 

  • Have a sensible plan in place for the worst case scenario, such as spare income in case your pool of clients runneth dry.
  • Know that setting up a business – i.e. what you’re doing – is a long-term project, so don’t expect instant success.
  • Have a great, search engine optimized website with a consistently updated blog — and include the link everywhere you market yourself.
  • We’ve touched on it, but network constantly, whether that’s online or off.

In short, there are a plethora of other things you could do to get your name heard, but applying the advice we’ve given should pay dividends in the long run. Best of all, these techniques are also great for “topping up” your client base once you’ve become more established.

The key to finding your first client

Beginning the journey as a freelancer introduces a difficult “catch-22” situation: you need experience to win business, but you can’t gain it without having clients onboard. It’s arguably one major reason why many would-be freelancers fall at the first hurdle.

Fortunately, there is a way in — namely through defining who your ideal client is. Once you’ve done that, common sense solutions such as finding clients who match your profile, and harnessing the power of social media will stand you in good stead to land your first client of many.