Mastering The Hunt for Clients

We worked with freelancers to discover tried-and-true tips for getting clients and stressing less along your freelancing journey.

Forget Your Portfolio, Work on Your Proposals

Clients rarely have time to review your previous work, and showing them what you’ve done really doesn’t say much about what you can do for them. Sure, having a portfolio is a great thing to have, but it doesn’t accomplish much on its own, does it?

Think about the 80/20 principle– the more that you spend on your portfolio, the more time you’re taking away from actually finding and connecting with potential clients (which is what will actually get you hired).

Use your energy wisely, and don’t be afraid to start seeking out great clients while you slowly build out that fancy online portfolio you’ve been wanting on your LinkedIn so badly.

Don’t Spam Potential Clients

Don’t ever send mass-proposals to potential clients. Simply tacking some ideas onto a pre-written proposal makes you look cheap, even if your ideas are great.

You should be looking up your contact’s LinkedIn profile and generally snoop around for any interesting tidbits you can use to your advantage. This is called sales intelligence, and though it typically applies to massive prospect list-building for sales teams, you can apply it to your own work to help you better connect with your client based on evidence of their needs, concerns, etc.

Write Better

As a general rule, you want your prospects to get the red-carpet treatment. In other words, show them only what you’ve done that relates to their business.

More importantly, offer a variety of unique ideas that you can implement specifically for them, and don’t forget to explain how those ideas can help them achieve the results they want.

Here are some easy-to-implement tips to help your strengthen your emails:

  • Download Grammarly: If your grammar and syntax are less than perfect, a text-editor extension like Grammarly will catch your mistakes before you hit send and give you corrections. Your days of mistyping ‘recieved’ or ‘seperate’ will be long behind you, and you’ll be better for it.
  • Write Better Subject Lines: 33% of recipients will open an email based on the subject line alone. Don’t say “Freelance designer for hire,” say, “How My Designs Grew This XYZ Company to <insert key performance indicator (KPI) of choice>”.

Get as weird, daring, and creative as you like– taking small risks will help you figure out what works best. We recommend using an extension like Bananatag or Boomerang to keep track of how many opens you get. If your email never got opened, make some tweaks and try a different subject line as a follow-up. Remember your ABT’s, Always Be Testing.

  • Use Names: This is an essential part of the whole personalization element. Avoid a major facepalm moment by never ever ever using ‘to whom it may concern.’ It’s an archaic, stuffy phrase that screams beginner. Also, don’t be rude– let your recipients know where you found them!
  • Quantify Past Results: If you’ve done related work, try to quantify your results as best as you can. If you absolutely can’t find details about the effectiveness of your work, at least include some quotes at the end from your happy clients (which you should be keeping in touch with).
  • Be Project-Focused: Don’t get caught up in the show and dance of your background. It makes you look silly. Your years of experience as a social media wizard are pretty irrelevant– your competition probably has that too (maybe with a less fanciful title, but you’re not fooling anyone). Do describe a bit about your background, certifications, and relevant education, but stay focused on the specific ideas you can bring to the table.

Plan Your Free Time Ahead

Too many freelancers wait until business is slow to start looking for new work. This is a rookie mistake that you want to avoid at all costs. Even if you’re so busy your head is throbbing, take some time out to find a potential client and write up a proposal.

Just one or two on your busiest days can help you survive an oncoming drought. Not all clients will need you for urgent work, so you can always let them know that you can start their project in a couple of days. If you’re convincing enough about your talents, you’ll be well worth the wait.

Know Where to Find Your Clients:

By now, you should have a good idea of where your people are. If you don’t, you have some serious work to do. For some, using one or two platforms to find clients makes life easier, but other freelancers prefer not to keep all their eggs in one basket.

See what works for you, and try to branch out if business is ever slow. The wider your net, the better your chances of finding a great catch, so long as you’re willing to keep up with all of your platforms.