When someone makes the jump into freelancing full-time, what high-impact things can they do to find and get clients?
Put it out into the world. When I started freelancing full-time, I told everyone. I even told past employers and coworkers who became some of the best referrals for new clients. I blasted the news across all my social channels — Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
A lot of freelancers, especially when they’re starting out, are afraid to tell their networks because they’re afraid of failing or coming off as “salesy.” But you need your network the most when you’re starting out. It can be the difference between getting and not getting clients.
Another thing you can do is build a community and collective of freelancers who offer a variety of services. If you’re a photographer, having freelance connections in event planning, social media management, and web design will yield more client referrals than a community of other photographers. A client who needs web design services, for example, will likely also need a photographer. Those connections and referrals will pay off in the long run.
What advice do you have for freelancers reaching out and choosing the right clients to work with?
Reach out to clients who can hire you for work you want to do. When I started out, I knew I wanted clients in the hospitality industry, so I almost exclusively reached out to owners of hotels and restaurants. Because my portfolio and social media was filled with hospitality work I’d done, those clients wanted to work with me.
Always interview potential clients. Initiate a 30-minute call or in-person meeting to get a better understanding of where they’re at and where they want to go. And take that opportunity to watch out for red flags.
What kind of red flags do you look for and what questions should you ask?
Great question. I typically look for red flags around how clients communicate and whether they respect me and my work.
If a client is unwilling to hop on the phone for a quick call, that’s usually a bad sign. Clients unwilling to communicate or respect your time will be difficult to collaborate with down the line.
I like to ask how clients prefer to communicate. Communication is a key element of a positive relationship, so if there’s a mismatch between our preferred communication styles, that’s a red flag.
It’s also a good opportunity to let your clients know how you prefer to communicate. I communicate exclusively via email and phone calls. So when clients expect me to join their Slack or Trello groups, it’s difficult to manage our communications, especially as I balance the needs of other clients.
How do you set expectations for client communications in order to juggle multiple clients and manage a healthy work/life balance?
I’m specific about my availability in the contract: times clients can contact me and expect a response. I do this to remind them I have other clients, but also so they don’t reach out on a Saturday night expecting an immediate response.
I make sure clients can contact me when they need to without forfeiting control of my schedule by setting designated “office hours” for each client. I dedicate 1 or 2 hours a week to each client — they can ask questions as they come up and I can maintain control of my schedule and client list.
What does community mean to you? How can community help a new freelancer?
Freelancers tend to be a bit isolated. I started Freelancing Females because I wanted a place to ask hard questions, find like-minded women who understood what I was going through, and get support. Whether your community is a few people in your town or many in different freelance industries around the world, that support can give your business a new dimension and someone to turn to when you need it most.
What’s one final piece of advice you have for new freelancers?
You’re going to learn a lot through the Webflow Freelancer course, but the most important reason to freelance is to create a job around your passion — something you truly enjoy. You’ll no longer be shackled to someone else’s job description, so it is time to make your own.
Freelance will take time, energy, and involve stress. But I hope you create something you love with the flexibility you need and that meets the goals you’re after.