Intro- How to get your first client as a freelancer
In this article I would like to discuss how to get your first client as a freelancer by sharing my experience. The reason why I am writing about this topic is because I know how difficult gaining clients is. Whether you are a freelance web designer or a start up company getting your first lead can be a mission. If you do not have much experience with running a business you might even feel prompted to quit. I definitely do not want you to be discouraged or give up. My goal here is to inspire you by sharing my story with you. Although my situation might be completely different from yours I hope that I can give you some ideas or pointers. I’ll show you the steps that I took in this entire process. Whatever is relevant to your situation you can apply as you read through this article. At the end of the day, I just want you to learn how to get your first client as a freelancer.
Steps that I took
1. Drew a list of potential customers
Starting off I knew I needed to have a list of target customers who I could potentially pitch to. On my list were three categories: People I already knew, referrals, and strangers on the internet. The people that I knew included business owners and those who ran a non profit. I had already had built relationships with these people in the past. Referrals would also come from these people or any other person who was familiar to me. Strangers on the internet included those who I chatted with on social media groups or people who saw my ads. There were some individuals who told me to include business owners in my area in the list. Even though it was a good suggestion, I did not have the time or verbal skills to approach these people. I also did not want to harass people on the phone by cold calling them.
2. Narrowed my list down
After the first step I recognized that I needed to make my list a lot smaller. Firstly, I did not have the experience to get referred by anyone. Even though I had a portfolio of websites I previously worked on I needed actual testimonials to attract customers. Secondly I did not have ample time or resources to get leads online. Having to find customers on social media groups like Facebook is extremely time consuming. The majority of people that I came into contact with were scammers from multiple countries. I was also on a limited budget when it came to running ads. Although I ran a few ads I did not get very far with them. My best bet was to stick with people who already trusted me and had a potential need to be met. I decided to just target those in my first category.
3. Got my first lead
Despite looking around for customers for more than a month I finally was able to land my first lead. The lead that I found was a non profit organization. What made it easier for me was that I had worked for this NGO in the past. I had a good report with them of being someone who was reliable and dependable. When I contacted them they were very much in need of an upgrade to their website. It had been two years since anyone had done major work on it and they lacked a full time web designer. After having several meetings on the phone with them we agreed to work with one another. I would showcase my skills to them and they would decide if they would continue working with me.This was a golden opportunity for me to prove to someone that I could design a multi page website.
4. Made a sample website
Before I could do any work on this organization’s website I had to create a sample one for them. The purpose of this was to give them an idea of the type of service I’d provide them. They wanted to see if what I’d give them would benefit them over the long haul. It took me about a month to build this sample website. Almost everything that I would later include on the real website appeared on this one. Out of all the websites that I previously made this one was probably my best work at the time. I was greatly motivated by the fact that I was helping someone else potentially expand their reach. With this one project I hoped that it would open the door for many more opportunities. When they saw the website that I did they were satisfied and wanted me to continue working with them.
5. Completed the project
It took me a little less time to work on the actual website than it did for the sample one. In the span of three weeks I provided the organization with a site that was up to date. Not only did I upgrade their website, I gave them instructions on how to navigate through it. It would be the first ever project that I made money from. This was a great milestone for me because I believe that I delivered on everything that I set to accomplish. I was given instructions to do something and I did it to the best of my ability. There was no question that I was ready to take on more projects after getting the first one out of the way. A couple of months prior to this I did not have as much confidence as I ended up having.
How to get your first client as a freelancer
There are lessons that you can learn from how to get your first client as a freelancer. First, if you want to accomplish something have a strategy in place. Had I not planned ahead of time how I was going to get clients I would have never been able to land any. I think it is important for any freelancer to have a strategy before anything else. Second, no matter how difficult things get do not give up. It was so easy for me to throw in the towel even though I had doubts about my capabilities. When I first started this journey I had read forums of people in my industry who got discouraged and quit. Had I done the same thing it would have led me nowhere and my business would have collapsed. Third, do not be afraid to reach out to people that you know. If you really want to know how to get your first client as a freelancer develop the courage to approach people. You will be surprised at the number of potential customers you will find using this strategy.
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