As a freelancer, there are numerous places to find potential clients. But often, we find one place or method and stick to it, which limits our chances to find new and different clients. So today, I’ll let you in on ten places that you can find freelance clients. Some you’ve no doubt tried—others perhaps not. I’ll start with the easiest ways to find clients and progress to the more difficult methods…
#1 Generalist freelancing platforms
The platforms are one of the first places that many people look to find freelance work, meaning there are thousands of competitors, but also thousands—if not millions—of potential clients. While some freelancers hate these sites, they can be very lucrative if you know how to navigate them. If you don’t fancy the big 4 (PeoplePerHour, Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr), try one of the newer platforms. You can find a list of them all here.
#2 Niche freelancing sites
While these sites operate in the same way as the generalist platforms, they focus on industry-specific niches. For example, there are many writing sites, ICT sites, and more. I gain most of my work through book-specific site Reedsy, which is dedicated to book professionals. The benefits of these sites are that clients tend to be higher quality and therefore pay better.
#3 Word of mouth
While you can’t force clients or friends to recommend you to other people, you can make it clear that you’re open to referrals. When you’ve finished working with (and delighting) a client, tell them you’d love to work with them again and would be happy to be referred on. If a client is happy with your work, they’ll recommend you to others who would benefit from your services.
Not all clients are found online, so don’t overlook the clients you can find in person. One way to find clients offline is by attending networking events, many of which can be found on meetup.com. Pick relevant meetups and events, and talk to people there about what you do. Share your details, tell them you’re available for work, and sell them the benefits of your services in person.
It’s tempting to think that LinkedIn is just for employed workers, but freelancers can also find work and vital contacts through the site. Whether it’s perusing the jobs board on there to find freelance contracts or making it clear from your profile that you’re a freelancer available for work, both options can be surprising. For example, I’ve been contacted directly by authors looking for editors on there.
#6 Jobs boards
As well as LinkedIn, freelance jobs are regularly advertised on jobs boards such as Indeed. Simply set up a saved search for relevant work including the word “freelance”. Often, these are contract-based jobs, which is ideal if you’re looking for a longer-term freelancing project. Some companies also advertise on jobs boards if they’re looking for freelancers to join a pool of workers, such as writers or proofreaders.
#7 Personal network
It’s easy to forget that our personal network and extended network can also be a source of work, so tell your friends, family, and former colleagues about your freelance work. Remember, your personal network already knows and trusts you, so they’re more likely to hire you if they need freelance work doing, rather than hiring somebody else. In fact, many of my ongoing clients are friends of friends.
#8 Personal website
This one languishes down the bottom of the list because it takes time to set up a professional-looking website and get people to actually visit it, which makes this one a slow-burner. If you have the time, then regularly and consistently post relevant content for your audience. When you build a network of followers through giving them valuable content, then you may be able to turn these cold leads into active clients. Again, this is something you might want to try when you’re more established.
If you’re confident selling your wares to people who aren’t actively seeking them, then cold-calling or emailing might be the method for you. I know some freelancers who swear by this method, while others prefer to find active clients. This certainly isn’t the easiest way to find clients, because you’re trying to convert cold leads, but it’s worth trying if you want to move away from the platforms.
#10 Social media
It is possible to find clients through social media, so don’t discount this method. However, you do need to post relevant content, engage with your audience, and know how to use hashtags. If you’re looking for quick ways to find clients, social media probably isn’t ideal, but if you’re looking to grow your freelance business, it’s a great way to expand your reach.
Give it a go!
If you haven’t tried some of these ways to find clients yet, then why not give them a go and see what happens? Don’t discount any method of finding clients until you’ve tried it for yourself, and don’t be put off by others who try to dissuade you from trying these methods. Remember the golden rule of freelancing: do what works for you.
Whichever methods you try, I always recommend finding clients through a variety of sources—rather than putting all of your eggs in one basket. You have a much greater chance of finding more and varied clients if you use a range of methods.
Where do you find freelance clients? Any places you’d like to add to this list? Comment below or get in touch. And stay tuned for more freelance top tips.