There’s no worse feeling as a freelancer than checking your inbox only to see tumbleweed floating around and no new messages.
As a freelancer it’s a fact of life that sometimes you will have a lot of work and sometimes you will struggle to find any work when you need to.
This cycle – known as feast and famine – can be really scary and off-putting.
It’s part of the reason why, here at Freelance Success, we really encourage you to implement a long-term marketing strategy, designed to reliably generate new leads and new clients.
But of course, this is a lot easier in theory than in practice. Even with the best plans in the world, you can find yourself with gaping holes in your schedule.
Feast and famine is very real, because it’s hard to find the extra time and energy to continue looking for new clients when you’re overloaded with work. This means a few months down the line, the work can easily taper out.
So today I want to share some ideas for you to try out if you don’t have much work and you don’t know what to do next.
Instead of beating yourself up, you can take positive action to try and get a new freelance client or grow your business.
Of course these tactics are not guaranteed to work immediately, but they have helped me multiple times and can be great ways to snag new clients when you most need them.
Most of these suggestions are short-term focussed – they are not designed to help you build the kind of long-term system we talk about elsewhere. These are for when you need a client, and you need one fast.
Table of contents:
- Ten ways to get a new freelance client:
- Build a new income stream
Ten Ways to Get a New Freelance Client Fast:
1. Reach out to your network
The simplest way to get a new client fast, is to simply get yourself back on the radar of the people who might need your services.
We all have a network of people which we can tap into when needed.
Think about friends, family and people you have worked with before. This is a great moment to reach out, and maybe reconnect some old relationships.
Don’t reach out directly asking people to become clients. Instead, look for other, genuine, reasons to connect with them. Maybe you could ask for a recommendation from a former client, arrange a coffee with an old colleague to catch up, or ask a question of someone whose opinion you respect.
Generally, people really love to help, and the more people you connect with, the more likely it is that unexpected opportunities will open up for you.
So take this moment to reach out to a few people. Just this simple action can you put you back on their radar and remind them of how you can help them.
Of course, don’t beg or sound desperate, but just giving people in your network a gentle reminder whether in person, on social media, or by sending an email to past clients, can have really positive results.
2. Join a co-working setup
Another great step that you can take – which can pay off with new clients and inspiration almost immediately – is to find a good co-working spot.
We’ve already talked about how valuable your network and the people you know can be in helping you find new clients.
And if you don’t have much of a network, one of the best ways to find a group of people, who you will have a lot in common with – and who may also need freelancers – is to try and find one of these flexible work groups near you.
Search for co-working spaces in your town or city, and if possible sign up and head there as soon as you can.
You’re sure to meet some new people almost immediately, and you’ll be part of a great network where you can help other freelancers, and they can help you.
It’s also great for getting you out and about and out of the house if you’re feeling blue about your current situation.
3. Explore Facebook Groups
One of my favourite ways to find new clients when I’m in a pinch is to look online at Facebook groups.
There are Facebook groups for practically every kind of interest and profession, and if you are working in a specific niche these groups are a goldmine of opportunities.
Many Facebook groups have a community of people in them openly looking for freelancers and openly advertising jobs that they need help with.
If you can consistently browse these groups and be a useful community member, you can find a lot of work here.
Other members will get to know you and start reaching out to you, and you can throw your hat into the ring for the more overt job posts.
I think these kinds of groups – whether you’re on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter – can be incredibly helpful. Especially when you’re struggling to locate clients by other means.
Just make sure you’re not purely using the groups for this purpose. You’re going to really annoy people if you’re only responding to job adverts, and not offering any other kind of help and advice to the people in the group.
Again this all just goes back to the best way to find new clients – build genuine relationships with people.
4. Search for local agencies
Another great tip is to Google for local agencies who might work with freelancers. Just search for design agencies in [your location, or marketing agencies in [your location], for example.
A surprisingly high percentage of these agencies, will have a specific page on their website inviting freelancers to get in touch.
This is your chance to reach out and send them your portfolio, to get yourself on their books. I recommend doing this every few months, and reaching out to as many as you possibly can.
It’s also worth following up, because sometimes these email accounts go on monitored.
For this reason, it’s often with picking up the phone and chatting to someone in person. This just helps you to make a much better impression, and stops you being another easily ignored email.
5. Try an online freelance marketplace
We generally don’t recommend using freelance job boards too much, but there certainly can be a place for them.
Some of the well known job boards, can cause you problems as a freelancer, as the incredible amount of international competition means prices are driven to rock bottom. Be aware that some freelancers are able to make a decent living from them, however.
You can also find lesser-known freelance job boards – which have less competition – and can help you find work in the dry spells.
One of my favourites is YunoJuno, which has a more rigorous application process for freelancers. This means clients are working with a better standard of freelancer, and there is less competition for the jobs so you can charge more for your work.
Look out for job boards that tailor to your specific niche – the more specific they are, the less competition you will have to wade through and fight against. For example, Work for Impact is a job board that connects freelancers with impactful organisations.
Be wary of spending too much time on freelance job boards, however. Looking for work on these sites can be really time intensive, and very dispiriting. Often your time would be better spent on other options.
6. Search classic job boards
Freelance job boards have their place, but don’t forget to search the regular job boards too.
Some of the biggest jobs boards – for traditional employment – also often host freelance opportunities, and medium-term projects.
If you see an opportunity that you think fits your skills, and could be converted to freelance, it’s often worth reaching out to the company to enquire about it.
In addition, this makes cold out reach a lot easier, because you can see that these companies are actively recruiting. This means they must have gaps in their capacity, which you may be able to help them with.
Checking these job boards just gives you a great reason to call them and get in touch, rather than reaching out to random agencies apropos of nothing.
7. Build a lead magnet
Another great way to get your name out there is to work on a lead magnet.
We talk a lot about building a marketing funnel as a long-term strategy, because it’s such a great way to keep in touch with people who may want to work with you – even if they don’t currently have a need for your services.
If you have some free time, and you don’t have any client work, this is the perfect chance to work on creating a lead magnet for your freelance business.
A lead magnet is simply a piece of downloadable content, that your audience will find useful and helpful. It has to grab their interest and give them real value.
By creating a lead magnet you are building a tool that can help exactly the kind of people who are most likely to work with you and are most likely to need your services.
Creating a good quality lead magnet will help you get on the radar of potential clients. Often, you’ll find that people start reaching out to you soon after publicising your lead magnet. Or you may need to set up an email campaign, to keep giving them value into the future.
Over time, you can use these emails to build a level of trust, and keep in touch with your audience – until the point when they are ready to buy from you.
8. Update your portfolio
Most of these tactics, are fairly useless if you don’t have an up-to-date portfolio that you are proud of, and which reflects exactly what you can do.
So instead of worrying about getting new freelance client at this point, this might be the perfect opportunity to whip your portfolio into shape.
Even better, once you have updated your portfolio, it’s the perfect opportunity to do a bit of reach out. You can let your past clients know that your portfolio has been refreshed, share it on social media and ask for feedback. All of this is getting you and your work out there, and you never know, you might just impress somebody and inspire a new client to reach out to you.
9. Write a blog
We really do recommend having your own blog as a freelancer, mainly because it is great for Search Engine Optimisation, and helping clients find you using Google.
Perhaps more importantly, however, it also establishes you as an expert in your field.
So if you have a bit of time on your hand, use it productively and try to write a blog. You can even make it relevant to something that is happening around you. Say there is a major news story unfolding, if you can tie this into a useful article, which benefits your audience, you’re creating an article that will be very sharable.
Again, this can be a great way to get yourself out there. Even if it doesn’t generate an immediate response, it will be helping your SEO, so it’s time well spent.
I’ve had many clients reach out to me through my blog over the years, after having read an article that interested them, or was shared by somebody else.
Having a blog is simply essential as a freelancer these days.
10. Update Your Google My Business Page
If you’ve not done this – go and do it now, you won’t regret it.
Google offers this fantastic service for promoting your business completely for free. Many freelancers overlook this completely but it can be absolutely fantastic for attracting local clients.
Register your business with Google, and you can start to appear on Google Maps and Google will promote you when people search for relevant services in your local area. Once again, it’s completely free.
I 100% recommend using this, and have had many clients come to me through this channel.
It is tied to a specific physical address, but even if you don’t work in one specific area, you can benefit from the local presence.
Build a new income stream
If your client work is sparse, this can also be an opportunity to think about strengthening your freelance business by setting up an alternative income stream or some passive income.
At Freelance Success, we really encourage you to think beyond just being a freelancer who sells time for money – mainly because of the types of issues we’re exploring today.
You don’t want to feel like you need to have client for freelance work all the time, in order to keep your head above water.
One of the best ways around this uncertainty is to set up multiple income streams.
As an example, I am a freelancer, I also work with Destination Marketing – a travel marketing company. In addition to that, I run a record label called GBM Music, and I earn a little from affiliate marketing.
Having a few different ways to earn money means the risk is spread out a little bit – and even when client work is hard to come by, it’s not so scary – because there is still money coming in.
Don’t get me wrong, all of these income streams take time and up-front effort to set up and maintain. Which means the times when you don’t have client work are perfect for putting in the hard work, to benefit later.
I know it’s hard when you don’t have work, and you feel like you’ll never find another client, but part of the freelance life is being able to keep the faith through these tough times, knowing that you’re putting in the work, and knowing that you’ll come out the other side.
Try to see the times when you do have little work as an opportunity to make progress on the things that we’ve discussed here. Build income streams, create long-term marketing plans, and grow your relationships. These are all activities that will pay you back down the line.
Remember, everything can change in a second thanks to one email from a new client – so hang in there!
Until next time,