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If you're just starting out as a freelancer, you probably immediately have one question: Where can I find clients?
Not being able to find work is one of the most daunting aspects of being a self-employed freelancer. Fortunately, there is a ton of work out there for those brave enough to start their own business. Freelance jobs often feel more stable than a traditional career path – especially when you have multiple sources of income to rely on, rather than just one. Fortunately, this also applies to most of the industries where freelancers are hired.
So where do you look In this article, we're going to introduce you to a few different routes that you can use to find customers. Let us know if you found work any way we missed …
Job boards – Reed, Monster, Indeeds of the World – cost ten cents, and you may have to sift through many irrelevant positions before you can find a job that works for you. However, they can still be useful. Just make sure your email notifications are filtered to show only the jobs you want. Freelance journalists should keep an eye on this decisionwhere hundreds of roles are advertised. For the wider media Mediargh and The media mentor are good options.
There are also freelance job boards. Check out The points and Underpinned for great roles in numerous creative freelance fields.
You may not think that you can find clients for your freelance work through recruiters, but hear us out! If you're looking for longer-term gigs (like maternity insurance or one-time projects that can take a few months to complete) this can be a great option.
Recruiters can really help you with things like pay and contracts. The best part is that they find the ways so that you don't have to do it all the time. Taking on contracts can be a good option if you want a steady source of income for a few months. Find recruiters who specialize in fixed-term contracts and make sure you understand what type of work you want to do (and what not).
Freelance journalists across the country have sung the praises of Freelance writing jobs, the weekly newsletter from writer Sian Meades-Williams for a while. FWJ lands in the inboxes every Thursday listing the best (paid) opportunities of the week – from in-house poets to editors setting pitching guidelines for their glossy pictures. Sign up if you are a writer of any kind. Look for similar initiatives in your own industry if you don't.
Journalists should also check out the journalist Anna Codrea-Rado The professional freelancer, a newsletter with a wealth of valuable advice and relevant considerations.
Mine your network
This is the time to make sure everyone you come in contact with knows that you are self-sufficient and open to business. This includes the random connections on your LinkedIn profile and extended family members. Get the message across and don't be afraid to reach out to old colleagues or acquaintances who may be able to help. Meeting people for coffee, to let them know about your work, is a great way to keep in touch. You never know that that person from your old job could introduce you to a potential new client or spark the best idea you've had all year …
As the freelance workforce grows, more and more groups are emerging to support both the newly self-employed and those with existing experience. Community culture is widespread throughout the creative industry. From advice on finding clients to financial management (and even just the company of others in a similar position), everything is provided for free.
Find Slack communities in your industry and check out organizations like that Society of professional journalists, Women in SEO Tech, and Freelance heroes. This, of course, is the tip of the iceberg.
Your website and your online portfolio
You have probably heard a million times that you need to display your best work online through your website and online portfolios. But it doesn't make it any less true! If you are clear about your work and your story is engaging, and if you have details on how to be contacted, you are well on your way to bringing clients to you, not the other way around. If necessary, invest in a graphic designer to make your website look as professional as possible. You will not regret it!
When it comes to online portfolios, you know better than us which ones are best for your industry. Do your research and make sure profiles and work appear on the general freelance portfolio websites (Behance, The Dots, Underpinned) as well as those more specific to your sector.
Find customers at conferences
Conferences can be great places to meet people in your industry. This can include prospects as well as customers in a similar position to you. Even virtual events, which have largely replaced face-to-face events in 2020, can be an excellent springboard for conversations. It's time to get involved …
After all, we couldn't finish this piece without greeting the giant of freelance opportunity, Twitter. In journalistic circles, editors on a pitching budget often go straight to the timeline to see what options they have, what they are looking for, and how to contact them. Is that the same in your industry? Maybe – and you won't know if you're not careful. Believe us, the time you spend looking for new customers on Twitter is rarely wasted!
We hope this has inspired you to find clients for your upcoming freelance projects. If you have an idea that we haven't talked about yet, we want you to share it. Let us know on the forums!
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