Building a successful freelance career starts with one thing: Landing clients. Here’s how to land those first clients even when you don’t have much experience.
Ah, the wonderful world of freelancing. Unlike a 9-to-5 job, you can work from home, set your own schedule and give yourself a raise whenever you darn well please.
But there’s just one problem. First you have to land clients — and a lot of them — to live the freelance dream.
Whether you’re just dipping your toe into the freelance waters or have been in the freelance game for awhile, convincing a new client to hire you is not always easy. You need to prove you’re the right person for the job and worth the investment.
To grow your network of clients and build a profitable business, follow these tips to develop your credibility. The more closely you follow these guidelines, the more likely you’ll land more freelance work.
1. Let other people speak for you
Try to put yourself in your potential client’s position. How should he figure out how outstanding you are in what you do? Show references from previous work and let the words of others speak for you. You may have to reference unrelated work experience, but that will still help your credibility.
Ask your previous clients to recommend you or provide testimonials you can use on your website (we’ll get to that next). Most of them understand it’s difficult to win new business. If they’re satisfied with your services, they should be more than happy to help you out.
2. Make your website pop
We live in an Internet era, and almost everything happens online. Everyone — including clients — shops around and does some Internet research before buying a new product or committing to a new freelancer.
Help make the vetting process easier for potential clients. You need a quality website where you can present yourself, your services and previous completed projects to interested readers.
What constitutes a quality website? It should prominently feature your portfolio and link to any work that will help clients decide if they want to use your services. Your website will also help you promote your business to others in the industry.
Your website doesn’t have to be flashy, but it should look professional. Double-check the content to eliminate typos or odd formatting. People will judge you not only on the quality of your portfolio of work, but also on the general impression they have when they visit your site.
3. Show off your skills and training
One sure way to boost your credibility is to show how serious you are about your profession. Show clients how dedicated you are to improving acquired skills and expertise.
With free websites like Coursera, Khan Academy and even online Ivy League university courses, it’s never been easier to expand your skills.
4. Have your contract handy
While a signed contract is not mandatory, having one helps both you and your client agree upon the expectations and deadlines for your work.
Aside from the protection element, a signed agreement will give you confidence and demonstrate to clients that you’re trustworthy and professional.
When working via freelance marketplaces like oDesk or Freelancer, you automatically get guarantees on the contract from both the system and your client. But keep in mind you have to pay a fee (which can be rather high) for long-term projects.
5. Be consistent and reasonable with your rates
Establishing a price for your freelance services can be tricky, particularly when you first start out. Create a pricing structure that’s fair in terms of effort and compensation. Keep your rate consistent in all conversions with your client. And make sure it’s in line with the requirements of the project you’re doing.
Be clear about your prices with clients and stick to your guns – it will prove to clients you know how much you’re worth. No one wants to hire a wishy-washy freelancer. (Click here to tweet this thought.)
Once you’ve developed a slick website with testimonials, showcased your work and proved you know your stuff about contracts and rates, you’ll be well on your way to landing more clients.
Do you have any other tips for new freelancers to help improve credibility?
Rye Baehr decided to pass on 9-to-5 employment after college and started his academic career that combines his passion for writing and science. He’s the senior writer and editor at Global Writings and is a passionate traveler and bookworm.