Are you struggling to find clients consistently?
Let me guess: since you started freelancing, you’ve experimented with nearly every method of finding clients. You’ve poured hours into job sites, cold-emailing potential clients every day, walking into offices, passing out your business cards – you’ve tried it all at least once.
It’s hard work trying to make it on your own, and it takes a lot of hustle.
Word of mouth and cold-emailing may be the most effective methods of finding clients when you’re starting out, but they never guarantee work. If anything, it’s a lot of wasted time that leads to dead-ends or no replies.
What if rather than spending hours a day chasing after clients, they came to you?
Now that’s the dream. The good news?
It’s 100% possible for you to be in that position: to have clients come to you for work rather than chase after them.
How do I know this? Because I did it.
Today, I’m going to share my experience with you and how you can follow the same steps I took to transform your freelance business. Be open-minded and take action on what you’re about to read – for the sake of your freelance career.
Stop Chasing After Clients
I often receive emails from other freelancers asking for advice on how to “find clients.”
The struggle of finding work isn’t that the work isn’t there, it’s that clients don’t know you exist. Or, they don’t see why they should work with you over another designer.
The solution? Stop chasing clients.
Sounds crazy, but it’s the first step to consistent work.
Before you think I sound pretentious for advising you to stop chasing after clients, I’ll share the important reasoning behind this, and why it works.
Understand this isn’t advice for finding your first clients. If you’re getting started, it’s good to hustle and gain experience with finding work. This advice is for those struggling to find a consistent flow of it.
If you’re looking for help finding your first clients, then this post is more for you:
How to Find Clients & Market Your Freelance Business – The Ultimate Guide
If you have the skills to do great work, and if you have experience working with clients, then this advice is for you.
I’ve been freelancing full-time for over 4 years. From day one, I had no idea what I was doing. I had never ran a freelance business before, let alone any type of business.
I spent two years chasing after clients.
Those two years were spent making mistake after mistake, and hustling to find any work I could. At that time, I was lucky if I made over $500 a month. It wasn’t even uncommon for me to go a month without making anything— it was that much of a struggle.
I know struggle.
If you’re currently going through a similar situation, I know what it feels like. This is why I started this blog – to help those where I once was.
It’s also important to mention, (in comes harsh Brent), that if you stopped chasing clients and then you’d be left out to dry without any work: then you’re not at a point where you should be freelancing full-time.
I say this for the people that have a family to provide for. Freelancing is risky when you’re getting started, so it’s always smart to get a day job that covers your bills while you grow your freelance business. If you need help finding the time to freelance, I’ve got you covered: How to Find the Time to Start a Freelance Business
The Real Key to “Finding” Clients
So why should you stop chasing clients? How does it actually work?
Chasing after clients, rather than letting them come to you, starts the relationship off on the wrong foot. When you stop chasing clients, you’re investing in professionalism and you start playing the long-term game, which is what leads to success.
You don’t stop chasing after clients in hopes that clients come to you. Rather than spend your daily grind on finding clients, spend that time on your business – providing value.
That’s the key.
If you focus more on building a quality brand, setting up a professional website, and producing content in some form, then the clients will come to you. Again, if you’re not able to do these things now, then you’re not ready to freelance full-time. And if you don’t want to do these things, then you’re going to struggle for a very long time.
No one will know you exist by chasing after clients or by simply having your portfolio stagnate online. Think about every person you follow online or those that you look up to. How did you find out about them? Chances are, those people provided some sort of valuable content that led you there. Creating content and publically providing value is a proven concept.
So what kind of content should you put out?
Create case studies with the work you complete, share your work process in detail, write and/or record design tutorials, share your experiences, write about what challenges you’ve overcome – the possibilities are endless.
I stumbled across this realization purely by accident back in 2012. I started putting my blog to use; I posted graphic design tutorials, a few articles on freelancing, and general updates about my freelance business. With this content, I was giving people a reason to come to my website. The other upside? Google was also picking up my site, and I started ranking higher for certain things – the topics my targeted audience actually cared about.
You can find clients by chasing them down, but that’s no way to grow a sustainable freelance business. Clients will come to you if you give them a reason – not by some major marketing scheme – but by providing simple value for free through content created on your own website.
Become a Professional— Not a Failing Business Owner
My freelance business immediately ramped up after I stopped chasing clients and started focusing on my business internally. Rather than spend all of my time writing emails, I spent most of my time writing content. I even put out a few videos when I had the chance.
Of course, you don’t have to dedicate 100% of your time to writing and creating content.
You still have a business to run, so continue to hustle and work your butt off, but don’t let chasing down clients become your priority. The work you land is your priority, but when you’re not doing client work, you should be creating content for your business.
Many people that see the word “write” or “create content”, roll their eyes, and think:
- I’m not a writer.
- I don’t want to be a blogger.
- Writing can’t make me money now.
- I have nothing to share that hasn’t already been shared before.
- I don’t have a blog or a website, so this advice doesn’t apply to me.
The points above aren’t reasons for this to not apply to you. They’re excuses, and possibly the reasons why your freelance business isn’t growing. I used to think the same way, but here’s where I am now:
- I’m not a writer, but I’m writing.
- I’m technically a blogger, but I’m a designer first.
- Writing might not make me an abundance of money or any at all, but it will be what makes a name for myself. Which in turn, will make me a lot of money.
- I have my own take on everything. Just because someone else has already written about it or says it better, doesn’t mean I can’t say it in my own voice or reach a different group of people.
- This advice applies to everyone. You just have to be open-minded, and make the effort to make it happen.
I was afraid to put myself out there. But I overcame that fear and took a step outside my comfort zone.
After a couple of months of posting consistently on my own blog, I started getting a bit of recognition. Not by clients, but by like-minded freelancers. This gave me the opportunity to start guest posting on an established blog every week. I did this for six months, and because of this, my site went from 0–10 views a day to an average of 200 every day.
During all of this (doing client work and creating content), I also spent a lot of time learning how to build a website that find clients. I figured out how to word things for my target audience, how to flow users around using calls-to-action, and how to turn a lurking client into a project inquiry.
What are you afraid of?
If you’re tired of chasing clients, or even worse, chasing the wrong clients, then stop.
Instead, build a quality brand, set up a professional website, and produce content that attracts the type of work you want.
Then, the right clients will find you.
If you’re ready to make a name for yourself, here’s what you can do right now:
- Develop your website so you can build an online presence through writing.
- Share what you’re working on by writing about it on your social media accounts.
- Build case studies for completed projects.
- Revamp the way you choose your clients so you can land better projects faster.
I’m here to help you – through your struggles and to answer your questions. If you’d like me to elaborate on anything you’ve read, let me know in the comments or by any other form of communication.
There’s more where that came from, so if you aren’t already, use the form below or in the sidebar to subscribe to the newsletter!