How To: 5 Easy Ways To Find Freelance Work
So, here you are, a brand new, ready-to-go copywriter or a web designer, a photographer or a graphic designer, a naturopath or a virtual assistant. You’ve got skills, business cards, and your business registration. You’ve seen heaps of small businesses that could really use your help. You’re all good to go!
But how do take that first step and get some work?
It sounds intimidating doesn’t it - approaching strangers with offers to work with their business. And get paid for it. I get it. We’ve all been there.
The main thing to remember is that a ‘business’ is just another person like you. Just another person who's working on something they enjoy, trying to get customers and make a living. You can help them do just that. You have a service they need. And maybe they want to find someone like you but don’t know where to look.
Freelancers, listen up! Here’s how to find your first few small business clients...
1. Cold email
Direct emailing someone you don’t know sounds impersonal and, well… cold, but it doesn’t have to! Personalise your email by finding out a first name and email address of the owner or manager. In your email, show them that you’ve assessed their business and its weak points and explain how you can help. It's the basic problem-solution approach.
For example, if you're a writer, web designer or graphic designer, offer to edit, polish or rewrite their existing website or marketing material that you’ve seen. You could say something like ”… I noticed a couple of typos on x page, would you be interested having me edit and proof your website?" Maybe they'll jump for joy - you could be just who they’re looking for! Provide specific examples of what you’d change on their site to show them that this isn’t another generic email.
Download my FREE Email Scripts for Freelance Corporate Writers here!
2. Attend networking events
Networking with your business cards and elevator pitch at the ready is a fantastic way to source business. You don’t even need to be subtle about it - yay! - people are there specifically to meet other business people and form connections. You do need to be likeable and confident though so smile and look sincere. A firm handshake helps too (those limp handshakes are the worst… shudder).
And if you’re wondering where to find these events, trust me, they’re on - check social media with the hashtags #networking and #yourcity; your local government website; community websites; local magazines and the like. There’s also heaps of virtual networking ops like Twitter chats and webinars.
3. Join professional groups in your sector
Type a search into any social media platform and you’ll find heaps of professional groups. Personally, I’m part of 5 Facebook groups - 3 writing and 2 digital businesses, plus a Squarespace forum and a couple of LinkedIn groups.
There are loads of benefits to getting into professional groups - you meet like-minded people, get heaps of advice, mentoring, and access to jobs that often aren’t posted anywhere else. They are also a great source of support and encouragement, and as well, you can glean lots of information about work opportunities in your niche.
Be sure to engage with the group - be helpful, ask and answer questions, and post links to your blog posts and social media connections where relevant. It's give and get.
4. Post your services on social media
I did this when I first started designing websites, it's a great way to bring in work. Post an offer of your services on Facebook, Twitter or other social media. Your friends and family are your biggest supporters - so milk this connection! They will be happy to share your post and tell their friends. People always prefer to hire someone they know personally. Trust is the biggest winner in this industry.
Your post doesn’t have to be salesy, just friendly and direct. And if you can post a discount or limited time opportunity, it makes your offer even better.
RELATED POST: 5 Ways to Market Yourself as a Freelance Writer
5. Talk to people
This is an extremely simple but hugely effective tactic. I know so many freelancers who are just starting out and get their first break simply by chatting to people at parties, restaurants, cafes, playgrounds, and schools. You just never know who you’re going to meet and (more importantly) who they know. In actual fact, 95% of my web design clients have come from personal referrals - friends of friends. It's such an amazing network.
Meeting new people is also a good way to practice your elevator pitch. "I'm a freelance writer and web designer" is my simple one-liner when I meet someone new. And if they want more info, I can extend that to "I work with women starting or running small businesses to help with their web design, content and marketing."
And be sure to have your business cards on hand at all times, you never know when you'll need one!
Tell me, how did you get your first break as a freelancer?
About the author: Lilani Goonesena is an Australian freelance writer, Squarespace web designer and blogger currently based in Vientiane, Laos. She loves helping freelancers and small businesses with web design and content, blogging and through her awesome weekly newsletter on digital marketing, social media, blogging, web design and "all that online stuff". She also writes food and travel articles for businesses and magazines, and blogs at the delectable Eat Drink Laos, just for fun.