So you’ve been thinking about becoming a freelancer, but you’re worried about being able to get your first client, and making sure that you have enough work to pay your bills.
Good news! Finding that first client is probably a lot easier than you ever though. Here are five steps that I’ve used to help book me solid.
Talk to your current or former boss
If you’re an awesome developer or designer, your boss was probably pretty bummed when he found out you were leaving. After all, you know their projects, how their work, and what they need. You’re a lot lower risk than hiring a new employee or outsourcing to someone else.
Beware, though. Your company might not be too happy with your decision, and even though it’s in their best interest for their business to keep you around, their emotions might be in the way. Talk about why you went out on your own and the life you want to live, and let them know you want them to succeed too and are willing to help.
Get to know your peers
The trouble with consulting is that work fluctuates. There are fat months, and there are lean months. Rather than turning away work, a lot of freelancers or consultancies would rather subcontract out work than turn away a project.
Attending conferences and user groups is a great way to meet the very people that might be overloaded with work. Don’t be shy, be upfront with what you’re looking for. After all, when subcontracting work, the primary contractor is likely making money off your time, so it’s a win-win for everyone.
Run the networking circuit
Chamber of Commerce. BNI. Rotary Club. Regardless of where you are, there’s probably a bunch of monthly business networking events. Dress sharp, bring a stack of business cards, and project confidence. Again, don’t be afraid to let people know what you do and how you might be able to benefit them. Clients aren’t buying our work, they’re buying the benefits our work brings.
For example, let’s say you run into the owner of a boutique retail shop. If you know how to put together or design an online store, advertise, or think that you’re above and beyond her abilities as someone who understands technology and the Internet, offer to help.
Forget the technical jargon, ask her if she would like to give you a chance to increase her sales. Here’s a tip: Business owners really love being told that they can make more money. But being offered to put together a Shopify store with a custom design hooked into Adwords – yaaaawn.