How To Grow Your Client Base As A Freelancer

Freelancing is easy. You work from home, choose your own hours, and set your own rates. The only hard part is finding well-paying clients!

The above thought process is why many people who start freelancing drop out. In theory, it sounds like the ideal scenario. You can become a digital nomad and travel the world. In practice, it can be an anxiety-inducing slog. There is no benefit to making your own schedule if you have no deadlines. You can set your rates as high as you want, but that is worthless if no one wants to pay you.

Finding work is not hard for new freelancers. You can use platforms like Upwork and Fiverr where you bid on jobs. However, you will mostly be doing drudge work for clients who pay what amounts to well below minimum wage. The reality is that these platforms are used by many freelancers from poor countries in which a dollar is far more valuable. It is far better to create a website with a hosting platform that is attractive, professional, and all yours.

The good news is that there are a few steps that effectively set you up to grow your client base as a freelancer.

1. Pick a niche

The thought process of most new freelancers is that the wider they cast their net, the more jobs they will get. This is partly true. You can find a lot more jobs by looking for anything and everything, but the clients hiring those sorts of freelancers do not pay well.

Finding a niche, on the other hand, sets you up as an expert in a field. You market specifically to companies within a certain industry who are willing to spend what it takes to get quality. Think about it this way: a handyman might be able to fix your lock, but you’d rather spend more and get a professional locksmith in.

It is important to remember that while the internet makes the world seem small, it opens up endless opportunity. Choosing a niche limits your potential client base, but you'll still find tons of companies looking for your skills. You're narrowing your potential clients to a degree, but you're more effectively narrowing the size of your competition.

2. Build a professional website

If you do not have a professional website, companies are not going to take you seriously as a freelancer. They will see that you have a Gmail (Yahoo or Hotmail) address and send your portfolio in an attachment and they won’t give you a second thought. Today, many companies will send emails with attachments in them straight to the junk folder.

For someone serious about succeeding as a freelancer, the most important step to take is to create a website. In 2021, it’s not at all difficult, even if you have no web development or design skill.

You can use Wix to create a website that looks great in mere minutes. They have a range of professional-looking themes, as well as a large cache of stock photos you can use. Having a logo is important for your branding, and Wix provides a logo maker that is easy to use and produces beautiful, effective designs.

Do not skimp on your website, especially when it comes to choosing a unique domain name. The free URLs provided do not look professional and imply that you aren’t confident enough to invest in yourself.

If Wix isn’t your cup of tea, there are alternatives such as Squarespace and WordPress, which are also easy to use.

3. Put together a portfolio

Now that you have a niche and a website, you are almost ready to market yourself and bring in the clients. However, every client will want proof that you can do the job (and do it well). This is why it’s important to spend time building a portfolio.

How do you build a portfolio if you need a portfolio to get jobs in the first place? It is tricky, but working on your own projects is a great place to start. As long as your work is effective and professional, companies will take it seriously, even if you weren’t paid to create it.

If you are a writer, consider spending significant time writing articles about subjects in which you're an expert. There is far more value in setting yourself up as a thought leader than as just another freelancer who can write well. As an expert in the field, you're more valuable to clients than a freelancer.

Finding quality clients when freelancing is not difficult. As long as you put in the work choosing your niche, building a website, and putting together a portfolio, you will be able to attract clients who pay what you're worth.

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