Freelancing: How to Build a Client Base Part 1
N.B.: I decided to go full time in freelancing almost a year ago. My reasons? To have a more flexible working schedule and to get better income opportunities. And, as what I expected it is indeed very rewarding and I am encouraging everyone who is interested to try it. If you are currently committed to your office job, you can freelance in part time basis. That’s what I did for more than two years before I decided to quit my previous job. But, just like any other fields, you need to take risks and work hard before you can pat your shoulder and officially welcome yourself in the challenging and enjoyable world of FREELANCING. (:
In freelancing, one of the most important factors that can affect your career’s success is on how to find the RIGHT clients. Finding clients can be easier especially if you already have enough experience and you got a very good portfolio, but finding the RIGHT ones is one of the most challenging predicament most freelancers have to face. But, for this post, we will discuss first the basics in finding them. Here’s the first part of the Freelancing series written by my fellow freelancer, Wes Burns. Though he uses freelance writing as the example career in this post, the advices can also be applied in other careers. – EOD
Freelance writing is one of the few “work from home” gigs that can actually bring in real money. Although it helps to be a talented writer, you don’t need to be the next Shakespeare to land jobs as a freelancer. As long as you can string a few intelligible sentences together, there’s a job out there somewhere with your name on it.
The most difficult part of getting started as a freelancer is finding clients. Well, let me restate that – the most difficult part of freelancing is building a client base that brings in consistent money. You can scan job boards for one-time gigs, but the key to lasting success is building a list of clients who return to you for multiple writing jobs.
I’ve spent time on both sides of the fence. There was a time when I was the guy looking for jobs, and there was a time when I was the guy who hired writers. My goal with this post is to use my experience to help you build a reliable base of income as a freelance writer.
The first step in building a client base is getting your name in front of prospective buyers. Let me assure you that there is no lack of opportunities out there. The only thing that makes it difficult to find clients is sorting through all the spam and scams that litter the internet.
Let’s take a look at a few legitimate methods for finding freelance writing gigs.
The easiest way to get your name out there is to visit freelance job boards such as Freelancer.com and Elance.com. These websites act as matchmaking services between those who need jobs and those who need writers. There are dozens of other matchmaking services out there, but I trust Freelancer and Elance the most.
There are pros and cons to using matchmaking websites. On the pro side, there are tons of open jobs right now. If you take a look at either website right now, you will find hundreds of writing jobs ready for the taking.
The downside to using these websites is that most jobs don’t pay much. You and every other aspiring freelance writer are going to be competing for the most desirable jobs. Prices tend to get pushed down and it becomes a buyer’s market. Don’t let that discourage you though; I’ll explain how to make more money in a little bit. The main thing for now is to get in front of clients.
Webmaster forums are places on the internet where website owners congregate to talk strategy. In these forums, webmasters discuss SEO, advertising, making money and everything else related to running a website. There are tons of webmaster discussion forums out there, but two examples that come to mind are WickedFire.com and WebmasterWorld.com.
You will soon learn that as a freelance writer, the majority of your clients are people who run websites. Thus, webmaster forums are “target rich environments.” Join these forums, participate in discussion and let people know that you are looking for work.
Note: do not join these forums and spam your services. Many webmaster discussion forums have special areas where you can pitch your service. It also helps if you can establish a name by participating in the forum as a regular member.
Bonus Tip: If you specialize in a certain type of writing, look around for webmaster forums that focus on that niche. For example, I used to be a big poker player and got my start by writing about poker strategy for clients over at the PokerAffiliateListings.com forums.
That website is a discussion forum designed specifically for people who run poker websites. Joining that forum gave my career a huge boost because it was full of people who needed the exact type of content that I love to produce.
I don’t have any experience using Craigslist to find writing jobs, but I do know of several freelancers who use Craigslist. You can use Craigslist (and other similar sites) to browse open jobs or post your own ads offering your work as a freelancer.
I stayed away from Craigslist when I was looking for new clients because it was full of spam and scams. The only advice I can give you in that regard is to proceed with caution and back away if a job seems suspicious. If someone tells you to visit some random website or makes big promises up front, it’s probably not a legitimate offer.
Note from the Blog Owner: This post will be cut-off from here. The 2nd part of this series will be published next week. That part will teach freelance writers on how to write their pitch to potential clients.
About the Guest Author
Wes Burns is an experienced freelance writer and website owner. He got his start as a freelance writer and eventually worked his way into running his own websites and partnering on others with his clients. You can find his latest work over at OnlineFileStorage.com.