This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.
Via the mighty power of the Internet, freelancers have endless places to search for new clients or gigs—LinkedIn, Twitter, Craigslist, Elance, Fiverr—and the list is constantly growing.
But because anyone can access the Internet from anywhere, at anytime, the competition for finding gigs online can seem insurmountable, especially if you’re just getting started in the freelance world.
So, without sounding like your Dad (I totally sound like my Dad) I urge you to try some old fashioned ways of networking, without—gasp!—the Internet. And before you immediately bounce from this page, hear me out as I’ve successfully acquired clients from each of the following methods.
Family and friends
This is the first place you should look for clients or gigs because these people already like you, know you and trust you!
Do any of your family or friends have a business or work for one that could use your services? Do any of their family or friends have a need for what you offer?
Sure, sometimes mixing your business and personal life can be tricky, so it’s best that you treat them like any other client and draw up the necessary contracts. You can consider offering them a friends and family rate to show your appreciation.
Chances are that before you went freelance you had other jobs with bosses or managers and coworkers.
Hopefully when you made the leap to solo, you didn’t sever all of those relationships, because former colleagues can come in handy, especially if you’re freelancing in the same industry.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to select old, cube buddies that seemed to have appreciated your work in the past, let them know what you’re up to and inquire if they, or someone they know, has anything to throw your way.
Yes, in some instances, your clients aren’t going to want to share you, especially to competitors. But there’s nobody who can speak on your behalf better than your current clients.
You’d be surprised how often a client will spread the word about you to friends and other industry professionals if they’re happy and excited about the work you’ve done for them.
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Your gym, your chiropractor, the place you buy your running shoes
Whether you’re a freelance writer, photographer, marketer or financial advisor, most businesses have a need for your services. The question is: Do they already have it covered?
If it’s a business you visit regularly, you’ve already got your foot in the door. Next time you’re in spending money there, ask if they could use some help.
You might even find they’d be open to trading services, which will still help cover your expenses, or your shoe addiction.
Any new person you meet
Think about how often you meet someone new. It could be the person you sat next to in your Pure Barre class, someone you were introduced to at a party, or even the cashier you got to talking to at your favorite shop.
More often than not, an initial conversation with someone will lead to the question, “So, what do you do?” I find this is especially true when I meet someone in the middle of the day, when the majority of people are at work.
This is your wide open door to organically pitch your services, because you never know who might need them.
Just make sure you always, always, always have a business card in tow. I can’t count how many times I’ve been caught without one when opportunity came knocking (face palm).
So shut down the laptop and look around
...you might find that your dream client is standing right in front of you!
Jess Lander's favorite place to freelance is poolside. She lives in the Bay Area and specializes in writing, social media and all forms of content marketing.