According to Edelman Intelligence, 36% of the US workforce – 57.3 million – are freelancers. This sizable population contributes $1.4 trillion to the US economy through freelance work. It’s no wonder a platform like Upwork posts 3 million jobs every year, worth a total of $1 billion in freelancing gigs.

Upwork has many benefits: consistent work, minimal effort to get clients, and access to everything in one place. But if you’re only getting gigs on Upwork, you’re missing out on a huge piece of the freelancing pie! Getting clients outside of Upwork (i.e., hunting them down on your own) allows you to charge more by eliminating the middle man, avoid Upwork scams, and set your own deadlines.

As seasoned freelancers ourselves, we know that the best way to make real money freelancing is to grow your business beyond Upwork. How do you get off of Upwork and on your own client-generation funnel? Let’s learn how to get clients with these freelancing tips.

Socials! Socials! Socials!

Birthday reminders, Facebook stories, Facebook groups, video content, Facebook ads, and job and talent hunting – and more – are what make Facebook a social media powerhouse.

Facebook communities can be great for networking with other freelancers. When you do it right, you not only meet new people, but you also find clients as a freelancer.

Social media can be an incredibly powerful tool for anyone who wants to learn how to freelance and get clients on their own. Take my experience as an example: I’m a freelance writer myself, and I landed Net Net as a client by promoting my writing services in the SaaS Products & Marketing Facebook group. After communicating my offering concisely and providing transparent prices, I got tremendous feedback from a community that, in retrospect, needed my services. The post currently has 47 comments, and 22 prospects asked for my portfolio. Check it out:

Other social media platforms I have been successful with include Reddit and LinkedIn. I have yet to try Twitter and Instagram, but they’re up next – and I’ll be creating a guide to help freelancers get leads on each of these platforms. (Want to get instant access to insights on landing freelance clients through Twitter and Instagram? Subscribe to our newsletter and watch out for some exciting content!)

Bundle Up: Start Cold Emailing

Email has been active since the 1960s, and email marketing has been successful for a long time, making it a critical lead generation method. That’s exactly why some people make entire careers out of email marketing – but you don’t need to be an expert to start searching for freelance clients. The good news is that there are tons of intuitive, creative, and user-friendly tools to help with email campaigns.

By simply reaching out to key decision-makers in companies you want to work with, you can close sizeable deals.

You’ll need to find their emails using software like mailscoop.io, create a gripping pitch with a mind-blowing heading, and make three follow-ups until you get a response. See this email screenshot of a deal I closed back in August:

Hunt on Job Boards

Indeed, Glassdoor, CareerBuilder, Ladders, and LinkedIn are some of the most popular job boards in the market today.

Visit them, and visit them often. Use keywords that tie directly to your freelance profession – like “IT” or “writer” – to search for work. Because you’re freelancing, you will want to add “remote” or “contractor” on the search bar, too. You will get dozens of results from which you can apply for a freelance gig.

Besides these mega job boards, you will find more specialized job boards, depending on your industry. For instance, a freelance writer will get freelance writing leads on Problogger, while a freelance developer can be successful on Toptal, a top 3% software engineer job site.

This ad is for a writing gig that pays $25 to $50 an hour, which is fairly competitive.

Happy hunting!

Set Up a Website and Market Yourself

Whether you’ve got years of experience or want to start freelancing, a website is crucial. Even if you plan on landing clients in-person instead of remotely, having a strong online presence can make all the difference between a landed contract and a missed opportunity. Consider this: you probably visit their website or look up customer reviews before you make a purchase from a new company, right? Think of your freelancing business in exactly those terms: a website shows your credibility and professionalism, which gains the trust (and payments) of your potential clients.

A clean, visually appealing freelancing business website is also great for hosting your portfolio samples. This makes each step of the hiring process that much easier for your target clients.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Aside from making the site appealing and representative of your freelancing profession, you will want to let the site generate leads for you. That’s where SEO comes in. Blog about your work, include relevant keywords, and use proper links to help your site rank on Google’s first page.

I searched Google for the keyword “SaaS writer,” and the first three (as well as the fifth) search results were SaaS writer sites. See how potent SEO is?

Do Some Legwork

Small businesses want to hire less to conserve cash flow. That means that many businesses fail to hire critical talent, missing crucial milestones to business growth acceleration in the process. As someone who wants to become a freelancer, you can fill this gap by offering your service on a contractual basis.

Walk into a few businesses in your local area and demonstrate how your offering can help them make more money. And because you share the same region and are likely to be familiar with each other, landing a client or two won’t be hard.

What’s the Conclusion?

This is not a guide for experienced freelancers only; it also applies to those who want to learn how to start freelancing.

Social media is critical to your journey as a freelancer (CEOs, marketing managers, recruiters, and other decision-makers spend hours there). So regardless of the path you take, ensure socials are part of it.

Lastly, finding clients is just a start; you will also need to learn how to file taxes, do accounting for freelancers, send invoices and subcontract, among other things. Becoming a successful freelancer doesn’t happen overnight – but it’s absolutely possible, attainable, and every bit worthwhile. Worry not: we will be with you every step of the way and teach you everything you need to know on how to freelance. Subscribe to our blog and stay tuned!

January 27, 2023
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