Wondering how to reach out and land your first freelance client? I was thinking the same back in 2018. Back then, I was forced into entrepreneurship after being on the receiving end of a sudden, yet life-long, health condition which stopped me from working at my regular 9-to-5 job. I needed to make some money and decided to start building websites from home, but how was I going to find my first client as a freelancer?
Click here to skip to the story of how I met Daniel, my first client!
The trick to finding your first client as a freelancer is to give selflessly. When first starting out, your aim shouldn’t be to make money but instead to build 1) a portfolio and 2) connections. You need to reach out to people that you would like to work with and offer them free work in return for a testimonial. If your work is good enough, it’s likely that they will share it with others or maybe even hire you directly.
Don’t worry if they don’t though, as that isn’t your main objective here. Instead, you’re just looking to make your portfolio look as attractive as possible before you start approaching potential clients for actual paid work. Not only will it look embarrassing if you don’t have a portfolio to show people, but you’ll also gain valuable experience by going through the motions.
Who to reach out to in the beginning
Wondering who you should offer your free services to? I’ll tell you. You’ll either want to target people that you genuinely want to work with because you like them, they inspire you and you resonate with them – or you’ll want to contact people that have influence over your ideal client-base. Ideally, you should contact those that tick both boxes!
When I say that they “have influence over your ideal client-base”, what I mean is that their audience matches the demographic of your ideal customer – in that, said ‘customer’ is likely to have a deep interest and/or need for your products and services. If they’re referred to you from an influencer that they trust, it’s going to be much easier to close the sale.
For those of you in a creative role, such as being a graphic designer, then you should also look to create mock-ups that best showcase your skills. If you can create sample designs that are relevant to a specific niche, then you’re going to have a lot more success when offering your services to people within the said niche.
Check out this article for a fantastic example of why you need to niche down your business to give yourself the best chance of scaling quickly!
How I met Daniel, my first client
So I’ve already mentioned how I started building websites from home, and that I had no idea how to get my first client as a freelancer. This was at a time where I wasn’t really sure whether web design was really what I wanted to do, let alone who my ideal client was.
Well, one day I was scrolling through Facebook and happened to scroll past an ad that caught my eye. I quickly scrolled back up to the ad where I was greeted with a familiar face. The face belonged to a guy that I used to go to school with 3-4 years prior. The guy’s name was called Daniel White.
Still unsure about which type of business you should start? Check out this list of realistic businesses that you can start with little, or no, money!
When I say that we went to school together, I mean that we pretty much sat next to each other in class! However, we never really spoke to each other – as I was embarrassingly shy at the time!
Anyway, in his Facebook ad, he mentioned how he’d just qualified as a nutritionist after studying at (some) University for the past few years. In his ad, he was offering free consultations to all new clients and had also included a link to his brand new website – which he created himself. Given I had F’all else to do, I ended up checking it out.
After landing on his Squarespace site (excuse me whilst I vomit), I noticed a lot of… room for improvement. I did like what he was saying however and given that I was struggling to find clients myself, I wanted to give Daniel a helping hand – as well as flex my UX/UI knowledge 😉.
How I acquired my first client
I scoured Daniel’s site and wrote down an extensive list of things that he could fix himself – if he wanted to make more sales. When I sent him the Facebook message with that list, I honestly wasn’t looking for anything other than a “Thank you”. I remember feeling pretty depressed at the time and just wanted to feel better about myself, any sort of compliment would have achieved that.
Nevertheless, Daniel had replied within just a few minutes of me sending the list over and he seemed very excited to hear from me. After some quick chit-chat, he expressed his hatred for all things technical and asked if we could meet up to discuss redoing his whole website ASAP.
The rest, as they say, is history. We’ve been working on projects together ever since, and he’s even referred a couple of additional clients to me in the meantime. Sending that one Facebook message is honestly one of the best business decisions I’ve ever made. It’s as simple as that really!
For a more in-depth explanation of how you can find new clients, then check out this article I wrote on “An Introvert’s Guide To Finding New Clients”. Don’t worry, it applies to extroverts too!
So there you have it. I found my first client, Daniel, by reaching out to him with a free audit of his website – without any expectation of anything in return. This kind gesture was able to gain his trust and be the benchmark for securing further projects with him down the line.
Regardless of the niche that you’re in, you too can follow similar steps and start securing brand new clients today!
Whilst you’re here, if you’re suffering from any recurring health issues, looking to lose/gain weight or just want to improve your overall health, then I highly recommend reaching out to Daniel. A lot of the time, it’s far better to see a nutritionist than it is your local GP! You can contact Daniel here.
Do you have any questions or feedback regarding this post on how to get your first client as a freelancer? Let me know in the comments below!