3 compelling ways to get more clients
There’s no doubt — it’s tough out there for freelancers. Over the past few years, the market has exploded. More people are seeking freelance work than ever before. Upwork reports that 36% of Americans have taken on some form of freelance work in the past 12 months. That’s in an increase of 2 million freelancers since 2019. It’s no surprise that the most frequent question I get is, “How do I get more clients?”
And it’s a valid one. Doing good work and hoping for referrals likely won’t pay the bills these days. If you’re a freelance designer, you’ve got to work even harder to keep a steady rotation of clients knocking on your door.
In this article, I’ll share a few quick tactics that I’ve used to keep a steady stream of clients over the years. This list is by no means exhaustive, but you’ll walk away with actionable steps to increase your client roster and keep your deal flows in check. Ready? Let’s get started.
The internet has become a vast and bewildering place. It’s harder than ever to make out the signal from the noise. The first bit of advice I give to freelancers looking to get more clients is finding a niche and serving it well.
At first, I know it may seem like you’re limiting your opportunities. But in fact, what you’re doing is finding an underserved, growing corner of the internet that you can offer your services to. Trust me — it’s a lot easier to sell your talent when you’re the biggest fish in a small (but growing) pond.
Here’s a practical example:
FinTech is expanding at a fast clip. Many young companies needed freelance design work done yesterday. Why not build a page on your portfolio site that shows the work you’ve done in that sector and then share it with companies in that space?
Don’t have any work from companies in the FinTech space? No worries — pick a business you’d like to work with and make a case study out of a portion of their app. Do a deep dive into what could be improved, raise concerns about user flows, and give them ideas they haven’t thought of or had time to implement.
Remember: Staying focused on a particular niche narrows down the talent pool — giving you a better shot at standing out and getting more clients.
Attract new clients with content
Relying on cold introductions and job boards don’t cut it anymore. If you want to attract the right type of clients, you need to become an active participant in your career, position yourself as a subject matter expert, and put yourself out there.
One of the best ways to do all three is to start a writing. Writing down and sharing what you know is a great way to position yourself as an expert in your field. Potential clients will see you as a thoughtful, professional, and holistic thinker.
If you don’t know what to write about, don’t worry — start with the basics. After all, the best content comes when you write about familiar topics.
Write down your process, your workflow, and your experience. Write up a case study and talk about the net gains your talent brought to the table. Talk about the software, apps, and productivity tricks that get you through the day. Ideas begin to flow naturally when you start going down the rabbit hole.
On top of that, when you write, you inherently attract like-minded people to your content. Growing an audience and community is a bonus on top of attracting clients. Over time, you’ll be able to leverage the relationships formed within that community to find more work and get better clients. It’s a win-win.
Productize your services
One way to get new clients is to provide value for people you might not historically attract. When you productize your services, you open up the ability to work with people who have constraints (think low budgets, quick turnarounds, etc.).
You can bypass the traditional 1:1 relationship and leapfrog to the 1:many relationship by offering your service as a product or bundle. In other words — build once, sell 1,000 times. Here are some examples:
- If you start every project with research, sell the template docs you use at the kick-off meeting to align stakeholders.
- Have a style guide you use on all new client projects? Package it up and sell it to companies (or other freelancers) who want to cultivate a beautiful design language for their projects.
- Do clients ask you repeatedly to design or build simple marketing websites? Create a few themes in Figma that you can sell to companies that want to get something up on their site ASAP.
These “products as service” diversify your offering and bring new clients and contacts into your universe — so when they’re finally ready to work with a freelance designer, you’re at the top of their list.
The more flexibility you have within your freelance business, the more you’ll be able to attract fulfilling (and profitable) clients.
Do you have any tips or tricks to share for finding new clients? If so, I’d love to hear about them on Twitter. Happy prospecting!