here are 5 ways to get your first client.

for every single one you’ll need to work hard and, we can make that clear right away, nothing great comes easy!

pro-bono

often when starting, you might not have an extensive portfolio or a long contact list, but this doesn’t have to be a dead-end. a great way to get those first real projects on your portfolio and to get new contacts is through free work.

now, we know this is highly controversial in the creative community but, if you don’t have anything else going-on it’s a good way to get the whole thing started. what we suggest and we’ve been doing this too, is looking for non-profits and offer them your services. they’ll get valued work and you’ll be helping people who need it.

 

you’ll probably get solid contacts out of the whole deal, trough referrals from the volunteers you’ll be working with. real projects for your portfolio and real people who can now vouch for your quality work. Network.

contacting everyone you know

when talking about cold calling or even emailing/texting we always see it the wrong way. when you ask out of nowhere if someone needs your services you’ll most likely be ignored instantly but if you ask nicely if they know someone who might need your services, your chances of success increase. no one likes spammy friends, but friends like to help each other.

you can also make your friends work for you. another idea we’ve had was running a small referral program. contacting everyone and offer a 10% discount, or even cash, on every project they lead us into.

for example, your friend John mentions your name to a potential client, that ends up in a $250 project, you’d give John a $25 discount or that same amount in cash. everybody wins. you get a new client that can lead you to other new ones, and your friend gets a small reward for helping you out.

free online marketing

everyone is on social media, if you aren’t for personal reasons do it for your business. you can have a professional account where you only share your journey as a freelancer, without sharing any personal content.

which social media platform should you join? all that you can afford the time to get into. there are opportunities everywhere, the harder you work on these, the greater the chance you get to build a vast audience. now, designers follow designers, you won’t find your potential client following you, but when you get a new lead and show them your profiles it builds trust.

it shows that you’re out there and that people like your work. we value the opinion of others way too much. if someone lands on your website and goes to any of your social media profiles and sees that a lot of people like your work, it might be the trigger into contacting you. of course, this is with organic reach only, if you decide to run paid ads the possibilities are crazy.

Behance. for creatives, there isn’t any other platform to show your work better than Behance. it’s run by Adobe, and they for sure know what they’re doing for the creative world. a potential client will always ask to see your work, they want to be assured you’re able to deliver the level of quality they require. with a strong Behance portfolio you’ll be able to do just that and more. be sure to properly fill in all the information, not only your best projects but all the contact and details about you as a designer too. if by any chance a potential client lands on your profile, you’ll want to grab their attention and make it easy to get in touch with you.

kindly saying you can help

this one falls a bit on the previous one of contacting everyone you know. it’s about reaching out to people you might not be that much of an acquaintance. iI’m talking about your local coffee shop, the restaurant you usually go to, your grocery store, etc. the small businesses you visit in your everyday life, the ones that might need some help with something design-wise – we’re sure you know a couple of ones. you might not know these people personally, but you might have a level of confidence to kindly offer your services while pointing out practical things.

for example, just the other day, at the gym we attend, we pointed out to the lady at the front desk, that some of the new posters that have been popping up through the gym weren’t communicating properly what they are as a business and what they intended to inform the public about, while explaining some graphic details that could be easily improved (we quickly understood that they were doing the posters themselves) practical suggestions, always in kindness and respectfully, she wasn’t expecting any of that and thanked us meaningfully. a couple of days later the manager came to us while we were training, saying that he wanted to talk to us. we have now a meeting scheduled to discuss the next promotional campaign.

freelancing websites

there are several freelancing platforms out there (you can quickly Google them), like anything else some are better than the others. the only one that deserves real attention is Upwork.

Upwork is the go-to freelancing platform, it can be a bit hard to start but once you land your first couple of jobs you’ll be on your way to success. invest some time building a complete and strong profile, study how to perfectly write your pitches and you’ll for sure get clients from there. when googling reviews about Upwork you’ll see that many point it out as a scam, we ensure you it is not. like any other client interaction, you can get scammed, just make sure you do everything right and you’ll be fine.

closing thoughts. at the end of each project, ask your clients to mention your name whenever possible! again, we value each other’s opinions, word of mouth is still our best marketing tool.

published on 30.10.2019

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