Whether you’re a skilled professional who has just started freelancing or a seasoned freelancer who has been in the field for several years, figuring out how to get clients as a freelancer will always be a challenge. Infact how to get freelancing projects is one of the main struggles identified by hundreds of freelancers all over the country.
This freelance work guide is not specific to a particular freelance profession and addresses how to get freelance work in general. If you are looking for more specific information relevant to your profession, here’s where you need to go.
- If you’re just starting out, to find out how to become a freelancer in India, click here.
- For information on how to become a freelance content writer in India, click here.
- To know more about how to become a freelance graphic designer in India, click here.
- For information on how to become a freelance photographer in India, click here.
- If you wish to start out as a freelance baker in India, click here.
- For information on how to become a freelance makeup artist in India, click here.
Use the index to explore the contents of this guide. You can click on any of these links to navigate to the relevant section and use the back to menu button to return here.
Starting out: How to get first freelance job
Getting freelance work through networking
Getting freelance jobs through word of mouth
How to get more clients as a freelancer
How to get freelance work online
Using social media to market your freelance business
Or you can read the whole guide. (Trust us, you won’t be disappointed!)
Best freelance Jobs For Beginners And How To Get Them
We have talked to many freelancers at various stages of their journey as a solopreneur and almost everyone told us that they got their first freelance gigs within their circle of family and friends or were recommended for the same. Initially you can start building your freelance portfolio by working within your circle and then you can expand by word of mouth.
How To Network As A Freelancer When Starting Out
Good networking is a sure-shot way to bridge the gap between freelancers and potential clients.
Everything from attending events for freelancers to being a part of online communities of freelance, you never know when, how, and who can give you a job. Here are some of the things you can do:
- An essential part of networking as a freelancer is to keep in touch with your old friends, acquaintances and associates. These guys are the ones you can count on to lend a helping hand, especially career-wise.
- Make it a point to attend at least one networking event (virtually, for now) in a month. It’s not only useful to meet new people, but the experience can be handy in accelerating your career graph.
- Send out cold pitches to places that you want to work for once a month. Go through their website and social media to find out the kind of work they do, and make your pitch as personalised and relevant as possible.
Click here to read about a personal account of a successful freelancer and a detailed list of the top 5 networking tips that helped her get more work as a freelancer in India.
For an in-depth look at how to get high paying clients as a freelancer in India, click here.
How To Get Clients As A Freelancer
Word of Mouth
In interacting with real freelancers, we have learnt that word of mouth is a big source of work for them, one that you ignore at your own peril. Here is how it works. You work with a client, they like your work, they refer you to others; now that’s how to get clients as a freelancer. Or maybe someone you know refers you to someone they know. Since credibility and trust are big issues that both clients and freelancers face, the word of mouth approach takes care of both.
The general freelance discourse talks quite a bit about maintaining a professional network, seeking referrals from clients, etc. And while they’re all a significant marker of getting freelance work, the thing that is easily forgotten is to keep pitching yourself and networking in your close personal circle too.
We tend to think of networking as one big event where you need to put on your LBD and high heels, meet a crowd of people and impress each one with your wit and charm, and come back with some good freelancing projects. But try beginning your networking with an informal approach.
Instead of waiting to network at say an event or with a specific person, start talking about your work with family and friends, and even acquaintances who aren’t from your direct line of work too. These will be the people who might connect with you to tons of other people. Thereby helping you build a network of connections.
This may not necessarily translate into direct clientele immediately, but it does connect you with and put you in the minds of people seeking out other people for freelance work in the future.
And that’s how it’s done.
Freelancing 101: Marketing for Freelancers
Of course as comfortable as it seems, working with people you know is only going to last so long and eventually you would need to market yourself as a freelancer to increase the number of freelancing projects you work on. Marketing yourself includes a very good portfolio and an amazing social media presence and other tricks as well.
Don’t Just Network, Build Relationships Instead
Earning what you’re truly worth starts by building relationships. It’s not easily possible to convince someone to trust you and your work instinctively without building a relationship first. So while your platform can help demonstrate what you can do, the relationships you build can help establish your connections with a prospective client and show them what you can do for them –specifically.
It’s certainly a long but rewarding process of consistently bringing value to your clients until the moment they realise they cannot be successful without you.
One way to start this interaction is to feature prospective clients on your blog/portfolio/website/social media and then reach out to them. This shows proactivity, research, and the interest in cultivating a mutually beneficial relationship.
Because high value clients often come through referrals, rather than job boards.
Similarly, you don’t have to wait for a networking summit to professionally network and find clients. Talk about your work with your friends, family or even acquaintances from different backgrounds. You never know when life might throw a freelance assignment your way.
Platforms To Find Freelance Work Online
Online is such a massive umbrella in today’s vocabulary so here’s further breaking it down, you can get freelance work online by listing your freelancing projects on various freelance websites or by posting them on social media. We will also be covering advanced tips and tricks to get freelance jobs and how to use social media to get freelance work, especially Instagram.
Before you can start marketing yourself as a freelancer it is important for you to have a good portfolio or showcase of what you have done. If you pitch freelance work to any prospective client, they will inevitably ask you for your portfolio so it is very important to stand out.
Create Your Digital Freelancer Portfolio
Chances are, your digital freelance portfolio is the first thing that a client will either come across on the Internet, or ask you the link for it themselves. Now while this is indeed closely related to your social media, there’s a whole new gamut of ‘digital presence’ at play here.
Keeping your work (or your personal) social media handles aside, there are digital platforms that can be very niche and absolutely specific for the kind of freelancer you are, or are aiming to be. With so many options open for clients to find freelancers online, it becomes especially important for you to showcase your work on these platforms which can help you get freelance work, eventually.
For instance, if you are a freelance photographer –
There are a ton of websites out there that help you create your own profile, showcase your past work or a portfolio and seek potential work as a freelance photographer. Something on the lines of a visual LinkedIn tailor-made for photographers. So here’s a list of top online sites for creating photography portfolios, which can help you, custom-create your photography website too:
These portals basically help create visually pleasing portfolios and websites – which can help you get clients as a freelancer and they can be useful for freelance makeup artists and freelance graphic designers too.
And if you are a freelance writer –
Ideally, there’s nothing like having your own blog to showcase your work. It keeps you in practice, keeps your creative juices flowing and ensures your presence on the digital writers’ spectrum. Speaking of which, there are tons of online writer groups on social media and online communities as well. Being a part of which puts you in their networking circles and also gives you an outlet to seek constructive criticism for our work. Some of which are–
- Absolute Write Water Cooler
- Writers Helping Writers (Facebook)
- Critique Circle
- Writers Write (Facebook)
- Indian Writers Group (Facebook)
In addition to these online communities, having your own WordPress website is a good way to sustain and create an online portfolio too.
To get your hands on an exhaustive guide on how to make your articles more SEO friendly, click here.
Basically it’s just about creating an online destination for your work. A unique destination that you can redirect your prospective clients to and something that shows your unfiltered creative self and demonstrates what you’re capable of.
For an in-depth guide on how to create your digital freelance portfolio, click here.
Top Freelancing Websites in India
Here are all the freelancing websites in India where you can create your freelance profile and start taking up work on a project basis.
- The Kool Kanya freelancer marketplace
- Freelance India
- Work & Hire
Using Social Media To Find Freelancing Projects
Social media can be a great place to get clients and seek freelance work. The first thing to keep in mind however, is to get your platform right.
If your freelance profession is more visual (graphic designer, photographer, makeup artist) Instagram, or Pinterest is where you must be putting maximum effort. Similarly, if you’re a freelance writer make Twitter or Facebook, or even Medium your primary platform for showcasing work. All of these platforms are designed in a way that it’s conducive to projecting your gift of the gab.
In any case, ensure that you keep your social media updated. Keep posting regularly about your work, your professional accomplishments and what kind of work you’re into.
Some other things to keep in mind are as follows: –
- If your work holds a lot of visual value, use Pinterest to create a professional board and showcase your work to clients. In addition to this, Instagram too is an evergreen platform to create a succinct visual freelance work portfolio and something that your potential clients are more likely to be used to.
- Use your Twitter bio, to sum up, the kind of work you do and share links to your work at least once a week.
- Facebook is a great place not just to share links to your work but connect with like-minded people. Join communities and job portals and be sure to look out for posts detailing project requirements.
- Even if you are in the creative space, and LinkedIn seems too professional, use the platform to drive traffic to your other social media pages/blog. Connect with the heads of departments of the companies you like to work for and watch out for their posts on job opportunities.
Social Media groups for freelance work
There are several Facebook (as well as other social media) groups out there for people in similar professions to interact, share work, projects, tips, experience etc. These groups are a great place to get freelance projects too.
Here are a few groups that you can join.
- The Kool Kanya Community
- Networking Now India
- GUAVABEAN Free Facebook Group
- Remote Jobs
- Remote Work & Jobs For Digital Nomads
Have An Active Social Media Presence to Promote Freelance Work
Apart from your personal accounts, that is. It’s always smart to have separate social media handles only for your work and professional life. Especially if you have a rather active personal one and wouldn’t want your clients to ‘heart’ your Friday-night-weekender-bash pictures.
Now, while it’s always efficient to have a presence on all the platforms that there are, you can devise a strategy in accordance with your line of work to see which platform is most suitable for you and helps you get clients as a freelancer. For instance, if you’re a photographer or a designer, having an active presence of Twitter may not be as useful as having one on Instagram or Pinterest.
So if you’re a freelance writer –
Having a regular flow of quotes, writing tips or a daily dose of uniquely crafted witticism for your followers on Instagram is a good way to go, however, Twitter has a particularly special way with the words. As a writer hustling to create your own brand, tweeting about trending hashtags, following other popular writers and basically having an active presence in Twitter is more conducive to your profile as a freelance writer.
Similarly, Facebook is another platform where the audience is more attuned to reading text-heavy content. So Facebook can be a good place to write short-form articles and increase engagement on your posts –thereby increasing the audience base for your work.
If you’re a freelance photographer or a freelance graphic designer,
Build on the visual aspect of your line of work – through Instagram. Have a separate account to showcase your work, and use the Instagram grid to create your own personal voice and aesthetic.
Ultimately, social media is all about tooting your own horn. So maintain a constant flow of posting about your work, successful assignments, and basically everything that highlights your voice and your capabilities and that shall ultimately help you get clients as a freelancer.
Having said that however, there is no hard and fast rule about the frequency of one’s posting schedule. In the hustle to garner more traction and followers, don’t lose sight of what it is that you ventured into this for, in the first place. There is no need to give in to the pressures of social media, just treat it like your personal canvas, your own showcase. Remember, when you are trying to attract potential clients, quality is more important than frequency.
For an in-depth guide on how to build your brand on Instagram as a freelancer, click here.
How To Get Freelancing Projects By Cold Pitching
Cold pitching can work in cases when you know that there are potential clients out there, looking out for freelance services that you know you can offer.
In this day and age, cold calling has graduated to cold emailing (or cold pitching) and more often than not, people sending and receiving the emails prefer it this way. But how do you write an email that doesn’t get rejected?
Here are a few things to keep in mind while writing cold pitches to potential clients.
- Begin with appropriate addressing
- Do a thorough research about the kind of freelancer they are looking out for
- Brief them about your profile
- Keep it concise
- Don’t forget to follow up
For more information on how to perfect that freelance pitch, click here.
Click here to read about a personal account of a successful freelancer and a detailed list of the top 5 networking tips that helped her get clients as a freelancer in India.
Updated 25 August 2021
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