It has come to my attention that friends and frenemies are curious about the following:
1. When am I getting married?
2. When am I having kids?
3. Where do I find work besides Upwork as a freelancer?
So here’s a response to the third most frequently asked question by friends, colleagues, and family who are also thinking about transitioning to full-time freelancing.
I totally get it when people repeatedly ask this question. While Upwork is the go-to source for most freelancers, it’s no secret that majority of the work pays unreasonably low, unless you stumble upon that unicorn client who truly appreciates what you do. High platform service fees are also discouraging.
Over the course of two years that I’ve been freelancing, I have never (thankfully!) ran out of work despite my absence on third-party sites like Upwork. Maybe it’s pure luck. Maybe it’s my slight obsession with getting things done. Maybe I’m just at the right place (virtually) at the right time.
So where do I find clients besides Upwork?
Let’s jump right to what has worked for me!
May you find some useful ideas in this list. If it works for you, you owe me a month’s supply of avocados. A kilo a week will do.
1. Participate in forums associated with your niche.
Don’t just sign up for an account and lurk. Participate in discussion threads. Ask questions. Provide insightful answers. Show up consistently.
Before you know it, a potential client will find out more about your work (stalk your online profiles) and reach out to ask if you’re available to work with them on a project. You just got yourself a lead!
It boils down to finding your target clients’ online watering hole, hanging out there yourself, and showcasing your skills without being a hard sell.
2. Publish an essay or blog post about your work.
So what are you going to write about?
Talk about your work— from what you specifically do to work issues that you’ve successfully dealt with in your field of expertise. You can also write about your current fields of interests. Writing about these things is another excellent example of subtly selling yourself to potential recruiters and employers.
This hack is not just for copywriters like me. You can be a developer, designer, or an SEO pro.
Speaking of selling yourself, I noticed that some freelancers are hesitant to market their work. So you hate marketing? As Alexandra Franzen writes, you have to understand that everything is actually marketing.
Sure, people will eventually notice your good work. But how long do you have to wait before someone stumbles upon your portfolio?
Be proactive and get out of the waiting game. Put something of value out there and market yourself.
3. Turn to social media.
LinkedIn and Twitter are two platforms that I’ve had success in finding clients as a freelance copywriter.
I posted something of potential value to audiences on both platforms, a few people noticed, and cared enough to ask if I can work with them. Value is the operative word here. Are you noticing a pattern?
Not convinced? Last year, I tweeted about a book that I’m currently reading, and the author himself reached out via email to ask if I can help him write a short video script. Nifty, right?
It turns out that I caught his attention with my tweet. He checked out my profile and made his way to my website/portfolio. I did not intend to find work when I tweeted about his book though.
4. Fire off cold emails.
Have you been wanting to work for/with a certain brand or organization?
Hop on to their website, learn more about what they do, and fire off a cold email describing how you can help them accomplish their business goals. You can either use their contact form or find the right person to get in touch with on LinkedIn.
There’s a classy way to do cold emails right (and that would probably call for another blog post), but like everything else in marketing, do not talk about features (so you graduated with the highest honors?). Instead, highlight the benefits of working with you. What’s in it for the organization when they hire you?
5. Announce to your network that you’re currently open for business.
This may sound like a no-brainer but some freelancers tend to overlook their personal network when looking for work.
Email or text every single person you know who can potentially refer you to a client. Write a short status on Facebook declaring that you are now freelancing full-time.
If all of these steps in finding wonderful clients (besides selling your wares in third-party sites) worked for me, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t for you!