So you’ve just started a new freelance business. First of all, congratulations! You’re probably excited about the prospect of setting your own rates, finding projects you love, and enjoying all the flexibility that comes with a freelance lifestyle.
But where do you even begin finding the work necessary to build your business?
Sometimes, it’s all about getting your first few clients. Once you’ve done a fantastic job, they tell their friends, and momentum starts to build. If you’re eager to hit the ground running, and you want to generate as many leads as possible, here are a few tips on how to find work as a freelancer:
- Use common freelancer websites
- Build a website
- Network & connect on social media
- Advertise your services
- Protect your business with insurance
Are you ready to start finding more freelance work? Let’s go!
Use common freelancer websites
The best freelance websites for beginners post a wide array of freelance and remote jobs. They usually use a mix of two approaches:
- Freelancers contact potential clients to bid on posted jobs
- Freelancers advertise their services, and clients contact them.
There are pros and cons to both approaches and when you’re starting out you’ll likely be doing more prospecting to find gigs.
- It’s always free to respond to posts from Craiglist’s “gigs” and “jobs” sections.
- Freelancer lets you create a portfolio and bid on eight jobs per month for free. After that, you pay a fee. The platform takes a portion of your profits.
- Upwork follows a similar model to freelancer, although you need to be approved to join as a freelancer. They also charge fees on all work you find through the platform.
- Offer your freelance services on Fiverr and show up in users’ search for free.
- Find a wide array of remote and freelance jobs on Flexjobs.
- Post an ad on Craigslist for $10.
Some of these marketplaces are full of people looking for freelancers—as well as freelancers looking for work. That means value is a hot commodity, so you may not get your full desired rate (especially if the platform takes a fee) on the job board you choose to use.
While these sites are a great way to begin building a steady stream of work for your freelance career, be sure to branch beyond these websites to other freelance platform sites specific to your industry.
Higher paying clients and those looking for specialized services know where to look for talented freelancers in their industry, and it’s usually not on the sites above. Thus, you should see if there are specific platforms for work in your industry. Some platforms you might want to check out include:
- Arts & design – Behance has robust freelance postings in the arts
- Writing – Freelance Writing makes it easy to find writing and editing work
- Technology – AngelList connects users with startups in the tech space
Not in these industries? Look for professional groups related to your field. You may be able to join a guild or professional organization that offers education, job postings, networking opportunities, and more for your remote work.
Build a website
Before you can start landing clients, you need somewhere they can go to learn more about your skills and services. No matter your industry, a freelance website helps you look professional. And in some fields, it’s non-negotiable: would you hire a photographer if you couldn’t see their shots on a site?
If your speciality is web design, take it away with a stunning website that shows your a seasoned freelancer with years of experience. Showing off your freelance work will allow prospective clients to see what you’re capable of. But if you need some suggestions for easy-to-use website builders, check out Wix, Weebly, Webnode, or Squarespace.
Each of these builders has free and paid options, making them all great starting points when building your freelance site. To reserve your domain name, you’ll likely need to pay a yearly fee. Try not to be committed to a domain name as it may be taken and costly to buy, if the owner is even selling it.
Once you’ve got your domain and started building the frame of your website, be sure to add the following:
- Your bio – highlight your skill set and any relevant awards, certifications, etc.
- List of services
- Client reviews
- Contact page with your email or a contact form
- Work samples (if applicable)
Network & connect on social media
Social media isn’t just about the latest TikTok challenge, it can also be a great way to market your business. And you never know who in your network may need your services. For example, your college roommate’s ex-boyfriend’s company may be desperately in need of a freelance web developer. Or perhaps your aunt has a friend from her book club who needs a new business card.
Spread the word about your freelance business on your personal pages. In addition, separate your professional services from your selfies by creating the following pages:
- Facebook business page
- Yelp profile
- Instagram profile for your business
- LinkedIn – make sure your LinkedIn profile is current
Each of these is an opportunity to show off your skills and experience, link to your website, and connect directly with potential clients.
But connecting with your current network is only part of the puzzle. As a freelancer you also need to grow your network to find new work. Try the following tactics to expand your network:
- Post your services on Instagram and Facebook
- Connect with other local businesses in related industries
- If your budget allows for it, use paid advertising tools
- Engage directly with users through comments to answer questions
- Ask past clients to leave reviews on Yelp and your Facebook page
As you grow more connections on social media, you increase the chance that your next client will find your page.
Advertise your services
It can be difficult to compete with every other web developer, writer, or graphic designer in the world. But every other web developer in Boise? That’s more reasonable. Advertise locally to build connections with your community.
- Placing flyers and business cards in coffee shops and on community boards
- Taking out ads in local publications
- Contacting other local businesses to partner or cross-promote
A perk of local advertising for your freelance service offerings? Some people may be willing to pay more to support a local business. If you’re seen as an essential part of your local community, you’ll get more word-of-mouth business, too.
Protect your business
Although you may think there’s little risk in your line of work, business liability insurance ensures you can protect your business and your livelihood. Unfortunately, it can take one mistake or accident for a client to pursue legal action. Depending on your industry, you may need one or both of the following policies:
General liability insurance provides coverage for client and third-party claims of personal injury, advertising injury, bodily injury, and property damage. Say for example, you’re a freelance interior decorator. While rearranging furniture at your clients’ house you damage a family heirloom you could be liable for property damage.
Professional liability insurance provides coverage for claims of errors and negligence related to your work that result in a client’s financial loss. For example if you’re a freelance marketer and a typo in your ad copy results in unforeseen costs to the client, they could sue you for negligence to try and recoup their costs.
Only have a single gig? You might not need a yearly policy. That’s why Thimble offers freelance insurance on demand. Take out a policy by the hour, day, or month. That way, you’re only paying for insurance when you’re on the job.
It takes less than 60 seconds to get coverage. Simply enter a few quick details about your business, and you’ll receive an instant quote. Purchase with a click and receive your Certificate of Insurance.
As a new freelancer, you have control over your future. Make sure you take the steps to not only grow but also protect your business. And with some time and effort, you won’t be a new freelancer anymore, but a successful small business owner.