With millions of online freelance accounts, and independent freelancers standing out from the crowd can be difficult. Which is why after almost a decade as part-time freelancer myself and hiring freelances (and firing) in other fields I want to share with you the secrets of how to get your first freelance client…
Regardless of the freelance website you sign up to, or whether you go it alone with a personal website you’re going to need some kind of profile. If you have no previous reputation then learning how to get your first freelance client is going to be make or break. Especially on a freelance website such as Fiverr, Freelancer or UpWork. So, how can you make a profile with no reviews or feedback one that someone would want to hire?
Think of your profile as your resume. Include a professional high-resolution photo of yourself.
You’re going to want to make sure to cover everything without waffling so use bullet points to your advantage when listing your skill set.
List the most important, valuable and unique skills at the top of your profile. Fluent in Java? Don’t put that after mentioning how you’re an efficient employee.
Be honest. If you lie to a client and go on to get the job you’ve got to do the work. Do it badly and you risk tarnishing your profile before you’ve even started.
Include a portfolio. This is a great way of demonstrating your skill set and previous work. Results speak louder than words so make sure to publish only your very best work. Don’t be afraid to refer to it when applying for jobs either.
Here are some examples of a great freelancer profile, and a poor one. Take a look at your online freelancer profile(s) and edit them to include concise, relevant and relatable information.
When a new job goes live it’s easy to get ahead of yourself and scramble to put something, anything together. However by doing so you risk missing out key facts or incorrectly calculating the amount you’d charge. Instead be sure to do the following;
Read and re-read the client request. What are they looking for? When do they want it by? Who do they want to hire for this? Take your time to listen to what this person wants. Answer every single question they have.
It’s important to remember that potential clients aren’t going to take the first application that comes through the door.
However, they are going to get a large number of applications. No more so on a freelance website, and in mainstream fields of freelance work. Which is why your application should cut to the chase. Make it simple and easy for them to read. Answer each question they have in one or two sentences, reference to your profile for anything extra.
It’s important to ensure that your application is free of spelling and grammar mistakes. Read it out loud to ensure it’s in good English and flows correctly.
If you’ve done similar work in the past for other clients then wherever you can, reference it.
Be accurate and realistic when setting a budget and timescale for the work. It’s always better to give yourself more time and impress the client when you submit the work a week early than it is to give yourself less time and submit the work a week late.
Finally, don’t be afraid to call your potential client instead of using email. Often 5 or 6 emails back and forth can be done in a two-minute phone call and coming out from behind your computer to interact personally with a client shows honesty and really creates that connection.
However, before proceeding to do any work agreed to over the phone ensure you get an written agreement of expectations from yourself and from the client.
Got The Job?
So you got the job, great!
Be sure to communicate with the client often informing them of your progress. The length of the project will depend on how much.
Send them samples of the work you have done to ensure they’re happy with the work you’ve done so far. The best way to do this is to set milestones. It’s much better contacting the client with your work at a milestone and them telling you they want certain things changing than it is you submitting your work at the end and them telling you how it’s all wrong.
Don’t expect to have your hand held. You chose this job because you have the skill set. Use your judgement to make a call without contacting the client every day with a problem you’re having or a decision you need to make.
Be polite and courteous when communicating with the client. Sometimes I find myself working late into the night. I’ll reach for my phone to call someone only to check the clock and find its 11pm.
Once the work is finished be sure to get the client to leave you feedback. Feedback is essential in helping you secure your next job. Be sure to let the client know you’re available for future work and how much you’ve enjoyed helping them.
Not Got The Job?
You’re never going to win them all. Pick yourself up and find out how to make your next application even better.
Most websites will let you see who else applied for the job so have a snoop around their profile and see what they’re doing differently. Once the work has been completed you’ll probably be able to find out who was awarded the job. Again snoop around their profile. What do they have that you don’t?
If they’re charging less don’t try and undercut them. Instead, make yourself more employable at your desired rate by providing value added services.
Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from the client. A simple message;
Hello Mr ‘x’,
I’ve had a notification to say that you have awarded the job to someone else.
I’m new to the ‘x’ platform and wondered if you could tell me how I might be able to improve future applications?
I wish you the best of luck with your freelancer and should you have any problems my application is always available.
Not only will this provide you with valuable feedback. It leaves the door open to either future work, or that project should the other freelancer be unable to deliver. The client is 80% more likely to come to you over going through the mountain of applications again.
I really hope you have enjoyed this article. Be sure to let me know in the comments if you have any hints and tips on how to get your first freelance client, or how you get on achieving your first client!