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How to Find Clients as a Freelancer

You’ve just quit your day job. You’re finally free to call the shots as a freelancer. But then…crickets. The dream of endless clients and overflowing inboxes seems to be fading faster than your bank account balance.

Finding the right clients can feel daunting, but securing clients is the lifeblood of any freelance career. How do you stand out and secure consistent work with so many talented professionals vying for attention? 

Plus, you’re juggling multiple roles—marketer, negotiator, and expert—while trying to maintain a steady income. What you need is a plan to expand your reach and market yourself well.

In this article, you’ll discover proven strategies to help you navigate the competitive freelance landscape, connect with potential clients, and turn your freelance services into a thriving business. 

Let’s explore how to find clients for freelancers like yourself, grow your small business, and make your freelance business successful. 🙌

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Understanding the Freelancing Terrain 

Freelancers are self-employed individuals who offer their services to clients on a project or contract basis. The flexibility of freelancing, coupled with digitization, allows you to work with various clients across different industries. This makes it an attractive career choice for many.

However, marketing yourself effectively is crucial to attracting clients. Freelance work is not just about showcasing your talents but also about building relationships and establishing your brand. 

This is why digital marketing plays a key role in freelancing. From social media to email marketing, digital marketing offers numerous avenues to connect with potential clients and showcase your expertise. 

Let’s look at a few tips and tactics to help you land your clients. 

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Effective Strategies to Find New Freelance Clients 

Finding and accepting clients as a freelancer can be challenging. But with the right strategies, you can consistently attract new work. 

Here are 10 effective strategies to help you get clients.

Importance of personal networks

Your network should be a goldmine for finding new clients. Friends, family, former colleagues, acquaintances, and even your former clients can refer you to new leads. Tell your network know about your freelancing services. You’d be surprised how many opportunities can come from a casual conversation or a social media post.

Using social media

Social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are powerful tools for freelancers. Optimize your profiles with relevant keywords from your chosen industry. 

You should also request that your current clients post positive reviews about your work on social media. This can help generate positive word-of-mouth references. Leverage LinkedIn’s Recommendation feature for this. 

Share your past work consistently and engage with business leaders looking to hire freelancers. Join groups and participate in discussions to increase your visibility. For example, on LinkedIn, you can write posts about industry trends, share your latest projects, and comment on others’ posts to build a network. Twitter, too, is a great platform to stay updated on trends and strategically engage in conversations with industry leaders.

A quick tip: Keep updating your LinkedIn profile with your achievements and past projects regularly. 

The power of freelancing job sites

Websites such as Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer are excellent freelance marketplaces for finding gigs. Create a compelling profile, showcase your portfolio, and actively bid on projects matching your niche. These platforms also offer valuable reviews from previous clients, improving your credibility.

via Upwork

However, it’s essential to be aware of certain caveats associated with these freelancer marketplaces. While they offer a wide range of gigs and provide tools for showcasing your work, they also come with competition and fees that can affect your earnings.

via Reddit

To expand your options, look for freelance jobs in other areas, such as Facebook groups, Slack communities, and relevant subreddits. These communities often have job postings, networking opportunities, and a supportive environment for freelancers.

Here are a few alternatives you can explore:

  1. Facebook groups: Join groups like Freelancers & Remote Employees Hub or Creative Professionals Freelancers Group, where members share job leads, collaborate on projects, and offer advice
  2. Slack groups: Communities such as Online Geniuses or Creative Tribes on Slack connect freelancers across various industries, providing job opportunities and a platform for skill-sharing
  3. Subreddits: Visit subreddits such as r/freelance_forhire or industry-specific ones like r/digitalnomad for job postings, feedback on portfolios, and discussions related to freelancing

By diversifying your approach and leveraging these alternative platforms, job boards, and communities, you can enhance your freelance opportunities and network with like-minded professionals.

A quick tip: Always tailor your project proposals to the specific job. On all freelance platforms, make sure to mention how your skills and past experiences align with the client’s needs. 

So, what do you do as a business owner once you receive contacts via your network? An effective way is to send a cold email to potential clients, introducing your work and your interest in working with them. 

A guide to cold emailing

Sending a cold email can be an effective way to reach out to potential clients for the first time. Here’s how to do it with some actionable tips and tricks:

  1. Research your target audience
    • Identify the right contacts by researching companies and finding the decision-makers or individuals in charge of hiring freelancers
    • Use LinkedIn to find relevant professionals and gather information about their roles and interests
  2. Find email addresses for every potential client
    • Use tools like or Clearbit Connect to find professional email addresses
    • Check company websites for contact information, often found in the ‘About’ or ‘Contact’ sections
    • Use the @companyname search trick on social media platforms to locate email addresses shared in posts or profiles
  3. Craft personalized emails
    • Start with a strong subject line that grabs attention and hints at the value you offer
    • Personalize your email by mentioning specific details about the recipient’s business and how your services can address their unique needs
    • Highlight a problem they might be facing and how you can solve it
  4. Follow up politely
    • If you don’t get a response, send a polite follow-up email after a week. Reiterate your offer and express genuine interest in helping their business
  5. Consider cold calling
    • Cold calling can complement your emailing efforts. Ensure you’re well-researched, persuasive, and specific about your sales pitch. Respect their time and be concise

Here is an example. If you’re a web developer, identify businesses with outdated websites. Use tools like BuiltWith to see what technology they’re using. Send a personalized email explaining how a revamped professional website could improve their business and offer a free consultation. Mention one or two specific improvements you could make based on your research. This could act as a preview of what you offer. 

Some companies might want to look you up before requesting a consultation. Building an online portfolio showcasing your work can help you make an impression before meeting the client. 

Setting up an impressive online portfolio

An online portfolio is a must for any freelancer. Use platforms such as Behance, Dribbble, or your personal website to showcase your work. Include various projects to demonstrate your skills and versatility, ensuring that your portfolio is easy to navigate and visually appealing.

Quick tip: Include case studies in your portfolio. Describe the problem, your approach, and the results you achieved. This will show potential clients your problem-solving skills and the value you bring.

Check out the profile of Marta Cerda on Behance. Here’s what makes it stand out:

  1. Visually appealing layout: Marta’s portfolio features a modern design that’s easy to navigate. Each project is presented with high-quality images and clear typography, making it visually engaging
  2. A diverse range of projects: She includes various types of work, from branding to web design, showcasing her versatility and wide range of skills
  3. Client testimonials: Positive feedback from clients is prominently displayed, adding credibility and trustworthiness to her profile
  4. Easy contact options: There are clear, accessible links to contact her directly, making it easy for potential clients to get in touch

By incorporating these elements into your own portfolio, you can create a professional and compelling showcase of your work that attracts potential clients and highlights your expertise.

You can also try including:

  • Behind the scenes: Don’t just show the final product. Add pictures or clips of your creative process. Include sketches, wireframes, or drafts to showcase your problem-solving approach and attention to detail
  • Creative testimonials: Share video testimonials from satisfied clients 

Make these adjustments to your portfolio to convert potential clients into paying customers. If you don’t have a portfolio already, use these points as a checklist while building one. 

If you’re a newbie and have no idea how to start building a portfolio, opt for volunteering to get you started. 

The practice and benefits of volunteering

Volunteering your services is an excellent way to gain experience, build your portfolio, and expand your network. It’s a great way to give back while also gaining valuable exposure. Here’s how you can look for non-profits or community projects in need of your skills:

  1. Websites and directories
    • VolunteerMatch: A platform that connects volunteers with local nonprofits needing various skills
    • Idealist: Offers a comprehensive directory of volunteer opportunities with organizations worldwide
    • Catchafire: Focuses on matching professionals with non-profits that need pro bono work
  2. Contacting local NGOs
    • Community centers and libraries: Bulletin boards for volunteer opportunities or staff might have information on local non-profits
    • Local government websites: These websites often have lists of non-profit organizations and community projects that need volunteers
    • Network through social media: Local Facebook groups or LinkedIn communities dedicated to volunteering and non-profit work often have information

For instance, you could offer to design a website for a local charity. This not only helps the charity but also provides you with a real-world project to showcase in your portfolio.

Specific ways to connect

  • Attend local events: Visit community fairs, non-profit expos, or charity events to meet organization representatives in person
  • Email outreach: Identify non-profits in your area and send personalized emails offering your services, highlighting how your skills can benefit their cause
  • Leverage online platforms: Use platforms like LinkedIn to connect with non-profit leaders and propose how your skills can help their mission

By using these resources and methods, you can effectively find and connect with organizations that will benefit from your skills, providing you with valuable experience and enhancing your professional portfolio.

Let’s look at some other ways to find or create spaces to connect with other freelancers, business owners, or other clients. 

Leveraging online communities

Join online communities related to your field. Participate in forums, answer questions, and share your experience. Platforms such as Reddit, Quora, and industry-specific forums can help you connect with potential clients and establish yourself as an expert in your field.

A quick tip: Regularly contribute valuable insights and solutions to common problems. It builds your reputation and can lead to direct inquiries for your services. It can also help you network well with fellow freelancers who could refer you to their clients.

Attending industry events

Industry conferences, webinars, and networking events are great places to meet potential clients. Attend these events, network with attendees, and exchange business cards. Follow up with the contacts you make to nurture these relationships. Networking events could also be a great place to exchange notes with fellow freelancers. 

Example: After attending a marketing conference, connect with new contacts on LinkedIn and send a message referring to your conversation at the event. 

Content marketing

Creating valuable content related to your niche is a powerful strategy to establish yourself as an expert and attract clients to your website. Start a blog, produce videos, or write guest posts for industry websites. Content marketing not only showcases your expertise but also draws in potential clients.

Tip: Focus on solving common problems within your niche. For instance, if you’re a graphic designer, write about current design trends or create step-by-step tutorials. This demonstrates your knowledge and attracts clients seeking solutions.

Subscribe to newsletters from creators in the industry and gather ideas for your content strategy while staying updated. Examples include:

  1. Austin Kleon’s Newsletter: Offers insights on creativity and inspiration
  2. Ann Handley’s Total Anarchy: Focuses on content marketing tips and trends

By leveraging content marketing and learning from established creators, you can effectively build your credibility and attract a steady stream of clients.

Offering free workshops or webinars

Hosting free workshops or webinars can showcase your expertise and attract potential clients. Promote these events through your network and social media channels to reach a broader audience.

Example: A freelance writer could host a webinar on how to write compelling blog posts. This not only demonstrates your expertise but also builds trust with potential clients.

Implementing these strategies will increase your chances of finding new freelance clients and building a successful freelance business. Stay proactive, continuously market yourself, and leverage every opportunity to network and showcase your skills.

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How to Manage a Freelance Business 

Managing a freelance business involves more than just finding clients. You need to stay organized, track your time, manage projects, and communicate effectively with clients. 

This is where ClickUp comes in. It’s an all-in-one productivity platform that helps you manage your work efficiently. Let’s see how.

ClickUp for Freelancers can help you organize and manage your work by creating dedicated ClickUp Tasks for each project. Break them down into subtasks for better clarity, assign priorities to tackle the most important and urgent work first, and track progress in real time. For example, if you’re working on a website design, you can create wireframing, designing, and testing tasks. 

Pro tip: Check out 10 free ClickUp freelancer templates to get started with the platform in no time.

ClickUp Freelancer
Stay super organized and agile as a freelancer with ClickUp 

Plan out work, see deadlines, and manage your time effectively with different views in ClickUp like the List view, Board view, or Calendar view. This helps you visualize your workload and avoid overcommitting. Attach files directly to tasks, keeping all related documents in one easy-to-find location. This is particularly useful for projects with multiple deliverables.

Track achievements, such as hitting income targets or completing major projects by dates. Set milestones and monitor your progress. Custom Statuses can help reflect workflow stages, such as ‘Not Started’, ‘In Progress’, ‘Review,’ or ‘Complete’.

You can also record the time spent on each task, which is essential for billing clients accurately. ClickUp’s Time Tracking feature allows you to log hours directly within the task. 

ClickUp’s Time Tracking 
Record the time spent working on your client’s projects to claim billable hours from across devices with ClickUp’s Time Tracking 

Save time by automating repetitive actions, such as sending notification emails to your client when a task status changes. Leverage ClickUp Automation so you stay on top of deadlines without constant manual updates.

Feeling stuck is every freelancer’s worst nightmare, but with ClickUp Brain, you can say goodbye to that frustration! This powerful AI tool helps you brainstorm ideas, organize your thoughts, and keep your projects on track. 

If you’re a freelance writer, AI Writer for Work can help you write cold emails and marketing content for your social media handles. This will help you become more visible to clients. 

ClickUp Brain 
Draft cold emails and follow-up emails in seconds using ClickUp Brain 

With features such as intelligent task suggestions, automated project outlines, and quick access to relevant resources and freelancing hacks, ClickUp Brain ensures you’re always moving forward. It’s like having a personal assistant who’s always ready to help you tackle any challenge and keep your freelancing career thriving.

ClickUp Brain’s AI
Leverage ClickUp Brain’s AI capabilities to boost your productivity as a freelancer

Use ClickUp Brain to create this content and more in ClickUp Docs. Docs provide a centralized space to create, edit, and store documents for all your projects—personal and professional—ensuring everything is easily accessible and organized. With real-time collaboration features, freelancers can effortlessly share ideas, get feedback, and work with clients or team members. 

Plus, the integration with tasks and projects means you can link your documents directly to your workflow, keeping everything connected and streamlined.

ClickUp Docs
Manage all your work on ClickUp Docs to create and collaborate on quality content

And that’s not all; ClickUp’s collaboration features enhance client communication and freelance project management. Here’s how:

  • ClickUp Chat View: Communicate with clients in real time for feedback, updates, and negotiation
  • ClickUp Clips: Record your screen and share video updates or tutorials to ensure you’re aligned with the expectations of the client
  • ClickUp Whiteboards: Visualize ideas and collaborate on brainstorming sessions with your clients
  • ClickUp Forms: Collect information from clients or stakeholders and convert responses to trackable tasks easily
ClickUp Whiteboard
Bring your best ideas to life by leveraging ClickUp Whiteboards

Here’s what a freelancer has to say about ClickUp’s abilities:

One thing that really stands ClickUp from competitors is its versatility to adapt practically to any situation, and automate almost every mundane task that you might have. Also, being able to integrate about all services into it (like emails, calendars, etc) it makes my life much easier.

Joao CorreaFreelancer Senior Designer
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Professional Development and Continuous Improvement as a Freelancer

The freelance market is constantly evolving. Staying updated with industry trends and continuously learning new skills will keep you relevant and in demand. Even though you might no longer be scaling the typical corporate ladder, investing in your professional development remains crucial for staying competitive.

Dedicate time to attend workshops, webinars, and courses to hone your skills and learn new ones. Platforms such as ClickUp University, Udemy, Coursera, and LinkedIn Learning offer many courses tailored to freelancers. 

Additionally, industry publications, podcasts, and YouTube channels are invaluable resources. Consider subscribing to leading industry magazines, listening to relevant podcasts, and following educational YouTube channels to stay informed.

Mentorship can provide valuable insights and guidance. Connect with experienced freelancers who can offer advice, share their experiences, and help you navigate the challenges of freelancing. 

Joining professional communities and attending networking events can also build connections and provide opportunities for collaboration. Remember, continuous learning and professional development are key to maintaining a successful freelance career.

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Overcoming Challenges in Freelancing  

Freelancing comes with its own set of pros and cons. On the plus side, you have flexibility, independence, and the opportunity to work on diverse projects. But it also means dealing with uncertainty, inconsistent income, and the need for self-discipline.

Here are some ways in which you can mitigate the risks of freelancing:

  • Financial planning: Budget wisely and don’t hesitate to raise legitimate expense requests to your clients. Find out ways to make the most of tax write-offs and exemptions. Save for lean periods. A lot of freelancers swear by an emergency fund that they can turn to during tough times
  • Time management: Use productivity techniques that align with your work style and tools like ClickUp to manage your time effectively
  • Client management: Build strong relationships with clients to ensure repeat business

When you’re starting out, finding clients becomes your biggest hurdle. Tough competition can make it difficult for you to be visible and appealing to your target client base. To overcome these challenges:

  • Build a strong online presence: Optimize your social media profiles and portfolio
  • Network actively: Attend industry events, both online and offline
  • Offer value: Provide high-quality work and exceptional service to encourage word-of-mouth referrals

In essence, freelancing can be equally rewarding and challenging. A healthy mix of grit, determination, and practical skills can help you make the most of freelancing while tactfully battling its disadvantages. 

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Cruise through Freelancing with ClickUp

Did you know that freelancers contributed $1.3 trillion to the US economy in 2023? Yes, finding that gig is not impossible, as there’s enough work awaiting you. You just need the right strategies and tools to build a thriving freelance business. 

Start by leveraging your network, optimizing your online presence, and communicating with clients effectively. By applying some of the proven best practices outlined in this article, you can reach the right audience, highlight your unique value proposition, and build trust with potential new clients.

Project management software and modern AI tools for freelancers can help speed up your outreach efforts. ClickUp is an all-in-one productivity tool that can catapult your freelancing career. 

You can leverage it to manage your projects, track deadlines, and collaborate with clients in one place, making it easier to stay on top of all your tasks. Plus, with its customizable workflows, you can tailor ClickUp to fit your unique work style.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up for your free ClickUp account today!

Happy freelancing!

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