It's been said that you need to secure 3 paying clients in order to know if your business will succeed, or not. I don't think 3 is a catch-all magic number, but the idea is if you convince 3 different people to pay you money for your services, you're probably on to something.
The most common question I'm asked by new freelancers is "where do I find clients?". To run a successful business, you need clients or customers!
Let's jump in and learn 4 different methods for finding your first 3 paying clients...
METHOD ONE: Your Immediate Connections
When you’re just starting out, your immediate connections are the very first place to look. Start with your friends, family, colleagues, classmates, etc.
There is bound to be somebody in your immediate connections who either needs your services or knows somebody who needs your services.
Begin by letting them know that you’ve started a freelance web design business (if they don’t already know), you’re looking to build your portfolio, and wondering if they could use your services. Also, ask if they know anybody who could use your help. If they do, ask for an introduction.
METHOD TWO: Local Businesses
Your next plan of action is to step outside of your immediate connections and look to local businesses. Even in a small town, there are plenty of opportunities to start a relationship that could lead to a new client or a referral source. Some local businesses to look for may include coffee shops, restaurants, dentists, chiropractors, dog groomers, landscapers, lawyers, accountants, etc.
TIP: START WITH BUSINESSES YOU ALREADY FREQUENT!
There are so many businesses you interact with and frequent on a regular basis in your city. You’re already a customer of theirs, and you may even be acquainted with the employees. Since you’re a familiar face, it makes it that much easier to strike up conversation and ask questions like “how’s business?”, “have you experienced any struggles with X?”, “how many new customers does your website send you each month?”, etc.
Learn more about their business, listen, discover their challenges. When it’s your turn to talk, say "you know, I think I know how I can help you solve that problem. Do you have time for coffee next Tuesday at 11?"
TIP: FIND BUSINESSES THAT MATCH YOUR INTERESTS
Do you like surfing? Hiking? Creating art? Are you a foodie? Do you race horses? Drive exotic cars? Are you in a L.A.R.P. group?
Think of your own interests and hobbies, and look for businesses, events, or groups of people that match your interests.
Another way to think about it: what businesses would you actually enjoy networking and hanging out with? Chances are you’ll be more passionate and fulfilled if you work with businesses you stand behind, and people you relate to.
Frequent the businesses, casually connect with the manager or owner. Learn all about their business, what’s working, what’s not, ask questions. Schedule a coffee or phone meeting.
METHOD THREE: Networking & Conferences
Conferences and networking meetups are great ways to make connections and grow your list of leads. One of the cool things about networking is that you can get started almost right away, find an event in your local area, and meet with people — business owners, entrepreneurs, other designers, etc.
You can network with people in your own industry, make some connections, build some relationships and possibly get some referrals — possibly even some advice from somebody who has more experience than you.
Conferences are a great place to build relationships, get some emails, phone numbers and grow a list of leads to follow up with.
Conventions will likely have dozens of vendors (or more) related to the industry the convention is about, looking for business. Find a vendor, buy something, talk to them, ask questions, learn about their business, the challenges they experience, then introduce yourself, exchange business cards and try to schedule a follow up with them. If you don’t get a follow up on the spot, take their business card home and follow up with them later!
DOWNLOAD THE 7-STEP FREELANCING ROADMAP
If you want to learn even more ways, in much deeper detail, how to book your first 3 paid clients, download my free 7-step freelancing roadmap at...
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