Taking your first steps as a freelancer can be quite daunting. From sorting out your business and financial plans to finding your first client – there is a lot to do. But how can you ensure you get it right the first time? Here are some top tips for landing your first client.
According to Elsa Caleb, a business start-up adviser and Rianda Markram, head of content and training at LHS Solicitors, the first thing you need to do is ensure you have identified a market for your services/products. This is key when it comes to promoting your business and landing clients.
Rianda said: “One of the most important things to do when you are starting out as a freelancer is research. There are several areas that you should focus your research on.
“Examples include your business structure; knowing where to get advice; getting your contacts right, identifying your target audience; identifying your competitors and having a strategy in place to promote your product or service.”
It is also important that before you start looking for your first client, you register with HMRC and have all your administration systems in place. This includes having a clear pricing strategy and up-to-date contracts in place.
Having a tailored portfolio of your work as well as CV can be incredibly beneficial when approaching potential clients. LinkedIn is a great platform for this.
Elsa suggested your CV should be up to date, listng all the relevant professional organisations, publications and social media outlets. And your portfolio should not only include relevant examples of your work/services, but endorsements, recommendations, press releases and other forms of publicity.
Developing a strong brand for your business is vital, says Elsa. Make sure that your business stationery also reflects this as well as your social media outlets and website. And use social media as a tool to direct traffic to your site.
Having a professional photograph of yourself included as part of your brand can also go a long way to getting clients.
“Social media has been a great friend to freelancers,” says founder of Enterprise Nation, Emma Jones. “It enables you to quickly become an expert in your field and share that expertise with an ever-growing community of fans and followers.”
Creating a strong social media presence is one of the first steps you should take to get yourself out there. Twitter, Facebook for business, LinkedIn and even Instagram can help you network. It is also worth becoming a member of your professional body.
According to Emma, the first step to getting clients starts with making a list. It should include “friends, family and contacts who you think could benefit from your services and approach them with a personalised pitch”.
Your pitch should highlight the benefits of what you can deliver to the customer. Emma’s advice is to include a “call to action, so prospective clients know what to do next”. And, as soon as they become paying clients, spread the news, get testimonials.
Elsa suggested that when it comes to networking, you can try and raise your profile by speaking at events. You should also identify key networking events with high-profile movers and shakers.
When you are first starting out, chances are you may not have a business premises, so when it comes to meeting potential clients put together a list of possible meeting places, such as hotels or co-working spaces.
Landing that first client off your own back can be tricky, so an alternative that can help you get going is approaching a recruitment agency. Opt for an agency that not only specialises in your industry, but also in freelancers and/or contractors.
Using recruitment agencies initially is a great way to make contacts and get yourself out there quickly.