As a freelance creative, one of the questions I often get asked is how I find my clients. I guess the answer is that, most of the time, they find me.
It’s been a while since I wrote on here, and I’ve been having a little flick back through my previous posts. The last time I posted, back in January, I talked about the fact that I was experiencing a bit of a lull work-wise. As a consequence, I set myself the goal of improving my pitching skills in 2018, in the hope of acquiring more clients. Well, work definitely picked up from February onwards, but none of this really came from any pitches I sent out…
Instead, most of my work tends to come from recommendations. Whenever I tell people this, I feel like it’s such an unsatisfying answer, especially when the person asking the question hasn’t yet started their business and so doesn’t have any initial clients to spread the word.
Finding those first few clients is alway the hardest part, but I think you really have to be open to the fact that they could come from absolutely anywhere! My first videography client was technically a company that I had worked for before on temporary basis. They were a contemporary opera company who hired me as a social media producer for the duration of one of their productions, and while they couldn’t hire me year-round, we’ve continued to work together on a number of projects since. The performing arts scene here in Cardiff is fairly close-knit, and some of the brilliant creatives I met while working on that first production have recommended me for a variety of projects since!
I also found that as soon as I started telling people that I was now creating videos (whether through social media or in real life), friends and acquaintances I’d never have expected started asking me to film and edit things for them. It really did feel like a case of self fulfilling prophecy; I created a Facebook page calling myself a freelance videographer, and suddenly people started treating me like one.
There’s definitely a lesson there in owning who you are.
If you want to take photos for a living, start calling yourself a photographer now. It sends such a stronger message, both to yourself and to others, than saying “I’d like to be a photographer someday”.
It’s also so important to have somewhere that potential clients can see or read about your work online, whether this is via social media, a blog or, preferably, a website. If you’re just launching yourself as a freelancer and are unsure of what to do first, I think this such a good place to start. Get together some examples of the kind of work you want to be producing and show off what you can do, displaying them somewhere that your target audience can find them. If you want to build a website but have no clue where to start, websites like WordPress, Wix and Squarespace make it really easy. My website is my second most common source of work enquiries, and it’s always so nice when people get in touch out of the blue – it means the SEO is doing its job!
Putting your work and your website out into the world and just waiting for clients to bite can be frustrating. It’s easy to feel like you should constantly be doing more. You rarely transform into a full-time freelancer overnight – in the early stages of my business, I was still working in a pub. I think the main thing is to talk about the work you want to be doing as much as possible. Tell everyone about your exciting new business! And just because email-targeting potential clients didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it; perhaps you’ll find that it works much better in your niche!
If you’re a freelancer, small business owner or creative entrepreneur, I’d love to hear about how you reach your clients or customers – it seems everyone’s experience is so different! Feel free to drop me a comment down below, or get in touch via social media.