I officially started the freelance game back in January of 2017. As an introvert, putting myself out there was (and still is!) SCARY and is not something that was easy to begin. All I knew was that I wanted to run a freelance design business, so I knew I had to start.
Disclaimer: This post is all about my personal strategy to FIND my ideal clients. Actually booking those clients will be a post for another day! Below is what works for me and my design business. It may not work for you or your business!
Who are your ideal clients?
The first step to finding your ideal clients is knowing who they are. For me, I really prefer to work with small, female run, creative businesses such as photographers, health and wellness brands, florists, and small boutiques. It did take some time and experience with different businesses for me to figure this out, so if you don’t know right away, that’s okay!
As I was writing my blog post, I went through a spreadsheet of my past clients and how they found me. About 30% of businesses I’ve worked with found me through my personal network, 30% found me via social media, and 30% found me through past clients.
1. Start with your personal network.
These are the people that you already know! Spread the word among your family and friends and tell them what you’re up to. Who knows, maybe someone in your circle is already in need of your services! When I started freelancing, my first branding clients were from my hometown and knew that I was going to school for design. I am forever thankful to these first clients for trusting me before I was established as a business!
2. Market through Social Media
Set up all the profiles! With all the social networks out there, it’s definitely overwhelming and time consuming to manage so many accounts. My advice? Think about the top two social networks your ideal customers are using and focus on those. For me, it’s Instagram and Pinterest!
Instagram: Create and post content that would appeal to your ideal customers and post consistently! Watch your analytics and post when people are online. Not every post has to be a sales pitch! Share a relatable quote, a cute dog pic, or a helpful tip. Use lots of hashtags! I recently had a client find me via the #utahgraphicdesigner hashtag.
Pinterest: Pinterest is not a social network, it’s a search engine! Users get on Pinterest to search for things to buy and to collect inspiration for things they are planning to buy. This includes branding! The key to Pinterest views is to pin your work consistently. This would be impossible without a program called Tailwind!
3. Past Client Referrals
As a small business, this is a big one for me! Before you can think about getting referrals from your current clients, you need to take care of them and do a great job! Make sure they are happy with your services and the word of mouth will come naturally. After you’ve finished working with a client, be sure to keep in contact. I love to send Christmas cards, thank you gifts, and emails saying hello and checking up on how their designs have been working for them.
A quick example: One of my first branding clients was a doTERRA Wellness Advocate who I’ve gained an amazing relationship with! Since the beginning, she has sent so many other oil businesses my way, then those gals have sent more! It’s definitely one of those relationships I don’t take for granted.
When a client does inquire to work with you, don’t be afraid to ask how they found you! As I mentioned above, I keep a spreadsheet of all my past clients and make a little note of where they found me. If I know a strategy works, then I know to continue to do what I’m doing!
Good luck in the wild world of freelancing!
I hope this post was helpful! If so, pin it for later using the image below: