5 Ways to Land Your First Freelance Client

So, you’ve developed the skills you need to launch your work from home business, and you’re ready to start working.

It’s time to land that first freelance client, but you have no idea where to begin.

You’ve come to the right place. VBO Nation is the authority on all things VBO, and we’re here to help you every step of the way.

If you ready to get your business off the ground, then keep reading.

Here are five effective ways to land your first client

1. Help out

It’s the classic work conundrum, you need a job to gain work experience, but you can’t get experience without getting a job.

You can get around this catch-22 by doing a few free projects to start building your portfolio. Your first freelance client shouldn’t be your first opportunity to put your skills into practice. If you’re a graphic designer, start a personal website and share your designs there.

Help a friend with a logo, or offer to design a flyer for a nonprofit.

You’ll have to be able to demonstrate your skills to your first paying client, so doing a little unpaid work in the very beginning will help you in the long run. And who knows, if you do a good enough job, your practice clients may very well become paying clients in the future.

2. Identify potential clients and set up meetings

Now that you’ve got some examples for your portfolio, it’s time to get to work.

The cold call is a tried-and-true method to find freelance clients. Make a list of twenty potential first clients. Say you’re an SEO specialist looking to land your first client.

Go online and identify clients who fit within your VBO niche and check out their websites.

Document areas for improvement and prepare a pitch that details what you can do to help them optimize their site. Once you’ve got your list, call or email your potential clients to set up a meeting.

Explain your skills and intentions, and show some examples of your work.

Make the meeting about what you can do to help your potential client improve their business. Don’t make it about the ask. Focus on what you can give. It’s kind of like a bank account. You have to make a deposit before you can make a withdrawal.

Commit to meeting with five prospective freelance clients a week for four weeks.

Be prepared for rejection. You won’t land every client you meet with, but the more meetings you have, the more likely it is that a few of them will hire you.

3. Consider UpWork

The truth is that UpWork is a very competitive environment, but it’s a good place to get your feet wet when you’re first starting out.

Highlight your professional skills, experience, and accomplishments on your profile and start searching for jobs. Look for postings that align well with your skill set, and only apply for the select few that you can truly deliver on.

There are a lot of spammers on UpWork who don’t actually possess the skills required for the jobs they apply for, and clients know this. So freelancers who can differentiate themselves by being capable and specific are more likely to land freelance clients. 

Don’t hesitate to accept jobs that pay less than what you're worth.

You’ll have to cut your teeth on a few low-paying jobs to gain the experience you’ll need to land more clients who can provide higher pay in the future. This is all part of the portfolio-building process. And yes, sometimes it's painful.

You’re just priming the pump in the beginning. Deals beget deals, and a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

4. Find opportunities on Craigslist

Craigslist isn’t just a place to find old furniture or odd Missed Connections posts. It’s a good place to find clients who are looking to hire freelancers of every variety.

Check out the jobs and gigs sections.

You’re likely to find several listings that align with your area of expertise quite well. Don’t feel pressured to apply for every job you see. Identify 10-15 listings that you believe are a good fit and apply.

Be professional AND personable.

Demonstrate your expertise, but show that you’re human too. Craigslist job listings often receive hundreds of applicants, so do what you can to stand out. Be sure to express your interest, and let the potential client know that you want the job.

Follow up a day a later to ensure that the prospective client received your email of interest.

​5. Look on Job Boards

Companies are always looking for talent, so check out job boards online and see who’s looking for someone with your skill set.

Once you’ve found a few job announcements that you think are worthy, find an in. Go on the company website or search through LinkedIn to see who you can reach out to. Send that point of contact an email.

Remember, you’re not an employee. You’re a Virtual Business Owner.

Explain that you can fill that available position as a VBO, and you can deliver the job requirements cheaper than the cost of hiring a traditional employee. You don’t need any training because you already possess all the necessary skills, and you don’t need any benefits.

We hire VBOs here all the time at VBO Nation, and we’re always looking for VBOs who can stand out from the crowd.

Keep in mind that your goal is to get experience as a work from home business owner. 

Be diligent and start small.

Don’t spam for jobs or commit to more than you can handle. You want to be sure that your first freelance client is happy with your work so that you can use them as a reference. If you can differentiate yourself and over-deliver on client expectations, you’re sure to land your first freelance client in no time.

Tom Poole

Hi - Tom Poole here. I'm a lifelong entrepreneur and the founder of VBO Nation. VBO Nation is your network to grow a virtual business. Our goal is to help you Launch Your Dreams and Empower Your Life!

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