Building a freelance client base
You may or may not be aware that at the beginning of this year I took the leap and went freelance full time. Now I am mainly a designer and content creator, but not so much a writer, so you will need to bear with me as I enter this new realm of blog-writing.
Before I went freelance, I worked for a charity as their Brand Lead. It was a great job, but it was a two hour commute and I started to feel like most of my life was spent on the M25. I soon realised I wanted something more than the 9 to 5, and being more of a night owl, working on my own time has always been the dream.
So, I went for it. I soon realised I had XX years of experience of working in a variety of industries, so my knowledge and expertise were already there. My main hesitation was that I had recently become an official adult and bought a house – which meant I had a monthly commitment I needed to pay each month. But, what I did know, was I had a passion for creating engaging communication and was determined to build a career for myself.
Since taking the plunge, I’ve loved it and have been thriving on my own. I work as many hours as I want, when I want and I have a huge amount of wonderful clients that I do regular work for.
So how did I build up a successful client base? Below is a list of crucial points that I feel are a must to build a strong network, that allows you to work for yourself.
Freelance preparation to do list:
DO work for free – You may have been told that doing work for free will devalue you, but I completely disagree. I’m not saying do a ton of work for free, but consider helping individuals with smaller potential budgets. For example, creating a wedding invite for a friend of a friend could lead to future work with any of the wedding guests, or future potential at their respective companies. It’s always about being a nice and helpful person who isn’t always working for the hourly rate, but the bigger end goal.
DO keep in touch regularly – Make sure you are checking in with clients or potential clients now and again, even when not asking about work. Just be friendly and interested in their other projects. For example, a client of mine has previously been put forward for an award for one of their projects, I just sent an email congratulating them.
DO keep up communication – In my experience, there is nothing worse than sending emails to someone you’re working with and hearing nothing back. Even if you know you are going to meet your deadline, make sure you keep up communication with them so they are constantly assured you’re on the job. It often helps to send out communications without being prompted, letting clients know you’re thinking about them – even when they aren’t thinking about you!