I’m an avid collector of client-getting tactics.
Bigger strategies (e.g., targeted outreach, content marketing, cosplay) are essential for a healthy marketing mix, but sometimes you need that next freelance project, like, YESTERDAY.
You simply can’t wait for or reasonably expect a dream client to slide into your DMs. You have to go find them and [insert hunting analogy here].
Here are 15 ways to get clients fast
- Look at all your warm leads. Is it time for clever, indirect followups—e.g., responding to your prospect's tweet, LinkedIn post, Insta post? Pop up on their radar in a different way.
- Look at all your cold leads. Who reached out over the last 2 years but didn't become a client? Email those people: "You came to mind this morning. How did that project we discussed go? How is 2022 going so far? Would love an update on the business front when you have a moment."
- Make a list of proposals sent and discovery calls done over the last 12 months, specifically clients who DIDN’T pick you. Send a quick follow-up email: “You came to mind the other day. I’ve been meaning to follow up. How did that project go?”
- Use project files, invoices, and project management tools to create a comprehensive list of clients from the past 2 years. Ask yourself the same question with each one: What would I do next for them if I could do anything? Clients appreciate it when freelancers bring ideas to them. The deliberate bird gets the worm. Follow up and ask, “Have you ever considered [your idea here]? I was thinking about our project this morning, and based on my experience, the next step would be....” Kat Boogaard did something similar and booked $3K in new projects in a couple of days.
- Make a list of successful proposals you sent, and notice anything the clients DIDN’T buy. Resurface those “old” needs with the same client: “Have you put any more thought into that messaging project we discussed?” Who knows, they may have more budget or urgency by now.
- Think of 10 freelance friends. Reach out. Be candid. Ask for introductions. Offer to save them time by writing the intro paragraph they can flip in 30 seconds.
- Look for clients on LinkedIn. Try these 7 steps, compliments of Sharon Wu.
- Try cold email outreach, specifically Gina Horkey’s 10-10-10 Prospecting Process ASAP.
- Grow your network with people you admire by doing Austin Saylor’s 30-Day Networking Challenge.
- Look through your ENTIRE LinkedIn network and jot down 50-60 names. Then, group people into categories like Freelancers, Marketing Leaders, Agency Founders/Principals, Former Colleagues, and so on. Message them and say, “It’s been awhile. Would love to catch up a bit. What are you working on right now?” The ones who respond will naturally bounce the question back to you and create the opportunity for you to soft pitch your freelance services.
- Make a laser-focused offer on your socials. This isn't what I mean: "Does anyone need help with copywriting?" This is what I mean: "Are you really pleased with your LinkedIn profile? Do you like how you're presenting yourself? If not, would you DM me? I've got 2 spots open, and I'd like to pitch you on giving your profile a makeover before the end of the month." Check out the examples I have collected here.
- Think of 10 dream clients. Reach out to the marketing director or VP of Marketing. Tell them what you like about what they're doing. Mention several specific things you noticed in the recent Inc. or Fast Company article, the CEO's or CMO's latest podcast interview, the rock-solid content they're putting out. Ask if they already have a specialist like you they really enjoy working with. If not, say: “I'd love to throw my name in the hat." You do your best work when you're enthusiastic about the company's mission.
- Make something you like for a brand you like. As creatives, we don't actually need clients to build out our portfolios. It's easy to lose touch with your original love: writing, design, illustration, coding. It's easy to forget to do the work you want to get hired for. So set up a sandbox for yourself and play hard. Share what you're doing online. Give the play by play. Invite people into the mess.
- Keep learning about marketing. This post is a good place to start.
- Write and send not 1 but 3 separate emails to the people who already know, like, and trust you:
- Life Update (Here’s what I’ve been up to….)
- Professional Update (Here’s what work has looked like for me recently….)
- Current Focus (Here are the freelance projects I’m most interested in….)
(You can download an example of the 3 emails below here. They’re not perfect, but they’ll give you some idea of how the 3 fit together.)
Finally, calm your mind. Watch this delightful TikTok from Neal Foard in the comment below. Take 10 deep breaths. Hold for 3 seconds each. Blow out through your mouth like you're blowing through a straw.
Remember, there is no tiger.