How to get Freelance clients

Getting freelance clients is always difficult when you start out as a freelancer.

Here are some tips on how to get new freelance clients:

Explore your network

Start with people you know who are in need of your services. This would also be an opportunity to get candid feedback on how they experience your services, from a ‘friendly client’.

Many freelancers who made the leap from permanent employment to freelancing, worked for agencies or companies within the same industries before and have some contacts in their network.

We often see freelancers doing odd jobs for previous employers – all the more reason not to burn your bridges when you go freelance.


Once you’ve completed a few jobs, your existing clients will often refer you to their friends & family. Do make an effort to ask your existing clients if they know of anyone that would potentially also use your services.

Cold Emailing

If you provide a specific type of service, showing potential clients how that service can benefit them would be a good entry point to potential business. The challenge with unsolicited emails are that everyone’s inboxes are filled daily with such requests, so standing out between the rest is difficult. Requesting meetings via automation services, if not customised, can also look spammy. Even with all of the above mentioned, from time to time, good leads do get generated if you reach the right person at the right time.

Charity Freelance Work

By far the best way to build your portfolio is by doing some charity work. Often, charities would accept free assistance with their website, social media and content, so this is always a good place to start and you’re doing some good in the process. If you do free work, don’t do JUST free work and complain when you’re having a tough time. Everyone understands that freelancers need to survive, so put limits on what you do for free vs getting paid gigs once you become an established freelancer.

Free Online Marketing Tools

Google, Facebook & LinkedIn are great places to promote your new business. Make sure you have the following in place:

  • Google My Business Page – even if you don’t have a physical office, putting in your home address is perfectly fine. The objective is for local businesses to find you. You can also load products and offers here, so make sure you use all features.
  • Facebook Page -the easiest way to represent your business these days. Make sure you fill out all the additional fields that Facebook allows for small businesses.
  • LinkedIn Profile & Page – Start with your profile. If you’re a freelancer, this should be your most up to date CV. Also ask friendly clients for recommendations on your LinkedIn profile. Also create a page for your freelance business, unless you trade under your own name in which case your profile alone should be fine.
  • Facebook Groups – there are loads of great freelance Facebook groups to join in South Africa. These are often a good source of discussion & freelance jobs, but you’ll face a lot of competition there.

Contract with agencies

Bigger agencies often need extra hands or technical expertise to get projects completed on time. Make sure that once you have a strong enough portfolio, you reach out to local agencies first and then start expanding the circle bigger as you build confidence as freelancer. Just check if you’re able to add projects to your portfolio, as often this is NOT the case when working with agencies that outsource.

Have any other cool ideas on how to get more business as a freelancer? Drop us a note in the suggestions box.