Oh the glorious life of a freelancer! You only work on projects you like, set your own working schedule and can ask for super high hourly rates. No surprise that 40% of the entire American workforce will be doing freelance work in 2020. What a great way of working!
Well, yes, BUT (of course there has to be a but) you constantly have to find new clients and negotiate new contracts. This can be very time-consuming, nerve-wracking and frustrating. I have been working as a freelancer for the past 4 years and know the struggle only too well.
Despite the obstacles in the beginning, today I’m fully booked and even have a waiting list for new clients to work with. Amazing, isn’t it? That’s why I want to share my experience in finding high-paying clients online with you and hope these tips help you and your freelance business, too.
Finding High-Paying Clients Online
Many people are fairly uncreative when it comes to finding freelancing work. I was like that in the beginning, too. But luckily, there are many great ways to find clients today. So many, that probably every single freelancer should be able to score full-time jobs (given that they offer an excellent service that is in demand).
Check out the following methods and see what works best for your business.
1. Freelance Job Boards
Let’s kick this list off with the most obvious method that most people use to find freelance work. There are hundreds of online platforms out there, that connect clients and freelancers.
Usually, clients insert their job offer and freelancers can apply for open positions. But there are also websites out there, that work the other way around: Freelancers have a portfolio with their services and clients can contact them if they are interested.
Either way, these job boards are the most straight forward way to find open jobs. You get to set up a profile with your experience and skills and will get reviews after you have completed a job. This is a great way for beginners to land their first gig.
Downsides of Freelance Platforms
As great as it sounds, there are a few significant downsides to those freelance platforms, too. For one, the competition is massive. Especially for popular skills, like content writing or web development, there will be many others applying to the job you want. Since there is always someone who can do it cheaper than you, payments can be super low.
The second big drawback is the fact that these job boards often ask for a fee. For example, if you land a new job on Upwork, you will have to pay 20% of your income to them. That is a lot of money and pulls down the compensation even more.
How to be Successful
However, I don’t want to discourage you. If you manage to position yourself as an expert, you can make a great income just from those freelance platforms. Since I had two long-term clients on Upwork, I made almost 50,000 USD in 2016 on this platform alone. So it is definitely possible to be successful there.
If you want to find out what you need to do to score jobs on online job boardss, check out this post that explains everything you need to know.
Besides the just mentioned Upwork, there are a couple of other websites you can check out. For example:
If you want to find more freelance platforms, have a look at the linked list with 47 of the best ones out there.
2. Cold Emails
*Gasp* Did she say cold emails?!
I know this one is scary and most freelancers try to avoid this method whenever they can. BUT, as a matter of fact, this can be the most effective way to get high-paying freelance jobs.
First, you need to do your research and find potential clients. Say, for example, you are an SEO expert. A good way to start would be to check blog or websites and see if you find some which could definitely need some improvements.
Then you sort out the ones that probably don’t have the budget to hire someone or that don’t care about ranking high in Google, maybe because they or more for personal use or get their traffic from a different channel.
Now that you have a list with people you can contact, write an email that they can’t ignore. Don’t use the same one for every potential client! Make it as individual as possible.
And don’t write something like “Your website is crap. You clearly need help.” You need to show that you really care about the content and appreciate how helpful it is. Then you can mention that you work as a freelance SEO expert. It is in your own interest that the site is becoming more popular. That’s why you want to help.
Also avoid to offer packages a la “If you buy today, I’ll improve your entire website for only $3,299!”. Nobody would buy that straight away.
A better tactic is to offer a little trial work. The client can see how qualified you are and if that’s something he would like to continue. If not, tell them you are happy to simply use the chance to network and connect with business insiders.
Make sure to attach a link to your portfolio site where clients can see your skills, experience and maybe reviews of former clients.
You might only receive a few answers to your email. But the ones you do receive and are interested, can develop into some fantastic collaborations.
If you need some more inspiration and advise on how to write a brilliant cold email, head over to Ryan Robinson and his great guide.
3. Facebook Groups
Never underestimate the power of Facebook groups! In fact, I have found my first ever location-independent job as a content writer in a Facebook group.
You can find high-paying freelance jobs in literally any type of group. For instance:
- General job groups, like Digital Nomads Job Board
- Job groups for specific positions, like Freelance Graphic Design jobs from home
- Job groups for regional positions, like Freelancer & startup jobs in Barcelona, or
- Industry related groups, like Virtual Assistant Savvies
You can either scan groups on a regular basis and apply as soon as an interesting job shows up or throw yourself out there and post what you have to offer and that you are looking for new clients.
Make sure to read the group rules first and check if it’s allowed to post job searches.
Also make sure that you don’t approach this way too casually. Yes, it’s Facebook and many people in those groups are very down to earth. But still, send out messages in a fairly professional manner.
I’m not sure why people often say that Twitter is dead. It is not. Far from that. Especially, when it comes to job searches it can be a real help.
Search for hashtags like #hiring or #translationjob or look up entire phrases like “hiring a marketing specialist” or “looking to hire an architect”.
Depending on how many followers you have, this also works the other way around. On a daily basis, I see people in my Twitter feed offering their services and asking for jobs. Be creative and send out short, on-point tweets that show you are looking for work. Use powerful hashtags and ask your follower to retweet the message.
5. Be Active on Quora, Reddit & Co.
Don’t go in there and copy / past your job search in every thread! That is super annoying and will only get you marked as spam.
Go ahead and answer questions. Contribute your experience. Be of value for other users. If people in your community like what you have to say, they will go and check out your profile. Only once you have “established your name” on these platforms, you might casually drop a line, saying that you are available for freelance gigs, too.
6. Ask for Referrals
Referrals are a brilliant way to get new clients. They are so important that you shouldn’t wait for a former client to refer you to someone but actively ask for it. After all, it is not like people don’t want to recommend you. It is more that they simply don’t think about it. It doesn’t occur to them.
So go ahead and send them a message. Explain that you have open capacities at the moment and that you would appreciate a referral or a connection to someone who might be interested in your service.
Keep it short and simple. If your former client was happy with your work, he or she is surely willing to recommend you to a friend or business colleague.
7. Follow Up With Almost-Clients
Every freelancer has them. Potential clients we had contact with in the past but it never resulted in a contract. Either there wasn’t enough budget to pay you, or you couldn’t agree on the scope, or maybe the timing was just not the best.
Follow up with these people and see if now they are interested in a collaboration again. You never know. The reason why it didn’t work out with you a couple of months ago might be gone and now you can finally work together.
8. Network Online
Go through you contacts and see who might have freelance jobs for you. Best place to do so is probably LinkedIn – a great place to make business connections and stay in touch with industry insiders.
But you can also use Facebook or go through your email contacts or think of former colleagues or fellow students.
Drop them a message. Explain what you are doing at the moment and ask if they need help with a certain task. Even if you only manage to get a small job in the beginning, you never know how this collaboration can develop.
9. Network Offline
Even if you are looking for an online job, don’t forget to search for it offline, too. Great places for that would be conferences, workshops or any other industry related events.
Maybe you will find potential clients straight away. If not, chances are still good that you can connect with someone who knows someone else who might need your help. You know how that goes.
A great way to meet like-minded people offline are Meetup groups. Simply check what groups and events are near you and visit a few to see who you can meet.
10. Go to Coworking Spaces
Another form of offline networking is coworking. Since they can be incredibly effective when it comes to networking, I mention them separately.
You will usually find tons of other freelancers and business owners in coworking spaces. That gives you plenty of opportunity to connect, create synergies or collaborate.
Luckily, those kind of shared offices are literally everywhere today. Google your town and “coworking” and you should be able to localize a few places near you.
If you don’t want to go to just any office, check out this list with the best coworking spaces around the world.
11. Run Ad Campaigns
Want to maximize your exposure and approach many potential clients at the same time? Run ad campaigns!
The most popular ones are probably Facebook ads and Google AdWords. Even with a small budget you are able to get your service in front of a big audience. But beware! There is a reason why there are specialized ad manager out there.
If you want to maximize your exposure, you should either get someone on board who is experienced with these ads or at least learn more about it yourself. You could, for example, check out the PPC University to get more information about successfully running ads.
12. Write Guest Posts
Another great way to get your freelance services in front of many people is to write and publish guest posts on several popular websites or blogs.
Say you are an expert in social media, then you could write an in-depth article about social media trends or the new Instagram algorithm or anything like that. This will show your expertise and people will see that you really know what you are talking about.
You could also casually mention what you are doing and how you help others so people can see that you are available for freelance work.
Those guest posts usually allow you to link back to your own website or social media accounts. Depending on the size of the place where you publish this article, many people will read it and might come back to you.
13. Start a Blog
In addition to guest posting, you could also start your own blog. Maybe you already have a portfolio site and can integrate it there?
A blog with valuable niche specific topics will help you get exposure. This is a great way to show your skills and expertise.
A blog helps you build authority and brings many people to your site. If they like what you write, they might want to work with you, too.
14. Team Up With Competitors
You might have open capacities but some of your competitors are surely fully booked. They receive inquiries that they can’t take because they have too many other things to do. Instead of sending these potential clients away, the could recommend your service and connect you.
Do your research and find popular competitors. Get in touch with them, introduce yourself and prove that you are skilled and experienced. See if you can negotiate a deal if they recommend you to potential clients. After all, this would be a win-win situation.
Your Turn: 2-Week Client Challenge
Ok, these were 14 fantastic ways that can bring your freelance business high-paying clients. Now it’s your turn: Pick 3 of the mentioned methods that you think work best for your service. Give your everything with those 3 methods to acquire new clients within the next 14 days. I’m sure you will be surprised what those 2 weeks can do for your business connections.
I hope this list helped you to get some inspirations and ideas on how to find new and high-paying clients for your freelance career.
Do you have any more ideas how to get more clients? Let me know in the comment section below!
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