How to Get Your First Client as a Freelancer

How to find your first client as a freelance developer

One of the most intimidating aspects of being a freelance developer is finding that very first client. You may be very confused about where to look, how to approach, and what exactly to offer.  So, that is why we have prepared for you a practical idea guide to help you land that very first client.

Personal brand

We will start by discussing your personal brand. Sounds complicated, but it really isn’t. It is basically how you present yourself online and offline as a professional. When people hear your name what is the first thing that comes to their mind? Exactly. This is your personal brand. So what do your potential clients think when they hear your name? You have the power to influence that, and here is how:

Create a personal website or a landing page. 

This is your business card and your portfolio. This is a place to showcase your skills. Make it simple but high quality, so that the clients know what to expect from working with you. After creating the website, consider driving traffic to it through ad campaigns and lead magnets. 

Update your social media profile.

Your personal pages on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram can truly help you find your first customers. Start with updating your profile photo that showcases what you do and writing in your bio about the services you offer and what clients you’re looking for. You can also add your freelance developer business as a company you are working for and add your title to it. 

Do a Google search for your name.

This is a great way to make sure you look professional for your customers and old school photos are not the only thing they’ll see. Your website and your social media platforms should be on the first page of search results. If someone wants to hire you they will do their search. If there is some kind of information that can negatively influence your reputation, put your effort into creating high-quality content with your name in it so that to push that negative information to the second page in the search. 

And here is more useful information on selling yourself as a freelance developer. 

Identify your potential customer 

The more you understand your potential clients the easier it will be for you to find them and sell them your services. You might think that narrowing down your pool of clients from “everyone” to a certain group can be limiting, but it is actually the opposite. Your offer becomes much more appealing if your potential client feels you understand them and their needs.

Analyze your current clients. 

For better understanding, take a look at your current clients. Focus on those that you most enjoy working with. What is their gender, age, location, interests, industry, and income level? Ask them what they enjoy most about working with you. Knowing all of this information will help you quickly find “your people” in the future.

Think about their current habits

Where do they look for information? What information are they looking for? Where do they spend their time? On what platforms, websites, and social networks do they hang out? What are they reading and watching? How do they spend their money? Knowing all this can help you know how and where to reach your ideal customer and save you so much time and money.

Identify what your ideal client wants, needs and fears.  

These three are the driving force behind all of our purchases and money spending. Knowing your client’s goals and fears can help you formulate your offer to make it very appealing and relevant. For example, if you have a pain of some sort and someone offers you an exact solution to it, would you not grab it as soon as possible? The same applies here.

A portrait of the potential client as if they were a real person. 

Write down who they are, where they are from, what they read, how they spend their time, their character traits. You can use this free tool to create a profile. 

Freelance developer sitting behind computer. Potential client, first client, how to find a client, freelancer, freelance platforms

Search for the clients 

And the last step (the one you were probably waiting for from the beginning of this article) is to take proactive steps toward finding new clients. Some see it as a perk and some as a burden, but nevertheless finding clients is your responsibility as a freelancer. 

Start with friends and acquaintances. 

Tell everyone in your circle that you are looking for clients and providing certain services. Ask them if they know someone who could use your help and who they can refer to you. Explain to them exactly what you do and share with them your perfect client profile. Don’t forget about your former colleagues and social media network.

Try freelance platforms and sites. 

These are great places to find first clients though sometimes bidding and building your rating can be a time-consuming task. Check out UpWork, Freelancer, or Guru.

And an even better idea, check out Lemon.io. A marketplace that takes on all of the work and finds you your first perfect client (next ones as well). Imagine how much time and energy you will save on all of those biddings and portfolio buildings. Join our developer community here.

Join relevant Facebook groups and online communities.

The key here is to be useful and bring value, not to be pushy or sell your services in every post. This is a long-term game but is worth considering.

Try old-fashioned offline networking events and conferences. 

Search Google for “business events this weekend” (you will get a list of events near you) or try online services like Meetup.com or Eventbrite. Of course, you might say: “I am an introvert, I don’t do such things”. It is nevertheless essential to get out and meet people. It is part of the business and has to be done by none other than you.

Partner with another freelancer or business. 

Think out of the box. Maybe you can partner with a marketing agency that doesn’t build websites. You can refer your clients to them for marketing services, and the agency can refer their clients who need a website to you. This is a great way to support other freelancers and businesses while also expanding your own pool of clients.

Find a YouTube channel, podcast, or blog you can join as a guest. 

Do you know a channel that provides information on your topic? Reach out and offer your expertise for their show. Think beforehand about what value you have to offer and focus on that. 

Try cold calling or emailing your prospective clients. 

Google companies and businesses you would like to work with, check their sites for improvements you can make, offer them your ideas on how you can solve their problems. Try contacting those companies on social media as well. Try offering value right away and follow up if they do not reply. 

Remember, that every freelancer has to start right where you are right now. Even those at the top of their game had to search for their first client. If they can do it, so can you. 

If all of this seems too hard, we are here to help. Lemon.io is a marketplace where developers can focus on their work and our sales, and matching team will take care of finding clients and matching you with a perfect fit. Curious to learn more? Read here how to join Lemon.io.

More questions? Read our FAQ below!

  • How do freelancers get high-paying clients?

    We don’t have 100% proof recipes — but we can still give some pieces of advice. 
    Read on!
    Don’t sit around and wait for the clients to come themselves! Get advantage of people you already know and ask your social circle about some open jobs for your profile. Family, former classmates, friends, former colleagues, and bosses (these can also issue recommendations!). Never neglect the tiniest chance to add a line to your CV or credentials. You never know what comes in handy.
    Don’t spare time on a splendid and full portfolio that will sell you well. Best examples of your work, testimonials, case studies, updated contact information — don’t forget anything.
    Social media are your ideal place for self-advertisement. Follow the potential leads, let everybody know you’re freelancing, and look for new connections.
    Try networking.
    Get yourself proof of expertise (for freelancers, they are essential since all the freelancers should somehow prove they’re proficient in the work they offer online). 

  • How do I introduce myself as a freelancer?

    For freelancers, it’s crucial to maintain credibility and boost it by all means. Most freelancers work online — and people tend to trust offline contractors more. So, what should you do to introduce yourself so that you could get a desired project? 
    1. Move your top accomplishments to the spotlight
    2. Highlight your previous experience
    3. Explain why you have started your own business
    4. Name your credentials

  • Which is the best freelancer website?

    They are plenty — and they are pretty different. 
    All the freelance websites can be divided into 2 big groups. The first one is called bidding platforms. They work by the reverse auction: a client describes their project (makes a bid), and freelancers compete for it. The one who names the lowest price has more chances to win (but fewer to earn). Examples? Classical Freelancer, Upwork, Gigster. 99Designs. PeoplePerHour
    The second group is called vetting marketplaces. Before registration, all the freelancers are checked and tested for their skills. Which platforms belong to this kind? Lemon.io, Turing.com, and the like.

  • How do freelancers get leads?

    Most freelance workers struggle with finding qualified leads and filling their pipeline in the desired proportions. The feast is substituted by famine and vice versa. Luckily, attracting your perfect clients is not as difficult as it may seem. 
    1. Create your website. Let it consist of 1-5 pages, but it should provide helpful info about your experience and contacts.
    2. Pay for good SEO.
    3. Publish educational content on YouTube
    4. Create email newsletters or other materials for engagement of new contacts.