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8 Tips to Help Land Your First Freelance Client

Land your first freelance clientIf you have been looking to start a side hustle, or you want to quit your 9-to-5 job, freelancing is one of the best things that you could try. But how do you land your first freelance client when starting on your freelancing journey? Here are ten tips that can help!

This post was written by our regular personal finance writer, Kimberly Studdard.

#1. Know What You Want To Do

First things first, you should know what you want to do as a freelancer. Do you want to write? Do you want to be a virtual assistant? Are you into photo editing? These are questions to ask yourself so you can narrow your focus.

This is key to help you land your first freelance client, because knowing what type of work you want to do will help you search in the right areas when looking for your ideal client.  

#2. Figure Out Who Your Ideal Client Is

Now that you know what you want to do, you need to figure out who you want to work with! Even as a freelancer, you can’t work with just anyone. Having a poorly fit client could equal to stress, arguments, nonpayment, and even a wrecked reputation. It’s important to land your first freelance client the right way!

Since you know what you want to do, you should know your skills. Now take some time to think about who could benefit the most from your talent! From there you can figure out where they are, how to reach out to them, and what they need from you.

#3. Research Your Potential Clients

Once you’ve found your potential clients, before reaching out, research them! Figure out what what they do and who they are. Who do they cater to? What is their mission? What do they need? If you do your research, you should be able to answer these questions. You want to be able to answer any questions that have with ease, and you also want to show that you know who they are.

To keep everything organized before pitching to a potential client, you can create “files” via Google Docs or a spreadsheet. Remember to keep important contact info and answers to the questions you’ve researched.

#4. Perfect Your Cold Pitch

You’ve figured out what you want to do, who your ideal client is, and where they are. Now it’s time to perfect your cold pitch. If you want to land your first freelance client, you have to catch their eye right away. The perfect cold pitch will do that for you!

So what entails the perfect cold pitch? A tone that matches your client, offering to fill a need, and keeping it simple and to the point are all great points for your cold pitch. There are great resources out there to help you write the perfect pitch to send to all the potential clients you are interested in.

#5. Keep An Updated Portfolio

If you have worked any job, you know how important a resume is. In freelancing, it’s important to have a portfolio. It doesn’t have to be full, and it doesn’t have to be fancy, but you need and should have one.

In your portfolio, you can include work that you’ve done with your job as long as it fits what you plan on doing in freelancing. For example, if you help with bookkeeping at your old job and want to offer it to entrepreneurs, put that in your portfolio! If you want to create websites for businesses, show a few that you’ve created.

Keeping an updated portfolio will showcase your talents and skills, offer some insight to your business, and also help you land your first freelance client. Everyone loves seeing what someone can do for them!

#6. Network

This is an easy but important step to help you land your first freelance client. Networking is important because you can’t get your name out there if you don’t talk to people! If you have local networking events, attend them. And if you can’t find anything like them in your area, try networking via social media!

If you have a specific niche or clientele in mind, you can always start networking there. Follow them on social media platforms, comment on their blogs and websites, and let them know you are following along. You never know, just networking alone could help you pick up a client.

#7. Offer A Discount

If you are just starting out in freelancing, some people may be hesitant to use your services. This isn’t anything personal, they are just trying to make sure that they can trust someone that they use to help them in their business.

If it really comes down to it, you could always land your first freelance client by offering a discount for a certain period of time. If you have a contract (which you should), you can include the discount for a certain amount of hours or months. Now, you don’t have to be cheap or undervalue your services to the point where you won’t make money, but it could help in getting your foot in the door.

#8. Make An Offer

Now that you have taken all of these tips and are ready to land your first freelance client, make them an offer! Send your perfect cold pitch, let them know why they need you, and negotiate to get them to hire you. While making an offer is the last part of the process, it’s super easy if you’ve followed the tips above. Sure you won’t always get the client, but you will greatly increase your success rate.

With a little patience, research, and practice, you’ll be able to land your first freelance client in no time! Freelancing and side hustles are hard work, but they are worth it to start giving you the freedom that you are looking for.

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AUTHOR Derek Sall

Derek has a Bachelor's degree in Finance and a Master's in Business. As a finance manager in the corporate world, he regularly identified and solved problems at the C-suite level. Today, Derek isn't interested in helping big companies. Instead, he's helping individuals win financially--one email, one article, one person at a time.


  1. These are great tips. I’ve been freelance writing for over 5 years, so I’d like to add a couple more that I do. 1. Just pick up the phone. If you want to get work quickly, this is the fastest way to do so, and it is super easy. Also, most people don’t do this, so you’ll stand out.

    2. The discount is a great idea, but I used to do it a little differently. After I reached out to them, if they responded, I would give them my rates, but then tell them if they didn’t like the article I wrote they didn’t have to pay for it. (I wrote and still do write a lot of articles.) I can’t tell you how many clients that got me, and every single one of them paid me for the first article at my normal rate. This keeps you from having to take less for your work.

    • Great tips Beth! Thanks for sharing!

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