Here we go — another week! I can’t believe I’ve been out of office life for six whole weeks. In some ways, it seems like I’ve been doing this forever, but in other ways, I feel like I’m still trying to find the right groove.
One of the most common questions people have asked me so far is, “How do you get clients?”
Good question. I’ll tell you this — I’m getting many more clients than I expected I would get this soon (which I’m really thankful for). There’s actually several different ways I’m getting clients, and I’ll share them ALL.
Okay, I know this is going to sound silly, but hear me out. When I decided I was going to work for myself full-time, that meant really, truly, seriously working for myself.
It meant not even LOOKING for a full-time job, pushing away part-time jobs that wouldn’t serve my purpose. No retail jobs, no bartending, no pyramid schemes. If it wasn’t something that ultimately allowed me to be my own boss, it’s a big fat no.
I’ll warn you — this is not something most people will understand. It’s unsteady, scary, and stressful. But, that’s how office life felt to me, too. If working for myself means more happiness every day, that is priceless. I knew going in that solopreneurship is a road mostly taken alone.
Risky? Yes. But I figure, if I don’t give it my ALL, then how will I really know if it will work? Plus, this allows me to give all of my energy to my clients, and if there’s not much work to do, then I have time to look for additional work, or work on my creative passions — blogging, cooking, journaling, dancing…
If you’re looking for a side-hustle or are ready to jump out on your own, create a profile on Upwork immediately. Upwork is a platform that connects freelancers and contractors with businesses looking to hire.
I’ve had my profile for 10+ years and have worked with hundreds of clients. In my experience, Upwork is the only place where you can safely work with clients around the world. They secure everything to ensure the client gets the work and the contractor gets paid.
It’s free to set up a profile, and you get 60 connects per month to use to pitch jobs — it’s usually 2 connects per job, and I find I never run out of connects. Because I am a Top-Rated Upwork Freelancer, I get invited to jobs, meaning I don’t have to use connects to apply, and that also means I spend less time searching for jobs since they come straight to my inbox.
I use the Upwork app on my phone to help me reply to any job invites quickly, and respond to any potential or current clients even if I’m away from my desk.
I get some clients from referrals — if a client has a good experience with me, they usually know other people who could use my services. This is always a really nice surprise!
But, but “word-of-mouth”, I also mean that I tell everyone what I do. This is something new for me, and sometimes uncomfortable, but if you don’t tell people what you do, they aren’t going to know!
I keep business cards in my purse and if the timing seems right, I let people know my services — even if I don’t think they will actually use me. I told the staff at the yoga studio I go to and they let me put a stack of cards in their lobby; I told someone at the library and three people overheard me and asked for my card; I put it on my personal Facebook and immediately got two clients.
Tell EVERYONE. I even told my hair stylist and she knows of several other stylists who might need my help. You’d be surprised. And the thing is, they may not need you today, maybe not this month, but they might find themselves in a situation next year when they need your services. And guess what? In a year, I’ll still be here, hustling!
Online Networking Groups
One thing I was really scared about was networking. I knew that as my own salesperson, I was going to have to get over my social anxiety and start attending networking events.
…Well, so far, I haven’t had to (but I’m going to)! I am a part of a few networking groups on Facebook — one is all-women writers, and they share contract jobs (that’s how I got the newsletter job). I found out about the group from a fellow writer I worked with in Louisiana.
What I love about this group is that it’s also a bit of a support group. We post about rates, making contracts, and how to get through the holidays when most companies aren’t hiring freelancers.
The other group is for digital jobs in Austin — I’ve been a part of this one even before I moved to Austin, and it’s a great place to introduce yourself and let people know what types of gigs you’re looking for. You’re allowed to post your web link and introduce yourself once per week and I have it on my calendar every week! You never know when someone is going to see my link and need my services.
My Blogging Class
I teach two blogging courses at the University of Texas at Austin. They are informal courses, so anyone can sign up and take them. As an instructor, UT pays me by the hour, but I also get to meet around 50 new students each semester. Sometimes, they refer me to friends and family, and sometimes they need further 1:1 assistance outside of the class.
The other half of this is, my relation to UT gives me credibility in the community. If someone wants to hire me to come train their office how to blog, they at least know I am trusted by UT to train members of the public.
Finally, my blog, my little home, The Bitter Lemon! This is my hub — my blog is where I put pretty much everything that’s in my brain, into some sort of organized form.
And while, I know I don’t write much that truly showcases my journalism experience or my digital certifications, having this blog shows potential clients that, yes, I can write and create a blog, but it also shows them that I keep a schedule, I have some sort of content calendar, and that I’ve got a little creativity.
I also sell ad space on my blog — it’s not a lot of money, but it’s another stream of revenue.
…That’s pretty much it! There’s still some other things on my list of ways to promote myself and get clients that I haven’t tried yet, and as soon as I do, I’ll report back.
However, so far, this seems to be working. In all honesty, I think it’s about putting yourself out there, having the experience to back up your claims, and offering a rate that fair to you and to your clients.
I’m hoping to continue to share any solopreneurship tips here for as long as I feel like I’ve got anything good that may help anyone reading! If there’s something in particular you want me to cover, leave me a comment or shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re a potential client, or think you might be, take a look at all of my service offerings and shoot me a message. Happy Monday everyone!