No matter what your field, if you want to become a freelancer, you can’t just wait for the jobs to come to you. You’ve got to market yourself and get on potential clients’ radars. How will they know you have a skill that may be of use to them if you don’t?
It’s all about networking. Making connections with other professionals in your field is the best way to get clients who offer paying gigs. They can also offer professional advice and point new freelancers who need a little help in the right direction.
In this world, image is everything. There are a few things that freelancers can do to make themselves more marketable.
1. Get on Twitter and LinkedIn. Thanks to social media network Twitter, I was able to hook up with someone who could use my services. Communicating in 140-character increments graduated to e-mails, and we’ve established a good working relationship. It all started with one assignment, and now, I’m asked to do other freelance work. Don’t underestimate the power of social media, which is becoming quite a popular way to communicate with others. Join up and possibly find paying gigs.
2. Start a website. This is a no-brainer. The Internet is where it’s at nowadays. And what better way to show off your talents than on a page that could potentially be seen by hundreds of thousands of people? Be sure to have a portfolio on the website in order to show off your best work. If potential clients see what they like, they’ll be more apt to contact you than if they have to ask for samples of your work.
3. Get a dedicated phone number, e-mail address and business cards. Decide if you need a new cell phone or landline number for your freelance business. A separate phone numbers and e-mail address can help keep business separate from pleasure. Business cards are also great to have, as they can be passed to potential clients that you meet while networking — or in the event that you meet a potential client while out and about.
4. Become familiar with industry websites. For writing, there are a number of websites out there that offer tips and information about how to find paying freelance jobs. It helps to know where to look. Some even have job boards where clients post ads for freelancers to fulfill their needs.
5. Join a professional organization. Find out which are well-regarded in your field and add yourself to their membership rolls — but only join groups if you’ll have time to participate in them. These organizations tend to have meet-and-greets with other freelancers and professionals. For example, if you’re a writer (I have to go with what I know here), you can meet other writers and editors who may be able to point you in the direction of a potential client.
6. Attend professional events. Bloggers and social media professionals have conferences such as BlogHer and South by Southwest (SXSW), and there are similar conferences, lectures and networking events for others. You don’t have to be a full-time worker to get into these events, but often you do need to be a part of the organization sponsoring them, or have to sign up and pay a fee. But the chance to make connections within your industry — and meet potential clients — is usually well worth the cost.
7. Talk to people at other events. If you’re attending at a wedding or at a business dinner, keep those business cards on you — you may just strike up a conversation with someone who needs your services after the usual “What do you do for a living” banter.