5 Places I’ve discovered new freelance business (and you can too)

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For those of you who’ve made the leap into full-time freelancing, the ebb and flow of new business can be especially unnerving. You’ve cast aside your full-time safety net, and now have to keep the fish biting in order to stay afloat.

If you’re lucky, you rely on a steady stream of repeat business to keep work coming in and the bills paid.

(Ok, I think I’ve met my sea-reference quota for the day…)

But relying on luck and repeat business isn’t enough — you have to actively build into lead generation channels, even (and especially) when business is good to prepare yourself for the occasional and inevitable drought.

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Here are 5 not-so-secret places that have been instrumental in the growth of my freelance business, and will hopefully work well for you, too!

1. AIGA membership

As a contributing member of AIGA, I’ve found it to be an incredible resource and great way to stay connected with my local creative community and the industry at large.

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True story: recently, I was contacted by a small agency in need of a graphic designer/front-end web developer. When I asked where they’d gotten my information, I was surprised to find out that they’d sifted through a list of AIGA Members and found me.

Since then, I’ve been able to establish a solid relationship with my client and secure repeat business. For me, well worth AIGA’s small annual membership fee.

2. Google+

Although Google+ may not be the biggest fish in the social media pond (sorry—couldn’t help myself), I’ve found Google+ to have an active, thriving community of tech geeks, business owners, enthusiasts, and people of all kinds.

While admittedly I’m not as active as I once was, I have been able to secure freelance business by engaging and developing relationships with my new Google pals.

In one instance, I was approached by a business owner from Dublin, Ireland, who had seen some recent work that’d I had published to my page. After happily answering several questions and pointing him in the right direction, he ended up offering the project to me (and another later on down the line).

3. LinkedIn Groups

Like Google+, LinkedIn can be a fantastic place to promote your latest work, connect with people, and find new business opportunities.

The first step is creating an “All-Star” profile chock full of skills, projects, successes, and recommendations.

And when sharing updates, be sure to notify your network of your updates. If you have something great to show off, you’re going to want to get it in front of as many connections as possible.

Finally, consider joining several LinkedIn Groups and contributing/commenting regularly.

Groups can be a great way to put yourself out there and share ideas, recent projects, and important updates, as well as contribute to discussions and position yourself as an authority in your field.

4. Twitter advanced search

Here’s your chance to play “big brother.” Twitter’s advanced search feature, located at twitter.com/search-advanced, is a great way to comb through recent tweets for key phrases important to your business.

For example, if you perform a search for tweets containing the exact phrase “need a website” over the past 2 weeks, you should easily be able to pick out 1 or 2 tweets worth following up on.

Pro-Tip! Be sure to save your searches for future reference by clicking “Save this search” under “More options.”

5. Referrals

In a previous post, I mention the importance of “over-delivering” services in order to strengthen the client relationship, build trust, and secure referrals and repeat business.

The bottom line is, you have to look at every freelance client as a referral opportunity. Simply providing requested services isn’t enough, you have to make enough of an impact to make clients want to give you more business.

What About You?

Where have you found success in winning new freelance business? Share in the comments!

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About Brian Glassman

Brian Glassman is a freelance designer, front-end web developer, and marketing professional in the Greater Chicago area. When he’s not going the extra mile for clients, you can find him listening to (loud) rock music, enjoying a craft beer, or nerding out on his gaming PC. Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram

 

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  1. It also helps to do some free work for some non-profit with members that have personal projects such as a company or a web site. This way you can show both the quality of your service and your final arts to these potential clients.

  2. Sharon Pettis McElwee says:

    Where do you come up with the hashtags to search for? I’m doing research for a real estate client and the obvious keywords (house + city) are not generating usable results.

    • Go to https://twitter.com/search-advanced and try the “All of these words” function.

      For example, if you’re looking for houses for sale in, say, Houston, try an “All of these words” search for “house houston.” This will pull up Tweets that contain both words.

      Results: https://twitter.com/search?q=house%20sale%20houston&src=typd

      • Sharon Pettis McElwee says:

        Thanks, Brian 🙂

      • Hi, Brian! I’ve created some “magical buttons” for web/graphic designers, print designers, photographers etc who are eager to try out what an advanced search on Twitter might return.

        For example, you just click the logo/identity designer-button to get real-time results for people asking for that kind of services. I just tried out that particular button (see the results in the attached picture). It returned 2 people asking for logo designers just from the last 8 hours… Pretty nifty if I may say it myself! Check out the rest of the buttons here!

        • Holy (expletive), great resource—thanks for putting that together!

          • My pleasure! I’m just glad if I can help someone to find freelance gigs!

            Here is the exact search expression behind the “logo/identity design”-button. You can use it as a start for your own specialised search:

            (“identity” OR “logo” OR “logotype”) AND (“designer” OR “designers” OR “design”) AND (“recommendation” OR “recommendations” OR “recommends” OR “recommend” OR “referrals” OR “referral” OR “refer” OR “freelancer” OR “freelance”) AND ? -(“book” OR “books” OR “http” OR “hiring” OR “full-time” OR “university” OR “universities” OR “course” OR “courses” OR “conference” OR “conferences” OR “I recommend” OR “we recommend” OR “fiverr” OR “Go_Freelancer” OR “tagfreelance” OR “software”) -filter:links

            Adapt the above search string to your own needs. Then paste it into the Twitter search box.

            On Twitter, the maximum length is 500 characters. The above expression almost hits that limit (494 characters.)

  3. Thanks for this awesome post. Very helpful and not the usual tips you see in a ‘Building your Business’ article – something different which is great!

  4. I keep forgetting about AIGA. FYI, the link you have is to a member part of the site, and you can’t click anywhere to get to a main page. Go here: http://www.aiga.org/

  5. Great article I will be digging deeper into these resources. Much appreciated.

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