On Your PF Pro, we talk a lot about starting your own side hustle, finding time for your hustle, and possibly turning that side gig into a full-time job. However, if you’ve wanted to start a side hustle but can’t figure out how to get the right clients, this may seem overwhelming.
Create an Online Resume
Make Connections in Your Field
Work with People You Respect
- Do I really like this person’s work and their message, or am I pitching just to pitch?
- Could I work with this person long term?
- What is your overall opinion of this potential client?
Many clients put a lot of information about themselves online, and you can learn about a client from their blog or About page. I’ve found out the hard way, twice, to only work with people I respect. Both times, I had a feeling going in that these clients would not end up working out, but I went against my gut because I thought I needed the work.
It’s not worth it! Clients who give you a bad feeling will almost always drain your time and not respect your product. If you can’t get enough information about a potential client from their website, call them and have an introductory chat. While it may take 30 minutes of your time upfront, you could save yourself hours of (usually uncompensated) work later by only taking on great clients who you respect.
Stand By Your Work
Much like working only with people you respect, stand by your work. If someone is demanding something you can’t do (because you don’t have the time, ability, or they’re not willing to pay for it), stick to your principles.
When you’re starting out, you often don’t have a frame of reference for how much you should charge for your work. In addition, your portfolio will be very small, and you may not feel like you’re able to charge more. Unscrupulous clients will recognize you’re a new freelancer and will try to take advantage of that.
In the past, I’ve had clients threaten to withhold recommendations they originally promised until I completed additional (read: free) work for them. In some cases, it was work I simply could not do, like the client that wanted a web designer when all I was doing for them was social media. While I could have tried to design their website, my skills are not comparable to a professional, and the client wanted the majority of this work done in exchange for a recommendation… so, free.
If you’re getting positive feedback about your work from connections in your field or other clients, stand by your work. Don’t allow someone to demand more work, uncompensated, if you didn’t originally agree to it. Great clients will recognize good work, and great clients won’t try to take advantage of your status as a new freelancer.
Once you have a few great clients, you may feel like the luckiest person in the freelancing world, and you’re right! Many freelancers would be happy to get a good client, let alone a great client. Once you have clients like this, go above and beyond to make them happy (within reason for you).
That said, great clients will respect you and your time. Great clients will encourage you to take vacation time, not expect you to immediately return their calls/emails, and generally show you the same respect you give to them. By following these guidelines, you’ll eventually find great clients that help propel your freelancing side hustle even farther!
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For seasoned freelancers, how did you find your ideal client, and did you have any criteria when taking on new clients? What recommendations do you have for new freelancers? New freelancers, do you have any additional questions for finding great clients?