When you’re a new freelancer, getting that first client can be daunting. It can feel like a catch-22: in order to get your first client, don’t you need to first have clients? As the following eight freelancers prove, that’s not the case.

I asked the CloudPeeps community to share their stories of how they got their first freelance clients, and no two answers were the same!

Liz Cottingham, Designer and Marketer

Liz Cottingham

How’d you get your first freelance client?
“While a marketing director at a large company, I counseled and encouraged an unhappy colleague to quit and pursue freelance. She repaid the support when I was ready to do the same and recommended me to one of her freelance clients. That first job gave me the confidence (and cash) to quit and transition to freelance.”

Do you have one take-away lesson from that experience?
“Be kind and generous to everyone you meet. It’s always rewarding. Also be sure to stay in touch with people frequently so it’s not so daunting once you need to do some serious networking for jobs. You can avoid those awkward reaching out emails after years of not connecting.”

Lauchlin MacDonald, Digital Marketer and Copywriter

Lauchlin MacDonaldHow’d you get your first freelance client?
“My first freelance client was a friend of a friend. I had met him years before and we kept in touch on Facebook. He worked in film production and desperately needed an editor for a script his company was working on, and he reached out to me because he knew about my background in writing/editing.”

Do you have one take-away lesson from that experience?
“Almost all of the freelance work I’ve received has come from some kind of similar situation. In my experience, it doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do – what matters is that you know people who need to hire someone like you. That’s why networking is so important for freelancers.”

Amanda Guerassio, Designer and Brand Interpreter

Amanda GuerassioHow’d you get your first freelance client?
“When I first started freelancing (over 10 years ago now!), Craigslist was actually a good source of clients. I both had ads out for my services, and would respond to ads for gigs I was interested in. I would scour a lot of major cities in the U.S., not just where I live. There was definitely a lot of send-10-emails-hear-back-from-one, but it did land me my first handful of clients, one of whom is still a client today, a decade later.”

Do you have one take-away lesson from that experience?
“Sometimes, especially when just starting out, you really have to churn out emails/inquiries/proposals in order to get some traction. You’ve heard it before, but it really is a numbers game. Also, having a quality, standalone website (not Facebook, not Behance, etc.) is a big point in your favor from a potential client’s viewpoint.”

Erin FitzGibbon, Freelance Writer and Photographer

Erin FitzGibbonHow’d you get your first freelance client?
“I stumbled upon freelance writing by accident. It was a natural pairing for my photography.  I joined a small business grant program and my first job came from my mentor who hired me to write and photograph a short piece on Canadian women’s soccer. It was her suggestion to start approaching magazines offering both writing and images to make myself more attractive to publishers. My English degree certainly helped promote my skills.”

Do you have one take-away lesson from that experience?
“I learned that there are so many programs out there that can help entrepreneurs to become successful. Take advantage of everything and anything you can find. Visit your local small business centre and take advantage of the great people you will meet. Free programs are the best!”

Julie, Marketer at LiuPierre 

Julie LiuHow’d you get your first freelance client?
“As I prepared to leave my full-time job, I leveraged my network and reached out to all my contacts letting them know that I was available to work part time. A former co-worker responded, saying that she has a client that she needs someone to take over the workload. After a couple interviews, I signed my first company.”

Do you have one take-away lesson from that experience?
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

 

Michelle Zaporojets, Social Media Manager

Michelle ZaporojetsHow’d you get your first freelance client?
“I got my first freelance client through my Facebook newsfeed actually! One of my good friends from university shared a post regarding a freelance marketing position that a small business within WeWork San Francisco was hiring. He put a good word in with the hiring manager, and two calls later, I got the job!”

Do you have one take-away lesson from that experience?
“Look everywhere you can for freelance jobs! I can’t stress this enough. Remote freelance work is becoming more and more prominent every day, and companies are starting to realize this. I’ve found freelance jobs everywhere from CloudPeeps to LinkedIn to Facebook. These jobs are everywhere now – you just have to dig through every career site.”

Akshay Sachdeva, Marketing Consultant

Akshay SachdevaHow’d you get your first client?
“I was new to the freelancing world. I was traveling, and wanted to find my first client as soon as possible, to fund my travels and to pay the bills! I started applying on various freelance platforms, but nothing seemed to work, and the gigs seemed really underpaid. Enter CloudPeeps. I started applying on CP, but still didn’t get any jobs. Then I reached out to folks on the CP Facebook community and met David Hathaway online. I told him I was looking for a gig, and he gave me some tips to improve my profile, which I immediately implemented. A few days later, David reached out to me and said he had a client looking for a writer, and didn’t have the time to do it. So he asked me if I was interested, and of course I said yes!”

Do you have one take-away lesson from that experience?
“Reach out to fellow freelancers and find opportunities to collaborate. Have a good profile that sets you apart.”

Maria Thompson, Content Marketing Strategist and Copywriter

Maria ThompsonHow’d you get your first freelance client?
“My first freelance client was my health coach. I had been her client for a few months and we’d had a couple of quick conversations about her website content and layout. When I told her that I was launching my own business, she wanted to work together!”

Do you have one take-away lesson from that experience?
“Get feedback from your clients after your project ends. It’s really easy to slide from one project to the next. By taking time for a post-mortem, you can learn valuable info that will help you in the future. It’s also a great relationship builder. And while you’re chatting, gather any additional info you’ll need to write up a case study on the project! You did great work. A case study will help tell your prospective clients all about it!”

From Craigslist ads to Facebook newsfeeds, there are many ways to get your first client, especially if you think outside the box! I hope this list gave you some great ideas and actionable tips as you work to land your next gig.

If you’d like to access an exclusive job board and find your next quality freelance client, sign up for CloudPeeps. Plus, you never know how the connections you make with fellow Peeps will influence your freelance career (just take a look at Akshay’s story above!).

Now it’s your turn: How did you get your first client? Share your story in the comments below!

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Amy Rigby is a freelance writer and marketing consultant who helps startups woo their customers with words. An avid traveler, she has visited Machu Picchu twice, run across the world’s widest avenue in Buenos Aires, and eaten her fill of gourmet cheeses in Paris. Amy is passionate about empowering freelancers to work remotely and travel freely.