The following is a guest post from Martin of Studenomics, where he writes about financial freedom in your 20s without missing a party. For more tips, check out his book, Next Round’s On Me.
“He said that I didn’t charge enough so he offered me more money because he felt bad for me.”
A student of mine actually told me this. He wasn’t confident enough to ask for a higher rate so he put out a low offer just to get the gig. He wanted to charge $120 for the two hour gig. The guy offered him $150 since that was his budget for the project. I’m happy for him that he’s finding clients now. He’s actually struggling to keep up with all of the demand now.
Let’s go back a few months…
Trevor was struggling to find any clients. I told him that I had a friend who wanted some video work done (Trevor produces videos). The good news was that he could get some experience. The bad news was that he would only get paid in experience. The friend was only offering $20 and dinner. I told Trevor to take this because this friend has a deep network (he knows lots of cool people).
Trevor and this guy hit it off. They were recording until 4am and cracking jokes (hopefully not about me). This guy even ended up giving Trevor a ride to a presentation an hour away when nobody else was available. Once the video went live, everyone was asking about who created this video.
Suddenly Trevor had a new paid client. The pay would only be $20 a video. The good news was that this guy wanted videos done on a weekly basis. Once again, this client led to more paying clients.
How can this story help you find your first freelancing client?
Don’t feel sorry for yourself if nobody’s paying you yet.
You haven’t established yourself. That’s okay. We all start somewhere. Nobody’s going to throw money at you just because you put up a business page and ordered a stack of business cards.
You have to offer high quality work for free. Just because you’re not getting paid it doesn’t mean that you have permission to slack off. You have to prove your worth to the world. You have to build up a portfolio so that we can see what you’re capable of.
Would you ever pay someone for anything without seeing at least some proof of their abilities?
Stop worrying about the useless stuff.
Yes, business cards are great. No, you don’t need them. You don’t need to spend money on printing business cards when you haven’t made a penny yet.
You don’t need to worry about getting an expensive design for your website either.
You have to find people willing to trust you to take you up on your service.
Too often do I see new freelancers get lost in the world of useless stuff. Focus on becoming the best at the service that you provide and then get the word out. That’s all that matters when you’re getting going as a freelancer. The world doesn’t need another fancy business card.
“Great marketing is all about telling your story in such a way that it compels people to buy what you are selling.” — Gary Vaynerchuk
Remember that nobody cares about your problems.
We hire freelancers and outsource work to make life easier. We want problems solved. That’s all. You do the work and that’s that. Nobody wants to hear about your problems. You’re now a problem solver. You have to be able to solve every problem that comes your way. Never respond with an excuse.
Promote the hell out of your work.
You need to create some quality work and then promote it.
This can be your highlight reel, your portfolio, a sample of your work, or a happy customer.
You have to get the word out. Let us know about what you’re doing and how amazing it is. You’re never going to find a paying customer if you keep your best work a secret.
Ask for testimonials and referrals.
Nobody wants you until somebody has you. We all ask a friend before we try anything (from a new place to eat to logos for a website). This is why you need to ask for testimonials and referrals. Testimonials help because the more people who promote your work, the more likely someone else is to pay you.
The two most important steps here in the process are:
- Create quality work for free or a low cost to let people know what you have to offer and to build your portfolio.
- Ask for testimonials and referrals.
You do this a few times and you’ll have no trouble finding clients. We all tell our friends about a great service. The toughest part is getting started. Once you get the ball rolling you’re going to be fighting clients off.
That’s how you can get started with freelancing and find your first paying client. Good luck to launching your freelancing career.