How to Find Clients as Freelancer – Your Secrets To Hustle Pt2

How to Find Clients as Freelancer – Your Secrets To Hustle Pt2

Table of Contents

Freelancing and business can be a dream come true if you know how to find clients. If not, it can be a walk through hell and fight for survival. Today, you will learn how to develop your hustle muscles. We will start with assessing your current work ethic and how to start working really hard. We will continue with 80/20 rule and what work should you show. Lastly, we will discuss how to walk the walk on social media. Have you ever wanted to master the art of hard work and hustle? This is your lucky day! Learn what it takes to find clients and build your dream business.

The beginning is in part 1.

Continue with the walk

In the first part of how to find clients we discussed how to talk the talk. We talked about the value of credibility and pitch yourself. We explored the subject of setting high standards and how to manage competition. Related to that, we discussed strengths and weaknesses and how to handle both. And, we finished by making the commitment to always remain humble and grateful. As we discussed, these are the qualities of people who are truly self-confident.

Why walking the walk is necessary

This part is about finding clients by walking the walk. Without this piece, this secret sauce to hustle will never work. Let’s start with the main concept. Talking the talk and walking the walk are two inseparable components. When you do first without the second, you are liar and hypocrite. The more you follow this bad strategy the more worse reputation will you gain. People will not trust you. You will be perceived as a storyteller. Your words will have less value than dog poo.

When you follow this bad strategy long enough, people will start to avoid you. The same thing applies to client. Remember that we are in the age of the Internet. Words about your reputation spread pretty fast. In other words, this is something you don’t want if you want to find clients. Nobody wants to work with liar or hypocrite just like nobody wants to step in dog poo.

What will happen if you embrace only the second part, walking the walk, we discussed in the first part. I’m pretty sure that these arguments are enough to convince you. You have to implement both parts of this hustle equation to find clients with success. Think about this strategy as a scale. You have to add the same weight on both sides. Otherwise, you will never be able to balance it. There is no trick or hack that will do it for you and that will work in the long term.

This is exactly what you should focus on. The long term view and benefits should be your main concern. Think about it this way. If you take care about the long term view, the short term will take care about itself. You will be able to find clients easier like never before.

Start by being honest with yourself

I know that I just said “find clients easier”. Well, this is not exactly the truth. In most cases, in the beginning you will have to work harder and more than ever before. You will probably not be used to this amount of work. At least this was true in my case. The first couple of months was the hardest. I was used to procrastinate, a lot. Sure, I called this activity “work” as well. Even though half of it consisted from checking my email and twitter. This was something I had to fix.

On the other hand, I had no problems to brag about how much I worked every day. What was my answer when someone asked me how much I work? I work 24/7. I work even when you sleep. This could be true if I were email assistant or social media media specialist. I wasn’t. The result was that I had nothing to show As you can guess, I was practicing only the first part, talk the talk. Yes, I was f*cking hypocrite. Sorry for that strong language, but I had to say it as it is.

Everything change thanks to two things. The first thing was that I was not getting any closer to my goals. Almost every evening, I was re-scheduling my todos in Wunderlist on the next day. The second thing was that my savings began to dwindle. These two things threw me into anxiety and depression. This forced me to get my sh*t together. Fortunately, this meeting with reality worked. I not only talked the talk. I also started to walk the walk. This means that I started to work from early morning to the late evening. I mean really work, not doing some pseudo-work. I’m talking about real hustle.

Realize the truth about your work ethic

Anyway, why am I saying you all this? I want you to realize the cold and uncomfortable truth. You may not be working as hard as you think you are. You don’t have to trust my words. Try out this great time tracking app called Toggl and see it for yourself. Use this app to track and log the times you work. Again, I’m not talking about checking email or social media. Also, don’t track your lunch and similar things. Track only seconds and minutes you are at work. Nothing else.

Give it just a couple of days. This will give you some average numbers to assess your work ethic. It is very likely that data will shock you. Well, they shocked me. However, data don’t care about your feelings and they don’t lie. Data are not biased. They are completely honest. You can argue with them. What if you are still hesitant about taking this step and testing your work ethic? In that case, you probably know that the reality is different from what you tell yourself and people around you.

Chances are that you have some worries about your work ethic and productivity. And, this test could prove these worries right. This is something you don’t want to happen. Unfortunately, it is necessary to have this meeting with reality. Understand that without knowing the truth you can’t move forward. You can’t make any stable progress if you blindly follow the lies you tell to yourself. Remember that the sooner you realize the lies, the sooner you can fix them.

Before you move on with this article, promise to yourself that you will put your work ethic under test. You know that knowing the truth is necessary for talking the talk and walking the walk with success. The result is that it will help you find clients. It is worth it. Give it just a few days and follow your usual work routine. One week would be the best, but this decision is up to you.

Work harder than you say you do

Let’s assume you went through that small test to assess your work ethic. By now, you know how much do you really work. Knowing this is important because of what will follow. The next step is to actually startworking really hard. Your actions, or walk, should not only mirror your words, or the talk. Your actions should exceed it. In other words, you have to startworking harder than you say you do. If you say you are working eight hours per day, you should work more than that.

Sure, sooner or later you will reach the ceiling. You will find some number you just can’t overlap, at least in the long-term view. Again, I want you to remember this. Think about everything from in the long term. Let’s say you can do a few 18-hours days. My question is, how long can you handle this schedule? Also, what will happen after couple of these days? Is this workload sustainable for you? I understand that you may be in desperate need to find clients.

The problem is if you take on workload you can’t sustain for a long time. That will be quick fix that will work only temporarily. Then, you will have to find something else. Or, you will have to take some downtime and repeat the process. Then, you will need some downtime again. The question is, how long can do this until you destroy yourself? This is why long-term view and sustainability must be your main concern. I think that you shouldn’t do something you can’t sustain for one year.

When it comes to hustle and hard work, find the right spot. You have to experiment. Try certain amount of hours and see if it can work for you. If not, go lower. Otherwise, go higher.

Hustle, hard work and individuality

I have to warn you about something. Don’t follow every advice or tip you will read somewhere. There are currently more than seven and half billion of people on the planet Earth. Every person is unique. This is about the new agey crap. The probability that you will share the same DNA with someone else is 3200000000 to the power 3200000000. We can say the same about personal traits. There are many factors, biological and environmental that play role in forming these traits.

This is what I meant when I said that everyone is unique. There is certain “setting” programmed into your DNA. There is also amount of variations based on your environment. Both these things shaped and continue to shape you. This means one thing. What works for someone else may not work for you. Let’s say someone is working 16 hours a day and can handle it. This doesn’t mean you can do the same and expect the same results.

There is always some chance that one’s strategy will not work for you. Even if you perfectly duplicate all conditions, you have to remember that you are different person. Think about you and your parents. You are probably not looking exactly the same as them. And you share relatively large amount of their genes. What about some person not from your family tree? There will be much bigger variation. Therefore, don’t copy one’s approach completely.

Let’s say you found some approach to finding clients that looks like a good fit. Even then you will probably have to customize it and maybe tweak it a bit. You have to find unique receipt that works for you. Internet is full of tips proposed by people you never saw. Would you follow advice of someone you just met on the street?

Apply 80/20 thinking to everything you do

When it comes to hard work and finding clients not all activities are equal. Not all activities will bring you the same results. Some activities are worth spending your time ore than other activities. This is also called 80/20 rule or Pareto principle. When you want to find clients, you should focus on those activities that bring you the best results. For example, let’s say you are a freelance web designer. Then, you should focus your energy on three things.

80/20 freelance web designer

The first one is building great portfolio that will represent you. Great portfolio is your secret weapon to that can help you find clients. The beauty of it is that it works even when you sleep. There is probably a lot of people visiting your website every day. The problem is that you can’t pitch yourself to everyone over chat. Your portfolio does this for you. There are many things that make great portfolio. We discussed all of them in Creating perfect design portfolio article.

Right after you finish this article, read that piece to learn how to build great design portfolio. You will learn a lot. However, don’t spend your whole day designing and building your portfolio. You have to fill it with pieces of your work. Nice packaging is useless if you have nothing to put inside it. This is when the second thing enters the stage. You have to regularly work on something you can show to your potential clients. This material is important. Otherwise, you are only talking the talk.

Let me say it in a different way. You need something to demonstrate your skills. You can pitch yourself as the best web designer in the world. If you have nothing to prove it, it is just a claim. This is currently my biggest weakness. In the last couple of months, I worked only on development projects and neglected the design part. The result is that my portfolio is pretty weak. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Find some time and work on side projects.

The third thing is to do the actual leg work. You will have to cold call and cold email people in order to find clients. This is a big part of walking the walk. Without that people will not find you.

Show your (best) work (only)

Another thing related to your portfolio is showing your work. If you want to find clients you have to show your work. It is as simple as that. The question is, what work should you show? Think about this as fishing. If you want to catch some pretty big fish, you have to use the right bait. You can’t can’t catch shark on piece of corn or bread. If you want to catch solid shark, you need to use nice piece of meat. Otherwise, that shark will not care about it.

The same applies to situation when you want to find clients. The more exclusive clients do you want to attract, the better work you have to show. Do you want to get attention of the top clients? Then, you must show only the best pieces of your work. You have to fill your portfolio and pitching materials with 5-star work. What if you are not sure if some piece meets this condition? Well, it is obviously not clear 5-star. To make sure you are not biased ask someone else to rate your work.

Chances are that you are either too nice on yourself or too hard. In my case, I’m quite hard on myself. I often hear people say that they like my work. In 99.99999%, I don’t like it. I know that it is not perfect. There is still some space for improvement Yes, I am a perfectionist. I am willing to spend hour of my time polishing every pixel of the design. The same with code. I can spend a week refactoring CSS. This is also why I am may not the best person to rate my work.

Am I hard on myself? Maybe, but I don’t care. If you want to be the best, you must be willing to push yourself beyond every limit. Keep this in mind when you will plan your portfolio or pitch materials. Show only the best pieces you have and get rid of the rest. If you are not willing to bet your life on some example of your work, get rid of it.

Quantity as the secret to quality

It is nice to talk about showing only excellent work. The problem is where to get it. Not everyone has HDD full of masterpieces just waiting to be uploaded on Behance. What if you are in that situation? What if your work folder is close to empty? Fortunately, there is one secret leading to quality. This secret is quantity. Many of the masters were often also the most prolific people you can find. For example, some people say that Picasso created 50,000 works of art in his life.

If you are fan of music, Jimi Hendrix made around 70 albums before he died. Tupac? 12 studio albums, 11 compilation albums and 44 singles. Are you a book worm? Lope de Vega published around 2200 works. Isaac Asimov wrote and published 506 works. We all probably heard about Mozart. What is his score? He composed over 600 pieces during his life. It is no wonder that many people consider him the master of classical composers.

The takeaway I want you to get from this is simple. Behind every master is a huge amount of work you have no idea about. The reason is that masters usually show only their best pieces. Think about Picasso for a moment. Around 50,000 artworks. That’s insane amount of work! Think about every piece as one training session. Then, it is no wonder that Picasso is a synonym for master. There are many people who want to reach this level, but they are not willing to put in the work.

This is also one of the lessons from Originals written by Adam Grant. The secret to success is usually huge amount of work. It doesn’t matter where you want to succeed. You have to work a lot. Remember, the key to quality is in quantity.

Be active on social networks

Before the Internet, walking the walk meant that you have to get into streets and spread word. This was the usual way to find clients. Today, you no longer have to get out of your room. You can reach millions of people just by using social media channels. This is the power Internet is giving you. And, if you have a smartphone, you have all this power in your pocket. The important thing is to use this power to your benefit and find clients. This is what many people forget.

It is not enough to create an account on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. This is similar to creating something amazing in the solitude. You have to spread the word so the world knows about it. This means that you have to be active on social media. What’s more, you have to be consistent and patient. Miracles don’t happen over night. Tweeting or posting every day for the next month will probably not help you make it. You have to be active for a couple of months to see the results.

What to share and how often

What should you post and how often? Well, it depends on what type of people and clients do you want to attract. Remember that people will follow you only if they find your posts interesting. If you post about tech, you will primarily attract people from tech or interested in tech. If you post about design, you will attract designers and design enthusiasts. What about self-promotion? You should post more content of other people you liked.

Let’s say that you want to post five times a day. Then, three posts should be non-promotional. The ratio of non-promotional and self-promotional content can be 3:2 or 4:1. The more you post, the more posts can be self-promotional. Just make sure to always share more of the non-promotional content. How often to post? I would love to know answer on this question as well! There are people posting more than 20 tweets or posts per day.

On the other side are people who post just once a day. My opinion is that you have to find what works for you. You have to find number of posts that is sustainable and comfortable. This is, I think, one of the keys. Remember that you want to follow strategy that is sustainable in the long term. If you can post 10 times a day and consistently, go with it. If not, choose lower number. And, don’t be afraid of extreme numbers. Go ahead. Try 20 posts per day if you want. Take it as an experiment.

So, pick some number and stick to it for a month. Do a review and try another number. Then, do a review again. The last step is to compare your results and see which approach worked better. Repeat this loop with different numbers to find best digit.

Different rules for different social networks

Another important thing is that every social network is different. Strategy that helped you find clients on Twitter may backfire on Facebook or LinkedIn. By the same token, what worked on Facebook may not work on Instagram or Snapchat. Every network has it own rules and dynamics. Some networks are high-speed like Twitter. There are around 500 million tweets per day. If you tweet once or twice, only a few people will see your tweet before it disappears in the feed.

Other networks are slower. LinkedIn is probably one of the best example. The majority of sources advise to post just once a day or less on LinkedIn. For Facebook, the right number is between one and two posts a day during the week. If you want to post on weekend, once a day might be the best. Still, these rules are not set in stone. What works for one may not work for you. The only way to find out what works for you is by experimenting. Just make sure to share content with value.

Closing thoughts on how to find clients

This is it! You just finished this series on how to develop and use hustle to find clients. In this part we talked more about the practice and self-promotion. We talked about why walking the walk is necessary. We also talked about the necessity of being honest with yourself about your work ethic. Then, we discussed that you have to work harder than you say you are. Related to that, we discussed that we are all unique. You have to test every advice and find what works for you.

Next thing we discussed is to apply the 80/20 rule. You have to focus on activities with the highest priority and biggest returns. Ask yourself what activities are the most important for you to find clients. Then, do more of them. Important part of walking the walk is showing your work. In this case, you want to show only the best pieces. Fill your portfolio with 5-stars masterpieces. Avoid ending up with weak portfolio. Don’t repeat my mistake. Work on side projects if you have to.

Remember that the key to quality is in quantity. Every master in the history was also very prolific. Picasso created around 50,000 artworks! Stop making excuses and start creating like you are obsessed. Lastly, be active on social media. Internet gives you power to reach millions of people. You have to take this opportunity and use this power. Do you want to find clients? I bet you do. However, you must increase your visibility as well. Make yourself more findable on the web.

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By Alex Devero

I'm Founder/CEO of DEVERO Corporation. Entrepreneur, designer, developer. My mission and MTP is to accelerate the development of humankind through technology.

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