Want to earn more money? Here's where to find better clients
Have you ever finished a project and thought “I really need to find better clients!”? Welcome to the club. That moment of realization is like a rite of passage into the world of freelancing. You’re no longer disillusioned by the promise of a glamorous writing career, no thanks to everyone captioning their Instagram photos with #locationindependent. You are, officially, a real freelancer.
Once you’ve hit that point, though, you’re ready to move away from low-paying, high-maintenance clients. You’re ready for the creme of the crop — the clients that can take your freelance career to the next level. Easier said than done, you say? Not really. In fact, since the moment I had my own pivotal freelancing moment, I decided that I would never work with a “bad” client again. And I haven’t.
If you want to earn more money, you have to find better clients. Don’t know how? Keep reading.
Looking for clients in all the right places
There is one mistake I see nearly all new freelancers make: looking for gigs on “content mill” sites. I call this a mistake for a couple of reasons. First, there are dozens (sometimes even hundreds) of freelancers all vying for the same handful of projects. As if that weren’t enough, the jobs posted on these sites are often very low-paying. Combined, you’ve got a website that devalues your work and your worth (if you haven’t figured out exactly what your time is worth, do that now). If you aren’t one of the lucky few who lands high-paying gigs on freelance job sites like Elance and Guru, it’s easy to get discouraged and compromise by taking on clients who suck the life out of you.
Don’t worry. There are better places you can look for clients. Here are my top three:
If you haven’t heard of venture capital funding, you’re missing out on a wealth of clients who could really use — and can actually afford — your services. Thankfully, CrunchBase is a hub of all things VC funding; they literally list hundreds of thousands of companies, usually accompanied by the amount of venture capital they’ve received and when. You can search by industry, company, or amount of funding. When I want to pitch more clients, this is the first place I look.
Pro tip: Do a quick Google search for venture capital firms that are specific to your niche or industry.
Twitter is another one of my favorite ways to identify potential clients. It is, in my opinion, the holy grail of information that you never knew you needed. Not only can you search for brands in your niche, you can also see who they follow and who follows them. If you do this for every company you want to pitch, you can easily build out a pitch list to last you through the end of the year.
Pro tip: Create a private Twitter list of all the companies you want to connect with. You’ll be able to filter through the noise a lot easier.
Similar to Twitter, LinkedIn offers you the ability to see companies related to those you’ve already identified as potential clients. The free account does limit the number of people and companies you can see but it’s still worth trying out. It worked so well for me that I decided to upgrade to Premium — the work I’ve gotten from finding clients on LinkedIn has more than paid for the yearly subscription fee.
Pro tip: If you see someone you’re interested in working with, go ahead and click on their profile. This can help them recognize your name when you pitch them.
Keep in mind that when you’re looking at business-focused social media platforms and venture capital funding sites, you’re looking for clients, not gigs. What this means is that you won’t necessarily know if they are looking for a freelancer. Don’t let that hold you back — many times it’s these companies that are the best to work with.
Finding better clients is easier than you might think. Like any other part of running a freelance business, it takes patience and a bit of elbow grease. It’s worth the effort, though. The better your clients are, the better your life will be, and the quicker your business will grow.
Where do you find your best clients? Help another freelancer out by sharing in the comments below.