First and foremost, Congratulations! You have now pulled the trigger to pursue a deep down desire to strike out on your own. In my experience, getting your first potential clients can be very challenging. Especially when you have no direction of where to look.
When I first started out as a graphic designer in 2006/2007, I didn’t know which way was up. I put the cart before the horse. I was striking out with everyone, everywhere. So, what was I doing wrong? Was it my approach? Was it my “Dummy” portfolio? Was it my attitude?
It could be all of the above or maybe just one. But it truly begins with doing your homework. Which means understanding your client’s business and their needs. More importantly, how will you be helping their bottom line? This was concept I grew to understand over my 10 years in the business. Here are a few tips of how to find that first potential client (in the order of my perseverance).
Work for Peanuts
Nobody wants to work for free, I get it. But always consider the road less traveled. Working for free will be a struggle, especially if you don’t have a steady income. But the experience and work in your portfolio can double in a short amount of time. However, beware of “Sweatjob Predators” looking to take advantage of you.
Start creating conceptual work for your portfolio. Use your imagination, re-imagine and put your spin on released pieces of work. Remember to keep your pieces diverse to show your range. Click below to download the Dummy Portfolio guide: “3 Ways to Build a Stronger Portfolio in 60 Days”.
Offline and Online Networking
Let’s be honesty, there are only so many friends, school associates and work colleagues you can have. Therefore, reaching out to your personal contacts for potential work are limited. Although you may have some success with your personal contacts, you still need to branch out and find more fish. This will allow you to network on both fronts: online and offline.
Networking Online: Follow forums/blogs that fall into your niche. Become part of the community, don’t be a voyeur.
Networking Offline: Join groups and/or gatherings of other freelancers in your that may lead you to potential work.
Alternatively, there are plethora of freelancing websites. Pick your poison: Upwork, Freelancer or guru. All of these sites have jobs from clients for you to search and submit a proposal.
Aspire towards Hire
If it floats your boat or tickles your pickle, then why not do it? Create a vision board of the companies you aspire to work alongside. Place their logo and creative work on board or wall of you room or office. I’m a big proponent of “achieving by seeing.” Day in day you will know what you are aiming towards.
Although, this may seem as an over simplification, these tips alongside hard work will make the dream work. I have personally tried each of these tips. The experience will be different for each of you. Not every tip will resonate so, find one and work it.