When you’re first setting out as a freelancer, you’re essentially starting a business. Think of yourself as a graphic design entrepreneur! Whether you’ve been part of the client sourcing in your previous job or are new to the prospecting process, you will need to put your creative business owner hat on and be actively working to seek out new projects. Here are some tips that I’ve found helpful in sourcing clients as a freelance designer:

Build An Online Graphic Design Portfolio:

One of the first steps in building your graphic design business is to build out a website that functions as your portfolio. Think of your graphic design portfolio serves as a visual copy of your resume. This is the perfect place to showcase your design services and subsequently promote your offerings by highlighting corresponding pieces of work. Plus, if you play your cards right and work your SEO and marketing magic, you can use your portfolio site as a lead generation tool. Then instead of asking yourself how to find clients online, you will have them coming right to you!

When You’re Just Starting Out As A Graphic Design Freelancer:

So you’re a newbie. That’s okay, we all have to start somewhere! When getting started as a freelance graphic designer, there is one very important piece of advice that I want to share with you. Be honest! It’s a simple as that. Explain to the client that you are maybe starting out and want to gain some useful experience. The only caveat there, you need to ensure that your prices match your skill level (more on that and other graphic design advice here).

As you gain more experience, you can up your prices accordingly. Another thing to consider as you become more seasoned is incentivizing new clients. It’s absolutely okay to entice a new client by giving them a special first-time price to gain their business. Just make sure that you are clear about the scope and duration of the offer.

Leverage Your Networks To Get Referrals For Graphic Design Freelance Jobs:

In any industry, referrals from your existing networks can be the most valuable resource of all. Leverage them! Make connections with your peers. Go above and beyond for those you have close relationships with. Leave a lasting impression. Chances are that if someone asks them if they know a freelance graphic designer looking for work, they will happily recommend you.

Another great way to get referrals is to make an impact on your existing clientele. People will always remember great service and high-quality deliverables. Make yourself memorable and knock every project out of the park. You can also keep yourself top of mind with clients by keeping in touch, suggesting you get together for a coffee or even sending cards during the holidays. Make positive connections every chance you get and your freelance business will flourish.

Don’t Be Afraid To Introduce Yourself:

This tip might be a little bit outside your comfort zone but I promise you, it’s worth it. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself. But, be strategic about it. Find something personal to connect with the potential client about. I once reached out to a girl named Sarah Nagus and used the similarity of our names as an icebreaker – it worked like a charm.

If you want to reach out to potential clients, other graphic designers or industry professionals for a possible collaboration but don’t know where to start…I’ve got you covered. Check out this post for a free collaboration email template.

Making Sure You’re The Right Fit:

Not knowing enough about the project your signing up for is like going on a blind date. It can be super awkward and downright painful to endure. Avoid the uncomfortableness by knowing what you’re getting yourself into. You can do this by avoiding threads where there is little information regarding the project. If you don’t enjoy the project you’ve taken on, chances are that will show in your final deliverables. Get more information before you agree to work with someone. Don’t be afraid to ask detailed questions about the timeline, scope of the project, budget, final deliverable requirements, etc. The more you know, the better you can deliver.

As a graphic designer seeking out freelance jobs, making sure you’re the right fit goes beyond the project. In order to ensure that you’re a good fit for the client means that the client also needs to be a good fit for YOU. Doing your research on who you’ll be working with is just as important as knowing the specs of the job.

Making Quick Connections On Facebook:

Social media is a powerful tool! In addition to using Facebook to build your own brand and publish your content, you can also use it as a lead generation tool! To get clients on Facebook, I highly recommend joining Facebook groups about YOUR niche (not with other graphic designers). For example, if your target client is Esty shop owners, join a group with that as the main audience. Just don’t bombard them with sales-y spam. Be active in the group, offer tips to a problem, be insightful and helpful. It’s sales 101. Show people the solution to their pain points and inform them on how you can help, and you’ll be amazed at how many people will reach out to you to complete the work for them.

With that being said, I have a small piece of advice to share. Avoid posts and threads with over 12 comments, you’ll get lost in the mix and it will often be a waste of time. You want to keep on top of the channels and groups you’re involved in so that you can be one of the first people to offer a solution and/or your services!

Landing The Client:

We made it! Here’s the last and final step in finding clients online, the proposal. Proposals come in many shapes and forms depending on the client and the size of the job. I’ve put together a free template for you that outlines exactly what you need to include in your next proposal.