How to Get that First Client

The Commute

One of the biggest challenges of a newbie freelancer is how to get the ball rolling and get that first client. Like all new endeavors, I’ve had my share of rejections, and those rejections only served as signals on how I could do better in my future online applications. I realized that while it’s not totally different from a traditional job application, there were some parts in the process that I had to “weed out” to make it more tailor-fit to a prospective client’s taste. It’s not a one-size fits all kinda’ thing.

Flashback 2008, I remember spending at least 4 hours a day doing nothing but take online tests (that showcase my skills), spruce up my CV, edit my cover letter endlessly, and send applications left and right. I must admit there were times that I would check out other freelancer profiles, as I felt that seasoned freelancer profiles were a good basis for me to find out if I was going in the right direction in terms of getting noticed by clients.

There are lot of online tips on how to get that first client – from free ebooks, Facebook groups, web articles, to Youtube videos. And because the way people work is now starting to change, you’ll even get lucky to stumble upon groups that give free workshops.

Since you’re reading this, I might as well share with you some fool-proof and time-tested ways on how to increase your chances in getting that first client:

        1. Your resume/online profile. Be specific and weed out the unnecessary. This is in terms of sprucing up your profile and your resume or CV. If you want to be hired as a virtual assistant and you have the skillset needed for a VA, it would be best to highlight that in your resume. Likewise, if you have work experience as a project manager and want to be hired as a PM, it would be best to highlight the projects that you have managed in the past. No employer would be interested in knowing that you were a cheerleader back in highschool, or that you got first place in your school’s newspaper drive. You won’t earn points for that, unfortunately. Just stay focused on what you’re applying for.
        2. Your cover letter. Remember when I said, “it’s not a one-size fits all kinda’ thing?” I was actually referring to the cover letter. Simply put, avoid sending generic, copy-paste cover letters. Take time to read what the client has posted in his job ad. I cannot stress this enough. As applicants, we keep on saying the phrase, “This is in response to…” as an introductory statement in our application when, in fact, the moment the client reads our letter, all they see is a generic cover letter that does not really respond to the requirements the client has specified in his posting!
        3. The DREADED interview. It’s not really as scary as you think. After all, it’s done online and not face-to-face. Whether it’s on Skype, Facetime, WhatsApp or any other app, just make sure you cover the basics:
        • Be on time. Take note of the time difference. Go online at least 5 minutes before the scheduled interview time.
        • Check your audio, video (if it’s a video call) and internet connection.
        • Make sure you look smart, neat and professional – Well, at least from the waist up.
        • If it’s a video call, check if you have ample lighting in your room. Don’t sit behind a window where you’re situated against the light. Stay in a room preferably with a fluorescent light (not incandescent).
        • Avoid distractions during the call – both audio and video-wise. If you don’t have a sound-proof room, try to choose a room in your house where the windows are further away from the everyday external noise. As for video, ideally, it would be best to set your camera on a white wall.  Don’t let your clients see your tangled cables in the background or your baby’s feeding bottle standing on your desk.

         

    I’m sure that there are a lot of other tips that your fellow freelancers can share on how they got their first client, but these pretty much cover the basics for me.

    Lastly, don’t forget to thank your interviewer for the opportunity given for the interview. As they say, politeness and courtesy goes a long way.

    The best of luck!

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