How do you get new customers?

Posted on: June 28th, 2010

Welcome to Jaffa Brown who has written this guest post for Freelance FactFile.

One of the topics most discussed by freelancers (or contractors looking for other external work) is how to locate new customers and freelance work. There are many internet discussions about pulling in new customers through forum posts, web traffic and blog posts. All may work with sufficient traffic, effort and time, but don’t forget about the nine best places to seek out new freelance work:

Networking

Whilst we may prefer to be at home earning freelance money, getting out and meeting other freelancers, businesses and agencies can lead to new work. Network events are run by your local businesslink centre, chamber of commerce, or private companies such as 4networking; all holding regular morning and evening network events.

Existing Customers

Both active and inactive (zombie) customers may have additional work that needs to be completed, or projects that they are just about to start. Go through your contacts list, create a mailing list and send out an email (or better still a printed news letter) with information on what you are up to, any new skills, recent projects and ask them if there is any more work that you can assist in.

Professional Social Sites

Professional social networking sites such as LinkedIn are great places to find new work. Keeping your LinkedIn profile up to date with your current availability and skills, making sure you are searchable, and linking to working groups based on your skills may draw in new roles. It is also worth monitoring your connections, as people sometimes list projects that are coming up or staff that they need.

Social Media

In addition to the professional networks, keeping your status up to date on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, and monitoring other people’s profiles allows you to look for those opportunities. People moving jobs are key targets, as they may be moving to a position where there are new projects to be started where you can assist.

Job Boards

There are numerous job boards available listing contract roles. Whilst most are listing contract jobs (which you may not want as a freelancer), some of the descriptions provide sufficient information to narrow down the company or organisation. Adverts which list “A well known hospital requires..” with a location of “bath” (there is only 1 hospital in bath) allows you to know the requirement, and contact them independently.

Bid Boards

Bid boards allow prospective customers to advertise for work, and freelancers to bid for the completion of the work. Whilst you may find the work does not pay as well as regularly obtained work (bids from eastern European countries tend to push the value down), now and again there are specialist jobs listed which only you can do.

Family and Friends

Whilst it is unlikely your mother will need you to create a web site or your sister will need a data migration project to be completed, they may work for or know of people who need such services. Keeping your family and friends up to speed, and keeping an eye on who they work for may lead to open door introductions.

Other Freelancers and Contractors

Fellow contractors and freelancers will all be busy working on their own projects and trying to land new customers and projects. However there will be times that they feel overloaded or happily land more work they can take on. Rather than wait for them to come to you, why not contact the freelancers you know and offer your sub-contracting services?

Twitter

Twitter may not seem an obvious location for locating freelancing work (other than tweeting your blogs, web site, services and your profile), it is surprising how many freelance and contract jobs are listed on twitter. Using the filter options on tools such as tweetdeck allows you to restrict your searches to your skill, location and key words like “freelance” or “work”.

About the author:

Jaffa Brown is an IT freelancer and contractor based in the UK.  He is an ambitious small business owner, working with other small businesses to provide growth and solutions through a synergy of working partnerships. Jaffa provides tips for IT freelancers and small business owners through his blog – “Freelancing and Contracting – making IT work”.

Twitter = jaffabrown

Blog = www.touchstone-blog.com

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