I was recently asked the question above this evening during a LinkedIn conversation with an old classmate from AILV. After picking my brain to provide a helpful answer, I came up with the response below. The question also made me wonder, since we all have different ways of approaching potential clients and projects, I'm curious to hear about the distinctive ways other freelancers achieve these opportunities.
I recognize I've been fortunate that family, friends and past coworkers have recommended me, either by word of mouth, shared my contact info, or tag me on Facebook, (which I recently just deactivated, but after reminding myself of this, I'm reconsidering); usually because they've heard me gush about whatever project I've been excitedly working on, or have seen my past work. I usually carry business cards with me too just in case. I've found clients in the Library during seminars, and even just talking with my mechanic, who wants new redesigned business cards. I was actually at a friend's going away party last week, I arrived a little late but it sort of worked out to my favor because I sat next to a girl who does marketing for a company I had applied to, so I ended up networking with her there. I had just run out of business cards but she was nice enough to give me her card and have me email her my resume. I followed up with an email the next day, now have a meeting with her manager this Thursday for a potential full time position. Whether I get the job or not, I made a good connection. I suppose seize the opportunities that present themselves, but make sure you don't take on more than you can juggle (which is how I initiated this conversation; a friend needed help with a project but since I wasn't able to take it on I messaged a few designer collegues who might be able to). I'm actually kind of shy when it comes to "selling myself" and approaching people, but when it comes up in conversation, which is almost inevitable like "Oh what do you do?" I tend to just talk about what I enjoy about design; which is extensive, maybe mention what I'm excited to be working on or have worked on, instead of telling someone why they should work with me. I'm a bit more laid back, but I think people tend to like working with me, if they feel comfortable talking to me. Hence why I decided to go with the tagline "Let's create something together." I could go into further depth about why I chose to go with that phrase, but I will leave that for an upcoming future post. I would advise first time freelancers or even those still new to freelancing, to be clear about what is being asked from you up front and by when. Preferably have the agreements in writing whether by contract or email; written is always best. Make sure both ends agree to what is stated before you start working. It helps estimate a timeline especially if you have other projects you're working on, to prioritize your projects, and price accordingly to both the extent of the project needs and the deadline. Pricing usully varies depending on the project, I tend to try and work with clients budgets on occasion, price flat rates, and charge extra fees for any major, additional, rushed last minute changes. Be polite as possible, but stern about your payments, some people will need you to remind them. Find a payment method that works best for you, I tend to go with PayPal, but I'm open to hearing about other methods, as I know PP also has some setbacks.
If anyone has other suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment. We can all learn something new or an alternative way of working and problem solving from each other.
Hope this helps, Happy client hunting!